Taking a Moment …

As a settler and uninvited guest wherever I walk in this country, I recognize that many people will be sporting Orange Shirts tomorrow. This action, like the (now ubiquitous) Land Acknowledgment, risks becoming a perforative gesture that assuages guilt temporarily, or (as bad or worse) is seen simply as ‘proper’ to do.

My choice is to step back, shut up, and make room – on September 30th, of all days. Yes I will wear an orange shirt; as a mother and grandmother, I can think of nothing more traumatic or horrendous than to lose a child. As a human being, I feel deeply my responsibility to learn and understand, so that I may better assist in appropriate ways to make things better where I can. As a settler, I cannot make a move to claim innocence, when I live within and benefit from the ongoing harms the Settler-Colonial systems in play in this country are still operating.

I am a deeply imperfect work in progress, trying to find the best way to live better in relation. One day at a time.

I leave the following here, as I feel Paulette Regan expressed my thoughts better than I ever could:

For me, Canada’s apology [11 June 2008, then-Prime Minister Harper] was a call for settlers to take seriously our collective moral responsibility for the systematic removal and institutionalization of Native children, some of whom were abused and most of whom were deprived oftheir family life, languages, and cultures. Although the debilitating impactsof sexual, physical, and psychological abuse upon children are self-evident, and Canadians condemn such practices, the problematic assimilation policy that gave rise to such abuses is less understood by the Canadian public. To those who argue that they are not responsible, because they were not directly involved with the residential schools, I say that, as Canadian citizens, we are ultimately responsible for the past and present actions of our government. To those who say that we cannot change the past, I say that we can learn from it. We can better understand how a problematic mentality of benevolent paternalism became a rationale and justification for acquiring Indigenous lands and resources, and drove the creation of prescriptive education policies that ran counter to the treaty relationship. Equally importantly, we can explore how this mentality continues to influence Indigenous-settler relations today. Failing to do so will ensure that, despite our vow of never again, Canada will create equally destructive policies and practices into the future. To those who argue that former IRS students should just get over it and move on, I say that asking victims to bury a traumatic past for the “greater good” of achieving reconciliation does not address the root of the problem –colonialism.

Paulette Regan, Unsettling the Settler Within, p.4

A few words from Bernie

… no – not Sanders. Krause. Bernie Krause, bioacoustician extraordinare.

If ever there was a reason to listen, Bernie describes it best here:

Think about it, then next time you walk around outside. Pay attention to what you hear. What does it tell you about where you are?

SNAP Members’ Show & Sale!

This is one of my favourite annual events – it’s a great opportunity to purchase affordable original art for friends and family (or yourself)!

SNAP has done a fantastic job of keeping everyone safe for the last several months, and the Members’ Show & Sale will be no exception. For folks who prefer to limit their exposure outside their bubbles/cohort, you can shop the entire show online too.

I feel extremely grateful to be part of this community, and even more so that I will have work in this exhibition along side so many talented SNAP artists.

Check it out online or in person – it’s going to be lovely!

Meeting Me (virtually) tonight

Just a quick shout-out to anyone who might want to attend (yet another) webinar :) …

I’ll be speaking on my work and process this evening for #AGAlive, for the Art Gallery of Alberta’s Art Rental & Sales “Meet the Artist” series. The link to register is:

https://www.youraga.ca/events-features/calendar/agalive-meet-artist-sydney-lancaster

The talk is at 6pm MDT (Edmonton AB Time), and will last about an hour, including a Q&A.

A quick preview of a couple of things I’ll be chasing about:

Hope you can make it!

(Be)coming Together Apart

Deeply grateful for the serendipity that brought me to this series of video works today.

Especially grateful for this work by Sally Morgan and Lou Sheppard, and Kinetic Studio for the series. So much of the threads of thought and feeling I (and I am sure many, many others) have been experiencing over the last months are encapsulated here.

The Space Between Us

Into roughly the 8th week(??) of isolation (time has become incredibly fluid for me), and as the days pass, I think increasingly about what will be in the “time after.” Everyone is in such a rush to “get back to normal,” to reopen businesses and relax some of the protocols that have kept many of us safe and healthy – if not employed. I do absolutely sympathize with those who want to re-open their businesses, who are desperate to earn an income to support themselves and their families. It’s at least as frightening to have the economic rug pulled suddenly out from under you as it is to come face to face with a pandemic. This is about survival, on so many levels.

d94185f6-cb68-4028-9ac6-8e4aaccc2c14
https://www.carfac.ca/news/2020/03/30/a-notice-to-our-members-and-our-community-regarding-covid-19/

BUT. I am going to articulate  massively unpopular opinion.

I DO NOT WANT to get back to “normal life.” Not soon, and if I am honest, not ever.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about how ‘normal life’ breaks people and communities through its enactment of privilege, how many people are silenced in so many ways, how at its root this is all about the trade of labour and creativity to enrich the few on the backs of many – and at the expense of the environment and all other beings. How I desperately, urgently, passionately want it all to CHANGE for the better on the other side of this. How afraid I am that it won’t. And how I feel increasingly paralyzed by the prospect of a ‘return to before.’

tumblr_pes4kur3s31t3t6f3o1_500

This is true for me in relation to the broader culture in which I live, and for the sector in which I work. This is a moment in which we could – and should – recognize that not only will the ‘new normal’ be with us for a long time (2 metres for the win!), but the ‘old normal’ is something that we should neither wish for nor return to. It also may be moot – because the ‘old normal’ may not exist for much longer, regardless of what some (or most) people desire.

“Normal” or “business as usual” has been exposed with utter clarity by the pandemic:  the glaring gaps in care, the enormous disparities that are actively cultivated and maintained by the systems in which we live and work. How many people have no choice but to risk their health and that of their loved ones & work in this time, in order to survive; how the most vulnerable of us have even fewer options to remain safe and healthy.

How many of us have seen our entire sector shut down, cancelled, income evaporated, in already tenuous livelihoods.

So this is a point in which we can CHOOSE what kind of world we want to live in moving forward. And we need to ask these questions of ourselves – NOW – while we have the time and opportunity to do so.

IMG_8480

What are you prepared to do to create a more equitable culture and community as we come out of this? How can we work together to make that happen?

What aspects of ‘normal life’ are you happy to see gone?

I leave you with these questions – and encourage your replies … and also with an excellent essay by Lou Sheppard; they articulate far more eloquently than I some of the things that have been worrying me about what comes next.

Take Care of Each Other.

Sharing … at a Safe Distance

It’s been quiet here in some ways – and definitely not in others! Whilst we have all been minimizing our in-person contact with friends and colleagues (well ok, with EVERYONE!) for the last few weeks, there’s been a flurry of activity behind the scenes regarding advocacy and support initiatives of various sorts. It’s been confusing at times, and much has happened very quickly – so it’s been challenging to keep up and understand what is relevant to my profession as an independent visual artist, and to the sector as a whole.

Happily, CARFAC Alberta and CARFAC National have been doing a fantastic job of compiling and distilling information as it becomes available, and advocating for appropriate support for our sector. I have never been more grateful for the work these organizations do to support artists and advocate on their behalf. As a board member in both, I continue to offer my time and effort to help them help all of us.

If you want to chat about what’s available, what you are facing, and what CARFAC is doing, I’ll be part of an online session on MAY 2, from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm MDT

Join CARFAC Alberta for a SATURDAY ZOOM ENGAGEMENT…
What CARFAC is doing for Visual Artists during COVID -19
Hosted by Chris W. Carson: Executive Director, CARFAC Alberta and guest Sydney Lancaster: CARFAC National Board Member and Alberta Representative on the CARFAC National Board.

The ZOOM coordinates are here:

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87871667746
Meeting ID: 878 7166 7746

I hope to see & hear from you then!

Being Resourceful

We are all hunkering down – making the best of social distancing, of being at home (the privilege of those of us that can work from home … or find themselves now out of work).

We are reading, making art, caring for and educating children, caring for friends and others at a distance, going for walks, venturing out as little as possible otherwise … life, in silos.

Those of us facing down this strange time in human history by removing ourselves from the community (or being removed through unemployment) are where we need to be right now, for the protection of everyone, not just ourselves.

So it’s a ‘social good’ – but the varying degrees of lockdown across the country also mean that people with precarious incomes – like artists – have seen the income from their practices all but disappear, and the gig work they do to make ends meet has evaporated.

It’s still not clear (to me at least) where people that had ‘potential’ income that has dried up will fit into federal and provincial relief programs … hopefully that information will be forthcoming soon.

So – WE HAVE TO BE PREPARED.

Yes, that’s right … just when you hoped to avoid paperwork for a a while, since the deadline for tax filing has been deferred … you need to keep track of ALL the income you have lost.

It’s ain’t sexy or glamorous – and might be a bit depressing – but it is SO NECESSARY right now. By tracking our losses, we can provide an accurate picture of the financial impact of the pandemic for workers who don’t “fit” into the regular systems of income-generation and accounting.

There are many of us – so it’s vital that we have the facts to hand, so the case can be made.

Here are some tools & other resources to help:

Stay safe, take care of your self and each other. And do your paperwork! :)

Today: A Talk

Today, I have the happy opportunity to share the Boundary|Time|Surface project with the McGill University community.

Very much looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on the project!

A Talk, Upcoming

Very happy to say that I will be presenting a talk with John Waldron about our cross-disciplinary work on the Boundary|Time|Surface project next week.

If you are in the Wolfville, Nova Scotia area, the talk is being presented at Acadia University – details in the image above.

Looking forward to sharing this project with students from both Visual Arts and Earth Science!