An exclusive interview with the artist Patrick Cruz about the why, how and what of his exhibition Lips of one thousand nine hundred ninety six teachers, shown until June 28, 2019 at the GNO.
an accompanying text by Jamaluddin Aram about Lips of one thousand nine hundred ninety six teachers, an exhibition by Patrick Cruz.
The same year that Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario (GNO) was founded in Sudbury, thousands of miles away, a collective of madrasa students captured the city of Kabul. The year was 1996.
This is a story of two beginnings. But the intentions and outcomes couldn’t be more different. In Sudbury, GNO opened its doors to breathe fresh life into arts, to give the artists the space and the recognition to create. In Kabul, the Taliban’s pickup trucks rolled into the city in the middle of the night. The next morning, when the early risers saw the newcomers, there was nothing special about them except that their eyes had a black contour, lined with coal; that some wore sandals and some walked bare foot; and that their music lacked all musical instruments.
With GNO, Sudbury opened to all practices in contemporary arts. With Taliban, Kabul closed to all practices in arts: music, dance, painting, drawing, film, television, kite-flying, theatre, boxing, even whistling. I was in Kabul then. I am in Sudbury now. Through reflecting on those two beginnings, I am connecting the narratives and highlighting the disparities in them.
My initial reaction to Lips of One Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety-Six Teachers, an exhibition by Patrick Cruz at GNO, compelled me to compare. The recklessly assembled art looked ugly when I first went to see it. I asked myself: “Is this art?” Patrick made a collage of unrelated items which had long been out of use. He piled them up in the middle of the gallery: stoves, computers, construction hardhats, boots, files and folders, magazines and books, crutches, ping pong balls, shirts, photo albums, etc. “I excavated [GNO’s] basement,” Patrick said. Disturbed by my reaction – which based on past experience often has an ignorant undertone – I went to talk to Patrick. I learned about his concept of memory and unearthing the past to make sense of the future. I learned that art, as a concept, can be subjective and fluid, that it can be unsettling and not pristine, that there’s much more going into creating art than the visible brushstrokes on a canvas, the rehearsed moves in a choreographed dance, or the final stitching on a splendid costume.
As I learned more about site-specific installation, I thought about Taliban’s commitment to destroy any site-specific art that came across them, including the Buddha Statue in Central Afghanistan carved on the face of a mountain in the 5th century.
As much as the rest of the world pushed forward, Afghanistan marched backward. At schools, drawing and calligraphy classes were substituted with religious studies. We learned bizarre things. I never knew that going to the toilet involved so many intricate steps. Our one-eyed religious studies teacher said that one should step into the toilet with his left foot, and out of the toilet with the right foot. “What would happen when one makes a mistake?” one of our classmates asked. “What happens you ask?” the teacher responded, “Satan will enter your naked bottom.” Needless to say, there was very little discussion of site-specific art installation.
It is only from the comfort of the hindsight, twenty-three years later, that I wonder: could the five years of Taliban’s repressive rule function as a source of inspiration for a new generation of writers, poets, musicians, filmmakers and visual artists?
After all, Patrick Cruz’s exhibition hints at the fact that the torch, which can be used to illuminate our paths moving forward, can lie in the past. To access it sometimes we might have to dig thousands of meters deep into the ground, sometimes look for it in the basement of a building, and sometimes the great secret lies in the human mind in the form of memories.
Jamaluddin Aram is a documentary filmmaker, producer, and short story writer from Kabul, Afghanistan. His documentaries My Teacher Is a Shopkeeper and Unbelievable Journey have been screened in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. He is the associate producer of the Academy Award-nominated film Buzkashi Boys. His short stories have appeared in Afghan, American, and Canadian literary magazines. He currently lives in Sudbury, Ontario.
Located for the past 22 years at the same address, the GNO is moving prior to its official relocation at Place des Arts, like a teenage rebellion preceding a serious step. The GNO’s relocalisation is also a precious occasion to focus our energies on a rich programming that puts creativity as a priority while attracting new publics. As it is not the first time in the gallery’s history that we have to move on short notice, we are welcoming this change as an opportunity to promote actual arts in unusual ways, such as outside-the-walls exhibitions.
The relocation is planned on July 1st, following the exhibition Lips of one thousand nine hundred ninety six teachers, by Patrick Cruz, shown from May 31 to June 28. The artist took advantage of the move to incorporate the gallery’s archives and other objects found in the basement into his multimedia installation that presents Sudbury in a pseudo-documentary.
Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury has unveiled the exterior design of its future multidisciplinary arts centre of excellence. The building, which will be home to eight French-language cultural organizations at the corner of Elgin and Larch north of Medina Lane in Sudbury, has bold, dynamic lines in a design that is both modern and airy, with reflections of Northern Ontario’s past and industrial present.
“This is a flagship building with a long story to tell,” said Stéphane Gauthier, President of Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury. “It was inspired by the driving force of the Nouvel-Ontario cultural movement and carried along by a whole generation’s will to make it happen. Nouvel-Ontario was the birthplace of French Ontario’s oldest cultural centre, first creation theatre, first publishing house, first provincial music festival and first art gallery. So we had to imagine an edifice emerging from the landscape as if certain shapes had always been there, naturally, forming part of the urban panorama. It is a memorial, a shared space, contemporary and open to great hopes for the future,” explained Mr. Gauthier.
The outside of the building will be made of a rich material with colours typical of ore from Northern Ontario: corten steel. When exposed to the elements, it oxidizes naturally and stabilizes to form a patina that ranges from golden yellow to orangey brown. This unique patina protects the material and makes it durable and strong.
“Corten was almost an unavoidable choice, inspired by the 300 years of existence and creation shared by the seven founding members of Place des Arts. It heralds a new building with unique architecture, but with an external façade that pays tribute to a celebrated past that will continue to support the vitality of the Franco-Ontarian community,” said Louis Bélanger, a Sudburian and senior architect at Yallowega Bélanger Salach Architecture.
The consortium of Yallowega Bélanger Salach Architecture and Moriyama Teshima Architects designed the future four-storey multidisciplinary arts centre, whose 40,000 square feet will house a concert hall, a multifunction studio, a contemporary art gallery, a bistro with a seasonal sidewalk terrace, a gift and book shop, an early childhood arts centre with a playground, and office space. “We are proud of the result and the challenge of optimizing spaces in more than one way without losing anything in the process. It is a great honour to design this inviting, shared space for the entire community, a space that blends seamlessly into the urban dynamic of the downtown area,” added Jason Philippe, a native from Sturgeon Falls and the senior architect at Moriyama Teshima Architects.
The Place des Arts project will cost a total of $30 million to complete. Phase 2 of the construction work will begin in late spring, with the official opening expected during the 2020-2021 performance season.
Place des Arts will house the seven founding arts and culture organizations: the Carrefour francophone de Sudbury (1950), the Centre franco-ontarien de folklore (1960), Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (1971), Éditions Prise de parole (1973), Concerts La Nuit sur l’étang (1973), Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario (1995) and the Salon du livre du Grand Sudbury (2004).
- Place des Arts will provide Greater Sudbury with Northern Ontario’s first multidisciplinary arts and culture centre.
- The building will have four storeys and 40,000 square feet of floor space.
- A western façade with laser-frosted, low-solar-gain glass to keep the building’s energy costs down.
- An early childhood arts centre accommodating 15 children per day, with an outside terrace and playground on the west side of the building, facing Elgin.
- The bistro’s seasonal terrace extending out onto the Elgin Street sidewalk.
- More than 10,000 square feet of office space for the founding organizations.
- A creative space for kids.
- A 120-seat, black-box style multifunction studio.
- A concert hall with nearly 300 seats.
- A contemporary art gallery and gift and book shop with windows overlooking Larch Street.
- 850 activities expected annually.
- 50,000 visitor admissions per year.
- The $30 million project is supported by funding providers such as Canadian Heritage, FedNor, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport of Ontario, and the City of Greater Sudbury.
An accompanying text by Sylvie Mainville on Pascaline Knight, Mariana Lafrance and Julie Lassonde’s VIENS
Viens is an invitation to delve into the familiar ― to drift along the thin blue lines of our time‑honoured Canada brand workbooks, the oh-so intimate card games and rituals of our childhood, the snowy expanses of our shared landscapes. Of this we are often and rightfully reminded: we come from somewhere. Three artists have invited us back.
First instruction upon entering the GNO’s public space: please remove your footwear.
But Viens is also an invitation to dive into the unfamiliar, where the workbook’s red margins become oddly faded, yet creep in here and there like a wallop of doubt that never could cross our minds until now, where new rules emerge and compel us, as if by intuitive magic, to play in new ways, where steadiness of movement is all it takes to provoke the birth of novel relationships.
The body serves to discover oneself and to discover others. Whatever the means ― walking, dancing, skating, snowshoeing, skiing ― you open up, despite the risks. Curiosity rules. You need only consent. I ask myself: Am I fit enough? Tall enough? Free enough?
Almost by chance, unawareness here stumbles into awareness there. It’s no longer a game. And we know all too well that nothing ever happens by chance. My all-powerful magic wands have gone silent, at least for now, while other repeated gestures bring new spheres to life. It’s bewildering. The little Canada workbook has morphed into a giant mattress stuffed with very personal vulnerabilities. The intimate self flows into the collective sphere, revealed for all to see. I can only shrink away and stand back to give it all the space it deserves.
In contact with brown kraft paper, snow seems to change colour merrily. I’m snow-oh-oh-oh-shoeing. But no, I’m wrong. It’s not snowshoeing; it’s a red animal in full flight. I have no idea where it’s heading, but I’m following.
In a moment of timeless presence, the nowhere slips into the now here and goes round and round. There’s but one thing to do: I knock back two more glasses of wine. The certainty of being from somewhere blurs away. There is no more North, no more Northern Ontario, no childhood snowshoes, no known instructions or norms… The certainty of being from somewhere becomes a fleeting intuition to pursue at your own risk. Truth be told, some nights, sleep does not come easy.
Duly noted: I can’t find my boots, but in my left pocket I discover an ace of hearts. Lucky me, I tell myself. Lucky me.
Already missing the FAAS ? Us too. Luckily, we can read a first retrospective published in Inter, art actuel’s numéro 131, written by Jean-Michel Quirion. Là où les artistes explorent les intersections entre le territoire et l’identité, an article that gives an idea of the reflexions made possible by this exciting biennal.
To buy the numéro 131
To get a membership of Inter, art actuel
The Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario is proud to welcome Maude Bourassa Francoeur as the new Communication and Development Agent.
Established in Sudbury since January 2018, she has acquired a training with Prise de parole. She has been a coordinator for a movie festival and as always shown interest in the visual arts and literature.
We take this opportunity to wish the best to Chloé Leduc-Bélanger in her new career.
In 2018, we have…
- Hosted four original exhibitions
- Successfully organized the sixth edition of the FAAS
- Repainted the gallery three times and made hundreds of holes for the Nouveau Louvre artwork
- Broke a hammer, a level, three brooms and some other stuff
- Carried rocks, chalkboards, tools, furniture and even more rocks
- Lost our heating system; regained a heating system
- Eaten approximately 25 liters of chili
- Said goodbye to three pets
- Welcomed two new board members
- Worked with over thirty amazing volunteers
- Created a festive Christmas video
- Earned a well-deserved vacation time!
The GNO will be closed from December 23rd to January 7th. We’ll be back at the gallery on January 8th!
The GNO invites all artists to show their work and put it up for sale at the 2018 Nouveau Louvre. Whether you work with charcoal, oil paints, clay or stained glass, it doesn’t matter! We’ll be very happy to accept your artwork, show it in our gallery space and make it available for purchase to the many holiday shoppers who make it a point to take in this yearly art sale that has become a real holiday tradition in Sudbury.
The Nouveau Louvre is the GNO’s most important fundraising activity. All works of art at the Nouveau Louvre will be for sale at the single price of 200$, of which 125$ will be paid to the artist, and 75$ to the GNO.
We are accepting, as of today, up to two (2) works of art from each artist. These will be shown at the GNO from Saturday November 24th to Saturday December 22nd.
We encourage participating artists to bring in their work as soon as possible, so that we might document the artwork and make it available on the Nouveau Louvre website.
Artists have until Thursday, November 22nd to bring their artworks to the GNO at 174 Elgin St. The GNO’s hours are from 12 PM to 6 PM, Tuesday to Saturday.
For more information, please contact us.
Over the course of the last week, artist Jérôme Havre, the GNO’s team and happy volunteers have been working on making and installing the daub on the wire mesh. The materials had to be mixed by feet in a large wooden bin. Havre also experimented with the composition of the natural concrete, using sand or saw dust to create textures.
The sculpture will be completed this week. Contact us if you want to give us a hand (or a foot!).
In parallel, the artist keeps working on the ceramic pieces. The sculptures will go to the oven this week, thanks to Sudbury Basin Potters, our exhibition sponsor.
See you at the opening on October 23rd, at 6 pm!