Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pilgrimages Redux

Vincent Perez and I, working collaboratively under the name Catalog, presented “Pilgrimages Redux,” an illustrated tour of our respective pilgrimages to Mount Rushmore and Santiago de Compostela. Through spoken word and printed matter, this performance reflects a dialogue about our travels and the themes which drove our pilgrimages in the first place: curiousity, community, communication and context.

Following “Pilgrimages Redux,” Laura Kelly orchestrated another edition of the “Mouthy” series, an open-mic session inviting speakers and audience members alike to share short personal stories. The theme for this edition was "journeys." In the era of global travel, we all have a tale to tell.

The free event was presented in conjunction with the exhibition “Déjà déjà visité: Mike Bayne, Jocelyn Purdie, Maayke Schurer,” curated by Sunny Kerr at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario as part of Culture Days. Light refreshments were provided.

A podcast of the event is available online.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nova Express

Presented by the City of Ottawa’s Art Centres, “Nova Express” is a project I curated for Nuit Blanche Ottawa + Gatineau 2013. Connecting the theme of this year’s Nuit Blanche (Supernova!) to the ongoing acceleration of the information explosion, “Nova Express” presents artists whose work reconfigures and relays quotations and data in varying and idiosyncratic forms of public address. Works by Gerald and Maas, Allison Rowe, Dominique Sirois, the Think Tank that has yet to be named, and Guillermo Trejo make good company with the novel by William Burroughs whose title and cut-up composition inspired the name of this project. Emanating from the Nova Express Kiosk in the Byward Market at the corner of George and William, the project sought to deliver discrete packets of information throughout a noisy night.

John Bart Gerald and Julie Maas, in Ottawa since 1996, began as “Author & Artist, Gerald & Maas” in New York City in 1978, publishing their books, artworks, and suppressed work by others. In 1996 they opened in Ottawa. Their political posters began appearing in the early 1980s. Their website has carried the U.N. Convention on Genocide (print published, with permission in 1989 and 1996) since 2001, with related suppressed information and artwork. Maas is an artist of drawings, etchings, paintings, as well as the art director of Gerald’s poems and journalism appear internationally and on where he’s the writer, editor, and webmaster. A selection of Gerald and Maas’s work was available for viewing at the Nova Express Kiosk.

An interdisciplinary artist based in Toronto, Allison Rowe probes the intersections between aggressive protest and care giving, the factual and the personal. Her “Tar Sands Exploration Station” is an interactive sculpture and performance piece housed in a 1982 Dodge RAM camper van. This work contains objects, video, 2D, audio and food based artworks that address the Canadian tar sand deposits located in Alberta, Canada. Merging art, performance, domesticity, and science the work provides an alternative to the didactic, argumentative discourse around oil sand and creates a public space for conversation and personalization of this massive topic.

Based in Montreal, Dominique Sirois works in installation with a multidisciplinary approach including sound, performance, video and public intervention. Her reflexive approach revolves around work, consumption, art and fashion. Siroishas been collecting music samples featuring siren sounds found in a wide variety of genres from musiqueconrète to rap, R & B and techno. By overlaying the different historical and cultural contexts specific to these samples a sound mapping takes shape. Her ongoing iterations of “Alarm Songs” installations blur the space between surveillance and cultural entertainment.Sirois set up a special Nuit Blanche “Alarm Songs” installation,"We are a human alarm system," in the Nova Express Kiosk.

Jeremy Beaudry and Meredith Warner in Philadelphia and Katie Hargrave in Minneapolis comprise the core group of the Think Tank that has yet to be named, initiating research, conversations, and actions that explore contemporary sociopolitical issues in the places where they are encountered. They create generative spaces where strategic questions are invitations to others to consider their relationship to the places, structures, and systems which shape individual and collective experiences of the world. For Nuit Blanche, the Think Tank produced “Radical Orations on the Structures of Support.” Drawing upon the idea of the radical oration and the history of the street corner soapbox, a newsprint broadsheet containing the orations and instructions to construct a lo-fi megaphone were made available in the Nova Express Kiosk. These orations are combinations of various political and theoretical texts, remixed and placed into a performative, educational, and site-specific context. The broadsheet functioned not only as a published take-away for visitors but as a prompt for a distributed performance.

Originally from Mexico, Guillermo Trejo now lives in Ottawa, exploring the relation of the public to the printmaking process. He studied at the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Etching in Mexico City, where he specialized in contemporary printmaking. In 2012, he completed his MFA at the University of Ottawa. In his prints and installations, Trejo explores how the printmaking process is related to a public understanding of politics and social issues. Often employing political slogans and imagery, Trejo’s works reuse information in a critical way to question how knowledge is developed. For Nuit Blanche, at the Nova Express Kiosk, Trejo installed his “Enciclopedia Universal,” a constellation of an encyclopedic amount of information.

Information about the “Nova Express” project, including the Nova Express Newspaper, One-Night Only Edition with layout and design by Gatineau-based artist Simon Guibord, was distributed from the Nova Express Kiosk and throughout the zones of Nuit Blanche Ottawa + Gatineau 2013. In Burroughs’ novel, language acts as a virus causing mutations that blur boundaries between scientific and artistic research. The artists in the Nova Express project venture into similar territory. They offer unique interpretations of their findings and field reports that are both inviting and perplexing. Their import will sustain far more than one sleepless night.