2o13.o5.14 ~ long live the new flesh | Edmonton Journal
This week in Edmonton
Another busy springtime week—here’s some of what we’re looking forward to:
The U of A’s Bachelor of Design grad show is up at FAB gallery and will be having an opening reception tomorrow evening
Also Thursday night is the launch party for Spacing Edmonton. Although tickets for the launch event proper are gone it’s followed by the usual kind of party at The Common from 9pm.
Friday is an opening at SNAP for their new shows by Peter Kingstone with Daryl Vocat, and Jennifer Konanz.
The same night, the SDA is hosting an opening at Startup Edmonton at Mercer Warehouse for their end-of year show, The Co-Lab, including work from the Untitled Forum call for submission we posted a few weeks ago.
And we hear that LART is putting together a DIY performance night and party somewhere on Friday night too…
In the meantime, work continues on our new space—we’re going to have some big news soon!
By Blair Brennan
Edmonton artist Blair Brennan shares his thoughts on the death of Canadian spiritual pop artist and sacred trickster ManWoman. ManWoman and his art were an important part of Edmonton’s nascent contemporary art scene in the 1960’s and 70’s. He continued to exhibit his art and to influence and provoke until his recent death. Brennan is currently the writer in residence for Latitude 53 Contemporary Visual Culture.
This article will also be published in the SNAP Newsletter and Vue Weekly
ManWoman died on November 13, 2012. “Died’ hardly seems the right word for someone who believed that our lives might be God’s dream and that he himself might wake up somewhere after death and think, of his own life, “Boy, that was an interesting dream.” ManWoman wasn’t always ManWoman. Patrick Charles Kemball was born in 1938. He had a series of religious visions that started in the mid-1960s and ManWoman was born with a sacred mission that involved his own personal enlightenment, the return of spirituality to art and, perhaps his most controversial undertaking, to re-sanctify the swastika.
Centuries before Germany’s National Socialists, the swastika existed cross-culturally as a sacred symbol (it was a sort of sacred symbol to the Nazis too but, well, we know how that turned out). ManWoman incorporated swastika imagery in his art work and tattooed his body with over 200 swastikas. “Manny”, as his friends called him, was a resident of Cranbrook B.C., however he lived and worked in Edmonton from 1964 to 1975 where he was involved with Edmonton’s premier artist-run center, Latitude 53. Latitude 53 presented a ManWoman retrospective, “Spiritual Schmiritual” in 1998. In the same year, while Latitude 53 and Edmonton’s other seminal artist-run center, SNAP (Society of Northern Alberta Print Artists) shared the Great West Saddlery Building on 104th street, ManWoman created a commemorative print for Latitude 53’s 25th anniversary making use of SNAP’s print shop facilities.
Humans are, of course, the product of their experiences but we are equally the sum of our influences. This is not more true of artists. It is just more visible as our art often reveals those influences. ManWoman is there as an example and influence for any of us who believe there is a place for the spiritual in art, especially those who believe that we can have some fun with this idea at the same time. I had met ManWoman several times but I did not know him well. From these brief meetings, some of his lectures and, certainly, his art work; I have constructed an idea of his character. If we could dissect human brains post mortem and find therein people’s last thoughts, I believe a disproportionately large number of brains would contain this phrase: “This isn’t a good time for me!” and a list of ridiculously petty reasons that this person’s death was poorly scheduled. If we could open ManWoman’s brain, I believe that it would expel a hearty laugh. As difficult as this time may be for ManWoman’s loved ones, family and friends, I think we should laugh along with ManWoman.
Some related links:
GIG CITY: ManWoman sticks to sacred vision 48 years after drugless trips, March 31, 2012, By Mike Ross
VICE: ManWoman Is Taking Back the Swastika, By Val Gore
BME: Body Modification Ezine /News Presents ModBlog RIP ManWoman, November 13, 2012, by Shannon Larratt
Draw: it’s almost here!
We’re setting up today for tomorrow’s sixth annual Draw—and it’s going to be a great one.
With a vinyl collage wall, drawing games and a late-night party, it’s going to an awesome Saturday at Latitude 53, Harcourt House and SNAP.
On the roster of events:
A kite-making workshop hosted by SNAP, with access to their arsenal of printmaking tools and expertise from 12-5pm
Figure drawing—both clothed and au naturel—at Harcourt House, with a chance to contribute to two exquisite corpse drawing projects
A collage, vinyl and drawing party here at Latitude 53 from noon to midnight
Music at Latitude 53 from Stanley and The Extraterrestrials and DJ Sarah Patterson
A scratch-animation workshop by FAVA at Latitude 53 from 8-11pm
Also don’t miss the very special opening performance of Saturday Mornings, The Diner, with artists Sarah Fuller, Lia Rogers and Lindsay MacDonald serving coffee and reminiscence diner-style, clad in cafe costumes
So yes—it’s going to be a wonderful day celebrating art and community. As our program assistant Chelsea Boida stated in a recent interview about Draw in Vue Magazine :
“It really changes how you think about drawing: often it’s a private activity, you don’t feel that same sort of risk when you’re doing it in front of people. But here, I think it helps, because a lot of people are taking risks together, and hopefully it ends up working out collaboratively, and whether that’s a low level of collaboration—having a haphazard drawing next to somebody else’s—or if the drawings actually end up interacting.”
Hope to see you there!
In Edmonton this weekend
We had a blast—despite the rainy weather—at last night’s rooftop patio, but patio season’s arrival means that Edmonton summer is just getting underway. Here’s our three top tips for the weekend:
Last chance to see
Saturday is the last day of Daniel Evans’ Sanctuary and Gabe Wong’s Where Are We Going?, as well as the last day to catch James Birkbeck’s Incubator show. So if you haven’t had a chance to see them, or haven’t quite got your fill, now’s the time to act! Plus, you can pick up your very own miniature version of Where Are We Going? while you’re here.
Plus, pick up a paper copy of our new summer newsletter and get the scoop on what’s coming up. With the postal lockout, all of our copies are sitting at the gallery waiting to be read! Of course we’ll have more information here an on the website next.
Our other two tips aren’t part of our own programming:
Our Communications Coordinator Adam Waldron-Blain is back in town for a little while this summer and is re-staging his spy game from last year, which has since visited the Interesting Games Festival in Bristol, England. It goes down Saturday at 2pm, starting behind the Milner Library downtown.
Saturday is also the Bikeology Festival downtown, the chief event of Edmonton Bike Month our good friends at SNAP are marking the occasion with their annual spring fundraiser Love Those Clothes You Wear tomorrow night. Their theme is “Riding Pretty” to celebrate cycles and fashion, and their formula seems foolproof: cocktails and hors d’ouevres, dancing, a fashion show and a silent auction on clothing and prints created and donated by the community. Doors open at 7 pm tomorrow at FAB Gallery on the University Campus, and tickets are $25 at the door. More info.
Memories of a Mountainous Region
The Still Before the Storm ~ Fish writer in residence #7
By the time you read this post, Premier Ed Stelmach’s farewell budget may have already impacted the surface; the words “hopeful” and “fearful” replaced in headlines by “angry” and “AAAAAAAAA!” Whether this meant another round of cuts to the arts – five to ten per cent being the common rumour - was still an unknown I wanted to freeze and examine in the last seconds before anything else happened. The still before the storm.
As you know, last year’s 16% “haircut” went deep into the scalp of arts organizations like Film and Video Arts Society Alberta, here at Latitude 53 and over at the Society of Northern Alberta Print-artists, just to name a few local spaces.
“SNAP was hit by the usual 16%,” executive director Anna Szul explained. “We didn’t cut any one particular program but trimmed expenses everywhere. Although in retrospect, for public perception, it would have been more effective to cut all from one area to show what a drastic effect such extreme financial cuts have on the arts.”
Objective note: we are at the point of talking about strategically placing cuts so people notice.
Rather than SNAP’s even approach, this was how Latitude handled the cuts – dropping one major show and a catalogue, both interrupted possibilities in the middle of the gallery’s financial year. Executive director Todd Janes and I sat down for some time talking about last year’s cuts, which he described as useless and mean-spirited, especially as Alberta allocates only .1% of its budget to the arts. Point one per cent. He compared it to your household trying to balance its finances and pretending not going to a movie is going to save the children.
Janes, who should write a book on the subject, thinks there are bigger issues to talk about than how much the Tories fund farming, big oil and horseracing. “There’s been 40 years of Tory rule and, let’s be generous, the past 25 years of Tory rule haven’t managed anything. One of the main reasons they survived is because a bunch of prehistoric life died in one area and for the past four decades they’ve had a large horseshoe made of petrochemicals up their ass.
“It’s not because they have a vision, or a plan.” This last item is increasingly felt in the province, regardless of your political stripe. “What has Lindsay Blackett done?” Janes asked. “Great, we have a Department of Culture and Community Spirit. But the bigger story is Minister Blackett has mismanaged his portfolio beyond belief. Arts and culture are clearly not even on the radar for this government … or they’re just malicious. It’s probably a mix.
“There’s a few points that need to be conveyed here. One, the arts are still not funded in Alberta from taxpayer money, but lotteries money. The allocation is very clear. The second thing is, under the leadership or the vision or the impetus of Lindsay Blackett, I would argue almost everything he’s done has eroded professional artists and arts organizations in this province. And while the AFA budget has been going down almost every year since he’s been minister, his personal departmental expenses have gone up over 22%. His ministerial budget has inflated in a opposite direction. I find that really interesting.”
Janes cited the government’s partial matching of private donations to non-profits as positive, “but at the same time Blackett totally got rid of Wild Rose funding and decimated and consolidated a lot of the non-profits that just as a general citizen I’m curious about. And what does the Premier’s Council on Arts and Culture do again? It’s a panel of people from all over the province that meets and advises the minister, but there’s no accountability - no one really knows what they do. And the AFA went for over a year without a chair. Finally we have Mark Phipps, and we’re eager to see what happens under his governance …”
Alberta, believes Janes, has an odd psychology when it comes to advocacy and funding. “There’s a large ribbon of fear. We don’t want to rock the boat for fear of repercussion. I find that scary. It’s a fallacy, too. In this province a squeaky wheel gets oil.
“I don’t know where (the fear) comes from.”
I brought up a beholden’s attitude of not wanting to snap at the hand that feeds it, but he believes that doesn’t apply. Organizations work for their supper, after all. “If we look at arts and culture relative to social services - with a larger portion of the budget - what’s happened over the last ten years is it’s moved from, ‘We (the Tories) are going to help (social services) do work,’ to where they’ve removed the middleman and most social service agencies and non-profits do a bunch of fee-for-services. So they actually provide the day-to-day operations services the government doesn’t provide any more, at a much reduced cost. So it’s not about biting the hand that feeds you, it’s about a hand helping the government do what it should be doing.
“Now look at arts organizations. Arts organizers have to be really good managers. We can take a loaf of bread and some water and feed the multitudes. I fear we’re our own downfall because we’ve done so well for so long with so little that maybe it looks easy. Arts organizations provide facilities and services and common gathering places … a lot of what arts organizations and to some degree artists do is a fee-for-service in terms of this devolved government. ”
This “service” aspect is especially true when it comes to bragging time at elections, when cultural patriotism flies at its peak as politicians boast about the borders they hope to keep working within. But Janes notes: “Why shouldn’t we be calling governments to task? We elect them. We pay their salaries. If they’re not doing what we want shouldn’t we be able to have a mechanism for saying, hey, what’s with this?
“Everyone is affected by the arts whether they agree it should be funded or not. The statistics show 98% of people think the arts are important and 92% think they should be supported. Those a pretty strong numbers. Harper would love to have those numbers, I’m sure. For every dollar that’s invested by governments into artistic activities in Canada, it generates about $8.
“For governments that are concerned with financially conservative policies, the arts work. They are a success story. And the majority of Albertans do not see art as an add-on frivolity, they engage in it.”
All this, we knew before the budget dropped. So, uh, how did it turn out incidentally?
The Community Building Pep Talk
This post is written by Latitude 53’s Writer In Residence, Carolyn Jervis. She will be writing critically about Latitude 53 programming, the community and more on a regular basis over a six month term. Read more about the Writer In Residence program.
This post comes to you after having numerous conversations over the past month about Edmonton’s arts community. So the following is a reflection on why I think it’s important to grow and nurture relationships in this scene, not just for the evolution of your own development, but for the good and betterment of the visual arts where we live. It’s hard to talk about the importance of community without falling into one of two types of platitudes:
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