Things of Desire Issue #7

October 2, 2008

Ahoy-hoy ToD readers! I hope you’ve had lots of rest, because we have a whirlwind issue this week that is sure to leave you jetlagged. This week we’re proud to bring you coverage from Dawson City, Yukon’s Valerie Salez. If you like what you see send us some love by becoming a subscriber and email thingsofdesire@gmail.com. Enjoy!
—Mike Landry

Radical Drag

October 2, 2008

By Stacey Ho
Steven Cohen's "Chandelier," 2001. Photo John Hogg

Steven Cohen's "Chandelier," 2001. Photo John Hogg

Considering the current federal cuts targeted at art production, it does well to be reminded that what is precious in art is often what fearful conservatives are seeking to eliminate.

Radical Drag, opening at Ottawa’s SAW Gallery, presents performance, photography, wearable artworks, sculpture and video: art that uses drag to align issues of sex and gender with other forms of dispossession. The exhibition looks at examples of this practice as a form of social critique, addressing ideas of race, war, colonialism, and trauma.

“The state would impose legislature on what a body looks like, how a body is to move,” says Tobaron Waxman, who co-curated the exhibition with Stefan St-Laurent. “Drag has always been a vanguard in terms of being in conflict with that.”

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By Mike Landry
Sasha Brunelle

Céline B. La Terreur performing La Traviata. Photo: Sasha Brunelle

There are niches, and then there is Montreal-based interdisciplinary artist Céline B. La Terreur. If anyone were to write the best Quebecois rock opera, it would be her.

So when Stefan St-Laurent, curator of the 4th Biennale of Performing Art of Rouyn-Noranda, asked her if she would like to participate in this year’s biennale’s theme of rock opera she jumped on the chance. With an interest in visual arts and the leader of an electronic alternative rock band she was both flattered and a little surprised to be invited.

“I was surprised rock opera was even known outside of Quebec and France, because I think it’s a very francophone thing,” says Terrreur. “I didn’t even think that kind of tacky project would be heard of outside of Quebec.”

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Days of our Lives

October 2, 2008

By Mike Landry
John Murchie finds his way throug the woods and museum vaults.

John Murchie finds his way through the woods and museum vaults.

Given TV Guide’s nod as the greatest television program of all time Seinfeld revolutionized television with a show about nothing. The characters were free to live their lives episode to episode, often facing mundane situations inspired by Larry David’s daily life.

I’m not sure if New Brunswick-based artist/curator, and Coordinator of Sackville’s Struts Gallery, John Murchie is a fan of the series, but for his latest curatorial project Days of Our Lives brings the genius of the show to Calgary’s Nickle Arts Museum. Working for two weeks in the gallery space, and the museum’s collection of almost 5,000 works, Murchie will assemble an exhibition on the fly.

“The basic premise is there must be other ways to present art works to people in public galleries than the way we normally do,” says Murchie. “This project is hoping to reflect reality better than most exhibitions do, in the sense that most of our lives aren’t driven by some thesis or end view. It’s more as things go along we respond to what happens.”

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By Mike Landry
Valerie Salez let's the rabbit out of the hat in "Congregation."

Valerie Salez let's the rabbit out of the hat in "Congregation."

In the midst of a morphine induced stupor Dawson City-based artist Valerie Salez asked her boyfriend to write down three sentences—”The cat’s outta the bag; the dog’s outta the box; and the rabbit’s outta the hat.”

The cryptic statements described her visions of animals streaming forward, from smallest to biggest, through a vast white expanse. Salez was given the morphine after she had an appendix attack during an artist residency in Southern Yukon. Although she had to have her appendix removed the experience inspired her latest exhibition, Congregation.

“After the morphine and vision it was during recovery back at the residency that I just began to sit and cut every cat, rabbit and dog from every book I had. I did this for weeks and it felt completely liberating and right.”

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Penance and Devotion

October 2, 2008

By Mike Landry
Gareth Bate, Penance Performance, Queen St. W. Toronto. Photo Carolyn Dinsmore.

Gareth Bate, Penance Performance, Queen St. W. Toronto. Photo Carolyn Dinsmore.

One fifth of a kilometer never seemed so long for Toronto artist Gareth Bate as it did last November. Crawling on his belly from Soho Street to Spadina Avenue with a mat of field grass on his back, Bate spent two hours worming with his face an inch from the sidewalk.

But it wasn’t the crawling forward that forced him to stop—it was crawling backwards to Soho Street.

“Making Penance was such a surprise it was neat to explore some totally different thing than what I had done before,” says Bate. “You realize you’re not one thing. There’s this whole other aspect.”

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Memories of Montreal

October 2, 2008

By Mike Landry
David Holden's "I've forgotten the sound of your voice."

David Holden's painting, "I've forgotten the sound of your voice."

Toronto-based painter David Holden can’t remember what caused him to head home to Montreal a few years ago. But since then he has been returning again and again with his latest series of paintings.

His newest series of paintings incorporate childhood landmarks from the Montreal neighbourhood he grew up in along with symbolic images from his past and current life.

“The buildings and locations are almost like the backdrop, a stage set. I end up dropping in these other images and creating a narrative that way,” says Holden. “It layers my personal history from when I was a teenager and more relevant things that are happening to me now.”

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Halifax goes Nocturnal

October 2, 2008

By Mike Landry
Heather Keeling's ceramic deer inspired by Tang dynasty horses.

Heather Keeling's ceramic deer inspired by Tang dynasty horses.

In the small town of Deep River, Ontario bears are a common nuisance. Every fall they wander in town and can be spotted in trees and in school playgrounds. For most residents the bears are a dangerous inconvenience, but for Halifax-based sculptor Heather Keeling they were an inspiration.

“Like many Canadian I guess I’ve had a lot of personal experiences with animals—especially bears and deer. They’ve crept up into my life many times before,” says Keeling. “Those moments when you do come in contact with wildlife are special, and they’ve caused me to pursue wildlife images.”

For her coming exhibition at Halifax’s Seeds Gallery, Keeling will be showcasing her ceramic nocturnal animals. The works were created during a year-long residency in Lunenburg.

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Stitch by Numbers

October 2, 2008

By Mike Landry

Carmella Karijo Rother's mixed media textile work "No. 17."

Carmella Karijo Rother's mixed media textile work "No. 17."


A few years ago Carmella Karijo Rother didn’t call herself an artist. She would go to museums and look at abstract art, but she wouldn’t “get it.” Then she discovered Mark Rothko.

“I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was just the right thing I came across at the right time. I fell in love with his paintings,” says mixed media textile artist Karijo Rother. “The feeling I get looking at [Rothko] is the kind of feeling I’d like people to have when they look at my work.”

Working with curved shapes cut from silk, Karijo Rother uses an undulating parallel stitching to cover her pieces. She mixes the movement of the stitching with colours to create a movement and energy. She’s called the abstract series Numbers because she didn’t want to suggest what her pieces are about.

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By Mike Landry
Andrew Taggart's maquette for a demon.

Andrew Taggart's maquette for a demon.

Google searching the definition of demonstration doesn’t turn up anything particularly interesting. You’ve most likely used the word hundreds of times and thought nothing of it. But Canadian born Norway-based sculptor/installation artist Andrew Taggart can’t help but see something sinister in the word.

His newest exhibition Demonstration and Rational Demons features various soft and hard sculptures of “demons, owls, walruses, and whoever else shows up” around a fire.

“The work evolved from an investigation into the concept of “demonstration,” and how the words “demon” and “monster” hover within the word itself,” says Taggart. “Showing art can be seen a demonstrative process, I am interested in the rituals and behaviours that accompany this form of demonstration, be they dark, absurd, sacred, powerful or alienating.”

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Votes for Sleepwalkers

October 2, 2008

By Mike Landry
Brady Marks' "Pointing" is part of VIVO's "Votes For Sleepwalkers".

Brady Marks' "Pointing" is part of VIVO's "Votes For Sleepwalkers".

The pieces part of Vancouver’s VIVO Media Arts Centre‘s coming Votes for Sleepwalkers exhibition seem like they were pulled from an futuristic art show as envisioned by a 1950′s sci-fi novelist. There’s spy codes, shifting lights, tiny cinemas and a gallery plinth that can see you. A typewriter that emits music as you type. A motion/light activated wave making machine. An orange chair fitted with a motorized helmet that gives you partial control of the sounds you make. They’re delightfully intriguing as they are impractical.

The experimental creations are the offspring of VIVO’s Studio LAB, which offers workshops and facilitates collaborative projects for electronic media artists and technology enthusiasts.

“It is a kind of a bridging of education production and presentation. It is about experimentation really through the space, peer support, technical assistance, mentorship,” says SLAB programmer and project coordinator is Dinka Pignon. “Some of the artists are established artists while others are emerging, but each of them is pretty new to the technology they are using.”

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