Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Distance Between You and Me, Vancouver Art Gallery*

Image credit: Gonzalo Lebrija The Distance Between You and Me 18, 2008
Lambda print 42.2 x 52.0 cm Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris

The Distance Between You and Me as a series, a show, and as a  syntactical arrangement conjures up the phantom of sentiments seen and  felt, as if I have already read and heard this line over and over again  in a poem or song whose origins I cannot locate. This sense of  dislocation runs throughout the exhibition: manifesting on the physical,  mental, and metaphysical levels.

As a series by Guadalajara-based Gonzalo Lebrija, this sentiment is expressed as moving across a string of vast  landscapes. Lebrija runs from behind the positioned and stationary  camera, away from the lens, away from his perceived viewer, but he is  also clearly running towards something off in the horizon (if not  towards the glory of the horizon itself). The intonated separation of  space between “you” and “me” is open for interpretation, but I prefer to  see the separation as existing between the landscape and me, a  human-scale proximity that I would have never measured where it not for  the presence of the artist, gently reminding us that perceptions of  location are dependent on our bodies in existence.

As the first show I am writing about for this new platform, the context is not lost that these artists were chosen for their tenuous relationship to geography as part of VAG’s Next: A Series of Artist Projects From the Pacific Rim. Brightly so, the exhibition exacerbates this tenuity, especially by opening the space up with Vancouver-based Isabelle Pauwel’s new acid-drip narrations of her family’s colonial history in the area now known as The Democratic Republic of the Congo. W.E.S.T.E.R.N. (2010) and June 30 (2009) clip along in a shattered rhythm of home movies made by Pauwel’s  grandfather intersecting with present-day absurdist contemplation of  objects in her family home. The video works leave little room to breath  through its fragmentations, and I believe that is the point. Here,  location as a narrative agent disintegrates into shards of places,  loosely re-assembled into a reconciling creature that speaks to the  impossibility of ever moving entirely beyond a temporal or geographic  point once it has been traversed.

The philosophical debate of time and space goes on through Here & Elsewhere (2002), an absorbing two-channel/one-screen video by Los Angeles-based Kerry Tribe.  Played out as a conversation between what can only be presumed as an  off-screen father (figure) and his 10 year old daughter in their L.A.  homestead, the man’s voice is distinctly English, authoritative, and  inquisitive to the existential health of the young girl, who answers  with an obedience that only reinforces the work’s fictive construction.

Presented on one screen with two projections side by side, often with  cross panning shots that are synchronized in motion but not in time by a  3 second delay, the resulting effect opens up gaps in time and space,  as if existence of both rests on a linear line that could be folded and  unfolded at any interval. The work as a whole is engrossing, especially  with its cinematic installation that is suggestive of immersion, but I  am unconvinced as to the use of a young girl as the primary visual  focus, as it is reminiscent of using the sympathetic choice a la casting decisions for The Exorcist.  The question of playing or being an identity is thrown at the young  girl who often does both, whether she is caught looking poised on the  edge of the sink and reading, playing with her toothbrush as if it was a  pencil or cigarette in contrast to those moments she is simply brushing  her teeth in routine. Both are constructed realities that are no more  real than each other, yet Tribe does not actively question or challenge  the concept of location so much as our formation of being within the  most ordinary of spaces. Being here or being there, the girl shifts  across the seat and across onto the other screen, a marked difference in  space and time, and this active gesture by Tribe is the ripple of our  own perceptions of being, of finding existence within a place and time,  and of existing as is.

The Distance Between You and Me is curated by Bruce Grenville and runs until January, 22, 2012.

*First posted on Post Pacific Post

Friday, November 11, 2011

Objects In Mirror May Be Better Than They Appear*

I went to live and work in Scotland (a nation and not a country) for six months this past year on an arts writing and curating fellowship. The food was bad, the people solid, and the best art show I saw was German. The overall experience of being on a writing/curating fellowship sounds better than it actually was; and while I do not regret my time spent in the land of lochs and moors, I would have done somethings quite differently if I could do it all again.

Looking backwards and from across the pond, the bright shining light of Framework stands out as a beacon. Devised by Glasgow-based independent curator Kirsteen Macdonald the first five Framework events came as a response to the perceived lack of international resources and networks for Scotland-based curators. While both independent and emerging curators were encouraged to apply, the majority of participants consisted primarily of emerging curators who were looking more for a sounding board to vent their frustrations. I can only hypothesize that the more established curators refused to apply or excused themselves as too busy to participate, but as a platform for networking with international guests within the scope of your national peers, I walked away with a sense that those curators in more stable positions needed to feel they were not on the same level as everyone else, or that they were also not interested in engaging with these guests out of some sort of inferiority complex.

On the other hand, an easy critique can and should be made at the definition of "international" only demarcating UK and Berlin-based writers and curators like Jan Verwoert and Maria Fusco. But let's go back to the beginning of this text where I am giving a first impression of Scotland and consequently Scotland's art scene.

Coming from Canada, I was and remain blown away by the sheer scale difference of Scotland's wee geography. With only a 45 minute train journey between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and only a three hour train between the central belt and the North East town where I was based, geography does not play a convincing factor in the vastly different attitudes and the general lack of internal dialogue. The town of Huntly where I was working and living could have stood as a microcosm of Scotland as a whole: a wee picturesque place, embedded with traditions and class structures, tolerating and attempting to build a lively and surprising contemporary art scene – producing works that rarely anyone local actually pays attention to unless a ceilidh is on the bill. The common practice is to look south and out for success and inspiration, often bringing people in for their ideas -- but at the end of my six months, I do wonder if the people of Huntly, and by extension the people of Scotland, actually care that an ongoing privileging of foreign value perspectives and systems is being placed onto their sovereignty-seeking selves?

With a population of 5 million, there are actually four sizable art schools in Scotland, and a significant proportion of alumni from The Gordon Schools in Huntly go on to attend these national art schools. I attended (in some variation) all the graduate or undergraduate exhibitions for Glasgow School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, and Gray's School of Art. Mentorship on the production side is visible and lineage is respected, but of the four schools, only one showed any depth in the relatively new field of curatorial studies and arts writing. This is a problem, especially if the solution has been importing in thought rather than focusing on the local production of critical thinking. This may be a watershed moment as now under Creative Scotland's new "talent" pool, artists of all disciplines will be geared to how they fare for international consumption. Like its fine drams and rich shortbreads, goods that few born and bred Scots actually show much interest in, Scottish artists may soon be on the same ship out.

This is not a problem unique to Scotland, but Framework has magnified a contentious issue that it believes (self-consciously so) to be its own. It's true that the void of support and understanding about curatorial work is staggering, especially by its practitioners. Most curators in the field either grab onto the title or are bestowed with it, but few actually fit the definition with confidence. During Framework's finale, in lamenting on her disparate curatorial roles for an upcoming exhibition in London, a curator was asked point-blank: "What do you think a curator actually does?" and her response was only a pause and a stutter.

For the record: curating as a practice for all extensive purposes of this text translates as researching, producing, and presenting a unified and ideally critical/social/philosophical context for a single work or group of works that questions or addresses a facet of history for present-day musing. Under this definition, most curatorial work today is in fact a straight forward commissioning gig, or fund-driven project management, which has confused the role of the curator as someone with power. Most emerging curators who attended Framework were not really curators, but hustlers trying to get ahead in this profession. This assumed curatorial power is directly associated with funds rather than knowledge or ability. This is when curators simply become "gate-keepers", but note even how one-sided this argument stands. The desire to get beyond the guarded threshold takes on celestial proportions of seeking permission and desiring acceptance, which unfortunately, reveals just how elusive and unrealistic the standards of success sit in this cultural profession that is skewered by an inflated art market and where the Hirsts and Obrists make up all of 1% of the art world.

Curators have always been specialists of specific strands of knowledge, but now, according to British Art Show curators Tom Morton and Lisa le Feuvre (who were also guest facilitators for Framework), everyone can be a specialist of the everyday! The sentiment is idealistic and so it is admirable, but the execution requires some logic and an infinite breadth of knowledge that reflects the multifaceted experience of our everyday. The historical definition of a curator has progressed, and rightly so, but the integrity of curating has yet to catch up. I am not arguing for a return or even a favouring of traditions, but I do strongly question the use of this language if the meaning has so drastically shifted. In Fusco's words, we should take the time and energy to "re-caress the art object" -- be it through words or actions.

Based on final presentations given by Framework participants, it became frighteningly clear the presupposed value of calling yourself a curator has been accumulating steadily for the last three decades, but in an economic reality, the precarious state of the curator is doubly duped as the false assumption of power is a reflection of needing to have an expanded practice: that one also needs to organize, administrate, market, and fundraise independent projects in order to be a legitimate arts professional. The hyphenated artist/curator/designer/administrator works in an "expanded practice," a term Macdonald came up with that nobody seemed to question. Working in an expanded practice also became the subject matter for the workshop by Ellen Blumenstein, which was rescheduled due to exhaustion and so became the finale of this first set of Framework events. The end revealed the beginning as an expanded practice revealed itself in an unfolding of collective illness and exhaustion. Soldiering on in a burnt out state of being appeared to be the bane and survival tactic of maintaining an independent practice, and it was a glimpse of a grim future I did not want for myself.

This shroud of taking on curatorial power in an art world where the market value holds all the cards could be seen as a positive turn towards creative and intellectual value. However, like the smoke and mirrors of an absorbing and twisting Nabokov narrative we may not realize we have been spun a yarn of self-convinced fables of social grandeur that in the light of day comes off as a perverse and slightly sad fantasy. There are independent curators like Macdonald and Blumenstein who are doing good work and who are also trying to lay the foundation that they themselves need to stand on, but the more weight you put onto these foundations the faster the whole lot sinks. As a series, Framework quenched the void by facilitating intimate and thought-provoking discussions with a mixture of established practitioners, but the main critique here is that a dialogue must go two ways. I question the small group of curatorial professionals who did not bother applying, and the peers and participants who never spoke -- two seemingly different groups who in their own ways still chose to stay isolated without realizing that this dialogue exists in flux, and in their control to change.

Mix in exhaustion due to perpetual precarity, survival by hyphenation, the rise of internship exploitation, and assuming power where ever and when ever one can get it, the conclusion I come to is that being an independent curator is a fantasy profession both sought after and grossly misunderstood, and that maybe just sounds better than it will ever be. Life goes on, and so must the work, and it is only my hope that round two of Framework this winter will continue this conversation. 

*First appeared on Curating.info

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review: Ruth Ewan, Brank and Heckle, DCA, UK

Image credit: Ruth Ewan Foreground: Cone of Power (Margaret), 2010, Green baize Background: Nae Sums 1911–2011, 2011, Plywood

Trying to change the world” has been the nominal subject matter of at least two of Ruth Ewan’s past projects (Psittaciformes Trying to Change the World, 2005-206, and A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World, 2003-ongoing), but the implicit intention underlying the effort of “trying” clearly cuts throughout her entire body of work as surveyed in this first major solo exhibition in the UK. 

To read the article or to purchase an issue of Frieze, click through 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's a Small (Art) World After All

This now iconic scene from Jean Luc Godard's Bande a Part (1964) pretty much sums up how I feel towards The Venice Biennale. The dead run through the Louvre in under ten minutes has been attempted time and time again, in homage to the film, which was then a joyous FUCK YOU to tradition and high culture. The fact that Godard himself has been raised to the position of a demigod in the eyes of most cinema rats should signal a shift in how and what we cherish as the established standard.

I have been wanting to see La Biennale for myself since I first heard about it roughly five exhibitions ago, hearing second hand the oohs and aahs about what an experience it all was from articles and people who were far more seasoned in the world of contemporary art.

I arrived in Venice late this fall, far after the mad rush of the press previews and high tourist season, but the leaves were still green and the crowds still moved in droves. I was undeniably an art tourist, and in the face of this archaic model of national pavilions, the Venice Biennale makes art tourists out of us all.

I have nothing to say about any of the individual national pavilions, as it is the overarching system that disappoints. Like a World Expo, the Olympics, or any other money making/money draining presentation of national glory and competition, the Venice Biennale left me feeling disconnected from any notion of national identity, which I do believe still exists, but certainly not here in the enchanting, yet aggrandizingly morose mausoleum that was the city of Venice and the Gardini and Arsenale.

Curated by Bice Curiger, who co-founded Parkett Magazine and now resides as Editorial Director for Tate Etc. Magazine, the Illuminations portion of the big show was literally a spilling out of all the "right" (now) names into the halls and onto the walls, from Pipilotti Rist, Cyprien Gaillard, Urs Fischer, etc, the list of names kept me running through the grounds, but save for the room of Sigmar Polkes (who passed away last year), I did not feel compelled to pause.

Queuing up for tickets, for toilettes, for art, for lunch, it will be the procession of arrows pointing me "this way" that seem to haunt my memories. Short of a parade and a marauding band of furry mascots, the Biennale reminded me of my first international vacation, when I was four, almost five, going from Hong Kong to Disneyland in California. As is now as was then, I meandered through a series of national dioramas, all projecting the same droning song with slight variations, that as long as we all keep singing the same words, then it really is a small world after all.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Issue of Documenting Live Art

A persistent issue and ill-addressed problem for at least forty years, the documentation of live art remains how most of its audience sees (and not even remembers, but really sees and experiences for the first time) the ephemeral form of bodies in motion. I am personally referring to the last forty years since the Happenings took off, an era of contemporary art I only know from articles, videos, and retrospective exhibitions. While the discussion on documentation has often circled in and around the visual documentation of performances, especially on photographers as creative collaborators, and in past years to the rise of performance on and for screen as a third medium born and separate from film language and choreography, I am interested in where the written word fits into this collective archive of sensory perceptions.

In looking up information on any past live art work, the search yields a textual summary of the artist and a description of what their work has been like in the past. Descriptive writing is blind writing, and can be written with or without ever seeing the live work. In fact, the majority of writing about past live works and interventions has been written from a perspective that has never experienced the work live, but only read about, researched through other texts that may have also never experienced the work first hand, but experienced through visual archival materials. Researching live art is a practice in mummifying a living form. This type of writing is supplementary, and they continue to hold an important place in our cultural memories to preserve a work for posterity (for value), but this type of writing will rarely ignite the work and its issues.

While the overwhelming majority of arts writing is supplementary, this fact alone is more reason than ever to explore the creation of parallel texts, especially in the arena of live art. By parallel texts, I am expressing a desire for words to transpire what the writer is thinking and feeling and experiencing based on their experience of a work in context. A writer is not only there to reinforce a legacy of thought; a writer must eventually form their own thoughts and thought processes. The creation of parallel texts is grounds for revaluing the writer as more than just a scribe, but as an informed filter, if not translator -- which perhaps is a role I value because there is a connotation of skills both technical and poetic in practice. There is still room for theoretical referencing and philosophical pondering (if that is already inherent in the writer in question), but there is also room for transgressions of form and understanding, of repositioning the work relative to various interpretations and histories rather than prescribing meaning from a top down position of didactic information learning.

This issue rears its head again as I leave City of Women in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a festival with a vision of   politically charged aesthetics and critically-minded intensities. Currently led by Artistic Director Mara Vujic, the festival has an atmosphere conducive for critical thinking amidst the wide ranging styles of live art presented. There were plenty of formal and informal discussions held during panels and in the post-performance marathon gatherings, but now, looking back, how do I capture what was seen and felt and discussed without being pedantic?

For instance, how do I write about La Pocha Nostra's remix, Psycho-Magic Actions For A World Gone Wrong? The descriptive text is available through the link provided, but what must be written after one has gone through this one-off interaction of protestations and provocations? Especially since the performance was designed to be interactive with the audience, how do the photographers and writers interact and document at the same time?

Maybe we just do what we can, when we can.

The festival photographer, Nada Zgank, was the busiest person all night, dodging through the crowd from one side of the room to the next as all four sides of the black box theatre were in constant action that swelled and dipped in harmonious correlation with each other. Audience members were also busy snapping shots, reinforcing a fourth wall mentality of entertainer and audience, most disturbing to self-reflexively watch during moments of physical harm both potential and real done not just to the performers, but also to audience members. We as roaming audience members were free to focus on the given choices of violence, greed, desire, and all the other nitty gritty symbols that keep our world in motion. I tried to keep moving like a shark, but I kept finding myself in front of Violeta Luna's platform. I stood transfixed by her revolver of imagery and props that transformed into machinations of the vulnerable body. I was passing Luna's stage again as a new costume change occurred, and her assistant gestured for me to come closer, to go up on stage. I obliged, and I sat down on the lone chair present on stage. She started taking my jacket off, which I then did so for her, and then she gestured for me to get up, to turn around and place a knee down on the chair and hold onto the back of the chair. Before I knew it my shirt was lifted up past my crouched shoulders, my bra unclipped, and my back was brushed before being thrashed by a bouquet of fresh roses. The sudden surprising smell of the roses stirred up a memory of the last time I inhaled this perfume, off the island of Arran this recent summer, which then had conjured up another memory, one of rose water and what the means to me and whom that reminds me of. A rose is a rose is a rose is a smell and a trigger and a flood of experiences and memories. I was present and I was participating. I was only snapped back by the sudden presence of the Nada moving in front of me, raising her camera, and I became hyperaware of my position on stage, with my shirt half off, noting the unflattering angle this would be in, and I flinched.

There may be a photograph out there documenting this moment live in real time, and there is now this text to document what was thought and felt in real time. Together they still only capture a small refraction of what really happened, which was only a short moment in an evening long series of interactions, and so, the issue then is not of documenting live art, but the lack of documenting live art through a multitude of practices and perceptions.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Who Are We Writing For? recap*

Maybe it’s ironic that a writing symposium has left me hardly able to write a word, to literally render my writing invisible, as I attempt to make myself as the writer visible.  What I mean is that this inability to profusely write has been the best thing to happen to me in my nine year span as a freelance writer.  Endlessly producing words and tailored copy for everyone and anyone, my value as a writer varied drastically depending on whom my labour was for. I can churn out words as if my words fell off of some assembly line, with little thought or control to where they would end up and how this mass manufacturing of words has become detrimental to the craft of my writing as practice.

Image: Roman Signer (left) and symposium guests, Vera Tollmann, Claire Barliant, Matthew Stock, Ross Sinclair, Moira Jeffrey, Charlotte Young, Jennifer Melville

Who Are We Writing For? is a symposium I conceived and then co-produced during my time as Deveron Art’s inaugural arts writer in residence, a residency that began as a very murky writing and curating fellowship. Bringing together twenty writers, artists, curators, educators, and consultants from across the UK , Western Europe, and North America into the town of Huntly for a 24 hour programme of viewings, discussions, presentations, and writing, WAWWF approaches the practice and process of writing from an understanding that this will be a perpetual question.

The aim of designing a symposium by invite only, that was not open to the public, and not recorded, was done so with the intention to not perform, posture, or proliferate a certain style of discourse. All too often conferences and symposiums bring together an electric group of minds with shared values, but performative lectures and show boating are exchanged rather than any genuine expressions. The primary aim of this invite-only format was to engage in directed writing exercises and peer-led group discussions about the state of contemporary art discourse, and I am still shocked and overwhelmed by the generosity of each participant in sharing their vulnerabilities.

What I learned from the writing exercises was that the joy of writing has been constrained by formulas and word count, and I am not alone in enabling this downward spiral of writing as supplementary descriptions, because I haven’t been able to stop treading in this precarious position as a hustler.

But if we look at writing as a creative practice, have I not completely sold out already? And at the same time, be completely disrespected and misunderstood? Writing copy for ads and editing funding proposals for me is on par with asking an artist to paint your house, and of course artists do paint houses, but there is less of a differentiation between their paid labour and their creative practice.  Writing, and I am referring to really good writing, exists in and of itself as a creative form, loaded with historical and social significance in meaning and in its very production, but it is also the singular voice of the writer that carries forward the essence and construction of writing, a voice that is often expected to be as invisible as the labour of writing itself.

And if we really can never get out of language, then we will need to reposition ourselves to not be at the mercy of it. Rather than perpetuate a closed circuit of references that has become the dominant discourse of any specialized topic, including contemporary art, not to mention engineering and molecular biology, where writing is little more than technical writing, my work as a writer is to write with and through language, rather than always bend to its will for professionalized purposes and other forms of systematized frameworks of understanding.

.   .   .

Last week’s by invite symposium brought the obvious question to the forefront, and for me, personally, this question of who are we writing for is stronger than ever intertwined with WHO is paying me to write?
WHO pays me is no less simple than whom I write for, as those who issue me a payment for my precarity are doing so on behalf of an even more amorphous shade than the mythical broad public audience. In this nexus of shape shifters in the form of funders, publishers, and readers, I have had to discover who I am again as the writer: the labourer who remains an integral link in this chain of supply and demand. In terms of arts writing, the writer is always in the supporting role, with the catalogue to be the first on the chopping block if funds are low while reviews are solicited, with little care of the actual words expressed, as it is only preferable that an image accompanies. The idea of a primary text to accompany art exhibitions is neither new nor outrageous, but when stuck on how such a change can ever come about in the state of contemporary art discourse, my response is: set some standards!

And this is why I am paralyzed, as without hustling, I am left to write only for myself, who remains my biggest fan and critic. Disgusted and tired from the regurgitation of language that satisfies box checking and professional affirmations, I will no longer write what people expect me to write, which namely, is name dropping with adjectives. These are the people who pay me, and by a process of negation, I will sort out who I am no longer writing for.

*First published on The Huntly Review

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Real Life in Huntly, Interview with Ross Sinclair*

Image credit: Ross Sinclair, Real Life Huntly (surveyed from the Clashmach), 2011 (courtesy of the artist and Deveron arts; photograph: Anna Vermehren)

Glasgow-based Ross Sinclair has been the Artist in Residence at Deveron Arts for the summer of 2011 researching the history of The Gordon Clan of Huntly and its relationship to present day Real Life in Huntly. From writing songs encapsulating the history of The Gordon Family to marching up and down The Clashmach carrying painted portraits of past dukes and Robert the Bruce, Sinclair has been negotiating the boundaries between being a research-driven studio artist to working in a socially engaged practice through Deveron Art’s “the town is the venue” methodology.

Canada-based Amy Fung is Deveron Art’s Visiting Arts Writer in Residence for 2011.

This is an excerpt from an interview, which took place on September 6, 2011, Huntly, Aberdeenshire.

Amy Fung: Let’s go back to the beginning: what have you been doing in the town of Huntly?

Ross Sinclair: Thinking about it now, it’s turned out like a 3 months research residency where I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the subject of the Gordons of Huntly, while at the same time constantly questioning myself, thinking about the process and context … a lot of the ideas have woven in quite well into a whole strain of my work, ideas about living in a small damp northern European nation sometimes known as Scotland that touches upon notions of identity, location, history, geography, and what we’re all made up of. Part of that is just where I am myself at the moment, as a lot of that has been a reflection of what does it mean to come to a place like Deveron Arts to be an artist in residence working in a socially engaged method with a maxim of the town is the venue. I think it’s very challenging for all concerned.

For me, to explore the situation where there’s still quite a big constituency is really interesting. We did this event down by Huntly Castle where we called up all the Gordons in the phone book and we invited them to have lunch together. I set up this carnival style tableau facade with a doorway at the bottom and we invited them to all bring mementos of their Gordon heritage. It was a really lovely day where everyone met each other as they didn’t all know another, and I did this performance of songs that charts 12,000 count ‘em - muthafuckin years of history and we did a photo of all the present day Gordon’s in Huntly with their illustrious forebears in the background and the castle as the backdrop.

It was this very simple way to present the Gordon Family here in 2011 and the castle bearing their family name and here’s me as the artist in residence bringing it all together and Deveron arts hosting; looking back it’s interesting to articulate as it was just a really human moment of a really simple exchange and sitting down across the table like this and talking. It really only lives in the memory, but it was quite a rich and dynamic moment. Though at the same time I’m thinking about a meta view of the event where I’m considering whether the Gordons are part of the work, or participants, or viewers as the piece is documented as an artwork.

AF: Do you think that’s the focus of these residencies, that if the town is the people as you say, can you imprint something on people as one could with a venue?

RS: Well this thing in the Mart last weekend where Huntly hosted its farmers’ market on Saturday and then the livestock mart on Sunday hosted all of Huntly life from the bouncy castle to the tractor show to the rare breeds, sheep shearing and rabbit skinning amongst the Guides and Brownies and people selling landscape photos and all sorts of other things, and then in the middle of the livestock mart, there’s this artist in residence too. I brought all the stuff I had been working from the “studio” into the pen, and I was sitting there in the back painting and making music with my back to the audience and for me I really did feel like I was just one of the other exotic zoo animals. But the question after all is whether this idea of culture and art is just another aspect that goes on in the town? I did a project a few years ago called “Studio Real Life” at de Appel in Amsterdam and that was riffing on similar ideas. I had set up this symbolic studio where I was there every day being an artist for 3 months in the public gaze, but as much as anything it was for me - trying to answer: What the fuck goes on in there? What’s my job? What’s my role?

For the full interview, please download the pdf here

*First published on The Huntly Review

Monday, September 12, 2011

Roman Signer, Now and Then*

I first remembering seeing this photo back in the fall of 2007. I had just given notice to the last office job I thought I could ever hold (still true to date) as unforeseen events made me realize I needed to give freelance writing another full-time go. Naturally, I was going to run away first to Berlin for a bit of fun and inspiration, and doing a bit of homework first, this image popped out at me from a Canadian art magazine previewing Roman Signer’s solo exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. I was completely unfamiliar with his work, but something about this photograph, its inherent dynamism, the glean of this uncanny cherry red, the double take it made me do, led me to least circle the preview for later inspection.


I would be in Berlin by December, and the friends I was staying with recommended the Signer show too, and their opinions held more weight than any 20 word preview ever could. Wandering through the Bahnhof should take a full day, but I needed two to watch all of Signer’s videos and documentations.

As a comprehensive exhibition of performance documentations, most of the work existed on screens and monitors, but several of the works after-motion had been left or placed in the gallery halls. I can only recall a sensation that made me realize why keeping fireworks under your bed was about as exciting as lighting them later. The dormant motion of objects against gravity, the visual and aural residue of explosions, and the generalcapsulation of propulsion was all readily palpable in each work, with something inherently human as the trigger. One work that continues to stand out in my memory is a hand held video work following the path of wayward balloon, leading to a chase as the wind picks up, and the inevitable inability to continue the chase as we, through the seemingly dejected camera, watches the balloon drift far and away. It was as devastating a work as I ever saw, and it is only now looking back that the description of Signer’s works as “time sculptures” finally begins to make sense. His interest in working with the uncontrollable elements of water and fire, earth and air, yet in his attempts to control some element against them, are absurdist in humour, humanist in conceit,and ultimately a gesture of self-destruction.

Next week, Signer arrives in Huntly to make a new work along the River Bogie called Transmissions from the River (Übertragungen aus dem Fluss). I have no clue as to what to expect, as the river is constantly changing and transmitting as is, but inspired by the attempts to discuss his work again, I am organizing this event which will also wrap up my time here in Huntly, which it turns out, has been the first time in these past four years I have not had to hustle for work as a full time freelance writer. I wouldn’t say it’s serendipitous in the least that Signer should bookend this moment in my memory, but I can’t deny it’s a nice way to remember the unpredictable and inconceivable changing of the tides again and again.

*First published on The Huntly Review

Convergence at Timespan, Helmsdale, Scotland*

Helmsdale is an even smaller and more remote community than Huntly. Nestled way up in the North of Scotland with a population in the high hundreds and a history dating back to the early AD years, Helmsdale has a heritage focus on genealogy and geology, and the past is undeniable in this region of the Sutherland.

As it goes, a museum and art gallery was built in the mid 80s and in 2009, Timespan began shifting towards bridging the past with the present. Commissioning GSA’s Jenny Brownrigg along with Deveron Art’s Claudia Zieske to write a research report for the 2010 - 2013 period, the first set of artists in residence commissioned included Julia Douglas and Jo Roberts, working in contemporary modes of knitting and commentariographing, respectively.

Currently under guest curator Kirsteen Macdonald’s stewardship, the artists from this past weekend of events included artists in residence Graham Fagen and Corin Sworn, along with screenings and performances by Luke Fowler and Wounded Knee (Drew Wright). Notably more high profile in terms of art world credibility, the programme certainly brought in members of Scotland’s art community up for a packed weekend, with many visiting Helmsdale for the first time.

Still from Graham Fagen’s Baile An Or, 2011

The main exhibition was Fagen’s new work, Baile An Or, and the short film certainly captured his first impressions of the place by its focus on time spanning (excuse the pun) through a series of still shots capturing the fall and rise of the tides along the bonnie river. Moving from morning light to moon light while offering meditations on the legacies of war, the film is controlled by its mood editing, which received a short reprieve from its subdued pace for an almost spirited focus on the motions of gold panning. The HD work was crisp and clean, showing no betrayal of a trained eye, but it also exists very much on the surface of Helmsdale’s purported identity that left nothing complicated to unravel. In comparison to The Summer Walkers (1977) ( a documentary about the life and culture of travellers by Hamish Henderson and Timothy Neat which was also shown as part of the arts weekend), Baile An Or clearly balked at going any deeper or closer to the subject of human history as any sense of personality was stripped from the land. While The Summer Walkers was complicated by various ethical and formal issues in its anthropological narrative of the travellers, that work as a whole left a far greater impression of a story being spun and told about a people and the places they inhabited, while Baile An Or read more as a postcard snapshot.

Not surprisingly, while the weekend audience roamed the town like a pack, the number of locals in attendance were few and far between. The void of local engagement in this particular exhibition drags up the persistent question of whether showing contemporary art in remote locations is actually for those living there or if these exercises are simply a field trip for the art hounds?

I visited Helmsdale during my first week in Scotland, and I was appalled by the Ed Ruscha exhibition that was touring through as there was not an iota of connection to the place it was being shown. The Fagen exhibition and accompanying short works by community members was of course far better by comparison, and I don’t know if these type of issues ever get resolved or even reach a consensus, but it’s refreshing to see Timespan juggling these conundrums through an ongoing experiment of trying out different strategies and formulas in connecting contemporary art everywhere and anywhere.

*First published on The Huntly Review

Framework: Maria Fusco writing workshop*

Coming to the end of this inaugural arts writing gig at Deveron Arts, I am more unsure than ever as to what it is I am actually writing. I know I write, but I know little else. I have no idea what it is I am writing, just that I am definitely writing it. Working on the border of cultural commentaries and creative non-fiction, I am tired of looking, if not legitimating what it is I write, rather, I continue to read the writings that have influenced me as a reader and inevitably as a writer. A small handful of these voices appear on my current reading selection for the Art Reader Network including Gertrude Stein, Deleuze and Guattari, and Serge Deney, all of whom were spectres to my experience of Maria Fusco’s writing workshop yesterday.

Reconfiguring the value and limitations of arts writing as a creative practice that runs alongside, across, in and through the works of visual art our words accompany, Fusco’s approach to arts writing meets at the nexus of experimental poetics, post-structuralist theory, and the sculpting of subjectivity. Shifting art objects, and the history of art itself, as bricks, rather than the keystone, in the arch of understanding and rendering, Fusco pushes us into a minefield of subjective interpretations starting from the first person position of (art) objects.

Encouraging us basically to “re-caress the art object” -- to write and read the object simultaneously --Fusco’s series of writing exercises led us further down the constructive path of subjective reimaginings, and hopefully hit home that writing is a practice that employs creative skill. A quiet, but nevertheless startling realization came during the collaborative exercises, when we had to do pronoun hurdles in small groups, and I was reminded for the first time in a very long time that writing and editing are acquired skills that not many people have grasped. As somebody who compulsively writes and edits, I unfortunately forget before eventually remembering that writing remains one of the most undervalued skills in terms of appreciation and labour value.

Concerns disguised as questions were raised early on as to why one writes if nobody is going to read it? This commonly held position reveals the underlying attitude that writing is supposedly a servant to communicate knowledge, and that knowledge is presupposed, rather than created. Would anyone ask if a musician would play and sing if there is no audience to hear it? Or if a thought is going to be explored if nobody is ever going to understand it? Eventually somebody comes across the work in some incarnation or another, but the work must begin somewhere.

Having been given an option between production or discussion, I am thrilled the majority voted on production, as that’s at least a positive sign towards a better direction.

*First written for Framework and published on The Huntly Review

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Akimblog update on Scotland*

Edinburgh Art Festival | British Art Show 7 | Ruth Ewan at Dundee Contemporary Art | Helen Cho at Glenfiddich | Graham Fagen at Timespan | Deveron Arts | Who Are We Writing For?

I was told early on in my six-month arts fellowship in wee, bonnie Scotland that Glasgow is where you make art and Edinburgh is where you see it. Being situated outside of the Central Belt entirely, I have had the privilege of holding no allegiance to either of these truisms. Instead, I’ve been able to discern for myself the scope of Scotland’s radically diverse and undervalued contemporary art scene.

Much like Canadian artists who have to jump ship to “make it”, Scottish artists also look south and beyond for recognition. Like the rest of the art world, the majority has moved to Berlin, but that leaves the homeland as an isolated testing ground. Left alone to wrestle with their own formalist art legacies are new formalist artists such as Glasgow’s own Martin Boyce and Karla Black, two of four Turner Prize 2011 finalists, both of whom have also represented their country independently of Britain at the Venice Biennial in the past five years. A unique sense of Scottish identity has long been alive and strong, but even then, I am still not sure what constitutes Scottish art. 

Martin Creed, Work No. 1059, 2011 (courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth; photograph: Gautier Deblonde)

Edinburgh remains best known for its flurry of festivals each summer, and every gallery lines up to be included in the madness by bringing in big international names like Anish Kapoor (at the University of Edinburgh), Hans Schabus (at Collective Gallery), Robert Rauschenberg (at Inverleith House), etc. The highlights remained outside of the festivals, however, from esteemed private gallery Ingleby Gallery’s consistently impressive group exhibition to Martin Creed’s Work No. 1059. Albeit, Creed’s reimagining of The Scotsman Steps was originally commissioned by Fruitmarket Gallery to open in time for the 2010 festival, but was delayed until early this summer. Coming upon them one day without the festival hype was a fantastic surprise and delight. Consisting of one hundred and four marble slabs, each different in colour and originating from all over the globe, that coat the long dilapidated Scotsman Steps (an important historical thoroughfare for Edinburgh’s markets that remains in constant use,), the work is the best public artwork I have seen anywhere . . . 

*To read the entire entry please visit Akimblog

Friday, August 19, 2011

Close Encounters: the Next 500 Years*

Contemporary indigenous art received its largest international display as part of Winnipeg’s year as Cultural Capital of Canada. Showcasing 33 international artists, ‘Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years’ ambitiously looked forward to the future of indigenous culture while remaining very much in conversation with a past 500 years of oppression.

Image credit: Jonathan Jones, 2011

Two examples to give a bit of context to the visibility of contemporary indigenous art: the first living artist to receive a solo exhibition at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian was Dunne-za First Nations/Swiss-Canadian Brian Jungen, only as recently as 2010, under the guidance of curator Paul Chaat Smith. Four years earlier in Australia, Sydney-based Jonathan Jones won the Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award and came under fire for not being ‘Aboriginal’ enough. Working with clean, sleek designs and often using commercial fluorescent light tubes, Jones has often been compared to American minimalist Dan Flavin, but beyond their shared interest in a now widely used media, the comparison does not hold.

Indigenous history and representation has been largely shaped, if not dictated, by European settlers and explorers who have decimated indigenous culture through systematic eradication of language and animistic traditions. It is a history still fraught with anger and miscommunications fuelled by generations of racism. ‘Close Encounters’ began where Western art history fails, at the narrative of first contact between indigenous peoples and European settlers. Curated by LeeAnn Martin, Steven Loft, Candice Hopkins and Jenny Western, the exhibition took place throughout Winnipeg, where Canada’s largest population of urban First Nations people currently reside. The five exhibition venues featured artists from across Canada, the US, Brazil, Finland, New Zealand and Australia working in installation, photography, sculpture, performance, film, new media, video and painting.

Demystifying the Western representation of an untamed culture – one that perpetuates an ideal of the ‘noble savage’ – and the commodification of traditional designs and traditions, ‘Close Encounters’ set out to focus on works that defy stereotypical ideas of indigenous art. Canadian artist Michael Belmore’s sculptural installation Smoulder (2010) was one of the strongest examples of work that looks back while moving forward. Inviting viewers to form a circle around an arrangement of copper inlayed stones on the floor, the concept of Smoulder is simple: when gathered around the stones, the outside light is blocked, and the inlay between the stones begins to shimmer like a camp fire. As a reimagining of the traditional campfire, the work encapsulated the essence of the exhibition’s reclamation of identity through contemporary modes of storytelling.

Other highlights included contrasting immersive sculptural works by Maori artist Brett Graham and the aforementioned Jones. Graham’s interest in the materiality of traditional forms, such as stone and wood, is transformed into modern spectacles such as Te Hokioi (2000–9), a large hand-engraved sculpture of a scaled-down stealth bomber that also references its namesake, a magnificent eagle of Maori legend. Jones presented Untitled (infinity) (2011), a multi-tubed fluorescent light installation in the shape of Canada’s Métis infinity symbol – a culturally loaded image for Canadians of French and First Nations heritage. As an artist already receiving both accolades and scrutiny for not being ‘indigenous enough’ in his work, Jones carries this provocative issue of authenticity further by directly invoking a symbol from a heritage of which he is not part, but which he has chosen to use within the scope of an international contemporary indigenous exhibition.

With a cross-generational line-up that also covered the urban and rural divide, ‘Close Encounters’ excelled in its scope but failed in its own promise to look ahead. It stumbled at times over questionable inclusions of works by notable names that did not necessarily serve the exhibition’s outlook. For example, while it was obvious to include works by Jungen, it was unfortunate that only a handful of small pieces from ten years ago were on display, none of them indicative of his current direction or representative of his work’s scope.

The show addressed Winnipeg and its province’s history of rebellion and human rights, which dates back to Louis Riel, the founder of Manitoba and one of Canada’s most controversial historical figures. As a rebel leader of Métis heritage, Riel actively championed the cultural preservation of Métis languages and culture in his region before eventually being executed for treason against the Canadian government. Shortly before his death in 1885, Riel prophesized in his journals: ‘My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.’ More than 100 years have passed and reconciliation talks between Canadian government and First Nations leaders have only just begun in what will be a long and complicated healing process. With the realization of an international and indigenous art exhibition in the very resting place of Riel, a step has been taken towards the fulfillment of his life long goal, which ultimately was for the preservation and perseverance of cultural sovereignty for all.

*First published in Frieze Issue 141 Sept 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Precocious and Precarious: The Future is Unstable (and it always will be, so deal with it)*

Since arriving in Scotland from Canada as a visiting writer and curator one month ago, I have been introduced to quite a bit of talk on the subject of ‘precarisation’ and labour - specifically, the precarious labour of cultural workers.

There seems to be both a blind valorisation of precarity in the arts and a growing desire for revolution from the precariously dissatisfied. But the theoretical arguments and the day-to-day reality of precarity appear worlds apart.

Precarity, to clarify up front, refers to individuals employed through temporary, short-term contracts. While this was once a choice for workers, the choice is now being made for us as precarity becomes normalised within the current neo-liberalist era.

My own experience working as a full time freelance writer and curator is a dedicated life of never-ending cycles of hustling and networking, where there is no clear distinction between work and life, business and pleasure, or employers and audiences. I do not see myself as privileged or subjugated, as I simply do not fit into the system.

As a precarious cultural worker, my job, life and time is spent questioning and magnifying the fissures in the system, akin to identifying the inevitable cracks in a plaster wall. The job of the artist is to widen these in order to expose the problem before the crack is superficially patched up. And there are cracks everywhere, not just in the art world.
The precarious nature of cultural workers is not so much a devaluation of our skills, but a lack of understanding as to where the demand lies. We work in a field that demands mobility without stability, but inversely, our instability allows us the freedom to address a multitude of subjects.

The nature of most cultural workers is precarious, because few of the systems that offer stability will actually want to be accountable to so many stakeholders.

My current placement is unique in that they believe in a 50/50 approach between the organisation and the town, and that’s how they’ve been functioning since they began as a self-organised arts group with a strong focus on socially-engaged art practices. I am also only here for a fixed span of time, which is also an important factor, because once precarity becomes routinised, as is the case across artist run centres, the working conditions take on restrictive parameters, and suddenly, cultural workers are still without stable incomes or pensions, but find themselves working 60 hours a week for meagre wages on an indefinite amount of time.

For another generation of cultural workers who find themselves painted into a corner, there is a palpable anger and frustration towards the system that has subsumed and regulated our precarity, making us active, although weak and willing participants in the very economic labour system we are supposed to challenge through our ideals and our actions. More likely, we are reinforcing the power of those systems when we let ourselves be bound by them.

No one would deny that this unstable framework has led to an imbalance of power relations both economically and politically, but the question of the day is whether this unstable framework is actually capable of destabilising our current neo-liberalist society.

If neo-liberalism is indeed governing through the action of instituting insecurities, as suggested by the den mother of precarity, Isabel Lorey, the issue at hand is not the precarious nature of labour, but about how this precarity is being culled. To go back to the image of the fissuring plaster wall, if we have moved into an era where we are distracted from even fixing the cracks; rather, we have become dependent on prescribed precarity, on the doling out of scraps of decorative wall coverings, and fighting one another over who can put up what and where in a legitimated realm of instable institutionalised patterning.

A base function of art is to shine a light on areas in our society that have grown dark or invisible. Artists do so by challenging conventions of both form and content, by carving out a space for themselves among these issues by de-territorialising our standardised rhythms and patterns of action and thought.

In continuing on as precarious workers in an increasingly unstable realm, the issue is not precarity, which is a given, but the boundaries set upon our precarious nature that we must be released from.

*First appeared in Line Magazine, Issue 4

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Responding to Jan Verwoert's "Why this town is big enough for more of us" *

I remember first reading Jan Verwoert’s essay, “Life Work”a couple of years ago and feeling both disturbed and drawn to this cult of the art world's inability to separate work from life. Is this really what the subversion of the division of labour leads to: the absolute collapse of our pleasure from our pain?  As we all still operate within a capitalist society, this collapse of pleasure and pain into a single stream towards achieving value is further complicated when we remember that labour remains the root of value. 

I had left an office job then, the last real job I held, fulfilling my obligations to be somewhere between 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday with mandatory overtime plus working as a full time art critic, serving on boards, and organizing various events. The balance of life and work was out the window. I worked all day just so that I could work all night (made all the more ironic as I was employed by a new business and lifestyle magazine that was targeting the balance of work and life). 

I didn’t know I would begin devoting my life to work, but I knew I was not going to devote my life to working twice. The day job financially supported the precarity of my moonlighting, thus undermining the labour value of what I had actually been achieving.

The alluring cult of the art world then is something more than just exchanging services for financial compensation. It must offer something of value if people are willing to work for free. Dare I say there lies buried in art a purpose that keeps us running, influencing our ways of being, our ethics, and intentions. Here is another non separation: the trinity of the body, mind, and spirit. I am not religious in any official sense, but I do believe in more. More questions than answers, more narratives than doctrines, and more voices than outlets.  

Frameworks is a starting point to more. The model boils down to reframing conversations  between people who care. The first event was led by Jan, who generously challenged how we perceive the values and obstacles in our life work. He could only do so amongst a group of strangers by being an intent listener, as one can only engage with what is going on in a room if there is the will to listen.

The one resounding fact, as eloquently echoed in “Life Work”, is that, “no matter how fast the art world grows, we – ‘we’ being those who have become part of each others’ lives through what we do – will continue to inhabit the worlds that we together create for ourselves.”  We can only begin to shift the system if we collectively shift, and that includes listening to and revaluing how we have been talking to each other through our life’s works.


Jan Verwoert, “Life Work” Frieze Magazine Issue 121, March 2009

*First published on Frameworks Scotland

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Searching for My Banff, Essay for Sarah Fuller's My Banff, AGA, May 28 - August 7, 2011

Photo and image credit: Sarah Fuller, Installation view My Banff, Art Gallery of Alberta, 2011

My earliest memory of Banff goes back to the mid ‘80s, when the hot springs still smelled like sulphur. I was about five years old and I remember thinking that the gurgling pools of dark water must be filled with rotting eggs, that people were boiling eggs and forgetting to take them out. I remember riding in the back seat of a rental car with my mother and some adults I no longer remember. We made stops in Calgary, Drumheller and the Rockies. I remember the smell of the hot springs. I remember rolling up and down the car’s window pane, but I do not remember much of what I would have seen through it.

There were photographs taken on that trip, to help us remember. But like most souvenirs and memorabilia, they are long lost in the dust bins of personal history. I hold a vague recollection of  one specific image, a photograph showing my mother and me, standing side by side, completely dwarfed by the back drop of looming cascades and majestic peaks against a clear blue sky.  This photograph proved we had been to Banff.

Only, I have no physical proof that this photograph ever existed. I could have imagined it, assembled it from the multitude of photographs I have seen of visitors in Banff. It’s an image that’s been standardized in tourism paraphernalia and promotional materials, yet I am sure it is mine. What is mine could easily be yours. Standing before the mountains, standing by the hot springs. The heat rising up in a thin veil of steam. Vaporizing into the vista behind me.

Real or imagined, this was my first memory of Banff.
Real or imagined, I have no other memory of being there.

“The Local is defined by its unfamiliar counterparts. A
peculiar tension exists between around here and out there
. . . This tension is particularly familiar in a multicentered
society like ours, where so many of us have arrived
relatively recently in the places we call home.” (1)

My own memories of Banff, like most tourists’ memories of Banff, intersect with Sarah Fuller’s My Banff in our search for an authenticity of being there in time and place. Locals and tourists alike seek a sense of place, though their experiences are not mutually inclusive.

Banff has always been a tourist destination. The hot springs was the raison d’etre for why Banff was localized at all. After CPR railway workers William McCardell, Thomas McCardell and Frank McCabe reported on their findings at the base of Sulphur Mountain, the hot springs were developed as an elite travel opportunity in an age of luxury rail travel and grand destination hotels.

Of course, before the railway named the area after the CPR directors’ hometown on the north coast of
Scotland, the area now known as Banff was not exactly a tourist location; but still, it was a site for transient experiences. Several First Nations communities traveled through and around the area, including the Plains Blackfoot, Cree and Kokanee people. The approximate region now known as Banff was a place for vision quests, and it was not a place to be settled upon. Some still identify the area as an unusually concentrated nexus of energies, a convergence of forces where five valleys meet.

Today, anyone who has visited Banff, especially up Tunnel Mountain Drive, will know (or is told explicitly through corporate branding) that Banff is a place for creativity and inspiration. Visitors, especially resident artists who stay for weeks to months, still report vivid dreams or intense insomnia. Long before Banff became the tourist destination it is today, it has attracted visitors seeking an inspirational experience.

1.  Lippard, Lucy On the Beaten Treak: Tourism, Art, and Place. New Press, New York, 1999. Pp 13. 

The essay in full is available on site in the RBC New Works Gallery through August 7, 2011 and available for purchase through the AGA  Visit Sarah Fuller Photography for more information on the artist.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Commentary: Federal Cuts to The Arts - A Special Report from Abroad*

This is war. Stephen Harper and The Conservative Government with their newly elected majority is sparing no time in laying down their law, and the first to go are the sacrificial lambs of curators from our National Gallery of Art and  part-time scientists, already reduced to contracts, from Environment Canada.

It’s become clear that politics is a game for Harper, and ministries are pawns in his strategy to maintain on top.  

Harper has been hacking away at the arts, environment, overseas aid, women’s rights, queers, universal health care, and all other social programs during his reign as a minority government. Now in a real position of power for the first time in his long and winding political career, Harper at last can flex his ego by immediately showing how weak the NDP opposition really is by slashing into their weakest and loudest points, the environment and the arts.

Harper began as a whippersnapper in the heydays of The Reform Party, but he left the party because he thought Reform was too socially conservative to ever be a powerful Right-wing party. Strategically, Harper rose to power in the then-collapse of Right-wing politics starting with that l’efant terrible, The Canadian Alliance, merging with the weakening Progressive Conservatives.  The Liberals ran wild, unchecked, and now there’s hell to pay. In serving the ideals of an ultimate Right-wing party, one that Harper has conflated with his evangelic faith, Harper will lead the country into a state of complete retardation. 

Canada’s reputation for politeness has been our pride and will become our fall. This country produces an outpouring of amazing minds, many of them writers and artists. Art, its creation, appreciation, and acceptance is rooted in our identities, and our identity in Canada has only half-formed, with little resistance. There are patches of resistance within the larger framework, the First Nations people and Quebecois identity are the two most visible, but only because they have fought to remain visible. 

Distance brings perspective, and I cannot believe my eyes with every news story I read.

The cuts will keep coming, but resist them through actions loud and soft. Pronounce who you are and what you believe in through everything you say and everything you do. Art does not just exist in galleries and galas, art is being aware and making aware of our human rights and existence.
Art is resistance, Resistance is art!

 *Amy Fung is currently completing an Arts Writing and Curating Fellowship in the UK.