Earlier in the fall, I curated the inaugural Nuit Blanche Edmonton. A few installation shots were posted here during the lead up to the event. Below are images of the final presentations, alongside the original promotional texts.
THE HALF-LIT MOON
Yoko Ono once noted that the paradoxical litmus test to determine cynicism or optimism is inherently flawed. The glass is neither half-empty nor half-full, it is all full: fifty percent with water and fifty percent with air. The observation suggests hopefulness, but ultimately bypasses the dilemma entirely. It serves as a useful, loose, framework for the works in Edmonton’s inaugural Nuit Blanche. These projects include video, audio, sculpture, and installation, many with a performative or interactive element.
Martin Creed’s Half the Air of Any Given Space calculates the volume of a space and fills half with inflated balloons. Visitors are invited to walk through Edmonton’s Pedway network and experience childlike euphoria and mild claustrophobia in equal measure. The inflatable castles stacked in Jon Sasaki’s performance Bouncy Highrise represent a Sisyphean task, a seemingly futile gesture attempted anyway. Sasaki has said of his work that it intends to convey the belief that it is better to do most types of something, than most types of nothing.
Common expressions about ‘Nothing’ and ‘Something’ form the entire script of Kelly Mark’s ten-minute video work 108 Leyton Avenue, in which she argues with herself, in duplicate. Sasha Krieger’s Soliloquy is a collaged video comprised of scenes from movies where a lost or isolated character calls out, only to hear the returning echo of his or her own voice. Andrew Buszchak’s Beacon animates the existing lighting systems in downtown high-rises, using them to convey slow motion binary code messages which presumably fall on predominantly deaf ears.
vsvsvs is a seven-person collective equally interested in construction and destruction. The artists will build a hockey rink and operate a steam roller on it, driving over a variety of objects over the course of the evening. Ali Nickerson’s Blue Christmas presents a kitsch Christmas Wonderland workshop in September. Visitors submit wish-lists and Nickerson and her elves fashion makeshift gifts for them to collect later in the evening.
Yoko Ono’s Wish Trees will represent the largest presentation to date of one of the artist’s signature works. A hundred-and-twenty-one trees will be temporarily installed in Winston Churchill Square, where Nuit Blanche volunteers will distribute pencils and tags. Visitors are asked to each write a wish and affix it to the branches of the trees until they are covered, looking like white flowers blossoming from afar. A banner reading Imagine Peace, pointedly displayed on the exterior of City Hall, reinforces Ono’s core belief in the personal and political power of wishful thinking.
(photo: Lee Henderson)
(photo: Fish Grikowsky)
Half the Air In A Given Space
An artwork that has no weight, no permanent shape, and no certain outcome, Half The Air In A Given Space gives tangible form to the air around us. It is an interactive work that invites playful participation.
Creed’s instructions are as follows: "Calculate the volume of the space. Using air, blow up 12-inch balloons until they occupy half the volume of the space... As usual the space should be full of air, but half of it should be inside balloons. Extra balloons may be added over time to maintain the volume of the work, or else the balloons may be left to deflate naturally.”
Martin Creed is a celebrated British artist and musician, well-known for challenging definitions of art through mundane yet thoughtful and impactful gestures. He won Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No. 227: The lights going on and off, in which the lights in an empty room turned on and off at five-second intervals. The year prior his large neon sign the whole world + the work = the whole world, was emblazoned on the façade of Tate Britain. He studied in London at the Slade School of Fine Art, graduating in 1990. He is represented by Hauser & Wirth, Gavin Brown's Enterprise and Galleria Lorcan O'Neill Roma galleries.
Creed states: “I think it’s all to do with wanting to communicate. I mean, I think I want to make things because I want to communicate with people, because I want to be loved.”
(photo: Jon Sasaki)
(photo: Fish Grikowsky)
While ostensibly a comment on urban density and redevelopment (and perhaps a satirical poke at ‘utopian architecture’), Bouncy High-Rise ultimately becomes a Sisyphean challenge. The artist and a crew of installers (armed with a pair of scissor-lift trucks) will attempt to erect a fifty-foot monumental sculpture by stacking seven inflatable bouncy castles on top of one another. Audiences are invited to watch as the performers deal with the inevitable leaning, buckling, deflating and falling of the castles over the course of the evening.
Jon Sasaki’s projects invariably risk and often court failure, with tragedy an inevitable by-product of a practice that is aspirational at its core. His multi-disciplinary practice borrows strategies from Conceptual Art, and invests them with humour, pathos, and an emotionally resonant core.
Sasaki's work has been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions, including the Ottawa Art Gallery, (Ottawa); the Tom Thomson Art Gallery (Owen Sound); Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina), the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, (Lethbridge); and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Recent group exhibitions include Platform Art Spaces (Melbourne); Nihonbashi Institute of Contemporary Art (Tokyo); MoCCA(Toronto); The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, (Toronto); Pace University Digital Gallery, (New York City); and Dazibao (Montréal). He was recently selected as a 2015 artist-in-residence at the Glenfiddich Distilleries in Dufftown, Scotland.
(photo: Kelly Mark)
108 Leyton Ave
Kelly Mark sits across the table from herself, drinking, smoking and arguing. The split-screen video projection features the artist masterfully mimicking her own gestures, while debating herself, using colloquial expressions relating to “nothing” and “everything”. The list of clichés are expertly woven into the script as contradictions, counter-arguments, counsel and complaint, building towards a poignant and surprisingly personal portrait of the artist.
Toronto-based Kelly Mark works in a variety of media including sculpture, video, installation, drawing, photography, sound, multiples, performance & public interventions. She received her BFA in 1994 at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. Mark has exhibited widely across Canada, and internationally at venues including the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), The Power Plant (Toronto), Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Muse d'Art Contemporain (Montreal), Henry Art Gallery (Seattle), Bass Museum (Miami), Ikon Gallery (UK), Lisson Gallery (UK), and the Physics Room (NZ). Mark represented Canada at the Liverpool Biennale in 2006 and the Sydney Biennale in 1998.
(photo: Fish Grikowsky)
In cinema, the lone traveller, lost in the wilderness, will invariably come across an open space and call out, hearing nothing back but their own echo. This gesture, enacted in the hopes of making contact or just the satisfaction of hearing the reflection of one’s own voice, plays out dozens of times in Soliloquy, the trope collected and arranged as an endless monologue. Projected onto the side of a downtown building, Krieger’s collaged film inhabits the great outdoors, allowing the character’s voices to echo throughout the city.
Sasha Krieger is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores issues surrounding originality and process in acts of creative production. She received her BFA in Photography from Emily Carr University in 2005 and her MFA from California College of the Arts in 2010. She has exhibited her work locally and internationally at venues such as, UBC AHVA Gallery, Vancouver, BC (2013), MacArthur B Arthur, Oakland, CA (2011), Sight School, Oakland, CA (2010), RVCA, San Francisco, CA (2010) and For-Site Foundation, Nevada City, CA (2010).
(photo: Andrew Buszchak)
Engaging the existing automated interior lighting systems of various buildings in the downtown core, Beacon programs the lights to turn on and off, broadcasting a slow motion morse code. The message is ambiguous to even the skilled observer: it is unclear whether it is intended as a distress signal or a symbol of hope.
Andrew Buszchak’s work explores systems of belief and exchange; he is interested in how these structures are entwined with the values and customs of contemporary North American society. By manipulating aspects of contemporary life, he seeks a perspective that will help to form new insights on objects and correlations that are often taken for granted.
Buszchak is an interdisciplinary artist working recently in video, print, and exchange. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from NSCAD University (Halifax NS). In 2014, he exhibited videos at Xpace Cultural Centre (Toronto ON), and produced a limited edition print to accompany the Society of Northern Alberta Printmakers’ spring edition of SNAPline. Other recent engagements with Edmonton’s arts community include his reader series Tuesday Night Book Talk held at Creative Practices Institute, and his collaboration with Émilienne Gervais, Custodial Walk, as part of Park(ing) Day hosted by The Drawing Room.
(photo: Fish Grikowsky)
(photo: KZ Photography)
A towering green-and-red polka-dot wrapped present is at the centre of a Winter Wonderland, complete with snowmen, Santas, Christmas lights and candy canes lining the streets. It will serve as an all-night workshop, where the artist and her elves will work feverishly to hand-make gifts in response to visitors wish-lists. While awaiting their gift, participants can have their photograph taken with Woody the Christmas tree, a replica of a vintage small town shopping mall attraction.
Ali Nickerson’s practice spans a range of media, including sculpture, drawing, robotics, and craft. Fuelled by skewed narratives, violence, and dark humor, her work embraces the conflicts, uneasiness, and anxieties that shape human life. She received her BFA from NSCAD and her MFA from UAlberta. She has participated the AGA Biennial (2015), and The Biennial of Canadian Fiber Art in Ontario (2008). She has exhibited her work throughout Canada and was the 2014/15 Artist in Residence at Edmonton’s Harcourt House.
(photo: Fish Grikowsky)
Originally created for the 2006 Liverpool Biennial, Soccer Pitch features local teams competing on an irregular football field. The wildly uneven surface renders the rules of the game moot and proposes an alternative type of play.
Priscilla Monge was born in 1968, in San José, Costa Rica, where she still lives today. Her work employs humour, irony and provocation to question existing power structures.
Her work has been exhibited in numerous important international Biennials, including Venice (2001 and again in 2013), Habana (1997), Liverpool (2006) and São Paulo (2004). Other exhibitions include Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (2007) and Hotel Mexico at Luis Adelantado Gallery (2010). Her work is held in numerous public and private collections, including The Tate Britain, Mexico Vivo Foundation, Centro Andaluuz de Arte Contemporaneo in Spain and the Museo del Barrio in New York City.
(photos: Fish Grikowsky)
Gary James Joynes
Using analog synthesizers and custom-made machines, Joynes creates striking visual representations of sound, both from pure tones and musical compositions. He has honed this method of drawing with sound, to develop a sophisticated vocabulary of mark-making. The intricate and elaborate patterns in the immersive sound and video installation Ouroboros are reminiscent of sacred geometric and decorative imagery from a variety of faiths and cultures.
Gary James Joynes (who also performs under the name Clinker) is a sound and visual artist who has been active in the international live audio-visual and experimental music performance community for years. Recent performances include ELEKTRA16 (Montreal), CMKY (Boulder, USA), New Forms 14 (Vancouver), MUTEK_IMG (Montreal), SoundsLike, Koffler Centre (Toronto), Electric Fields (Ottawa), Roulette Mixology Festival (New York), Soundasaurus, and Mutek_10 (Montreal). Other festivals and events include Sublimated Landscape / Sonic Topology @ ICA London (London, UK), Tanzstartklar Festival 2008 (Graz, Austria), and Sprawl – Interplay_4 Festival 2007 (Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Bristol).
He has exhibited work at the Harcourt House (Edmonton), The Koffler Centre of the Arts (Toronto), Latitude 53 (Edmonton) and in two solo exhibitions for Edmonton’s dc3 Art Projects (Broken Sound, 2015, and Topographic Sound, 2013).
(photos: Lee Henderson)
The Known Effects of Lightning on the Body
A dark and quiet room features an exquisitely filmed video of a single matchstick lit and left to extinguish, projected onto copper screen. The screen dissolves and repeats, the video deceptively appearing to be a short loop, but several different matches are in fact employed, each bowing and bending uniquely. The installation offers a contemplative space, allowing a zen-like meditation of light and dark, life and death, and durational time.
Lee Henderson completed his BFA at the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2003 and his MFA at the University of Regina in 2005. His practice includes installation, video, photography, text and performance. Much of his work, often darkly humorous, contemplates the connection between mortality and photography.
Recent commissions and public projects include Fixing a Novel by Removing all the Adjectives, a single, mirror-polished brick in a cellar somewhere under Berlin; The Crypt of Marie Laveau, as Tintype (a dead medium on a dead medium); and De Mortuis, a recutting of Alfred Hitchcock’s voice to deliver a soliloquy on death and the mediated image. He has shown across Canada, and in Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, Naples, and Berlin.
(photo: Fish Grikowsky)
(photo: KZ Photography)
Make It Flat
vsvsvs, a Toronto collective of seven artists, are known equally for their elaborate DIY constructions as for their playful acts of destruction. On a temporary purpose-built hockey rink, a steam roller replaces the Zamboni, which indiscriminately levels any object placed in its path. Items selected by the artists, ranging from ramps, ceramics, lightbulbs, yoga balls, air-mattresses, toothpaste tubes, bubble wrap etc., are continually arranged, destroyed and rearranged over the night. The project aims to use the act of destruction as a generative gesture and as an aesthetic spectacle.
Pronounced versus versus versus, the seven-person collective and artist-run centre based out of a warehouse in the Portlands of Toronto have been working together since 2010. Current members include Anthony Cooper, James Gardner, Laura Simon, Miles Stemp, Ryan Clayton, Stephen McLeod and Wallis Cheung.
Their activities encompass collective art making, a residency program, a formal exhibition space, and individual studio practices. The group’s collective work focuses on the collaborative production of multiples, drawings, video works, sculpture, installations, and performance.
Recently their work has been shown at Katzman Contemporary, Niagara Artist’s Centre, Mercer Union (all 2015), The Power Plant (2014); and Cambridge Galleries (2013). Recent projects include; Coat Check, Platforms Project, Art Athina (2014); Nap Station, Art Toronto; Dunk Tank, ArtSpin; Temporary Monument, Art of the Danforth (all Toronto 2014) and 1-855 IS IT ART, for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche 2013.
(photo: Lee Henderson)
Wish Trees / Imagine Peace
"All my works are a form of wishing. Keep wishing while you participate."
In this special installation of Wish Tree, Yoko Ono has envisioned the placement of 121 trees throughout Churchill Square. Event participants are invited to write a wish on special tags that will be provided, and tie it to a branch of the Wish Trees. After the event, the wishes will be collected and sent to the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER in Iceland, and the trees will be planted in communities throughout Edmonton.
One of Ono’s pioneering uses of advertising space for artworks was the War Is Over! If You Want It billboard campaign in a number of countries throughout the world in 1969 (produced in collaboration with John Lennon). She continues to take out full-page ads with works that combine art and activism.
The IMAGINE PEACE billboard will be hung adjacent to Edmonton’s City Hall on Churchill Square, providing a compelling message to the city, the country, and the world.
Yoko Ono is a New York-based Artist.