A Word 24.07.2015 Anitra Hamilton & Sounds Like V

This week’s episode of the A Word is a conversation with Anitra Hamilton: she’s one of the artists featured in this year’s incarnation (the fifth) of the annual audio arts festival Sounds Like. I give you the amusing image she provided for the web postings re: her installation, as her audio work rarely has a visual component.

Territoriality by Anitra Hamilton

Sounds Like V happens this weekend: everything you need to know about that festival is here, including purchasing passes or if you’d like to volunteer (not only assisting in the event, but a good way to get in for free), but also workshop information.

Anitra and I talk about her project for this year’s festival (likely the last SL, according to a variety of sources), but you’re hopefully familiar with her work from her past exhibition at paved titled Town & Country. As you can see from the links, I’ve written a few things about her work, which is always entertaining and touches a bit on appropriate transgression (in my opinion), so this is an enjoyable conversation. Her work is featured on the second day of the festival.

You can listen to us talk here. And I simply had to include the cattle auction audio from her past solo exhibition at paved to end this week’s episode.

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Now, a few other things to note: there’s still time to submit to BlackFlash’s Optic Nerve Contest, and The Members’ Show and Sale just opened at the Affinity Gallery with the Saskatchewan Craft Council. The latter is part of a fundraising campaign for building repairs for the SCC, so your support is needed there, and there are some excellent artists.

My final (though I keep thinking “never say never”) piece in Planet S can be seen here: Amalie Atkins’ we live on the edge of disaster and pretend we are in a musical and her accompanying exhibition Wundermärchen in the Kenderdine space are my topic this issue. You can attend the accompanying performance tonight (the 24th) on the university campus.

A Word 17.07.2015 Ruth Cuthand & BlackFlash / Optic Nerve

As my time here winds down, I find that I’m frustrated by how many things I have to let go, in terms of coverage of upcoming shows and such, and various worthy events.
In light of that, this week’s blog post / radio show is content rich, as the granting bodies would say, in their rhetoric.

This week’s radio show is a conversation with Ruth Cuthand: her exhibition Don’t Drink Don’t Breathe just closed at the Mann Gallery, but I have no doubt it will travel elsewhere. I’ve posted some images of it below, and we talk not just about her practice but some of the ideas that inform it. Ruth spoke at Stronger Than Stone last fall, and also was on a panel for Tribe‘s Twentieth Anniversary. I would also add that she was a strong voice for some new ideas regarding public art here, having a hand in the Tony Stallard work that, to me, and to many, has marked a seismic shift in terms of how we think about art in the public realm in Saskatoon, and what “public” includes and excludes.

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You can listen to us here. I was very pleased to talk to Ruth in one of my last few shows here, and I think you can tell we enjoyed our conversation, too.

Now, just as important as the space of public art is the space occupied by arts organizations, galleries and magazines here: many of you know I was involved with BlackFlash Magazine for years, as Editorial Chair, and I still write for them now and again. Their last few issues have been lovely: if you don’t have a subscription, get one (that may be an echo of something Dr. Cameron Cartiere said, from the Street Meet panel, when she challenged a number of people talking about “change” and such as to whether or not they either vote, or are even registered to vote. I am exhausted of those who want to see more writing / coverage of art, yet don’t make the effort to support such spaces. Hell, I’m leaving the province and I’m buying a subscription).

unnamedBlackFlash’s Annual Optic Nerve Image Contest is going on right now. Travis Cole, the Managing Editor, passed on the following information regarding jurors for the competition, and it looks to be a great jury, with an excellent mix of local and international, and with a collective eye to concept as much as form.

The bios are below: everything you need to know to submit is here.

Lori Blondeau is a Cree/Saulteaux artist working primarily in performance art, but also occasionally in installation and photography. Blondeau is a member of the Gordon First Nation and is based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In 1995, she co-founded Tribe, an artist-run centre geared towards exhibiting the work of contemporary First Nations artists in Canada.

Through his photography and mixed-media installations, Eritrean-born, New York-based, Canadian artist Dawit L. Petros investigates boundaries in artistic, geographical and cultural contexts. He combines extensive research and travel into art that centers around a critical rereading of the relationship between global modernisms. Petros’ artistic language – which engages liberally with sculpture, performance and painting – is an act of poetic translation that pushes against naturalized ways of investigating place, form, and subjectivity.

Vancouver and Vienna based artist Sabine Bitter has worked on projects addressing cities, architecture, and the politics of representation and of space since 1993. Mainly working in the media of photography and video her research-oriented practice engages with specific moments and logics of the global-urban change as they take shape in neighborhoods, architecture, and everyday life. Since 1994 she collaborates with and Helmut Weber and in 2004 they founded the research collective Urban Subjects with Jeff Derksen. Sabine Bitter teaches at Simon Fraser University and curated the Audain Gallery Vancouver from 2009 – 2013.

Past winners include: Connor Charlesworth (2014), Brendan George Ko (2013), Nathan Cyprus (2012), Kiana Hayeri (2011) and Clare Samuel (2009).

And BlackFlash’s latest issue is soon to hit the streets: click on the image below, of the upcoming issue, for contributors / articles and to purchase a subscription.

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A Word 10.07.2015

This week’s radio show covers a number of events / exhibitions / submissions: and if I sound a bit antsy, its because I was also doing some training / demonstrations for two people who are looking to produce / host a show about visual arts in Saskatoon after my departure. This may begin in August, or September, but I’ll be passing on updates as my time here comes to an end.

But on this week’s show I talk about the extended deadline for Toon’s on Transit (here‘s an excellent article in the Star Phoenix, and here‘s paved’s site with all the information you need to submit), the current show at Art Placementt, as well as the exhibitions on campus by Amalie Atkins, that will include a performance on the 24th. I offer some brief thoughts on Finding City and Street Meet, but I think I’ll be working on a more in-depth piece about all that in a few weeks.

As well, BlackFlash Magazine’s annual Optic Nerve Contest has a deadline that seems far away (end of August) but really isn’t. All you need to know to submit is at the previous link, from the prizes to past judges.

And because I remembered BlackFlash, I forgot to mention this: remember, only you can prevent Cargo Cult Modernism / Karaoke modernism, and less flippantly, its an exciting time for art in the public realm(s) here in Saskatoon, so be part of it.

You can listen to this week’s show here: and next week’s show will feature Ruth Cuthand, who’s exhibition at the  Mann Gallery will be closing soon but is worth the drive to Prince Albert. The episode after that is a conversation with Anitra Hamilton, who’s one of the artists in this year’s Sounds Like Audio Art Festival.

Now, one final thing to add, very worthy of your support.

The Saskatchewan Craft Council has their upcoming SCC 40th Anniversary Show and Sale (check out the image below). It’s a fundraiser as well as a celebration of forty years of Fine Craft.The SCC is splitting the commissions 70/30 with the artists and the SCC Building Renovation Campaign, as they need to replace the antiquated boiler and hot water radiator heating system, as the building they inhabit on Broadway is a century old. This is a very worthy cause, and a number of the artists in this are significant, so everyone comes out ahead when you purchase a piece in the show and sale.

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A Word 03.07.2015 Street Meet / Finding City

This week’s show is really just a reminder about all the events that are happening with Street Meet (you can listen to my conversation with Alanna Moore here, on a previous show) and a reminder that Finding City will be staging an artist presentation by Monique Motut-Firth focusing on her practice as its been employed during her recent residency here, with FC and void gallery.

That presentation will also encompass a roundtable discussion, that will include Michael Peterson (whom I spoke to on a previous A Word here), Crystal Bueckert of The Storefront, and myself.

Everything you need to know regarding times / locations of events are at their respective web sites, and I hope to see some of you at the various activities. Saturday’s panel for Finding City should be entertaining, and hopefully as interactive with the audience as the previous FC panel a few weeks ago, all part of their ongoing Conversation series.

The deadline for submitting to Toons on Transit, and all the information regarding formats and such can be found at the preceding link: praise to paved for not resting on the laurels of the excellent Toon’s Kitchen on site programming.

Information regarding Scott Benesiinaabandan’s residency at paved is here. I give you an image of his work from the exhibition The Fifth World that was at the Mendel this spring. 09.Scott.Benesiinaabandan

Oh, right, before I forget: this week’s episode of the A Word can be listened to here.

A Word 26.06.2015 Finding City

This week’s show is all about Finding City. Michael Peterson, of the void gallery, but whom also, along with Gary Young, is a driving force with FC, is my guest.

I consider this week’s show a continuation of last week’s conversation with Alanna Moore, where we talked about public art / public sites and contested spaces / narratives, and focused on Street Meet Saskatoon. You can still listen to that episode of the A Word here

Michael and I talk about the ideas that inform Finding City and a number of the speakers / events that they’ll be facilitating through their Conversation series. You can listen to us talk here and their web site is here. The Image below is by the artist Monique Motut-Firth, whom we speak about on air.

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An interesting addition to this conversation is the recent decision by Saskatoon Police Services regarding the monument to missing and murdered Indigenous women that will be installed at their station. You can see images of the selected artist / installation and the two that were part of the final selection process here. In conversation with a number of people I’ve commented that I’m very pleased and surprised at this initiative, as there are spaces that one would expect this kind of sensitivity and cultural awareness from (looking at you, Usask art department) and they fail in that regard, and I don’t mean any disrespect when I say that, like many here, I remember the furor over the Starlight Tours, and am pleased that this piece is happening as an indicator of change, and progress.

I might just put out there an idea from Stronger Than Stone: one does not want to sacrifice the present for the sake of the past in terms of “monuments”, and perhaps this memorial work should be seen as further demand for a national inquiry into the pandemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Perhaps I’ll ask Randy Donhauer, whom is already sending out flyers through the post in anticipation of the federal election, where his CPC stands on this: or perhaps he’ll just continue the rich tradition (as rich as the pensions enjoyed by Vellacott, or McKay, or Baird) of silence, like the “Silent 13″ in the current federal regime.

Stepping away from the effluvia of politics, you can see a piece in the current Planet S that is all about galleries and events in the visual arts sphere this summer, in Saskatoon and beyond. You can read that here: but I must put out a mea culpa mea maxima mea culpa to the Affinity Gallery and the Saskatchewan Craft Council, as they slipped through the cracks in this article. So, in atonement, I give you links to a variety of things they’re doing this summer.

WaterFront is on this Saturday, with Citizens of Craft Day in the Park, plus their 40th Anniversary Members’ Show & Sale begins in mid-July. That is always an excellent exhibition, with numerous quality artists. I’d add that they also just presented the Dimensions Award, and the winner of the Premier’s Prize for Outstanding Entry went to Cathryn Miller of Saskatoon (you may have seen her work at the Mendel this past Winter).

Goodbye, Saskatoon.

As some of you already know, my tenure in Saskatoon – and the Prairies – is coming to an end.

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This means that my various writings that privilege this place for many publications will also be coming to an end, as my focus on “contested histories” moves elsewhere with me. It also means that the A Word radio show – and the accompanying blog, that in the last few years has been primarily the radio show, an “events calendar” for visual arts in Saskatoon and a bit beyond, and a means to access my writings about this place with other publications – will be “relocating” with me, and be rebooted in a new place. Negotiations for that have already started, and its a very exciting and rewarding endeavour for me.

As you read this, I should add that there’s at least two (or three) other pieces that will not yet see the light of day in publication until I’ve left Saskatoon, so the conversation may continue, briefly, for a little while longer. But my own history has taught me that when I generally leave a place, I don’t return, and have little desire to do so (except for brief visits), and that will be very true here, I suspect.

Ignazio Nighttraveller Gazzola (1998 - 2015), editing my piece on ReWilding Modernity for HA & L

Ignazio Nighttraveller Gazzola (1998 – 2015), editing my piece on ReWilding Modernity for HA & L. Note the look of exasperation.

I could enumerate what I’ve done here, and how I helped change the landscape (being a founding member of paved, teaching at the U of S for 10 plus years, my five year tenure as BlackFlash Editorial Chair and my long history of ARC board membership are just a few): but I have no interest to do so. I feel my real contributions have been how my writings on art have been published in nearly every issue of the Planet for more than the past decade, and I can’t remember if I’ve just broached 8 or 9 years doing the radio show with CFCR 90.5 FM (support them, visual arts community, as they’ve been extremely supportive of you all, in various forms). It has been mostly a joy: the latter was entirely volunteer work, but allowed for personal and public conversations about art and site that helped broaden this community, and enrich it.

I could also burn quite a few bridges, but again, I have no interest to do so: many people here within the visual arts community and beyond have been wonderful, and I count them as friends, colleagues or respected sparring partners in the realm of ideas and art. The rest may return to their foolishness, “as a dog returneth to his vomit” (Prov 26:11 – you knew a Bible quote would appear in this, I suspect).

I am very sad I will not be able to write about the ongoing Remai Modern and the ideas of locality / internationality that will play out with the new Chief Curator, as a further exploration of my recent conversation with Gregory Burke about using the Emma Lake model of bringing the world here.
Or perhaps my nearly two decades here will be put to use in speaking about that in the larger national and international narrative: my time here has marked me, and perhaps I’m like that palimpsest that is so often used as an analogy for here, and it will continue to surface and inform who I am, and what I do.
I’m posting this now, a little while before my leaving, as things are moving forward quickly, and my thoughts are already elsewhere: but it seemed appropriate and necessary to say goodbye.

Books for sale to a good home

As some of you know, I’m dispersing my library: everything is for sale, so make an offer.

There’s two different lists of what I have in my mad library: one is more art + theory, another is fiction / non fiction. Most are soft cover, but a few are not, so don’t hesitate to ask. I can be reached at bart.gazzola[at]hotmail.com, and its all first come / first serve, people.

As a teaser, I’d say that I have the entire Sandman series, from Preludes and Nocturnes to The Wake in trade paperbacks, and I have about five books by Zizek, several by Badiou and alot of Irvine Welsh, Salman Rushdie and Barbara Gowdy…and several books by Georges Bataille.

Here’s two PDFs: as I said, one is more art and theory and the other is fiction / nonfiction, though they bleed together.

 

A Word 19.06.2015 Street Meet 2015

This week’s episode of the A Word, as we move towards the final episodes of the show here in its run in Saskatoon, is a conversation with Alana Moore all about Street Meet 2015. We talk about the various events / artists / interventions as well as the ideas that inform it, and how it occupies a space (yes, that is a pun) that is sometimes subversive and sometimes challenging.You can listen to us speak here: their FB page can be found here., and their web site is here.

Now, one of the groups that Street Meet will be working with this time is Finding City. That should be a familiar name to you (Adrian Stimson, at the recent series of panels that TRIBE presented for its twentieth anniversary talked about his work in a previous manifestation of Finding City), and the organization is now being “headed” by Michael Peterson from the Void and Gary Young. Gary was the director of the Snelgrove Gallery, but also has a significant history with other ARCs and other initiatives, and I should say that in my recent conversation with Michael that when he mentioned Gary’s involvement, I was very keen to find out what they’re doing / planning, and to be involved with them in fermenting conversations about this city, and the larger discourse about urban issues and concerns in Canada and beyond.
I’ll be talking to Michael next week about some of the things that Finding City will be doing this summer: but in the meantime, here’s some links and information about that.
Street Meet doesn’t happen until the beginning of July: so this show is a bit early, but think of it as a one – two punch of Street Meet this week, and Finding City the next.

Both images below link to much larger files that include schedules and bios.

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A Word 12.06.2015 Gregory Burke & the Remai Modern

This week’s radio show is a conversation between myself and Remai Modern CEO / Director Gregory Burke. We chat about the history and ideas informing the new gallery: you can listen to it here. Several things that Gregory mentioned, such as the project with Althea Thauberger or with e-flux, are linked to here, at their FB page. Here’s an interview with the new Remai chief curator / head of programs Sandra Guimarães, as well.

This week also saw three pieces of mine about different shows that have been here or are on display now go online. Some final thoughts on the Fifth World which was at the Mendel Art Gallery, In the Making (both in Magenta Magazine, who have been generous in their coverage of art in Saskatchewan) and Steph Krawchuk’s solo show at Art Placement.

Now, some of you may be having some art withdrawal, due to the closure of the Mendel, as we anticipate the Remai Modern: I know I’ll be doing a piece for an upcoming Planet about different sites and events that will be available to you over the summer, perhaps even into September. However, this weekend, you can check out the annual Art Trek: their FB page is here, and I’ve included some information below.

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TRIBE’s 20th Anniversary: Claxton, Witness & Poitras

The Fifth World, the Mendel’s final show, is significant not just for considering that institution’s legacy, but it was also the first in a series of exhibitions / events presented here in Saskatoon by TRIBE to mark their twentieth anniversary.

Spaces of social and historical importance, and who gets to occupy them, are also a factor in the exhibitions currently at 424 20th Street West, at paved and aka. TRIBE has presented three Indigenous artists of international significance in the two gallery spaces, as well as a billboard work overlooking Riversdale.

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Ed Poitras’ Don’t Speak could also be seen as the latest installment in a number of critically engaged billboards here (Mary Longman, Terrance Houle and Scott Massey). Poitras’ work often literally – and symbolically – cites the history of residential schools, and in Speak he employs an archival photo of young girls in the Saskatchewan residential school system. His words: “Even now when I look at this image, I can’t help but wonder about what happened to these girls. I imagine they became mothers, grand mothers and great grand mothers. With children of their own, some or all taken from them and sent to residential school. Some would know or hear of others who would go missing, like not being there for a group photo. Some would lose their language and others would get it back.”

It’s fitting to encounter his work first before entering the galleries: a tone is set. The title offers numerous interpretations: whether the aforementioned “lost language”, the uninformed denial of any colonial history “here”, or the new aspect of Bill C-51 literally punishing dissenting speech…The brightly coloured “word balloons” contrast the silence of those shown, the garish ovals accenting the bleakness of the original photograph.

The two exhibitions inside challenge each other: Dana Claxton’s two channel video installation Revisited is a poignant meditation that’s quieter than the more raucous, and edged The Ultimate Warriors by Bear Witness. Claxton’s seminal Buffalo Bone China was the first show TRIBE presented two decades ago, and besides being Claxton’s first solo show, Buffalo has become a touchstone for contemporary Indigenous art in Canada. That show addressed the exploitation and decimation of the buffalo: and as we continue a debate about resource extraction, sustainability and who does (or doesn’t benefit), that work has lost no relevance. To have her present a piece that is a continuation of how she “addresses the issue of land and the indigenous body specifically in the Plains region” is apt. The massive projections on the long left wall in the darkened space are “mirrored”: though you’re technically looking at the same scene play out, the rolling plains and serenity of the scene still captivate. The expanse and power of the landscape is indisputable, demanding respect.

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Witness is a younger generation than Claxton, and could still be called an “emerging” artist, though he was in Modern Visions. He’s one of a new vanguard of media savvy Indigenous artists (not solely in the formal aspects of his work, but his aesthetic of “counter appropriation”). Witness “mines our media environment for pop cultural images of First Nations…he remixes such representations in a variety of ways, producing visual and sonic variations that on the one hand act as a political indictment of racial profiling and the stereotypes that circulate at large, and on the other hand express mesmerizing confabulations that situates his work as something new… [He takes] possession of the images in order to break with the structures of such representations”.

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A number of large format images here mix “samples” from Predator, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and the infamous WWF personality The Ultimate Warrior. As with past work, what he’s presenting play upon an assumption of familiarity that the viewer brings, depending on our pop culture knowledge. I found myself thinking of the book / movie depictions of “Chief” from Cuckoo’s Nest, and the Uber masculinity of Predator that is almost fetishistic. The exhibition’s title privileges The Ultimate Warrior and can be used as a point of interpretation. His flamboyant performative spectacle made him a celebrity in the world of “entertainment”, but not sport. That’s an important distinction between facts and deforming caricature, as often happens in debates around race issues in Canada. Or perhaps I’m hearing that song A Tribe Called Red (Witness is part of that trio) released, with a Thanksgiving declaration that lists the sins of colonialism and declares: “And for all these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.” Sometimes hyperbole can be sharper than polite speech….

TRIBE was formed to “[address] social and political issues that are of concern to Aboriginal artists and the environment they create in [and] maintaining and strengthening a foundation on which to present local, national and international Aboriginal artists and art works.” Currently, fewer galleries “ghettoize” Indigenous artists with “token” exhibitions: Witness is one of many Indigenous artists paved has programmed recently with a sense of site and relevance. A past National Gallery exhibition at the Mendel was very Inuktitut (Cape Dorset) focused: an impossible idea once. But as the last five years at the U of S Art Department with allegations of racism (initiated by their first ever tenured Aboriginal faculty member), deliberate deceptions on reports to exploit the success of LG winner Ruth Cuthand and significant Indigenous artists whom eschew the school, some things have changed, and others continue to fester.

Consider Davidson Loehr’s assertion: “A simple definition of ‘colonization’ is that it takes people’s stories away, and assigns them supportive roles in stories that empower others at their expense.” Poitras, Claxton and Witness look to the past as a means to speak about the present, with generational contexts that build upon each other, and offer texture to each other. This is a considered and strong set of exhibitions marking TRIBE’s anniversary.