Things of Desire Issue #2

August 21, 2008

Hi all! Welcome to the second issue of Things of Desire. I’d first like to give a big Michael Jordan slam dunk high five to everyone who took the time to check out the first issue and for all your kind words. This week the blogzine once again has arts news from coast to coast, with a glut of stories from Halifax for my Haligonian homies. I apologize for the lack of Albertan representation, but I promise in two weeks we’ll return to satiate your Albertan art appetite. If you would like to subscribe to Things of Desire just shoot an email to thingsofdesire@gmail.com. Enjoy!
—Mike Landry

By Stacey Ho

A photo from Ron Benner's "Trans/mission: African Vectors."

Thinking back to elementary school, I recall that vectors are lines that start at a point and go on forever. Using plants as a starting point, Ron Benner has been drawing lines that trace the historical, cultural and political, in a body of work that spans over twenty years. The work follows the complex functions of plants, which can simultaneously act as a source of sustenance and as a tool in warfare.

“Food,” says Benner, “can be used as a weapon: you can withhold it from people, you can starve people. When you hear of a famine, you can be sure that ninety percent of the time, it is not caused by nature. People are starving because of warfare, politics. People are starving because of the way food is distributed.”

A new book, Gardens of a Colonial Present, documents two of Benner’s installations, As the Crow Flies and Trans/mission Vectors, as well as the outdoor garden installations springing from these works.

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The Cow Goes Moo

August 21, 2008

By Mike Landry

David Harper's "When the rain comes" photo: Steve Farmer

The sheep goes baa. The pig goes oink oink. And the director of the Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Peter Dykhuis, goes wild with his new show Exalted Beings: Animal Relationships. Rather than featuring artists describing animals, Dykhuis, who curated the show, found artists who use animals to expose our relationships with ourselves.

The idea for the show came to him almost a decade ago after watching Kelly Mark‘s video, Sniff, wherein a cat is shown sniffing various human objects like a knife, a beer bottle and a bible, with indifference.

“Since the first time I saw it I just knew it was a really profound work of art,” says Dykhuis. “It wasn’t about the cat as subject matter, and it wasn’t necessarily about the human being, but it was about the relationship of objects from human culture to animal culture.”

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Death in Winnipeg

August 21, 2008

By Mike Landry

Casey Howard's "Nigel the Worrier."


Wanda Luna only had to do a quick Google search for “death” to know she was onto something— 646,000,000 results told her The Death Show would be her biggest event yet.

“This title really has hit it off with everybody,” says Wanda Luna, director of Winnipeg’s Estudio Luna. “It’s a huge subject. Everybody thinks about it. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you’re from, you think about it.”

Conceived as a sort of traveling carnival/gallery, Estudio Luna is a one night exhibition of art and entertainment, and a fundraiser for a selected cause. With five shows under her belt, Luna says The Death Show will be the biggest yet. With more than 40 pieces to show and 300 tickets sold, she even had to book a bigger venue.

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Fine Art Furniture

August 21, 2008

By Mike Landry

One of Alisdair MacRae's handbuilt peices of furniture.

The Shakers may be so celibate they’re on the brink of extinction, but they’ve fathered a killer show from Ottawa’s Alisdair MacRae.

The installation artist has built 20 pieces of furniture from original, found and Shakers designs for a solo exhibition titled A Thousand Years to Live. The title comes from a quote from the Shakers’ Mother Ann Lee who said, “Do all your work as though you had a thousand years to live; and as you would if you knew you must die tomorrow.”

“They lived this incredibly chaste hardworking lifestyle. I can’t stay I really aspire to it, but there’s a certain appeal,” says MacRae. “[The quote] puts you in a frame of mind where you want to take time with things and have patience, but at the same time make the most use of whatever hours you have in a day.”

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New from Apple, the iTree

August 21, 2008

By Stacey Ho

From hundred dollar laptops and hybrid cars to biodegradable grocery bags, new designs for everyday objects suggest a new fusion between consumption and sustainability. Likewise, plant(iPod)installation uses sound, sculpture and narrative to imagine a new synthesis between nature and technology.

In this exhibition, Jane Tingley combines steel and delicately carved cork to create ‘prosthetics’ that cradle houseplants, so that “they’re being nurtured by technology rather than being used by it.”

Electronic elements mesh into organic ones, resulting in poetic hybrids of the two. Different recordings of breathing convolve with a textural sound collage of mechanical noise to envelope the space in a sound like breathing water. As a viewer walks through the exhibition, sensors are triggered so that a story emits out of speakers which are hidden amongst the leaves of each plant.

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Samuel Chow Plays God

August 21, 2008

By Mike Landry

A film still from Samuel Chow's "I'm Feeling Lucky."

“It could be anything and everything. I’m trying not to tell you anything because I’m not telling anyone anything that’s in it,” explains multimedia artist Samuel Chow about his latest work. “That’s the whole point of the project in some ways.”

Titled I’m Feeling Lucky in homage to Google’s search button, Chow weaves video, art and a computer program he created to make a random path network video. The computer program creates a random, non-linear narrative to create a unique experience for each viewer.

“The whole entire piece is kind of an allegory on our virtual existence and how that interrelates in our everyday physical existence. It’s taking on that idea that sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get when you go online as voyeurs. It’s that sense of unknowing.”

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