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Published on : 2011-06-23 01:00:00
The Bytown Museum announces a new summer exhibition and illustrated bilingual catalogue.
HIDDEN TREASURES from the Bytown Museum
June 23 to October 2, 2011
This exhibition presents 41 exceptional artefacts from the Bytown Museum's significant historic collection, and showcases the quality of its permanent holdings. Visitors will be able to see two Regency chairs from Lt. Colonel By's house, the exquisite silver Drummond Cup, 19th century prints depicting the newly named city of Ottawa, a marble bust of Lady Macdonald (wife of Sir John A. Macdonald), the recently restored Victorian-era Mayor's Chair, early photographs by A. G. Pittaway of Ottawa, as well as other outstanding portraits, landscapes, and urban views.
The Bytown Museum's collection was inaugurated in 1898 by the Women's Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa and now comprises 7,000 artefacts. This unique collection witnesses diverse moments in Ottawa's rich history - from military base, to lumber town, to national capital. Many objects are being shown for the first time in decades and some have never been displayed.
The Hidden Treasures catalogue includes a colour illustration and a scholarly text for each object prepared by one of five renowned guest curators, Janet Carlile, Lilly Koltun, Steven C. McNeil, Rosemarie L. Tovell, and René Villeneuve. Historian, Charlotte Gray has written an introduction to the Bytown Museum; an essay by the Museum's Director, Mike Steinhauer, traces a history of the collection.
OPENING: Wednesday, June 22 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm
Details about special summer programming including tours, drop-in family workshops and a Treasures in Your Attic program can be found at www.bytownmuseum.ca
ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION
For more information and sample photographs, please contact:
Janet Carlile's studies include a degree in history (University of Waterloo), Sotheby's Decorative Arts Course (England), and an M. A. in Modern Social History (Lancaster University). She wrote and hosted The A-Z of Antiques which aired on BBC radio. After returning to Canada in 1999, she penned columns about antiques for Southam newspapers and Canadian House and Home magazine. As a decorative arts and furniture consultant, her clients include the Lancaster City Museum, Canadian Museum of Civilization, National Capital Commission, Ontario Heritage Trust, and House of Commons (Ottawa). She is currently director/curator of the Arnprior and District Museum.
Charlotte Gray is the author of eight acclaimed books of literary non-fiction, including Gold Diggers, Striking It Rich in the Klondike, The Museum Called Canada, and Sisters in the Wilderness. Born in Sheffield, and educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, she came to Canada in 1979. Gray worked as a political commentator, book reviewer, and magazine columnist before she turned to biography and popular history. She currently chairs the board of Canada's National History Society, and is a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr. Lilly Koltun, formerly Director General of the Portrait Gallery of Canada, has extensive leadership experience in national collections of Canadian art, photography, and archives. She holds degrees in Art History from the University of Toronto, Courtauld Institute of Art (England), and St. Andrews University (Scotland). Koltun lectures and consults widely across Canada and internationally and has authored numerous publications, notably in her specialty of Canadian photography. Currently, she serves on several boards, is an Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University, and is enrolled in the visual arts studio program at the University of Ottawa.
Steven C. McNeil is Curator of the Crown Collection for the Official Residences of Canada at the National Capital Commission. He has previously held curatorial positions at the National Gallery of Canada and the Loyalist House National Historic Site in Saint John, New Brunswick. He was educated at the University of New Brunswick, the Courtauld Institute of Art (England), and Carleton University (Ottawa).
Rosemarie L. Tovell was curator of the Canadian Prints and Drawings Collection at the National Gallery of Canada for over 30 years. Her major exhibitions include David Milne, William Berczy, Betty Goodwin, the history of Canadian lithography, and the Canadian etching revival. In 1997, her publication A New Class of Art received the prestigious Newman Book Award from the American Historical Print Collector's Society. Since retirement she continues to contribute to books and exhibitions, including the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Carleton University Art Gallery, and the Burnaby Art Gallery.
René Villeneuve, historian of art and architecture, has been curator at the National Gallery of Canada since 1987. A specialist in the history of Canadian art and of European and North American silver, he is also knowledgeable about the history of Canadian collectors and collections. As well as being responsible for the National Gallery's collection of early Canadian art, he has organized the following exhibitions and catalogues: Baroque to Neo-Classical: Sculpture in Quebec; Quebec Silver from the Collection of the National Gallery of Canada; Théophile Hamel: Dominick Daly O'Meara; Lord Dalhousie: Patron and Collector.
Judith Parker is Acting Curator of the Bytown Museum. In 2010, she organized Many Guises: Contemporary Self-Portraits and wrote the accompanying catalogue for the Bytown Museum's participation in Ottawa Photography Festival X. Her background includes 20 years in museum education at the National Gallery of Canada, experience as a municipal arts funding officer and as an interpretive planner for social history exhibits. Her reviews and articles are found in contemporary art magazines, the OMA's 2004 colloquium proceedings, and the CMA's Muse (May 2011). She dreams about contemporary, interdisciplinary artistic interpretation of historic material culture.
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Published on : 2011-06-22 01:00:00
June 22 - July 16, 2011
The Red Head Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Teri Donovan.
In this painting installation, wallpaper paintings and large-scale works on Mylar convert the gallery walls into sites of archaeological reclamation. The artifacts in this 'dig' however, deal not with material objects, but rather with time and memory. The works bring past and present together to foreshadow a future of increasingly premature obsolescence in tandem with ever-present reminders of the influence of times gone by.
Teri Donovan is a Toronto-based artist. She graduated from York University and the University of Toronto, and studied at the Ontario College of Art, the Toronto School of Art, and The Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore. She exhibits in Toronto and Ontario, and her work was featured in Carte Blanche Vol.2: Painting, a survey of contemporary painting in Canada. She is currently a member of The Red Head Gallery.
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council
The Ontario Arts Council is an agency of the Government of Ontario
For more information please contact the gallery director: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Published on : 2011-06-22 01:00:00
11th Annual Chang School Photography Exhibit
Wednesday, June 22, to Saturday, July 2, 2011
Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2011-06-21 16:22:57
I've just had a long long day so please don't hold it against me if i take no more than two minutes to copy paste a plea that could help save Dutch new media art institutions. As you might know already, new media art institutions in The Netherlands are threatened with a 100% cut in their structural governmental funding. I believe that Mediamatic is right when they write that "The loss of funding will not only destroy the Dutch infrastructure, but will disrupt the international New Media Arts network as well." These institutions have been generous not only with Dutch media artists but also with artists from all over the world, offering them residencies, inviting them to give talks, to head workshops, to participate to exhibitions and perform in their space.
Mediamatic set up a and i do hope that you will all sign it.
When the budget cuts for arts and culture are accepted by Parliament on Monday June 27th, all New Media Art institutions in The Netherlands will lose their funding. Institutional support for New Media culture will come to a grinding halt. From 2013 onwards there will be no development platform for New Media Art in The Netherlands. Please help us prevent this from happening by signing the petition. If you have a mailing list or a website, please spread the petition and this information. The loss of funding will not only destroy the Dutch infrastructure, but will disrupt the international New Media Arts network as well.
Sustaining the Dutch infrastructure for New Media Art requires a mere 1% of the national arts budget. Help us prevent this destruction and retain support for New Media Art.
Mediamatic also created infographics that puts arts spending in proportion to lots of other costs in dutch society...
Image on the homepage: Marnix de Nijs, Run Motherfucker Run, 2001-2004.
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Published on : 2011-06-21 01:00:00
WOMEN IN ABSTRACTION
Susan McCrae, Gwen Tooth and Shannon Moynagh.
Exhibit Dates: June 21 to July 2, 2011
Artist Susan McCrae came up with the concept for this show. She states that "abstraction and producing abstract art is often a long journey for most artists. Most never attempt it and are content to work in art with the visible world. Others like me try it and are caught up in huge possibilities for expressing ideas and making intangibles visible. In my experience with art over the last 15 years, I have seen women especially drawn to develop and use their talents artistically. Moving to abstraction has been a natural if difficult progression, for many of us."
Gwen Tooth has been creating art for over forty years.
Shannon Moynagh, in her artist statement says that "the natural world has always provided the inspiration I need to create a vocabulary of abstracted forms in my paintings and prints, for new forms are constantly arising in nature. I combine my observations of the organic realm with explorations of paint and printed matter itself: the properties of the medium, experimental methods and application, and a desire to showcase the process of art making in the finished piece".
Beaux-Arts Brampton Art Gallery, 70-74 Main Street North, Brampton . Phone: 905-454-5677. www.beaux-artsbrampton.com. Regular Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 12 noon to 6 pm; Saturdays, 9 am to 3 pm . Media contact: Gwen Tooth 416-985-5327.
GO bus to downtown Brampton, just a half block from Beaux-Arts Brampton.
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Published on : 2011-06-21 01:00:00
June 21-July 10
Opening reception Thursday June 21st,7-9pm
Superstition is about the fears imagined or real that incase every culture and society. This plays against logic and scientific reasoning that has shaped today's modern world.
The Hang Man Gallery is accepting submissions for the second half of the 2011 and 2012 exhibition schedule. If you are interested in exhibiting, please do so online.
Hang Man is the face of the Artists' Network, a non-profit initiative where artists build success.
Upcoming Artists' Networking Seminars:
Topic: Legal Considerations for Visual Artists
June 15th, WEDNESDAY, 6:30pm to 8:30 pm
Do you want to know about artist's rights and copyright? - How about issues of liability as an artist? Then this seminar brings in a lawyer practicing in these areas and who can address your questions. - Questions about intellectual property?
Topic: Grant Application Seminar
July 19th, Tuesday, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Location: Hang Man Gallery
Speakers: William Huffman and Carolyn Vesely
BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP ARE A GREAT VALUE AND YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Please visit our website for more information on this and upcoming events and seminars at
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Published on : 2011-06-20 01:59:47
Euthanasia Coaster is a hypothetical euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely kill a human being. The rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness and eventually death. The whole process reproduces over a much longer period of time the sensations that pilots and astronauts experience during training when they are put through extreme g-force inside human centrifuge machines. The Euthanasia Coaster is of course a speculative project. People might want to experience this ultimate ride in the future, for example when their lives have been extended so much that existence has become unbearable. In addition, the roller coaster, with its spectacular succession of physical and mental sensations, brings back a sense of ritual to the contemporary handling of death (after all, people in England have been known to use fireworks to send the ashes of the deceased into the night sky.)
If you want to know more about the project you can take the fast lane and enjoy designer Julijonas Urbonas's cute Lithuanian accent in this video:
Or take your time and follow this conversation i had with designer:
You have a rather unusual bio for a designer, it states "In 2004, I became a managing director of an amusement park in Klaipeda, Lithuania, and ran it for three years." Was it already part of your design research or was it a genuine job that had nothing to do with art and design and had no other purpose that making a living? What did your experience there teach you?
I grew up in a Soviet amusement park, which was headed by my father. The park was my substitute kindergarten and its employees - ride operators, event managers, technicians, cashiers, administrators - were my nannies. I witnessed the transition from communism to westernisation from quite a unique perspective of that architectural amusement. The entire Soviet Union was filled with these carefully crafted packages of standardised 'military-grade' amusement rides that functioned rather as communist propaganda machines, saturated with Soviet memorabilia, soothing and relaxing the labour force from physical and mental exhaustion. Once Lithuania became independent in 1991, the country's amusement culture was also liberated and western forms of entertainment started to emerge. As a result of this, the park started to experience gradual decrease in visitor numbers, and the need for an upgrade was evident. Growing up, I was constantly involved in various activities related to this transformation, from redecorating and redesigning to rechoreographing the movements of the rides. Later I engaged in a dialogue with these experiences during my BA- and MA-level design studies, finally culminating in a speculative architectural and design proposal for the renovation of the park I had grown up in. This paved the way for my CEO career - I took over my father's position.
But it was only quite recently that I realised it had been a little professional misfortune: I never liked to ride the rides myself, but rather preferred to wonder about those peculiar phenomena. My disinterest in submitting my body to the funfair machinery perhaps lies in the fact that I'm quite motion-sickness-prone, and that I grew up in a very standardised park (most children at that age were dreaming about Disneyland). Thus, I've been intimately connected to the amusement park, but also retained a substantial or, better put, critical distance. Nonetheless, in spite of (or thanks to) the latter, I felt something extremely powerful was lurking in the park. And I soon realised, that, for instance, it was the only existing hybrid narrative form that engaged or immersed its audience through virtually all the possible channels at once: psychologically, symbolically, ideologically, bodily, etc. Most interestingly, I found that this sort of surrogate reality provided a variety of aesthetic kinetic bodily-perceived experiences that was unparalleled by any other existing place, except for, was perhaps, only astronaut training camps. So, now I can say that by engineering and designing efficient ways of twisting the rider's guts and elegantly disorienting people, I was in fact working on what I call the aesthetics of 'gravitational theatre' in my PhD research project.
The Euthanasia Coaster, a model of which is currently exhibited at the Science Gallery in Dublin, is designed to put an end to a state of boredom we might feel in the future due to an almost excessive longevity. It would allow people to leave life in a euphoric state through an amusement park ride. Why call it Euthanasia and not suicide coaster?
At first, what was designed was just a fatal falling trajectory with no purpose but one: to kill the rider pleasantly and elegantly. That was where the title came from - "euthanasia" means "easy or good death" in Greek. It was a design thought experiment concerned with what the ultimate roller coaster would look like and what possible usages it would be open to. Later on, having received lots of feedback from my scientific advisers and the public, I began to add more trajectories, yet this time not as engineered curvatures but rather as storylines suggesting different uses. The key ones were obviously assisted suicide and execution. It is because the coaster may provide not just a pleasant death in terms of physiological pleasure but also, more importantly, an alternative death ritual appealing to both the individual and the mourning public.
Today, the procedures of terminating the patient's life are highly hospitalised and not much different from a mundane injection of medicine. There is no special ritual, nor is death given special meaning, except that of legal procedures and psychological preparation. It appears that death is being divorced from our cultural life much like death rituals are dissapearing in our secular and postmodern Western society. But if euthanasia is already legal in some countries, why not make it more meaningful, not in a way certain aboriginals mourn a deceased by ecstatic singing and dancing around a bonfire, for example, but rather as a ritual adapted to the contemporary world where theme and amusement parks replace churches and shrines or at least achieve an equal power of producing spiritual effects (more and more people attend theme parks for self-improvement purposes: relaxation, self-cultivation, socialisation). This is, of course, food for thought.
It has been observed that the jumpers, people who commit suicide by falling to the ground, often demonstrate some sort of aesthetic preference for a nice place or structure to kill themselves, for example, by travelling long distances for that, but also performing some forms of rituals such as folding their clothes neatly before the jump or holding a hat on the head with both hands all the way down. What's more, sometimes the jumpers fall undressed or perform some choreography - it seems that they care about how their bodies meet the air. All this testifies that self-murderers are not apathetic in relation to the ritual of killing themselves, and seek some sort of aesthetic meaning in it.
In fact, falling is a unique experience that sets itself apart from other types of death: while rushing towards the ground or, in the case of the Euthanasia Coaster, towards the loop, knowing and anticipating with the whole body the exact time of death, there is still a fraction of time for reflection. Its real-time interface and inherent dramatic structure - the leap, the fall, the impact - a three act tragedy, are not present in lethal injection, shooting yourself or in overdosing on drugs, for example. Pull the trigger and you receive the shot - there is no gap between the act and its result, while with lethal injection or overdose there is an unknown time interval. In the Euthanasia Coaster the ritualistic drama is exaggerated even more: there is a lift up the tower, the drop, the serpentine fall, the vertiginous and euphoric entry to a series of the loops, and, eventually the fatal ride within the loop. Moreover, another unique thing is that this dramatic spectacle is open to the public, be it the relatives of the rider or the victims of the sentenced to capital punishment, revealing the full drama of their demise. Given all that, the coaster incorporates the private and public aesthetics of a humane and meaningful death: for the faller it is a painless, whole-body engaging and ritualised death machine, for the observers - a monumental mourning machine.
Another possible usage of the coaster - a "hacked" thrill ride - was suggested by an aeronautic engineer who happened to visit the coaster's scale model during one exhibition in London. "Your machine could be easily hacked, you know," she commented. Noticing my confused face, she continued: "Using anti-g-trousers that prevent pilots from blackout and fainting, I believe, I would survive the ride and turn it into the most extreme thrill ride."
My previous project Emancipation Kit is also a part of my PhD studies and has something to do with parks as well. It is a set of specially designed tools for facilitating vomiting - a sort of vomit simulator. The project evolved out of the sketchy idea of "Vomit Park," a park with no kinetic experiences but retaining the very result of them, puking. You visit such a vomit park, disgorge the contents of your stomach, and leave light and emancipated.
I have many more ideas of similar 'amusements', but most of them have to be open for bodily participation and therefore are quite pricey to build. It might take a good while until I realize them.
The description of the project explains that the Euthanasia Coaster benefits from 'the marriage of the advanced cross-disciplinary research in space medicine, mechanical engineering, material technologies and, of course, gravity.' Could you give us more details about the technology involved in the Euthanasia Coaster?
The key technology of the coaster is basically its falling trajectory, the "story-line" of the ride, if you can call it technology. The very experience of the ride depends on the curvature of the track, and therefore all the design and engineering involved in building a roller coaster is basically structured around this linear element: its play with gravitational forces, the resulting effects on the rider's body, dynamic loads on the supporting architectural structure, the physics of the ride such as tendency to slow down due to air drag and friction, etc.
In the Euthanasia Coaster, the track incorporates both the functional and the aesthetic aspects of the ride. Both converge in the human-gravity interface design, or what I call g-design, and permeate the personal and public levels of aesthetics, dealing with the bodily experiences of the ride including pleasurable death, the ritual, but also the sculptural appeal of the coaster's construction. Based on physics calculations, the coaster's track has a laconic shape and is completely functional in terms of elegantly and pleasurably terminating the life of the rider. It consists of two core parts: (1) the drop tower - for dropping the coaster's vehicle down the track to achieve such kinetic energy that allows to sustain 10 g for about a minute within (2) a series of seven teardrop-shaped vertical loop elements, arranged in a decreasing size order and forming a spiral. In order to keep constant force, the size of the lethal loops decreases along the course according to the car's decreasing velocity reduced by the friction and air drag. The drop-hill features a heart-line roll element, a whirling coaster track element, where your heart stays roughly in line with the centre of the falling trajectory around which you body spins. This element adds a vertiginous experience, but also works as a sort of disorienting anaesthetic for the further harsher part of the ride. The latter incorporates GLOC (G-force induced Loss Of Consciousness) and brain death caused by cerebral hypoxia, oxygen deprivation in the brain- which is, curiously, usually a euphoric experience accompanied with surreal dreamlets.
The Euthanasia Coaster's loops are specially engineered in the shape of a clothoid loop to sustain uniform and constant g-forces along the ride. Specifically, it sustains 10 g which is not too much to get injured physically and not too little to come back alive.
To calculate all the physics, I needed some mechanical characteristics of the vehicle. For this I modelled a hypothetical vehicle with rough physics approximations of 1 ton roller coaster car with no windshield (I wanted the passenger to feel the wind, its increasing force, and, eventually, terminal velocity).
When it comes to efficiency, the coaster is in fact not the best solution to end one's life with g-forces, as there are more efficient ways of killing people such as the human centrifuge, the Euthanasia Coaster's closest analogue, or many killing machines and techniques introduced by the Nazis. In comparison to those, the coaster is extremely bulky and grandiose, but this heaviness is balanced by the aesthetics of experiential, functional and sculptural lightness devoted to the dignified death of a human being. Moreover, it is also 'light' for the earth as the coaster is driven almost solely by gravity.
The model is exhibited at the Science Gallery along with a b&w video showing the face of -i think- a pilot. There's a short extract in this video.
The pilot in the video is undertaking high-g training in a U.S. Air Force Centrifuge at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. He is performing a set of anti-g-strain manoeuvres - special techniques of breathing and muscle contractions of lower extremities, especially in the abdomen and legs to keep blood circulating in the upper part of the body - which prevent one from fainting while performing high acceleration turns (an experiential equivalent of the Euthanasia Coaster's loops). The pilot there is spun around at approx. 9 g, which means he experiences a nine-fold increase in his body weight. He is stuck to the seat so hard that his whole body is almost completely immobilised. You can see in the video the tissues of his face drooping down - it looks like he is ageing remarkably. Breathing requires more effort, as the ribs and the rest of the internal organs are pulled down, which empties air from the lungs. The force rushes the blood to the lower extremities of the body, thereby causing oxygen deficiency in the brain, which results into blurred colourless vision (aka greyout), later - loss of peripheral sight (aka tunnel vision) and hearing, and blackout. Eventually, this experience - accompanied by disorientation, anxiety, confusion and even euphoria - is crowned with G-LOC, during which the body is completely limp, and vivid bizarre dreams occur, such as being in a maze and unable to get out, or floating in a white space, not knowing who you are, why you are here, etc (check this video). While the pilot is recovering from G-LOC, he is still unconscious, his body flails around in a chaotic fit that is called "funky chicken" in aeromedical slang, as the neurons in the brain - replenished with extra oxygenated blood pumped harder from the heart - begin firing once again. This causes arms and legs to twitch uncontrollably. After having lost consciousness in centrifuge training, pilots often experience amnesia and deny the fact they lost consciousness, even feel dumbfounded when shown video tapes of the episode.
If i understood well, the Euthanasia Coaster is part of a PhD research project that explores gravity's impact on creative disciplines such as design but also art and architecture. Has this field of Gravitational Aesthetics been really so under-explored so far? What will the rest of your "Gravitational Aesthetics" investigation be about? Are you working on other prototypes?
The study "Gravitational Aesthetics" - both theoretical and studio-based - is original on several levels: the systematic phenomenological (or experiential) survey of gravitational experiences such as amusement rides, various levitations, even lucid weightless dreams; and the development of a specific design approach, g-design (the prefix "g" stands as a conceptual link to g-force or gravitational force).
G-design, a marriage of gravity and design, is an original creative and critical approach examining the complexity of the cross-interactions between gravity, aesthetics, technologies and philosophy. Inspired by amusement rides and choreography, it invokes the powerful gravity's creative potential for creating revelatory and enriching experiences that engage the whole body and imagination. Choreographing the bodies through design, shaking the body's innards with poetic vehicles, imagining alternative gravities are a few things that g-design is concerned with.
You may say this approach is not new - there are individual examples of artistic, design, architectural, engineering work that might be 'labelled' as g-design. For instance, roller coasters designed by Harry G. Traver, custom-modified wingsuits, the oblique architecture of Paul Virilio, imaginary vehicles by Panamarenko, etc. These examples abound, yet they are fragmentary, and there is no person who has/had pursued an extensive and systematic study in this area. G-design aspires to fill this gap by surveying the existing examples and designing new ones, while striving to unify and synthesise them in a single theory or creative approach, and give it pragmatic orientation, something that an individual can directly translate into or apply to an artistic practice.
The research project has been mainly theoretical so far, but in parallel to writing I've been sketching all the time, and have produced quite a bunch of ideas that I am very enthusiastic about putting into practice now. Currently I'm developing a few ideas of conceptual amusement rides open to bodily submission: one involves collaboration with a choreographer and roboticist, another has to do with imaginary exercises.
P.S. Julijonas Urbonas also invites musicians, sound artists and engineers to submit sound compositions for a series of the installations "Sounding Doors." Selected compositions will be played by opening/closing a door augmented with specially integrated electronics in various public locations in the city Karlsruhe in late Summer. DEADLINE: 1 August 2011.
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Published on : 2011-06-20 01:00:00
ELDON GARNET: HELPLESS is extended until
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Published on : 2011-06-19 01:00:00
Image : John Fox, Giardino, Venezia, 1999, aquarelle sur papier, 43 x 38 cm.
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Published on : 2011-06-18 14:57:57
Not only because the 5 videos by Omer Fast NIMk is showing are worth the trip but also because NIMk (as well as other Dutch new media art centers) needs all the national and international support it can get right now. But more on this later!
Fast's Nostalgia trilogy is a particularly stunning, moving, words-fail-me-really artwork. The three films are based on the actual story of a West African refugee who requested asylum in London.
The fist video follows a white man as he is building a trap for partridges in the woods, a voice over explains how to do so. The shots evoke an amateur video.
The second part reenacts the conversation that the artist had with a young Nigerian man who is seeking political asylum in the UK. The film is more polished and unfolds over two screens. Despite the tragic theme, the short movie feels like a comedy with the white artist attempting to understand the life that the young man had in Africa while the former Nigerian child soldier gently plays with the artist's preconceptions about Africa.
The final part of the video is shot on 16mm and looks like a scifi movie shot and set in the 1970s. This time, the emigrant is a white English man from Surrey who sold his kidney and bike in exchange for a clandestine trip to Africa. The poor guy was arrested on the coast of West Africa. He had to flee an England of the future where people starve and hope for a better life in a prosperous African country where Britons are not welcome. That episode was particularly moving because of the way traditional roles are reversed. The European guy is pleasing for a place in well-off Africa while the African immigration officer displays the kind of prejudice we might have over here in Europe. While talking later with her lover, an immigration officer explains that "In England people might be poor but they are incredibly friendly", and the boyfriend retorts that "No one travels to Europe anymore, only hippies used to go there as voluntary workers,' etc.
Nostalgia provides the missing piece in the current immigration debate in Europe (or lack of in many cases.)
Now the other thing i need to mention is that the Dutch organisations which can be regarded as some of the most active motors of the whole new media art community are facing a 100% cut in their structural governmental funding. Steim, Waag Society, Mediamatic, V2_, WORM & NIMK are about to lose all their funding. I'm just back from Amsterdam where i saw exhibitions at NIMk, Mediamatic and another one orchestrated by Waag. Each of them was of high quality and i cannot imagine how bland my stay in town would have been if the contemporary art offer of the city has been limited to the Stedelijk and a few commercial art galleries, no matter how brilliant their programme can be at times. The whole cultural panorama is going to be hit by the drastic and short-sighted plan but it's the most avant-garde, experimental and audacious programmes that are particularly threatened.
Show your support by writing your comment on NIMk's Media Art, We Care page. And drop me a line if you know of any international petition we should sign.
Read also: Letter to Dutch art butcher Halbe Zijlstra, Response New Media & Art Institutions To Governmental Cuts, Dutch Coup d'Etat in art and culture, Support the Rijksakademie, secure the art of the future.
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