Tuesday, December 2, 2008
December 2, 2008
Video Projection – Looking In, Looking Out?
Scott-North Central Community Center
November 15, 2008
I used the theme of borders and boundaries and focused this theme on the North Central neighborhood in Regina. I wanted to artistically respond to and explore the sociological circumstance of the area and I began with a definition of the geographical boundaries of what is called “North Central”, an area defined by two railroad tracks and two major thoroughfares – the Lewvan Expressway and Albert St.
The boundaries that I wanted to investigate, however, were not only physical, but existed on multiple levels and I set out to explore the sociological, cultural and spiritual spaces that divide us. The obvious division created by journalist, Jonathan Gatehouse of “MacLean’s Magazine” (Jan. 15, 2007, Vol. 120, Issue 1) was a scathing article that investigated the social and economic circumstance of North Central and concluded and it was “Canada’s Worst Neighborhood”. I mention this because this article often came up in conversations with residents who were struggling with the negative connotation and their own collective identity – that of the “outsider”, while others are looking in. My role as journalist is counterpoint to Jonathan Gatehouse.
The second part of my work is within the framework of cultural and social activism, drawing from artists such as James Luna and Neal McLeod/Gabriel Yahyahkeekoot in their collaborative exhibition titled “That’s my Wonderful Town”. These artists often perform or create their art away from the institutions of art, the gallery space, to create a broader spectrum of cultural resonance of their “outsider” positions and to respond by speaking out – to redefine identity.
This work is a video projection – it is an extension, or projection” which offers ways of joining a space, an image and a subject: the North Central neighborhood, the images of the neighborhood (streetscapes, people) and commentary outside the neighborhood, within the borders and boundaries framework.
In this work my medium was to facilitate dialogue both within and without the neighborhood, (looking in, looking out?) and I set out with my video camera and travelled around the streets of North Central to capture not only the visual images that describe the physical landscape, but also to work within the role of negotiator. I was able to perceive a wide range of opinions and experiences as a counterpoint to the “MacLean’s” article, and other ways that North Central is defined and identified.
The final plan was to feature the video at the Scott North Central Community Center at 7:00 on November 15. This public event presented as a projection of the video on a wall using a generator. The projection attracted the interest and commentary of people in the neighborhood, as well, as curious traffic. By placing my efforts in a public space, my hope was to amplify the voices of a community outwards, and to project another reality.
I discovered that while North Central has its challenges, it also has great potential. It has an interesting and varied history. I discovered many community-based groups, and artists who were involved in creating socially positive influences. Rather than a homogenous group, I found a multi-cultural community. A neighborhood is often described by outsiders who are looking in. This projection, is looking in and looking out of the boundaries of North Central, and offers a glimpse of both perspectives.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I dropped off a poster to CBC Radio to advertise the North Central project on their public service announcements. The next day I received a call asking me to participate in the Morning Edition program with Jennifer Gibson to discuss the North Central project. You can access the interview through the following website.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Gordon Matta-Clark grew up in New York City, and was trained as an architect. He was influenced by art and artists from an early age, and he settled into the SoHo art scene of the 1960’s and 1970’s that challenged the status quo, for example the art gallery space itself. He helped established the first co-op gallery called by its street name: 112 Greene St. The gallery became an important hub of art and social activity, and provided artists a means to show their work, hold performances, dances, poetry-readings, and so on. His basic philosophy was that art was for everyone – everyone should make art. He was also keenly interested in the graffiti art movement and was interested in the work that was sprayed on train cars.
Matta-Clark also devised ways to bring art into derelict parts of the city, as well he was interested in helping create community gardens. He helped establish “The Kitchen” in New York City which is a non-profit organization and functioned as an artist collective. Again, this venue helped support artists, performing artists and writers and gave opportunities to present their works. It was a venue for artists and run by artists. Matta-Clark also established a restaurant called “Food Restaurant”.
It is apparent that Matta-Clark was a key figure in socially-engaged art, and cooperative endeavors, however he was also an artist who used abandoned buildings as a medium for his sculptures and created works that critiqued architecture. For example, his “Office Baroque”, 1977, “opened up condemned buildings by cutting sections representing a breakthrough in new forms of communication for a changing and more open society”. (Art of the 20th Century, p. 563).
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
IN NORTH CENTRAL, REGINA
My current art practice includes many mediums that I have used in the past and include video, sound, still photography, performance, sculpture and drawing. I am experimenting with some new techniques in the editing function and overlays - that is combining images so we are looking at a subject and for example, the surrounding landscape of the neighborhood simultaneously. Some of the themes I have chosen to explore in previous exhibitions and installations are technological change, urban renewal and decay, the media - specifically the effects of advertising on our perception of the world, and a video sketchbook entitled, "super fantastic video art fun party!". As I move forward, I expect to continue to use these mediums in interchangeable ways, and to collaborate with other artists to inform and expand my practice of art-making.
I think it is important to note that in our modern world, there have been rapid shifts over the last half century and these have been facilitated by technological development, communication and the transfer of information. The result is that globally the world is changing and reshaping - borders and boundaries are not so defined and are becoming more blurred. This will further change and transform the identities of cultures and societies and will effect a change in the sphere in which artists work.
Nam June Paik was one of the pioneers of global communication when relatively new technology enabled him to broadcast his art pieces: "Good Morning Mr. Orwell" in 1984, and "Bye Bye Kipling" as a nod to colonialist writer, Rudyard Kipling's phrase: "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet". The East and the West were indeed "meeting" by his own "specular border" position. Paik was born in Korea, but he lived outside of his native country for most of his life.1/ Villem Flusser in his article "On the Alien" suggests that borders exist when cultures are different, but when global communication networks break down, those borders and the flow of information and language is more easily transmitted. The result will be a "crisis of identity" when these differences are
The North Central project I am currently working on, speaks to the theme of "identity" and as the video work portrays, I suggest questions of identity - how the world including the media (MacLean's Magazine) view the North Central neighborhood; how the residents of North Central view themselves; and how the residents of North Central view those outside of their neighborhood.
Within the context of the borders and boundaries theme, I have come to an understanding that borders are not only geographical, but exist on multiple levels. For example, beyond the obvious geographical boundaries, there exist social boundaries which differ depending on who is the observer. I have had conversations and exchanges with a number of residents of North Central as well as with residents outside of the defined boundaries, and each of these interviews reveal a different concept of what constitutes essence or identity which create the borders in North Central. As well an exploration of the landscape of North Central suggest other groups of people who practice their spirituality in the Buddhist and Hindu temples.
The identity theme has been explored effectively by other artists. For example, James Luna and Rebecca Belmore, both performance artists who work in multi-media, were motivated and inspired to express their shared social and cultural identities. Both challenge the official record of Aboriginal people that was written by the dominant culture and therefore assume the role of "artist as activist". Their works probe the identity that has been conferred upon them through five centuries of colonial presence.
James Luna's "Artifact Piece" displays his body as an artifact in a museum display case with descriptive labels by his scars - the result of alcoholic binges and fights. By placing himself in this way, surrounded by relics and dioramas, Luna contrasts how Aboriginal people are viewed but shows the viewer the reality of their lives in the modern world.3/
Similarly, Rebecca Belmore, a Canadian performance artist, explores issues around race and gender, residential schools, and her Aboriginal heritage. Belmore's symbolic work entitled, "The Fountain" which was perfomed at the Venice Biennale of Visual Art in 2005, calls upon many metaphors, beginning with the title itself as a symbol of water, and therefore life, but also fountains were used in architectural designs in the Renaissance period and were symbols of power and prosperity. The work has a shocking conclusion when Belmore struggles with a "bucket" (symbolic of the burden carried by Aboriginal people) to carry water onto the shore, but when she struggles with the bucket of what we believe to be water, it turns out to be blood which splashes against the lens of the camera.4/
In the North Central Research project, I use a dialogical framework to explore the neighborhood and its culture. The video creates a space to explore identity between the residents of North Central and the rest of the city of Regina, and from national media journalistic reporting, with the citizens of the country. My approach to this project is to explore by means of dialogue and visual imagery, North Central society by probing the physical, cultural and spiritual spaces that divide us.
While North Central is a specific geographical area of Regina, the social circumstance that exists there extends to other parts of the city. It was suggested by Jonathan Gatehouse in his "MacLean's Worst Neighborhood" article that..."while Regina's crime problem may be city-wide, there's no question where its epicenter lies...North Central".5/
My intent is not to enforce a negative perception, or give it more power, or to sugar-coat the positive, but to probe deeper into the layers of cultures that exist and defines identity. As James Luna suggests, the modern problems that exist in his culture require a modern approach. The goal of the North Central video is to bring an awareness of the area's borders, to create a dialogue around the issues of concern, as well as that it is also perceived as a flourishing neighborhood because I have experienced both perspectives as well as the subtle layers of identity that reveal itself through my lens. When I began the project, I attended the "Fall Festival" and I discovered a vibrant and spontaneous group of people who were willing to engage with me. In conversations with residents I encountered an open exchange of communication at times tinged with emotions of passion, agitation, humor, warmth and hope.
In my role as artist in this work, I provide a glimpse into a challenged neighborhood, and to humanize rather than avoid or ignore this area within our city and to integrate it as an important part of the larger community. It is important to note that in my travels as an artist exploring North Central, I was able to identify another layer of culture - that of a flourishing arts community, such as the Common Weal. The "Common Weal Community Arts" links artists and communities to create positive change. The diverse array of multi-media artistic projects have a strong presence in North Central.
"The Dewdney Avenue Project" was a collaborative artistic work that explores not only the current social circumstances, but delves into the history through narratives and shared experiences the of the area. For further information on this work, visit the Common Weal website.
When I selected North Central as an exploration of borders, my crossing the geographical border to study the spaces within, I found a connectedness with the people, the layers of culture and the street-scapes that form a mosaic of identity.
1/ Jieun Rhee: "Reconstructing the Korean Body: Nam June Paik as Specular Border".
2/ Villem Flusser: "On the Alien". From The Freedom of the Migrant: Objections to
3/ James Luna: http://www.jamesluna.com/
4/ Jan Bailey and Scott Watson: Rebecca Belmore, Fountain, Kamloops Art Gallery,
University of British Columbia, Canada Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2005.
5/ Jonathan Gatehouse: "Canada's Worst Neighborhood", Jan. 15, 2007, Vol. 120, Iss. 1;
pg. 20, 7 pgs.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Included below are images of existing murals/public artworks in the North Central area. It is my goal to encourage more public art in the neighbourhood whether it be graffiti style or otherwise.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The four artists involved in Common Weal are Cheryl L'Hirondelle, whose audio/radio project captured interviews with elderly and shut-in residents of North Central, and which were aired on CBC.
Edward Poitras, Regina visual artist, contributed art installations.
Terrance Houle was involved in a collaborative video project on the community. His portfolio includes powwow dancing, painting, drawing, performances and installations.
Sandra Semchuk, photo artist, exhibited her work on city transit buses.
Other efforts of Common Weal are the Hip Hop and Graffiti Art Projects, both historically practices of inner urban art. There was an overwhelming response as well as participation in thse offerings for skill development.
It appears that art is very alive and well in North Central, and this multi-media project is a reflection of this.
Some members of the class met me at the Aquatic Center to begin filming the first portion of the boundaries of North Central. As I began filming and placing the CAUTION tape, it became apparent that the high winds were going to be a problem, and that the visual effect was not what I had hoped. I therefore discussed this with my colleagues, and decided a new direction would be the better choice.
After a few false starts, I decided to begin again to focus on some interviews with persons involved in North Central's Community affairs. As I began filming the interviews, it occurred to me that I would be able to capture alot of the images of North Central by video, by filming some of the street-scapes, and a number of very unique images that define life within the borders of North Central.
I began to reflect on my previous work and my style of using counterpositioning images with narrative, to portray ideas that would help the viewer understand what contributes to defining the borders and boundaries of North Central, both within and outside of what is normally considered to be the geographic boundaries of this area.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Project I – Proposal
September 16, 2008
EXPLORING THE BORDERS OF “NORTH CENTRAL”, REGINA
The project I am developing is to investigate an area of Regina known as “North Central” located in the inner city, or core area. The recent media attention ignited by the MacLean’s Magazine expose written by Jonathan Gatehouse, and the subsequent responses in the Leader Post, which came from civic government and Regina residents , caused a furor in the city. The finger is pointed at the social and economic conditions of the area which was named “Canada’s Worst Neighborhood” by Gatehouse.
I plan to set out to artistically respond to the perceived sociological and economic boundaries attached to North Central through a series of investigative, interactive and performance events. My focus is not to sensationalize the “urban fright” of the area, nor to sugar-coat the reality that there are sociological and economic issues to be addressed. Rather, I intend to investigate what North Central means to the residents within the geographical borders that define the area, as well as what it means to those who live outside the area, threading together information that will inform my questions, thoughts and experiences around the demographic boundaries pertaining to the north central area. This project plans to explore the area’s culture, and by speaking to the people who reside and work there, will inform and humanize North Central and therefore it is hoped to reintegrate the concept of this area as an integral and important part of the city. Rather than defining a boundary around the area, condemning it through sensationalist media, or ignoring it altogether, it is the responsibility of Regina’s community as a whole to build on an understanding of what is happening and to change our thinking and approach to the issues of these perceived borders, whether geographical or stigmatized, whether from a personal perspective, or a community view, or addressing the social and economic conditions that may exist.
My first plan of action entails a video-based project in which I will interview members of the North Central Community, gathering as much information and feedback about the area that I can. I will also do a video investigation outside the North Central boundaries to broaden my scope of research.
Exploring the Borders of “North Central”, Regina
The performance piece will amplify the idea of a physical boundary around North Central by placing a yellow “caution” tape around what may be considered the “skirts” or “borders” that will divide North Central from the rest of the city. This symbolic act will provide a visual reference to the perception that North Central is a danger zone and is therefore a separate entity of urban life within a sociological barricade.
My intent is not to enforce a negative perception or to give it more power, but rather to bring an awareness of the area’s boundaries through visual means in order to create a dialogue around the issues of concern. I hope to have people reflect on their connection to North Central and to the city as a whole. Video documentation of me putting up the yellow tape will be captured and used in the final production along with a spoken word statement, bring context to the piece.
When the interviews, footage and work come together as a video, I plan to display the piece as an outdoor public projection in a North Central location (possibly on a street wall). This public installation will act as the collective representation of my work. The goal of the project is to gather input and experiences, and collage them together to create a piece of art that allows the public to speak to the public about the city.
AFTERTHOUGHTS, THE FUTURE, AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
In high school, I collaborated with two fellow students to build a permanent legal graffiti wall where artists could come and freely practice street style art. A series of fundraising events took place including three successful hip hop shows that yielded a profit of $3,000.00. Despite the funds raised, and the press this project received, the wall was ultimately rejected by the City of Regina, perhaps due to the stigma of graffiti-art as an illegal activity, as well it has been used as a potent tool for vandalism. I have a personal history as a graffiti artist and the illegal and guerilla activity it presents in public spaces, as well as the trends and politics it has endured. My goal was never to discredit or change the natural essence of graffiti art, but rather to provide a space for artists to have fun making public art.
Exploring the Borders of “North Central”, Regina
The money that was raised has sat untouched while I thought of ideas of what would be the best use of it in the art world. At one point I considered donating it to local graffiti artists who may get legitimate commissions, but this would mean that only a small percentage of artists could participate. It was the idea for the North Central project which sparked an exciting idea for the funds to be used for a more community-based art project.
I am planning to have some contact with representatives of the North Central Community Association and teaching staff at Scott Collegiate regarding this art project, and in loose conversation that I have had with people I met at the Fall Festival, they would welcome a “graffiti project” in North Central. I will plan for this event and my intent is to donate the funds to a North Central art project.
I intend to work on this project throughout the semester, aiming to have the outdoor installation/projection ready for mid November. In addition, I am planning some supplementary extensions of this project for the final critiques. For the first set of critiques for September 23rd, I plan on having a body of work in progress to show (interviews and footage of my performance).
Saturday, September 13, 2008
ANNUAL FALL FESTIVAL, SCOTT COLLEGIATE PLAYGROUND
1264 Athol Street
Today I visited the Fall Festival event to make some contacts with people who live and work in North Central. I originally heard there was going to be a “Round Dance”, but it turned out to be a Barbeque and play day - the organizers had set up a giant plastic slide and a “dyna-bouncer castle” for the little kids to enjoy. I heard other activities included basketball, field hockey and a tug-of-war I had a very pleasant time talking to some of the people there and they were friendly and willing to share and speak to me. The message was mixed, though, that there were good and bad things about the neighbourhood.
It was most important to note that when I explained my project as an art student, and what I was hoping to accomplish, most of my interviewees brought up the “MacLean’s Magazine” article. There was a mixture of positive and negative signs around the event, for example, this was a family fun event, yet in front of Scott Collegiate, two police cars sat parked. At one point I heard loud rap music coming from a car that pulled up. I recognized the rapper called “The Game”. A few young men got out of the car to see what was going on. After breaking the ice about “The Game”, I spoke to one, “CJ” whose jaws were wired shut due to a fight. I captured his diaglogue on tape. As well I spoke to a young man, Shea McNabb, who used to live in North Central, but now lives in the Cathedral area. He also spoke of the MacLean’s Magazine article and offered some of the things he knew, heard and experienced.
A most interesting interview was taken with the coach of the basketball and football teams of Scott Collegiate. They had just arrived from a game. I introduced myself to him and told him what I was doing and he was very affable and willing to participate in my project. He said he also taught school at Scott Collegiate. He was very positive about the area and the school, the people and his choice to be there.
Other contacts of note was Dauna Ditson, who was the “Marketing and Communications Director” of the North Central Community Association. She was helpful and promised to meet me when she wasn’t so busy, as well as the President of the North Central Community Association, Brenda Mercer. Other people I hope to contact would be Tsquared (employment program), Saskatchewan Abilities Council, and some of the people associated with Scott Collegiate.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Nam June Paik: Art
1. "Good Morning Mr. Orwell", 1984
Paik broadcast the George Orwell idea on television to the USA, Netherlands, Germany, France, Korea with a new technology of simultaneously broadcasting. The general idea was based on George Orwell's book "1984" written in 1949, suggesting the world would be under constant surveillance of the "omnipresent TV Eye" called "Big Brother". Paik's message, however, was that the world wasn't so badly off as his work challenged Orwell's prediction.
2. "Bye Bye Kipling", 1986 Paik's second broadcast (again using new technology to broadcast simultaneously to countries). (1986: also Asian Games in Seoul, Korea which helped put a focus on his broadcast and coverage of the games was part of his broadcast). The subject was taken from colonialist writer, Rudyard Kipling's phrase: "East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet" shown by his broadcast to several countries, that east and west are indeed connected.
Paik lived outside Korea for most of his life. The success of Paik's art demands a critical review on cultural insularity and conservatism. Paik has both of so-called "ours" and "others", "old and "new", "traditional and non-art". He questioned those concepts. In 2001, he adapted his work to a Korean audience.
1. Art reflects the cultural and ethnic experience of the artist.
2. It is possible to distance yourself from your own cultural experience, but it requires considerable and consistent effort, and is likely to be only partially successful.
3. Paik is representative by a globalizing world where an individual may be born into a particular cultural background, but begins to morph into the multiple influences that he experiences as they are affected by other cultures, experiences, histories, contemporary influences and increasingly by the larger trends of global communications, travel and large culturally diverse cities around the world.
4. The rapidly evolving multi-media technologies of today will cause artists in all parts of the world to both explore their own cultural experience, but also using these methods, to make it available to a global audience. The speed of exploration will increase as more people are able to interact with larger audiences.
I plan to set out to artistically respond to the perceived sociological and economic boundaries attached to North Central through a series of investigative, interactive and performative events. My focus is not to sensationalize the "urban fright" of the area, nor to sugar-coat the reality that there are sociological issues to be addressed. Rather, I intend to investigate what North Central means to the residents within the area, and those who live elsewhere, threading together information that will inform my questions and thoughts around the demographic boundaries pertaining to the north central area. Ultimately, I wish to humanize the location and begin to reintegrate the concept of North Central as an integral and important part of the city. Rather than creating a boundary around North Central and condemning it through sensationalist media, or ignoring it all together, it is the responsibility of Regina's community as a whole to build an understanding of what is happening and change our thinking and approach to the issues of those borders, whether geographical or stigmatized, whether from a personal perspective, or a community view, or addressing social environments or racial issues as expressed in "Wihtikow City".
My first plan of action entails a video-based project in which I will interview members of the North Central community, gathering as much experiential information and feedback about the area that I can. I anticipate that I will receive a great diversity in responses. I say this because there are variables and diversity in every community by nature. The video investigation will also include the opinions of those living outside the North Central boundaries. It is integral to the project to gather a wide range of responses as possible in order to broaden the scope of my research.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
McLeod's art work grew out of the Cree storytelling tradition. He writes in his artist's statement: "The wihtikow is a being within Cree stories which consumes humans, and is similar to a vampire in European culture. The wihtikow's consumption is relentless and without end. As a contemporary Cree painter, I draw upon metaphors and narratives of Cree storytelling in my work. In "Wihtikow City", the city of Regina is conceived as a wihtikow: consuming the life-force and light of Aboriginal people in the massive immigration from reserves in the last forty years". (Neal McLeod, Artist's Statement, "That's my Wonderful Town", 2003) Yahyahkeekoot projected video images of the north central area of Regina onto a part of McLeod's painting to draw attention to the societal injustices toward the people who live there, specificially the First Nation.
Friday, September 5, 2008
"The tension between difference and identity leads to sanctification of the Alien". V. Flusser, On the Alien. "Self-identification requires one to differentiate from others", which leads to discrimination of others. The Alien establishes differences so we can have identity and establish borders.
Crisis of Identity creates a disintegration of a social order. To create identity, the masses create the Alien, the guilty, someone to blame.
Religion: Alien in religious myth is ambiguous. Saints are aliens because they are holy yet "devilish". The Alien "negates" you while at the same time "affirms" you.
Paradigm Shift: The world is changing from the old order - linear system of knowledge now challenged by globalization as well as global/circular networks. (literary vs. internet)
Borders exist when cultures are different: language, experience. Global communication networks are breaking down borders and there is a free flow and exchange of information more easily transmitted around the world. Will this change the way cultures are defined in the future?
Artist as Alien. An artist's role is sometimes that of the activist who may comment on social issues. Artists are interpreters of different cultures, societies, and realities.