Monday we’re having our first “public art” discussion at Critical Theory Reading Group while reading Jane Rendell. If you’re passionate about the future of public art in Calgary you should definitely do the reading and join us. City officials are about to review the program with potential budget cuts and other big changes (see this article) so lets get more informed and talk about what’s really at stake. From the herald article: “‘I don’t think Calgary knows what it wants to be,’ Heinbecker said, arguing that places like Chicago, New York, Berlin and Singapore are more progressive when it comes to public art.” Information on Monday’s event on the event page.


April Reading – Public Art #1 with Sans Facon

Finally we have it. I’ve taken a break since the last meeting with Jennifer Tellier at Esker to organize my life and apply for grad schools in Fine Arts Studio Practice. But now thanks to the lovely Ciara McKeown, a public arts coordinator who worked for the Calgary Public Art Program until recently, we are planning 3 meetings around the topic of Public Art. As Ciara is leaving us for Hamilton shortly, two wonderful gentlemen who work with the City of Calgary’s Utilities and Environment Protection department as artist advisors are stepping in to be our discussion leaders. Charles Blanc and Tristan Surtees who collaborate under the name Sans Facon know tons about public art so I’m very excited that they’ve agreed to lead us. See more about their creative work in Calgary here:

Two other artists who work in the public sphere, Ivan Ostapenko and Daniel Kirk, heard about my plans for this series on public art and offered to host the meetings at their Kensington studio/community space, Blank Page Studio. I am also working on having all of the readings available (for a reasonable price) at Frosst books in Inglewood for those of you who prefer the hard copy. If you haven’t been down there yet they have the best selection of art books probably in the entire Canadian Prairies. The event details are here and you can also read a digital version of the first selected reading by UK art theorist Jane Rendell here.

See you soon!

November Reading #2 at Esker

This is our second coming together to talk about issues of cultural representation and dialogue in Canada and beyond. We’ll be reading the introduction to Darby English’s book “How To See A Work Of Art In Total Darkness” which can be found on the archive of readings page. The meeting is Thursday, November 28, 2013 from 6-8pm at Esker Foundation. Everyone is welcome to bring their perspective and participate in any way they like; whether you’d like to talk or listen its all important and we hope to see you there.

November Reading at Esker!

This will be the first of three discussions following readings that deal with issues of racial and social identities and how they are navigated within a contemporary world. The jumping point for this topic was last meeting’s focus on the limiting purview of archives and recorded histories and how they can be reconsidered to include alternate (typically marginalized) stories and histories. This mini-series also takes the current important group exhibition “Fiction/Non-Fiction” at Esker Foundation as a third point of reference for our look into identity in a [post]colonial country.

Our first foray into the discussion will take Homi K. Bhabha’s chapter 11 “How newness enters the world: Postmodern space, postcolonial times and the trials of cultural translation” from his book The Location of Culture, as a starting point. Reading can be found on the archive page here.

For these readings we will be meeting in the lantern space of the Esker gallery. You can park in the underground parking behind the building or on the street. Parking is free after validation in the gallery. More info about the event here.

Archive to last night’s discussion of the Archive


Last night’s discussion about the importance (or in some cases irrelevance) of the artist’s archive was very worthwhile, especially, we noted, in the context of recent performance-based, durational, and embodied works such as those found in Phantom Wing and Esker foundation’s show “Fiction/Non-fiction.”

Johanna Householder noted the difference between a repertoire, which is the physical iteration or reliving of a document, and the archive, which is the historical record or script, map or guide, following the work of Diana Taylor. She also stressed that archives are personal and exist in domestic settings, traditionally.

She described her interest in the role that archives take on as the remnant of performance works and how her work involves “messing” with archives or exploring shifts in their contexts and uses. We discovered that the new gallery has a very disorganized but comprehensive archive of its past and that it currently resides all over the john snow house in cupboards and corners, as if the documents became part of the poetics of the domestic space, finding places to settle perhaps haphazardly but maybe also according to their use, which becomes a kind of meta-archive or archive of the archive.

Jones’ text emphasized how certain actions or agents don’t fit neatly into the archives of canonical western art and that this might be due to the lack of a proper language to carry forward more transient and troubling voices or bodies. We enjoyed Merleau-Ponty’s use of the words “thick body” and suggested that documentary writing about certain kinds of work requires subjective, observational, emotional or unfinished approaches or “methods.”

We decided that all recordings of art whether photographic, written, salvaged as material or remembered subjectively, are necessarily incomplete or “de-manifesting,” because the experience of the art breaks the frame of comprehension. But in order to make an attempt at archiving it, it must be delimited in certain kinds of ways, depending on what the author of the archive values.

Follow up readings might include Derrida’s “Archive Fever”

October Reading with M:ST and Johanna Householder

We’re very thrilled to work in collaboration this month with the Mountain Standard Time Performance Art Festival (, “a biennial festival which celebrates innovative and critically engaged performative art in the Southern Alberta region.”

M:ST Art Director Tomas Jonsson approached us to host a reading group coinciding with the residency of researcher and performer Johanna Householder, who is here this month for ten days as The New Gallery’s researcher in residence at The John Snow House.

As part of her research undertaken in residence, Johanna suggested the group look over Amelia Jones’ chapter “Unpredictable Temporalities: The Body and Performance in (Art) History” from the newly published Performing Archives/Archives of Performance edited by Gunhild Borggreen and Rune Gade.

Johanna Householder with Tanya Mars, has edited Caught in the Act: an anthology of performance by Canadian women, published by YYZ Books, Toronto in 2005. Her work is also represented in Renegade Bodies: Canadian Dance in the 1970s, DCD, Toronto, 2012. She is a Professor in the Faculty of Art at OCAD University in Toronto.

August reading follow up, more Groys!

Follow-up to last night’s Groys discussion:

He is still a big promoter of the museum here but talks about the Internet too. And how the Internet was the place for postmodern utopian desires of subjectivity, for subjectivity to be everywhere at once, just like the museum was the place for modernist utopian desires, this time for the realization of subjectivity in time, history. But he talks about how the Internet really just locates us fixedly and frozen in times and places by revealing the inner mechanics of the Internet, how everything we do on the Internet is coded and stored. That’s where the museum comes back in! The archive offers that nonreality of infinity we were talking about last night for the subject to be both part of future and past, and to escape the trappings of outside definitions of self. It’s long but really good. Thanks again Marilyn Volkman and everyone who came last night!