Garments for Multiple People / The Mission

Nine travellers enrobed together, navigating the stages and spaces of an unfamiliar territory. A roving performance in costume.

Five garments for multiple people to wear at a time – hats, capes, and a very large dress. Created for AfterImage 2017 at Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Art in the Open 2017. For AfterImage, garments were displayed and worn by attendees throughout the evening. For Art in the Open, I worked with a group of nine volunteer performers to create a choreographic vocabulary of commands and gestures/movements. On the night of the event, the performers took to the streets in costume, creating an improvised performance throughout the city using this shared vocabulary.

Inspired by garments made by James Lee Byars and Lygia Pape.

With assistance from Kelly Caseley and Sam Stewart

 

 

Spring things!

I’m doing some fun projects this spring in Vancouver and Charlottetown before the wonderful madness of the River Clyde Pageant hits.

April 11 – New Works Residency at Sawdust Collector in Vancouver – I’ll be singing sparkly vocal harmonies with Ashley Aron & Shannon Scott for Barbara Adler & Ron Samworth’s third show as part of their New Works Residency. Beautiful songs that bring lichen-filled forests and lonely drop-in clinics to life, and might even bring a tear to your eye.

April 25 – Cicatrix at Sawdust Collector – I am co-directing a night of storytelling with Ker, focused on the scars, marks and traces we collect through our lives. We’re working with some local residents from the Downtown Eastside: Paul Decarie, Cori Kelly, and Mike McNeely, and together, we’ll share stories of the small and large events that have left marks on us.

May 13 – AfterImage at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery – I’m sewing up a storm in preparation for this. I’m making several garments for many people to wear at a time, drawing inspiration from artists such as Lygia Pape and James Lee Byars. Put on a hat for two, a cape for five, or a dress for ten, and dance the night away!

June, July, August is River Clyde Pageant time! Workshops begin in June, for stilt-walking and script-writing, followed by July music workshops with guest artists Kathy Randels & Maurice Turner, and puppet making with Ian McFarlane. We’re so excited to get to work with these folks, and with new and returning collaborators. The Pageant has five performances this year, over two weekends, running July 29-30 and August 4,5,6. Don’t miss it!

Sawdust Collector - AprilSpringtime promo for Sawdust Collector, graphic by Barbara Adler

 

 

Elsewear

elsewear

Project created in residence at Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, August 2016

Elsewear takes Elsewhere Museum’s collection of vintage thrift as the starting point for a series of interactions based on clothing and memory. Over 25 different outfits were taken from Elsewhere’s wardrobe to be worn by the artist throughout the duration of the residency. These items of clothing were washed, mended, ironed, worn and documented on a daily basis.

The outfits sparked conversations and interviews with fellow residents, museum staff, visitors, and community members. These discussions revealed the power of clothes as everyday materials that shape our identity and mediate our encounters with the rest of the world. As a witness, a performer, and a protector within the endless process of self-fashioning, clothing can control the body as much as it can liberate it.

Selections from these conversations are compiled within the Elsewear Style Museum, a monogrammed suitcase that serves as a growing archive of clothing memories and a collaborative, multi-perspectival guidebook on style. On the third floor, the selected outfits hang on display. Suspended from the ceiling, they form a forest of garments that are dense with the memories of past wearers, the artist included. And while clothing gathers memory and meaning, clothing stories can be inscrutable, known only to their wearer. Elsewear attempts to bring these stories to light.

 

With documentation assistance from Fraser Carr Miles and Sam Stewart, and clothing care advice from Amanda Carr.

Amanda Carr wrote a bit about this project for The Women’s Room.

Go Elsewhere!

Elsewhere Museum

I’ve just started a month-long residency at Elsewhere museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. I arrived on Thursday morning and have been silently and not-so-silently squealing with glee at every moment. Elsewhere is my kind of heaven. It’s an artist/community space housed in a former thrift store, and it is absolutely chock-a-block FULL with stuff – toys, clothing, fabric, books, dishes, paper, suitcases, furniture, wood scraps, every kind of paraphernalia you can imagine. Artists come in on a regular basis and create works within the museum, using objects from the collection. I kind of can’t believe I get to be here for four weeks.

Arriving here from PEI, right on the heels of the conclusion of the River Clyde Pageant, I was close to burnt out. However, since I’ve stepped into this place, my head is overflowing with ideas…the problem is narrowing them down. Today is our project proposal day, and my proposal is centred around the collection items that grabbed my attention the quickest (first thought best thought?): the collection of vintage clothing that fills two whole rooms, floor to ceiling. I’m still formulating ideas and questions, but the plan is to use the clothes as a prompt for conversations around clothing, memory and identity with Elsewhere folks and local residents, and then find a way to create an installation space for a select number of clothing items and gathered stories and images.

It’s basically an excuse to play an elaborate game of dress up for a month.

Signals from the Mountain

An interactive installation that digs into the failure and uncertainty of a small group of people who were absent from the 2014 Burnaby Mountain protests against Kinder Morgan. Set within the Pandora Park Field House, the installation presents a selection of fragmented, fictionalized stories of boreholes and incorrect coordinates told through songs, objects and ephemera.

Borehole 1

Borehole (Corbin Murdoch)
13 minute loop played inside two tanks containing soil samples

We acknowledge that this work is located in Vancouver, on the traditional and unceded indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh).

We further acknowledge that we weren’t there.

That Sound 1

That Sound, Part 2 (Barbara Adler).
Three loops ranging from 1-13 minutes, played through rotary dial telephones

In Fall of 2014, protestors occupied the Burnaby Mountain conservation lands, in an attempt to block Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion through the area.

Signals from the Mountain is our response, rooted in our absence from the protests.

When we started this project, we wanted to re-imagine the stories of the protest. We knew that the battle for Burnaby Mountain had moments of victory and of failure. The National Energy Board hearings were underway, and there was a sense – based on the N.E.B.’s track record – that the project would ultimately be granted that stage of approval.

The future seemed sure.

Alder Trees

Seven Red Alder Trees (Lucia Misch with Ten Thousand Wolves).
13 minute loop played inside traffic cone

We wondered if we could artistically tip the scales to create more ‘wins’ for the protestors.

We turned to fiction.

We thought that if we could sow some fantastic confusion around the events on Burnaby Mountain, we might create a feeling that a positive outcome was still possible.

We had learned that an early win on the protestors’ side came because Kinder Morgan had submitted incorrect coordinates for the site of their geotechnical studies.

This image resonated with us.

In Kinder Morgan’s failure, we imagined a mountain that resisted measurement and a history that refused to be settled.

Load to Carry

Load to Carry (Barbara Adler, James Meger & Ten Thousand Wolves). 5 minute loop played via headphones, traffic cone, iPod

Stolen Trail Markers

Narrator intro/outro to David Newberry’s Untitled Song
13 minute loop broadcast on FM radio

Installation by Megan Stewart and Ben Wylie

Exhibition text (excerpt above) by Barbara Adler

Audio produced by Barbara Adler, James Meger & Ten Thousand Wolves, with additional sounds & tape loops by Ben Wylie, field sounds by Paul Paroczai

Photos by Lukas Englehardt

 

Coyote Morse Code, audio fragment from 13 minute loop

 

This project was produced with funding from the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants program.

Thank you to: Dance Troupe Practice, Tim Mahoney, Corbin Murdoch, Lucia Misch, David Newberry, Shannon Scott, James Meger, Gavin Youngash, Julie Hammond, Lukas Englehardt, Paul Paroczai, Layla Marcelle Mrozowski, CJSF, City of Vancouver Fieldhouse Residency Program

 

 

 

The ringing red telephone

I’ve had over a week to digest Art in the Open, and I’m about to start posting more photos on the projects page. The piece was a success. The ringing red rotary dial phone was very well received by the public (I just can’t let go of that pun!) and I had so much fun (as did Adam and a slew of other occasional ringer operators) playing with passersby; pressing the single-button remote control to make the phone ring and surprising them and watching their interactions with it…picking it up, listening, hanging up, repeat. I was impressed at how long people stayed with the piece, taking time to listen to the 4 minute track and sharing the experience with others. There were frequent lineups as people waited their turn to hear the voice on the end of the line!

The installation and performance component also intrigued audiences, though perhaps the connection between the two elements could have been strengthened. Closer phone placement to the installation may have tied these two worlds together more solidly. Phone placement ended up where it was for the sake of nighttime lighting, but it was at a slight distance from the installation. I doubt that everyone realized the connection between the two elements, though people were keen to interact with them both. The connections were not made explicit…it required some imaginative and contemplative work on the part of the viewer/listener, which was always a part of the project’s overall design.

I had excellent performers who occupied this strange little space I created amongst a few trees. They added to this sinister yet magical world by building more hanging garlands, reading from the library of encyclopedias, watching people from the trees, resting, being. I have to say, they all looked pretty killer too, wearing the shifty black bandit masks along with coveralls procured from the basement of Corney’s shoe store (a gold mine for odd costume needs).

Near the end of the night, I was approached on the plaza by Craig Mackie, who declared the piece to be his favourite of all of Art in the Open, which was an enormous compliment, and so appreciated. This photo is his. I’m thankful for it, and for the kind words.

Ears Pricked Eyes Peeled 1

 

Andrew Hoffman took the photo below of Sam performing in the installation.

 

Ears Pricked Eyes Peeled 2

I must recognize the amazing technical help I had to realize this project. It could not have happened without the tinkering and sound-engineer expertise of Adam Gallant, who built the remote/ringer system, wired the phone’s insides to play audio from an iPod, and recorded the voice of Jan Rudd, who so softly and strangely whispered into the ear of anyone curious enough to pick up the receiver.

Pat Brunet and Patrick Callbeck helped with other logistical bits of the installation, figuring out lighting and materials with me. Matthew and I spent a lovely afternoon in my backyard dip-dying garlands. And one night Jenny, Sam and Andrew’s friend Sam all helped me make garlands, while drinking gin.

Already I’m thinking of ways to build on this for an AITO in the near future.

 

Here we go Art in the Open!

It’s late and I’m getting a bit cavalier with the x-acto knife, but things are fairly prepped for Ears Pricked, Eyes Peeled at Art in the Open tomorrow.

Spent a productive day making masks, finding uniforms, dip-dying egg carton garlands and hanging them on the clothesline. Once I saw them all in a line I realized that yes, I’d probably made enough.

And in hanging them to dry, I discovered the easiest method of hanging was right in front of me: clothespins!

IMG_1075

Later on I worked out lighting with a team of Patricks. Pat Brunet and Patrick Callbeck and I jerry-rigged spotlight with a clamp light and foil, just like sketchy-biz lo-tech lighting professionals.

IMG_1074

 

Tomorrow we set up on the plaza at noon! And then it all begins at 4pm!

 

Telephone Jackpot

A red rotary dial telephone holds the main role in my upcoming Art in the Open project, Ears Pricked, Eyes Peeled.

A red rotary dial telephone is not an easy item to source…at least not locally. I anticipated hours of calling and visiting every antique store on PEI, and then resorting to eBay where models sell for $60 or more…and maybe even then resorting to using another colour. However, by wonderful happenstance, the magic of Island connections and big Island hearts, I was able to acquire a bright red rotary dial phone this weekend.

It’s a good story, so I’ll explain. Locating this phone began with a tip from a lone Bell Aliant employee at the warehouse on Belvedere avenue. Her daughter had done a Heritage Fair project on the telecom industry in PEI, and they had visited the “Telephone Museum of PEI” to do research. She found the email and website for the museum owner, Dave, and encouraged me to make an appointment, telling me excitedly about the hundreds of different old phones he had on display. It was my strongest lead yet.

I got in touch with Dave, explaining what I was looking for and also my interest in seeing his collection. A couple days later I took a Sunday drive out to Orwell Cove, to a little house off a seaside road I’d never been on before. Dave greeted me on his porch and the next thing he said to me was, “I found what you were looking for.”

Really?! It was that easy?

We walked into the little barn beside his house, marked with a hand-painted sign…

Telephone Museum of PEI sign

The entryway was filled with at least four different teletype machines, with a shelf of little Morse code telegraph machines overlooking them all.

And then, walking into the main room, this is what I see…

Telephone Museum of PEI interior
Phones of every imaginable make and model, from floor to ceiling. Switchboards, rotary phones, boxy wooden phones from the early 1900s, business phones and novelty phones. Colourful phone cords hanging along the walls, wires running everywhere, as most of the phones work! Every phone has an info card detailing its dates, model, use, provenance – all of it thoughtfully and lovingly displayed. Dave was quick to point out what he had found me: atop a table of multicoloured rotary phones was one red model, with Island Tel stamped into the centre of the dial. It was absolutely perfect, and it worked!

I was given a detailed tour of the museum. I learned all about how switchboards worked, party line tricks for nosy eavesdropping neighbours (hint: gossip loudly about fake pregnancies), the early days of payphones, and Dave’s favourite models (the explosion-proof “Russian Princess” used in mines was a highlight). He even had a few of the early cellphone models, enormous clunkers the size of my foot. Never have I been more immersed in the world of telephones.

Dave got his phone hobby started as a teenager. He grew up near a phone factory in Brockville, ON and has been collecting phones ever since. He’s got a friend in Ontario who sends him shipments of antique phones and parts. His collection is ever growing, overflowing into other rooms of the little house and creeping up the stairs.

Telephone Museum of PEI interior 2

Dave wouldn’t accept money for the red phone. He told me, “I’m just happy you’re excited about this stuff!” I told him a bit more about the project, and how we’re working on trying to make it ring and play audio…and of course, he knew exactly how to make this happen, and gave me a spare part and instructions on how to make a ring generator.

I left the PEI Phone Museum with so much more than I expected. A phone, instructions, waaay more excitement about the project, spare parts and even some antique glass resistors (they are so pretty!). Thinking about the execution of this piece had been stressful up until this moment. But having found Dave, the museum, and the main puzzle piece of the project spurred me on…I’m on the right track, and it’s gonna be just fine. What a little gem of an Island museum.

Owner Dave of the Telephone Museum of PEI

Ears Pricked, Eyes Peeled

EPEP-P Callbeck1 (web)

The telephone rings, answer it! Listen carefully: the voice on the other line has something to say. Pay attention to your surroundings. Is anything out of the ordinary? Who builds the worlds that open up around you?

Theatre for the ears, eyes and imagination.

Ears Pricked Eyes Peeled is two-part installation and performance. It was first presented at Art in the Open in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on August 23, 2014

Technical assistance and sound recording by Adam Gallant
Performers: Carmen Belanger, Sam Stewart, Russell Louder, and Jan Rudd as the voice on phone
Photos by Patrick Callbeck, Andy Reddin, Michael Wasnidge and Andrew Hoffman

The Fort

The Fort3

The Fort was an installation for Peake Street Studios’ group exhibition Collaborations at The Guild in Charlottetown, PEI, June 2012.

Created in collaboration with Jeff McGuigan, with assistance from Patrick Callbeck, Alexis Bulman, and Jack Young.