L'articles dans: Accompanying Texts


Groove is in the Heart

an accompanying text by Alex Tétreault about ” Les clés du cœur ” by Hélène Lefebvre.

It’s hot out.

Downtown is buzzing as the excited masses wander amidst the festive cacophony. A lone woman with orphan headphones dances to the beat of her own key chain. She begins her journey at the panoply of lovers’ locks, which weigh down the bridge over the tracks with their sheer amount of “forevers” frozen in time and space.

On the packed sidewalk of Elgin Street or the snaking paths of Memorial Park, she goes largely unnoticed. Aside from the occasional polite nod, the faintest smirk, or the sincere questions regarding her well being, she is quickly and automatically categorized with the other denizens of those areas.

Lost in her own little universe, she continues her dance, her one-woman bacchanal. Once she crosses the metal fencing however, it’s a whole different set of keys. The context changes everything. Almost instantaneously, festival-goers, already primed by the pulsating of the speakers and the seemingly endless booze from the bar, begin grooving to her beat. For one brief instant, this woman’s love feeds her new-found partners, who feed it right back to her, and so on and so forth in a feedback loop of love.

And then, as quickly as it came, the moment passes, like the others that preceded it and those that will follow it. The concerned parties go their separate ways, the jingling woman continuing her journey. But, this moment remains…magical.

There’s something magical in watching her, so taken by this music that only she can hear, her body feeding off the energy of those around her, her vibe-siphoning headphones plugged into the cosmos. Because we too could hear this music, be fed by this collective energy. We only need to live in these moments of ephemerality when they present themselves, be they a performance, a festival, or even love itself. We each have our own keyring, jingling away in our hearts, longing.

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Alex is a little shit from Azilda. His cat, Ariane Minouchkine, is his muse and an endless source of inspiration. When he feels like it, he writes stuff.


Mining the Mind

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.


Reading between the northern lines

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.


 


Childhood Scribbles are the Future Healers

An accompanying text by Sarah Blondin on Florence Yee’s exhibition But really, where are you from?

There are moments when entering a space curated by someone can feel like a revelation. In that instant, we have an idea of what their childhood was like. The way our eyes scan a room, we have a stereotypical mindset that brings us to pre-assuming their memories. For example, I was a young girl full of drama, trapped in the suburbs; therefore my walls were obviously covered in Backstreet Boys posters. Even now in my adult years, I find myself covering every inch of my walls, expressing my likes and dislikes in my bedroom.

After studying visual arts, I began to notice that artists are truly captivated by their childhood memories. There is forever a sense of looking back and turning their story into a current visual component to document and remember their formative years: I would often ask myself, why? Our childhood is full of embarrassing and traumatizing moments—some more than others. However, after spending many years thinking, and staring at my Backstreet Boys wall, I realized that our growth as human beings is the reason for our creativity. Art is shaped by our experiences and the place they subjectively hold in our personal narrative. So that time you thought that tripping down the stairs in high school was the worst, that time you’ll likely never forget about, will spark a future creative project that will heal something within you by expressing it through your own life.

Walking into the GNO for Florence Yee’s exhibition “But really, where are you from?”, I felt strings from my heart being pulled. The way the show was curated, I felt as if I was walking into someone’s life experiences, as if I was sitting in the artist’s home and experiencing the deeper inside the womb of the home; absorbing the joy, struggles and outcomes of this life. When I stepped into the gallery, Florence’s life story easily came through and was attached to me. Her work also serves as a powerful source that speaks to a large community: one that tends to be socially looked down on, but has and forever deserves its voice to be heard. There is a balance of innocence and maturity to her exhibition. We can see the child within Florence protecting and holding on to her traditions, yet we also understand the pressure of Western culture seeping in. She is an artist speaking from her child-self, creating in hopes of sparking human connection: something we all want and strive for. As people, we are all just searching for a sense of community, and Florence’s art truly encapsulates that ideal.

Something about Florence Yee that also completely struck me was her age. For someone this young to have such a strong connection and love for her community—and additionally for possessing the courage and bravery to express her memories in the public eye—is in itself a work of art to be remembered for. She ultimately speaks for the many youth today who are struggling with their own identities; a subject quite pertinent in our country and today’s society. Always remember your childhood, be close to your story and create from you.

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Sarah Blondin is a local mixed media artist who is still 16 at heart. Her inspiration comes from being a young woman and growing up in a smaller community where the internet was the way for over dramatic expression, a time when every MySpace page was a way too personal diary, however shared with many. Her work explores collage, illustration and sculpture. She hopes to bring joy, curiosity, humour and memories to her audience.


Looking from a bird’s-eye view with Caroline Monnet

An accompanying text by Deanna Nebenionquit on Caroline Monnet’s exhibition WANDERLUST

If you’ve ever been in the presence of a work by Caroline Monnet, you know what it feels like to feel small in an exhibition space. And if you’ve ever been in the presence of Curator Stefan St-Laurent, you know what if feels like to be comfortable in an exhibition space. These two have travelled from Québec to Sudbury to present an exhibition that is both relevant and timely for the city.

La Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario is a small artist-run centre located on Elgin Street in downtown Sudbury. The south facing gallery has large exterior windows that channel a flood of light and noise pollution from the nearby train yard. The small space feels historic, and it feels like it has a lot of stories to tell. We’re lucky to have had Caroline Monnet and Stefan St-Laurent put together another story through their exhibition entitled Wanderlust.

As soon as you walk into the space, you’re struck by an extremely long wall, perhaps 35 feet or more, of a very futuristic-looking wallpaper printed and installed by Blue Moon Graphics (Sudbury). The geometric patterns of the wallpaper are like an endless maze, both positive and negative elements represented equally. Overtop this wall are three distinct 60 by 60 inch canvases. These works (Edith, Caroline, Roberta) are from the Modern Tipi series created by Monnet in 2012 in her Montréal studio.

At the back of the gallery, you can see elements of the wallpaper exposed on the GNO’s indoor window which somehow manages to be a part of each installation in recent years. You’ll also notice a television screen is looping a black and white film with an eerie soundtrack produced by Frères lumières. This video is called Gephyrophobia (2012), which gallery staff pleasantly explain is the fear of bridges (but not in a literal way).

The 120 second, 16-millimetre film was produced by a team of colleagues and friends that Caroline works with often. I recognize some of the train tracks in the video as bridges between Gatineau, Québec and Ottawa, Ontario. My years in Ottawa make this video oddly familiar. The black and white filming makes it seem like this wasn’t too long ago, or perhaps it could be in the future. The rushing water of the Kitigan Zibi, or Ottawa River, plays an integral role in the film. I’ve noticed viewers see the rushing water first, whereas others will see the bridges connecting multiple cultures, or making them respectful elements.

If you carry on clockwise through the gallery, there are six square panels with geometric patterns hanging on the wall. You look back and forth between the wood panels on one wall and the geometric patterns in the wallpaper. And yes, you are correct in thinking that those motifs do somehow interconnect though in ways that you may not be aware of at first glance.

*****

The exhibition title is Wanderlust. If you do a simple Google search on the word, it means to have a desire to wander. To me, the word feels more like discovery than exploration, and beyond that, interpretation and reflection. It’s an exciting active word that has the potential to breach a new world of possibilities.

In this year of 2018, downtown Sudbury is on the cusp of change. Sudbury city council has endorsed new projects including the Elgin Street Greenway, Downtown Master Plan, and a series of advantageous new building projects. It seems like for the first time in many decades communities are coming together to (hopefully) support something new and positive for the downtown core and to revitalize the city.

The broader message of this exhibition intersects with the story that Sudbury is currently living in right now. As a community, we need to move forward with these projects collectively, and we need to make sure that voices are heard. And while there are differences in our community, there are opportunities for these differences to intersect and create something beautiful. In Caroline Monnet’s work you can see crossing lines in the Modern Tipi Series, you can see lines in the wallpaper and the wooden panels, and you can see the intersecting line evident in the bridge crossing over the Kitigan Zibi. As a viewer, the lines can be interpreted as maps that have been sewn together from multiple perspectives and media.

*****

The artist, who is of Algonquin and French ancestry, is thinking about intersections of her two cultures and how this forms her work and ideas. The eloquent and beautiful Caroline Monnet has a way of bringing audiences together to meet and discuss perspectives. It’s interesting to hear her talk about her work, primarily how it is conceptualized, how it’s made, who is involved, and who installs it. Each step of the way, the artist seems profoundly grateful.

At her artist talk, Caroline talked about the influence of the geometric shapes and patterns in her work. What I find most important was Caroline’s description of how she came across the use of the square and the use of sacred symbols. It was while she was sitting with the matriarchs of her family that she began to learn these ancient ways. And it was her education and the people around her that allowed her to use this knowledge and carry it out in a 21st century way using graphic design programs and modern printing techniques. 

I asked her what shape she starts with when she works. And rather than answering with a circle (my automatic assumption) she said she starts with a cube or a square. So from this cube or square, you can make endless patterns and endless possibilities. And it is true, through the maze you can see the square throughout. It is a balanced and robust shape and can work in any circumstance.

So the maze that you see running through the gallery, and the maze that is running through your mind is deliberate, and it’s structured.

Presenting an abstract exhibition in the first place can be a challenge. Especially when audiences are used to traditional forms of art. Abstract art, in my opinion, takes a while to ingest. You have to be comfortable enough to enter the space, and you have to be confident enough to open your mind a little bit wider to take in the information. It took me about four visits to go back and realize that the Modern Tipi series is a form of an installation in itself. The carefully folded linen over the stretcher reminds me that it is careful and deliberate work when building a structure or working on a project.

During my last visit to the gallery, before writing this paper, I took a closer look at the plywood works that I’ve been ignoring this whole time. Although I know there is an essential element hidden in the works through secret messaging, I had a hard time with the medium. It is seven-ply plywood that has been burnt using an electric system that I am not familiar with. The intensely crisp lines were burnt out, and the lasers left a negative black space. I took a photograph of this, and to my surprise, I was able to identify what looked like the bark on a tree. And it got me thinking that yes, at the base of all these projects and the base of all these ideas there is the natural raw ingredient. And these are the natural elements that we use to build these projects. So as we go forward in our little northern mining town with big plans, keep in mind that the natural elements, the guidance of the people that came before us, and the intersecting of our cultures is what makes everything great. By not forgetting who we are, how we’ve used land in the downtown core, and how we hope the people will use it; we can move forward and build these great projects using strategy, a bird’s-eye view, and collaboration and communication.

Caroline Monnet
June (detail)
2018
Laser etching on wood
24 x 24”

Deanna Nebenionquit is an emerging Indigenous curator from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, formerly known as Whitefish Lake First Nation. Since 2014, she has curated a number of exhibitions for the Art Gallery of Sudbury | Galerie d’art de Sudbury, including Darlene Naponse’s bi mooskeg | surfacing, which was named the 2016 Exhibition of the Year (Under $10,000) by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries, and Mariana Lafrance’s to not be so lonely | pour ne pas être si seule.

Deanna would like to thank la Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario for agreeing to pay for translation services by Ms. Tenascon who is an Algonquin Speaker from Kitigan Zibi. She would also like to thank Danielle Printup (Ottawa, Ontario) and Ella Jane Myers (Sudbury, Ontario) for taking the time to edit this text.


unexpected canvas

An accompanying text by Maude Bourassa Francoeur on Aurélien Muller and Natalie Rivet’s exhibition PORTRAITS

With paintings that capture key scenes of childhood in the Kapuskasing area alongside photos and videos of people from the community of Sudbury, the exhibition Portraits offers an encounter with familiarity. My encounter happens on two levels: I recognize faces that I might see again soon on downtown streets, and I remember winter memories that I look forward to recreating as I settle into my new home community of Sudbury.

There is always falling snow. It’s omnipresent in the paintings that Natalie Rivet exhibited at the GNO in February and March, evoking happy days of childhood spent ice fishing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. The artist’s snowflake-covered memories are familiar realities for most residents of northern Ontario. Bundled up in fluorescent snowsuits, the figures in the paintings allow me to gaze freely into their dark, but smiling eyes. Their faces seem to light up, come alive and invite me to join them, to venture into the snowy underbrush with webbed sinew fastened to my boots.

The sense of intimacy I feel in these portraits is like browsing through a family photo album and remembering how sweet life is in childhood when you’re swaying along on a sled. These faces reddened by the cold, frozen in the moment by the painter’s brush, have a life of their own, not just here, but elsewhere, in photos from her family archives that Rivet has chosen with care. In fact, her paintings consist of reconstituted snapshots that her father captured with a film camera, the vital device for creating instant memories in the 1990s. Rivet undertook this task in order to share these moments with her grandmother, but also to understand her position within her clan. Her new compositions of these scenes may add or remove some family members, allowing her to claim her place as the youngest daughter of a large family in nostalgic pictorial works.

A remarkable aspect of these wintry-hued paintings is the direction of the subjects’ gaze. Fully aware of the lens, they proudly strike a pose for posterity. Knowing that you’re being looked at changes everything. It might also be that viewing a developed photo weeks after the shutter clicks somehow changes self-perception. Not being able to see our image immediately after it is captured avoids us the experience of discovering, sometimes with some surprise, that we look like that; others see us like that. With the advent of digital photography, this reflex has become commonplace and it intrigues Aurélien Muller, a Toronto-based artist who has collaborated with Rivet in this exhibition.

In his current practice, he calls into question the habits of consumers of images in our digital era where everyone can dabble in photography. Focusing on the portraits of today, he questions their composition, as well as what hides behind them. His installation, facing Rivet’s paintings, is essentially a wall of bare computer screens that quickly flash unintelligible code, along with a series of faces which I gradually learn to recognize. Here, the subjects’ gaze is not as intense, because it is often directed toward the bluish glow of a cell phone. This thoroughly modern accessory, truly an extension of the human body, sneaks its way into the portraits almost automatically. The device facilitates Muller’s meeting with his models, who jump at the first opportunity to take refuge in the virtual dimension. Instantaneously connected with others, absorbed by their screens, people relax; they no longer pose for the camera and even forget that they’re being looked at. Cyberspace has whisked them away, and that’s what makes the portrait so natural: the mask falls and exposes a subject who is no longer playing a part.

Ironically, when I was invited to have my photo taken, I decided not to bring my cell phone. The palpable emptiness in my pocket and my palms felt like a phantom limb and I was forced to look at Aurélien during the photo shoot. The cell phone as a crutch for human interactions, always within reach, contains a wealth of information, like digital DNA made from our data. Whereas in Rivet’s paintings, the quest for identity revolves around nostalgia and the family clan, for Muller, it is based on connection and the (over)use of portable devices. The persons who posed for him become exposed, firstly on the computer screens, secondly by their data, and thirdly in the installation that stands in the gallery space.

The end result of these two artists’ collaboration rises like an igloo made of cathode TV screens, the intermediate technology between the two time periods and the two media used in their works. Simultaneously static and moving, a person’s image is recomposed for a brief moment on screen. The composition is duplicated: it appears as both a black and white photo and as several traits painted directly on the pixelated surface. It is not meant to last; after a brief moment, the image disappears and another portrait takes its place. Still static, it appears again two screens away, but now it is covered by another person’s silhouette. Many persons are superimposed in this manner, before finding their rightful place behind their appropriate twin image defined by Rivet’s painting.

I sit there long enough to see faces reach their own place, united by two media. I begin to recognize some of them, distinguishable by their build, their conspicuous glasses, their shy smiles and especially their phone, which each subject holds preciously. Like a game of Guess Who? displayed on the sacred screen that once served as a place of communion, portraits of a community are produced over the course of several steps. Snow crackles in this unexpected but not inconsequential canvas, reminding us of the snow that sparkles on our memories, those that we uncover in photo albums of times past and those that we create and share with a simple click. Portraits, intimate and social, static and mobile, nostalgic and contemporary, draw me into these two artists’ world and project me into a dual dimension that is as paradoxical as a spring snowstorm.

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A recent citizen of Sudbury, Maude Bourassa Francoeur works at Éditions Prise de parole as a community narrative production assistant.


Take Me to the Lake

An accompanying text by Chloé LaDuchesse on Colette Laliberté’s exhibition NBIISH ― EAU ― WATER

I didn’t want to raise a fuss, but I had reserved my favourite spot and I was really looking forward to it. “Excuse me, Sir, but I have the window seat.” Surprised look, polite excuse, shuffled retreat. And there I was, sitting pretty, like a happy child waiting for the curtain to rise. There’s something magical in the experience of flying high above the land. It’s the endless joy of discovering, in a new perspective mottled by the seasons and the weather, the familiar streets where we live, the expanses of unknown forests, the glistening, agitated or misty surfaces of lakes.

I have lived in Sudbury for two years now and I’m well aware of its many lakes, but my most fascinating encounter with them remains the first one ever, as I approached the city by plane. People from other regions who imagine everyday life in northern Ontario think of forests, of mines, but most don’t know that what truly defines us is water. We skate through the winter and we paddle canoes through the summer, our fishing rods (and bug spray) always close at hand.

Such is the twofold experience of lakes: on the shore, where bare feet meet cold water, and high in the sky, where bodies of water appear in their entirety, as if waiting to be scooped up by hand. I sense both of these impressions, overview and immersion, as I enter the GNO for the opening of Colette Laliberté’s exhibition NBIISH – EAU – WATER. The gallery walls are adorned with dozens of lakes of all colours, some connected by rivers, some floating alone on the white background. Here is Wanapitei, yellow and hefty; there is Ramsey, a shrimp-pink crescent. The eye lingers on a form, tries to identify it by name, then moves towards the tributary, traces the river’s course, flows downstream, follows the current, explores from top to bottom and port to starboard, recreating the flow of water, its rushes, its lulls.

Colette Laliberté discovered the City of Lakes flying over the area’s map. It made her curious to find out more about the relationship between Greater Sudbury’s human inhabitants and its network of waterways. She realized that just a few lakes are known by their indigenous names nowadays, thanks to colonization. Many are named after a historical figure or described by their appearance ― who knows how many lakes in Ontario are named Long Lake? As the indigenous names were forgotten, swaths of history were lost as well. These lakes had long been travel routes, meeting places, silent witnesses to events that influenced our occupation of the land, even though they have not found their rightful place in history books.

Google Maps displays lakes uniformly in blue, but Laliberté displays them in a myriad of colours. Inspired by the past and present names of these bodies of water, the artist strives to express something new about them. Through a sort of territorial synaesthesia, she subjectively associates the names and forms of lakes with a colour drawn from her memories or her imagination.

Is naming an act of love, a political statement? A name influences perception and a thing that acquires a name becomes part of a community of things. Therein lies the significance of naming: it imparts an identity, it affixes a label. Language serves both to distinguish and assemble. It establishes links between people, places and concepts.

By using colours instead of names, the artist establishes a new sort of relationship with space and distance. Laliberté’s multihued lakes retain their original contours, though there are some discrepancies in scale compared to formal topography. Roads and communities have vanished: NBIISH – EAU – WATER is a two-dimensional representation of a virginal Canadian Shield with no trace of human intervention.

Water calms me. Surrounded by Laliberté’s many lakes, as in the embrace of Nepahwin’s arms, I am drawn into the centre of my being, like a fish swimming in its liquid element. I belong to a whole, I master an environment, I am part of the artwork and I gleefully loll within it. The walls are flat surfaces, but the forms they carry evoke depth. Water is everywhere and within it I seek out my place, both physically, in the gallery, and notionally, in the white spaces that seem welcoming for two-legged castaways.

Colette Laliberté’s work NBIISH – EAU – WATER successfully captures the most vibrant aspect of Greater Sudbury: an intimate relationship between a land and its inhabitants, forged by history, family, identity and poetry.

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Chloé LaDuchesse is a poet and a short story writer. She’s the instigator of Expozine Sudbury, a yearly zine fair, and organizes various literary events.


Belonging With an Interconnected Ego

An accompanying text by Nico Glaude, on the Z’otz* Collective’s exhibition EVICTED FROM THE ANTHILL

No artist can ever be without ego. It’s one of the motivating factors that make everyday people want to become artists. Aside from the creative process and expression, there are many elements that go hand in hand with both ego and art. Validation, recognition, selling a piece of art, getting a standing ovation, winning a grant or receiving an award, all feed into and fuel the creative ego and the desire to strive for more. At times, an artist might not have much more than their ego to sustain that primordial drive; tackling bigger projects can mean greater success, more press and more opportunities when artists let their ego guide them.

Speaking with the Z’otz* Collective, it’s surprising how little consideration is given to each member’s individual ego. In fact, complete disregard of ego is an ever-present factor in their art-making process. Their murals are rarely sketched out beforehand; each individual of this 3-piece collective comes to the wall with their own separate ideas; there’s little to no verbal communication between them as they work, although they do leave little hints behind for the other members as to what direction they think the piece should take and what it should look like. Interestingly enough, these hints are often misconstrued and can become something entirely different than what was initially intended, and so the piece becomes something new, something unexpected. It can seem like an obvious notion, especially when working within a collective, but that dynamic can play itself out multiple times throughout the creation of one mural. In a way, it’s that give and take between each individual member’s ego that allows the Z’otz* Collective to create these ephemeral murals that seem to have been created by the same hand.

Their murals are silent narratives, incorporating familiar objects, elements of nature and animals that all blend into one linear piece. While many of these individual elements might seem familiar, that familiarity gives way to the ambiguity of the final, interconnected piece. Merging these elements creates a sense of uneasiness, but the ambiguity of it all invites us to look past the unknown and embrace a certain sense of ambivalence, which finally leads to a place of understanding. We realize that the Z’otz* Collective’s murals aren’t about the singular, standalone elements, but rather are about the process of becoming aware of the whole—that there are no separate elements and that everything is interconnected.

Part of this portrayal of interconnectedness is achieved through the depiction of animals and our personal relationships with them. There are a lot of conflicting emotions and actions at play between humans and animals. The Z’otz* murals remind us that life demands respect. After all, we’re all interconnected and we need to be partners with life—to embrace it, to nourish it and to understand our impact.

The Z’otz* Collective’s murals engage and connect with viewers by bringing them back to themselves. Even if the imaginative settings are unfamiliar, the ambiguity really doesn’t come across as alienating. Rather, the odd juxtapositions arouse curiosity in the overall narrative and can ultimately lead to an understanding of the work that’s rooted in a deep sense of belonging.

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Nico Glaude is a Sudbury based installation artist, curator and raconteur. Everyone has an emotional investment in Sudbury and he values that by creating and curating work that is as fried, sweaty, cheap, fun and awful as any other experience you can have here. Mind of nickel, heart of gold.


Return to the Enchanted World

Reflections: “le homecoming” by jenna dawn maclellan
an accompanying text by Guylaine Tousignant

“[i]f the writer cuts himself off from his childhood, his roots, his oneiric ancestral memory, he deprives himself of all his artistic means.”

Jacques Derrida

“I really wanted to go back to being playful, just having fun with the materials and not worrying about perfection.”

jenna dawn maclellan

The enchanted world was not invented by Walt Disney. It is a world as old as the world, a place of magic, where reality is lost in dream, and dream in reality. It is the land of childhood. It is a land that always lies within us, whether we want it to or not.

When we leave it, it calls us back. When we try to forget it, it calls us out. It wields a force over us that can attract or repel us, like a black bear in a garbage dump.

There is magic in this place where we first played, where we threw our first stones, where we imagined what life might be, where we built it for ourselves with the tools and materials at hand: a chainsaw, some wood, a shovel, some snow, scissors, some fabric, pencils, and a little cardboard.

This place is the cabin and the bonfire.

To remember it is to travel freely in a world of the imagination. During winter, we remember ourselves picnicking in our favourite summer dress, gathering snowballs; during summer, we take snowmobiles through trails coloured with crushed berries.

In the image, the cord of wood is always perfectly there.

Shooting stars fall from the sky in all seasons. Wishes will come true.

Life, as seen through memory, whether it’s our own or someone else’s, is like a dream that’s real. We know that life is not like that, but we don’t know that we know it, and it’s good that way.

This enchanted world is where we must go when we forget how we ever came to grow up, when we forget how to be children.

In that moment, it’s always good to go back home.

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Guylaine Tousignant is a writer and freelancer. She lives in Windsor, Ontario.


When The Centre Loses Hold

An accompanying text by Maty Ralph

How political is your lamp? And when it comes to philosophy, how profound is your desk? Does your kettle whistle, or scream about revolution? Is your chair a degenerate?

Hold on. Perhaps this line of questioning is premature. Maybe I started in the wrong place…

In the beginning there was conception. An idea was born. A design conceived. Materials were considered, chosen, manipulated. Eventually, a physical form manifested. The idea could now be used. But in order to be used it must be sold. Value was determined. Replicas were made. And if all went according to plan, profit was gained.

And so, a timeline is established. The idea, which began in the mind, was executed in the studio, produced in the factory, and sold in the store, finally becomes part of a functioning home, each day inching its way closer to the last stage of life: junk.

All junk began as an idea. But do all ideas turn to junk?

Out of This Light, Into This Shadow…

The Bauhaus was an idea -several ideas, in fact- that would illuminate the world of design forever. The school championed respect for materials, space, aesthetic and functionality. It was a place where art informed craft and where practicality was fused with beauty. This was the birthplace of the International Style.

But soon the shadow of Nazi Germany fell over Europe. To the Nationalists, the Bauhaus was a school of degenerates. The ideas they championed were a threat. And so, like many others, they were silenced.

Luckily, the principles and philosophies that thrived during the Bauhaus’ fifteen years emerged from the ashes of WWII, relatively unharmed. The ideas survived, and were utilized, exploited, edited, abridged, and manipulated over the years. What we are left with are designs standing on the shoulders of thoughts standing on the shoulders of the past.

And with all these changes, what of that past remains? Do our designs still challenge tyranny? Would the Nazis view IKEA as degenerate art? Would they consider your desk lamp a threat?

It’s obvious that the aesthetics of modern design echo the Bauhaus to this day, but Juan Ortiz-Apuey has shown us that when you peel away the facade, there is an emptiness at the core.

Design has gone the way of blockbuster movies and pop music. Formula without thought. Replicate the success of the past, but make it cheaper. And quicker. Trim the fat. Edit out the prophet in favour of the profit.

As an exploration of this inherent vapidity in consumer culture, Out of This Light, Into This Shadow could easily wag its finger at capitalism gone awry, but it doesn’t. If a villain is to be cast in this narrative, corporate greed is as worthy of candidacy as consumer complacency.

It’s not enough for us to conclude that we are being sold a hollow, flimsy version of the past. We already knew that much.

We must also wonder why we don’t expect more; Why we don’t demand a return to form. We grew to accept that the furnishings that surround us need not be innovative or profound or even ethical, as long as the aesthetics are enjoyable.

In our uncritical embrace of transient design we have lost sight of the fact that all junk started out as an idea. We now operate under the reverse pretext that all ideas are destined to become junk. And with that, we lost reverence for innovation and began to throw our ideas out with the rest of the trash.

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Maty Ralph loves talking to you about art and is always on the lookout for new adventures that challenge the heights of imagination.