Saturday, January 22, 2011

Panel discussions at the WAG: Close Encounters of the Sculptural Kind.

The day started with two panel discussions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG). The panelists in the first discussion, moderated by Candice Hopkins, were Mary-Anne Barkhouse, Nadia Myre and Faye HeavyShield. It was a well curated event. Each artist's practice was very unique and their talks flowed neatly from one person to the next. The audience seemed equally inspired by the presenters and the curator's insightful questions.

We took a break for lunch after the discussion, and many people headed to the Paddle House Restaurant, a quasi-mythical Winnipeg eatery on the top floor of the Hudson's Bay Company. Here Vanessa and I discovered yet another reason for disliking HBC .

After lunch, we returned to the WAG for the second session. A discussion between Rebecca Belmore and Lee-Ann Martin gave a brief retrospective of Rebecca's work. The talk, Lee-Ann noted, had been unofficially titled "out in the cold" by the pair. It was equally well-attended and the audience responded with a myriad of questions regarding Rebecca's work.

For reasons beyond our control, the sole camera we had between the two of us has decided not to work. I (Jessie) did some drawings to provide a visual record of the event. I (Jessie) would like to think that these are somewhat inspired by the Ledger drawings that many artists have referenced, although I cannot help but notice a similarity to Canadian court room drawings. This was not intentional.

"I'm not really interested in people's stories. I'm interested in transformation."

I picked out this Quote from Nadia Myre because I thought it was one of the most pognant things she said in her talk. At First it seems a little funny and out of place considering that two of Myre’s larger projects, The Scar Project and TheForgiveness Project (Pardoner Moi) are both based around people telling personal narratives. However I think it makes perfect sense. Personal stories can be interesting and reveling, they can move the reader; they are a window into another person. But I believe that we can never really know, never really understand other peoples experiences. Sharing is grate but one person can only understand someone else story from there own perspective. They will never really know it. The work is not about story it’s about what happens to us when we tell a story.

"My materials are the boss. I'm not the boss."

I think that everyone can relate to this comment, we are constantly
bested by the materials in our lives. Whether you’re slicing bred and
can only get your slices so thin (and in wedges), or you’re waiting
for your car windshield to defrost in the cold, our material

environment dictates our actions. However, I think many artist work
against their materials manipulating them with their hands and tools
they become the boss, letting their desires lead the process and the
forum of the work follow. In her talk HeavyShield spoke of both the
paper and the river as a material that dictated the forum of her
commissioned work Silvers 2010. Her statement I am not the boss, is
revealing of her artistic process.

"How do we co-exist with the beavers?"

In Marry-Ann Barkhouse’s work the viewer encounters a world of animals. Beavers, horses and donkeys are the main players. Barkhouse represents the contrary by having the people curiously absent from her installations. The viewer questions, where do I fit into this world of
animals? In her work The Four Horses of the Apocalypse and the Donkey of Eternal Salvation (2008), which is on display at 109 Pacific Ave, viewers negotiate the space between, around, and on four coin operated toy horses and a toy donkey. For only a quarter you can ride one of
the horses. I could not help but want to be part of their world where smoothly painted surfaces and silk banners are irresistible. I took an exhilarating ride on Pestilence learning that the more one pulls on the rains the faster she runs.

*all drawings by Jessie Short, 2011

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