A thought …

… that I came across today. A quote, actually, from Martin Creed, that sums up some of the ideas that have been rolling around in my head for a while now.

On a more literal level, working some of this out through the creation of the original Boundary|Time|Surface installation in 2014, and in other ways in the work that arose from it and that is now on exhibition in Newfoundland.

At any rate, Creed said:

“I started thinking about the difficulty of drawing lines on a map, making country borders, which is exactly the same as drawing on a piece of paper. Any definite border is against nature and against life.”

Things bleed into one another; that is the reality of it all. Eventually, all the myriad ways of dividing up the world (and ourselves) break down and erode. The edges get fuzzy, or float away.

These compartments we build are convenient, but they are illusions.

btsfromcliffhitideWEB
View from cliff top
fromthebeach
View facing the cliff at Green Point

Thanks Martin, I needed that today.

{SOURCE: “Martin Creed on Why Art Can’t Ignore the World around It” by Philomela Epps, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-martin-creed-on-why-art-can-t-ignore-the-world-around-it}

Boundary|Time|Surface is Open!

It’s been very quiet here lately … and a bit frantic everywhere else in my life.

Just got back from a week in Newfoundland, installing Boundary|Time|Surface at the Discovery Centre Gallery in Gros Morne National Park! The exhibition will be up for the entire season – until early October 2016. If you have a chance to visit this magical place, please drop in, and let me know what you think!

It was lovely to be back in Woody Point. It’s a gorgeous spot on the planet, and the terrific people out there make it even better. The staff of Parks Canada and all the folks I’ve met in Woody Point and Rocky Harbour are part of what makes Gros Morne so special to me; it’s been more like a family reunion than going to work. Waking up to whales playing in Bonne Bay every morning didn’t hurt either!

It was a hectic, challenging, tiring week – but worth it to see this work up and complete in a way I’ve not had the opportunity to experience until now. It’s a very interesting process/experience, seeing the work all together for the first time; there’s always that element of wondering if what you’d envisioned would really make sense in the space, as an integrated series of pieces that speak to the viewer both individually and as a whole.

Here’s a (very short) video walk-thru of the exhibition (apologies for the slightly shaky footage – handheld on a phone isn’t ideal, I know):

And a few still images of the work as well:

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I wanted to take a moment to thank some people for their help in making this exhibition a reality …

John Waldron – my geological partner in life, the universe, and everything, scientific collaborator, resource person, and tech troubleshooter extraordinaire

Jennifer Galliott – artist, entrepreneur, and top notch exhibition install assistant (she makes a mean latte too!)

Rob Hingston – and Parks Canada for having faith in the project, and bringing the exhibition to the Discovery Centre

Bruce Gillam – for his assistance with the lighting, cabling, and making things the best they could be

It’s time to  regroup a bit, nurse my colossal jet lag and exhaustion – and start to get organized for the next round of work and travel … more on that in a bit.

Balance

 

He makes it look easy. Oh, it’s not.

I am smitten with the meditative and performative quality of this type of work. When I make work like this – site based, body based, working with natural materials – I feel most at home in my skin.

As an artist especially.

Thanks for the reminder, Adrian Gray.

 

SubArctic – Amazing!

What an amazing SubArctic Improv last night!

I am continually blown away by the diverse and powerful talent we have here in Edmonton. I’m also inspired and thrilled by our creative community’s generosity of spirit – the way people come together to make work, and give freely of themselves and their creativity. These people share with each other and share with their audiences – and we all are better for it.

A better city, a better community, creative and otherwise.

*yes, if it seems I am gushing a bit, I am – no apologies. It was a great night!

I must extend my thanks to everyone that made this event happen: Jen Mesch and Allison Balcetis who curate Subarctic Improv, Mile Zero staff and volunteers for being such excellent hosts, and all the people who shared the stage: Kate Stashko, Vincent Forcier, Pigeon Breeders, Nicolas Arnaez, Thunder Lightning Heart & Adrian LaChance.

It was an honour to work with you all.

Some preliminary pics from last night, courtesy of Ernest at Studio E Photography, below.

The bubble wrap/LED light objects and bubble wrap costumes were my contribution to the night.

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Enjoy!

SubArctic Improv – coming soon!

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I am really looking forward to participating in this month’s SubArctic Improv, which will happen on Thursday January 21st, starting at 8pm. This series is curated by two amazing women: Jen Mesch and Allison Balcetis. The lovely people at Mile Zero Dance host this series, and the Spazio Performativo is a beautiful and welcoming space to be working in. (all the details are in the links!)

This is a delightful opportunity for me – a moment to play a little, stretch my thinking, try things, be funny and fearless. I’ve long wanted the opportunity to make work for and with moving human bodies in space (dancers and movement specialists), and so when Jen kindly invited me to participate in SubArctic, I couldn’t say no.

This series harkens back to a project I had roughly a decade ago with the Edmonton Poetry Festival: a multidisciplinary jam called CORTEX, that I pulled together with Phil Jagger. I’ve always thought that the silos within which we create in the arts here were limiting, somewhat artificial divisions (not to say that cross-disciplinary work hasn’t become more prevalent in recent years, but this kind of work could happen more IMO). There’s so much to learn from other disciplines’  creative process and from the people who live in it. Working outside our respective comfort zones – making that leap into risk –  is always a great way to come at what we do with fresh eyes.

So – to that end – my contribution to this month’s Improv will feature unconventional (and interactive) materials, and provides a new and playful way for me to consider: light (and its absence), stars, hibernation, insulation (because, heck it’s Edmonton and January, and well … cold!), security, exposure … .

A nod to how fragile real safety is, perhaps; or a fun way to explore what it means to have the illusion of safety, and actually be really vulnerable. Riffing and punning on the idea of exposure, privacy, security, ‘nesting’, voyeurism, exhibitionism …….

All potentially heady/serious/intense stuff. And all very real concerns in the world – but here, for this moment, I wanted to flip all of that on its ear, and have a little FUN – be a little silly, inject some humour and play into the mix.

SO … here’s hoping that happens! (it’s improv, ANYthing could happen)

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I hope to see lots of familiar and unfamiliar faces on January 21st! Looking forward to it immensely!!

Drawing

I’ve been thinking a great deal about drawing lately (perhaps because I haven’t had much time to do any, and I miss it!)

But more’s to the point: I have always been captivated by the connection between drawing and sculpture, the direct way in which the hand works to inscribe volume, line, and edge in both.

In my practice, I understand drawing and sculpture not as separate ‘disciplines’ at all … they are much more fluid, intermingled for me.

So. I thought I’d pass this on: a beautiful video of birds in flight, that to my mind, at least, captures some of the essence of what I understand (and love) about both drawing and sculpture … and some video work for that matter!

I hope you enjoy it … it rewards a FULL viewing. What happens at about the 7 minute mark is glorious.
Kudos to Dennis Hlynsky for sharing this!

Installation View … an exhibition

I will be in a group exhibition this month … .

Installation View is curated by Stacey Cann, and will feature work by Devon Beggs, Rhea Lonsdale, Ali Nickerson, and yours truly.

INstallation View Invitation

 

I am really looking forward to getting the work up in the gallery spaces, and to seeing how our individual projects ‘talk’ to one another.

I will be showing brand new work for this exhibition, and that’s exciting too!

Hope to see some of you there!

Oddment #3

Oddment #3 comes from downtown Calgary AB – a public art installation outside The Bow Building.

It’s a striking piece of architecture, and the work chosen for it no less so.

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I took this shot from inside the sculpture – there are two doors at the base of the work that allow people to walk right through it.

An interesting perspective on the downtown skyline, and the seemingly constant construction of office towers in the core of that city.

The Love Affair, Else-where Part I: People and Things

I have always been fascinated by the relationship of people to things … .

Or more correctly my fascination lies with the way people relate to things: to objects in the world, places and spaces. We invest so much meaning in the things around us, and develop large and elaborate webs of connection between us-and-things, between-things, between things-and-places … and us. On one level, this is (of course) a completely sensible way of understanding the world we perceive around us. We are creatures that rely on our sense perceptions to find our way in the world and make connections and associations between things and our selves – on a fundamental level, this is in order to survive. But this is merely surface. What intrigues me to all distraction – and strikes me as far more vital as a route of inquiry –  is the emotional and psychological idiosyncrasy of humans to associate objects/things, places/spaces with a  much deeper relevance. It amounts to an investment in the phenomenological world that speaks to the need for understanding and connection far beyond simple sensory input.  The human being in the world needs to understand itself as part of a network of connections and interactions that provide sustenance to memory, to the sense of belonging, to community of one description or another.

We see this investment mirrored in language, too: a house is not a home, for example. The phrase “back home” can mean a geographic region, a particular town or city, or a building at a specific address – but in all cases, the emotional notion of ‘home’ is embedded in our understanding of the place/space to which the reference is made. An interesting exercise: begin with the word home, and make a list of other words you associate with home, as quickly as you can. How many entries on that list are names of physical objects? How many are descriptors of emotions? How many of the physical objects named evoked emotional responses, memories, connections of all kinds? In the end, where did this exercise take you mentally and emotionally? If you’re anything like me, you’re left with a fairly extensive, contradictory, and somewhat ambivalent set of words and associations – but for all of that ambivalence (or perhaps because  of it) it’s one powerful list.

In looking back over the development of my work for the last several years, I have come to realize just how integral exploring this idea is to my entire creative process. I suppose in some respects, it comes down to why I make work in the first place – and also very much how I go about it. I am collector, to be sure  – a certain crow or magpie sensibility informs my way of seeing the world, so I find myself picking up odd bits and pieces of things, being captivated by things as diverse as rusty metal bits, newspaper clippings, rocks, bones, vintage hardware, old clocks, historical records and ephemera … the list goes on. And on. In and of themselves, these objects hold no personal resonance for me when I find them (or rarely do) – so what’s the attraction?
a random assortment of stuff I found cluttering my desk ...
I'm sure there's at least one good story in this collection of stuff.
In the end, I think it’s about what’s not there – the absences, the liminality of the places where many of the objects are found, the interruptions in history or narrative that these objects represent. In this sense, the phenomenology of the objects is one of disjunct or at least partial disconnection: although there is a certain narrative continuity in linear time that brings them from the ‘Point A’ of some time in the past to the ‘Point B’ of my hands (and my work), I have no way of knowing most of the in-between time of that object’s relationship to other people and other things. This allows me to create new stories for them and from them, and also construct new threads of connections between object that I have gathered together. They become ”ready-re-mades” I suppose: change the context of a thing and change the meaning, insofar as the conventional narrative of the object is disrupted a second time by my choices in its use and placement in proximity to other things. This is certainly and most obviously the case in the mixed media assemblage work that I create – but this same approach (I have come to realize) informs the work I do in other media. Photography, drawing, sculpture: one way or another, the work deals with objects in space as artifacts of presences-past, or interrupted connections, or attempts to re-establish or re-imagine the relationship between people and things.

Some thoughts on new drawings …

I’ve been quite conscious of my work process in the last while – more than usual – because it seems to be evolving quite rapidly. This is, quite naturally, bringing all kinds of interesting questions to light for me in relation to the way I work, why I am drawn to do what I do: the ‘why’ of the ‘how’ if you will.

This body of work appears to be resolving itself around repetition/recapitulation, and consistent references to specific patterns and shapes. This is something that had begun to make itself known with the initial work for Archives of Absence, but for the most part, I chalked that up to working in different materials and with different content than I had before. Now, I’m beginning to think otherwise.

A bit OCD? Maybe … but there’s other things at work here:

What does the reiteration of form or object say about the object itself, and/or about the need to repeat or recapitulate the form  – and the doing? Certainly for this body of work, focused as it is on birds’ nests, this form of making does certainly tap into action as an instinctual and/or ritualized process.

There’s also my predilection for squares, circles, and grids:  circles and squares are two of the ‘perfect’ forms, and they seem to encapsulate notions of balance and harmony, this being inherent in equilateral/bilaterally symmetrical shapes. The way these shapes relate to space is important here too – their extension into space is the same in all directions. These are democratic shapes – they occupy and contain with equality. Grids and patterns based on grids work in a similar way, especially when used as a means of expanding or contracting the scale of an object, or measuring space. Grids = Order, Containment, Regularity, Pattern. They allow for variation, but within rigidly set boundaries.

 This repetition can create blindness through its sameness, on one level … that jaded sense of “seen that before”/ “same old, same old” … we become desensitized to the things we see repeatedly. But the converse is also true, and something I want to explore much more: if we are presented with a sequence/series/reiteration of the same object or form, we are also (at least I am) drawn to the details: the hide-and-seek of finding the differences between these objects which are essentially the same. It is these threads that reveal independent narratives attached to (and issuing from) each object.
So in the end perhaps this is becomes about seeing and choice,  and the connections between the process of  making and the process of recognition.