BCL Report: May 5, 2011 (Big Books & Small Letters)

We met twice on Thursday, and those meetings were after Michelle and I headed over to SB Contemporary Art to finally check out “On Your Mark” (a great exhibition featuring work by many of our friends) and talk about how we could partner in some way on Homework: Infrastructures & Collaboration in Social Practices.

Back at the Ecohouse to try to get the plan together to work on a video we’ve been tossing around for a while — final decisions have been elusive, so we put it on hold for now. Instead, we headed out to the front lawn and reminded ourselves of the what we can do with How to Forget the Border Completely.

Executing these projects is just a matter of carving out a day … we spend time planning, testing, experimenting, brainstorming because we know we’re more curious together and our collective curiosity is the driver for every one of these projects. It’s not about the solutions, it’s about the questions.

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A Summary of Things I’ve Been Thinking About

Today, a very brief summary of some things that I’ve been thinking about and noted over the last few weeks…

Above, a portal. Perhaps a cross-border portal. An under-used, long forgotten relic of a portal prototype. Cordoned off, waiting for a new route. Partington and Wyandotte on our side, where’s the related neighbourhood in Detroit? Maybe the portals we’ve been thinking about are more readily located than we’ve realized, or maybe this is all about something closer to what Rosina pointed out last week. I’m certain that it’s worth re-appropriating all kinds of infrastructures for our own imaginary impossibilities.

Down the street, a message from an anchor in the neighbourhood. Somehow this made me feel like things are going to be okay in this end of town — maybe that this hair salon sits steadily against the constant tide of rental units, impermanence — or maybe business is just really bad, but maybe, just maybe, this hand-written notice to passersby suggests that 19 years went by with some things really able to stay the same.

And across the river, a simple sign, retroreflective glory, the layout, the strangeness of nearly all type of informative signage, somehow these messages always make me ask more questions — that is, curiosity about the space between what this sign can tell me and the uncertainty of the missing information and details about just how to get back to where I started, a parking lot I can’t geographically place in my mind days after leaving my car and after hours of travel. Signs everywhere communicate with a strange grammar, commands and directions, and I’m continually interested in why I often have to reread signs so many times to try to ascertain exactly what they’re trying to get me to do.

Perhaps a summary was too generous. This is more just a collection, an attempt to annotate these photos before they’re long buried in a photo library and an attempt to try to think through some projects on the go and in the works.


BCL Report: End of April, 2011 (the Art of Planning & Collaboration)

Over three days this week, we got a lot done. And, as I write this, stuff is still getting done. This is why collaboration is such a valuable model for art practice.

But, it’s not just about getting stuff done, it’s the challenges, the insights, the novel perspectives that can be brought up around a table that push the work forward. With some of us having worked together for nearly three years, we can anticipate one another and move ideas and projects that much further along because there’s a context, there’s a history, there’s a resonating understanding of what we can do together.

Collaboration FTW.

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Another Look at Portals

Art Project of the Day

While we’ve been imagining and devising our own portals for How to Forget the Border Completely,  San Francisco artist Jeff Waldman has been creating his own type of imaginative gateway in an endeavour he’s called ‘The Happiness Project’.

Pictured above is Waldman’s first installation called ‘Shut In’, which features a couple interior locks, and a large keyhole that emits a strong light from within.

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Borderlands Symposium: University of Maine

Next week, I’ll be headed to the University of Maine at Farmington to present at the Borderlands Symposium, assembled by our friends, TUG Collective. Here’s the brief on the symposium:

A series of talks, workshops, performances, and films that will illuminate some of the social, economic, political and ecological nuances along North America’s borders, and catalyze our attention to how various individuals, either acting alone or collaboratively, are actively creating transnational communities in which “our destinies and aspirations are in one another’s hands.”

Along with Lee Rodney, curator of the Border Bookmobile and border research extraordinaire, I’ll also be initiating a new project idea based on the legends of Paul Bunyan. It sounds absurd, yes, but so are the border realities that we face. The legends around Bunyan are such that there’s plenty of room to initiate a new conversation around the histories of the North American border – -Bunyan becomes a tool, a lens for exploring a series of histories and geographies.

We are proposing to read between the lines of these histories to see the changing representations of Mr. Bunyan and to propose other stories of how we might re-view him in the 21st century: could he be considered among the early architects of NAFTA ? A subversive border crosser, roaming freely through the Northern territories between Canada and the US ?

Those questions are tied to a number of workshops and group discussions we’ll be giving along with a panel discussion with the always incredible Riccardo Dominguez and Dan Millis.

I’m anxious to share some of our ongoing How to Forget the Border Completely research, it’s going to be a fun three days.

BCL Report: March 25, 2011 (Imaginary Portals & Ongoing Construction)

With almost a full crew we spent this Friday night testing finishes, planning ways to cross the border unnoticed, and building supports for the letter ‘R’, all while being filmed by a documentary crew from the Department of Communications, Media & Film.

Above, some notes from Danielle’s sprawling research on inventions for tactically crossing a border.

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BCL Report: March 11, 2011 (Maps & Letters)

Once again, we gathered at Lebel for another fun Friday full of brainstorming and map making. This particular Friday we met with Mel, a jewelry designer with his BFA from Yugoslavia, to discuss the best design for the CAFKA letters.

We are currently deciding whether it would be best to stick with our original plan to build the letters out of plywood, or try a new approach with Styrofoam and stucco.

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