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arts

Memories of a Naturalist

Maria Whiteman and Clint Wilson explore the world beyond science

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emories of a Naturalist, a new exhibition of photographic and video works by Alberta artists Clint Wilson and Maria Whiteman, is an exploration of the world beyond science and ontology. Both artists depict animals, most of them stuffed and preserved in museums, and their works address not only the gulf between life and the physical form, but also the ineffable quality that animates the living — and is conspicuously absent from the dead. “Natural history museums, which came into existence primarily in the 19th century as a place of scientific study, have themselves changed focus,” Whiteman writes in an email, hinting at the disjuncture between sterile halls of learning and the boundless expanse of the wild. “[They have become] one of the few spaces in which members of the public come into contact with animal

by alex J MacPherson

ous and raw; her works hint at the narratives we remember but can no longer touch or describe. “I realize I can only think of them in their death, and in their death that I mourn not knowing them in their life,” she writes. “These animals have a history of their own, and then a transformation takes place which transcends their existence into another kind of history, our history. I want the images to capture a past and present, and offer an additional reality to the dead animals.” Ultimately, Memories of a Naturalist evokes the one thing science cannot capture, the staggering power and vitality of living things — and they way they move across the endless fields of our dreams, long after their lives have ended and their bodies crumbled into dust.

bodies and develop attitudes towards other living species.” This idea is expressed throughout the exhibition, but Whiteman and Wilson approach our fixation with preserving life after death from different angles. Wilson’s photos of dead creatures mounted in wooden boxes are cooly detached. He draws attention to the vibrancy of life, and how it cannot be captured or described, by allowing parts of the image to float out of focus. This technique points to a basic inadequacy of science, which is depicted in the Latin names printed on the tags. Whiteman prefers a visceral approach. Her photographs and videos feel like shards of a memory. By using the image, as well as the physical context of its presentation, to conjure up an emotional reaction, her works reflect on the ephemeral sense of life that is preserved in our minds, not in the museum. This approach is sensu-

Memories of a Naturalist Through June 21 @ Paved Arts

A riveting performance

Alexis Normand and Farideh bring a cappella to the The Duo

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o play an instrument or not to play an instrument, that is the question. Or at least, that was the question facing the Riveters in the hours leading up to The Duo semi-finals. With stiff competition facing them and a berth to the finals on the line, the Riveters — a duo consisting of Alexis Normand and Farideh — wanted to do something to set themselves apart. Not long before they took the stage, they had an idea about just how to do that. “We ditched the guitar,” said Normand. “Originally we were going to play with an instrument, but we thought, ‘let’s see what this sounds like without one.’” So they tried singing their song — an old-time war tune called “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” — sans guitar. And it worked. But it didn’t come easy. “We didn’t realize how challenging an a cappella tune it would be,” admits Normand.

by adam hawboldt

At this, Farideh nods. “When it’s just two singers up on stage, you have to make sure every single word lands and every single word sounds the same. Every ‘a,’ every ‘but,’ every ‘because.’ It’s all about timing. If you’re not in sync with each other, it can really sound messy.” So a few hours before they were scheduled to perform in front of a soldout show at the Broadway Theatre, the duo sang the song over and over again. Then it was time to take the stage. Dressed in green and blue dresses, wearing pearls, Farideh rocking a rockabilly swirl in her hair, the pair stepped to their microphones. They looked the part of war-time musicians, but would they sound it? You bet. “When we started I was like, ‘Whoa! We’re actually singing this a cappella’,” says Normand with a chuckle. But that feeling soon passed, and the Riveters treated the audience to a bang-up rendition of the

song. Snapping their fingers to keep a beat, their voices in perfect sync, the Riveters were having fun up there. Then, mid-way through the song, with Farideh still singing, Normand broke into a trumpet solo — using nothing but her mouth. The audience erupted in applause. Whistles echoed through the room. Then it was over. Standing at the side of the stage, smiling, Normand and Farideh listened to praise from the competition’s four judges then disappeared behind the curtain — with a ticket to the finals firmly punched. The Duo Grand Finale June 20 @ TCU Place Tickets @ saskjazz.com Feedback? Text it! (306) 881 8372

@VerbSaskatoon amacpherson@verbnews.com ahawboldt@verbnews.com

13 June 14 – June 20 @verbsaskatoon

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Verb Issue S244 (June 14-20, 2013)  

Verb Issue S244 (June 14-20, 2013)

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