Happenings, SBC

Ashon Crawley’s “The Lonely Letters”

Ashon Crawley, Otherwise Possibility, Nancy Ambrose's Imagination number 2 (2017).

Ashon Crawley, “Otherwise Possibility, Nancy Ambrose’s Imagination number 2″ (2017), mixed media on canvas, 36″x48”.

I am headed to Montréal this weekend for an event with the phenomenal Ashon Crawley entitled The Lonely Letters: On the Hammond B-3 Sense and Sound Experience. Collaboratively programmed by myself and Pip Day, The Lonely Letters will be hosted at SBC Gallery as a preface to SBC’s upcoming programme, which will be rooted in the practices of care, study and deep listening, while considering the potential and limits of institutions. If you are around Montréal on Saturday afternoon, come join us…

The Lonely Letters is an in-progress text of autobiofiction in which writer and philosopher Ashon Crawley collectively considers the relationship of quantum theory, mysticism and blackness through an engagement with the noisemaking practices of Blackpentecostal spaces. In focusing on the relationship between the Hammond B-3 organ and sense and sound experience, Crawley will perform a meditation between friends, and between would-be lovers, about how the performance of and the listening to the Hammond B-3—and its chord changes, arpeggios, volume, timbre and tone—can elucidate experiences of black social life. The Hammond B-3 organ is an under-thought instrument, despite its presence in Blackpentecostal spaces before church services begin, throughout their duration and after their end, punctuating the sounds of praise, prayer and preaching. Building on the work in Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (2017), this performative lecture will attempt to build connective tissue between what might seem to be disparate ways of thinking worlds known and unknown—the religious and the scientific, the noisy and the musical—with hopes of considering the epistemologies of quantum physics as Blackpentecostal.

Ashon Crawley is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. His research and teaching experiences are in the areas of Black studies, performance theory and sound studies, philosophy and theology, and Black feminist and queer theories. His first book, Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press, 2017) is an investigation of aesthetics and performance as modes of collective, social imaginings otherwise.

 

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Happenings

OAAG Curatorial Writing Award

A couple years ago, Heather Anderson and Sandra Dyck of the Carleton University Art Gallery reached out to see if I’d be interested in writing a catalogue essay for an upcoming mid-career retrospective of Meryl McMaster‘s work. Meryl’s photographs have often compelled long and slow looking, and so I was excited to say yes and have a formal opportunity to put language to the way her images work on me. As things go, it turned out that the other essayist for the catalogue was to be my dear friend Gabrielle Moser. We travelled to Meryl’s studio together and spent a day in midst of stories with her, spinning two complementary but distinct takes on Meryl’s practice for the publication. Although we were looking at the same pictures and heard the same stories, I learned so much from Gabrielle’s framing and analysis of Meryl’s practice. And so, the sweet ending to this story is that Gabrielle and I were jointly awarded the Ontario Association of Art Galleries‘ award for curatorial writing (2000–5000 words) for our essays that appear in the Confluence catalogue.

Said the jurors: “[Gabrielle Moser’s and cheyanne turions’s] essays reflect complementary texts that examine Meryl McMaster’s process and elaborates on the artist’s self discovery through photography and performance, shedding light on how these two mediums intertwine in the artist’s work. The two texts are constructive and open-ended analyses of the in the makingness of the artist’s practice.”

Here’s to more thinking and making alongside each other…

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Uncategorized

Closure

Wood Land School: Kahatenhstánion tsi na’tetiatere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha /Drawing Lines from January to December is now closed. Although I have chosen to no longer be a part of Wood Land School, I remain committed to interrogating the possibilities and limits of institutions, and to making a future that is more just than the histories we have inherited.

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Considerations, Wood Land School

Taking up Space

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View of “Kahatenhstánion tsi na’tetiatere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha / Drawing Lines from January to December.” Photo Paul Litherland.

Nearing the turn to the new year and thus the conclusion of Wood Land School: Kahatenhstánion tsi na’tetiatere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha /Drawing Lines from January to December it is meaningful to have been given a chance to reflect on the project and its force. In “Taking Up Space: An Interview with the Wood Land School,” Art in America’s Sean J Patrick Carney posed a series of thoughtful questions to Tanya Lukin Linklater, Duane Linklater and myself about the project and about art institutions. With their future-tense inflection, these prompts point to the work that still, continually asks to be done, and in the twilight of Drawing Lines… I find myself easing into hope.

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Considerations

Between Desire and Change

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The incubation period for press, for words on a page, the holding in the hands, is always so much longer in the end than what we convince ourselves it will be when we begin. It is almost as though it is impossible to make books. Except that there are libraries stacked full, proof otherwise. And now, another gem to add to those shelves: Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada (2017). Published by Winnipeg-based artist-run centre MAWA, the publication brings together contemporary Canadian feminist art through the entangled relations of desire and desire for change.

Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada is edited by Heather Davis and includes contributions by myself and Janice Anderson (Concordia University), Gina Badger (artist, writer, editor, Toronto), Noni Brynjolson (writer, San Diego), Amber Christensen (curator and writer, Toronto), Karin Cope (NSCAD), Lauren Fournier (artist, writer, and curator, York University), Amy Fung (curator and writer, Toronto), Kristina Huneault (Concordia University), Alice Ming Wai Jim (Concordia University), Tanya Lukin Linklater (artist, North Bay), Sheila Petty (University of Regina), Kathleen Ritter (curator and writer, Vancouver), Daniella Sanader (curator and writer, Toronto), Thérèse St. Gelais (UQAM), Ellyn Walker (Queen’s University), Jayne Wark (NSCAD) and Jenny Western (curator and writer, Winnipeg).

In my essay, I tried to work through some observations of and reflections on the 2013 exhibition Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art:

Theoretically, the exhibition was an expression of the difficult, hopeful work that is our living responsibility as cultural workers, gallery visitors, thinkers and citizens today in addressing the injustices of colonization, a project that I see as central to contemporary feminism. It is important to acknowledge that feminism is about more than ending sexism—it’s also about abolishing interconnected systems of oppression that affect different people in different ways, and in a Canadian context this importantly means working to acknowledge and then abolish colonial forms of dispossession. And yet, like a trailing stitch of wool hanging from a sweater, the [National Gallery of Canada] undid at least some of this work through a repeated gesture. At the entrance of the exhibition, where the spirit of “sakahàn”— an Algonquin word meaning to light a fire—was put forward as the organizing principle of the show, was this disclaimer: “The views and opinions expressed in this exhibition are those of the artists and do not reflect the views of the National Gallery of Canada.” Such disclaimers are not in regular use at the NGC nor are they common practice for exhibitions generally. The appearance of an additional disclaimer, directly next to the didactic panel for Nadia Myre’s “For those who cannot speak: the land, the water, the animals and the future generations” (2013), was therefore notable: “The views expressed in this work are those of the artist and do not reflect the views of the National Gallery of Canada.” In both cases, the language enacts a strict demarcation between the views of the NGC and the artists. The politics of the works on display do not align with the politics of the gallery itself.

This essay has been a long time in the making and finally it lives in the world. If it comes to rest upon your shelves, your desk, your hands, let’s talk more about what it means to install Indigenous art as feminists.

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Happenings, SBC, Wood Land School

How does the line behave?

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Image credit: Tsēma Igharas

In the ongoing becoming that is Wood Land School: Kahatènhston tsi na’tetiátere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha / Drawing a Line from January to December, the second gesture launches this week with a cast of artists invested in thinking through what an inherited history makes in the present. It is an honour for Wood Land School to be thinking alongside Joi T. Arcand, Elisa Harkins & Nathan Young, Tsēma Igharas, Brian Jungen, Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Marianne Nicolson, Annie Pootoogook and Wendy Red Star.

The first gesture of this year-long project was concerned with the power of line to mark history and invoke memory. In this first gesture, we considered what it means to inherit a history. We made claims for where we have felt ourselves formed. We proposed that this is one of many ways to pick up the line.

In the second gesture we are asking the following question: how does the line behave?

Spanning video, photography, sculpture, drawing and performance, the works of the second gesture show us how to occupy the present. Here, the line acts as a point of departure for Indigenous relations, mapping time, family, Indigenous languages and non-human relations in the now. And yet, this isn’t a singular line of thought. What does a line of thinking become when it is collapsed or disrupted? In this second gesture, we complicate and converse with the idea of the line and materiality.

Wood Land School: Kahatènhston tsi na’tetiátere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha / Drawing a Line from January to December has yielded many questions and ideas—for Wood Land School, for SBC, for the artists and for our publics. Collectively, we consider how this line acts, thinks and articulates itself under this particular condition we have created or implicated ourselves in.

Please join us at the launch of the second gesture on Thursday, 11 May 2017, 18:00–20:00, at SBC galerie d’art contemporain (372, rue Ste-Catherine Ouest, espace 507, Tiohtià:ke/Montréal). Elisa Harkins, Tsēma Igharas and Hilda Nicholas will be variously performing over the evening and they are not to be missed.

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Happenings, Wood Land School

Before the Gesture Rests, a Conversation

Brian Jungen, (detail), 2017.

As winter turns to spring,  Wood Land School’s unfolding exhibition Kahatènhston tsi na’tetiátere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha / Drawing a Line from January to December prepares to rest. Articulated through a series of gestures—clusters of activity that bring works into and out of the exhibition space— a suite of new drawings by Brian Jungen will soon join works by Annie Pootoogook, Alanis Obomsawin, Layli Long Soldier, ReCollection Kahnawake and Napachie Pootoogook. With this, the composition of forms that make the first gesture will be complete.

To mark the inclusion of Jungen’s work, which are the first drawings he has produced in over 20 years, Wood Land School will engage in conversation with the artist this Thursday, 30 March 2017. Please join us.

Following this, for the month of April, the exhibition will rest, playing out the energies between the works on display, collectively producing  a line that demarcates and describes inheritance.

In May, the exhibition remakes itself along with the world. Details of the second gesture will be announced soon.

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