“Foam” by Kohei Nawa


Some of the best installation work can make you believe, even for a split second, that you have entered another world, or a place totally alien or unfamiliar. Artists have made naturally occurring phenomena like clouds appear in a gallery setting using a handful of tactics, but this work by Kohei Nawa uses foam to achieve it’s cloud-like effervescence.

The installation reads like a greyscale landscape of primordial ooze, with mountain-like ridges and valleys suspended on a layer of black sand. It’s lit in such a way that some portions of the foam take on the appearance of clouds, while some remain ambiguous, melting blobs.

via: Colossal



All Images: Foam, 2013. Mixed media. Photo by Nobutada Omote, courtesy of SANDWICH.

OPENED/UP: a Walk on November 30th

OPENED UP: A walk through lost, forgotten, vacant, and underused spaces.

For an hour and a half after work on Tuesday, November 30, we’ll be walking around downtown Windsor and getting access to a variety of closed / vacant / underused spaces. Justin Langlois will be guiding it with Tom Lucier and we’re hoping to have a lot of ambitious and excited people out with us. City-owned buildings, privately held storefronts, and cavernous bingo halls are all a part of our route, and you’re invited to join us in imagining a different downtown for our city — one with ample, affordable, and exciting spaces for artists, performers, musicians, and other creative-minded folks. We want to start a real conversation about what it would take to get these spaces filled with people who need them. We want to help give people a reason to be excited about being a practicing artist in this city again. We know that finding space needs to be at the top of that list, and we want to help.

This walk has been organized as part of the Artscape Creative Placemaking workshop being held on December 1st. Artscape, if you’re not already familiar with their work, has brought together and led numerous partners and stakeholders to realize massive studio and live/work retrofits of a variety of underused spaces in Toronto and figured out ways to make spaces for artists not only affordable, but integral to the surrounding neighbourhoods and economies. This walk has been something on our to-do list for a while and Artscape’s workshop just gave us the perfect excuse to do it.

Meet us at Phog Lounge at 5pm sharp. We’ll wind our way through the downtown core and head back to Phog for some food, drinks, and lots of conversation. We really want you to be there, let us know if you have any questions.

The Lot in Detroit: A Traveling Public Art Exhibition & Model for Temporary Use Spaces

Back in 2009, Kathy Leisen, an artist living in Corktown, Detroit, started using a vacant lot next to her house as a public art venue. She called it The Lot. And there are big letters to demarcate the space. The Lot is now less a particular vacant lot than an idea for using many vacant lots. From The Lot‘s website:

The Lot is an open space. A venue for art, creative thinking and performance, the lot is a curatorial project […] the lot is a transient artspace partnering with friends, strangers, and organizations.

The lot uses empty city lots. Typically, this means hard clay earth, crab grass and other weeds, and unexpected debris. Manipulating the land is ok. Landscaping is ok. Bringing in outside materials is ok. For example, proposals so far have included: creating a cemetery, hut sounds (sounds emitted from a hut), arranging an archeological dig (ancient cheetos wrappers), making a gallery of inflatables, and holding african dance classes.

There’s a range of projects detailed on The Lot‘s website, but maybe the best part of it is just the idea of coming together in a new place and doing something. Local artists are paired with out of town artists for each exhibition. Leisen prepared the original lot by picking up chunks of concrete in her downtime. She got to know her neighbours, brings together friends and strangers, and she frames this activity around the following idea: “We live here for a reason.”

As of late, The Lot has become a traveling public art exhibition, a pop-up exhibition of sorts, taking on an increasingly helpful and critical approach to using space temporarily. Often this temporary use by artists allows for the venue to be left in better condition than when it was found. We know — after SRSI, those storefronts were in a lot better shape than when we first moved in.

And that seems like a pretty fair trade-off. Temporary use of space for free, as long as we somehow improve the space before we leave.

Maybe we should draft some sort of agreement to arm folks in this city with something formal looking so they can start approaching landlords. Free space for a limited time, we’ll repaint, clean, landscape, etc. And, I’ve suggested it before, but the lot next to the AGW would be an amazing community space, why don’t we activate it?

Getting Reacquainted with the Neighbourhood

I took a leisurely bike ride around the neighbourhood yesterday afternoon. It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to explore, to spend time paying attention to things. I basically wanted an update on the neighbourhood that Danielle and I had lived in a couple years ago.

The eastern edge of Sandwich is quieter than ever. Four blocks of houses (well at least one side of the street for four blocks) is boarded up, it’s beginning to feel like it will be a very long time before that situation is sorted out between the city and the bridge company.

In the meantime, the vacancies and the strange empty spaces created by that situation are increasingly curious. Those stairs need to be used in some kind of project.

Continue reading “Getting Reacquainted with the Neighbourhood”

Numen/For Use’s Tape Installation

Ever wonder what 530 rolls of self-adhesive tape would look like if you used it to create a spiderweb? It would probably look much like Numen/For Use‘s Tape Installation in Odeon, Vienna. While I always appreciate projects that are so ambitious and visually stunning, I’m growing wary of excessive waste. Clear packing tape is, for the most part, not recyclable (due to its adhesive) and using 530 rolls for a temporary project is a bit tough for me to grasp.

While I don’t mean to sound like a worrier, I’m just concerned about projects that are so overwhelming to the viewer that he or she can’t stop for a minute to think about the implications of production. We (BCL) have used plastic products in some of our projects in the past, but questions about waste were usually addressed. The most I can hope for is that artists keep asking these important questions when they decide to take refined materials and transform them.

There are a couple of images of this massive installation after the jump.

Continue reading “Numen/For Use’s Tape Installation”

Apartment Gallery / Alternative Spaces


Photo: Robert Wright for The New York Times

It seems as though this discussion crops up every now and again on our site here. We’ve written about alternative spaces before and we’re currently working out of a house on the edge of the University campus. I think that these spaces that can be multi-use, imagined to facilitate multiple activities, and multiple people provide the opportunity to do things that would be exciting and challenging in new ways.

It seems to me from this article in the NY Times, that these apartment galleries (one of them featuring work by Lisa Ann Auerbach is featured above) are possible because of the density of people willing to attend in a place like New York. So, how would this translate to a place like Windsor, with a painfully obvious lesser density? Well, thinking back to Steven’s post back in June, it makes me believe that indeed, spaces/venues like this would be exciting and workable, even with the somewhat limited density we face in the city.

The excitement around these spaces would surely be due to the way in which they could act differently than a normal gallery space does. It also helps to imagine ways of presenting artwork and creative research that isn’t faced with the same kinds of burdens that showing in a gallery space requires. And in some ways, I’m not even sure that it’s really a matter of space, but a matter of personnel, someone willing to commit a limited amount of time to organizing things.

Why aren’t there art crawls down the student rental-filled streets surrounding the University? Even curating work on a series of porches or front lawns? What if the idea of the Open Corridor festival was translated to a much smaller scale, focused on a single block at a time? Would it work?

[via Art Review & NY Times]

The Public School


The Public School is an initiative by Los Angeles’ Telic Arts Exchange, and, so far as I can tell, the basic premise is this: people interested in either teaching or taking a short-term class on a given subject propose that class; other people interested in such a class express their interest on the School’s website, and proposals eliciting the greatest public interest are selected to be taught. Nominal fees are collected, an instructor and curriculum are settled upon, and then the class is held at a space provided by the School. Topics already selected range from gold leafing and piñata-making to discussion of Benjamin’s Arcades Project and conceptual choreography. And S&M. And composting.

So far, the School has also launched programs in Chicago and Philadelphia. Now, it’s difficult to imagine the exact same system working in precisely the same way in a city the size of Windsor (put simply, there likely aren’t enough interested parties for the same degree of “crowd-sourcing” to be practicable), but as an organizational model for knowledge- or skill-sharing, I think there’s a lot that could be taken from the School’s format.

I’ve written here before about the potential that comes of having a physical space out of which to work, and something like this is perhaps one of the more compelling possibilities. The “school” here is, in effect, an empty classroom: the curriculum and schedule emerges out of a collective desire to see a given thing happen. And then it happens.

People everywhere have knowledge and experience that, in large part, goes under-utilized. It’s not difficult to imagine finding a couple-dozen people willing to chip in ten bucks for a silk-screening workshop, but, at the same time, there’s potentially something to be gained by bringing together four or five dedicated turbo-nerds willing to spend a night each week talking about—I don’t know—European versus North American histories of site-specificity in artistic practice and how these come to bear in current understandings and implementations of “relational” creative activity (only one example, of course). For the particular terbo-nerd leading the seminar, that outlet and the even-slight reciprocity of interest could mean the difference between sticking around and giving up and moving to Kitchener (“the Ghent of Southern Ontario,” I hear they call it). Or something. I don’t mean people like me specifically, of course; I’m just saying.

I could also teach gold leafing. Or piñata-making, come to that. Just saying.

Planning for 406 Pelissier


Danielle and I spent a number of hours last night going through photos of the Parking Garage and starting to imagine new treatments for the infrastructure, space, signage, walls, and streetscape.

We’ll be heading down early this afternoon to start getting all of this visual research up on the walls, with the opening tonight at 8pm, which also features projects from Julie Sando’s Contemporary Visual Culture class in the storefront at 424 Pelissier.

Lots of stuff to hang, plus there will be more throughout the month, as the project continues until June 28th.

A building of one’s own

All Citizens, Bruno, SK

I spent a good part of my afternoon today reading through the blog archives of All Citizens, an artist-owned shop and periodic performance/art venue in Bruno, Saskatchewan (90km east of Saskatoon, population 495, as of the 2006 census). Two Vancouver artists, Serena McCarroll and Tyler Brett, evidently purchased the building for $6500, and they keep it open as a shop one day each week (Saturdays) in addition to maintaining a farily active events calendar. Because one can do that.

This bears repeating: one can do that.

Spaces are exciting. The same empty building or floor can be, depending on the occasion, a gallery, a shop, a cafe, a meeting place, a performance venue, a studio—a lab, if you will. Places like Load of Fun in Baltimore are exciting; Chicago’s apartment galleries are exciting; BCL’s space downtown this month is exciting; the forthcoming storefront exhibitions for Windsor’s Visual Fringe Fest—despite the unfortunate association with fringe theater—will no doubt be exciting (I did one last year, and I may yet do another one before I pack it out west, this summer).

Now, there aren’t quite buildings to be had in Windsor for $6500, but I happen to know—because trawling real estate listings is one of my stranger hobbies—that there are vacant commercial properties available in this city for the same cost one might pay for a new car. In fact, if I was going to be staying in Windsor past July (I am not), I would be sorely tempted to make an offer on this cigar shop downtown (on Ouellette between Park and Wyandotte), which is listing for $25k. To put that into human terms, a mortgage on the place would be comparable to what many people pay each month for cable television.

I mean, really now.