It’s hard to believe the end of April is already here and that today is my last official day as writer-in-residence. Since I began this position, I’ve been keeping track of great projects and a myriad of things I’d hoped to write about - some have become full fledged posts, while others still populate my lists. This evening I will be posting a full-length piece I’ve been working on about installing exhibitions and the unseen preparators who make it happen, but for now I wanted to briefly share a couple highlights from my writing “to do” list worth visiting or exploring on your own.The Human Library
Initiated in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2000, The Human Library is “an innovative method designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding.” Essentially, readers can borrow “Human Books” for an hour long informal conversation where the “book” shares their experiences with the reader. Human Libraries exist in 32 countries around the world, and there are currently two branches in Alberta. One is through the Calgary Public Library and the other through the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus. The “titles” change every so often as new “books” are added or removed from circulation. There are some great “reads” available that range from practicing artists, writers, immigrants, cultural nomads, experiences from the queer community, and people with disabilities.12th Royal Bison
In the fall I wrote about the 11th Royal Bison, drawing comparisons between it and an artist’s run centre. This upcoming weekend, May 5-6th, is the 12th iteration and promises to be just as amazing. With approximately 30% new vendors, there is bound to be something new and fresh to catch your attention alongside your trusted favourite vendors.BFA 2012 Graduating Exhibition
This week is the last week to check out the BFA 2012 Graduating Exhbition Wayfindings,which closes on May 5th.. As typical of these graduating exhibitions, the works are a diverse combination of printmaking, painting, drawing and sculpture. Many of the artists exhibiting there are also participating in Walking on Walls, an exhibition of prints currently on show at SNAP until May 19.Writing Edmonton
Edmonton has a very small community of people engaged in writing about the visual arts. Latitude 53 has made great steps in fostering written critical engagement with the arts via their monographs and initiatives like the writer-in-residence. This May, a workshop will take place to explore ideas for creating a more vibrant and sustainable writing community dedicated to the visual arts. Stay posted for future blogs about this initiative.
Planning on coming to the gallery later this week? Be aware that we’ll be closing early this Friday, at 5:00 rather than 7—to make way for a special Edmonton Poetry Festival event, “Every Poem Tells a Story (Don’t It?)” hosted by Alice Major.
We’ll also unfortunately be closed this Saturday.
Artist and teacher Pam Wilman has been involved with Latitude 53 for years—most recently she coordinated What’s Your Message in the Community Gallery in February and March of this year. But if you’ve been coming to Latitude 53 events you’re sure to have seen her volunteering, or her donated work hanging on the wall in the Schmoozy silent auction. She told us a little bit about why she loves volunteering at Latitude 53:
Here are my top 10 reasons to volunteer at Latitude:
- Meet artists and designers from the art community at openings
- Help at Schmoozy fundraiser and get dressed up in 1960’s retro clothing
- Share ideas for projects and exhibitions with fellow volunteers
- Help in the inner city- teach skating!
- Latitude staff really appreciate their volunteers
- Volunteer with performance artists that push your definition of contemporary art
- Donate Art for fundraiser and volunteer at the fundraiser
- Learn new life skills like mixing a martini
- Learn about contemporary ideas and techniques
- It’s fun and does not feel like work!
We’re lucky to have such enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers as Pam. Thank you!
Last week I forwarded a link to a press release issued by the Whitney Museum of American Art stating they were returning the Biennial funding provided to them by Sotheby’s and the Deutsche Bank. According to the release, the Whitney couldn’t in good conscience partner with either Sotheby’s or the Deutsche bank given their “recent corporate conduct.”
The full release, which can be read here, details which aspects of their corporate conduct are particularly contentious. It succinctly cites Sotheby’s ongoing lockout of art handlers since the summer of 2011 amidst record breaking sales and profits and the Deutsche Bank’s legal embroilment in several cases of mortgage fraud. Accordingly, the release states that continued association would “tarnish the image of the Biennial” and that their sponsorship would “detract from these serious matters.”
In a powerful and profound statement, the press release concludes by apologising to the participating artists, promising a redistribution of remaining sponsorship stating:
“The Whitney…recognizes that some donors and sponsors may seek to use their partnership with the Museum to whitewash their image and to hide the social costs of unchecked capital accumulation behind a façade of charity. These sponsors seek to capitalize on the creativity, intelligence, and culture brought into the world by contemporary artists even as the sponsors make that world unlivable. The Whitney recognizes that many emerging artists cannot refuse to participate in a major museum show without endangering their careers, and so apologizes deeply to the participating artists for allowing them to be exploited by the former sponsors in this manner. The Museum hopes the participating artists will join us in denouncing the wrongs committed by our former sponsors and trusts the artists will use the resources provided to them to foster a more vibrant, livable, just, and sustainable world.”
Wow. Good on the Whitney for taking a stand and making such a strong statement! Except it seems like the Whitney was Punk’d (and not the first time either - apparently, in 1970, a press release on Whitney letterhead claimed that 50% of the artists participating an annual art exhibition would be women - it didn’t happen either).
Ashton Kutcher - “You’ve just been Punk’d”
The website definitely looks and feels legitimate, in fact I clicked through several of the links on the supposed Whitney page, which sent me to the real Whitney page. However, my suspicion that something was amiss was aroused when I couldn’t get back to the page with the press release denouncing the sponsorships (because it isn’t linked on the actual Whitney page), but could access other press releases announced by the real Whitney.
I was curious to know when the phony press release had been issued, since no date was could be located on the page itself, so I forwarded the URL to a friend of mine who is far more web savvy than I. Apparently, the format of the release makes it impossible to know when it was published, but clues suggest it was sometimes towards the end of February. A quick Google search revealed a couple of articles about the false release and the flurry of responses it received
It appears I was far from the only one fooled and that shortly after its initial release, twitter was abuzz with people congratulating the Whitney on standing up and showing support for the artists and for calling for corporate accountability. Friends posted the link on their facebook pages applauding the actions of the Museum (and then of the people who made the prank possible). For its part, the Whitney is trying to have the page taken down, but so far has obviously been unsuccessful in its attempts.
While the false press release may have been a hoax, the initial outpouring of support for the (supposed) denouncement of corporate control over events like the Whitney points to a growing desire for transparency from corporate sponsors. It also demonstrates a really great example of political action on behalf of the technologically proficient hackers who concocted the whole ruse. most importantly it raises awareness about the side of corporate sponsorship that is often hidden from plain view and challenges people to think more critically about partnerships, and about what they read.
If you are stuck in Calgary tonight, and so unable to make it to our opening, we’d recommend that you head down to Stride at 8:00 to see new work by friend of Latitude 53 Brenda Draney, who showed here in 2010, with Jewel Shaw.
Tomorrow night there’s more options: also in Calgary, Lethbridge-based Edmontonian artist Mandy Espezel and Shanell Papp have a show opening at Pith Gallery. Back in Edmonton, the ARTery hosts a show by familiar local faces Amelia Aspen, Sean Borchert, Fish Griwkowsky, Dara Humniski, Tandie McLeod, Norm Omar, Curtis Ross, and Smokey.