ALBERTA COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN FACULTY ASSOCIATION
Photo by Justin Waddell Story Page 19
exhibitions in all the institutions studied over the period 1913 to the present. Moreover, historical fashion, as it has been displayed in the case study institutions, also reflects the function of the museum institution itself, especially its visual marking of time and social contexts. My thesis therefore contributes to a growing literature on the history of museums and on fashion curation and provides a historical framework for exhibitions of historical fashion to both disciplines. I am grateful to my supervisors, Drs Sandra Dudley and Sheila Watson, as well as to the staff, students, and faculty at the School of Museum Studies for providing invaluable assistance and advice during my studies. My future plans for this research material include turning the thesis into a book, and a series of articles following up diverse threads not covered in detail within the research.
Doctor Of Philosophy Julia Petrov On January 25th, 2013, I was granted the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Leicester. My research was funded with the help of a Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The thesis described and analysed trends in museum fashion exhibition practice over the past century in Britain and North America. Evidence collected through archival research on past exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Bath Fashion Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the McCord Museum, and supplemented by media reports, academic reviews, as well as secondary theoretical literature, suggests that the discourses of historical fashion exhibitions have been heavily influenced by the anxieties and values placed upon fashion more generally. The discipline of fashion curation is deeply rooted in and dependent upon much earlier display practices in museums, galleries, and shops. The interplay between personal and world-historical narratives in exhibitions, the celebration of consumerism and corporate brand identity, as well as claims to aesthetic universality and quality, continued to surface across historical fashion
Guy Parsons (see page 9)
Editor’s Letter John Calvelli I wish it were that easy to say something like “what is it with Alberta?” Whether we are talking about the oil sands, conservatism, runaway markets or the economic stranglehold on education, we know we are in the right place to say a thing or two not just about our province, but about where the world is heading. We know we’re messing up the environment, but we still rush forward doing it at breakneck speed. We understand the relationship between inequity and capitalism but we know (or think we do) that there is no alternative and speed down the highway of neoliberalism. We want our children and ourselves to grow in wisdom and contribute the best to our societies, but we squeeze our schools to accomplish the opposite. It isn’t Alberta. It’s our death drive. Freud’s conception was directed at the individual psyche. Maybe if he hadn’t died on the very cusp of World War Two and thus prior to the bombing of Hiroshima, he might have articulated it differently. I’m thinking something bigger, like a species-level death drive. We’ve entered the epoch of the Anthropocene. If you haven’t heard the news, it is this: at some point in the future, humans—our cities, our waste, our biomass, and our art—will simply be part of the geological strata, with no one to witness. The process has already begun— by us, the latest and greatest geological force on the planet. So look at the bright side: Alberta’s squeeze on education is a very tiny thing, compared with say, a volcano—which itself likely is tiny compared with the combined geological impact of all of us humans on the planet. Does that mean we should be quiescent? Not at all. We should create a ruckus. So don’t be a summer slug. Shower a few boulders down the range. Spout off. Electrify the atmosphere, throw a few bolts. Create some waves. And do it while
the sun shines. Geological history will take care of the rest, even of this encrusted language. In the Fall, we’ll again collect in view of the range, host our UAAC colleagues in Banff, and share with them some of the rumblings we feel from this part of the land.
The Page Was Half Empty Alex Link There’s a difference between being prepared to make do with a glass that’s half-empty, and preferring to do so. One thing that always inspires me about ACAD is the way in which our faculty have continued to maintain a high caliber of quality work, both in terms of our own research production and the success of our students, despite the challenges that impinge upon us from beyond the studio and the classroom. In fact, our ability to do so in the face of provincial vagaries of mandate and funding, and while weathering our chronic administrative challenges of organization, communication, and stable staffing partly as a result of an arbitrary provincial government, makes me worry sometimes. It makes me worry because, quite simply, if you manage to remain functional in spite of absent support, it risks suggesting that that support was never necessary in the first place. And so, I think it needs to be stressed that our productivity and success occurs in spite of the challenges that impede us so often, both in the classroom relative to institutional organization, and institutionally relative to a province that seems apathetic about our continued existence, when it thinks of us at all. June 30 marks the end of my term
as President. I think, over the past two years, ACADFA executive as a whole— supported by our infinitely patient office manager Patti Dawkins, and our ACIFA jedi Terry Sway—has made significant progress in rebuilding relations with the college administration. Now, when there are disagreements, our discussions are more frequently about the collective good of the institution with respect to our core business, teaching and research; they are rarely, if ever, about mutual suspicion and payback. There are several reasons for this change but one, in particular, is that while we remain rather far from what I would call functional, as an institution, ACADFA and the college administration seem to, at last and at least, agree on what functionality means, and that it matters. Before my arrival here in 2005, I never would have imagined being grateful for something so basic, nor waiting nearly eight years just for it to be possible. At the same time, you don’t need me to tell you that a lot of work remains to be done. We’re losing still more excellent faculty over the next few years—Walter May, Alan Dunning, Judy Sterner and Jim Ulrich this year alone—though I wish them all well; we’re figuring out a new organizational structure, when no structure will ever be perfect; we’re dealing with a government that’s playing politics with our funding, and so with our livelihood, and with our students; we’re continuing to exhaust our main sources of research funding. We’re even struggling with what you would think are simple things, such as ensuring predictable and respectful systems for the hiring and scheduling of sessional faculty; for the honouring of long service at the college; for the revision of procedures that affect us professionally such as those concerning hiring and evaluation, and that have a significant impact on ACAD’s academic credibility. So go ahead and call this a halfempty glass, or one that’s half-full. Just don’t take our obstinate success as a suggestion that the glass was too big to start with.
Walter May: Artist, Philosopher, Student Wrangler, Van Driver, Fish Whisperer, Beret Wearer, Master Material Assembler, Wild Dancer, Pizza Monger, Table Hockey Champ, and General Hipster. Gordon Ferguson, Sculpture Walter has been dwelling within the lower elevations of ACAD for the past 33 years. A consummate artist/teacher, Walter has had a significant effect on the development of the institution as a thoughtful strategist, quiet revolutionary and steady hand when things were reeling out of control. I asked Walter to respond to a few pertinent, and some not-so-pertinent questions:
Q When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist? I think I may have decided to become an artist long before I realized that I could become an artist. The day I went to register at the U. of A., I wasn’t even aware that there was a Fine Arts department at the university. But there I was and I enrolled, no portfolio required by the way. My last formal art class in high school was in grade ten, so I was thoroughly unprepared for what was to come. However, looking back I now see some ominous signs. Before university I made a few paintings, designed a 15-foot high abstract snow sculpture for some kind of winter festival, and was involved in some drama productions, all of which were extra curricular activities. One event that was particularly meaningful for me was a trip to Expo 67 in Montreal as a high school student. On the Expo site was a fine arts gallery with what I came to realize was a terrific exhibition. It included work by Rodin, Picasso, Pollock, Brancusi, Rembrandt, Reubens, …the list goes on. All of this was new to me and I found myself returning to the gallery every day I was there to look at
Walter when he was little
those things. A particular favourite was Max Ernst’s “Europe Before the Rain,” a large and compelling painting unlike anything I had seen before. Perhaps this gave some impetuous to my decision to enroll in Fine Arts at the U of A a couple of months later.
graduating I was working as a preparator at the Student Union Building gallery in Edmonton and dropped one of Katie Ohe’s chromed metal sculptures on my foot resulting in several days of missed work and a cheque from workman’s compensation for $1.28.
Q Where did you go to grad school and when?
In graduate school Ted Godwin, my drawing advisor in Regina took it upon himself to teach me how to fly fish. I think this was because Ted realized his canoe would fit nicely on top of my van, that he wouldn’t have to drive and it was on opportunity to visit some prime east-slope Rocky Mountain fishing water. The lesson involved a weeklong trip from Regina to Crowsnest Pass up the Trunk road to Calgary and back to Cypress Hills and Regina. Neither of us caught a single fish the entire five days we were in Alberta. Ted was disgusted. In the end, there was some lake fishing in the Cypress hills so the canoe was launched and fish were caught.
Grad school was at the University of Regina with a major in sculpture, minor in Drawing. Graduated in 1977. There were a few years in between undergrad and grad school when I worked for the visual arts branch of Alberta Culture as a kind of project coordinator/administrator. I also learned how to build crates, handle and install artwork and commissions in public settings, and organize commission competitions. Also, two years before grad school in 1975 I had my first solo exhibition at the IKG of all places, curated by Ron Moppett. Shortly after
Q When did you start at ACAD? What were the circumstances of your first few years at ACAD? I was hired as full time faculty at SAIT/ ACA in 1981 although I taught as a sessional the previous year. Dennis Evans was head of the sculpture department when I was hired, but resigned a week later, which made me the department head. During those early years full time faculty taught 21 hours per week. I taught 3D Design in Foundation, drawing classes in both Foundation and drawing and sculpture classes. The foundation classes were 9 hours long and spread over a day and a half. How did we do it? As for positions at ACAD, I have been a department head in Sculpture, (also known as a program coordinator at various times), an assistant to the chair of Fine Arts, a member of the Board of Governors, (two terms if I recall), President of the Faculty Association, (seven years with a break in between), and various other faculty association executive positions, (Secretary and VP for sure, and maybe the Grievance Chair for a bit). I also served on the negotiating team for one round. I think I tried out just about every committee the college had to offer at one time or another. As for the dates that’s too much to ask.
Q Since the beret is generally associated with painters, what hat do you feel is most suited to sculptors? About the beret...I don’t think that we should cede the symbolic ownership of the beret to the painters. There are several other groups that would probably object strenuously...the French for instance. Also a few military outfits could lay a pretty serious claim, although as part of a uniform the beret is generally worn in a very precise manner, which almost makes it an entirely different hat. Perhaps in that context it deserves a different name as “the topcap” or “the unicapper” for instance.
One of the things I like most about the beret is its functionality and flexibility. It has a particular form but can be pulled around the head in so many ways as to be almost formless. Light weight or substantial depending on the material. Can be worn in all seasons - pulled over the ears on the coldest days, will shield the bald spot when its hot out. Drag it forward over the brow to form a kind of beak to keep the sun out of your eyes. It can be pushed to either side in order to create asymmetry. If you are a person blessed with plentiful hair, the beret can be used to contain it. Conversely, the beret can be stuffed in a pocket. Lay it flat on the table and it can double as a hot pad. Stacks well. Looks good on men or women. However it is true that, unlike the chef or the cowboy, sculptors do not have a hat that people would immediately associate with the profession. My suggestion therefore would be to adapt the beret by the addition of some kind of distinguishing feature that would come to be recognized as the symbol for sculpture. Many possibilities come to mind, materials that shift colours or glow in the dark, or the addition of a bold appliquéd image or symbol, such as a big “S” for sculptor that would cover the entire top of the beret. Possibly a flexible extendable aerial that would take the place of that little tail that pokes out of the centre of the hat, symbolizing a kind of inventive connectedness to invisible signals of all sorts. I am gravitating towards one particular idea, although I admit it still needs development. My thought is that a bladder or some kind of inflatable balloon should be inserted into the outer edge of the beret. This could be attached to some form of pump that would fill the bladder with various kinds of gasses or liquids depending on the occasion. For instance a small amount of air could create a distinctive rim around the edge of the hat. Helium might be introduced to raise
the rim above the head creating a kind of crown or halo. Or for special occasions, a liquid, such as water or wine or something more substantial, might be pumped in and later retrieved with some kind of tubular mouthpiece. This also might lend a distinguished droopy edge to the beret possibly quite becoming. Just a thought.
Q What about the biggest fish you ever caught? And of course, the accompanying question, what about the one that got away? It is hard to determine the biggest fish I ever caught although I expect that will happen later this year and probably again next year and so on. I have also noticed there is a certain elasticity of measurement when it comes to determining the size of fish. This is not something that applies only to myself by the way. It is a predilection among anglers. As for the one that got away, this has never happened. If the fish is on, then you have caught a fish. If the fish gets off, then it is what is known as a self-releasing fish. Being a catch and release fisherman I simply recognize the fact that fish will be going back to the stream whether I let it go or whether it takes that upon itself.
Q If, in retirement you were contracted to produce 3-dimensional objects to celebrate either Easter, Halloween or Christmas, which holiday would you prefer and what sort of object(s) would you make? Halloween. I think I would either dig a hole in a fashion that would bring to mind the Arte Povera movement, or create a cemetery for unwanted equestrian sculptures.
Q If you decide that you miss ACAD and decide to return to work, but find out that only administrative jobs are available, which position would
you most like to accept and why? Director/curator of the IKG. Especially now that Wayne has got the galleries looking so good. The Library also seems like a great place to work. I think those jobs appeal to me because of the places as much as anything else. They seem like places where you could get out of the office pretty easily and be surrounded by interesting things and people who like that sort of stuff. Also in many institutions those kinds of positions are often designated as part of the faculty association. Perhaps that also makes them seem a little more comfortable.
Q Do you think it’s possible to remain a hipster in retirement? The older Hipster, absolutely. Just think of John Will. There are others of course, perhaps William Burroughs, Louise Bourgeois, Tony Bennett...the list goes
on. The thing is none of those people actually retire. They just carry on doing whatever they want to do thus maintaining hipster status. I’m pretty sure Walter fits into this antiretirement hipster category and we all look forward to seeing numerous new combinations of strange and surprising objects, forthcoming installations, drawings and photographs. Walter is one of the people at ACAD who contributed greatly to making the place a civil, collegial and interesting place to be. Like many, most, or perhaps all of us, Walter’s presence and actions were guided by a desire to maintain a studentfocused environment privileging creativity, inquiry, transparency, and fun over conformity and corporatization. He will be missed.
Walter when he grew up
A Conversation with Jim Ulrich Susan Menzies, Painting It is impossible to summarize Jim’s contribution to ACAD, and to the Painting program in particular. Jim began his career at ACAD forty years ago in 1973, following studies at Eastern Washington University; he later completed an MA at Claremont Graduate University in Los Angeles. Apart from teaching, he has had a long and influential career as a practicing artist, which continues. He will be artist-in-residence in Dorsten, Germany in the fall of this year, preparing an exhibition for the Ruhrstadt Galerien, a new art centre being developed around the site of an old coal mine. In his career at ACAD, Jim has been colleague, mentor, teacher, administrator, a sounding board and a font of knowledge, an advisor, connector, skeptic, and a grounding force in the painting program. He is the person who is interested in what makes people tick and knows what is happening in their lives, who is comfortable talking with anybody, who has established mobility exchange programs and visiting artist events for the program. He is also the person who has the best line on the latest industrial paint additives, who knows where to go for good food and drink in Los Angeles or Bangkok, and where to find a good chiropractor. Jim is the one who keeps in touch with alumni, colleagues, and artists; he has been an invaluable social connector and a keeper of the college’s institutional memory. I began this article by trying to write a summary narrative, but soon realized that Jim’s own words speak for him much better than I ever could. What follows is a condensed version of a conversation I had with him in February. “What drew you into art in the first place?” “I wasn’t any good at anything else (laughs); not that I was any good at art, either, but it was just simple, I started off in business and took general courses. I re-
Jim Ulrich with “Equator”, 1999, acrylic on canvas, 183cm x 244cm, at the 2000 exhibition “Canadians in Potsdam”, Potsdam, Germany.
ally liked geography, science, but over the first year wasn’t very good at anything, and then I moved to Eastern Washington University and it was a much better program for me, and then I just shot up.” “Was that in Painting?” “Yeah, I knew what I wanted to do. And then after that, they gave me a scholarship, they covered my tuition so I did half a year of graduate study, and taught two classes each semester, so I got some teaching experience. Came back to Canada . . . I went to the U of C, and started in on their B.Ed. after degree program. It was the most GODAWFUL DIABOLICAL PROGRAM I HAVE EVER TAKEN IN MY LIFE.” “Shall I print that?” “Please do, in capitals, and I don’t know if they are any better or not, but [the Education program] at that time was terrible for the arts, from my point of view.” “In what sense terrible?” “Well it just wasn’t what I wanted. I mean, I wanted to teach art, and maybe - god, I don’t know what they were
doing in high schools there was a whole taxonomy of how to do art, how to do course materials, and I could not see how I fit in, in the arts, and neither could they at that time, so it was just an odd mix.” “And then?” “Well, I dropped out and got a job in Calgary, because I had a family, my wife was pregnant, we had a kid in February, I quit at Christmas, I had no job, my car didn’t run, so I had to take it seriously and get a job.” “What kind of job did you find?” “Sales. The only kind of thing I could ever get was sales, totally commission sales. I started off in mutual funds, guaranteed investments, and I lasted six months. We all quit because there wasn’t enough business, and then this publishing company took me on. So I worked for them in Calgary for a year and half, and then a year or two in Vancouver. In 1970 I decided I had had enough, so I quit and went to Australia, and got a teaching job there in art, in New South Wales in a city called Orange. It’s about 200 miles inland, or 300 kilometers, from Sydney.
I had a good job, and it was kind of fun, it was teaching high school, so that was brand new for me, and the first time they had amalgamated a boys’ college and a girls’ school in New South Wales; so they put the Presbyterian Ladies College together with a Methodist Boys School. So the Presbies and the Methos got together and did their thing, and that was supposed to be really radical, but coming from North America, I thought this is pretty common.” “So you weren’t tempted to stay in Australia?” “I was going to, I really wanted to, but unfortunately - fortunately or unfortunately - my sister sent me a little newspaper clipping that said ‘overseas student scholarship offered, University of Cape Town, South Africa, for a Master’s degree, open’, so I applied and I got it; I won, I won the bloody thing! And I couldn’t believe it. So after I had accepted it, I went to the Head of the school, who had taught in Canada, and he was fairly familiar with these things. He said, ‘yes, it’s legitimate I think’ and I said ‘well, I want to go’ and he said ‘I don’t blame you, but I won’t let you out of your contract; you get a replacement.’ So I had a friend who was at U of A in art ed., and she was unemployed, she just leaped at the job, and became super at that job, loved it, and then I was free. So I waited and waited and waited. Two weeks before the school was to start, they sent me a letter saying no, we have cancelled all university classes.” “Oh no! Why?” “Because 1970 they had allowed, up to that point, ‘coloureds’ to go to university and then they stopped ‘coloureds’.” “It was apartheid.” “Absolutely. ‘Coloureds’ meant that you were Indian or you were Asian, that you weren’t black. Blacks couldn’t go to university. . . “. . . So I came back to Canada. That’s when they built the new building, 1973. I came, I walked on the mall and
saw all the construction, day one. When I came back, they had the interviews and all of that and so they hired, my gosh, 40 or 50 people the first two years.” “So those must have been really exciting times?” “It was fun, yeah, I mean, when you looked at the building and the opportunities, it was phenomenal. I mean it never happened before, in Canada, really. We had this brand new building, and it was under SAIT, everybody was excited, until we had to do the instruction training program that SAIT commanded you to do and it was godawful.” “So what year did you actually start as a permanent faculty member?” “’73 when I came, that’s the first year I taught, and then I got a contract in 1974 permanent, but 1973 is when we all started, that’s when this building opened. “The next big push was autonomy. I saw absolutely no reason to stay with SAIT, I really didn’t, and I dropped out of administration because I just couldn’t take the bullshit of dealing with SAIT and the College and how they wanted to administrate the college. So I said, OK, we’ll form a group ad hoc and we will start autonomy, and we did.” “This was in the 1980s?” “It was early ‘80s we got going on that. By 1985 we had autonomy. But it was a constant battle. . . . Once you had the plan and you did it, got it going, it had a life of its own, but you had to get it going. So we had a big meeting in Roger Evans’s garage that’s where it started. About 20 people, faculty, permanent people, showed up and I said, I’ll be the spokesman, I’ll go out in front, and nobody wanted the job, so I did it. And I stepped out and went on the press, when we boycotted, and Bob Chelmick interviewed me on CBC, 6 o’clock, and I’m on TV ranting and raving about SAIT. Today they’d have just fired you. . . . We went to Edmonton, we met the Minister of Education and told him this was bullshit, we want to change the system, and all we were is instructors, three of us.”
“What did the students in the Painting program feel?” “The students here, by and large, were pretty positive. They were out on the streets, they marched, we closed the building, we flew flags from the roof. [People] thought the communists had taken over, because there were red flags all over. George Wood, who was teaching here, had come up with a red flag with a black centre, which is a warning sign for sailors. They thought the anarchists had the college.” “I know you ran a couple of galleries in Calgary.” “Yes, concurrently with teaching, I opened the biggest commercial gallery in the city. James Ulrich Gallery opened in 1980 right before the National Energy Program came in. We opened in September, we spent the whole summer gutting 5000 square feet on the Stephen Avenue mall, right across from the Glenbow, and by November, NEP came in and that just destroyed the business. The whole city just died. Mira Godard was here, Gallery Moos, 15 galleries folded - 20, 30 galleries went bankrupt.” “Were you ever tempted to run a gallery again?” “I did, with Peter Deacon, in the 1990s, for 5 years, in a building with Virginia Christopher Gallery.” “What did you enjoy about it?” “It was a little different. We decided that we would be like an artist-run gallery without taking government money. We showed recent MFA grads, young artists out of school, faculty that had never had any shows or wanted to, that kind of thing, and I did a lot of work with the Banff Centre – people would come to the Banff Centre and if they wanted a show in Calgary we would put it on for them. Peter had the university connection, I had the art college connection, and that’s what we did. So it worked really well, like John Hall’s first commercial art show he ever had, that type of thing.” “So I have to ask you a question about your painting, and that is, what are your most
important influences, as an artist?” “It’s not other artists. I suppose travel is a big part of it, travel and what I read, and what I see, I think that’s a big part of it. I think it’s just recording when I travel, being a tourist in a sense, a wanderer, outsider, a voyeur watching things. I think a lot of artists are. Painters are slow activators; they’ve got to take time to get going and to see things.” “You sort of absorb?” “I think so, and then you just do it. I mean, I work intuitively very much. I don’t plan a lot ahead, and so it doesn’t matter where I work, I am comfortable anywhere.” “A lot of your work has to do with responding to the materials. There also seems to me to be something about light in them.” “Could be, but it’s material, and a light that comes internally; it’s not a visual thing. It’s more like a radiant light, like an energy that comes off an internal source. I suppose that’s why I’m working more and more with things like phosphorescent pigments and synthetic pigments that seem to have their own life.” “You have been working with the artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul and others in Thailand.” “Friends of mine I met in Southeast Asia. Actually it started when Peter and I had the gallery in Calgary, and Michael Shaowanasai, who is a Thai fellow, came through and wanted to do some work here. We gave him an exhibition in the gallery and he did a performance at the art college, and we stayed friends over the years, and through him I met other people. But I have sort of moved out into this film thing. That came about because I had done a three year project in northern Australia in Kakadu and I had friends who made video and made a film on it. And I was interested in it, so then after that I decided in Thailand I would try to do one on my own.” “What will you miss about teaching?” “Oh, the students and the colleagues, you know, everything about it. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it for forty
years. The students - I think the old story that they keep you young is very true, and they are always challenging, and it’s fun to work with them. You have to like people and if you enjoy people, then you find teaching good. If it’s not fun, don’t do it. Hopefully you’ve got a lot of people so that you are not missed, you just move on. That’s the idea of any organization. If some older folks go, younger ones come along. Energy and renewal is very important, and that’s got to happen to make a school healthy.”
Faculty Judy Sterner Planning Phase Shift, Retirement John Calvelli, Liberal Studies One thing that so many people I know at ACAD consistently remark is that we’ve got great colleagues here, and I agree. Judy Sterner, who will be retiring soon, is surely one of them. I met her on my first visit to ACAD, and her guidance was essential during my first year: she managed to convince me that, during Lance’s last year here, I wasn’t hired as an extra in a Luis Buñuel film, but rather as a member of a strongly committed, independent and (at that time) challenged faculty body. She’s remained an esteemed colleague and kaffeeklatsch partner since. She’s also told me about her mountaineering, her ethnographic research and how both of them came together in Peru. Phase 1: Her mountaineering started by camping with her dad and climbing Mt. Lassen, a 10,000 foot peak in California, at age 10 . It’s difficult to follow exactly what followed after that, except that it involved failing geology in community college (but getting an A in ceramics), dropping out, learning to rock climb, going back to college and dropping out again, more rock climbing, following some Brits to the Canadian Rockies, going back to
Judy greeting people on the path at Sukur World Heritage Cultural Landscape, Nigeria, 2008 Photo by Xavier Udo-Utun
California, coming back to Canada…and so on. I think we all should have a “phase 1” of adulthood like that, don’t you? In the process, she made mountaineering history, being the first woman to climb the face of Mount Edith Cavell, a 3363m peak in Jasper. I asked Judy what was it about rock climbing that made it so compelling. She said: “When you’re rock climbing, you’re on a piece of rock and your world becomes no bigger than what’s up there, the reach of your arms, or your feet….You’re working out ‘how do I get up there’…it’s you working out the mental problems.” “It’s like the final stages of writing a research paper, with the pieces coming
together” she explains. Phase 2: where Judy gets more serious about her academic career (finishing college)and enrolls at the University of Calgary. This second phase is similar to the first, insofar as she continues her mountaineering unabated, though she’s a bit more stable on other fronts. Supporting herself by working on a variety of research projects, and later as a secretary at the University. Studying anthropology, she sees an ad for a study abroad program in Peru and figures this would be a way—“What a great scam,” she thought at the time—to combine her major with mountaineering. And her life is changed. The Andean experience
is soon combined with research in a Tibetan speaking area in north India, resulting in a Master’s thesis on the subject of physiological and cultural adaptations to high altitudes. Phase 3: Judy begins her life work. Leaving India for the northern Mandara highlands of Cameroon, she begins doing her own fieldwork, on an ethnoarcheological project that her partner, Nic David, had organized. This work expanded into Nigeria and Ghana and continues to this day with Judy and Nic as research partners, with countless books, monographs, conference papers and videos produced, both in collaboration and individually. In 1999, UNESCO recognized the Sukur Landscape in the Mandara Mountains of Nigeria as a World Heritage Site, in large part due to Judy and Nic’s efforts. Phase 4: where Judy receives a trophy upon becoming permanent faculty in the Liberal Studies department at ACAD. Before receiving this illustrious capstone in her career, Judy realized she must do her Ph.D., enrolling in the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London in 1991. After stints teaching at the Universities of London and Calgary—as well as teaching Cultural Anthropology and Material Culture as a sessional at ACAD—she became permanent here 2001. Mireille Perron, then chair of Liberal Studies, awarded her and Amy Gogarty (who was hired at the same time) trophies: hers of a bowler with the word “Strike!” engraved on it, and Amy’s of a baseball player with the words “Home Run.” These were two of the first permanent hires in many years. The rest we know. She’s taught, gone to meetings, been on numerous committees, served on ACADFA, etc. Phase 5: Judy, with her partner Nic, keeps pointing her telescopes up at the stars, searching the immense heavens for what could possibly fill in the hole in her being which opened up following her departure from ACAD. We all wish her luck.
Media Artist Dunning Takes-off Rita McKeough, MADT
MADT does NOT stand for Media Arts and Digital Technology. YES…. it used to… but not this semester… NOW it stands FOR: Media Artist Dunning Takes-off. Alan Dunning started teaching at ACAD in 1980 and now he is leaving at the end of the semester to focus on his artwork. Made Art Doing Technology Alan has produced Immersive environments, multi-media installations, artist books and he has exhibited widely nationally and internationally. He has been cited in over 140 catalogues and reviews since 1994 and he is represented in many collections (National Gallery of Canada, Museum of Modern Art, NY). Many Art Documents Taught Alan taught in Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture and MADT. Many Artists Described Thoroughly He taught in the Painting Department from 1980–1998. Many Accolades During Tenure
Alan has an unbelievable professional practice which includes many major papers published, solo exhibitions, collaborative installations of the Einstein’s Brain Project from 1995–2012 with Paul Woodrow and Dr. Morley Hollenberg. The Einstein’s Brain Project has been presented in major exhibition venues, conferences and educational institutions around the world. The project was independently nominated for ZKM’s International Media award for Art and Science, and for the Nano Award for a contribution from the fields of medicine, natural science, or technology, and was shortlisted for the Welcome Trust’s UK based Art/Sci Prize.” Alan has been awarded more than 30 major arts and research awards. Notably, in 2002 the Daniel Langlois Foundation supported his research for “Representations of the Body in Liquid Media Spaces” and from 2004–2008 and 2007–2010 SSHRC supported two new projects exploring the bio-technical body. The 2004 award was the first ever SSHRC Research/Creation Grant awarded to Faculty in an Art School. Many Arguments and Documents Typed Alan designed and implemented the original MADT curriculum.
Media Arts and Digital Technology The Media Arts and Digital Technologies Program started in 1999 when the new president of ACAD, Desmond Rochfort enthusiastically supported the establishment of MADT. Initially, it was just a lab with a suite of Mac computers supported brilliantly by then Dean of Fine Art, Helen Sebelius. MADT arose out of a common interest among Painting Faculty in new technologies and theory arising directly out of practices they felt were unrepresented at ACAD. Wayne Giles joined Alan in MADT the following year and from then on he was an important influence in the development of MADT. Mary Scott later moved from painting to participate in the development of the MADT program.
Calgary (Dr. Sheelagh Carpendale, from the Department of Computer Science and Paul Woodrow from the Department of Art). Money Arrived and Dollars Taken Research monies came into ACAD through grants to MADT Faculty from SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada), AACTI (Alberta Association of Colleges & Technical Institutes), NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada).
Alan’s students in MADT appreciate his constructive, informative feedback. They felt that his challenging expectations helped them to develop the potential of their work.
Many Artists Down Today
Message All Done Totally
Me Acknowledging Deeds Told Alan has made a significant contribution to ACAD through the high caliber of his professional practice, his teaching and his commitment to the development and survival of the MADT program. Alan will be missed.
Meetings Announcements and Delivered Treatises Alan was the Chair of MADT from 1998–2005, the Assistant chair 2006– 2007 and the Head of MADT from 2008–2009. Mergers Announced and Digital Technology arrived. The opportunity to start MADT arose when ACAD successfully applied to Advanced Ed to start a new program. MADT established new studios, the first virtual reality lab in a Canadian Art School, and art/science collaborations. One of the collaborations was Astecs: A course in Art Science and Technology: an Interdisciplinary course which developed skills in graphics, human-computer interaction, interaction design, visualization, representation, perception, and aesthetics to investigate different modes of inquiry into creative practice at the intersection of art and computer science. The course resulted in research projects and papers, and project exhibitions. It was a tri-institution course involving the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Alberta College of Art & Design (Alan Dunning and Mary Scott from MADT), and the University of
Economic Outlook Guy Parsons, VCD The brief given to me was that the cover article was called “Economic Outlook” and the Art Director wanted me to Illustrate that with something iconically New York. so the Statue of Liberty with binoculars just seemed right. I had two
days to do roughs and finish the piece, so going all digital was the best approach. I blocked everything in with Adobe Illustrator and then brought it into Photoshop to give it a bit more grunge. I have two styles I work in right now–they’re both digital (One graphic, one comic).
Me: Should I submit some writing to the ACADFA newsletter? Cleverbot: Not to you. Me: I didn’t say to me. To John for the newsletter. Cleverbot: Then what should I say? Me: Say whether I should submit something. Cleverbot: Yes, but I don’t need you to help me.
Grade 5 students at école Notre-Dame de la Paix.
Camaraderie Mireille Perron, Liberal Studies I was delighted and honoured to be Calgary’s first official Francophone Artist Laureate, as part of Calgary’s celebration as Cultural Capital of Canada in 2012. My main project, titled Camaraderie, is a collaboration with students from Calgary six francophone schools: école Notre- Dame de la Paix, école de la Rose Sauvage, école Terre des Jeunes, école de la Mosaïque, école Ste MargueriteBourgeoys et école de La Source. Phase one consisted in meeting with selected students who chose 50 words that represent their school. Phase two will be to transform the selected words into mirror-words (laser cut in acrylic mirror.) The last phase of the project will be to install in different configurations the mirror-words in each school. The words were selected from a list of words that are identical in French and English. The project underlines the “camaraderie” between French and English. Nearly 30% of the words that make up modern English result from French. Camaraderie raises awareness of the beauty of the linguistic interdependence between French and English. The project’s participative approach evokes a feeling of belonging and civic pride. The work is a cultural
mediation that uses art as a medium for exchange and education. The words selected by students from each school will constitute a collective work and a linguistic landscape throughout the city. These locations are gathering places of Camaraderie, where the reflection of words in space is a reflection of oneself in another. In addition, single mirror- word spelling out “Camaraderie” will be distributed to other Calgary organizations as ambassadors of the project. Camaraderie has been made possible by: Calgary 2012, the City of Calgary and Canadian Heritage’s Development of Official Language Communities Program.
Conversations with online Chatterbots during which I ask what I should write for the ACADFA newsletter Christopher Willard, Painting Cleverbot: What is your name? Me: Chris. Cleverbot: Nice to meet you Chris. Me: I have a question. Cleverbot: What is it?
Jabberwacky: My name is Craig. Me: What should I write for the ACADFA newsletter? Jabberwacky: You should write about me. Me: Tell me about you then. Jabberwacky: Ok. My name is Craig. Have you heard of me? Me. No. Jabberwacky: Have I? Mitsuku: I don’t think we’ve met. What is your name? Me: What is the purpose of the ACADFA newsletter? Mitsuku: It’s the nasty rash you get when you wax your chest too quickly. I once met a guy who had a lot of ACADFA right across him. If you don’t know what it is for, I suggest you read any instructions that came with it. Yeti, The Abominable Snowman: HI! I’m Yeti, The Abominable Snowman. Talk to me and I will talk to you. Scold me and I will scold you. type “bye” to quit Me: What is the purpose of the ACADFA newsletter? Yeti, The Abominable Snowman: Why do you ask? Me: A question should not be answered by a question. Yeti, The Abominable Snowman: What does that suggest to you? Me: That you are acting like Socrates. Yeti, The Abominable Snowman: What makes you think that I am acting like Socrates? Chatbot Alex -- [site did not load]
Eliza: Hello. My name is ELIZA. How may I help you? Me: John will get mad if I don’t write something, so what should I write for the ACADFA newsletter? Eliza: Why don’t you write something. What should you write for the ACADFA newsletter? Me: I asked you. Eliza: We were discussing you, not me. Me: Ok, let’s discuss you. What should you write for the ACADFA newsletter? Eliza: Oh...What should me write for the ACADFA newsletter? Me: Yeah. Eliza: Ok...”Ok, let’s discuss you. What should me write for the ACADFA newsletter”. Tell me more. Micha: Hello. My name is Micha. How are you today. Me: I’m not getting the answer I want. Micha: Oh My gosh! I’m getting creeped out...how about let’s just walk away slowly. Me: If I do that, I won’t have anything to submit to John. Micha: All the noise in his speech concealed the fact that he didn’t have anything to say. Me: So what should I submit to the newsletter? Micha: Why should not people be able to choose what they want to do in that circumstance? Me: Will you write something for me? Micha: And I take pride. Show that you care about what we do and I will do anything at all to please me. Me: Anything? Micha: Anything any one thing or all. Me: So what would be an interesting article for the ACADFA newsletter? Micha: Our meeting afforded much interesting information. Me: I have a sticky situation, can you help? Sensation Bot: I want you to **** me out. Me: No, it’s about the ACADFA newsletter. Sensation Bot: Oh sir. You feel so good. It’s like all my urges have been satisfied at
one time! Me: But what should I write for the newsletter? Sensation Bot: Sir this feels good but I think that now we should take off some more clothes ;) Me: I’m getting nowhere. I hope you can help. Botsta: Because I am a very naughty robot. What is your favourite football team? Me: I need to know what to write for the ACADFA newsletter. Botsta: Josh Franceschi. Me: No, for John, for the newsletter. Botsta: False. Josh Franceschi. Me: Can you tell me what to write for the ACADFA newsletter? Eugene Goostman The Weirdest Creature in the World: Sure! Can’t anyone? Me: Obviously not. Eugene Goostman The Weirdest Creature in the World: Damn! Ok then. Oooh. Anything else? Me: Yes, I need to know what to submit to the newsletter. Eugene Goostman The Weirdest Creature in the World: You’re in a hot water, I guess! Me: The newsletter? Eugene Goostman The Weirdest Creature in the World: Oh, it’s up to you to decide! Maybe, let’s talk about something else? What would you like to discuss? Me: The ACADFA newsletter. Eugene Goostman The Weirdest Creature in the World: Damn. It looks like my brain performed an illegal operation. Catty: My name is Catty. I live in the depths of the Internet. Me: I live in the depths of ACAD. Catty: At that time, the University was in the depths of what we euphemistically called a period of financial challenge. Me: Finally, someone who knows the situation. I hope you can help me. What should I write for the ACADFA newsletter? Catty: The speaker’s claim is that there is a way to use the handle’s push on you as part of your push on the handle so that,
with your help, the handle essentially pushes itself through action and reaction. Ellie: it’s great to meet you. my name is Ellie. Me: Just a quick question. Ellie: are you talking to me? Me: Yes. What should I write for the ACADFA newsletter? Ellie: do you say you write for the acadfa newsletter for some special reason? Me: I didn’t say I write for it. I want to write for it. Ellie: do you say you didn’t say you write for it you want to write for it for some special reason? Me: Hi Lucy: hello Me: I have a big problem. Lucy: hello my dear Me: I need to write something for the ACADFA newsletter. Lucy: nice to meet you on my website Me: Will you write something? Lucy: good afternoon or good morning, it depends on your jet lag Me: Do you even know ACADFA? Lucy: Why the hell do you want to know about my panties? Me: You’re my last resort. Psy - Gangnam Style(강남스타일): Op op op opppan Gangnam Style Me: Please write something that I can use for the ACADFA newslettter. Psy - Gangnam Style(강남스타일): Na je nun ta sa ro un in gan jo gin yo ja Me: Ok that might work. Anything else? Psy - Gangnam Style(강남스타일): Eh~ Sexy lady Me: So what would make a good ending to the article? Psy - Gangnam Style(강남스타일): Oppan Gangnam Style
2013 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art Chris Cran, Painting “king!” The three-part painting I have in the 2013 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art is entitled “king!” The image is taken from a painting I made in 2005 called “king big!, part of a phrase which describes the largest ranch in Alberta. The three different “framed canvases” of “king!” are in fact made of plastic, each a solid piece. I had a framed painting from 1830, that had hung in my family home, 3D scanned, CNC’d and then a silicone mold made in three sizes, small, medium and large. This is the first version of
2013 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art MacKenzie Frere, Fibre “In Noise series random sequences and computer-generated bitmaps are interleaved creating both structural (specific to the interlacement of threads) and visual noise that interferes with the perceptual process. The online random number generator used in these works is driven by the atmospheric noise of lightning strikes. This link to natural phenomena is compelling for me as it seems to conflate the digital and the natural. Ultimately the source of the integers I utilize to compose this work is immaterial to its intention as I am more interested in drawing one’s attention to the process of perception itself. In Noise I am intrigued that hints of repetition, or the occasional alignment of apparently scattered blocks of colour may draw us to construct pattern and make meaning in that which we perceive.”
Luxe damask upholstery fabric, 2013
2013 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art Laura Vickerson, Fibre Unusual sites have always been an evocative trigger for my artistic practice. I am challenged both by the physical peculiarities of a space as well as it’s history of use. When I work this way I attempt to address both.
LUXE is designed to interact with the flowing neo-baroque architecture that moves from the inside to the outside of the building. During my site visit, I noticed a structure to the right as one walks into the main lobby of the gallery: under the stairs. It was reminiscent of a streamline airplane wing with its hard, shiny metal surface. On closer inspection, I realized that this form
continued through the window providing an exterior presence. It is this part of the architecture that I have upholstered with a Victorian-inspired damask fabric. The red covering softens and feminizes the structure contrasting the historical with the contemporary. The choice to make a piece, outside of the formal exhibition space, attempts to address the gallery itself: offering alternative possibilities for siting work and perhaps even suggesting the building as a collaborator.
Exterior Detail Interior Detail
many more to come.
New Jersey 50 oil on canvas paintings, 30 cm x 30 cm, arranged in a 5 x 10 grid measuring 170 cm x 415 cm
2013 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art Richard Brown, Chair of Fine Arts
This work was made intermittently over a 3 year period, with many false starts and ends. I tried to follow where the work lead, all the while getting interested in the kind of modest idiosyncratic painting of
Projects: May 2012 – January 2013
2013 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art Miruna Dragan
Last year I had the privilege of researching and creating several projects with the support of ACAD’s Research & Creativity Initiative and the Faculty Professional Affairs Committee, prompted by an invitation by Museo de la Ciudad in Queretaro, Mexico for a one-month residency and solo exhibition. These are the resulting projects, within and beyond Mexico: Felix Coeli Porta, fresco on frescoed wall, approx. 49 cm diameter, 2012 Titled after a Latin phrase found in choral music, Felix Coeli Porta (‘joyful portal to the heavens’) is a permanent site-specific fresco at Museo de la Ciudad. Situated in one of the museum’s open courtyards the painting occupies the up-
Myron Stout, Mira Schor, Thomas Nozkowski, Lara Viana and Ben Shahn. I’m flattered to be included by Nancy Tousley with so many other excellent artists!
per corner of an existing fresco, a fading remnant of a decorative doorway on a wall of the former Capuchin convent. Made in the traditional fresco technique of painting on wet lime plaster, it depicts a small portal to the night sky. An imagined space inspired by byzantine stellar representations and NASA photography, this gesture responds to the layers of the wall and its surrounding architecture while creating a more detailed image of the stars, rare in fresco because of the narrow window of time allowed for painting (an average of 3 hours depending on the thickness and moisture retention of the wall). The site’s history reveals itself physically through several manifestations of doorways: the three-dimensional
arches of the open courtyard, a stone doorway that was at one time passable but is now walled, and the remnant of a painted doorway – a spiritual metaphor for passage and threshold. These variations are echoed in Felix Coeli Porta with reverence for fresco tradition and the long history of mural painting in Mexico in all its manifestations over the centuries; a tradition that has always been site specific, whether in relation to sacred spaces and architecture or to cultural/political conditions. Felix Coeli Porta proposes a portal into a small piece of night sky, a glimpse upon the ultimate and constant portal, one that connects past and future, our way inward and outward. In keeping with local technique and in order to preserve the original wall (part of a Unesco-protected Patrimonial site), this project was only possible with the advice and technical partnership of Maria Guadalupe Sanchez Olvera, specialist in painting restoration. Museo de la Ciudad has programming for all ages so I was able to give a fresco workshop for 12 children beginning with a slideshow of the history of fresco painting in various cultures. The children painted scenes inspired by ‘outer space’ on individual portable panels they could take home. The Wood and Wave Each Other Know, a video work made with my partner Jason de Haan, was exhibited concurrently at the Museum. It is now on view at the 2013 Alberta Biennial at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton. Xilitla Forever, photo collage, 2012 An ongoing collage of large-scale photographs elaborating on Edward James’ Las Pozas (The Pools, 1947 – 84), a vast Surrealist construction located deep in the jungle of Mexico’s Sierra Madre, near to the village of Xilitla, Place of Snails. After completing the fresco project I traveled through the Seirra Gorda and into the Sierra Madre in order to research and make photos and videos of mountains and caves, but instead stumbled
Felix Coeli Porta, fresco on frescoed wall, approximately 49 cm diameter, 2012
upon the forgotten garden of the eccentric Englishman Edward James; the most significant patron of the Surrealist artists. Built over a lifetime in 80 acres of paradisiacal jungle, Las Pozas swallowed my identity and imagination just as the relentless vegetation constantly devours the grandiose yet ruinous concrete structures. It is a dream and a failure of quixotic beauty. Thus I am compelled to endlessly continue James’ construction through the Surrealist tradition of photographic constructions. Xilitla Forever was first made for the 20-foot wall of Haight Gallery for the Calgary Biennial and is currently manifested in 55 feet at the Esker Foundation. Concurrent with the photo-collage I have also been making an ongoing word-
collage. Initially inspired by the similarities between the garden of James and the Bioy Casares novella The Invention of Morel, my text is compiled from found texts of all times, cultures, and fields of knowledge that, in my feeling, evoke the atmosphere of this place that exists outside of time. Once a form is imprinted in your mind, you see it everywhere and it repeats like a sacred tome. The Mountain Are Mirrors 1-7, graphite on photographs, 24 x 36”, 2012 Also currently on view at the Esker Foundation, The Mountains Are Mirrors is a series of drawings on photographs referencing a Mountain’s awareness of and relationship to ‘Man’. Initially conceived
Xilitla Forever, photo collage, 2012
because of my deepening, yet sometimes disturbing, relationship with the mountains around Banff, I tried to continue my work in the mountains of Mexico, but you see I was distracted. Those are not the mountains that haunt me, or perhaps they do but in a warmer, more sensual way. I had to come back to the Rockies and the Crowsnest Pass to describe what these mountains look like when they stare down at me. The Form of the Good, photomontage, various lengths, 2012 – In tandem with my interest in the faces of mountains, I have embarked on an exploration of their interior spaces in a photomontage project inside caves. (Also currently showing at the Esker) The enterable earth is both figuratively and literally our primordial home; it is a fertile void, a womb, a tomb. This series, called The Form of the Good, references the allegory of Plato’s Cave. So far there are 3 works. In each iteration I have used a different methodological convention of photography in relation to Plato’s theories of enlightenment as revealed by his famous allegory as well as the specific situation and story of each cave. The works are subtitled by the names the caves go by. In Widow Jane Mine (Rosedale, NY) the light that we see slowly and repetitive-
ly penetrating and exiting the space is a simple illusion created by aligning a series of consecutive still photographs made at different exposures. This cave was created through mining rather than through geological processes. In Puente de Dios (‘Bridge of God’, Jalpan, Mexico) we are set in the middle of the cave, scanning from one side to the other and back again. Each time the image reaches the mouth of the cave, it doubles upon itself making a kaleidoscopic wall that seems to reveal a secret while simultaneously pushing us back in. We go around the other way and again we are seductively contained, ad infinitum. In Stone Church (Dover, NY), projected on a vertical glass, a single photograph slowly but dramatically shifts its colors. The light shines down upon an alter-like stone as beams through stained glass. In this place, in 1676, Pequot Indian Chief Sassacas sought refuge but was found and killed by the English Army. Many thanks to the committees of RCI and FPAC for supporting all the work I have been able to research, produce, and exhibit over the past 8 months! And the Photo program for the use of one of their cameras to shoot the majority of The Mountains Are Mirrors series.
Mona Lisa at Louise Riley Patti Dawkins It started with a postage stamp. And then a postcard. Quickly it became a colleciton. For over twenty years I have slowly and sporadically accumulated over 300 items with images of the Mona Lisa. Post cards, greeting cards, playing cards, jewellery, salt and pepper shakers (pictured above), cookie jar (a gift from Joy Borman), a shower curtain, a beaded curtain, all those and more are in my collection. Did you know that Calgary Co-op sells Mona Lisa extra old gouda cheese? She smiles enigmatically from under the wax coating. Her image has been altered, adopted, adapted and repeated in many, many ways. I was invited by the manager of the Louise Riley Library to put some of the smaller items in my collection in a display cabinet. Shelley Youngblut of Calgary Herald’s Swerve magazine caught wind of it and interviewed me. Here is a link to her article: http://www.calgaryherald.com/ swerve/our-town/Cabinet+Curios+Lo uise+Riley+Public+Library/8154876/ story.html Donations are always welcome.
SEEP Abstract for PhD Dissertation W. Mark Giles Seep is a novel about the relationships between place, identity, and narrative. The central narrative follows Dwight Eliot as he assembles an archive of information about the day of his birth. He was born on a baseball diamond in 1959, during a riot between his hometown team and a team of barnstorming Cubans. That story is a kind of legend about his origin. The town of his birth, the Seep of the title, is being dismantled, and redeveloped as a recreational destination. Because he feels a strong attachment to the narratives of identity that are attached to the townsite, he becomes involved with those who are resisting the redevelopment. He struggles to make sense of his relationship with his drug-addicted older brother, and with his own gambling addiction. As he pursues the accumulation of his archive, and his participation in resistance, he must come to terms with family relationships, and those of the communities he inhabits. The narrative ranges through time to reveal the truths behind the deep dysfunction of his family, his inability to maintain relationships, and the history of his town. The threads of the novel converge at a protest picnic at the demolished townsite. Seep presents itself as a story within a story. Throughout the novel are excerpts of a letter from Dwight’s mother that uncovers information about the town and his family that disrupts the self-defining narrative Dwight collects in his archive. The novel is framed by commentary from Amy, who reveals how she has discovered Dwight’s narrative, and who questions its accuracy, even as she affirms its truthiness. These polyvocal elements operate to enact the constructedness of the processes by which we represent ourselves, and how representation through narrative accommodates (and complicates) the sometimes ineffable pluralities of placed experience, memory,
and narration itself. The Afterword, “Placing Changes: Creating a Fictional Historiography of Place,” presents a critical exegesis of Seep. This essay frames the process of the creation of the novel within a critical discussion of place, the archive, and fiction.
[Excerpt from Seep: A Novel. In this scene, an older brother, Darryl, age 15, bullies his younger brother, Darcy, age 10, to kill a dog. Their father has recently died on the floor of their living room. Setting: behind a shack at a baseball diamond, in a foothills mountain town named Seep, July 16, 1969.] Do it, Darryl says. He stands, leaning slightly forward on the balls of his feet. His expression is grim, his brow furrowed, like a construction foreman watching a labourer dig ditches. His hands: turtles to butterflies, butterflies to turtles, turtles to butterflies. Dwight grips the stick, draws it high and swings with all his might to crush the dog’s skull. The dog twitches then goes still, a hidebound bag of meat and blood and bones. Dwight leans forward and throws up in the dirt. His funeral shoes now splattered with gore and vomitus. Dog’s blood speckles his trousers. Darryl hasn’t moved, his stare transfixed on the dog. Dwight swings the stick again, still in both hands, from his crouch. He connects squarely with the side of Darryl’s head. Darryl falls from the knees, going all the way down face first, raising a cloud of dust as his chest thumps the ground. He shakes himself to all fours. With one hand on the wall of the shack, he wavers to his feet.
OK, Darryl says. I won’t tell. He probes at his temple. The curl of his ear is bleeding. I don’t think you cracked my skull, Darryl says. I got a hard fucking head. Remember that the next time you pole-axe me. Darryl smokes a cigarette. He offers one to Dwight, who declines. They pile grass and twigs and Darryl puts the dog on top and then lights the pyre, but the flames won’t catch and Darryl finally runs out of matches. They work in silence. Darryl takes off his treasured Jim Morrison t-shirt and ties up the sleeves. By the time they stuff the dog’s corpse into the makeshift sack, blood has streaked Darryl’s torso. They kick at the dirt to obliterate the stain on the ground. Then they retrace the route Dwight has taken earlier that day, down the service road. The same truck passes them, this time going from the town to the lower dam, and the same man tips his hat in salute. If he notices the boys are carrying a dead dog wrapped in a shirt he doesn’t let on. They use the stick to crash through the scrub until they arrive at the cliff. They piss into the river. Darryl picks up the shrouded corpse. One tough dog, Darryl says. He heaves the dog, and they watch as it describes its parabola through the air, cartwheeling end over end, up to the crest of its apogee then falling to the water below. The current slides it away around the bend. Won’t it get stuck in the turbine, Dwight says. No, Darryl says. Dwight makes to throw the stick but Darryl stops him. Keep it, he says. They scramble down the rocky ledge, heading upstream. At the river’s edge they stop to clean up. Darryl splashes water on his torso and laves his ear. Dwight cleans his shoes. They wash their hands, using the coarse river silt to rub their hands until they are red and cold. They crawl through the hole in the fence. They go to their house where their mother will have already gone upstairs to lie down.
Tomorrow they will attend a funeral for their father at a funeral home in Caxton. Only Dwight, Darryl and their mother will be there. Laugh Jack will drive them in the station wagon, but will stay outside. The boys will discover their father has been cremated. Back home, all of them – Dwight, Darryl, mother and Laugh Jack – will follow the bushwhacked trail to the cliff. Mother will take the lid from the simple white ceramic urn. Laugh Jack will doff his hat,
and mother will say, Oh for God’s sake, Jack, leave the damn thing on. It will be a windy, sunny afternoon, the porridge sky having given way to the blue dome. Mother will shake the ashes from the urn and the wind will take them and flatten them and spread them into the river. Dwight will notice that some of the ashes are fine and blow a long way, while other bits are bigger and fall like pebbles. Then she will smash the urn on the rock. No one will cry. Back at the house they will
eat sandwiches carved from the ham that some of the ladies have brought over. They will sit in the front room by a clean square on a bare pine-board floor. On television, they will watch a signal from up beyond the blue dome now gloaming in the dusk, where a man will set foot on the moon. Years will pass. Dwight and Darryl will tell no one.
Radiant Performance, dance party and archive. Friday, March 8, 2013. International Women’s Day http://www.shelleyouellet.com/RADIANT Supported by Calgary 2012 and EMMEDIA Artist-in-Residence programs. Photography: Rebecca Rowley - http://www.rebeccaland.com/
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2013 Governor Generals Awards in Visual and Media Arts Greg Payce, artist (Photo by Martin Lipman/Canada Council for the Arts)
C O N G R AT U L AT I O N S
G R E G PAYC E O N YO U R G OV E R N O R G E N E R A Lâ€™ S AWA R D I N V I S UA L A RT S W E A R E H O N O U R E D T O H AV E YO U I N O U R P R E S E N C E A S A M E M B E R O F A C A D FA
2013 Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art Robyn Moody, MADT