The National Art Centre Ottawa begins the week with Miguel De Armas’ Cuban grooves.
Last week’s Canada Scene line-up started with Buffy Sainte-Marie performing with special guests DJ Shub (formerly of A Tribe Called Red) and the legendary Randy Bachman. This performance not only opened the week but as a Canada Scene signature event closed the Canada 150 celebrations in the city of Ottawa. The performance was incredible and you could sense there were many Buffy (and Randy!) fans in the audience. The opening act – Leela Gilday– also wowed the crowd. Leela “weaves her experiences as a northerner, a member of the Dene nation, and a traveller into songs with a sense of humour and social justice, and an ironic appreciation of human folly.” If ever you have the opportunity to see Leela perform you will not be disappointed by her talent and power. (Read more…)
This week Canada Scene opens with Ottawa-based Havana-born musician Miguel De Armas. For the show tonight “Miguel brings his bright Latin beat to the festival’s Canada Stage series for a performance that is nothing short of a master class in original Cuban rhythms – airy, feel-good jazz that spreads itself comfortably in all directions and into all kinds of music.” The show, starting at 6 pm at the NAC, is FREE and part of the ongoing Scene@6 series running throughout Canada Scene in the NAC’s newly designed Atrium. The series “showcases this country’s top folk, roots, world, and jazz artists.” (read more…)
Upcoming FREE Scene@6 performances include William Prince, Karim Dabo, The Jerry Cans and Nick Sherman as well as many other amazing performers. For the full list click here.
“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…
Honouring the spirit of Louis Riel and cultural resiliency.
Today, Manitobans are celebrating Louis Riel Day in remembrance of Riel’s political and social impact for the province of Manitoba. “Louis Riel was the driving force behind Manitoba becoming Canada’s fifth province. His dream of a province that embraces all cultures is still shared by Manitobans today.” (sited from Government of Manitoba’s website)
But Riel’s impact was larger than the locality of the battles fought in the late 1800s and his vision is still relevant in contemporary times. As a leader who fought for the rights and cultural sovereignty of the Métis people Riel has become for many (even non-Métis people) an icon of resistance. He understood the fissures that occur in the dried up riverbeds that lie between culture and geopolitics. Today many are still praying for rain and fighting the same battle.
Riel also believed in the power of artists. He is quoted as saying “My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”
In this spirit MIXED BAG MAG celebrates Louis Riel Day with a feature on Cree Métis artist Jason Baerg. Jason’s current show at Urban Shaman in Winnipeg, Manitoba features his work from his series Nomadic Bounce. The work for Nomadic Bounce was produced as part of a residency in Australia RMIT School of Art and is about (re/dis)location. Nomadic Bounce points to the fact that whether we are near or far from ‘home’, it is an ever present concept we return to even when our feelings around home are ambiguous, even tenuous.
Detail shot of Nomadic Bounce series at Urban Shaman. Image provided by the artist.
Jason has called many places home. Born in Sarnia, Ontario Jason was young when he moved with his mother and siblings to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan to be closer to his Aboriginal family. As a teenager he ‘bounced’ back to Sarnia, Ontario where he lived with his Mennonite father. Soon after he moved to Kitchener-Waterloo to finish high school. Then there was Montreal for university, Toronto for college and art residencies in New York, Santa Fe and Australia.
“Home is a headspace”
But like a bird, Jason always circles back to where his migration route began. For Jason home base is located in the power of Indigenous Knowledge, both the spiritual concepts and the potent visuals that speak through the language of symbols. This is what grounds Nomadic Bounce but like much of Jason’s work, with this project, he also chose to take a investigative journey around innovative techniques.
Nomadic Bounce was an exploration into what happens when you take traditional painting then utilize ‘cutting edge’ technologies to intervene and agitate perceptions of what painting / sculpture / installation can be.
The paintings were based on seven 33 second video clips Jason made of poignant moments he experienced at home / abroad / in transit. Two mirror sets of paintings were created: one set remained as traditional paintings that could be fixed to a wall; the other set was laser cut into shapes and intended to be used for site specific installations. A shape that is ubiquitous in this series is the thunderbolt. Jason explains that he uses the thunderbolt often as it is affirms change but not just any type of change – it is the type of change that is “dramatic, immediate, rapid.” When he brings this symbol into his work it is about shifting energy.
The original intent of the body of work was to re-assemble it each time it changed location as the idea of a journey was the core conceptual premise of the series. In Australia the laser cuts were assembled into mandalas, powerful circles that establish a sacred space and represent the cosmos. Jason imagined that the next manifestation of the work would be something similar but then the work took on a life (or lives) of its own when it disembarked at each new destination.
In Prince Albert the work configured to resemble the cityscape Jason grew up with and the view of the buildings as seen from across the river divide. In Edmonton, as Idle No More gained momentum and the Journey of the Nishiyuu topped the headlines, the pieces were assembled into four jack rabbits that were inspired by the cunning abilities of the trickster when opposing the status quo.
Nomadic Bounce installed at Strathcona County Art Gallery, Edmonton. Image provided by the artist.
The Battle of Batoche in 1885 was a defeat for the Métis people that led to the surrender and eventual execution of Louis Riel. When Jason’s work arrived at The Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon the Battle combined with the impact of the railway on Indigenous people was the spirit that moved the work to configure into an empty train car modeled on the post-modern solar-powered speed trains of Japan. Jason says this form was about “an act of reclamation, giving the power back to the People.”
Now at Urban Shaman the work has emerged as two wolves, both in a strong stance, reflecting their gaze upon each other. Jason sees the wolf as an innovator who leaves the pack to find new knowledge that is brought back to fuel resiliency. “The wolf is looking into the future, the past, into the community and at itself, concurrently.”
The beauty is that this series of work that began as a meditation on home has become fluid, adaptable to place and flexible – changing shape without compromising the original sum of its parts.
FYI– Jason’s show RETURNINGcloses this weekend at Urban Shaman so if you are in the Winnipeg area this would be a great show to check out!
Artist: Jason Baerg
Dates: January 17 to February 22, 2014
Opening reception on January 17 | Artist Talk at 9pm
Location: Urban Shaman’s Main and Marvin Francis Media Art Galleries
In partnership with Art City Youth Exhibition, Urban Shaman’s AND Gallery
Just over a year ago I gave myself an assignment to start the ball rolling on what was ultimately going to be my bigger project – MIXED BAG MAG. On my blog, The L. Project, I began to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrated my knack at uncovering and then curating a theme, a stream, an undercurrent. I went out into Toronto to find other people that spoke a new 21st Century language – intercultural, interdisciplinary, socially innovative – people that with their creativity were into sparking a flame that could lead to BIG change.
And since I went out to explore what made Toronto such a fantastic model for a 21st Century city it only made sense to begin my journey of discovery by covering what I believe to be the quintessential model of a 21st Century arts festival – LUMINATO.
It celebrates all the artistic disciplines, this year even including the Culinary Arts.
Not just cross-disciplinary, LUMINATO also makes cross-cultural dialogue the cornerstone upon which it has built an interesting series of hybrid commissions including last year’s 1001 Nights which brought together the talent of British director Tim Supple and Lebanese writer Hanan Al-Shaykh.
For LUMINATO 2011 I cleared out my account and bought all the tickets I could afford. Along with my bank account I cleared my calendar and for the next 10 days immersed myself into all that I love –dance, music, film, literature, visual arts, design and more! Extraordinary was already in season for me in 2011 and with 35+ events attended in all, LUMINATO was undoubtedly the highlight of my year!
At Luminato 2012, I spent most of my nights taking advantage of the free concerts at the Luminato Hub (David Pecaut Square) in an effort to scout out what acts may be a fit for MIXED BAG MAG. The music I experienced criss-crossed the globe from Mali (Fatoumata Diawara) to the Balkans (Shantel & The Bucovina Club Orkestar & our local Lemon Bucket Orkestra), and included Canada’s own K’NAAN, a Somali born performer who mixes hip-hop with traditional Somali musical elements and poetry.
Each night as I witnessed the diverse crowds that would show up I noticed something. Along with people that were unfamiliar but open to the music that was being performed, others were intimately acquainted with what was being sung. Behind me, beside me and in front of me were people belting out lyrics in a language that was their original mother tongue. In the location of their new home, people were able to joyously sing, at the top of their lungs, the songs from the home they left. You could sense the cathartic release!
How powerful can this be for us as a community if we choose to collectively celebrate the sum of all our ethnically diverse parts?
A beautiful week of beautiful music only confirmed what I already believe – that events like LUMINATO offer more to us than just entertainment. At a societal level these types of events can offer healing.
This is why I began this project and my journey of curating at MIXED BAG MAG the best of what I call New Culture because what is closest to my heart is the transformative power of culture. Ultimately it is the energizing spark that can ignite our souls.
Performers from top to bottom – K’NAAN and Nelly Furtado, Michael Franti, Nomadic Massive, Fatoumata Diawara, Afrocubism, Michael Franti and Jovanotti, Telmary Diaz, Shantel & the Bucovina Club Orkestar, and Lemon Bucket Orkestra.
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.
Described as an evening where the Jewish and Indian communities could learn about each other’s cultures the club looked like it was filled with a transmigratory crowd that already knew when it is appropriate to say “Mazel Tov!” and that Mehndi isn’t something you eat. In the space was a collection of open minds, worldly and experienced, ready to be entertained by the hottest new hybrid!
So it provoked a question.
In a time and place where many of us use a string of hyphenated descriptors to tie together who we are, what we do and how we worship, is the essential thread getting unrecognizably knotted?
Experiencing the reaction of the crowd to Shye Ben Tzur’s mix of Muslim-Hebrew-Indian-classical-contemporary music the answer is that the 21st Century is about meaningful fusion not fragmented remnants. Something old is not being lost but rather something fresh and new is being gained.
Mixed Bag Mag had a great time at BINDAAS and thanks Size Doesn’t Matter for hosting a distinctive event.
“The signature event of the Ashkenaz Festival, the Ashkenaz Parade transforms Harbourfront Centre into a swirling cavalcade of music, dance, theatre, masks, giant puppetry, stiltwalkers and various other forms of pomp and pageantry. Once again under the direction of Toronto street theatre stalwarts Shadowland Theatre (Anne Barber and Brad Harley, Artistic co-Directors), the Parade features hundreds of musicians, artists and community participants in a joyful and whimsical procession that serves as the penultimate climax to the Ashkenaz Festival. This year’s Parade is based on an imagined “sequel” to the famous tale of the Golem of Prague, in which the famous monster of Jewish folklore embarks on a journey of self-discovery in order to find love and personal fulfillment.” (cited www.ashkenazfestival2012.sched.org )