Monday, October 22, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
Saturday, June 02, 2012
Why the prohibition of photos in border areas I wonder. It seems the more guarded, often the more fascist the state, the greater the prohibitions. What can possibly be gleaned from photographs of the bordered state? Give us your huddled masses I suppose but within a limited lexicon.
2. New York is a city of states of liberty. Arms alight. There are two unique pedestrian postures in the city. For urbanites globally, crossing against the lights is a traditional rite of passage. In cities where orderliness is the order of the day, pedestrians look carefully up and down the street first, then furtively search for bylaw officers enforcing jaywalking legislation. In more chaotic urban morasses, those on foot take flight, adopting winged approaches to avoid homicidal drivers, each curb another temporary sanctuary. But in NYC, it's both an affront and challenge: pedestrians seem perplexed and royally not amused that lorries, motorbikes, cars, impede their attempts to cross against the lights, and brashly step lively into or as close as possible without being struck by protruding side mirrors. They are all pinch runners taking daring leads off of first, begging the pitcher-drivers to try to pick them off. And small breaks in the vehicular action enough for all but the frailest to steal second which exists as that visual point across the street that the pedestrian must absolutely reach in the approaching seconds. All important in this quest is the casual, not too insistent, certainly not impertinent, step into traffic if only to make a physical presence known. Never be seen as too haughty or disgusted, just as an entitlement to that crosswalk as soon as is bearable.
3. The second pedestrian posture is equally unique and similarly struck as a vogue moment that parallels the emotionless bulimic runway model. An arm up, outstretched, give us your huddled masses come hither stretch, but with the wrist necessarily crooked and flexed downward, a pupil's request to be excused to the toilet but with a lack of any urgency, more a bored point of order to the teacher should she deign to look that way. This is the taxi hail that looks not to individual drivers but to the taxi universe, come serve me all you once huddled masses of yellow cab drivers. The hand statue-liberties until and sometimes past until a car has pulled aside, lest a fallen arm releases the invisible tether and the driver escapes to streets unknown.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
We have three titles, all of them produced by TRU community members (researcher, faculty, student) and all three are works of fiction, two of them exploring the genre of young adult work. But the intention at CiCAC Press is to produce books of fiction, alternative criticism and theory, and other genres that are conducive this format. We also intend to publish from a board spectrum, so while this initial foray is with university members, subsequent runs will be from other regions, both within Canada and outside.
Please check out our titles and forward this information to those interested in alt publishing models.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Certainly we have shifted from the almost pornographic photojournalist revelation of the Vietnam war to a space and time that is ultimately more complicated, infused with exponentially greater amounts of information, and nuanced by such radically different and competing forces that even trying to understand the idea about a place is a challenging political act. Perhaps there is where we must begin to engage with what Maraya suggests to us. Far from Tolstoy, what we are presented with are the disturbing and yet enticing possibilities that the familial is not easily blocked off into categories of satisfaction and difference, but rather is a stack of undulating options that progress and recede from our line of sight in patterns, insisting that we explore the absences and presences that we already envision, and those we do not yet see.
Entry written for the Centre-A blog site for the Maraya Project
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Monday, October 10, 2011
Today, Alex went to collect lava rocks for a sweat lodge back in Cold Lake, but will be back at work in the studio tomorrow.
And yesterday, the Edmonton Journal ran a substantial two-page spread on Alex Janvier and his work, focussing on the construction of his new gallery in Cold Lake, designed by Douglas Cardinal.
To see how work has progressed in the first week, take a look at this video walkthrough of Alex's studio/gallery here at TRU.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
As part of an ongoing discussion regarding art+reconciliation, a number of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists, writers, curators, and researchers are gathering this week in Kamloops to investigate possibilities. Those attending include Jonathan Dewar, Peter Morin, Tania Willard, Richard Wagamese, Sophie McCall, Dave Gaertner, Ashok Mathur, Kevin Loring, Jaime Black, Jaimie Isaac, Alex Janvier, Gabe Archie, Gabe Hill, and a few others who will participate in various ways. This is functioning more as a think-tank than as a rehearsed public presentation, so the agenda is unfixed, other than to explore ways of looking at the intersections of the notions of art and reconciliation in their myriad identities. As part of this project, however, and in sync with the connectivity of art and research, there are several creative projects at play during the same time: Alex Janvier, renowned for his painting and founding member of the Aboriginal Group of Seven, will be converting the Thompson Rivers University art gallery into a studio for the next three weeks; Jaime Black is producing the site-specific REDdress project that acknowledges the 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women; and curator Jaimie Isaac in conjunction with artist Leah Decter is hosting a two-day interactive work (at TRU and the Kamloops Art Gallery) "official denial" which uses Hudson's Bay blankets and the suturing/stitching of words to address a lack of awareness of colonization in Canada.
During this time, our collected group will be thinking through future possibilities for exhibition, publication, and activity/activism to both complicate and articulate the difficult intersections proposed. The ongoing thoughts and reflections will be posted and compiled as we determine the most useful ways to proceed.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Optically, philosophically, aesthetically, we are drawn to the questions and confusions of reflection. It quite literally turns our worlds upside-down and inside-out, and in so doing, captivates our imagination. In "Heaven and Earth," inter- and multi-disciplinary artist Hyung-Min Yoon’s has designed a critically engaging and site-specific installation, currently floating in a pond at the Sun Yat Sen garden in Vancouver. Constructed of three-dimensional words form-cut from styrofoam, the installation floats on the surface of the water but also casts reflections on the viewers' perceptions, enticing as well as discombobulating. At first, the blocky letters look out of place, appearing to free-float but continuously jerked back into place by underwater tethers, and we have to perform some mental acrobatics to re-view the mirrored and inverted words. Four of them: a definite article, a pair of nouns, and a verb, encouraging interchangeability as would a child's set of wooden blocks. Is it "the earth reflects heavens" or "the heavens reflects earth" or something more disjunctive? Perhaps the article can come at the end or the middle, the verb at the beginning or end. But this perception only once the mind as been able to turn the blocks around so they make sense to our cognitive capacities. And only then does our gaze drift down to the subtle, always-there but somehow unseen reflection of those same words, displayed perfectly in the reflective surface of the pond.
Yoon draws inspiration for this piece from a Taoist adage from the 6th century B.C., a simple question of what begets what, and yet her re- and displacement of this poetic and philosophical concept is what so intrigues. Amidst the gardens, themselves a simulacrum of untouched nature but in actual fact a highly constructed re-creation, this installation carries with it both a zen peacefulness and a radical contemplation of contemporaneous culture. Just as the stone structures that grace the gardens are artifice, so too the styrofoam blocks are less and more than they seem. Undoubtedly, they reflect the tranquil nature of the pond, but they are the product of a highly industrialized process and product derived from the mixture of raw ethylene, benzene, and aluminum chloride in a highly-controlled laboratory environment. Indeed, the generic product we know now as styrofoam was first produced by Dow Chemicals around the time as WWII, feeding into and from a growing militarized and resource-driven economy. So, like many forms of illusion that surround us in new and old media, Yoon's contemplative and harmonious installation also reflects a much deeper and insidious history, much more than that which floats on the surface.
Nonetheless, the beauty of this work is profound and affective, particularly as a full moon rises above the horizon and complements the artificial pools of light thrown and diffused from corner spots. Over the course of the evening, the natural daylight casting a certain type and quality of reflection gives way to a deeper, richer, and more poignant quality of light that allows viewers to see the reflection in transition, as it were. Seen as single objects or grouped together as a four-word sentence or phrase, the inverted text changes shape and form, and in so doing, causes us to reflect on the nature of our own reflections, cultures, and communities.
Yoon's work possesses that ineffable quality of layered mulitiplicity, not so much meaning different things to different people as it allows for a transient understanding of the surrounding world through our cognition of words. Indeed, in earlier works, Yoon has played with this sensibility, as with her 2009 website "Reverser," which interactively runs backwards any text entered into the site, or her 2008 "Backwards Metamorphosis," that runs the entire text of Kafka's renowned text from finish to start along a wall and as a book project. But as those earlier pieces touched on the linearity of text, "Heaven and Earth" further addresses the tactility and nuanced texture of language, creating a frame and forum well worth consideration.
Heaven and Earth is installed at the Sun Yat Sen garden pond (578 Carrall St, Vancouver) from Sept 2-25, 2011
Hyung-Min Yoon was born in Seoul, Korea and studied Fine Art at Korean National University of Arts in Seoul (BFA) and Chelsea College of Art in London (MFA). Yoon's works have been shown internationally in exhibitions such as à ses parents – Variations autour de Le Corbusier (Switzerland, 2006) and The truth of Contradictions and exceptions (South Korea, 2009). She has recently participated in art residency program at The Banff Centre in Canada (2009) and at The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SÍM) in Iceland (2009).
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Always overwhelmed when I see the foundations laid, the amount of displacement and labour involved. This, a new construction site along 7th avenue in Vancouver, a hole dug to contain a concrete structure in the not too distant future.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
The following is in response to a blog posting entitled “Soft Sovereignties and Strokes of Genius: Situating the Indigenous Humanities within Canada” by Len Findlay (UofSask). In it he looks at numerous elements that both inhibit progressive action, and strategic formations to resist and change....
Thank you, Len, ascerbic and adroit as always. Your formulations of strategy are both straight-forward and entirely radical in their simplicity -- if those of us inhabiting academic posts could mix and match these in our daily interactions (or if we could even intertwine any two!), we could start the difficult yet important task of unravelling the cords of colonialism that currently bind our system.
Recently, I've been following the machinations of a process in Vancouver called the Dialogues Project, its intent apparently to bring Aboriginal and new/immigrant communities together to create some form of understanding. On the surface, and, I have no doubt, within the particular working groups, this is doing that task admirably, but it also reminds me of how those of us engaged in serious anti-racist activism in past decades were so mindfully wary of the term 'dialogue.' On whose terms was this writ, we would ask, and to what ends (and whose gains)? Dialogue seemed to be the desired start point for those who exercised considerable privilege, not totally unlike oppressive regimes proffering apology and then demanding said apology be duly accepted (sounds familiar, i know). Don't get me wrong: I'm not against dialogue, unless you think of how any of us must necessarily be 'against,' as in pressed-up-beside-and-forced-to-look-at-critically any 'thing' that is placed forward as either a panacea or an instant step in the right direction. Rather, I want to take that aforementioned criticality into the dialogues or apologies or otherwise positively-constructed actions and ask the difficult questions that can only come from, well, from the featured strategic formations you mention in your conclusion. It's a difficult path to follow, certainly not the one of least resistance, but to change our worlds, it's a must-follow path. Thanks for the words, the analysis, and the commitment.
Friday, July 01, 2011
Announced today, Shirley Bear is one of 50 new recipients of the Order of Canada. Her educational, artistic, and activist work has been instrumental in progressive arts circles in the country, so this is well-deserved and a long time coming.
Here's the cbc story on her award. And more info republished below.
Shirley Bear is an artist, writer and First Nation elder. Born on the Tobique First Nation, she has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions throughout Canada, the United States and in Europe.
She has curated numerous exhibitions related to First Nations issues and was the recipient of the Excellence in the Arts Award from the New Brunswick Arts Board in 2002.
While living in British Columbia for 10 years, she served as cultural advisor to the British Columbia Institute of Technology, First Nations education advisor at Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design and resident elder for First Nations House of Learning at the University of British Columbia.
Bio: Shirley Bear is a multimedia artist, writer, traditional First Nation herbalist and Elder. Born on the Tobique First Nation, she is an original member of the Wabnaki language group of New Brunswick. As an artist, poet, and activist, she has played a crucial role in First Nation women’s creative and cultural communities. In 1989, she curated Changers: A Spiritual Renaissance, a national show of work by Aboriginal women artists, which toured all major galleries across Canada. The 2002 recipient of the New Brunswick Arts Board’s Excellence in the Arts Award, Bear studied art in New Brunswick, New Hampshire, Boston, and Vancouver. She has worked extensively as a lecturer, performer, activist and curator including serving as Cultural Advisor to the British Columbia Institute of Technology, First Nations Education Advisor at Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, and Resident Elder for First Nations House of Learning at UBC. Bear has exhibited internationally and her work has been purchased by collections across Canada including the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the National Arts Centre, the New Brunswick Art Bank and First Nations House of Learning at the University of British Columbia. Bear’s writing has been included in several anthologies including Kelusultiek published by Mount St. Vincent University and The Colour of Resistance from Sister Vision Press, as well as the catalogues for the exhibits Kospenay and Changers—A Spiritual Renaissance. She has been profiled for film and television, by CBC, the National Film Board and independent producers in such films as Minqwon Minqwon and Kwa’Nu’Te by Cathy Martin, Keepers of the Fire by Christine Welsh and The Sacred Feminine. She has published a book of poetry, Virgin Bones (McGilligan Books, 2006).
The Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honours, was established in Canada's centennial year of 1967 to recognize a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation.
In the last 40 years, more than 5,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the order.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Thanks to the hard work by Mara Juneau, logistics coordinator, and many others at the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences, we will be holding multiple launches and events at Congress 2011 this May/June in Fredericton.
I'll be there with Jonathan Dewar, research director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and co-editor of CC, to present on the book and to distribute copies. Our 'main event' will be on Tuesday morning, May 31, when we launch the book officially at the Book Fair, 10:30 a.m and where the third co-editor and Executive Director of the AHF, Mike DeGagné, will also speak. But we will also either speak briefly, distribute books, or distribute bookmarks (see image on the left) informing delegates on where to get a copy during or after Congress.
Here is where we'll be. Please consult the Congress 2011 program for venue details:
1030 a.m. Sunday, May 29
315 p.m. Monday, May 30
Celebrations of Canadian Literature
1030 a.m. Tuesday, May 31
Reception Area, Book Fair
with editors Ashok Mathur,
Jonathan Dewar, Mike DeGagné
5 p.m. Tuesday, May 31
Equity Session: Indigenizing the Academy
All Day Thursday, June 2
Workshop: Being and Becoming Aboriginal Youth in the City
Complimentary copies of the book will also be available at the Arsenal Pulp Press bookfair booth from May 27–31 and at the UNB booth from June 1-3.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Join us for the Toronto and area launch of this new publication. Regional contributors include Cheryl L'Hirondelle, b.h. Yael, Meera Margaret Singh, Jamelie Hassan, Miriam Jordan, Ronald Lee, Bonita Lawrence, Enakshi Dua, Srimoyee Mitra, Malissa Phung, Ravi de Costa, and George Elliott Clarke.
Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation through the Lens of Cultural Diversity is the third in a three-volume series addressing the complex notion of reconciliation in a national landscape. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation brings together disparate voices to address how communities—immigrant, racialized, ‘new’ Canadians, and other minoritized groups—relate to the intricacies of reconciliation as a concept. Many of the contributors included address questions of land, Aboriginal histories, and different trajectories that have led to the current conﬁguration and conglomeration of peoples in this geographic space. And, a central organizing principle of this collection is artistic practice, speciﬁcally in how embedding creative acts within critical responses helps to create a relevant framework of possibilities as we move inexorably into uncertain futures.
Featured within are perspectives from Ashok Mathur, Shirley Bear, Henry Tsang, Glen Lowry, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Joseph Naytowhow, b.h. Yael, Sandra Semchuk, Elwood Jimmy, Dorothy Christian, Rita Wong, Sylvia Hamilton, Meera Margaret Singh, Jamelie Hassan, Miriam Jordan, Renisa Mawani, Rhose Harris-Galia, Sid Chow Tan, Ronald Lee, Bonita Lawrence, Enakshi Dua, Robinder Kaur Sehdev, Srimoyee Mitra, Malissa Phung, Henry Yu, Roy Miki, Ravi de Costa, Tom Clark, Rinaldo Walcott, Mitch Miyagawa, Jen Budney, Jayce Salloum, Rita Shelton Deverell, George Elliott Clarke, Diyan Achjadi, and Kirsten Emiko McAllister.
Ordering information from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation
Monday, April 04, 2011
And for those who can't grace our events with their presence but want their own copy, ask for your gratis copy at the Aboriginal Healing Foundation website at ahf.ca.
Canada Research Chair in Cultural & Artistic Inquiry
Thompson Rivers University
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Thursday, November 18, 2010
On VIA in an hour for the sobey/mont visit, then back to bc on Friday to connect more on the p'ship grant options, pre-Australia, which is where much of the planning will occur.
Canada Research Chair in Cultural & Artistic Inquiry
Thompson Rivers University
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Now that Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Kevin Krueger has reversed his government’s controversial and wrong-headed decision to decimate arts funding in B.C., it is critical for all members of the provincial arts and cultural communities to reflect upon this not as a victory, but an important possibility for our collective future.
Mr. Krueger has shown his utter disregard for British Columbians, first when his office initiated the significant cuts to the B.C. Arts Council, then when he refused to attend to the will of the people expressed through an impressive and widespread protest movement, and finally when he petulantly reinstated funds with the accusation that he felt both threatened and extorted. It is clear that the minister should follow the lead of chair of the B.C. Arts Council and resign his cabinet post immediately. But while Jane Danzo strategically and graciously stepped down from the Arts Council in order to speak honestly and critically about the current intransigence of the B.C. Liberal government, Mr. Krueger must exit in order to allow a fresh and consultative voice into that office.
As Ms Danzo and others have so correctly noted, the current arts funding crisis is not soley resultant of a government whose failure of imagination treats arts and culture as unnecessary frivolity, but also precipitated by an inability by the provincial government to maintain an arms-length policy of non-interference in the arts. Our federal and most of our provincial arts councils adhere to such a principle, which encourages funding governments to trust these councils with their assigned tasks – namely, to promote and advocate for the arts from an informed and stable base. Without such arms-length distance, it is all too easy for a government to step in to expedite a political agenda, such as we saw recently with the government’s non-consultative institution of the so-called “spirit festival” initiative that was announced as a surprise not only to artists and cultural workers, but to the B.C. Arts Council itself.
In general, the arts function not as a form of entertaining excess, but as a model to understand, interpret, and yes, even critique, our contemporary culture, including our various pillars of power. Not unlike the fourth estate, the arts effectively work by providing a commentary and reflection of our realities, and for this to exist in a democratic society, it must not be subject to the whims or fears of political leaders.
The possibility that exists for us now is a reconsideration and restructuring of the B.C. Arts Council such that it may operate unimpeded by political interference. To nurture a flourishing arts scene in British Columbia is the task at hand for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, and the people of this province deserve a successor to Mr. Krueger’s portfolio who brings in a far more progressive and visionary understanding of what art can be to serve the people rather than an assumption of what it should be to serve the state.
Canada Research Chair in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry
Thompson Rivers University
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
It was a great experience, though, inhabiting the freemont block and attempting to inhabit a history as well. Much movement freely flowing back and forth from history to fiction, parts that are imaginary, and parts that are verbatim from a variety of texts, blurred together so to tell the truth, not sure what represents what.
The process now is to print out (have done so) and post it to the 3day contest office, which I shall do later today. Have had a good time, too, talking to Kamloops media -- print, radio, and tv -- trying to explicate the project and the process. Next step will be to broach this subject with the City to see if we can create some sort of event next year, the centenary of the freemont block. Hoping a Dept of Canadian Heritage grant I put in for, to create an educational video, will come through to complement, and away we go.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Will post some final thoughts when final keystrokes struck at midnight....
Sunday, September 05, 2010
And conflated histories, too, for instance, this on fires back in St Croix and in Kamloops...
Fireburn: St Croix, June, 1878, thirty years after freedom bells rang but when slaves move to labourers there’s an economic shift and a paradigm collapse and what is there left of then, and how to make all of this ordinary? Collapse. A generation born into freedom and into poverty. The power to create is the power to destroy and the fireburn that did not happen when Buddho marched into town waited for a trio of decades and then, then it came on a prayer for change. How many fires have started when the people speak of enough? How many fires are stoked by the rule that changes language but does not change attitude? The time to burn always comes when it does, when there is nothing left but fuel and desire.
Fireburn, kamloops. June 29, 1892, the house of Chung Lee, the house of Ah Mi, the house and store of Kwong Hi, two houses of Gin Lee, the house of Uh Gum, the boarding house and store run by Kwong Fat, haberdashery owned by Kwong Lung, a boarding home run by Hang Lee (known as Sam and the manager of the Cosmopolitan Hotel dining room), the wash house operated by Kwong Joern, and lastly, the bootshop and residence of J. F. Smith, all burned to the ground. Within a year, the timber and row housing was rebuilt. But the following fall, a failed robbery attempt to blow up a safe, turned the town to fire again, and Chinatown was not rebuilt again.
or this reflection on how JFS was perceived by certain of the military elite and how history of sugar and slavery helps constitute this story:
if it could be avoided that nigger Smith not be employed as the officers of my regiment consider that white men should fill these official billets and decline to meet anything in the way of colour. We have none of us any personal object to Smith only he is in a position which makes intercourse with whites often necessary and when national defense in under consideration we would confer with men of our own race if possible.
– Lieutenant-Colonel Chares Flick, commanding 31st regiment, March 13, 1913, to T.J. Cumminskey, Inspector if Indian Agencies
that noble art that reptiles own
of shedding skin that has become tiresome
the default epiderm is always what the viewer has in mind and when the viewer occupies the observation deck then all is set
but personnel cannot be expected to comply
a wry turn of phrase and a door clicks shut
ballast is what they call it
the balance of what is taken in and taken out
the optimum of trade to ship in something and take a different something out
in christiansted the product leaving crusian shores is sugar pure and simple worth its weight to sweeten palates and circle plates around the tables of the civilized
in christiansted the product coming in are bodies chockablock like sacks of sugar, and like the same, some do go bad on voyages over and needs be tossed aside
the bow of the ship rises up in the water, lets go its grind of weighty bodies, then submerges once again when much more valued sugar comes aboard and those departing, brave new world that hath
At any rate, another 24 hours from now, will all be done, if not done well....
Saturday, September 04, 2010
The First White Black Man
saturday, sept 4, 2010
Far from ordinary
all this becomes ordinary far from where it happened
an ordinary building on an ordinary street
like any other in a town grown up around rushing for rail and gold
it does not speak back to voices from the street, volumes elevated by inebriation
it does not even echo but stands
an obelisk of quarried brick
absorbing sound as if it were a fluid poured directly into cracking grout
letting loose occasional whispers of where here happened to be
this is where language retires
behind a mask of weary words that make no sense of nothing
no, these walls do not have ears and
no, these walls do not have capacity for speech
(that would be far too far from ordinary)
but trapped inside somewhere deep maybe behind a loose brick hovering amontillado-like to suffocate lurking sounds is
a building’s soul if buildings can have souls
and even voiceless it gesticulates, a prairie preacher listen here listen up for here there is a story to tell, and to tell it well, unleash a cast of characters from here and here and mostly here with resonance and dissonance from there
the problem with history is that there’s too damn much of it and the little we do remember, well, that has a way of interfering with the best of stories, pitching truth against a brick wall until it splatters a sputtering version that suits the palate even if it rails against the stoney obtrusiveness of fact
we peek into our pack of characters to travel into acres of possibility, to unearth the stench and pleasure that is mixed into the mortar and sealed into an ordinary building
Sir: it has long since been my eyes grew foggy patches across their line, and teeth that once could address the most indelicate of morsels ended falling one by one to leave a head empty of all but the ideas of youth. But death is nothing but another ferry ride and I have done my share of those. Crossing water, that’s the thing, it has always been this way for me, the answers come from crossing water, questions too, and most of all, the memories and memoranda from those heady days. I once told my friends that having explored portions of the North Thompson uninvestigated by any man not native to this land, I must thereby be the first white man to pass that way, if, of course, by white you mean not one of the Secwepemc or their relatives east and north and west. That always got a rise and a laugh, me of Crucian blood, naming myself as White, a last laugh in a muddled type of way. My name? Smith, easy enough to write down in census books, though that name was passed down not so much through bloodlines as through the lineages of property. Which is why born two years after emancipation, my parents middlenamed me Freemont, a free man of colour, note the two e’s, and this I carried with me proudly all my livelong days. John. Freemont. Smith.
he came to me as if in a dream he did and i was shy and turned away. Mary i whispered when he asked me my name, Mary, and that was it and nothing more. He leaned into me then and whispered back some words i have long since misrecalled but i know or think i know they had something to do with how he would take me away as his bride and that was the truth of it. My parents, well, my parents, they were dark as he was, but of a different sheen for where we came from in the dark clear coastal nights there was considerable passage between the indians and the blacks and while i do not know for certain, i feel my people did not come exclusive and uncut from africa.
...a bit more written, but needs some morning revisiting before it posts...
Friday, September 03, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Many of you will be familiar with one of Kamloops' founding leaders John Freemont Smith, a three-time city councillor in the early 1900s and multi-talented entrepreneur who prospected, cobbled, and even served as an Indian agent in those early days of the community. Further, in June of this year, we were fortunate enough to host the great-granddaughter and grandson of Smith as they came from California to Kamloops to visit archives and explore the landscape of the site where their ancestor once lived.
Now, with the new term upon us, we are investigating a few ways to celebrate this history through a variety of creative practices. Andrea Baines, JFS's great-granddaughter, is in the process of writing about her experiences on her trip 'home,' and we are also planning ways to recognize the centenary of the Freemont Block, which was built in 1911.
Most immediately, through the support of the Canada Council and the auspices of the 3-Day Novel Contest (http://www.3daynovel.com/), I will be spending the 72 hours of the Labour Day weekend writing a new novel -- actually, the genre I'm using will be the long poem -- entitled "The First White Black Man." (This title comes from a quotation attributed to JFS who, as one of the few Black men living in the interior, playfully referred to himself this way when talking of prospecting in an area where no non-Native people had lived before.)
The tenets of the 3-Day Novel are fairly simple -- on the honour system, writers from across the world begin a new novel project at midnight of Friday, Sept 3, finishing off 72 hours later at midnight, Monday, Sept 6. Finished manuscripts can then be edited for minor revisions and submitted to the contest judges. It's less a competition than a way of challenging oneself into starting and finishing a project over the course of a long weekend, and its 30-year legacy has been one of some celebration.
I will be undertaking this task from one of the beautiful loft residences of the Freemont Block, since much of the novel is placed near or around that building -- no, I won't be going sleepless for the entire time, but I will spend all my waking hours in the writing process. I will also try to place a few updates, text and video, including fresh-off-the-press excerpts.
More updates from the middle of the journey! (And for those interested in some of the recent experiences, check out the Hogan's Alley Memorial Project: http://hogansalleyproject.blogspot.com/2010/07/descendents-of-black-bc-pioneer-john.html)
Ashok Mathur’s Canada Research Chair in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry at TRU began in 2005. His books include _Loveruage: a dance in three parts_, _Once Upon an Elephant_, _The Short, Happy Life of Harry Kumar_, and, most recently, _A Little Distillery in Nowgong_, currently in hardcover and available in paper in 2011. He is cross-posted to the departments of Journalism, Communication, and New Media and Visual and Peforming Arts, and he also directs the Centre for innovation in Culture and the Arts in Canada (CiCAC)
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Five days of sourcing and sauntering around Kelowna, finding artifacts and art facts that would contribute to this new religion. A lot of play with sound and sight, which all led to narrative tricks and tales to relate to this religious project. The text(s) below are hardly sacred, but they do reflect something of the faith...These were the didactics place next to the various objects and photographs inhabiting the corner of the Alternator Gallery....
The consonants “S” and “X” from the Roman alphabet are of absolute significance in this religion, which, of course, derives its very name from these symbols. Adherents of the faith will see these letters – on their own and together – in numerous combinations every single day. These symbols first came to the First Prophet in a dream where he saw the figures flying through the air on wings. He was perturbed to see hundreds of disciples, fully clothed but for inexplicable reasons, shoeless. This element of the prophecy was not fully understood until the first Disciple entered the faith. When the First Prophet visited a display outlet store on the western coast, he was drawn to a bin containing symbols purporting to designate clothing sizes, and he immediately purchased a case of the “extra small” denominators – XS. The Prophet was struck by the interdimensionality of this Gift: the XS clips, inverted, read perfectly as SX. Thus began the first of the Relics, the encasement of what were once garment clips inside what were once jewellry boxes. True adherents of the faith always carry a copy of this Relic wherever they go.
Sally Xaiver, originally from Essex County, was visiting Kelowna for a distant cousin’s wedding when she chanced upon the First Prophet in a beer hall named after a great fish. They had a stimulating, but otherwise not memorable, conversation, and at closing time they bid each other well and Sally made her way back to her residence. As she walked along a street that was named after a head of a monastery, she was drawn as if by magnetic force down a dark street toward the water. As she got closer, she began to quicken her pace, first to a brisk walk, then to a jog, and finally to a full-out sprint. She began uttering incantations from an ancient language that no one has yet deciphered and, in her desire to be fleet of foot, discarded her shoes in ecstasty. It was at this moment she became the First Disciple, moments before she dove headlong in the lake, never to re-emerge. This is now referred to as the Divine Podiatral Ascension, and all subsequent disciples have experienced similar episodes of incomprehensible jabbering concomitant with the ecstatic discarding of all footwear.
While other faiths express dualities and trinities, it is not surprising that our faith is attentive to the number 6 (SiX) and has acquired a Holy Sextenary. These are: 1) sandalwood incense and myrrh which, when lit, enter the Disciples’ bodies through scent and breath; 2) the holy bag of sand, discovered by the First Prophet along a Kelowna beach – note the uncanny nature of the bag in which the sand was discovered, emblazoned with the Sacred Letters hidden within the word, “SoeX”; 3) the Sign, originally discovered by the First Prophet and later mounted by the Original Disciples on a fragment of Sacred Beach Wood. It is still used as a seal for ceremonial purposes; 4) the Elements – tobacco flakes, rock salt, and pine cone – are inherent to the belief system and were collated by First Minister Heather Martin, aka Sister SX; 5) as all living entities are close to the heart of this faith, adherents of SX lopped off these berries to display them because they were in the shape of the Sign; 6) in death there is life, and so this display of fallen leaves collected from the House of Jefferess, Johnstone and Johnstone (HJ3)is a significant part of the Holy Sextenary.
Adherents of the faith will see a surfeit of feathers everywhere and at all times. Sometimes they are attached to the bird who grew them; sometimes they are floating through the air; and sometimes they are found along the footpath. Ministers are required by doctrinal law to bend and retrieve any such feathers, while adherents may gather these artifacts but are also permitted to simply observe with requisite obeisance.
Because the godhead in this faith is ephemeral, ethereal, and disembodied, it is often represented as a transparent female head. This should not be mistakenly thought of as an idol or an actual representation of a specific deity, but as a meditative practice to focus the disciple’s thoughts on the true meaning of the religion. It is said that only the Final Prophet will be able to lift the Sacred Head without scattering the enclosed SX/XS relics across the Holy Table and over the secular gallery floor. It is not known when the Final Prophet will appear, but according to the Book of Signs, it will probably be a late Thursday afternoon or perhaps an early Friday morning.
When the First Prophet was touched by the faith, he immediately wrote down all the tenets and laws of the religion in the Book of Signs. As this was divine language, it is not accessible to non-believers, and although scores of linguists and computer technicians have exhausted countless probability equations, they are still no closer to translating the text. Disciples of the faith are often surprised that others are unable to decipher what to them is the simplest of sacred texts, which has led to friction in communities where the religion has taken hold. The greatest epiphany to behold is where a non-believer pores over the book with furrowed brow, then in a brilliant instant doffs all footwear and begins to preach in languages unknown.
This interview was recorded by satellite link between a journalist reporting from Essex, U.K, with the First Prophet in Kelowna, during the First Holy Installation. There is some speculation that upon completing the interview, the reporter shook off his Birkenstocks and leapt feet first into the Thames to join the First Prophet, but this is unsubstantiated.
The First Three Ministers, the initial half of the Holy Sextet that adjudicates over all religious matters and has the power to initiate and discipline all disciples, celebrate their conjoined nature. First Ministers Younging, Pickering, Martin perform the Dance of the Us Not Them, which acknowledges adherents and non-believers alike.
The First Three Ministers prepare the Dance of the Unclad Feet. Note that they begin the ceremony wearing footgarb since upon discarding sandals and shoes they immediately begin talking in gibberish and so can no longer understand each other until someone once again dons shoes (called re-soleing) and adjourns the ceremony in a language the others can understand.
This polaroid photograph of the Lake was taken several decades before the Polaroid camera was invented, a sign to believers of the forward-thinking nature of their faith.
The inverted tree is a symbol of life and culture, known as the Tree of Rodney, and much discussed by scholars of the faith.
Shadows in the XS culture are as real and true as the bodies that form them. It is probably the only global religion that acknowledges it truly makes sense to be afraid of your own shadow. Also to get out of the way in case it hits you.
This photograph looks remarkably like the Kasugai Gardens in Kelowna, but is actually a re-creation formed by pure mental energy pouring forth from the First Prophet. He also does still lifes of fruit bowls, but mostly gardens.
The Shroud of XS is another result of pure mental energy flowing from the First Prophet, formed after a night of restless dreams. The first time it happened, an angry hotelier demanded reparations for soiled sheets, but since then the First Prophet travels with a rubber sheet and extra linens. Unlike other religious shrouds that are either one-ofs, or knock-offs, the Shroud of XS is eminently replicable, limited only by the number of times the First Prophet naps.
Two of the first adherents of the faith, Mr. and Mrs. Smith later went on to successful modeling careers in the photographic frame business.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I remain unimpressed by the online templates for starting a new religion. They are too dismissive http://www.ehow.com/how_2160175_start-new-religion.html or too arrogant http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/HowTo:Start_a_Religion or purporting to be something they're not http://englishatheist.org/ownreligion.shtml. It seems like a lot of people have it in them to talk about starting new religions, but not a lot of effort is put into practicing this act.
I burned sweetgrass and incense together, lighting one from the other, to see if the smoke would swirl into an answer. It did not, but the scent was wonderful.
summer fall kelowna day. Thinking of religion, partic the one I'm
trying to found right here right now. It has to do with... I know it
has to do with land and water. So my first Polaroid looks over sand to
waves to mountains, wooden pier inflecting a corner. Dionne Brand
writes: "the physical world is not interested in us, / it does what it
does, / its own inventory of time, of light and dark" (Inventory 46).
Canada Research Chair in Cultural & Artistic Inquiry
Thompson Rivers University
From today until Wednesday, Aug. 25, I'll be founding a new religion, using whatever comes to hand and mind.
The work will be part performance and part installation-assembly, beginning with an empty space (a portion of the gallery) and ending with all the elements that normally constitute the foundations of a religious formation. This will include Polaroid images, video clips, found objects, poetry, and other forms of expression that will be housed in the constantly mutating space. Visitors will have the opportunity to contribute and create their own tenets to this religion. No contribution will be refused, but may be altered to fit particular parameters.
There are numerous sites online about how to start a religion -- most of them are tongue-in-cheek, if not dismissive, of the origins of various religious structures, comprised of multi-point primers or tenets that take a parodic run at well-known religions. I don't want to be cavalier about this, which of course runs the problem of taking it too seriously... so, to start, I have to think of where to start. Ideas and suggestions are more than welcome. But in a hurry -- I only have a few days for a new religious order....