Voiced bellows, purges, moans, snorts, expulsions, mumbles, screams, cries, words and plain song; 2 women vocalists in pinstripe; projected philosophical text of Wittgenstein and noises off. Parallel script structures run the entire length of the 20-minute performance. Christopher Butterfield composed a 20-page score with three different sections on each page (sheet music, words -toilet paper, lipstick, tampons- and visual/text mashups), a bell chime signals every minute and the performers choose one section to vocalize next. Choosing adds improvisational stalls, loops, overlaps, rests and chants. Public washrooms are the subject and with all the echoing sounds and text a labyrinth of stalls is easily imagined where the entire private but shared bodily functions take place. An ugly-pretty sound experiment belted out with tongue.Stall by Christopher Butterfield Vocalists: DB Boyko/Christine Duncan
“Art schools are sorta like crack dens” says artist Kerry James Marshall.
I think he means that students and instructors alike get hooked on compulsive making, dialogue and critiques. Everyone is encouraging, “ooh, I like that” or “interesting piece” and even the smallest achievements get boosted.
Is art school delusional? Well, no. I think the purpose of art (artists) is to be an agent of change,
doesn’t mean you must have complete trust in the art school but under the circumstances art schools allow for the right to play, for choice and possibilities — to touch everything without rubber gloves on
and art school fills the compulsive desire to connect with others that think like you;
so…work in the studio, communicate and engage with the art world you want to live in.
OFF TOPIC the graduating class of Camosun College Visual Arts program 2010
The entrance to the Bamberton: Contested Landscapes exhibit is through a door that is usually boarded shut, once inside the gallery, the familiar expansive space is full to the ceiling with wood construction. Right away one feels Lilliputian in a Gulliver size fantasy dream home. Or BIG like Alice in an upelkuchen cake induced 12:1 scale 3d movie set.
The Bomfords’ construction, made from salvaged dimensional lumber, conflates rooms with furniture, interiors with exterior. The parts include: a cabin, picket fence, lookout tower, a boardroom, a pulpit, bleachers, silos, gangplanks, ladders, rails, cross and support beams. These mixed spaces compare to sites of work, home, playgrounds, fortifications, redneck huts, abandoned industrial sheds, courtrooms and carnivals.
Occupy the pulpit, from there one can observe and judge the Court of Bamberton and imagine the stories from a common place about a war between landowners and land-developers. Listen, the low-slung boardroom under the bleachers, resonates with the sinister plans of fools and diabolical men. Scramble up to the lookout tower pretend to be a guard watching other people. Practice your anti-social survival skills in a remote cabin in the woods. Stumble upon an intimate nook nested within a phallic silo. Even with this fluid shift-change between place/narrative the installation is stable in its insistence on debate and conversation to the differences in geographic-environmental perceptions and values between individuals and groups; human modification vs. natural environment, wilderness vs. built environment. Equally a cloud of dialogue on architecture and spectatorship (looking and receiving a look, positions of power) surrounds the structure.
Topophilia* is the affectionate bond joining a person and a place; topophobia is the fear of certain places; Nathan and Cedric Bomford with imagination and historical reference build a location somewhere in-between.
* The Poetics of Space. 1958. Gaston Bachelard
Morin uses objects and actions to communicate and transform the gallery spaces and all the objects are left on display; Morin covered a copy of the 1876 Indian Act in animal fat,
made button blankets adorned with braided hair
imprinted moccasin tongues on the walls
drew with salt and tobacco salmon swimming
performed a telephone call to Joseph Beuys
smudged cedar smoke
fried bannock for everyone
cut his hair off while reciting all the words he knows in Tahltan
told stories about his grandmother by reading a deerskin jacket
constructed a tent of branches, string and bunting
danced, wearing layers of red blindfolds to “every breath you take” by P. Diddy
Morin’s actions and objects energize the gallery space. The blindfold dance reveals stories in an interior landscape and under these stories, more stories, aboriginal strata, flora and fauna. Perhaps the beaded deerskin jacket is a living leather letter written by a grandmother to a stolen child; it is a story we can only read with our hands. Perhaps the raw small stick tent is a counter-structure to the residential schools; we can experience an entire leafy encampment in place of bricks and plaster. Perhaps in cutting his hair Morin frees a stone of loss and grief – while pinning the braided hair onto the button blankets is a re-attachment to glory and culture. The salt, tobacco, cedar and sage smoke mingle and intervene in the space and speaking Tahltan words out-loud inverts the space; the words are like bling. And perhaps the soft moccasins, tongues and sole, rhythm and breath, object and story, hold everything together.
Morin quotes his grandmother “with these stories of ours we can escape almost anything.”
12 Making Objects: 12 Indigenous interventions a.k.a First Nation’s DADA, Peter Morin 2009 Artist in Residence Camosun College and Open Space, Victoria BC
John expresses to be your friend and offers you a name tag, scotch, sparkling water, a breath strip, a white strip, perfume and a piggyback ride through the gallery. You are invited to question “what are your own protocols or rules of what makes a “Friend”.
Here are some friend making strategies according to John G. Boehme’s performance
1. eye contact
2. physical contact
3. salutation/greeting (paralanguage or gesture)
4. exchange either object and/or friends name
John Boehme greets me a “a friend station” a I write my name on a tag and together we place the burnt plastic tasting pocketpak breath strip/holy wafer on our tongues; I refuse the scotch, but Boehme takes a hit (his 9th? of the evening). I drink the sparkling water while Boehme adds another layer of Paco Rabanne to his already flamboyant persona. Boehme continues to increase his appeal with a whiter smile via the graphic insert of a whitestrip. I ponder over the piggyback ride. But how can I refuse he is so friendly, fresh, inviting and willing to carry me. I am heavier than he thinks or is it the scotch that makes our wordless trip past the paintings and sculpture awkward. We come to another “friend station”, we shake hands and even hug. I stick around and observe him befriend some one else.
Later I walk home in fresh night air but smell of sweet sweat.
I think about the performance framed with my experience around doubt and my history with friendship:
My youngest friend has 1,068 friends on a social networking site. I am perhaps his most elderly friend. I think friends are rare; I cannot love the crowd. The time, befriending each one 1,068s of individual singularity—that’s an arithmetic lesson beyond by my capacity. I don’t want that many friends, for there is not enough time to put them to the test by living with each one. I must choose a few. There is not enough time. A small number of friends does not characterize the friends themselves. Consider these legendary friendships: Harold and Kumar, Willow and Buffy, Frodo and Samwise, Sponge Bob and Patrick, Itchy and Scratchy. But these are from movies and TV. Perhaps, the interaction and dependency I do have with my digital friends is real? Maybe scrolling and strolling for friendships that never physically take place argue with materiality in favor of endless possibility.
Friends? This is what I want. Satisfaction, honesty, narcissistic reflection, pleasure, goodness and good for you, reliable, to love before being loved, hope, assistance and your presence at my death.
“Before you make a friend, eat a bushel of salt with him” – Concise dictionary of European Proverbs.
“A true friend stabs you in the front.” — Oscar Wilde
“It’s false love and affection, you don’t want me. You just want the attention.”– Laroux