Things of Desire Issue # 6

September 25, 2008

Sup ToD homies! I hope you all have had the chance to dry-clean your favourite festival-going attire, because this week kicks off the fall festival season. This week we bring you coverage from Edmonton’s print international, Toronto’s ImagineNative film and media art festival, and a selection from Halifax’s Photopolis along with a smattering of non-festival exhibitions from across the country. If you like what you see send us some love by becoming a subscriber and email thingsofdesire@gmail.com. Enjoy!
—Mike Landry

Edmonton Prints

September 25, 2008

By Mike Landry
Alicia Candiani (Argentia) is just one of many international artists at EPI 2008.

Alicia Candiani (Argentia) is just one of many international artists at EPI.

Last week a crate failed to arrive for installation at the Edmonton Print International 2008. There was some concern given EPI had paid the airfare for the Finnish artist, Annu Vertanen, to install the wall-sized piece. Since the competitive international exhibition is organized by the non-for profit Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists (SNAP), such a bust would tough.

The crate eventually showed up, and was installed in record time. The scare was just one of many pieces that have fallen into place to make the exhibition a reality. After five years of work, Walter Jule, the general secretary for EPI 2008, says they’re ready to present a show that stands up in international print community.

“Our byline for the show is ‘A Celebration of the Printed Image,'” says Jule. “We just want to show Edmonton this is the breadth of what’s going in contemporary print expression around the world, and ask what do you think.”

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By Mike Landry

A video still from Daniel Barrow's "Artist Statement."

A video still from Daniel Barrow's "Artist Statement."

Jennifer Cherniack almost didn’t want to be quoted as saying so, but one day she wants to move back to Winnipeg.

“My most complicated relationship in life is with Winnipeg. There’s something about the city that I can’t get away from,” says Cherniack, assistant curator/public programmes manager with Toronto’s InterAccess Electronoic Media Arts Centre. “People ask me where I’m from I tell them I’m originally from Winnipeg but I live in Toronto. It’s always like I’m a visitor somewhere else.”

Cherniack’s interest for her hometown inspired her to curate Beatrice’s Centre for Student Affairs, or, How I learned that my mother was right about making art in a prairie town during the rise and fall of grunge music. Using works from Winnipeg-born artists Daniel Barrow, Jo-Anne Balcaen and Evan Tapper, Cherniack presents an exhibition about art school, coming of age stories, gossip and forced reunions.

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Trauma Sutra

September 25, 2008

By Mike Landry

One of Raymond Roddick's bullet made sculpture's part of "Trauma Sutra."

One of Raymond Roddick's bullet made sculpture's .

Taking aim with his father’s .357 in hand Newfoundland artist Raymond Roddick had an epiphany.

He had just returned home from a four month Buddhist retreat where the monks reminded him constantly to focus on his breathing. And here he was out shooting with his dad who was reminding him to pay attention to his breathing. And suddenly things clicked.

“There was a connection between these two things—they both have to do with concentration, focus and stopping in a bunch of different ways. I just jumped in at that point,” says Roddick. “The only idea was to make a mark [with a gunshot] and not penetrate the surface completely to make a very small sculpture.”

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The Minas Basin Project

September 25, 2008

By Stacey Ho
Geri Nolan-Hilfiker's "Red Head Trail."

Geri Nolan-Hilfiker's "Red Head Trail."

Geri Nolan-Hilfiker tells me about the Minas Basin. She knows it well. Chatting over the phone, she tells me about this little spot in the Bay of Fundy, its history as a shipbuilding site. She talks about the area’s natural history, with its deposits of slate, gypsum, basalt, amethyst, old dinosaur bones. She’s picked up some of this knowledge through photographing the basin, but Geri’s lived in the area for years, clam digging along the beaches with her parents as a child.

Given a Nova Scotia projects grant, Nolan-Hilfiker spent the summer of 2005 shooting 75 rolls of film, views of the Minas Basin, looking out from the coastline towards the sea. The result is 50 images, opening this week as part of the Photopolis Photography Festival. The original idea for the project was to take photographs at ground level, the level of the sea, but given that the area has the highest tides in the world, it didn’t matter in the end if the camera was on sea level.

“It just didn’t become that important in the end. I went wherever. ‘Oh here I am at high tide! Oh this is low tide, this is interesting.’ It’s more fun to be intuitive.”

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Dancing with Wolves

September 25, 2008

By Mike Landry
A video still from Torry Mendoza's "Kemosabe Version 1.0."

A video still from Torry Mendoza's "Kemosabe Version 1.0."

Like a woman involved in an abusive, the relationship between Hollywood and North American Natives is a little bit more than complicated. Up-and-coming curator, and native Mohawk, Ryan Rice focuses examines this relationship in his new exhibition HOW: Engagements with the “Hollywood Indian.”

Using a eight artists, Rice depicts Hollywood as something Natives both despise and aspire to. He refers to Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto on the Lone Ranger as “the quintessential ‘Hollywood Indian.'” Although Silverheels was the first native person to land a major role that role was a stereotype.

“It’s a push and pull kind of thing. We hate Dances with Wolves, but we love Dances with Wolves,” says Rice. “It’s still pretty much a white movie, with Kevin Costner and his Indian woman who’s actually a white woman and we’re the background. But if you go across Canada or North America everyone on the reserves will have a copy of Dances with Wolves.”

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One Hip Squeegee Kid

September 25, 2008

By Mike Landry
Robert Christie's "Off the Road"---part of his latest series of paintings.

Robert Christie's "Off the Road"---part of his latest series of paintings.

Saskatoon-based painter Robert Christie is neither young nor hip. He likes to think he might have been years ago. But just because he’s not an cool-kid hipster anymore doesn’t mean his art isn’t cutting edge.

“You always want to push your work, which is why I move from series perhaps more than a lot of people do,” says Christie. “The endeavor is to make it new and fresh for me. If they’re modern or fresh, I hope they’re that at least, and that they offer a viewer some new substance on admittedly something that has been around a long time.”

You can call him Mr. Organization. It’s taken Christie four decades to assume the moniker, but his latest series of paintings bear the fruits of his effort. Before placing a drop of paint on his canvas Christie has started using gel to organize the layout of his painting. After he’ll add the occasional shapes, but he won’t change too much. With bulk of the painting determined, Christie is ready to deal with his real challenge.

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Mark Adair’s Last Garden

September 25, 2008

By Mike Landry
Mark Adair's charcoal drawing, "Tree of Knowledge."

Mark Adair's charcoal drawing, "Tree of Knowledge."

Before visiting Things of Desire, Toronto artist Mark Adair had never been to a blog before. At 53-years-old, Adair is finding himself connecting more and more with contemporary themes through his work.

Preoccupied with what he calls, “old man’s concerns,” his new exhibition Last Garden connects his personal reflection on the end of his life with environmental activism. After a good friend died a few years ago, along with her garden die he was tending to, Adair began to reread Rachel Carson landmark eco-activism book Silent Spring.

“You know when I was younger I was only concerned with the environmental stuff, I was a real active environmentalist,” says Adair, “but now that I’m older it all kind of gels together—it’s the end of my own life and you do see this kind of unbelievable practice going on around the world and it gets kind of defeating I guess.”

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Regeneration from Regina

September 25, 2008

A photo of Joan Scaglione's installation, "Regeneration."

A photo of Joan Scaglione's installation, "Regeneration."

As an art student at the University of Regina multimedia artist Joan Scaglione spent months working with raw wool on a wall. Eventually, frustrated and fed up with her studio space at the university, she brought the wool home into her basement. She shut the lights off and began to wrap herself in the wool.

“I felt like I was crawling out of one of the primal interior space of life—this cocoon shaped habitat,” says Scaglione. “That really triggered in me an awareness of interior versus exterior space— both architecturally and metaphysically.”

Scaglione’s newest and evolving work, Regeneration, continues this exploration. A combination of video, natural material and constructed objects, Regeneration looks at the dialogue between nature and consciousness. Scaglione believes in order to reverse ecological destruction we must first regenerate our imaginations.

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Rearing Art

September 25, 2008

By Mike Landry
A video still from one of Takashima pieces for "Blend."

A video still from one of Takashima pieces for "Blend."

You don’t need to visit People Magazine‘s Celebrity Baby Blog to know that motherhood is in -but it sure is worth checking out just for its creepiness. Baby bumps and little munchkins have been tabloid fare for years now. And BC artist Yoko Takashima says it’s only fitting to read about pregnancy in trite tabloids.

“It’s weird the fact that it’s become a popular issue, because it’s not a popular thing. It has been done for centuries,” says Takashima. “Now people are talking about this special thing, but it doesn’t have a citizenship in a contemporary societal world because it’s a trivial activity. It’s not a big deal activity. Instead of talking about that trivial thing [intellectuals] talk about other issues.”

Although she’s investigating the social and political aspects of motherhood, Takashima says she isn’t a feminist. She’s just a mom who happens to be a contemporary artist. And she explores her relationship between the two in her new exhibition, Blend.

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