The pandemic has offered us all a moment to re-gear, not only how we work, but how we think about the way we engage with the world around us – and what ‘impact’ looks like.
This is not new territory, however, for Blue Mountains artist duo Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro. In a new exhibition charting a decade of their practice, they explore themes of obsolescence, collective endeavour and the place of the individual within complex systems.
After five months of closure due to COVID restrictions, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre (BMCC) will present, Post-haste, which for its sheer scale alone, will be testament to the impact art can have on a viewing public.
Rilka Oakley, curator of the exhibition, told ArtsHub: ‘It is massive! It’s like every work is monumental and almost all are floor to ceiling.’
Take for example Par Avion (2011), which is comprised of a Cessna 172 airplane dissected into 70 pieces to enable it to be posted and reassembled at its destination, taking up the impressive volume of a 5 x 11 meter vertical footprint.
Oakley said the point made by the installation is not lost in our new reality, where flights have been grounded and the physical – palpable – engagement with art in a space has been denied us for so long. ‘It towers over the viewer, reminding us of the impossibility of flight but also the irony of re-flighting a decommissioned plane via the postal service,’ said Oakley.
She continued: ‘The brilliance of Healy and Cordeiro is their ability to re-imagine everyday objects into playful critiques of serious issues. They aren’t limited by mediums, or even practicalities, when conceiving their works, many of which require substantial involvement from other people to manifest.’
She added that it was a privilege to reopen the centre with such an important exhibition featuring two internationally renowned artists who call the Blue Mountains home.
WHAT IS POST-HASTE?
Post-haste has long fascinated the artists, and takes its cue from Paul Virilio’s concept of Dromology, which investigates how the speed at which something happens may change its essential nature. It is often used when considering the structuring of society in relation to warfare and modern media, with Virilo explaining that what moves with speed quickly comes to dominate that which is slower.
‘Possession of territory is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a matter of movement and circulation,’ writes Virilo. So what happens when nature – or a pandemic – pulls on the handbrake? ask Healy and Corderio.
They believe that this great pause for thought we have been dealt – after a period of great immediacy – brings everything into sharp contrast. As a result, many of the works across this exhibition suggest future scenarios.
A great example is a suite of kites made from helicopter parts. The artists were due to travel to Japan when the pandemic struck, and were literally grounded.
Oakley said: ‘The agility with which the pair adapted to these constant changes, and still produced major new works, reveals their unique practice for what it is – an ability to assess an ordinary object (as subject) and transform it into a work of art layered with meaning. Their practice often involves a process of reduction until a material or object’s essence, or language, is revealed.’
‘How we perceive art and how we see icebergs are pretty similar. It’s common knowledge that only a tenth of an iceberg can be seen … The experience and the creation of art has a pretty similar ratio.’
Claire Healy and Sean Corderio, artists
Complementing a number of the pair’s earlier sculptural works compositing Lego and IKEA elements into artworks, a number of new pieces springboard from these materials into new thinking for our times.
Working with local schools in the Blue Mountains, the artists invited students to create A4 Lego size panels, which they have extended upon in lockdown to create the work Block Party. It is complimented by a further new work, Epicormic Growth, using outdated smart phones, where students painted landscapes upon the ‘screen’ – commenting on its role as a contemporary canvas usurping the natural world that we physically move through.
It has an uncanny connection of messages with another new work for the exhibition Mayday (2021), a large-scale Piper aircraft wing that has been ‘sticker-bombed’.
Oakley told ArtsHub: ‘The materials are not used flippantly. Every element, every action is considered. They are not rushing or using materials for the sake of it. They are chosen for a purpose – more than what we would associate with that material.’
Collaboration is a very contemporary word in art circles, pulled out for cross-medium or cross-venue projects. But for Healy and Corderio collaboration is seamlessly embedded in what they do.
Oakley explained: ‘These artists are making work that seems impossible – they are not limited by questions, by things too hard, too big, or too expensive. Their imaginations reach beyond those boundaries.
‘They are interested in the mass and form of things, and then they turn things on their head, throwing out all expected norms and tropes of a certain material. Working with them you see this – they jump from A to J, to E to Z – they are incredibly in sync in the way they think and produce.’
Healy and Corderio added of their partnership: ‘Artistic collaborations are not surprising. What is surprising is how few artistic collaborations are actually declared! There are too many ghostwriters out there. Making artwork together is easy! Hell, people even bring up children in pairs, how hard can it be?
‘We navigate each other’s energy levels, natural talents and drives. Hopefully these shortcomings and strengths meld together to create a Voltron-like unit: greater than the sum of its parts,’ they concluded.
With Remembrance Day just behind us, and not yet being in the throes of the festive season, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the relationship of Art and War (or Art and Conflict, or Cultural Property and Conflict, depending on how one wishes to frame the subject). Is there such a relationship, you might ask — indeed there is. And while art and conflict may seem like uneasy bedfellows, they have marched alongside one another for nearly as long as both have existed. Not always in step, and not always from the same point of view, but together nonetheless.
Historically speaking, we start seeing large-scale conflict in the region of Mesopotamia sometime before 4000 BCE, due in large part to the establishment of city-states there. With city-states came the need to protect and defend them, and a parallel rise of persons of influence and power who did the ruling and defending of said city-states in conflict. One of the earliest examples of a representation of war is the so-called “Royal Standard of Ur” of Sumer from about 2600 BCE, which has on one side (the “war side”) narrative bands depicting charioteers and infantry soldiers in battle trampling and capturing opposing forces, stripping them of arms and armour. On the opposite side of the Standard (the “peace” side), there are similar narrative bands showing the collection of war booty by the victors, and a victory banquet in progress in the top register. Like this object, many of the earliest examples of representations of conflict show the ruler of the conquering people larger than life and glorify their prowess in battle.
The depiction of the collection of war booty, which often consisted of the movable material wealth and cultural property of a defeated people, is significant, because the accumulation of art as the spoils of war is just one other aspect of the conjunction of art and conflict. One clear illustration of the practice can be seen in the “Spoils of Jerusalem” panel of the Arch of Titus in Rome (circa 81 CE), in which Roman troops loot the Second Temple there, which they afterwards destroyed. (The Second Temple replaced, as you might guess, the First Temple (a.k.a. Solomon’s Temple), which the Babylonians had looted and destroyed in 586 BCE.) War booty was sometimes used to enrich the treasuries of a conquering people and was also often used to pay troops for their service in war. The practice was condoned for centuries but was also questioned on moral grounds as early as the Classical Greek period. Nonetheless, the seizure of art as war booty continued into modern times — and likely continues, despite international treaties and policies against the practice — to the enrichment of many of the world’s most prestigious galleries and museums. One has only to look to the Louvre in Paris (the foundation of its vast collections consisting of war booty collected by Napoleon’s troops in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) and the scrutiny of many of the world’s galleries with respect to Nazi War Art and its possible repatriation to get an idea of the scope of the activity.
There are, fortunately, efforts being made to repatriate some portions of art looted from one culture and in the possession of another, but it can be a thorny endeavour for a variety of reasons. For example, how does one return artwork to a culture or entity that no longer exists? And is the cultural property perhaps better off remaining in an institution that can care for it properly? The act of repatriation may also be politically motivated — just as the act of the destruction of cultural property in times of conflict may be. Think of the destruction by the Taliban of the seventh-century Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 — a means of demoralizing local cultures and causing outrage in the international community. The destruction of cultural property (often artwork, monuments or architecture) to oppress a people and erase cultural memory is a practice that goes back to ancient times, and is one that continues today.
Not that the association of art and war is all negative — indeed, conflict has been the catalyst for many new types of artistic expression and movements. In particular, many of the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century (such as expressionism, vorticism, cubism, etc.) were more effective at capturing and illustrating aspects of modern warfare than were more traditional and staid styles of representation. In fact, it has been suggested that it is truly only artists who can accurately relate what being at war is actually like — visually, emotionally, psychologically and physically — through the power of imagery that words cannot begin to match. Canadian artist W. Thurston Topham’s impressionist painting “Moonrise over Mametz Wood” of 1916 has been described by veterans as an “eerily accurate impression of the Somme battlefield in 1916.” As well, starting in the First World War and continuing in the Second World War, many nations, including Canada, established Official War Art programs. Many of a country’s notable artists were sent overseas to record and represent the conflicts and were indelibly marked by the experience. It has been argued, for example, that the art of some members of Canada’s Group of Seven was influenced more by the blasted landscapes of war in Europe than by the austerity of Canada’s North, as has so often been stated. Canada continues to invite artists into theatres of conflict, with some moving imagery coming out of such collaborations as a result.
While the subject of art and war may seem to be a gloomy one (and this essay has merely scratched the surface of the topic), many beautiful and even humorous objects have resulted from the association. Art produced as a result of war is a testament to the enduring human spirit and the act of creativity, which may help us to understand events and experiences of the past.
Kamille Parkinson earned a PhD in art history from Queen’s University and is presently a writer, burgeoning copywriter and art historian at large. You can find her writing at Word Painter Projects on Facebook and can contact her at email@example.com.
Art About Town
Annual Open House — Works by Gallery Artists
Annual Harambee fundraiser (to Dec. 2)
Studio 22 Open Gallery
Autumn 2021 Artist Portfolio Series. Now open Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and online.
• Victor Oriecuia, “Sacro Fiore”
• Bruno Capolongo, “Drips”
Window Art Gallery
• Nov. 16-30: Kingston Printmakers
• Print Pulse (to Dec. 11)
• Coping and Care (to Dec. 11)
• Side-Ways (to Dec. 4, in conjunction with the Modern Fuel ARC)
• What Are You Reading? (to Dec. 11)
• Intimacies (to Nov. 27)
Modern Fuel ARC
• There are Minimums to Operate Properly (to Dec. 4)
• Turbo (to Dec. 4)
• Side-Ways (to Dec. 4, in conjunction with the Union Gallery)
Agnes Etherington Art Centre
• Studies in Solitude: The Art of Depicting Seclusion (to June 2022)
Hello, dear reader. This week, I will cover a big announcement from the BC Arts Council, as well as some ins and outs of the arts grant–writing system, and argue for stronger relationships between local governments and arts organizations for the betterment of the community.
On November 12th, the BC Arts Council announced its Arts Infrastructure Program, with awards up to $250,000, more than three times the usual amount made available through this program. The purpose of this funding is for arts organizations to acquire, construct, or renovate an arts space that will enhance the cultural capacity of the community. There are two other streams for funding as well, worth up to $25,000 for planning and research and $40,000 for acquiring specialized equipment. The deadline is 11:59 PM on Jan. 14, 2022.
The BC Arts Council will host a virtual information session for communities and organizations in the Peace-Liard Region about this program at noon on Dec. 2. This session will include insight on the AIP from Program Officers Erin Macklem and Sarah Todd, as well as a Q&A section.
This grant is a great opportunity that can make a major difference in the region. If successful, it could finance the new arts hub in Fort St. John, a permanent gallery space in Chetwynd, or much needed renovations for the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. This is the second year in a row that BCAC has released funding through this program. However, it is unclear whether it will be offered again, so it is important to seize this opportunity now.
The BC Arts Council has been working to serve rural communities better in recent years, which is why the grant qualifications are slightly relaxed for northern communities. This grant may be up to 90% of the total budget for projects based in rural and remote areas with a small population. As an example, for applicant organizations based in Dawson Creek or Fort St. John, only 10% of the budget needs to come from an additional source. Meaning $25,000 can become $250,000, which is a great investment. On the other hand, the grant can only make up to 75% of the project budget for organizations in communities that don’t qualify as rural or underserved.
These budget splits are often how arts funding works from granting bodies like the BC Arts Council, Canada Arts Council, First Peoples’ Cultural Council, and Creative BC, although the funding component is not usually as high as 90%. Grant-based awards typically cover between 50% to 75% of a project total, which is still incredibly generous. Even with a 50% split, an applicant can double their project budget. The purpose of these splits is to show that the project is feasible, and has support from more than one source. This is something that arts administrators know well, as navigating this grant system is a large part of what they do. However, this point is often lost on local governments, who don’t have close working relationships with these funding sources.
The drawback with opportunities like the the AIP is that it often requires cooperation from municipal governments, who are slow to respond. Often arts spaces are publicly owned, but operated by a non-profit. For example, the Dawson Creek Art Gallery building is owned by the City of Dawson Creek, meaning that the gallery cannot go ahead with an application like this without the city’s support. Historically, the arts have been a blind spot for our local leaders, and this oversight is leaving money on the table, to the detriment of the community.
Understandably, at any given time there are many other pressing needs demanding the attention of local politicians—the pandemic, for example. The cultural revitalization of our communities slips lower down the priority list. However, this needn’t be the case. What is needed to allocate funds efficiently is simply an understanding that the arts and its funding system is a complex industry with many opportunities that require specific expertise and knowledge to capitalize on. This is why local governments need to work closely with arts organizations, and be more responsive to them, so that when opportunities like the Arts Infrastructure Program arise, both parties are prepared to make the best of them. That way, we can bet small and win big for the communities we serve.
Do you have an artistic endeavour you would like to promote? Is there a topic you would like me to discuss? I would love to hear from you! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After almost two years of adjusting on the fly and being forced to reschedule events, the Penticton Art Gallery is set to go ahead with the 44th annual art auction on Dec. 5.
The gallery is giving people the opportunity for a sneak peek on the evening of Dec. 3 so that they can explore all the art that is being sold.
The weekend-long event doesn’t have to wait though. Online pre-bidding opened on July 26 and is set to end 24 hours prior to the start of the live auction.
This year’s event will be conducted both in-person and virtually, via Zoom, and anyone attending the live auction at the gallery will be required to show proof of vaccination.
“If you don’t have a vaccine passport and would like to arrange a private viewing, please contact the gallery and we can make alternative arrangements,” said Penticton Art Gallery Director Paul Crawford.
Among the items available for auction include Andy Warhol pieces from his “Marilyn” series. The opening bid for the Warhol items was $1,500, with an estimated value of $5,000. After Marilyn Monroe’s death in 1967, the artist began to work on his now-famous series.
This year’s auction at the gallery will contain no shortage of historic items available for sale. James Irwin’s NASA flight suit is also up for auction, with an opening bid of $4,500 and an estimated value that the gallery calls “priceless.”
A woolly mammoth tusk rounds out the gallery’s list of “priceless” items but in this case, the piece had an opening bid of $1,750.
“The Penticton Art Gallery champions the transformative power of the Arts through an annual program of thought-provoking exhibitions,” said the gallery’s director.
Crawford said in the latest bi-monthly gallery newsletter that they’ve seen a 60 per cent reduction in revenue over the last 18 months that they had previously earned through a number of fundraising programs, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite that, he told the Penticton Western News on Thursday that even though he doesn’t know what to expect out of this year’s auction, he’s excited about the gallery’s immediate future.
“As we come to the end of the year, I hope you can help support the Gallery through the purchase of one of our Soup Bowl packages, a work from our Under $500 Exhibition + Sale, Annual Art Auction, the purchase of a membership, early bird tickets to the 2022 Ignite the Arts Festival, or a charitable donation this year,” he wrote in the letter.
Successful bidders will be notified via email within 48 hours of the auction’s closing.
The live auction begins on Dec. 5 at 1 p.m., with the deadline for registration coming on Dec. 4 at 4 p.m.
As of Nov. 25, the auction has raised $8,295, which is 33 per cent of the gallery’s goal for the event.
To register for the live auction, email email@example.com.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.