Final day to see Transactions by curator Cara Tierney at CUAG
This amazing show “celebrating queer experiences” closes today after it’s run at the Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) in Ottawa. Curator Cara Tierney has created a space that pulsates with jubilation. The artists flesh out what it means to be deeply connected to your community as well as deeply loved by your community. The work in the show positions joy and empathy as resilience. Beautiful portraits of the Queer and allied community are created through visuals, words, and performance. Transactions is a visually stunning show that includes in situ graffiti by Ottawa based artist Kalkidan Assefa that wraps around corners softening the space “as the show unfolds in the visual embrace of this unswerving ally.” This is a not-to-be-missed exhibit!
WHEN: Sunday, February 12 from 1 – 5 pm WHERE: Carleton University Art Gallery, St. Patrick’s Building, Carleton University,
“Celebrating queer experiences that emerge from transactional creative exchanges, the artists in TRANSACTIONS define, refine, redefine, exult themselves today for the (a)genders of tomorrow, linking communities and challenging ideas of authenticity, allyship, belonging and being.”
Images from top to bottom: Portrait of Kama La Mackerel; graffiti by Kalkidan Assefa with work by Elisha Lim in the background; work by Elisha Lim; more work by Elisha Lim, graffiti by Kalkidan Assefa.
Image: Andrew Alexander. Provided by The Ghomeshi Effect.
Sexual Assault Survivors, Lawyers, and Activists Speak Out Through The Ghomeshi Effect
WHEN: Friday, February 27 @ 7:30 pm & Saturday, February 28 @ 2:30 pm / 7:30 pm WHERE: The Gladstone Theatre, 910 Gladstone Avenue, Ottawa TICKETS: $17.47/$28.09/$31.63 Purchase Here
So many of us felt impacted when the news broke about CBC Q host Jian Ghomeshi. It brought up a lot of mixed emotions for me. When I heard and read the descriptions of his behaviour, they were all too familiar. As the trial started then proceeded many of us felt raw as we witnessed how the proceedings went down. Social media became the public commons where we could work out what was happening and perhaps contribute to some kind of change in policy. The conversation continues with productions like The Ghomeshi Effect.
Words from the Team:
The Ghomeshi Effect’s script uses transcriptions of interviews Jessica Ruano (Director) conducted with local Ottawa residents about their lived experiences in dealing with sexual violence and the justice system. The interviews range from confessional first-person accounts to expert analyses of how the law is constructed to handle these cases.
“Through this process we found that many people have become disillusioned by the court system and do not always see it as the best means for seeking justice,” says Ruano. “In this play we explore why this is and discuss potential alternatives.”
Bringing these stories to life is a broad group of multidisciplinary and bilingual performers: Leah Archambault, Marc-André Charette, Gabrielle Lalonde, Annie Lefebvre, Emmanuel Simon, and Mekdes Teshome. Setting the scene are lighting designer Benoît Brunet-Poirier, sound designer Martin Dawagne, and Métis mixed-media artist Mique Michelle, who will be creating a graffiti-inspired floor design for the stage.
“Ever since we began this project we have known that this conversation was bigger than us,” says Griffin. “Whenever we talk to people about the play, there’s always someone who has a story to share or an opinion to contribute. This performance is about our community and we made a point of including a diverse group of individuals and stories in the script, and opening up the conversation to our audiences.”
Important supplemental programming
Along with the play, there has been auxiliary programming to provide more opportunities for reflection and dialogue. The opening night included a keynote address by Glen Canning, the father of Rehtaeh Parsons, the young girl who took her life in 2013 after she was sexually assaulted and then bullied online. Glen has become an activist against rape culture and how it most often re-victimizes survivors as they move through the ‘justice’ system. He speaks about “youth, consent and the way mixed messages about definitions of rape affected Rehtaeh’s case.”
“Beginning these conversations with our kids when they are teenagers is essential,” says Canning, “because in so many cases we are willing to believe anything about women in order to excuse anything about a man.”
Last Saturday, a fundraiser was held with local pop-band The PepTides.
“It has always been part of our mandate as a band and members of the community to promote equality and human rights. The stories in the script hit close to home and there was no doubt that we wanted to be part of this important conversation,” says band member Scottie Irving.
This is the final weekend for The Ghomeshi Effect at The Gladstone Theatre but there will be one final performance at The Shenkman Centre on Thursday, February 2.
Tickets for this weekend can be purchased here. More info on The Shenkman Centre performance here.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau begins Pride Month by raising the Flag on Parliament Hill
Yesterday marked the first time the Pride Flag was raised on a Parliament Hill. A large crowd gathered on the greens for the 3:15 Flag Raising that included an address from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. As one speaker said “inclusion is the hallmark of our values.” The moment symbolized that “now matter who you are you are valued and loved.”
The weather was one of those gorgeous sunny days where clouds rolled across a big sky. What I love about Ottawa are the views from the Hill as you look out across the river – the expansive horizons that make you believe that everything is possible. It felt good to be there not to protest but to celebrate. A new day!
“A cosmic combination of storytelling, dance, aerial silks, song, myth, sound, and shadow play.”
“Partitioned from land and love in Sindh, Rani travelled to present day India, and eventually to Turtle Island (North America), also Partitioned Indigenous land. After her passing, Rani’s ashes are taken from her granddaughter, Asha, who calls Rani into her dreams for answers on how to move forward after this interrupted ritual. In the cosmos with grandmothers from other places and times, Rani roots into ancestral wisdom and her life during the Partition and Independence of South Asia all the while longing for her love, Farah.”
Written & Performed by nisha ahuja Director/Dramaturge: Yvette Nolan Choreography & Performed by Kumari Giles Set, Costume & Sound Design: Melissa Moore Lighting Design: Michelle Ramsay Production Manager: Shawn Henry Stage Manager: cassy walker
730 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON
September 5, 6 and 7
Sometimes demolishing the past doesn’t change the present.
At the behest of Creative Time Kara E. Walker has confected:
or the Marvelous Sugar Baby
an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant
On June 30 “Why I Yelled at the Kara Walker Exhibit” was posted in The Indypendent. This powerful article touched on several issues that I felt needed to be addressed. I applaud the writer, Nicholas Powers, for punctuating the space with an action that wasn’t a planned intervention or a performance piece. It was a unprompted visceral response – an appropriate (re)action.
In his article he asked a very important question – what is the role of the curator? I ask – when the curator knows that they are putting out work that is loaded, even potentially volatile is it acceptable for them to just step back and let things play out? Do curators have an obligation to facilitate dialogue and create a safe space for emotional release?
Many people found their experience in the physical space to be quite painful “Black Pain, White Laughter” as Nicholas puts it. The online experience provided an almost unchallenged area for people to act ignorantly – even racist and misogynistic.
Should Creative Time (the team behind “A Subtlety”) have immediately stepped in to address the racism and misogyny? In both spaces they could have intervened. There was an opportunity for a whole other dialogue to take place that would perhaps have lead to more understanding and empathy therefore more respectful behavior.
“It was like a sleeping beehive had been kicked over”
Nicholas called out people for the types of photos they were taken at the back of the sphinx, the location where much of the problematic behaviour has occurred. A Creative Time curator, in an effort to distance the organization from his spontaneous intervention, asked him to tell people he was not part of Creative Time. He writes:
“ A friend cut in, saying loudly that I didn’t have to say shit. They got into a debate that heated up into a verbal fight. Visitors came up to me, some saying I was wrong; others saying I was right.
…It felt great to confront the “white gaze,” the entitled buffoonery of the visitors. But why did we have to?…wasn’t the job of Walker or at least Creative Time’s staff to curate a racially charged artwork? Yes, Walker has the freedom to express herself. Yes, Creative Time has the freedom to organize it. But what do you expect will happen if you put a giant sculpture of a nude black woman, as a Mammy no less, in a public space.
…Instead of challenging the racial power dynamics of white supremacy, Walker and Creative Time, in their naivety or arrogance, I don’t know which, simply made the Domino Sugar Factory a safe place for it.”
For me, that is where the installation failed. The safe space that was created was for those who needed to be challenged the most. The historical dirt, literally baked to the walls of Domino Sugar Factory, was sanitized – much like the process of whitening sugar, a process that requires crushed up bones to do the bleaching. The act of allowing people to document the art with cell phones, cameras and a hashtag also allowed people to mitigate their experience of the work by not being fully present to what was in front of them – the ugly truth and the shadow side of sweet consumption. Instead, the Sugar Sphinx became a tourist trap; like flies to sticky paper people got stuck to the spectacle but emotionally never moved beyond.
This work should have been about collective mourning of a disturbing past and collective consideration as to how our current lifestyles still support modern day slavery.
“One of the worst things about my experience with the Kara Walker exhibit in Brooklyn was the lack of space available for me to mourn the devastation of Blackness, nor appreciate its power. There were white bodies everywhere I turned; white bodies laughing, white bodies posing for pictures, white bodies giving me strange looks as I solemnly shuffled around the warehouse, white bodies overflowing the space, white bodies spilling into my physical and mental space…
I became uncomfortable, realized that even though this was obviously a cemetery, a place of remembrance and mourning for how Blackness has been distorted and destroyed throughout history, the pain I felt would always take a backseat to the comfort white people seek in lies. In that moment, I began remembering what violation felt like.”
Malik and two friends decided they needed to intervene in the space between the mammy’s breasts in an attempt to reclaim it.
“I suggested to my friends that we pose in front of the mammy sphinx holding up the Black Power fist, with a picture of us doing so to be taken by our white chaperone from our youth organization.
As we stood there, with our fists defiantly raised to the ceiling, the mostly white people in front of us became much quieter, they seemed offended even. Khadijah says she heard people whispering, “It’s not about that…”.One white man gave us a look of bemused indignation, rushing to the space we had just claimed as our own after our picture had been taken, only to pose for yet another smiling portrait in front of the mammy sphinx. Perhaps he did that to prove a point, a point sprung from the murky waters of privilege and ignorance.
And my spirit sank lower into my gut; I could feel it dragging me down towards the molasses-resembling-blood splattered ground.”
The lightness of whiteness and a burdenless history
When one reads the comments in Stephanie Wyatts “The Audacity of No Chill: Kara Walker in the Instragram Capital” the good ol’ ‘reverse-racism’ argument starts to bubble up. She called out white people in her article and that, is just not socially acceptable, even in the context of art speaking on Black Slavery. If this is not an appropriate time when is it?
Stephanie, a Black woman, had to bear witness to jokes about “sugar tits”, “big ass” and “sweet lips” as her racialized body stood in front of sculpture of another racialized body. The sexualized talk directed at a lifeless sphinx (as her own physical presence was ignored) was talk also aimed at her. As the human being standing next to the the ones saying such things she should take it personally.
“I stood in front of a sugar boy carrying a huge basket oozing what began to look more like blood than molasses. I looked to my right and a white kid was licking one of the boys while his parents stood there unfazed. I walked over to get a full-on, yet still-distant view of the giant sphinx. Two seconds later, my eyes exploded and I was crying all over myself.
I obviously didn’t expect to start crying, but it happened and I let those tears run free. I was snapped out of my sob by a white guy yelling, “This is boring!” Tears for my ancestors turned into hot, angry tears. “
Stephanie’s response to all of the callousness, built up upon other times she has had to bear witness to people acting with insensitivity, lead her to write:
“…I’d gotten the sense that deep reverence may not be white people’s spiritual gift. But where’s the respect? How do you not realize that you are currently standing on sacred ground and staring the sickness of our country dead in the face?”
All of these articles are written by African Americans. I didn’t come across any other articles of this type, speaking to a visceral and painful experience, written by anyone that wasn’t Black.
Whiteness / ‘lightness’ is a privilege. It gets you a pass in a lot of places. It shouldn’t get you a pass on ignorant behaviour. The Mammy Sphinx and Sugar Babies speak to a mutual history, slavery exists in the collective memory(s) and the weight of it should be shared. Unfortunately “A Subtlety”demonstrated that many people still see it as a burden belonging only to Black people.
Whether we like it or not, history has intimately intertwined us all and the unknotting shouldn’t have to be done solely by the people who can trace their ancestry back to those who survived the Middle Passage.
Both the physical and online spaces that “A Subtlety” provided were spaces where white people could have at least helped to carry the burden. Instead the actions of many led to the piling on of more weight.
“A Subtlety” exposed that the not so subtle expressions of racism exist even in places created for homage to its impact.
The Black female body is never neutral. She can never rest.
“I walked into the exhibit feeling alone and I walked out of the exhibit feeling lonely. To be a parody and a parent. To be a black woman and pun.
It is here when I decide that I will bring my daughter next weekend. She should know how to arm herself against a world that never considers her skin, her ancestry, her people. She should know her body is always up for discussion, whether she initiates the conversation or not. She should know her pain will always be greeted with a whimsical patronizing hand.
She should know how to celebrate, defend and demand her own song and rich history be acknowledged and honored.”
“Collection of micro-fictions that explore the slipperiness of identity, race, and gender.”
Did you know Ottawa’s friendly neighbourhood sex store on Bank also has book launches? Well, consider yourself informed!
Venus Envy has books launches, art opens and of course much, much more. This Thursday Asian-Australian authour Tom Cho will be launching his book Look Who’s Morphing.
“First published to great acclaim in Australia, writer Tom Cho’s Look Who’s Morphing is a fresh, hilarious, and dazzlingly contemporary collection of micro-fictions that explore the slipperiness of identity, race, and gender.
Like a mad-cap version of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis set against the last
40 years of pop culture, each story in the collection features Cho’s narrator
morphing into various familiar and iconic cultural figures from sitcoms,
Hollywood movies, anime, music videos, Saturday-morning cartoons,
daytime TV talk shows, Nintendo games, and literature.
We follow Cho’s shape-shifting narrator on hilarious and surreal
adventures, which include dirty dancing with Johnny Castle, a
rambunctious encounter with TV’s Dr Phil, a job as Whitney Houston’s
bodyguard and another as a Muppet, a period in service with The Sound
of Music’s Von Trapp family, a totally destructive outing as Godzilla, and a
high octane performance as a Gulliver-sized cock rock singer, complete
with a cohort of tiny adoring girls. As these fantasies of identity, sexuality,
and power unfold, the narrator, their family, and everything around them,
morph and change up to — and including — the moment when the
collection reaches its climax
Look Who’s Morphing is a funny, stylish, and highly entertaining literary
The Art Gallery of Ontario along with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation are looking for your digital art work.
Sometimes the best ideas are last minute! The AGO & FMJF are looking for artists to submit their digital art work to a contest in support of the LGBTTIQQ communities in Canada.
The countdown is on! The submission deadline is this week on Thursday April 25 at the stroke of midnight. The winner takes home $1000 and gets the chance to work with a street artist to mount their work outside of the AGO on the Solidarity Wall.
DETAILS FOR THE 4th WALL YOUTH SOLIDARITY PROJECT:
You must be between the ages of 14 – 30
The subject matter is ” make the invisible experiences of Canada’s Two-Spirit and LGBTI2Q youth visible”
Winner gets $1000 grant
The selected art work will be part of the World Pride Exhibition at the AGO
The public will vote online for the competition winner
The winner will be announced on June 22, 2014 at the Youth Solidarity Forum
If you are in Ottawa tonight “Skins & Scales” promises to be an interesting event!
“Skins & Scales is a small collection of ink on drums and fish scale artwork by Metis Artist – Jaime Koebel
The exhibition will feature a talk by the artist on Sakihitowask ᐊᒐᐦᑯᐢ or Love Medicine and the use of plants, elk symbology and love healers in her artwork.
5 December 2013 Venus Envy 320 Lisgar Street, Ottawa ON, K2P 0E2
In addition to the Skins & Scales exhibition & Sakihitowask ᐊᒐᐦᑯᐢ: Love Medicine talk are five Indigenous artist who will share stories of burning love:
Vera Wabegejig – Poet Shady Hafez – Artist Neal Shannacappo – Artist & Poet Justin Holness – Un1ty Entertainment Albert Dumont – Poet and Storyteller
Jaime is Metis from Lac La Biche, Alberta. She is an artist, a performer, an educator and a public speaker located in Ottawa, Ontario.
Her inspiration for her artwork comes mainly from her Metis heritage, particularly flower beadwork and plant-life. Her German grandmother would often tell her so much about plants that she became interested in their medicinal qualities and how she could connect those qualities to the human spirit. The artwork she creates ranges from images on drums, tattoos, logos, fish scale art to beadwork. When she creates inked images on drums she free-hands the style most times and each one is unmistakably unique!
Drop in for snacks, poetry & stories, and to check out, appreciate (maybe even purchase) beautiful art”
It was a late night tweet from one of Toronto’s finest MP Kristyn Wong Tam that put MIXED BAG MAG onto this exuberant project – WAACK REVOLT A Dance Film.
Watching the video I was sold on the fact that this team has tons of talent.
Waack Revolt’s Diana Reyes aka Fly Lady Di (above) and Emily Law aka Em Fatale (left).
Already familiar with dancer Diana Reyes aka Fly Lady Di (MIXED BAG MAG almost had her as part of the MASHUP STYLE shoot – next time Diana 😉 ) and Emily Law aka Em Fatale from the incredible Toronto dance troupe Kaha:wi (check out MIXED BAG MAG’s post on Kaha:wi’s The Honouring) it seemed an easy decision to get on board to help spread the word!
MIXED BAG MAG’s interview with WAACK’s Director / Writer Sonia Hong was in a word ‘soulful’. At a time where there is ubiquitous imagery representing a too-cool-for-school vibe we often mask our deeper human qualities like vulnerability and the yearning we all have for connectedness behind that chill exterior. I appreciated that Sonia was an open book and ready to share her history as to how she became a film artist who focuses on LGBTQ issues.
Bullied for not fitting in, somewhere along the way and at a young age, Sonia reached in to that spiritual place that we all have inside to find her source. From hiding her light to shining bright, Sonia had done such a remarkable turnaround with her confidence that a teacher who noticed shared this with her then asked her to be the valedictorian at her Grade 8 Graduation.
She built on that confidence and started to attend theatre summer schools where she said improv helped her try on new characters, play around with identity, and continue to grow more comfortable in her skin.
She also spent time working at Legal Aid alongside her mother. “If I hadn’t of gone to film school I would have gone to school for social work.” A keen sense of social justice, she takes her role as an artist seriously developing projects that can help kids struggling with their identity and place in the world.
Writer / Director Sonia Hong (right) with Producer Allia McLeod(left).
“Community building and creating an inclusive community is what I have always been really passionate about. I want to help young people feel empowered and to know from an early age that it’s ok to be yourself.”
Somewhere in the interview we got to speaking about girl culture – for me coming of age with Madonna and Sonia coming of age with the Spice Girls. Whether we agree with it or not, pop culture is what meets kids where they are at. As a female, Madonna taught me that my sexuality was for me alone to own and to be aware of it and my decisions around it but not without having fun – Express Yourself!; for Sonia the Spice Girls belted out the message that she understood to mean be yourself in the most bombastic way you dare – Zig A Zig Ah!
Our musical tastes have matured (I think?!) but for both of us the concern is that in today’s hyper-sexualized Britney-Miley-Nicki world sexuality now is only about an act of ‘performance’ for another’s gaze (mostly young girls for the validation of males) and something is getting lost in the delivery along with the chance for youth to develop a strong sense of self.
WAACK REVOLT takes all that on and promises to be sexy short with a definite message regarding understanding, owning and standing up for your sexuality. Commissioned by the Reel Asian International Film Festival as a collaboration between dancers and filmmakers, WAACK REVOLT will be premiering at this year’s festival.
“This cheeky love story, WAACK REVOLT. A DANCE FILM, sets the stage for a playful journey that opens during an audition in 1940s Hollywood. It is here that our two lovers first meet and begin their love affair with one another – which centers around their shared passion for “Waacking”. Outraged by their “Waacking” dance style, a visual metaphor for their unconventional love and identity, the public exclaim that they aren’t permitted to “Waack” in public, and must keep it behind closed doors.
In response, the couple escapes to different iconic time periods, sliding and interchanging between genders, ultimately blurring the lines entirely as they “Waack” their way to a full, vivid expression of themselves and their love.”
Using dance to challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes.
The artistic medium of dance has given Sonia the perfect vehicle to investigate gender as it refers to sexuality.
Sonia goes deep into the exploration of how gestures sub-consciously communicate the assertion of power or an act of oppression and she explains that when they are thinking about the choreography they don’t want the dancer playing the male role to come across as a predator or the dancer embodying the female character as not without movements that communicate empowerment.
“I am really exiting about gender-bending with the actual choreography as music and dance are very gendered.”
Waack itself is a form of dance that evolved during the disco era and much like Voguing was embraced and developed by communities on the fringe of the mainstream as a way to own power around race, class and sexual orientation.
“To me, as a 12 yr old girl, the Spice Girls’ “Zig A Zig Ah” could mean anything you wanted it to much like this style of dance. You should be able to be yourself anywhere and you should be able to WAACK wherever you want.”
Emily Law aka Em Fatale
Professional dancer and founding member of the Toronto house dance crew Warehouse Jacks. Emily has been nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore award and a Gemini for her work with Kaha:wi Dance Theatre.
Diana Reyes aka Fly Lady Di
Multi-disciplinary artist, who has appeared on several progams including MuchMusic’s “RapCity”, and CBC Music’s “How to Dance to Classical Music”. Diana is a member of b current’s prestigious rAiz’n ensemble – home to some of Canada’s most successful performing artists, playwrights and producers.
A dynamic and multi-faceted artist, based in Toronto, Maylee’s music combines organic and electronic forms, including elements of boogie, bossa, space funk, psychedelia and soul. She’s shared the stage with the likes of Janelle Monae, Lee Fields, Aloe Blacc, Little Dragon, and The Budos Band. SOCAN has recently nominated her for the coveted songwriting prize. Get into the ‘Waack Revolt. A Dance Film.” groove with some of her funky tunes. www.mayleetodd.com