#CANADA150 ALTERNATE PLANS: Our #Home on #Native #Land @HarbourfrontTO #Toronto 2day #OHONL

Resisting Canada 150? Toronto has some options!

Starting today and running through until Monday July 3rd Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, a leader in diverse programming that speaks to our times, is hosting Our Home on Native Land Festival. Indigenous artists will be performing all weekend long. Some of the featured artists include:

Also on the bill this weekend is Vox SambouBeny Esguerra and Narcy, the JUNO-nominated Iraqi-Canadian artist who worked with Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) on A Tribe Called Reds “R.E.D” track.

From the Harbourfront Centre:

On the occasion of Canada Day, Our Home On Native Land aims to spark questions, conversations, and ultimately a rethinking of “what it means to be Canadian” by foregrounding, celebrating, and making space for the diverse voices and stories of belonging to this land that are often excluded from typical ideas and expressions of Canadianness.

By focusing on narratives of creative resistance, intersectional solidarity, social justice, and decolonization, Our Home On Native Land reveals the connective threads that exist between Indigenous and diverse, newcomer communities in their creative contributions to the artistic and cultural fabric of Canada, or Kanata.

This festival takes its title from a well-known act of resistance committed by Indigenous peoples across Canada, whereby they intentionally change the line “Our Home and Native Land” to “Our Home On Native Land” to re-ascribe Indigenous sovereignty over the lands now known as Canada.

View full event listing here!

LONG WEEKEND IN TORONTO: Ashkenaz Festival is Back at Harbourfront Centre Toronto

“North America’s Premier Festival of Global Jewish Music & Culture returns…

…with its 10th biennial celebration. Over 200 artists from more than a dozen countries will showcase the vibrancy and brilliance of Jewish artistic traditions, from traditional styles to cutting-edge, cross-cultural fusion.”

If you love Klezmer music, Toronto’s own Lemon Bucket Orkestra and all things Yiddish then by the lake is where you need to be. The 2012 Festival was really amazing and this year’s line up of Jewish performers and musicians from around the globe won’t disappoint. Best of all most of the events are FREE! Harbourfront knows how to do a long weekend well.

HIGHLIGHT TODAY: Lemon Bucket Orkestra will be giving a dance workshop @ 4 pm. “Learn Ukrainian and Breton dances to the thrilling musical accompaniment of Canada’s only klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-superband.” More info…

HIGHLIGHT TOMORROW: The Ashkenaz Parade @ 4 pm.
“Propelled by the music of Lemon Bucket Orkestra and all the Festival musicians, Shadowland Theatre will once again transform Harbourfront Centre into a swirling spectacle of colour, puppetry, stilt-dancing, and performance.”
More info…

See full festival line up here



All images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

HAPPY NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY: Saying Miigwetch / Thank You to all the Change Makers We Met This Year!

Planet IndigenUS Harbourfront Centre Toronto. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Celebrating the history and contemporary contributions of First Nations, Inuit & Métis peoples in Canada.

In the year since National Aboriginal Day ’13 I have met some incredible people – beautiful, talented and concerned – who are using their gifts to work towards healing and change in Canada and beyond.

Inspired by you all!

Happy #NADCanada!



Image from @ONAboriginal (Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Ontario).

Resources for learning about Treaties from the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Ontario.

Do you want to know more about Treaties? The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Ontario is celebrating National Aboriginal Day by launching #TreatyON – a campaign to raise treaty awareness. You can find out more information and download their Treaty Map here!

“Ontario is sending a First Nations and Treaties map to every elementary and high school in the province as a first step towards raising awareness about treaties.

The map will help teach students about the significance of treaties and the shared history of First Nations and non-Aboriginal Ontarians.” Read more…


Image from @ONAboriginal (Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Ontario).

WRITTEN ON THE BODY/ POLITICS OF POETRY: Iranian Artists & the Power of Script Pt 2

Image of sculpture made from bubble wrap and words on wall behind it saying The Third Space

Curator Sanaz Mazinani’s show The Third Space is wrapping up this weekend at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. MIXED BAG MAG caught up with this busy and multi-talented woman whose career as an artist, educator and curator has her bifurcating herself between Toronto and San Francisco. In the second part (read Part 1 here) of MIXED BAG MAG’s look into the work of contemporary Iranian art Sanaz offers historical background to the contemporary foreground of some of the work included The Third Space and the symbolic and visual power of script.

 Classical Persian alphabet with Roman phonetics underneath

The History of Calligraphy in Persia

Persian Calligraphy has had a significant effect on the enhancement of Persian arts and culture. The various Iranian Calligraphic styles, such as Taliq, Nastaliq, Naskh, Thulth, Reqa, Towqi, Shekasteh, and Kufic each carry with them an emblem of an era of history. These decorative scripts allow the reader to visually enjoy the composition of the word, in a wholly new way, providing the viewer with multiple levels of engagement with the work of art.

Mother and son looking at images of art incorporating Farsi script
Artist Gita Hashemi‘s Book of Illuminations.

Contemporary use of calligraphy by Iranian artists

Many Iranian artists find inspiration in the traditional forms of Persian Calligraphy. However, few are able to successfully marry the traditional forms of calligraphy with a contemporary voice in new and successful ways. One of these artists is Gita Hashemi, whose recent project “The Book of Illuminations” is featured in “The Third Space” exhibition. In this work Hashemi explores the intersection between politics and the personal through calligraphic representations of culturally charged words. Her calligraphy paintings do not merely render poetic verses, but aim to unpack the meaning behind words that we use on a daily basis to symbolically question cultural in-tolerances. One example uses the word “غربتی” which is a derogatory term that comes from the root word “غربت” and means the longing for one’s homeland. But used as an offensive term, it takes on a new meaning and refers to that person as someone who does not belong, and does not fit into the norm. These terms shown here in proximity to the personal narration of the artist’s life writing speak to the expectations placed on us and the limitations of societal benchmarks. Hashemi’s The Book of Illuminations is a fresh approach to the long tradition of calligraphy from Iran and uses a feminist perspective to challenge this traditionally male-dominated, decorative practice by inserting the political into the equation.


Artist Gita Hashemi‘s Book of Illuminations.

In another project, Toronto based artist, Sona Safaei, uses the Farsi and English alphabet and essay writing styles  to uncover the differences in the two languages, which intern demonstrate alternative ways of thinking through a subject. Her process often engages with lost meanings in translations, as she questions the possibility of communications across cultures through looking at the self and the feelings associated with otherness. In The Third Space exhibition, Safaei-Sooreh two works respond to the meeting of two languages (English and Farsi). In Alphabet, the viewer finds herself in front of a split screen video as the camera tracks two alphabets being hand written in pencil – one in English, from left to right, and the other in Farsi, from right to left. A dense and textured sound enhances the experience of watching each gesture. The sounds from the left and right videos combine in a seamless collaboration. An amalgamation occurs precisely at the moment when the video loop comes to a close and both sets of alphabets have been written out tin their entirety. This charming momentary union marks an important occurrence, as the English alphabet includes 26 letters and the Persian alphabet 32, this serendipitous synchronicity signals a potential for cohesion of these two cultures. Safaei-Sooreh’s second work titled, Border is a dual channel video installation in which two sets of texts on the subject of art intersect at the corner of a room. The writing disappears on the borderline where adjacent walls meet, creating a unique experience for the viewer, as the piece examines the duality of experiences always at play in transcultural situations.


Artist Sona Safaei-Sooreh’s Alphabet.

CLOSING TOMORROW SUNDAY SEPT 15!
The Third Space is on at the Harbourfront Centre’s York Quay Gallery.

LOCATION
235 Queens Quay W.
Toronto, ON
M5J 2G8, Canada
HOURS
Saturday: Noon – 6 pm
Sunday: Noon – 6 pm
For more information visit the website.

All above images courtesy of curator Sanaz Mazinani’s.

 

ISLAND SOUL: Testimonials about Haiti @ Harbourfront Centre

Two women dressed up for Caribbean carnival outfits with feathers Image by Ahmed Sirry for Mixed Bag Mag. 

One of our most popular festivals! Island Soul celebrates the rich artistic traditions, emerging art forms, innovative expressions and vibrant lifestyles of the Caribbean

It’s time for Carnival again in Toronto. The Caribana Parade can be a bit congested so if you are looking for Caribbean flavour with a more rock steady tempo then check out Island Soul Festival at Harbourfront Centre. Every year, corresponding with the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival (Caribana), Harbourfront focuses its programming on the Caribbean including the Caribbean Diaspora community here in Toronto.

“This four-day festival explores the diverse cultural terrain of the island nations, featuring a rich mix of music, dance, film, art and games, curated for multi-generational audiences. The music and arts of the islands have travelled across physical terrains to influence and inspire cross-cultural expressions. Island Soul offers a platform to share unique traditions, highlight commonalities, explore differences and pass along the soul of the Caribbean from generation to generation.”

This year Festival Kompa Zouk Ontario Presents: Testimonials About Haiti – Témoignages autour d’Haiti

“This group exhibition brings together the best Torontonian artists who have a love for Haiti, and took the time to showcase Haiti in all its forms after the earthquake. This is a gallery of photos and paintings.

Cette exposition collective rassemblera les meilleurs artistes Torontois qui ont un amour pour Haiti, et qui ont pris la peine, de nous peindre Haiti dans toutes ses formes après le tremblement de terre. Ce sera une gallerie de photos et de peintures.”

Artists – Gabriel Osson, Annik Chalifour, & Marie-Cecile Pierre-Jerome and more…

Artistes – Gabriel Osson, Annik Chalifour, & Marie-Cecile Pierre-Jerome et de plus..

Above painting by A. Morancy provided by Harbourfront Centre.

This exhibit runs August 2 – 5 at the Marilyn Brewer Community Space (Harbourfront Centre), 235 Queens Quay West. View map.

 

Photo courtesy of Annik Chalifour. 

 

WRITTEN ON THE BODY/ POLITICS OF POETRY: Iranian Artists & the Power of Script Pt 1

Cover of magazine with woman in chador, the barrel of a gun pointing out beside her right ear and Farsi script written over her face.

Establishing the Vocabulary of the Visuals

When Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s photography first started appearing the language, whether you understood Farsi or not, was explosive.

The images mixed violence, tenderness, and sensuality in a way I had never encountered before. I was used to seeing women valued in art as an aesthetic but not as a stage upon which a woman could perform an act of defiance by literally writing the script of her own point of view upon the body.

This was 1990s and the voices of women artists, especially of non-Western origin, were still muffled under the (wet) blanket of Modernity’s traditions in the way we were to experience art, talk about art as well as conduct the business of art.

Above image from Islamic Arts Magazine article on Shirin Neshat.

“I feel a strong parallel between the writings of contemporary Iranian poets and my images, which visualize the metaphors that are so important in the text.” ~ Shirin Neshat in World Art Magazine, 1996

no one is thinking about the flowers
no one is thinking about the fish
no one wants to believe
the garden is dying
that the garden’s heart is swollen under the sun
that the garden
is slowly forgetting its green moments
~ Forugh Farrokhzād

Above image from Islamic Arts Magazine article on Shirin Neshat.

For me, the contemporary art I was studying in university and experiencing in galleries felt foreign and unrecognizable – not so much to my eyes but to my soul. In the experience of Shirin’s work I found a homeland. It was the gestures – the female hands and lips. It was the look in the eyes staring from one female to another. This time a woman’s gaze was directing the compositional outcome.

Photograph on page of magazine with woman holding a gun between her feet and Farsi script written on the bottom of them.

Since that time there has been an outburst of women in art. Internationally the work of women is some of the most exciting work to be encountered. The art is layered with explorative technique and quick cleverness as well as being emotionally charged.

But the commentary provided in the work is not exclusive to the female mind. Much of the work being produced is about the experience of being human.

Sona Safaei-Sooreh’s installation Alphabet and Border, currently showing at York Quay Gallery (Harbourfront Centre) as part of curator Sanaz Mazinani‘s The  Third Space Exhibit uses a video of English text converging with Farsi script to get the audience to consider the contemporary condition of ever collapsing boundaries.

Sona Safaei-Sooreh installation “Alphabet and Border”. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Border is a video installation in which Farsi and English texts move towards a corner of a room and disappear on the borderline of two walls. It is about arbitrariness of rules and regulations, the sense of in-between-ness, duality and ambivalence that one experiences in a transcultural situation.

The borderline is a narrow vertical line between two walls: the joint. The place two walls meet.  This very “thin line” changes the direction of one’s eye, all of a sudden similar to geopolitical borders in between countries. One step back or forth one is occupied with different laws and orders.”

This beautiful short by Elnaz Maassoumian treats text in a different way less about its abstraction and more about the poetics of its meaning as interpreted by the viewer.

Untitled from Elnaz Maassoumian on Vimeo.

From literal translation of text back over to abstraction Elnaz’ piece featured in The Third Space exhibit is about the “Poetics of Space”.

Image from curator Sanaz Mazinani‘s Facebook page.

“I am interested in Gaston Bachelard’s idea from The Poetics of Space. Bachelard talks about different kinds of spaces: nests, shells, corners…These spaces are approached both from their physical and metaphorical aspects: they offer refuge and constitute ‘doors for the imagination’.  I am interested in the potentials of space. By this I mean the exploration of the possible uses that a space offers. I am approaching this through the reconfiguration of a given space to accommodate specific needs which can change over time. For these purposes, flexible, malleable materials constitute ideal means. They can be easily retooled or reshape to conform given purposes. They also open rich possibilities for redefinition of the relation between private-public; in-out; isolation-connection; visible-invisible.”   More images on Elnaz’s website

To gain more insight into Shirin’s powerful imagery, both in the still and moving image, MIXED BAG MAG recommends Tirgan Festival at Harbourfront Centre this coming weekend. Shirin will be giving talks on her body of work and there will be screenings of both her feature film Women Without Men as well as her shorts. All events are FREE!

FRIDAY, JULY 19
7 pm – Correlations of Visual Arts & Cinema Q & A with Shoja Azari, Shirin Neshat, Babak Payami @ Lakeside Terrace, Harbourfront Centre

9 pm – Collection of Short Films by Shirin Neshat @ Studio Theatre Harbourfront Centre


SATURDAY, JULY 20

1 pm – Women Without Men Screening with Q & A @ Studio Theatre Harbourfront Centre

9:30 pm – Women Without Men Screening with Q & A

ONGOING

The Third Space Exhibit is ongoing until September 15 at Harbourfront Centre.

Work by Gita Hashemi. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

CONTEMPORARY ABORIGINAL ART: Resources for All The Talent

Aboriginal dance troupe performing outside on hills at night with city of Toronto as backdropKaha:wi Dance Theatre performing The Honouring at Fort York, Toronto. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Experiencing “The Honouring” by Kaha:wi Dance Theatres

It was a mad dash to Fort York from the MacMillan Theatre just coming out of Feng Yi Ting, the contemporary Chinese opera directed by Atom Egoyan as part of Luminato ’13.

I was determined and praying to the Gods & Goddesses of Transport that they would remove all obstacles one may encounter when riding the TTC.

I made it. A little late but it was worth the sprint up to Fort York from Bathurst, camera bag and all.

Aboriginal dance troupe performing outside on hills at night with city of Toronto as backdrop

What a stunning venue! The open air, the smell of the fires, the grass covered hills, old rock walls and the cityscape in behind. The context was beautiful but the visual juxtaposition points to an unfortunate history. The Honouring is:

“a site-specific multi-disciplinary performance honouring First Nations warriors of the War of 1812, featuring Onkwehonwe families who sacrificed to protect Haudenosaunee sovereignty, culture and land. Audiences have the opportunity to understand the complexity of the War of 1812 through the experiential lens of First Nations, offering a human face to our history.  All First Nations took part in the War of 1812 as sovereign Nation allies to Britain. 
The Honouring pays homage to their personal sacrifices and belief in what was the best for their family, community and future generations.”  More info…

Here’s a sampling of just how stunning the work of Kaha:wi is:

“Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT) is one of Canada’s leading contemporary dance companies, recognized for its seamless fusing of indigenous and contemporary dance into a compelling signature choreographic vision.”  Read more…

As part of a continuation of MIXED BAG MAG’s post on National Aboriginal Day and the challenge put out there to Canadians to find out more about contemporary Aboriginal art here are some MIXED BAG MAG recommendations to get everyone started.

All of these organizations, programs, artists, and exhibitions work to dismantle the legacy of stereotypes that has stopped the dominant culture from seeing the dimensionality that we all carry within us as creative human beings as well as offer a critical voice regarding not only Canada’s First Peoples but Indigenous Peoples from around the world.

The below list focuses on Aboriginal arts in Canada and predominantly new media /visual artists. Stay tuned for a part two that will  include much more!

ARTS ORGANIZATIONS AND GALLERIES THAT FOCUS ON CONTEMPORARY FIRST NATIONS, MÉTIS, INUIT & INDIGENOUS CULTURE

ImagineNATIVE Film & Media Festival (Toronto)
The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival celebrates the latest works by Indigenous peoples at the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio, and new media. Each fall, imagineNATIVE presents a selection of the most compelling and distinctive Indigenous works from around the globe.”  More info…

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Planet Indigenus (Toronto)
Since 2004, Planet Indigenus, in partnership with Brantford, Ontario’s Woodland Cultural Centre, has explored such ancestry and cultures through Indigenous artists. Through a 10-day, international, multidisciplinary arts festivals attended by over 700,000 people… Planet IndigenUS has raised public awareness, broken stereotypes and fostered a cross-cultural dialogue between Canadians.”  More info…

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Woodlands Cultural Centre (Brantford)
“The Woodland Cultural Centre was established in October 1972 under the direction of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians upon the closure of the Mohawk Institute Residential School. The Centre originally began its focus on collecting research and artifacts to develop its library and museum collections.  More info…

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Installation in art gallery
Installation by Roland Souliere at Urban Shaman. Image from www.rolandsouliere.com.

Urban Shaman (Winnipeg)
“Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art is a nationally recognized leader in Aboriginal arts programming and one of the foremost venues and voices for Aboriginal art in Canada.”  More info…

Young naked females wrapped in Hudson Bay blanket holding a teddy bear between the two of them.
Blanket 1 by Keesic Douglas part of Close Encounters exhibit at Urban Shaman. Image from www.artsforall.ca.

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Installation in gallery of patchwork flags and dolls
Work by Natalie Ball at Grunt Gallery. Image from www.grunt.ca.

Grunt Gallery (Vancouver)
Grunt is an artist-run centre founded in 1984 in Vancouver, BC, with a vision to be an international renowned artist-run centre furthering contemporary art practice. Through the exploration of our diverse Canadian cultural identity we offer innovative public programming in exhibitions, performances, artist talks, publications and special projects.” More info…

Gallery room full of canvases painted in West Coast art style
Work by Andrew Dexel at Grunt Gallery. Image from gruntarchives.tumblr.com.

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AbTec (Montreal)
AbTeC is a network of academics, artists and technologists whose goal is to define and share conceptual and practical tools that will allow us to create new, Aboriginally-determined territories within the web-pages, online games, and virtual environments that we call cyberspace.”  More info…


Work by Skawennati Fragnito of AbTec. Image from www.facebook.com/skawennati.

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Large painting by Isaac Narciso Weber of OCADU’s Indigenous Visual Culture Program, exhibit as part of  Planet Indigenus Festival. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Indigenous Visual Culture Program @ OCAD U (Toronto)
The program prepares students to engage in complex and evolving global discourses in Aboriginal history, art history and contemporary art practice across a range of expressions, material and media.”  More info…


Work in foreground by Tara Bursey from OCADU’s Indigenous Visual Culture Program, exhibit as part of Harbourfront Centre’s Planet Indigenus Festival. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

CURRENT & RECENT EXHIBITIONS CONTEMPORARY FIRST NATIONS, MÉTIS, INUIT & INDIGENOUS CULTURE

Logo that says Indigenous And Urban

Indigenous & Urban @ The Museum of Civilization (Ottawa)
OPENING TODAY!
“Live. Engaging. Diverse. Inspired and challenged by contemporary urban life,Canadian Indigenous artists address issues of identity and stereotypes through humorous and thought-provoking works. Indigenous and Urban is a summer-long program featuring visual and media arts, music, dance, film, readings and interactive workshops.”  More info…

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IN THE FLESH (Ottawa)
“In the Flesh examines the hierarchical relationship between humans and animals within a cultural and museological context, and investigates colonial politics, as well as issues of gender as they relate to the mastery of the natural world…In the Flesh grants us visual access to nature while calling into question the politics of representation. As the guest catalogue essayist Ariel Smith notes: “With In the Flesh, the Ottawa Art Gallery participates in a city-wide indigenization of gallery spaces to coincide with the National Gallery of Canada’s Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art exhibition. This indigenization does not exist within a vacuum, and we must reflect on the ways in which these acts of claiming space respond to and are in conversation with both the current and historical politics of Indigenous cultural sovereignty.””
More info…

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Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art (Ottawa)
CURRENTLY RUNNING UNTIL SEPT 2, 2013
“Sakahàn—meaning “to light [a fire]” in the language of the Algonquin peoples—brings together more than 150 works of recent Indigenous art by over 80 artists from 16 countries, celebrating the National Gallery’s ongoing commitment to the study and appreciation of Indigenous art. This exhibition is the first in an ongoing series of surveys of Indigenous art. The artworks in Sakahàn provide diverse responses to what it means to be Indigenous today. Through their works, the artists engage with ideas of self-representation to question colonial narratives and present parallel histories; place value on the handmade; explore relationships between the spiritual, the uncanny and the everyday; and put forward highly personal responses to the impact of social and cultural trauma. The artworks range from video installations to sculptures, drawings, prints, paintings, performance art, murals and other new, site-specific projects created specifically for this exhibition.”  More info…


Cover of Sakahan Catalogue. Image from www.amazon.com.

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Border Cultures Part One: homes, land (Windsor)
2013

“Border Cultures: Part One (homes, land) brings together artists working locally and nationally with those exploring these issues in Ireland, Mexico, Palestine to list a few. Using drawing and printmaking, sculpture and photography, video and sound-based installations, artists in this exhibition develop nuanced critiques and perspectives on questions of nationhood, citizenship and identity in the border-lands” More Info…


Installation by Dylan Miner. Image by Frank Piccolo on wcontemporaryart.wordpress.com.

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Contemporary Aboriginal art in a large gallery space with white wallsInstallation view of Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture at The Power Plant, Toronto, December 2012 – May 2013. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.

Beat Nation (Toronto)
2013
Beat Nation describes a generation of artists who juxtapose urban youth culture with Aboriginal identity to create innovative and unexpected new works that reflect the current realities of Aboriginal peoples today. ”  More info…

Contemporary Aboriginal art in a large gallery space with white walls
Installation view of Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture at The Power Plant, Toronto, December 2012 – May 2013. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid.

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Poster for Fashionality featuring the work of Dana Claxton.

Fashionality @ The McMichael (Kleinberg)
2012
“Fashionality” is a newly coined term that refers to the visual culture and semiotics of dress and adornment. Combining the words “fashion,” “personality,” and “nationality,” it reflects the interplay between clothing, identity, and culture.”  More info…


Poster for Fashionality featuring the work of KC Adams.

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Art work by Luke Parnell. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Not So Fast | NSF (Toronto)
2012
“Objects tell a story and reveal a history through the way they are made. In the current state of late-capitalism, value is often measured in terms of speed and efficiency. NOT SO FAST | NSF invites a reconsideration of time and place to present different kinds of value. This exhibition brings together works by seven Indigenous artists who address the many products and by-products of consumer society.”  More info…


Work by Tania Willard. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

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AboDIGITAL (Kelowna)
2012
“In aboDIGITAL, Mi’kmaw artist Jordan Bennett examines the interface of audio-visual technologies and the internet with his First Nations heritage. Bennett’s art deftly blends such seemingly disparate elements as Mi’kmaq worldview, hip hop culture, ceremonial practice and graffiti aesthetics, creating dynamic works that express the fluidity, vitality and continuity of Aboriginal cultures in the present.More info…

Painting of a google search with the words "why are native americans' and the resulting drop down of resultsPainting by Jordan Bennett. Image from www.alternatorcentre.com.

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Artist Sonny Assu with Decolonize Me curator Heather Igloliorte.

Decolonize Me (Ottawa)
2011
“Decolonize Me features six contemporary Aboriginal artists whose works challenge, interrogate and reveal Canada’s long history of colonization in daring and innovative ways. Deliberately riffing on the title of Morgan Spurlock’s film, the pop-cultural phenomenon Super Size Me (2004), the exhibition’s title emphasizes the importance of recognizing the role of the individual within larger discussions of shared colonial histories and present-day cultural politics.” More info…


Decolonize Me show at Bishop University. Image from www.ubishops.ca.

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Image from www.ago.net.

Inuit Modern @ The AGO (Toronto)
2011
The exhibition considers how the Inuit have coped with and responded to the swift transition from a traditional lifestyle to one marked by the disturbing complexities of globalization and climate change.  More info

& The Inuit Modern Symposium
“Inuit artists and thinkers reflected on this statement during a three-part online symposium..
. It explored the questions: What are the current issues affecting Inuit art today and how has modernity complicated life in Canada’s far North? How has Inuit art changed the way that Canada and Inuit are viewed internationally?”  More on…

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Image from the cover of Close Encounters Catalogue.

Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years
2011
“A banner project for Winnipeg Cultural Capital of Canada 2010 Program comprised of a large-scale exhibition focused on presenting Indigenous art from around the world. This is an incredibly important show, featuring the work of a number of renowned Canadian Indigenous artists, complemented by some of the most innovative and engaging work drawn from Indigenous populations across the globe” More info…


Work by Pudlo Pudlat. Image from www.closeencounters.ca.

Aboriginal dance troupe performing outside on hills at night with city of Toronto as backdropKaha:wi Dance Theatre performing The Honouring at Fort York, Toronto. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

DANCE TO THE BEAT OF ANOTHER DRUM: At Harbourfront Centre & The Power Plant this Weekend

The best from China. The best from Canada. In Toronto.

The most magical space that joins us all in some deep and ancient place is dance – the mysteriousness of a beat and where it takes our hearts, and minds when we start to move our feet.

One of the best places in this city to experience incredible dance is at the Fleck Dance Theatre. Part of the Harbourfront Centre, with programs like World Stage and Next Steps, Fleck showcases the most talented dancers and choreographers from home and around the world.

And just steps away is The Power Plant “Canada’s leading public gallery devoted exclusively to contemporary visual art” (cited www.thepowerplant.org)

Stunning Contemporary Chinese Dance.

Tonight and tomorrow Fleck features the Chinese dance troupe TAO Dance Theater. Reviews of their show Weight x3 & 2 have been amazing. Time to treat yourself, a little something for your soul!

A Mashup of Music, Art & Dance.  

And also on tonight, as part of the programming for Beat Nation, the Power Plant hosts a dance battle bringing into the gallery “dancers representing moments in Aboriginal and hip-hop dance history to create a unique, interdisciplinary event…16 of Toronto’s best dance crews will compete for $1,000 cash prize in a 2-on-2 elimination battle format and time rounds. ” (cited www.thepowerplant.org)

The Beat Nation Exhibit will be open until 9 with the competition beginning at 8:30.

This weekend dance to the south east west north earth sky.

TONIGHT & TOMORROW NIGHT…
TAO Dance Theater of China presents
Weight x3 & 2
Fleck Dance Theatre @ 8 pm
Purchase Tickets Here | Directions to Fleck

TONIGHT…
Beat Nation Dance Battle
The Power Plant
5:30 – 9 pm Gallery Open | 5:30 – 8:30 Cash Bar | 8:30 Dance Battle Begins
Directions to The Power Plant

MIXED BAG MAG also recommends checking out Vancouver’s Grunt Gallery and Beat Nation’s official website full of the good stuff and a taste of what you can find at The Power Plant!

#FF on Twitter:
@HarbourfrontTO
@ThePowerPlantTO
@gruntgallery
#PPBeatNAtion
#DanceTO

NOUVELLE VAGUE: Finding the Humour in the New Wave of French Design

Retroviseur Domestique by Onna Vautrin
Retroviseur Domestique by Ionna VautrinImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague

Humour, like most of our tastes and predilections, may be influenced by our culture but that doesn’t mean that if we are the outsiders we can’t be let in on the joke.

After coming to Toronto in the fall of 2011 as part of a lecture series at OCAD U titled “New Forces in French Design”, journalist and curator Cédric Morisset has returned in spirit with the exhibition Nouvelle Vague.  In this show at the Harbourfront Centre, he has brought together an interesting collection of work from contemporary French designers.

At the lecture I attended Cédric characterized contemporary French design as possessing an inherent sense of “serious humour”. At the opening reception for Nouvelle Vague I experienced a little more about what he was referring to.  Upon entering the exhibit one is greeted with some humour noir. “Souvien Toi Que Tu Vas Mourir” (Remember That You Will Die) by the design studio Pool is a replica of those ubiquitous white plastic seats – the chair that is everywhere from Palestine to Phuket. Why the grim face? Designer Jean-Christophe Orthlieb of NOCC explains to me that the cutout skull is a twist suggesting the fate of these chairs.  When our derrières no longer need to be seated and our souls have left this world they will remain, overpopulating landfills across the globe. Made with materials that might just be in a competitive dead heat with uranium for half-live cycles, the chairs are a lasting testament to our dependence on chemically toxic and environmentally devastating petroleum based plastics.

“Souvien Toi Que Tu Vas Mourir” by Pool“Souvien Toi Que Tu Vas Mourir” by Pool Image courtesy Nouvelle Vague

Hypertrophy Chair by NOCC
Hypertrophy Chair by NOCCImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague

Jean-Christophe’s own chair designed with partner Juan Pablo Naranjo also utilizes some dark humour. The Hypertrophy Chair has its own ominous back-story.

“For Radiation Collection (in Chernobyl) we imagined a scenario in which traditional pieces of furniture would have endured some kind of radiation; where their genes would have mutated.”

Despite this chair’s inspiration arising from a dystopic tale it really is quite lovely as well as perfectly practical. It is this practicality I come to appreciate while getting to know this show.  The design that best exemplifies this is NOCC’s Elements.

“Elements is a shelving system that explores the concept of DIY (Do It Yourself). The actual object is a 1mm aluminum flat sheet that the user shapes by himself thanks to a special laser-cut folding system assembled with standard 18mm thick wood boards that can have any type of length and finish. The shelf can be assembled in a traditional upright way, as well in a deconstructed form, to better adapt its setting place.”

As someone who has a serious obsession with dense and large antique quarter oak furniture, I quite like the idea of packing brackets into a backpack with the ability to set-up-shop anywhere. In the spirit of being a 21st Century global nomad, it’s all about keeping the load light along with one’s carbon footprint. 

Elements shelving unit by NOCC Elements shelving unit by NOCCImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague

Getting back to this idea of “serious humour” the practicality is not without a sense of play. NOCC’s Elements brings to mind the memory of tinkering with my father’s childhood Erector Set snapping together the metal frames to construct whatever configuration was my fancy.

Another stunning piece that combines this ’practical playfulness’ is A + A Cooren’s Yabane chest of drawers that opens in both directions just in case you feel like being a little unconventional in your morning dress routine, a feature that also gives this piece the duality of being both a chest of drawers and a room divider.

Yabane chest of drawers by A + A Cooren’sYabane chest of drawers by A + A Cooren’sImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague

“Jean” Clock by Pierre Favresse
“Jean” Clock by Pierre FavresseImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague

But the collection would not truly be French without the contribution of beauty! A gorgeous piece that I fell-in-amour-for was Pierre Favresse’s “Jean” Clock.

 “Time and life are inextricably linked – we feel time pressures in our daily lives and wish we had more time; our time on this earth is limited and dictated by a clicking clock…Time therefore is something powerful yet fragile, which is why I wanted to encase it in a delicate white cloud of glass”

Explaining to me that perhaps it was his wife’s pregnancy at the time that informed the shape one wonders if it was not also the sentimentality we feel as our life’s rites of passages quickly slide by. We long to stop the clock and capture the moment so we can hold onto it forever.

Tidelight by Pierre FavresseTidelight by Pierre FavresseImage by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. 

Also by Pierre is Tidelight. For this piece he took inspiration from an automobile headlight which for me created a highlight of the exhibition as I love the way it feathers light across a surface. Along with his designs in glass, Nouvelle Vague features several chair designs by Pierre who is the Artistic Director for habitat.

Chairs from the Perch Collection by Pierre Favresse
Chairs from the Perch Collection by Pierre FavresseImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague

The irony of this show is not lost on the way the materials are used to explore opposites. The pièce de résistance is A + A Cooren’s vase, Tourbillon, literally an ironic twist of materials that plays with the rigidity of glass to create an illusion of fluidity.  We are left with the impression of flowing water and wild wind.

Tourbillon, vase by A + A CoorenTourbillon, vase by A + A Cooren. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. 

Closing this Sunday, MIXED BAG MAG recommends this show if you are interested in the tongue-in-cheek visuals of contemporary French design.

Visit the Nouvelle Vague website. More information on Harbourfront’s website.
Show presented in partnership with the Consulate General of France in Toronto and the Institut français.

Logos for Consulat General of France and the Institut Francais

French Design exhibit Nouvelle Vague at Harbourfront Centre TorontoIn the foreground Louxor light by Pool. Images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. 

French Design exhibit Nouvelle Vague at Harbourfront Centre Toronto
Top image Hypertrophy Chair by NOCC. Bottom image Oeil de sorcière (Witch’s Eye) Ionna VautrinImages by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. 

French designers Jean-Christophe Orthlieb and Pierre Favresse at Nouvelle Vague French designers Jean-Christophe Orthlieb of NOCC and Pierre Favresse

 

HARBOURFRONT CENTRE SOUNDCLASH: & the winner is! Chloe Charles

Chloe Charles, a musical mix!

It has been a month of musical-mashup-madness with more coming up next week when Small World Music’s 2012 Festival begins (Sept 20 – 30). This week though you can take in the unique “genre mushing” music of Chloe Charles, this year’s Harbourfront Centre SoundClash Winner, at her video release party for her newest single “Business”.

With musical styling that is distinctive and a voice that is touching, Mixed Bag Mag wishes Chloe continued success in what has been a great year for her!

You can RSVP and get the deets on Chloe’s facebook page and follow Chloe on her blog or on twitter @chloe_charles