Monday, August 13, 2007

The Crash Pad, Latitude 53, August 10 - September 8, 2007



Photo credits: Jessica Tse, 2007

As the third installment of Sheri Barclay's ongoing curatorial project, The Crash Pad surpasses any initial hesitation or doubt surrounding the transplant of transient art into the static quo of a gallery setting.
Turning the main space of Latitude into the quintessential crash pad, the exhibit, especially on opening night, was one-part installation and one-part performance. An ideal setting for this close knit city currently underhoused and overpriced rent, Make It Not Suck regulars line the walls along with crash pad props and continue on the one basic unifying thread: i.e. Barclay's insistence to make Edmonton not suck.
The intro piece, a series of photographs of long lost misnomers, confronts nostalgia for what once was with a never-say-die urge to tough it out and explore what "home" could mean. As the statement warns, "Vancouver is not the answer."



Gillian Willans' "Pursuit of Happiness" stands as the keynote to the exhibit, threading together her idea of home cartographically through memory and association--producing an appreciation of place without necessarily stumbling into the realm of longing.
Not out of duty and possibly out of community, the project's mandate from the beginning was one born from boredom and the instinctual "fight or flight" mentality.
In its latest reincarnation, Barclay and co. addresses the live concerns of a very active and real community that exists largely outside of the "legitimate art" radar.
Artists leave Edmonton on a continual basis and arguably they leave because they don't feel that they belong here, that they can make it elsewhere because they'll be appreciated elsewhere. But in staying, and doing, the prospect of making it here and consequently expanding those boundaries of acceptance seem to be gaining its own momentum of appreciation.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

how come you don't talk about the rest of the art in it though? You people give me the shits? COME ON.

af said...

talk about it then. what's grabbing or stopping you?

Anonymous said...

Its unfortunate that this blog is so one dimensional and desperate for would-be scenester validation. You seem to leave a lot out of the equation and focus far too heavily on ill advised and uneducated DIY know-nothings - like this Barclay character- who have little bearing on the current state of world art or its long history. Seriously, I was hoping for more here. I guess I be looking elsewhere from now on.

karen said...

While I think artists should look at art and writers need to read, an education in the field isn't a requirement for making art. Look at Rousseau, who was a tax collector, and Darger--they're part of this "long history" you talk about. Besides, four of the artists in this show, including myself, have at least one degree.

What's more, I had a look around this blog and it seems Amy covers all kinds of shows in Edmonton, from the AGA to private galleries to uni/college shows to cafes--that seems like a large enough focus to me. I just don't understand this last comment at all.

Tam said...

Anonymous' derogatory comment about the DIY artists addresses the age old question "what is art?"

In Vue weekly, executive director T. Janes said the show "talks about What Is Art and What Isn't, and while that's not a discussion I'm interested in, a lot of people are." Another of those who aren't much interested in that discussion is Barclay, herself. "I'm kind of surprised at all the dialogue that's come up, the angry letters and things like that," she says. "I know this sounds like a cop-out, but I don't think it should be taken seriously."

Oh yes it should, whether you have three degrees or none, whatever you think art is.

There are many successful, fantastic outsider artists who's work is amazing, but you can bet your life they take it seriously.

You're right Karen, Amy covers everything Edmonton has to throw at us, and that should be commended. That said, I think for us to grow and improve as community we need to look outside our "loop" and compare ourselves to what else is going on beyond our borders.

af said...

the topic of comparing edmonton's scene to other parts of the world has come up a lot as of late, and maybe this is something I should address further in a more developed form, but for me and for now, I would prefer to compare edmonton to its sister cities, like maybe dallas, texas, or adelaide, south australia, midsized urban centres that don't really have a strong identity but have a thriving local arts scene. I'd rather go there than compare to scenes happening in international art hubs . . . let's be realistic.

what I would love to see are more invited exhibits, as we are pretty incestuous, but then I recall the guest curator from the montreal biennial having his head bit off when he suggested going beyond regional art . . .

but I must say, scenester is a funny word, and validation is even funnier, since when put together, they cancel each other out. I guess I just want people to really like me, because deep down, that's really what I'm all about. no really, I love differing opinions, but the idea that I do what I do because I'm trying to validate or be validated by scenesters . . . well, I don't even know where to begin . . .

Anonymous said...

why do you have to self conciously compare and even imitate other cities, part of this show was meant to celebrate what we have here in Edmonton.

The funny thing is I never claimed to know anything about art it's always just been fun for me and people genuinely enjoyed the show and each other which at the end of the day is all that matters.

Also, they asked me if I wanted to do it and I wasn't going to say no. I also consider it probably the first and last time for something like that, but that's how most of my life and projects go. I spend the rest of my time at whatever job to pay my rent and live in the real world where people just like what they like.

- this barclay character

MC said...

"but I must say, scenester is a funny word, and validation is even funnier, since when put together, they cancel each other out."

Cancel each other out? No, on the contrary, they go together quite naturally.

I (not so) recently read a rather interesting article in Harper's that I think touches on the question, as someone once put it, "Why do people whose livelihood and career do not depend on the art establishment still behave like damn sheep for no rational reason?"

Entitled "MY CROWD: or, phase 5: A report from the inventor of the Flash Mob", by Bill Wasik, the article reveals that the short-lived phenomenon of "Flash Mobs" was conceived as a social science experiment (and "art project") on the concept of deindividuation.

Here are a few excerpts:

"Consider the generational cohort that has come to be called hipsters... The hipsters make no pretense to divisions on principle, to forming intellectual or artistic camps; at any given moment, it is the same books, records, film that are judged au courant by all, leading to the curious spectacle of an "alternative" culture more unanimous than the mainstream it ostensibly opposes. What critical impulse does exist among their number merely causes a favorite to be more readily abandoned, as abandoned... it inevitably will be. Once abandoned, it is never taken up again."

"I endeavored to devise a media strategy on the project's own terms. The mob was all about the herd instinct, I reasoned, about the desire not to be left out of the latest fad..."

"The basic hypothesis behind the Mob Project was as follows: seeing how all culture in New York was demonstrably commingled with scenesterism, the appeal of concerts and plays and readings and gallery shows deriving less from the work itself than from the social opportunities the work might engender, it should theoretically be possible to create an art project consisting of pure scene- meaning the scene would be the entire point of the work, and indeed would itself constitute the work."

"Almost all of the mobs I organized had been, in some sense, jokes on the subject of conformity... I was pointing out that hipsters, our supposed cultural avant-garde, are in fact a transcontinental society of cultural receptors, straining to perceive which shifts to follow... But hipsters, after becoming aware of this very dynamic, have responded in a curious and counterintuitive way. Even as they might decry this drive toward unanimity, they continually embrace it and re-embrace it in an enthusiastic, almost ecstatic fashion... if they are the American avant-garde it is true, I think, in only this aspect - the unending churn of their tastes, this adult faddishness in the adolescent style."

Dead Joe said...

As a member of Lat 53, I received the promotional postcard for this show in the mail (I'm not in Edmonton), and was curious to see what it was about. I think blogs are generally a great thing, and help provoke debate etcetera amongst people who otherwise would never meet. I have to say Amy that a 300 word piece about an 11 person + group show does little to give me an idea of just what the hell is goin on here.

multipurpose karen said...

there have been a few installments of these barclay curated shows. you can look in the archives for them.

scenesters, hipsters or whatever. in the end i'm just jealous i didn't think of it first. why not just make art anywhere? it's a pretty simple concept.

(i'm not friends with these people btw)

sheribarclay said...

someone who works at latitude told me people who they've never seen there before have been going to the gallery and checking it out and smiling.
So it's simple, and cliche and all that but the rest of em can simply continue to go fuck themselves.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm confused. Granted anon's vitriol was uncalled for, but are you insinuating that you believe art is about bringing people some kind of happiness? Okay....perhaps a little amateurish no?... Regardless of what you may wish it was, Art is not a party that's better because 100 people showed up and the cops were called. It isn't rock and roll, and PS, telling people to F#$& themselves kind of only solidifies the point that you don't really know what you're on about. Damien Hirst got away with that kind of thing, but he not only had a leg to stand on, but a career. You don't. A witty erudite response always gives naysayer’s and better run for their money. Remember that and you might go far one day.

But good-work nonetheless and I hope to see more from you in the future.

- Lindsey P.

sheribarclay said...

I never said that what it's entirely about but I am personally about bringing people happiness and I don't see anything wrong with that.

Also, the whole art thing isn't a career move. My career is with the service industry.

af said...

I think we've come to a passing point. this blog or whatever you want to call it is not (or at least has not been) a forum for academic or 'art world' discussions. not that there's anything wrong with that, and that level of discourse is certainly welcome here, but this was created as a forum for PUBLIC art discussion, where general PUBLIC opinions can be voiced about a scene they often don't feel privileged enough to comment on.
as we have seen: the art scene remains marginalized, because no one talks about them except themselves, but then artists aren't happy with what's being said when outsiders try and talk about it, and so people shut up because they've been made to feel stupid, and art is not being discussed because everyone is too angry or scared to. and on and on.

sigh, this blog is also updated in a half-assed way, but this is about as much effort as I can afford with this certain project.
I'm sure it can be very frustrating for those of you who take the matter of visual art very seriously, but let's not forget: this is a blog. it can afford to be half-assed spaced-out error-riddled shit-on and it doesn't really matter. it can also afford space to these outsider art shows and to random short quips on shows passed by. I'll read about the big shows in a bound glossy by a good writer, but for now, this is more documentation (and yes, documentation is a skewered perspective blah blah blah)

MC said...

lol

threedeeglasses said...

Hey guys. This show was not outsider art, so stop calling it that. It's in a gallery, and it consists largely of trained artists and people with large vested interests in the traditional art community of edmonton. Just because they like putting up posters doesn't magically make them outsiders.

Bill Wasik's article is terrible. He doesn't understand his own project very well. His earlier, anonymous comments about it on various blogs were much more accurate, especially when he pointed out that he didn't really understand why people like flash mobs so much, especially when the occurred elsewhere in the world.

Lindsey, you totally shot yourself in the foot. If you want to argue that art isn't about popularity or rock and roll or fun or any of that shit, then don't use Damien Hirst as an example. Geeze. If Sheri Barclay graduated from a british art school in the 80s she'd be exactly the same as him.

Furthermore, I am quite certain that Sheri's motivations are not the same as all of the artists she called on for this. Yeah, there is some overlap. But don't confuse her statements about her own work and her curatorial ideas with the intent behind the other works.

But yes: this specific art would in fact be better if 100 people showed up and the cops were called. But the opening was pretty fun without that, anyway. I was too sick to last until the getting-hammered-and-dancing-on-the-mattress stage, but it was good anyway.

And finally: all of you muttering about scenesters or hipsters or whatever – what's your point? What's the big deal? Sheri and the artists know a lot of people in edmonton, and sometimes this enters into their work. Big freakin' deal.

Oh, I guess I have one more thing. 25 to life are the best DJs, basically. I didn't even know how much New Jack Swing was missing from my life.

MC said...

"Bill Wasik's article is terrible...."

Interesting, but not really relevant to the discussion, here. Is there something in the passage I quoted that you specifically disagree with, 3Dg?

"And finally: all of you muttering about scenesters or hipsters or whatever – what's your point? "

Muttering? No, that's not the right word... The passage I quoted seems pretty straightforward and articulate, as a response to Amy's earlier statement about "scenesters" and "validation" supposedly being somehow mutually exclusive. Nope, I'd say that Wasik is amongst the least confused around here, on this topic.

For instance, you seem to equate "scenesterism" with "knowing a lot of people". Funny, but I expect that many of us know quite a few people, yet, clearly, we're not all equally considered 'scenesters', are we? In contrast, Wasik's notion of "scenesterism, the appeal of concerts and plays and readings and gallery shows deriving less from the work itself than from the social opportunities the work might engender", seems deadly accurate.

But really, it's all a digression from talking about the artwork in this show... please, carry on.

Ashley Andel said...

To the first two anons, etc.:

I made that sign to address a common apprehension in many gallery-goers, and also something a potential viewer might say. I don't like it when monkeys try to climb up on top of each other and dictate what is what--I hate that little white card that tells you what is what, so I made a big white card saying what I'm sure a lot of people would like to say even latently when attending an art show. 'So, what are you bastards going to throw at me next?'

Sheri is right in saying that there's been too much babble over this stuff. I'm just happy that she has been able to get a bunch of people together to pull off something as fun as this.

a'a

threedeeglasses said...

Interesting, but not really relevant to the discussion, here. Is there something in the passage I quoted that you specifically disagree with, 3Dg?

It's been a little while since I read the article, but...

It's more than what you quoted: what I dislike the most is his pseudo-scientific posturing and over-theorization (don't get me wrong: done the right way I totally love this kind of stuff), which taints and muddles the parts that he gets right. I also don't really like the way his tone implies a kind of distance from his project. Earlier, he had said things like "I don't know these people or why they are doing this," but in the article he seems to imply that not only does he not know, but it is because the participants are fundamentally different from himself, and, more importantly, he doesn't actually like his own project. If that is the case, I'd call him a whiney self-hating hypocritical scenester and I would feel quite justified in not taking him very seriously at all.

But as we all ought to know, the number one qualification for being a hipster is complaining about hipsters. You don't have to do it to be one, but if you do do it, you definitely are.

Which brings us back to the actual topic.

For instance, you seem to equate "scenesterism" with "knowing a lot of people". Funny, but I expect that many of us know quite a few people, yet, clearly, we're not all equally considered 'scenesters', are we?

Well, aren't you? I don't know who your friends are, but based on the fact that you even mentioned hipsters/scenesters, the chance of you being one seems to be greater than 50%. I personally know that Sheri and Ashley et al have numerous friends - I can't say the same for you because I simply don't know.

In contrast, Wasik's notion of "scenesterism, the appeal of concerts and plays and readings and gallery shows deriving less from the work itself than from the social opportunities the work might engender", seems deadly accurate.

So, as someone who reads an art blog and makes long comments on it about social structures, you are definitely a scenester. Or am I missing something?

Wasik's definition is bullshit. Everyone does things because they like to hang out with other similar people. Don't they? Really?
I mean, you can easily label me a hipster, so maybe I just don't know what it's like outside of these communities, but at least in the realm of people-who-are-interested-in-art, everyone fits these criteria. Have you ever been to an opening? Sheri is upfront about going for the beer, but that's a pretty big part of it even for those of us who consider ourselves artists and want to see the work on it's own merits: that social aspect is as much a part of the value of the work as the paint is.

I find his insinuation that me and my friends don't actually like things a little hurtful. I think that actually he just doesn't understand what art is actually about - which is especially evident in the way that he doesn't seem to like his own work very much.

threedeeglasses said...

To talk about the actual art on display: my criticism of this stuff is (typical of edmonton art, I guess) generally that it's about finding an aesthetic solution for a conceptual problem. That's why my I wrote (part of) an offensive manifesto for the second street-level make it not suck. I liked Gillian's piece and Ashley's "You people give me the shits," and Sheri's photos and Travis' stencils were interesting, although they could have been taken further. The setting was nice, and Fish's 3D business was amusing but didn't seem that relevant, especially compared to his photo/video piece in the Birch Heart basement show this weekend, which Amy hasn't blogged about yet, but which would have been great in this latitude show. A lot of the work just seems like pretty pictures to me. That's the part of making it not suck that I disagree with.

af said...

also to mention Pinheiro's piece on the sculpture graveyard outside of FAB is great, her perspective plane really evokes a sense of the sacred and lost.
and barclay's travel photos, as I have said elsewhere, are snapshots of those moments you feel, but can never really pinpoint or remember, but you try and capture them in photos or jotted lines, and in the end, they are only trails of nostalgia for moments insignifcant but beautiful to think of.

it's also the transformation of the entire space. the atmosphere is very different and that is where the show really succeeds.

MC said...

"But as we all ought to know, the number one qualification for being a hipster is complaining about hipsters. You don't have to do it to be one, but if you do do it, you definitely are."

That's moronic.

"Well, aren't you? I don't know who your friends are, but based on the fact that you even mentioned hipsters/scenesters, the chance of you being one seems to be greater than 50%. I personally know that Sheri and Ashley et al have numerous friends - I can't say the same for you because I simply don't know."

That's moronic, too.

"So, as someone who reads an art blog and makes long comments on it about social structures, you are definitely a scenester. Or am I missing something?"

Are you missing something? Sweet christ, where does one even begin?

p.s. Sorry I hurt your feelings.

threedeeglasses said...

Wasik's definition seems to me to be about extracting social value from culture. Not about age, behavior, fashion, or anything else. You are interested in art and, in particular, discussing it. Under his definition, you must be a hipster of some kind.

I'm sorry if that seems moronic. It's the definition that you posted.

The rest is called "being glib" because of your overuse of ridiculous meaningless labels. I'm sorry, but you asked if you could be considered a hipster, and I gave my honest response. If you meant "I'm not a hipster because of X," you should have written that, instead of "clearly, we're not all equally considered 'scenesters', are we?" because it doesn't seem very clear to me at all.
I'm not trying to start a fight. In my experience, the only people who care if they are called hipsters or not, are. The only people who even use the term seem to be hipsters or aging, out-of-touch newspaper reporters.

Tony Baker said...

c'mon keep going, this is interesting!

maybe we're all artsters instead of scenesters, i think there's a difference... i think i'm probably a fartster though.

Anonymous said...

I would rather have seen someone fart than gone to this show.

Bring on the fartsters!

Anonymous said...

I would rather have seen someone fart than gone to this show.

Bring on the fartsters!

multipurpose karen said...

i wonder if this thread is dead...
what i liked about the 'make it not suck' projects around the city is that they were seemingly unpretentious and accessible to everyone which is a beautiful thing if you're not part of any scene, know any of these people and never attend shows. that's all me.

it's simple and good and fun and maybe that's all it needs to be. personally, i do enjoy a bit more depth and meaning but that's a whole different issue.

threedeeglasses said...

That was what attracted me to them. I think part of the idea of bringing them into the gallery was that it would also bring the non-elites in, and it seems to have worked.

It's funny that when something's biggest selling point is exactly that - it's unpretentious accessibility - it gets accused of being scenesterish.

Tony Baker said...

hey, coming from a poor disconnected wanker, what are all of the repeated images on the walls? it looks pretty neato!

i don't think anyone has to worry about things being accused of being scenesterish (funny word) because it is, and that alright. it seems like the "crash pad" of a "scenester". people who like it, like it because its a "non-elite" show, so then its a "scenester" show, right? its fun and "its simple and cliche". maybe its simple now, but these ideas could be developed into something really interesting (FUCK the service industry, barclay), and the "scenester" viewers could develop some really keen artistic values, that results in a really interesting society.

sheribarclay said...

there are more pictures here

http://www.sheribarclay.com/crashpad