Basil AlZeri, Drawing The Curtains: An Oblique Act of Concealment, Lemons, Oranges and Sage, 2018
I believe in living
Basil AlZeri, Rana Bishara, Christina Battle, Richelle Bear Hat & Brittney Bear Hat, Rehab Nazzal, Abdi Osman, Tiffany Shaw-Collinge, Rinaldo Walcott
curated by Ellyn Walker
April 21 - June 30, 2018
Saturday, April 21, 3 – 6 pm
I believe in living takes its cue from Assata Shakur’s poem “Affirmation” that begins the activist’s 1987 autobiography. In it, she insists on the gifts of living in spite of the oppressive and violent logics of the state, and writes of the power of loving and imagining as radical counteractions to colonial, racial, sexual, gender and class-based injustices. Accordingly, the artists and contributors in this project carry these actions forward in each their own way, offering tender, caring, creative, poetic and intellectual propositions that examine different forms of living as complicated gestures and lived realities.
Using plant life as a starting point, the works in this exhibition explore the diverse ways in which plants represent: Indigenous and ancestral knowledges; sovereign resistance; cultural resilience; enslaved, colonizing and diasporic movements; as well as place-based rootings and relations. What does it mean for a cactus to have lived 800 years in the New Mexico desert, where the land has witnessed multiple statehoods? What does it look like to resist the Israeli State’s strategic excavation of olive trees—extraction as a form of settler-colonialism and a tactic of economic devastation—on Palestinian territories? In what ways do diasporic movements sever and/or carry land-based knowledges with them? How do contemporary greening and gentrification practices—including the aggressive re-financialization of the Albertan landscape—conceal the displacement of multiple histories, peoples and practices? How can a relational approach to place rather than to emplacement, reconfigure future environmental and familial relationships?
The exhibition features diverse works by local, national and international artists, in and outside the Untitled Art Society main gallery space, online, in the UAS +15 Vitrine and on billboards across the city. In the gallery: Rana Bishara's photographic installation of robust cacti growing in the West Bank provides a bird's-eye view of colonial occupation in the background; Christina Battle offers visitors seeds harvested from her Southwestern Ontario garden accompanied by semi-instructional zines to take away; sisters Richelle Bear Hat and Brittney Bear Hat present a collaborative installation with mint tea gathered from their ancestral territory along with personal stories; Abdi Osman's video projection of a woman reminiscing on the shoreline recalls the ways in which bodies, like plants, have been forcefully transposed across bodies of waters; and commissioned writing by scholar Rinaldo Walcott responds to these collective works, and is presented in the form of a textual installation.
Additional projects include Tiffany Shaw-Collinge's outdoor community garden with contributions from the artist and project participants, gallery staff, invited friends and family, and community members, which will grow from April until September. Basil AlZeri's site-specific installation for the +15 Vitrine space explores the intimacies between notions of “living to live” and “dying to live” over the months of April and May. Rehab Nazzal's images of environmental state-terrorism in Palestine will be presented on billboards across Calgary in April. Lastly, Christina Battle's Instagram take-over from July 16th to 27th will feature a rotation of animated GIFs that present possible futures not unrelated to our current uses of land.
Critiquing the politics of “greening” and practices of gentrification, both of which are tied to white supremacist colonial and capitalist systems, I believe in living takes plant life as a critical symbol that is inseparable from Indigenous histories and agricultural practices that have existed across the world for tens of thousands of years. Accordingly, this exhibition challenges the colonization of land, culture, bodies, and plants, and instead, offers alternative ways of being, and thus living, in the world.
Rehab Nazzal, The Olive Tree, the Land and the Palestinian Struggle Against Settler Colonialism, 2017
Basil AlZeri is a Toronto-based visual artist. AlZeri’s practice involves the intersection of art, education, and food, and takes multiple forms such as performance, interventions, and gallery and public installation.
Media artist, curator, organizer and educator Christina Battle is currently based in London, Ontario. Her work considers the parameters of disaster, looking to it as more than mere event, and instead, as action: a framework operating within larger systems of power.
Brittney Bear Hat is a 2011 graduate from the Alberta College of Art and Design, where she majored in Painting with an interest in collage and drawing. Based in Calgary and of Blackfoot and Cree descent, Bear Hat makes work about memory and the relationship between personal history and Indigeneity.
Richelle Bear Hat is a Calgary-based Indigenous artist with Blackfoot and Cree heritage. She graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design with a BFA in Drawing in 2011. Bear Hat worked at the Banff Centre as a Collections Work Study and is currently the Engagement Coordinator at TRUCK Contemporary Art.
Rana Bishara is an installation artist, painter, graphic artist, photographer and performance artist born in Tarsheha Village, Galilee, Northern Palestine. Previously, she was the Chair of the Visual Art Department at Al Quds University, and currently, she lives and works between Galilee and Jerusalem.
Rehab Nazzal is a Palestinian-born multidisciplinary artist based in Canada and Palestine. Her video, photography and sound works deal mainly with the violence of settler colonialism. She is currently a PhD candidate at Western University in London, Ontario.
Abdi Osman is a Somali-Canadian multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on questions of black masculinity as it intersects with Muslim and queer identities. Osman's video and photography work has been shown in Canada and internationally in both group and solo exhibitions.
Tiffany Shaw-Collinge is an interdisciplinary artist, curator and intern architect based in Alberta. She holds a BFA from NSCAD University, a Masters in Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and is a core member of Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective.
Rinaldo Walcott is an Associate Professor and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. He is a member of the Department of Social Justice Education at OISE, as well as a member of the Graduate Program in Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto.
Ellyn Walker is a curator and writer based in the area now commonly known as Toronto. Her work explores the politics of representation, collaboration and inclusion in the arts through critical feminist and social justice lenses.
April 12 – May 31, 2018
Thursday, May 10, 6 pm. Drinks at the Palomino Smokehouse to follow from 7pm.
Drawing The Curtains: An Oblique Act of Concealment, Lemons, Oranges and Sage explores the intricacies of living, where struggling to live and dying to live are realities that are in fact not so far away from one another. This evolving installation features ombre curtains in a range of skin tones; the castings of a pot that once held an olive tree grown in Toronto, Canada, from a Mediterranean seedling; and a casted plug that represents and in turn holds the space of the former plant. That an olive tree was able to naturally grow in such a different climate and geography than its place of origin reflects the possibilities of hope, whereas the subsequent act of holding space for it is a caring gesture.
Over the duration of the project, the vitrine will accumulate more and more detritus, reflective of lives lived: consumption, waste and eventual death. Overall, the work offers a material and poetic commentary on the notion of wanting to live well—to thrive—as opposed to merely trying to survive. This, perhaps, is how the original olive seed might have begun its journey.
This project is part of I believe in living, curated by Ellyn Walker. The exhibition features diverse works by local, national and international artists, in and outside the Untitled Art Society main gallery space, online, in the UAS +15 Vitrine and on billboards across the city.
Basil AlZeri is a Toronto-based visual artist. AlZeri’s practice involves the intersection of art, education and food, and takes multiple forms such as performance, interventions, and gallery and public installation. His work examines the socio-political dynamics of the family and their intersections with cultural practices, drawing on the necessities of everyday life and the visibility of labour as sites of exploration. His work aims to facilitate a space for empathy through gestures of inclusivity and generosity. AlZeri’s has presented his work in Amman, Dubai, Halifax, Mexico City, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, Regina, Rome, Santiago, Tartu and Toronto.
Untitled Art Society +15 Vitrine, Arts Commons, 205 8th Avenue SE, Calgaryuascalgary.org
February 12 – April 7, 2018
March 15, 2018, 6 pm. Drinks at the Palomino Smokehouse to follow from 7 pm.
Performance at Happenings 11:
February 12, 6:45 pm and 8:30 pm
Witness is a photographic installation that re-examines a recent assault, which took place outside a gay bar in my hometown. When leaving the bar, I witnessed a woman being dragged by her wrists, across the cement by a security guard. I decided to step in and tell the guard to stop, and as a result I was punched in the nose by that same guard. The women on the ground was taken by her friend and I went to the police station. As I sought to press charges, the need for video footage and other witnesses of the assaults on the women and myself, proved vital for the police to believe me. I was encouraged to make the situation public in the hopes of finding video footage. The photograph of my bloody face along with my plea for evidence was shared over 600 times, eventually leading to the surfacing of a video. The photo taken on the floor of the police station became evidence.
This installation looks at and personifies the three types of viewers in this situation, seeking to make a distinction between the witness (a person who actively recorded video or spoke to the police), the bystander (a person who chose to do nothing), and the participant (myself). Through this exhibition I hope to create a dialogue about best practices for action when witnessing violence. What would you do? What should you do when a member of your community is being hurt? Through creating a series of masks and photographs I hope the viewer will distinguish the difference between the three viewers personified in the exhibition and question the use of photography as a tool to validate an experience. As a queer artist I began to question whether or not “safe space” for members of the LGBTQ* exist, or rather if we only have “safer spaces” where patrons have to actively protect each other.
Though an examination of photography that queries its ability to exceed the category of documentation, and become an essential tool needed to prove an injustice, I seek to question the ways in which we employ photography to create truth. Is testimony enough? Do you believe we were assaulted? Is a witness enough? Do you believe we were assaulted? Is a photo enough? Do you believe we were assaulted? Is a video enough? Do you believe were we assaulted?
Humboldt Magnussen is an artist/curator from rural Saskatchewan. In 2014, he completed a MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies at OCAD University, focusing on performance art and masculinity studies. He has exhibited his work across Canada and internationally; notable exhibitions include Every Now and Then, Reframing Nationhood at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Show. 17 at the Idea Exchange. His recent body of work investigates queer community and notions of safe space through a personal perspective. He is interested in how complicated notions of identity and gender/sexuality can be visualized. Magnussen is the co-founder (along with Marjan Verstappen) of Younger Than Beyoncé (YTB) Gallery, a nomadic artist-run centre in Toronto, Ontario.
Fall Fell Felt
January 13 – March 29, 2018
Friday, January 12, 2018. 7pm
A bridesmaid in a flowing silk dress descends a set of steps, misses her footing and takes a spill. And this too shall become content.
Anna Hawkins’s most recent project Fall Fell Felt dissects, remixes and re-enacts the popular online genre “girl fails” in an exploration of schadenfreude, voyeurism and empathy. A fraught but incredibly popular genre, “girl fails” encompasses online video compilations of women in various states of accidental or self-inflicted peril—unsuccessfully backflipping off a trampoline, falling over a slippery banister, tumbling out of a complex yoga pose. These fails are wince material arranged and cut in a succession of bite-size clips hurtling forward into the void of an internet black hole (or “content hole”), where time is elasticized. Content is a portal that consumes hours hungrily, and scrolling is the vehicle that drives it vertically—a slow and prescribed form of free-falling.
Combining found and original video fragments, Hawkins’s video installation interrupts the typical rhythm of fail videos, stratifying their parts using a masking technique that isolates figures or maintains only a cutout of their bodies. In some cases, the fail moment has been incised and we see only the aftermath. Alternately, videos are pared down to their most basic elements: a gasp, the rev of an engine, or a disembodied leg in space. By staging slow and pliant re-enactments of the bodies on-screen with her own body, Hawkins demonstrates a groundlessness, situating herself in weightless limbo between subject and spectator. Her body leaves an impression in medium-pile taupe carpet, mimicking the shape of her found-footage counterpart, indicating an empathetic channel between subjects who feel pain. In popular media, women have historically been the ciphers onto which chaotic emotions are cast—from ecstatic pleasure, to fear, to abject suffering. Does this witnessing defer our own ugly experiences, or provide a safe form of falling? Fall Fell Felt obstructs the tradition of placing women’s bodies at the centre of violence and desire to be consumed from an objective distance, as Hawkins seems to gently break her subjects’ falls over and over again. Rather than written off as sheer spectacle, the gut-wrench moment is posited as a site of empathetic physical interconnection, the falling felt deeply.
Anna Hawkins is a Montreal-based artist who works primarily in video. Her work is concerned with the ways in which images, gestures, and information are transmitted, transformed, and experienced online. Group exhibitions and screenings include those at the UCLA New Wight Biennial (Los Angeles), X+1 at the Musée d’art Contemporain (Montreal), the WRO Media Art Biennale (Wrocław), and The Laocoön Dilemma at Galerie Sturm (Nürnberg). She has had solo exhibitions at Artspace (Peterborough, 2015), Centre Clark (Montreal, 2016) and Eastern Edge Gallery (St. John’s, 2016).
Text by Nancy Webb.
Prospect Human Services
December 5, 2017 - January 31, 2018
January 18, 2018, 6 pm. Drinks at the Palomino Smokehouse to follow from 7 pm
Silk Screenings is a collection of prints from our eponymous silk screening program, wherein the theme of “inspiration” took on many colorful and creative forms. The artists—some of whom were first time practitioners of this form of printmaking—were challenged to brainstorm and gather inspiration from all aspects of their lives including, but not limited to, dreams, nature, emotions, memory, and imagination. Each print was carefully made with layers of tracing paper, stencils, and many weeks of work developing compositions. Through the thoughtful and meticulous practice of silk screening, the artists made material their greatest inspirations.
Prospect Human Services is a not-for-profit that helps people who face barriers to employment, including adults with developmental disabilities. Prospect uses art as a creative teaching tool to further develop individuals’ employment skills and readiness. This includes designing and teaching community based art programs, collaborating with community partners and developing connections in the arts community to support exhibiting these artists’ works.
October 21 – November 25, 2017
Saturday October 21, 7 pm
Combining iconic imagery, popular media, and tactile objects in the creation of an immersive, set-like environment, The Bitterness of Bad Solitude (or To be Lost in Something you Designed Yourself) emanates a curiously unsettling energy. This uneasy spectre can be accounted for by the forced amalgamation of visual languages borrowed from generally antithetical points of reference; the exhibition shamelessly appropriates interior design elements from ashy night clubs, archetypical religious architecture, haunting Masonic temples, stale basement AA meetings, and subterranean government bunkers.
The Bitterness of Bad Solitude (or To be Lost in Something you Designed Yourself) aims to challenge tacit conventions of morality, acceptability, deeply-held-beliefs, and the power structures which determine value. The installation, a many-headed, visually cheeky, but earnest beast, offers itself as a testing ground for otherwise infrequent conditions for vulnerable, interpersonal connections, spontaneous disruptions to the predictability of daily rituals, and renegade brainstorming for radical futures.
Hannah Doerksen is a Calgary-based visual artist who received a BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2012. During her studies, Doerksen attended the New York Studio Residency Program in Brooklyn and the California Collage of Art in San Francisco. Since graduating, she has exhibited in Brazil, the United Kingdom, the United States and throughout Canada. Recently, Doerksen has developed installations for the Art Gallery of Alberta, Walter Phillips Gallery and The Art Gallery of Guelph.
Survival of the Fitness (Quenching Your Inner Fire)
Matthew Palmer and Tim Messeiller
October 5 - November 30, 2017
November 16, 2017, 6 pm Drinks at the Palomino Smokehouse to follow from 7 pm
Survival of the Fitness (Quenching Your Inner Fire) by artist duo Palmer and Messeiller is a series of survival tools that manipulate, enhance or improve upon minimalist sculptures. This project casts survival as a marketable concept used to sell all-wheel drive jeeps and adventure gear to those in search of a thrill. From the concept of survival as central to human existence to television survivalists, this exhibition plays with what it means to survive by simply adapting to change.
In this exhibition, the artists focus on the concept of survival through the creation of tools and understanding their ideal uses. The forms and tools made of materials like plaster, wood and textiles are placed upon plinths and are accompanied by digitally printed vinyl banners and a life-size cardboard cutout. These elements not only signify the most basic elements of a contemporary art installation, but also play on the idea of a commercial window display; they transform the vitrine into a strange promotional stage for products of an esoteric use and questionable value. In the process of suggesting the utilitarian function of the tool, a dialogue is created wherein the minimalist shape is no longer a prop, but part of a whole, where both the prop and the tool are equally important for each other’s existence.
Messeiller and Palmer are a collaborative duo who have been working together since 2013. They have shown at RATS Collectif, Vevey, Switzerland Lokal-Int, Bienne, Switzerland and Circa in Montréal, Quebec. Their work is concerned with artistic labour, commodification of the art object and the performative elements of professions. Their multimedia works incorporate sculpture, textile, video, silk screening and relational projects.
This exhibition was generously supported by Resolve Photo and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
Maryse LarivièreUnder the Cave of winds
June 30 – September 23, 2017
June 29, 7 pm
By the time we talk face to face again in the city of fog and spasm, feminine sovereignty will be on the table, next to my pen and ashtray. So I better rush over, just in case the tunnel that connects us curtains off before my eyes. This passage looks like a futuristic set for a Beckett play, except he would completely disagree with this vision. But failing in the eye of such a Master can only be a good thing you might say.
In a matter of hours, I awaken, still slightly sedated, trapped in a cinder block cell surrounded by my work. "I am here to write, and fall into his arms," I say to myself cautiously. Minutes later, I am on the inner phone with you. "I’m gonna lick French all over you and make your freckly skin iridescent." you purr. "Wamp Wamp Wamp," trembles the receiver.
There is a knock at the door...
Initiated through a residency at CCA Glasgow, Under the cave of winds functions like a portal, wherein art, ecology and politics collide. The overarching script of the project narrates the tribulations of a fictional female protagonist, an artist, scholar and whistleblower detained on Staffa island. She is held captive on the Scottish island for initiating a new trend in research, where knowledge production goes beyond linguistics and graphicism to become pure sound—singing and humming, like birds. A kidnapping, love letters, an Antonionesque reverie.
Including a new 16 mm film and suite of sculptural works, Under the cave of winds will be accompanied by Larivière’s forthcoming epistolary novel, and an original sound work by Cosima Friesen.
Maryse Larivière is an artist, writer and scholar whose work re-imagines how we engage with the textual, visual and social through bodily and emotional encounters. Her practice crosses art, literature and theory, taking the form of text, performance, sculpture, and collage. Recent projects include: Echoes from the Bosom (DNA art space, 2017), In Some Far Place (The Rooms, St.Jonh’s, 2017), A Pool Is Water (Galerie Division Montreal, 2016), Down to Write You this Poem Sat (Oakville Galleries, 2016), Talking Back, Otherwise (Art Museum University of Toronto, 2016), Where Wild Flowers Grow (Kunstverein Toronto, 2015), and L.S.D. Your Delusion, My Reality (8Eleven, Toronto, 2015). Her books of poetry include Hummzinger (2016) and Where Wild Flowers Grow (2015). Lariviere is the 2016-2017 writer-in-residence at Gallery 44, and has contributed experimental writings to a variety of platforms including C Magazine, Esse Art+Opinions and Organism for Poetic Research.
Anna Eyler and Nicolas Lapointe
June 5 - July 31, 2017
July 20, 2017, 6 pm. Drinks at the Palomino Smokehouse to follow from 7pm
Referencing kinetic department store window displays, no-fluke/no-feed/no-swim/no-play/no-fun employs the materials and techniques of advertising to reflect on the role of technology in contemporary culture. The artists take an ambivalent position on reality, behaving a bit like amateur archaeologists from an imagined future.
In both form and symbolism, no-fluke/no-feed/no-swim/no-play/no-fun draws on Mannerist painter Jacopo Pontormo’s famous altarpiece, The Deposition from the Cross (1528). Renowned for its bright colours and flat composition, Pontormo’s painting veered away from naturalistic representation, employing instead aesthetic strategies to heighten the emotional and religious content of the scene. Likewise, no-fluke/no-feed/no-swim/no-play/no-fun uses the form, palette, and two-dimensionality of the altarpiece to evoke ideas of the mystical. Rather than adhering to a Christian narrative, however, this work questions the relationship between spirituality and technology in a contemporary context.
As the positions of the rocks change from moment to moment—while also varying in speed—they provide a tangible sense of the passage of time. Their movement also recalls the shifting of tectonic plates, thereby conflating day-to-day change with a geological sense of time. In so doing, no-fluke/no-feed/no-swim/no-play/no-fun reflects upon our impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, offering a poignant yet critical reflection on obsolescence and our material legacy.
Anna Eyler is a multidisciplinary artist based in Montréal, Québec. Working in performance, new media, and installation, Eyler investigates new forms of subjecthood emerging in our increasingly technologized world. Eyler holds a BA in Religious Studies and Art History from Carleton University (2010) and a BFA from the University of Ottawa (2015). Recent awards include the Sparkbox Residency Award (2016) and the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Her work will be included in the upcoming FILE: Electronic Language International Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil (2017).
Working in sculpture, new media, and performance, Nicolas Lapointe prefigures hybrid structures situated between the physical and the virtual. Material objects recall digital processes, while virtual structures replicate tangible forms. Objects linger in virtual nonspace, transmitting messages from the void. Lapointe’s structures push the boundaries of sentience, functioning both as inquiries into the absurd and explorations of the poetics of motion.
Eyler and Lapointe maintain a collaborative art practice that touches on concerns of Minimalism, materiality, and technology. Their work was recently featured in the exhibition beyond différance, and now, at Ace Art Inc. in Winnipeg, Manitoba (2016)
"Those isles of yours that wait for me"
Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay
Nicole Kelly Westman
May 20 to May 25, 2017
Cultural Centre, Charilaou Trikoupi 121, Athens, Greece
Curated by Natasha Chaykowski + Tarin Hughes
AKA artist-run + Untitled Art Society
"Those isles of yours that wait for me", an exhibition of work by Calgary-based artist Nicole Kelly Westman and Ediburgh-based artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, takes up the irresolute feelings of longing for a place, a time, a connection, a person. Romance – but not just romantic love, to be clear – threads the works in this exhibition; Westman enkindles notions of running away, the impossibility of being in a place, and the unrelenting impetus to connect to those afar, despite the unbreachable distance between her and such imaginary others, while Nemerofsky Ramsay unfurls the inherent intimacy of exchanges across time and place, both written and floral.
This project is generously supported by Secret Garden http://www.secretgarden.gr/