Saturday, April 23 Carleton University will convene conversations on conservation
Last year I attended an engaging symposium on heritage conservation put on by Carleton University Students. Last year’s theme was Unsettling Heritage. This year the conversation will be focused on New Identities / Voices in Conservation and will pose the questions:
Whose heritage are we conserving?
Whose heritage is being unrepresented or underrepresented in the heritage conservation discourse of the 21st century?
“This theme aims to critically address missing identities and voices in the heritage field and/or highlight alternative stories and perspectives in heritage conservation.”
“In recent years, the identification and conservation of cultural heritage resources—the built environment, cultural landscapes, or intangible heritage—by heritage professionals, has needed to expand and broaden its understanding of community histories to address the plurality and the multi-narratives that exist in our communities. Events such as: the release of the Final Report on Residential Schools by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Occupy movement, the protests for gender equality rights, the push for youth engagement in civic duties (voting), and the global issue of refugees and immigration, have recently highlighted some of these ignored or unknown identities and voices that exist, and which have been underrepresented or unrepresented in the field of heritage conservation.” Read more…
Online registration closes tomorrow at noon. Tickets will also be available at the venue door Mill Street Brewery, 555 Wellington Street, Ottawa.
WHERE: Mill Street Brewery, 555 Wellington Street WHEN: Saturday, April 23 from 9:00 am to 4 pm COST: $15 Students / $45 General Admission (Online Registration) $20 Students / $50 General Admission (At the Door)
Rideau Hall Foundation Activators at Rideau Hall, Ottawa.
In a word this past week has been tremendous! Last fall, on a hunch, I decided to visit Ottawa again after two great visits during the summer for Sakàhan at the National Gallery of Canada. I thought I would stay for just a month. Fast forward a year later and I have decided to make Ottawa my (more) permanent home (with regular visits back to my community in Toronto). The decision to stay has turned out to be a good one!
Now on Board at CUAG, Ottawa!
A week ago it was officially announced that I will be joining the Advisory Board for the Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG). When I walked into CUAG for the first time last year to visit Rebecca Belmore’s What is Said and What is Done (literally minutes before it wrapped) I knew I loved what CUAG was up to! Since my arrival in Ottawa they have consistently hosted incredible shows with more amazing ones lined up for the fall season.
Activating Rideau Hall.
This past weekend I was one of 40 people selected across Canada to be an
“activator” and take part in an incubator for the Governor General His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston’s legacy project Rideau Hall Foundation (Let’s Build Rideau Hall Foundation). As part of the branding team it was our mission to start to envision the key messages and look of the future RHF as well as how to get the word out to potential audiences. It was intense, exhausting and absolutely exhilarating because at the end of it all I realized how truly radical a space I was in. The leaders and co-creators I worked with are committed to building a New Canada that seeks to reconcile historical narratives that have been about exclusion and invisibility in order to grow as a country committed to deep diversity.
Presenting on Culture.
Yesterday I got word that I have been selected to present at the former Governor General Michaëlle Jean’s Power of the Arts Forum. I will be speaking on “THE CURATOR AS A 21ST CENTURY AGENT OF CHANGE: Assessing the role the institutional curator can play in facilitating deep cultural transformation in Canada.”
And it doesn’t end there! A few more wonderful initiatives are in the works. Canada’s Capital City is full of Change Agents and Cultural Provocateurs. I have been fortunate to join such a wonderful community of talent!
“The public knows, on the whole, very little about Vodou…”
…It is a world weighed down by centuries of fabrication, most of it negative. Since the twentieth century, with the help of many literary works and films, numerous prejudices and clichés have been passed off as true: the omnipresence of black magic and zombies, the evil Vodou doll, etc. Such a context makes Vodou a dream subject for anyone who values a museum’s educational mission, since there is much to be done.” ~Curator, Mauro Peressini
As my friend and I walked into the last room in the Vodou Exhibition at the Museum of Civilization she commented that really, for all the division religion creates, there are always core elements in each that remain consistent – a code of ethics, respect for a higher power, belief in the afterlife as well as a faith that in this world we have the ability to call upon guides in the spiritual realm to intercede on our behalf.
Vodou is no different. “God is perceived as a general energy that is quite powerful and the lwa are the manifestations of that energy…the sparks of the Great Energy in the elements [earth, fire, sky, water].”Gran Mèt (The Great Master) is “an entity so absolute that one can neither imagine it nor communicate directly with it.”
The exhibit, upon first glance, may not seem to shift from stereotypes – there are skulls, dark creatures, videos of practitioners in trance – but this well curated exhibit is intersected every few feet with video stations where you can pause and have the mystery of what you are witnessing explained.
These videos are key in communicating what Voudoists would like you to take away from the exhibit. If you are willing to interact and take them in you will leave at the end of your journey through the exhibit with a profound insight into this rich and deeply layered spiritual practice.
“The voices and perspectives of Vodouists have a special place in Vodou…”
“…That is one of the essential characteristics of the exhibition. When we consider a cultural or religious group that is different from our own, learning what its members have to say about their reality is a fundamental first step, is it not?” ~Curator, Mauro Peressini
What on the surface looks a preoccupation with death, skulls often represent the presence of our ancestors and the connection we have to them in this life as comrades in our daily battles.
The lwa can be understood as energy archetypes that when we are unbalanced or repressing what we don’t dare speak are accessible to us in order to seek comfort and regain emotional composure.
Mirrors “associated with the spirit world…are protective channels that connect that world with the world of humans”
Pe (altars) “The many objects assembled on our pe remind us of our collective past and present, as well as of the personal and spiritual history of those to whom they belong. The objects are the accumulated traces of our relationships with our ancestors and our lwa (spirits)…”
“Recounting of Haiti’s harsh past reveals the extent to which the country’s long history of slavery….has shaped Vodou symbols and practises.”
A religion of revolt, Vodou was birthed from the conditions of chaos and oppression. It was a cosmology that gave order and empowerment to people suffering greatly. Ciboney and Taino, the Indigenous People of the island that is now Haiti, and the slaves brought over from Africa found a synthesis that not only allowed them a way to keep a spiritual practice despite being dislocated and uprooted but Vodou gave them a type of lingua franca that led to the eventual overthrow of the colonists.
“The curators worked in close consultation with members of Haitian-Canadian communities to help ensure the authenticity of the exhibition. The result is an experience that brings museum-goers into direct contact with Vodou artifacts and the people who use them.”
What I appreciated most about the curatorial vision of this exhibit was how interactive technology was utilized in order to have the audience converse back with the practitioners who opened up their world. Upon leaving the exhibit through a circular room of large mirrors a small private area allows you to speak to a computer to leave a message of your impressions of the exhibit. You are also invited to stay and watch the previous messages. Quite amazing!
The exhibit contains over 300+ plus objects, part of the Lehmann Collection, the largest collection of its kind in the world. The curators of the Vodou, Mauro Peressini (Museum of Civilization), Didier Dominique and Rachel Beauvoir-Dominique, have done an incredible job in producing a provocative show that challenges and leaves one changed.
Vodou closes this Sunday at the Museum of Civilazation, Gatineau, Quebec.
Science meets art and inspires activism for the environment at the ROM!
“In 2001 the artist David Buckland founded Cape Farewell to instigate a cultural response to climate change. Cape Farewell is now an international not-for-profit programme based in the Science Museum’s Dana Centre in London and with a North American foundation based at the MaRS centre in Toronto.”
Now Cape Farewell has partnered with the ROM: Contemporary Culture to produce the exhibit Carbon14: Climate is Culture and ask ” how does landscape change a culture and how does culture change a landscape?” Utilizing photography, film, multi-media and performance this question is explored with the audience.
Because of the mandate of promoting dialogue, the programming for Carbon14 has included public talks, discussions and conferences around the issues of climate change, sustainability and our cultural responses to them.
“Both ancient and modern, Tanya Tagaq’s performances with long-time collaborator Michael Red fuse her highly personalized throat singing style with Red’s electronic sound art. When the two perform, Tagaq’s powerful, fervent vocals enmesh with layered rhythms and melodies built from Red’s collection of natural Arctic sonic elements (wind, ice, birds, etc.). The collaboration yields a fascinating, highly improvised mix of digital effects, dance and dub-inspired beats and bass, and shape shifting soundscapes.”Read more on Tanya…
This Sunday Staging Sustainability, a conference whose aim is to “focus on ways in which performance can positively affect our planet”, begins and runs until Wednesday, February 5.
“Using media from the land — soapstone, bone and ivory — Ishulutaq’s carving explores global warming and its impacts on glaciers, ice, wildlife, and weather, while encouraging the cultures of the North and South to join hands in taking care of the environment and each other.” Read more…
Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change by Zacharias Kunuk + Ian Mauro
“Qapirangajuq is the world’s first Inuktitut language film on climate change and includes the traditional knowledge and experience of Inuit elders and hunters from across Nunavut. Travelling on the land, the viewer sees firsthand the Arctic and its people, and how they are interconnected and affected by a warming world.” Read more…
“Deep Time, a new multi-screen work by Melanie Gilligan and Tom Ackers, blends fiction, animation, and documentary to investigate the complex relationships between systemic phenomena created by humans (such as global warming, ocean chemistry change, and capitalism) and ocean ecosystems, the often-forgotten foundation of life on this planet.”Read more…
Beekeeping for All by Myfanwy MacLeod + Janna Levitt
“In every bee colony, thousands of individuals work in a highly intelligent, co-dependent and hierarchical manner to build hives, and in the act of doing so, provide a fundamental service to all of nature and, almost incidentally, to human survival. Without pollination, there is no agriculture. Without bees transmitting genetic information triggering the creation of new life, new food, new beauty, and growth, we as humans cannot nourish successive generations or ourselves.”Read more…
“A collaborative presentation by Mel Chin, with the people of the Western Sahara, Ahmed Boukhari, Dr. Richard Corkish, Markus A. R. Kayser, Mohamed Sleiman Labat, Jonathan Teo, with thanks to Robin Kahn, Kirby Gookin, and Representative Mohamed Yeslem Beissat.”Read more…
Corner of Richmond & John St. Toronto. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
Are we in a new time and place?
In a Ali Baba franchise off Richmond Street in Toronto I sat with two friends eating falafel. It was time for the sunset call to prayer. The voice of an imam sang Bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim out from the owner’s laptop.
One friend was explaining Métis history to the other friend originally from Paris. Mon ami parisien paused. With a growing look of elation on his face he declared how beautiful this moment was – the Arabic praise to Allah here in Toronto, traditional Anishinaabe territory, on a busy urban street while speaking of the Métis, a word that is rooted in the French for ‘mix’.
It was a beautiful moment that we, in this hyper-hybrid context of Canada in the 21st Century, can easily take for granted. But these conversations are powerful because they are the wards that support us moving forward towards deep and empathetic inclusivity. The power of storytelling!
And what is happening this week in the Toronto culture scene is storytelling from a multiplicity of viewpoints using various artistic mediums.
(left image of Geisha Ichimaru provided by the Textile Museum)
From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru
“The fascinating life of Ichimaru (1906-1997), one of the most famous geishas of the 20th century due to her exceptional singing voice, is told through this collection of her magnificent kimonos and other personal effects. In the 1930s, Ichimaru left geishahood to pursue an illustrious career as a full-time recording artist, but even as a diva, she continued to perform in full geisha regalia.”Read more…
Runs through to May 25, 2014
Hours Daily 11 am – 5 pm
Wednesdays 11 am – 8 pm
$15 General Admission
Pay What You Can Wednesdays from 5 – 8 pm
Leanne Simpson speaking on a panel at Niigaan Gala. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
The Catalyst Café featuring Leanne Simpson, Tara Williamson, Sean Conway & Nick Ferrio
“Leanne teamed up with Indigenous musicians including Tara Williamson, Nick Ferrio, Sean Conway, Sarah Decarlo, Melody McKiver, Cris Derksen & A Tribe Called Red, to record writings from her book Islands of Decolonial Love as a spoken word/musical performance.
Renowned writer and activist Leanne Simpson vividly explores the lives of contemporary Indigenous Peoples and communities, especially those of her own Nishnaabeg nation in her debut collection of short stories in Islands of Decolonial Love.”Read more…
Thursday January 30
8-10pm @ The Music Gallery, Toronto’s Centre For Creative Music
197 John St.
Doors Open @ 7pm
$15 | $10 students Purchase Tickets Here
Fatourmata Diawara performing at Luminato 2012. Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
Fatoumata Diawara with Bassekou Kouyate
“Named by TIME magazine in late 2012 as one of the next 10 artists poised for stardom, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara originally moved to France to study acting, and appeared in several films before picking up the guitar and writing her own songs. “Enchanting and blissful. Her well-crafted songs are often light and breezy, but her soulful voice brings a bluesy depth and potency that can stop you in your tracks.” Read more…
“Home presents photographs by Jon Blak that explore Caribbean Canadian history, culture, art and music with a particular focus on youth culture. Toronto-based photographer Jon Blak works as an artist and educational outreach mentor. Much of his work addresses racism, stereotypes, and role-modelling for young people. Blak’s images reflect the changing contemporary cultural milieu in both Jamaica and Canada as he examines issues around class, race and cultural production to celebrate the impact of community. Home will include an interactive installation, and a short documentary film by Matthew Mulholland.”Read more…
Opening Saturday, February 1
10 pm – 1 am @ The Gladstone Hotel
Runs until February 28
12 – 5pm Daily 2nd Floor Gallery
PRESENTED BY WEDGE CURATORIAL WITH THE GLADSTONE HOTEL AS PART OF TD THEN & NOW SERIES 2014
Godard Forever: Part One
“The first part of our massive, two-season Jean-Luc Godard retrospective — spanning the French New Wave master’s “Golden Age” from his epochal debut Breathless to the apocalyptic nightmare of Weekend — comprises perhaps the most innovative, influential and revolutionary body of work in all of cinema.”More info & full schedule…
Sowing the seeds of change in programming for youth.
All of us have a story or two about a moment that was magical and breathed life into the parts of our mind that weren’t aware that we could dream so big.
Ottawa based Anishinaabe artist Melody McKiver tells of her mother, as a teenager, meeting Daphne Odjig – one of Canada’s great artists. Her father had taken her to an exhibit in Dryden, in the mid-70s. That chance encounter, although short, was powerful and pivotal in her mother’s life because she never knew that a Native woman could aspire to what Daphne had become.
If you can’t locate yourself in the faces of the makers of culture it may be impossible for you to know that the light inside of you has the potential to shine bright. Which is why programs like Sakahàn Youth are so critical. We won’t understand the full generational impact of Sakahànon the Canadian cultural landscape for a long time but I don’t doubt it will be pivotal for this country.
LARA – “She was a young girl who had participated in the Sakahàn summer camp tours. I explained to the youth about “Āniwaniwa” and how a building that the community had a special connection to was overtaken by a flood. This flood was created by industry people in New Zealand who needed a hydro-electric dam to produce energy for the diamond mine they were putting in. She cried because I related it to losing Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health or the Odawa Native Friendship Centre and having love for a building. [The loss of that building would mean] not being able to practice your culture or traditions or have community gatherings anymore “because, what if the Ottawa River covered it all?” like the Waikato River in Hora Hora did? It was an example of how much this can affect our next generation. The very next visit, she was explaining to a new summer camp youth about Brett Graham’s “Āniwaniwa” piece – she was confident and she wasn’t crying, she was participating and had learned a little piece of Indigenous history.”
Maori artist Brett Graham’s “Āniwaniwa” is one of the moving installations at the National Gallery that communicates, in an aesthetically stunning way, a painful memory. I doubt that there is a single work included at Sakahàn that doesn’t touch on deep pain but with 150 pieces by over 80 Indigenous artists from 16 countries it is clear that there is a growing global movement to express and explore the best way to communicate the legacy of trauma to audiences of all backgrounds.
While visiting Ottawa from New Zealand Brett Graham had a chance to lead a workshop with the summer camp kids. With incredible experiences like this, where the youth are up-close and personal with some of the leading international artists of our time, they get the chance to have many magical moments.
The spark created by Sakahàn will give our youth the chance to go on to create a new cultural legacy for this country. It’s going to be amazing to see the artistic fruits that these children grow.
As well as partnership programs with the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition:
Sakahàn Youth Summer Camps
Concentric Circles – Artists stay at 3 local reserves (Kitigan Zibi, Pikwàkanagàn, Akwesasne) for 1 week
Sakahan School Programs – this program will continue past Sakahan’s closing date of Sept 2 into the school year.
“digiPLAYSPACE is an interactive adventure where kids will engage with emerging creative media technologies and innovative artistic experiences!”
It’s a great time to be a kid! Innovative educators are getting it that for children (and adults too) play = learning. The out-dated model of teaching by dictation followed by recitation needs a DNR order – no resuscitation please! Experiential learning is where it is at. And exhibits like TIFF Bell Lightbox’s popular digiPLAYSPACE give kids that chance to do just that by interacting with “emerging creative media technologies.”
Recently TVO’s The Agenda featured a series called Learning 2030 to explore how these digital technologies will impact the classroom of the future.
“Children born in 2012 will graduate from high school in 2030. They will grow up in a world dominated by the Internet, smartphones, computers, and tablet computers. They will likely participate in a historically crucial transition — one as significant as the introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press — from learning steeped in books and blackboards to learning shaped by the screen.” (cited from www.tvo.org)
In this new world where bits of data come at us from all directions it is essential that the generations coming up understand how to assess and build a framework around information to create relevant meaning. More than ever children need to be taught how to learn rather than just what to learn.
Speaking on the March 1st panel for The Agenda’s The Classroom of 2030 at Kitchener’s Communitech Mark Federman (Alder Graduate Professional School) says that we should replace the emphasis on the 3 Rs to the 4 Cs – Connection, Context, Complexity and Connotation – “we need to become used to ambiguity” and not knowing the outcome before we start. A child who is confident in environments where the outcome can’t be predicted is a child who will be able to navigate new spaces and bridge connections between complex ideas within multiple contexts to make meaning that is relevant to them.
Something as simple as an app can enable a child to go on a non-linear, exploratory journey of discovery. This New Culture of Learning includes, as The Agenda’s host Steve Paikin says, “very strange concepts like fun, passion, games.”
Panelist Douglas Thomas (author of A New Cultural of Learning) says that teachers shouldn’t be punished for making their classrooms easy and rewarded for making the work hard. When a child comments that their class is easy what he or she is really saying is that they are engaged. Easy does not mean that the learning is not without challenge. Play + Challenge = Solutions.
Two local playmates and advocates of deep learning via the lightness of fun are Zahra Ebrahim (archiTEXT) and Mary Tangelder (Spire Works).
“ Zahra’s design class at Ontario College of Art and Deisgn (OCAD) carried their chairs three blocks to Toronto City Hall and initiated a game of musical chairs with passer-bys — an activity that inevitably led to dialogue about community and public space. With Canadian Federal ministry, she’s facilitated a workshop to illuminate the role of play within bureaucracy; back in Toronto, she’s engaged social entrepreneurs with alternative ways of brainstorming through play. Over in Kenya, Mary regularly leads play activities with post-graduate university students to explore how to design schools and learning spaces in refugee camps and communities affected by war, conflict, and natural disasters.” (cited www.huffingtonpost.com)
And in this new world, Canada’s educational system would benefit from taking cues from older traditions that are tried, tested and true. The Learning 2030 series also included a panel discussion – “Looking to the Future of Aboriginal Education.” Among the many points raised, David Newhouse (Chair of Indigenous Studies at Trent University) touched on the fact that experiential learning is not some new trend but rather the way indigenous cultures have been passing on knowledge for generations – long before the first Bible was printed in good ol’ Gutenberg. (Listen to the Q & A podcast.)
The indigenous way sees the world as the classroom and peer-to-peer learning as foundational. This is not unlike the vision panelist Christine Webb (Director, Academic Programs at University of Waterloo Stratford Campus) has for describing the classroom of the future. She believes that the classroom will become decentralized through online technologies and more emphasis will be placed on the interaction between students learning through each other via chatrooms and blogs as well as creating e-portfolios together. In a virtual space the physical classroom is replaced by a digital “textbook” where students, mentors and educators can co-create and collaborate. It is just the kind of space that affirms play as a valid process for education.
And this style of learning leaves plenty of room for spontaneity and plenty of time for field trips to TIFF!
So treat the 21st Century kids in your life to the final weekend of digiPLAYSPACE. From iPods to potatoes, 3D printers and interactive green screens digiPLAYSPACE offers “an interactive adventure where they will laugh and learn with new media technologies, interactive art installations, learning-centric games, mobile apps, and new digital tools and hands-on production activities. There’s something for everyone!” (cited from www.tiff.net)
Designed by Toronto talents Mason Studio & aftermodern.lab digiPlaySpace is “an interactive exhibition where kids will engage with emerging creative media technologies and innovative artistic experiences!” (cited www.tiff.net)
In its 2nd year, this popular event opened in time for March Break but will be running until April 21.