Curated by Tarin Dehod
Presented in partnership with AKA
Curated by Tarin Dehod
Presented in partnership with AKA
When I was invited to participate in this project, I had been strategically positioning photos, conversations, and outfits to try to get through my pregnancy unnoticed, partly out of fear of past loss and partly to preserve my professional self. I had begun to think about beauty and value in conjunction with fertility and the word’s common societal embodiment; women, youth, procreation. For many of us this word and all of its implications can take over and, no matter where our path leads, change our lives.
I began reading essays and books written by cultural workers and artists who had contemplated parenthood, many of whom are women. Rufi Thorpe’s “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid” and Kim Brooks’ “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mom” offer prose to define the worries of many creative workers. I sought artist projects about isolation, groundlessness, and the common spaces between us. Somewhere, in the middle of my research (obsession), I read Sheila Heti’s “Motherhood”, a coin toss: to try to have a child or not. Yes or no. In one passage, a knife, a reminder of the biblical wrestling between Jacob and the angel, is repositioned around the protagonist’s bedroom. This performative action struck me as precarious, strange, and hilarious--a useful domestic object triggering the visual of a wild and physical fight of faith. At the time I was unaware that the question of fertility could create so many fractures within one’s self; I wondered if I even needed a knife.
More than anything I needed to search for work about fertilities, understanding the word in a fuller sense because we are all caretakers, we produce, we are haunted and robbed by time.
Soda_Jerk’s The Time That Remains (2012) portrays Joan Crawford and Bette Davis trapped in side-by-side screens, tortured by visual and audible symbols of time. The work is part of the artist’s Dark Matter series wherein former actors are terrorized by spectres of themselves. The series explores time through lens-based media and Derrida’s term hauntology. Crawford and Davis were notoriously pitted against one another by their industry, feuding over men, film roles, and professional recognition. In real life and in The Time That Remains, these talented women were obsessed with their beauty and youth, tragically encouraged into a war with one another and ultimately themselves. I saw this work in Peta Rake’s show Séance Fiction and it has since served as a vital articulation of female invisibility and the dread of irrelevance.
Maggie Groat’s practice feels empowered, unapologetic, and fertile. I have returned to her works and the artist’s writing many times since we met. In 2014, Groat told me something about usefulness and beauty and how they guide her production. While I wish that I had held on to her specific words, the feeling of them has lived on like a compass in my life. A guide by which to be more selective, willful, and true. fertilities>twins>swings>sings (2019) is part of a collection of propositions for textiles, objects of the domestic realm, the abundant space of the caretaker. fertilities>, and the other works in the series, find their voice through collected print, chosen and applied by Groat in such a way that the images are stripped of context, imbued with her gesture and the emotion and energy of her space. This body of work is rooted in the natural unfolding of time, the cycles of the moon and stars, the reliable and comforting patterns of the day, and the biology of life.
Amalie Atkin’s Listening to the Past/Listening to the Future (2014) is set in a spartan, blue-cold, prairie landscape. Atkin’s work achieves a tension between the fantastical and the real, a kind of fabled charm with something dark around the edges.In Listening, two women, skate and twirl, clothed in large hoop skirts. Their identical Victorian dress mimicking their listening and telling devices, both recalling victrolas. The symbols within this work are reinforced with a deft selection of sound. In addition to the women’s voices: a lamenting piano, wind, breath, a liquified rolling like a marble on wood or ice breaking. The women are shown within their own frames, so identical that they could be the same; a woman alone, listening to her divided selves. When they come together in one space, their movement in sync, the second frame is emptied of a body but filled with the coursing, repetitive movement of birds in flight . . . an icy river. Listening feels like a legacy, ancestral voices, inherited kinships.
Amalie Atkins lives and works in Saskatoon. As a multidisciplinary artist noted for her films and video installations she creates cinematic fables through a blend of film, performance, textiles, installations, and photography. Atkins has exhibited nationally including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Central Art Garage, Gallery 44, The Ottawa Art Gallery, Eastern Edge, Struts Gallery, La Centrale, FADO, Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine. Her work has shown internationally at Moving Image, NYC; 12:14 Contemporary, Vienna; USC Art Gallery Queensland; The Academy Gallery,Tasmania; Gerald Moore Gallery, UK; and Kunsthaus Tacheles, Berlin. Her work has been included in major survey exhibitions, most notably, Oh, Canada at the MASS MoCA; DreamLand: Textiles in the Canadian Landscape at the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto; and Road Show East, which toured in Eastern Europe. Atkins was the recipient of the Locale Art Award for western Canada (2011) and long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in (2012, 2013). Her photographs have appeared on the covers of Canadian Art Magazine, Visual Arts News, Grain Magazine, CV2, and MUZE magazine (Paris). Her solo exhibition we live on the edge of disaster and imagine we are in a musical toured to the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina; Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge; and College Art Galleries, Saskatoon. Where the hour floats, was selected for Capture Photo Fest at Evergreen Art Gallery, Coquitlam (2019). Remai Modern premiered her most expansive 16 mm film project to date and was reviewed by Amy Fung in ARTFORUM. Currently her work is on view in Fairy Tales at the Owens Art Gallery, Sackville and in A New Light: Canadian Women Artists at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, DC.
Maggie Groat is a visual artist who utilizes a range of media including works on paper, sculpture, textiles, site-specific interventions and publications to interrogate methodologies of collage. Her research surrounds site-responsiveness with regard to shifting territories, alternative and decolonial ways-of-being, and the transformation of salvaged materials into utilitarian objects for speculation, vision and action. The approaches and perspectives demonstrated within her practice are informed by her Haudenosaunee and Settler ancestry, her roles as mother and environmental steward. Her work has been shown at many notable institutions across Canada, including The Western Front (Vancouver, BC), Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff, AB), Art Gallery of York University, Art Museum University of Toronto (Toronto ON), SBC (Montreal, QC), and has twice been long-listed for the Sobey Award (2015, 2018). She is the editor of The Lake (2014) published by Art Metropole (Toronto ON) and ALMANAC (2017) published by the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery (Kitchener ON). She is currently a lecturer in the Visual Studies department at the University of Toronto and lives with her partner and three young children on the land between two lakes, the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Chonnonton and Anishnaabeg.
Soda_Jerk is a two-person art collective who work exclusively with sampled material and pirated cinema to make experimental documentary films. Following their acclaimed political revenge fable TERROR NULLIUS (2018), Soda_Jerk are currently working on a new feature Hello Dankness. Formed in Sydney in 2002, they’ve been based in NYC since 2012. They have exhibited in galleries, cinemas and institutions including the Barbican Centre, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Hartware Medien KunstVerein, Dortmund, Wexner Centre for the Arts, Columbus; and Anthology Film Archives, New York.
Tarin Dehod was born on unceded Mi’kmaq land originally known as Epekwitk. She is a curator and arts administrator, living and working on Treaty Six Land that encompasses the traditional homeland of numerous First Nations, including Cree, Dene, Plains Cree, Nakota, Saulteaux, and Ojibwe, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. Since 2014, Tarin has served as the Executive Director of AKA, working to understand the role of the artist-run centre in joint ownership with communities, as a space that is created and given meaning through the actions of its users. Recent projects include: Tuesday Night (2019)—a talk show, a town hall, a Reddit thread—with Joel Bernbaum, Andreas Buchwaldt, and Lancelot Knight, co-curated with Derek Sandbeck; Locals Only (2017-2019) funded by the CCA’s New Chapter Initiative; Maya Stovall: Compulsion and Heart (2018).