Agnes reopens on Saturday 7 August 2021.

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The Hidden Museum

Transcript

The Hidden Museum
Listen to the inaugural episode of With Opened Mouths: The Podcast where host Dr Qanita Lilla and Agnes's Collections Manager, Jennifer Nicoll visit the subterraneous terrain of the vaults
With Opened Mouths: The Podcast

Transcript

With Opened Mouths: The Podcast
Introducing "With Opened Mouths: The Podcast" hosted by Dr Qanita Lilla. Listen to the trailer!

[Music]

Qanita Lilla: Hello, I’m Qanita Lilla, curator of the new show With Opened Mouths.

This show interrogates conventional museum practices by incorporating African ‘traditional’ art from the Lang Collection with art by contemporary Canadian-Nigerian artist, Oluseye. It asks if objects that originate outside western knowledge-making systems can find their voices in new ways.

In this podcast, I sit down with artists, musicians, curators and spoken word poets to discuss the expression of their practice. How did they find their artistic voice? Which life events shaped them? And who are their inspirations?

Over the course of the series, I chat with Toronto-based contemporary artist, Oluseye. He discusses his Eminado series, a collection that pays homage to the individuals of the transatlantic slave trade. Rapper Jameel 3DN shares his creative processes that germinated in a tough childhood. I will also talk with Kingston-raised spoken word poet Britta B who uses her voice to confront the realities surrounding her.

Métis artists Jessie Ray Short and Amy Malbeuf talk about curating their show, Other Worlds. And Jason Cyrus and Ezi Odozor discuss the themes of the show History is Rarely Black or White.

Associate Curator, Sebastian De Line discusses what led him to their Ancestors at the Agnes. And in the first episode, I search for the museum’s voice and visit the hidden terrain of collection vaults with Agnes’s Collections Manager, Jennifer Nicoll.

Catch With Opened Mouths: The Podcast for some moving and inspiring conversations. This podcast is produced in partnership with Queen’s University’s campus radio station, CFRC 101.9 FM.

With Opened Mouths: The Podcast will be available at Digital AGNES, CFRC’s website, and on popular podcasting platforms like Apple, Google and Spotify. See you then!

[Music]

Programmatic Stereoscopy

Transcript

Programmatic Stereoscopy
Episode 4 | Vibe Check with Neven Lochhead

Neven Lochhead:  You’re listening to CFRC 101.

Check.

Point 9 FM.

Check one, two.

Located in the basement of Carruthers Hall on the Queen’s University Campus in Kingston, Ontario.

This is the mic for the camera.

This is the mic for the performer.

You’re listening to.

This is the mic for the camera.

Two, three, three.You’re listening to.Two, one, two.Check. You’re listening to Vibe Check.

This is the mic that will describe the images.

This is the mic for the performer.

And the movements of the camera.

Where the performer will ad lib, will pull thoughts together, will perform magic.

This is a recording.

The camera.The movements of the camera.

This is a re-recording of an event.

The setting of the scene.

This is a re-broadcast of an event called Fieldnotes, a performance that was streamed online for viewers.

This mic will give a live transcription.

On May 29th.

Of the movements of the camera.The images.

It.

The motions.

Was made as.

The transitions from one room to the other.

A closing gesture to.

It’s going to give you everything.

The exhibition From the vibe out presented at Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

[ Music ]

It was recorded at my studio.

Everything.

On Brock Street, an empty space around which.

You’re going to hear.

The exhibition.

See.

Orbited.

Sense.

For its duration.

Everything.

This broadcast and the Fieldnotes event were held.

Everything the camera thinks.

As a programmatic stereoscopy.

Describing everything it sees.

Two events.

You see. You make.

Dissonant. Intermeshed.

Intermeshed.

Making a three-dimensional.

Every image, image, image, image, image, image, image, image, image, image.

[ Music ]

Every fade.

[ Music ]

Just me in a room. With a camera.A mic.

Thirty seconds.I’m all tangled up.

Too many cables.

[ Music ]

The performance begins in complete darkness.All you see is black.

Thanks, everyone.

And you hear the sound of this voice.

For coming to Fieldnotes.

This voice that will describe the movements of the camera.

That anyone signs up.

As the performance develops.

For another Zoom call in this moment.

The darkness lingers for a while.

Is to me.

And it seems like it’s some kind of technical glitch.

A major act of generosity.

Until the camera person takes off the lens cap, and the camera adjusts to the scene in front of it.

I’m speaking to you from my studio downtown.

It’s a shot of a window.It’s sort of midday.

I know it’s a weird time to start an event.

Three o’clock.

But.

There’s some kind of stairway in front of a large, horizontal window.

These logistics are a kind of.

A garage door kind of thing.

Vestige of.

And the camera instinctively starts to.

A prior hope.

Look for blue sky.

Back when my exhibition was still open.

And it zooms in on the parting of some clouds.

I had the naive idea that maybe.

And this makes the kind of images that you’d encounter in an opening credit sequence.

Some friends could visit from out of town.

You can sort of imagine names appearing over these soft images of.

Make a day trip.

The clouds and the sky. Maybe a bird flies by.

I imagined a procession of attendees.

You can imagine the names of people who contributed to the making of this project.

Friends walking from the gallery.

Their roles.

To this space where this performance would be unfolding.

After searching the sky for a while.

As it is.

The camera eventually pans down.

It’s just.

Towards.

Me.

The floor.

And Matt.

And.

Here in this room.

And it reveals that the floor is.

Making this.

Covered in a kind of Astroturf-like.

Video broadcast.

Material.

A kind of dark green that’s glittering underneath some overhead fluorescent lights.

This has left me with an unusual situation of closing an exhibition that.

Soon the camera encounters a kind of object.

Has already closed.

And it pans left, towards that object.

I know it’s closed because.

Until it reveals the performer sitting on top of a large, grey box.

Because I’m sitting on top of it.

And it’s sort of on its side.

These objects that you’ll see over the next half-hour.

Geometric.

Are the screens that were made for the exhibition From the vibe out.

To speak.

And have been repurposed here for a new work, and possibly new types of presentations in the future.

As they continue speaking, they start to set up microphones and pull cables to a specific area on this large object, where there are two stacks of paper about an inch thick, containing a number of different types of papers they would see.

And so, the performer is setting up microphones in order to sit and speak right in front of these stacks of paper.And so, they set this up and they get into position.

This first part of the performance.

Where again they begin to speak and manipulate these, these documents.

Focuses on this collection of documents that I made during the pandemic.You know, it was a time of reading and, and, and, what I ended up doing was reading just a ton of PDFs.

[starts singing the words]

And I began to capture.

Began to capture.

Various screen captures of.

Various screen captures.

PDFs that I found to be.

Found to be.

Attractive.

Later, I took these pages and.

Took these pages and.

Turned them inside out.

Turned them inside out.

I took the title of chapters and.

The title of chapters.

Made them trip over themselves and.

Made them trip over.

Turned their meanings inside out.

The camera hovers over.

Through this act I assembled a collection.

An assembled collection.

Of unruly and fictional scholars and researchers.

Scholars and researchers.

I made this lexicon.

I made this lexicon.

An operative vocabulary.

Vocabulary.

It transformed my research practice.I learned to read sideways.

Soon, the camera begins to lower itself until it’s right down at the surface of the object.And it’s from this position that we can see that the object is, in fact, hollow.And that one side of the object is completely open.And so, instinctively, the camera begins to explore this strange interior.And they peer inside the object, where they’re confronted with a dizzying array of materials.There are stacks of books.There are instruments for playing music and cooking.But most centrally and most disturbingly, is a large seashell that seems to be hovering and aglow.

Listening to this, I inferred one from the joy driven, post-anxiety, para-academic, persistently-persistent. I inferred an institute that was sceptical about the academicization of artists that had no limit concept.It functioned at and beyond the site of exhaustion.

Behind the performer, there’s a door that’s opens up into the neighbouring room, and this room is very dark.But as the camera turns its attention to this doorway, a video projection begins playing on a large rectangular screen which goes all the way to the floor.And this sort of mesmerising image of pages flowing into each other draws the camera into the other room as it leaves the performer, and enters this second space, and begins to observe this image, and it hears its sound emanating from inside of it.

[ Natural sounds ]

The image seems to contain thousands of pages, pages, pages. Like the ones just manipulated by the performer in the other room. The pages are in motion, and a spine separating them seems to be pulling them in as they fall into this crease, this fold, this shadow.

What’s going on in here?I was just in the other room.

The performer reappears to the right of this video projection, and they’re peering again inside this object.

What’s in this object?

They look towards the camera and signal for it to follow.

Why don’t we go in?

As they begin to climb inside the object, an action which the camera instinctively follows.

Instinctively follows, follows, follows.

I’m in the object.Are you getting this, Matt?

Now huddled deep inside this object, the performer begins to speak as they also pour water onto their hand.

I was trying to think about.

And rub that water onto their forehead.

You know, what would be an appropriate thing to talk about here in this image inside the projection. And I thought I might try to address this idea of, of “vibe” and this type of.

The performer grips the mic that they are holding and positions it on their right temple. And as they do this, they begin to move the microphone across their forehead from right to left.

One second.

[ Music ]

With every pass of the microphone on their forehead.

Its this idea that.

The sound seems to emerge like the groove

A literary text has.

Of a record.

Has. One second.

[ Music ]

Within it a kind of magma.

The performer.

A kind of.

Washes their forehead with water one more time.

Vibe that can.

Before looking at the camera

Project itself.

And saying.

Let’s get out of here.

The performer and the camera begin to climb out of the object.And re-emerge into the room of the video projection, projection, projection.

[ Natural sounds ]

The camera travels far into the space, revealing the full width of the room. There’s a brick wall on the right. There’s wood floors. And as the video begins to fade away, the lights to the space begin to turn on and illuminate the full dimensions, dimensions, dimensions of this room.

It’s more spacious here.

As the camera.

Pans and explores its various walls.

It’s more spacious outside the vibe.

And contours.

The performer moves to a large vertical garage door.

Let’s go outside.

At the opposite end of the room.And they pull open the curtains to reveal a sunny mid-afternoon light.

It’s so bright out.

And they pull open the garage door. Taking their microphone, they walk.

Well listen.

Outside about 10 feet from the garage door.And they kneel on the pavement just outside the space.

We’re kind of reaching the end of our radio show and our, our performance here. And I just, I just had one last trick to show you. It’s, it’s what I’ve been working on the most. And I’ve been reading a lot about seashells and the physics of seashells. And I’ve found a way to make my hands into a shape that creates the illusion of the ocean being in your hands.And, well, for you, it’ll be in your ear. I’ll show you.

The performer places the microphone on a small strip of Astroturf.

All you have to do is.

And they begin to.

Is listen, listen, listen.

Cover the microphone with their hands.As if putting it in a bowl.

You don’t even have to watch.

Or trying to warm it up.

I’m just going to show you this trick.

And the microphone disappears.

Thanks for listening and watching.

In this interweaving of.

And being here this whole time.

The performer’s hands.

It’ll just take a second.

[ Natural sounds ]

[ Muffled, ambient sound of ocean fades in ]

[ Distant roaring of ocean fades in ]

[ Ocean waves crashing on beach ]

[ Music fades in ]

Immersion. Impression. Immersion. Impression. Immersion. This is your immersion.

Vibe Check.

Vibe Check.

Episode four.

For and with, with, with, with, with, with, with, with, with, with.

Immersion. This is your immersion.

A trajectory resulting from a three-way assemblage: the work in the making, the one who puts to work, and that which calls for its own existence.And in doing so, keeps the one who puts to work guessing. Not in the sense of a secret to be discovered.But in the sense of a tension between succeeding and failing.And in the sense of a situation that is questioning, that obligates us. Isabelle Stengers.

Featured Songs:

Julia Govor: Drama C (2021)
Nun: Immersion (Enderie remix) (2011)

Diagrammatic Melodies

Transcript

Diagrammatic Melodies
Episode 3 | Vibe Check with Neven Lochhead

Neven Lochhead: You are listening to CFRC 101.9 FM, located in the basement of Carruthers Hall on the Queen’s University campus in Kingston, Ontario, and online at CFRC.ca. My name is Neven Lochhead, I’m an artist in Kingston, and this show is called Vibe Check. So, this is a four-part bi-weekly radio art program that was made in relation to my video-based exhibition at the Agnes Etherington called From the Vibe Out. That show opened in late February, and it had to close in early April due to the lockdown measures. And so, this radio project was initiated with the generous support of Dinah and CFRC as a sort of pivoted programming strategy for that exhibition, which would allow me as an artist to keep some of the threads or ideas from that work in motion and to share them with you, with a public.

So, this is episode three, and the past couple of episodes have been pretty talky. And so today I’d like to take a bit of a back seat, at least vocally, and get into some more music-driven radio making. I’m going to play a collection of music, or a mix of music that was written and recorded over a pretty immersive two-week period in Tamworth, Ontario in summer 2020. This is a collection that I’ve been naming with the wordy title of We Consent To Maintain This Feeling In Us. I should say that what you’ll hear are songs that aren’t really songs, they’re barely holding themselves together as songs. They attempt no hook; they offer no central or steady rhythm. Instead, the songs you’ll hear are what I think of as audio sketches, sort of provisional, time-based experimentations with sound and music, that directly informed the work that was later presented in the Agnes exhibition. So it was through making this set of non-songs that a poetics, or a set of strategies with time-based media were formed and became operational, and later got scaled up into the installation structures and videos of the show. So, maybe we can think of this show, or these songs, or this music as diagrams, as melodies with a projective or constructive capacity.

[ Music ]

Fieldnotes. Fieldnotes. Represents. The closing gesture. Streamed live. Represents the cumulative closing gesture of the exhibition. May 29th. Saturday. 3pm. On Zoom. Streamed Live. The exhibition. The radio show. The learning experiment. The publication. 3pm. Free. Register at agnes.queensu.ca. We now return you to Vibe Check.

[ Music ]

Begin slow zoom.

[ Music ]

Moving in on the window. Focus on the writing on the window.

[ Music ]

The performer writes fieldnotes in marker on the window. Pull back to see AstroTurf on the ground. The performer reaches for 1000 sheets. PDFs. Zoom in. Focus. Cut. Tilt. Shift. Zoom.

[ Music ]

Vibe Check, episode three.

[ Music ]

Speculative Itinerants

Transcript

Speculative Itinerants
Episode 2 | Vibe Check with Neven Lochhead

Neven Lochhead: You are listening to CFRC 101.9 FM located in the basement of Carruthers Hall on the Queen’s University campus in Kingston, Ontario and online at cfrc.ca.

 My name is Neven Lochhead. I’m an artist and curator in Kingston. And I’m feeling again quite lucky and grateful to Dinah and CFRC for this opportunity of doing a bi-weekly half-hour radio program that I’m positioning in relation to an exhibition of mine called From the Vibe Out which is at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, but which is currently closed due to the lockdown. So this program was made as a kind of pivot point that has allowed me to keep some of the ideas and strands of that work in motion and in relation with a public.

 Last week, I tried to translate some of the poetics of the exhibition onto the airwaves through musical composition. This week, some of that will carry over but it’s mostly going to be focussed on a learning experiment that I’m conducting with the Dark Matter Playgroup, which is a project initiated by Sunny Kerr and Michelle Bunton at the Agnes. And they frame the Dark Matter Playgroup as “a nomadic mentorship-based program supporting adaptive forms of collectivity and art-making, under the conditions of the pandemic.” So, I’m a kind of mentor in this program. And I’ve been designing with this wonderful group of artists, a sort of modular assignment-driven peer-to-peer learning habitat. Which is, I should say, also a modified remix of an open educational resource that was designed by Neil Mulholland at the Edinburgh College of Art called Contemporary Art and Open Learning.

 So, in this episode, you’re going to kind of eavesdrop on a module that I just completed with the Dark Matter Playgroup over this past week. And as you’ll hear, I’m taking this context of the radio very much into account. And thinking of how it can be a platform to both allow this group to come together in some kind of way in the absence of working in physical space, but also to open up the mechanics of this open learning experiment to you – to the public that I encounter on the airwaves. And so, it’s a kind of experiment in interrogating the potential openness of these educational models. So I encourage your attention, and if you feel up for it, also your participation in the module that you’re about to hear. So thanks for listening, I’ll hand it over to myself, in a different hat.

 Vibe Check

 Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I — — put together — — a module for the group. But I’m keen to sort of turn back to — — our learning experiment. Now that term is wrapping up — — just walking on my way to the studio now. Unfortunately, that idea of the shared studio space is going to have to be paused until the stay-at-home order lifts. But not to be deterred, I have devised a little activity — an exercise here in Module Two that will, I hope, give us a kind of alternate context to do some embodied learning or haptic experimentation. And also a becoming public to each other. It’s an assignment that is built off of a couple of exercises from Neil Mulholland who offered a couple PDFs in the last module. Anyways, I’ve been talking to Neil and I asked him to record a little prompt of himself walking around Edinburgh. And this sort of recording he sent in a way kick-started my thinking for this module. So I’ll just hand it over to Neil briefly.

Neil Mullholland: I think what I’d like to try and talk about is this whole idea that I mentioned in this talk about the creation of open research objects, following what Boshears has to say about that. So his idea is that you create an open object, that could be an artwork or it could be something that you write, could be anything really, so long as you can license it with a Creative Commons license that allows it to be repurposed. So it’s really a question of thinking of what it would mean if we took Boshears at his word and we tried to apply that sort of logic to the creation of works of art. And I think also, with that in mind then, thinking of these artworks as somehow being things we can repurpose to build other artworks or possibly to use them for other ends and means. So thinking about them as being like reciprocal readymades. You know, Duchamp used Rembrandt as an ironing board. That sort of idea. So I guess there’s the potential to think about how these open research objects can become something that you… you know you could use them for other purposes than as artworks. I suppose there’s also the thing to consider here whether artworks are research objects at all, whether they are something other than forms of research. So maybe that’s contestable, but I think the basic premise is that somehow we can license things in such a way that makes them open and inter-operable. So his other caveat here is that he thinks it is slightly pointless doing that unless we are focused on creating new publics. So the key thing here is that as people use and engage with these open objects that they become new publics for whatever it is that the object does, whatever it intends to have as engagements. This is about affordances, maybe. Like, what does the open research object afford and enable in this kind of interaction between the people who engage with the object, and the object itself? The object is constantly being changed through that interaction and it is always in the process of becoming something else. – – [noise] Oh… okay…

Neven: Okay, so what Neil’s talking about there about the open research object, and this emphasis on it needing to produce new publics — — has made me start thinking about this radio program that I just started a couple weeks ago called Vibe Check, as a possible tool for us in lieu of sharing a physical space that we could occupy the radio airwaves, and this very transmission to coexist as a group and carry out a set of related but dispersed activities and come together within the space of the edit of the radio show. So, it’s an open question and idea of how we might occupy the radio in this way. And I’d really like to try it with you guys if you’re open to it. Yeah part of the challenge of what I’m proposing would be to not just upload the outputs of our workshop, but actually to transform the radio program into an open educational resource. So that would involve me repositioning and recodifying the outlines of the activity called Speculative Itineraries, which I’m hoping you’ll carry out, into a kind of public facing resource that would have the ability to be taken up by a listener — by a public. And it would invite people to remix or improvise upon the contents of the transmission. So it’s pretty interesting to be talking to you actually: I’m, of course talking to you directly as a group — as the Dark Matter Playgroup — but simultaneously, I have one eye on the listener to the radio show Vibe Check. And potentially of other publics that I will encounter there, cohorts of co-learners that could form around this very broadcast. I think that’s what it would mean to do open education on the radio and indeed I feel a bit strange, the kind of boundaries of our virtual classroom are exposing themselves to a public audience. So we’re both learning and teaching in and through a public platform. So with that I’ll just frame the assignment Speculative Itineraries, its various steps. For the Dark Matter Playgroup, you’ll be able to just read all that below. And for the listeners at home, I’ll be reading the instructions out on the air in just a few moments. And then we will shift to hear, I hope, a collective edit of the documentation from running this assignment within our group, which we can share with the listening public of CFRC.

 So, this assignment is called Speculative Itineraries. If you’d like to do it, you need to find a peer or a friend who is willing to commit with you to the prompts, which I will outline in detail. You can also find a transcript of these prompts on the Agnes website alongside archival audio of this very radio show.

 So:

Step 01: Essential Activity identification.
This step should take 30 minutes of individual reflection.

Identify an essential activity or errand that you need to do or would like to do that will take place at some point this weekend. Make sure that this is an outing that will require you to leave your place of residence, ideally involving a walk or even a drive of some kind to another location that is separate from your interior domestic space. Ideally, the essential activity that you identify will be something that will take no less than 30 minutes. Its purpose could range from the practical (such as grocery shopping, mailing a package), to the personal (such as getting a bit of fresh air, doing some exercise, visiting a loved one), to the creative or cognitive (such as walking to your studio to make an artwork or going somewhere quiet to read a chapter of a book). But whatever it is, try to choose an errand or essential activity that is not going to be particularly stressful or rigid when you carry it out. As these activities will eventually be altered by your peer learner, which would mean that they might need to potentially unfold in a slightly unexpected manner. And so this requires some flexibility on your part.

 All right. On to…

Step 02: Essential Activity Transcription.
This step should take no more than 45 minutes of individual reflection and some writing.

In an email to your peer learner or your friend – your partner in this exercise – inform them of your chosen essential weekend activity. Explain to them when it is likely to happen, as well as its desired goal, such as, “I need to get some fresh vegetables,” or “I’ll need to clear my head,” or “I need to go make an artwork,” things like that. In the format of an itemized itinerary, similar to what you would receive from Google Maps when you plot a trip, detail for your partner the route, or the a series of steps or actions that you will be taking on the weekend to complete your essential activity. So, try to explain this route to your partner in meticulous detail, going over its basic motions and durations, for example, “eight minutes walking along Gore Street.” But also try to describe potential secondary sites and features that you expect will occur along the route. So, in other words, try to give attention to the scenic or peripheral areas, the sense experiences, the other characters that you may encounter on the way for your activity, but what you may not typically perceive as the core parts of its completion. You know, these additional descriptions of secondary sights or things, they don’t need to be overly immersive. You can simply mention to your partner aspects like, “Here I will pass a magnolia tree,” things like that.

 So with that kind of mode of thinking carefully move through your essential activity and make an itemized transcription of that activity describing the full scope of your trip and its logistics. When you’re done that, send this as a document or email to your partner.

Step 03: Speculative Itinerary Creation.
This step should take no more than 60 minutes of individual thinking and writing.

So after receiving the itemized itinerary from your peer, in which they outline their essential weekend activity, spend some time reading it and contemplating its context and dynamics. Imagine the trajectory of your peer as they are carrying out their task. If needed, maybe Google Search the site of their activity to get your bearings if their particular locale is different from your own. You know, this could take place anywhere from Kingston to Berlin, Paris, depending on where your partner is. Consider the stated goal of their activity and ask yourself whether this will factor into your response. So, consider what you know about your peer already, their general vibe, their interests, and reflect on whether these will be ingredients for you to use or tap into as you go about your next step, which is to start thickening and modifying their itinerary through a process of speculative annotation and itinerary editing.

This part of the assignment is a unique opportunity for you to directly inflect the logistical dynamics of your peer and their goal-oriented errand. Your modifications will potentially affect, improve, or simply make strange their otherwise regular everyday outing. The modifications and additions that you make to their itinerary are open-ended for you to play with and improvise upon. Although, there is one rule that you must abide by, and that is that you must not interfere with the completion of their stated goal. As in, you can’t modify whether they go to the grocery store or not if that is the stated essential aim of their activity. This means that the focus of your additions and creativity and logistical experimentation must occur on the route of their essential activity. So, in other words, you will be modifying and designing aspects of their journey rather than their destination. Or you’ll be building a learning habitat, rather than identifying the outcome of that habitat, which just predetermined.

So yes, using their itinerary of their essential activity as a kind of frame, begin adding in speculative, playful annotations and edits. Thickening their schedule, as you adjust or add in text, such as instructions, prompts, and descriptions of peripheral tasks that you’re inviting your peer to take up as they go about their activity.

So, for example, in your acts of annotation or modification, perhaps you’ll introduce alternate routes for your peer to take, encouraging their diversions into peripheral or secondary spaces, such as those they’ve named in their itemized itinerary. You might decide to add in interruptions or moments of pause to their outing. For instance, proposing that your peer carry out a brief, immersive sonic experience, writing in something like, “Before entering the grocery store, please sit in your car for five minutes listening to the attached song.” Perhaps you’ll direct your peer to search an outdoor site for a certain material or collect an object of a certain size. Or maybe read quietly a text that you deem is relevant to a specific location that they’re travelling through. Alternatively, you might opt to be quite subtle in your speculative itinerary writing. So for instance, you might simply assign a calming playlist for your peer’s head-clearing walk. Or you might instruct them to carry a specific object in their pocket as they grocery shop. But whatever your approach, when you feel that the itinerary’s thickened enough or modified to your liking, then send this edited, annotated document back to your partner.

A note is that it’s important that you send this to them at least a day before they’re meant to carry out their essential activity so that your peer can schedule in more time to carry out the modified trajectory that you’ve designed for them.

Step 04: Conduct your Speculative Itinerary.
The duration of this task will vary depending on the original scope of the central activity that you’ve offered to your peer for alteration, as well as the volume of the alterations that your peer has made on that activity.

Bring the speculative itinerary that has been designed for you by your peer as you set out on your essential activity. Use their itinerary as a guide as you embark on your outing. As you go, you’ll start to make decisions about whether you will adhere to or pass by the altered itinerary that your peer has made for you. You should also feel free to improvise on their written instructions or to pursue unexpected tangents that might arise out of your tweaked, logistical choreographies. When it’s possible in your outing, try to record video or audio of moment that you’re encounter, as you carry out the tasks on your itinerary. So for example, if there’s a task for you to collect an object, then take a moment to make a short video on your phone of that object or record yourself describing something that your peer asked you to witness… [ voice fades out ]

[ Music fades in ]

Neven singing: Study is talking and walking around with other people, working, dancing and suffering, some irreducible convergence of all three, held under the name of a speculative practice. (a quote from The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, published by Minor Compositions in 2013).

Were there any thought processes set in motion by your peer’s alterations?
Were there unexpected encounters on your route that altered knowledge of a specific space or object?
Were there any reactions that you witnessed from bystanders or unforeseen characters who came into and inflected the activity?
Was the stated goal of the errand still able to be completed, and was its outcome enhanced or hindered by your peer’s altered itinerary design?

The thing to do with a recording of yourself reflecting on these questions is to send it back to your peer along with any media that you may have recorded during the itinerary informing them about the effects of their itinerary design.

 So, with that now published, we can turn our attention back to the Dark Matter Playgroup, and check-in with them in this final section of Vibe Check, to see how they fared, and what came of their initial playtest. The keen and capable group that they are, have taken it on with great generosity and imagination and sent along a bunch of recordings as well as scripts and scores, that I’ve taken the liberty to sort of fold together and re-inscribe here into a radio format, making an edit that I hope the group and I will continue to modify, and perhaps build from. So, we go and encounter Bicky, who’s doing some — — some speculative grocery shopping here at the Metro.

Bicky Marquez: This experiment will start with the basics. Let’s find fresh bread. As you can see here, there is nothing fresh yet. So there is nothing to smell, actually. I can’t find anything that can — — let me know if — — the product I’m finding or I’m buying is completely fresh. But I will — I think I will just choose a random thing. Let’s say, a plain bagel. This is disappointing because I can’t actually — — perceive the molecules that this kind of bread are releasing when they are fresh. So the next step is to find something of another colour.

Dorothea Paas: I dress for time travel. I imagine a line connecting me from my starting point to my destination, the small park. I consider this line to be the radius of a circle, and the small park is right at the centre of that circle. I think about what might have lived inside this circle 300 years ago, 3000 years ago, 300,000 years ago. I do this through research and fabulation, some irreducible combination of both. I leave through the North door. I get in the car and drive it down the gravel road towards Highway 2. I turn left onto the highway. I fill my car with Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” I listen as I drive through the rain. I consider this car to be a mobile atmosphere. Something material enough to coat my clothing, stick to my skin even after I will exit it.

[ Music ]

Bicky: So, let’s say I want to add some lemons to it. As you can see here, lemons are like kind of rounded structures, right? They are not perfectly rounded, but that’s the point… that’s the — they don’t need to be. Otherwise, — — we wouldn’t have multiplicity in the world. And — so the weakest and the strongest wouldn’t be possible, right? So — — we’ll be like a boring planet with same structures, with no complexity. So, if we are talking about the strongest and the weakest, let’s choose tomato, which is the most rounded tomato that I can find which would indicate that I’m choosing the strongest — the more, the more perfect structure, if that makes sense. Let’s say this is my tomato — my perfect tomato. So the other indredients for a tuna salad [ voice fades out ].

Neven: When walking along Brock Avenue, make a quick detour to Noble Street. Stop in front of the gallery and check out the black and white pictures hanging outside on the fence. Consider making a short story with the images you’re perceiving and the environment of the cafe.

Noah Scheinman: It’s maybe late summer, and it’s still really warm, and the big garage door is pulled up. So there’s an easy flow between inside and outside and just this nice kind of — you know, kind of rhythm sort of… Well, it’s actually more of arhythmic, or kind of movement between people inside and outside. And just people generally feeling a kind of sense of bliss. And there’s also just this kind of new appreciation for these kinds of moments. Because this was something that was such a simple pleasure, for so long for most of their previous experience of these kinds of spaces and moments within their life. Now, there’s kind of this sort of meta recognition that this is something, that is, the kinds of small pleasures that essentially are kind of incrementally kind of accrete into sort of a kind of a full life. And in fact, as is so often the case, it’s these kind of intervals that we kind of build the supposed more kind of grander moments of our life around. And I find that people kind of within the space are kind of feeling that. So — — that’s very kind of kind of present in the kind of mood, I would say. I would say it’s — — not a kind of exuberance. It’s not sort of ebullient, a kind of overflowing. It’s sort of a much more, sort of — almost a polite kind of processing that is on the one hand social in the sense of people acknowledging this sort of… rediscovered novelty.

Neven: Vibe check, episode two.

Underworld:  Life. It’s a touch. Everything is golden. Open. Wider. Stumble. Catch. Yeah! (Song: I Exhale [DJ Koze Remix] – Underworld)

Neven:  Special thanks to Andy, Noah, Gabe, Bicky, and Dorothea.

Fictioning Marginalia

Transcript

Fictioning Marginalia
Episode 1 | Vibe Check with Neven Lochhead

Episode description

In Episode 1 of Vibe Check, a gently building soundscape introduces listeners to Neven Lochhead’s process of ‘sonic scaffolding’ and its effects. An interview with the artist about his currently closed solo exhibition From the vibe out becomes a base for auditory renovation, as the approaches driving the two-channel video installation gradually adjust to CFRC Radio’s immersive stereo habitat.

transcript

Neven Lochhead: You’re listening to CFRC 101.9 FM, located on the Queen’s Campus in the basement of Carruthers Hall and online at cfrc.ca. My name is Neven Lochhead. I’m an artist and curator based in Kingston. And welcome to the first episode of Vibe Check. This is a four-part radio art series that is being produced in relation to a solo video exhibition of mine called, From the vibe out, at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. I’m so grateful to Dinah Jansen who agreed to and encouraged this idea I had to produce some kind of “radio-fied” version of that currently closed exhibition, that we could air on the CFRC airwaves over the next couple of months. I’m not really quite sure what a radio version of an exhibition is or could be. So I’ll say that partly this will be some kind of experiment in navigating an act of translation or transposition between art forms or art contexts. The first strategy that I’d like to try today will be to extend the sort of spatial poetics, or the density of the viewing experience of the installation, into musical formats and sonic arrangements. So you’ll hear a lot of that today, through the kind of incessant sound tracking and layering that I’ve composed underneath and over top of the spoken content for today’s episode. That spoken content for today is a bit strange in that it’s basically an interview with myself, which was conducted by Dinah Jansen, shortly after the opening of the exhibition in late February. If you can manage to make it through my meandering responses to Dinah’s questions, then at the very end of the episode I’ll be featuring a recording by a wonderful local artist named Andy Berg, who’s part of a group of artists that I’m working with as part of a learning experiment that we’re designing together called Fabricating Vibe. And so, this recording from Andy is from a workshop that they did called “Calibrate-Your-Gravity.” And it’s my hope that we might hear more from that group in future episodes, as that project develops as well. So I’ll leave it there for now. And I wish you luck with the episode. Thank you for listening in. And with that, I’ll hand it over to my good friend, Dinah.

Dinah Jansen: Hi Neven.

Neven: Hello Dinah. It’s great to be back on the air.

Dinah: It’s great to have you back on the air. And folks, we are talking with this fabulous CFRC alumnus about his new exhibition that is happening at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, over the next couple of months. And we’ve got a lot to talk about with this exhibition. Neven, but before we get into all of the fun things that we’re going to learn about from you today regarding your exhibition, can you remind our listeners, maybe, about your time at CFRC back in the day. Some of our listeners might remember who you are from our airwaves.

Neven: Well, I appreciate the opportunity to revisit those years. I guess it would have been 2009 to 2013. I was involved in the station in a number of different ways over that period of my undergrad. Started out as a volunteer and actually had the chance to be Music Programming Manager in my second year of school, and revisited that role again in my fourth year. Yeah, I think about that time with a lot of fondness! I mean, I grew up in Kingston and I remember the feeling of being introduced to CFRC and the community, as kind of unlocking Kingston for me in a whole new way. And I came to realize how much — How many different communities pass through that basement. You know, artistic communities, for sure. Music communities. Also, academics. A lot of the activist community Kingston was involved with programming and things there. So it was — It was so transformative for me. It really defined my time at Queen’s. And I later realized how much I was learning, in that time, also about curating — And we’ll probably get to that later. But the role of being a programming manager called upon me to really think about curatorial practice and engagements with publics and just sensibilities, like how to produce the appropriate flow in a schedule, really influenced some of my more recent curatorial projects, where I’m looking at exhibition making through a kind of time-based lens and bleeding different media together and things like that. So, yes. That’s a bit of a long answer, but I just — I was so fond of CFRC and we were just reminiscing about you having a show back then called Primordial Soup and being one of those veterans who welcomed me in and made me feel comfortable and lucky to be working there — So, yeah. That’s my flashback.

Dinah: Well, for listeners out there who may not remember my show from back in the day, Primordial Soup too. When I retired my show and went on a temporary hiatus, I was finishing my doctorate at the time and had obvious things to take care of at the university in terms of –As well as student governance and my teaching responsibilities at the time too. So I went on hiatus. And as I’m walking out the door, Neven was the last person I saw at the station when I was — On that very sad day. And he gave me a very kind thank you card, which I still have. So it’s a real pleasure being able to welcome Neven back to our airwaves folks. A real treat for me. And I hope it’s a real treat for our listeners too.

Neven: They must be tearing up at this point.

Dinah: [ Laughter ] I feel great. I’m just — Yes, I’m so happy. So, Neven, let’s hear a little bit now about your work. You touched on it, even just in your last response there. Can you share a little bit about your artistic background? The work that you’ve been doing in your past residencies and installations. And even your teaching as an artist. Let’s hear more about what you’ve been doing since your time at CFRC.

Neven: Since I walked out the door.

Dinah: Since you left.

Neven: Yes. Well, really it was during that four-year period at CFRC when I really started to engage with, or see myself as an artist. Another kind of local connection I want to name is the Artel Collective, where I lived during that period as well. Which was a kind of gallery, also a house for artists in Kingston to collectively operate this programming entity. But, you know, in that period I was doing an English degree and I was making these performances and videos on the side and had professors who were encouraging me to apply to art school. And I did that in my fourth year. I ended up going to Syracuse University, in a sort of small MFA program in video art, kind of retro word. But it was very specifically focused on time-based media. And the teaching component down there was mostly TAing and running sort of crit environments with undergrads and things. I was lucky to get a job at – SAW Video in Ottawa, which is an artist-run centre, a longstanding one. It’s been around for almost 40 years now. And found myself in a kind of curatorial position. Yeah. Again, where I was kind of a director of programming, like I was at CFRC. Like many artists who find themselves in curatorial positions, it’s kind of — It can be kind of difficult to separate out your artistic practice from your curatorial practice or to like not have them contaminate each other too much. But gradually I figured it out, and I was involved in so many interesting projects at SAW, the main one being the establishing and operating of its new venue called Knot Project Space.

Dinah: So what brought you back to Kingston?

Neven: Well, I left — I left the job in early 2020. And I had some, you know, overseas projects and other things. But the pandemic hit. And I have family here and I just sort of moved back to have some stability in those early — Those early months. And I ended up enrolling in the PhD program at Queen’s in the Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies program. And so that’s the reason I’m sticking around now. Is that I have — I have a position there and I’m again being able to do some TAing and working with students and so —

Dinah: And maybe we’ll entice you back to the airwaves.

Neven: I know! I was going to have a sub-meeting with you about how do I get on the — How do I get back on the air? [ Laughter ]

Dinah: Come to me!

[ Laughter ]

Dinah: Well, congratulations to you on returning to Queens University and entering into your PhD program. That’s wonderful news for Queen’s University and our community too. So, okay. And you’re doing some other really great stuff right here at the university as well. You have an exhibition underway now at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, entitled From the vibe out. So Neven, let’s learn about the new exhibition. And from the Agnes’s description online, if I may check it out here, I understand that From the vibe out brings together your language propelled approach to the moving image, with your curatorial space making practice. A project that summons a semi-fictional, artist-led research Institute, as interlocutor. So Neven, in plain terms, break it down for us. What are you exhibiting at the Agnes? And what does it all mean? Boom!

[ Laughter ]

Neven: I could — I could try – You know, primarily I’d say this show is — It’s a solo exhibition of some work that I’ve made over the past eight months. So at a basic level, there is video work. It’s sort of dominated by these two large vertical projection screens that are the identical size of the doors to the room. So they kind of have this appearance of being cut out of the wall or otherwise being blockades to be put back into the wall. There’s also some print works. There’s sound components, speakers that are embedded in these objects that are kind of resonating from inside the image. And some text works on the reverse panel of these screens. That’s a kind of basic, what it is. I mean, what it also is, is, you know — It’s work that was made during a pandemic. And I feel like that’s important to point out that this isn’t a kind of project that was carried over from the before times. It was me revisiting an artistic practice in this period where like the art world, as we know it, was really upended and paused. And the relationship to publics was changed, and things like that. So I’d say that I really opened myself up to, okay, this is a destabilizing moment. How can I make a work that has traction in this time? And so it’s very much an experiment with this context. But as you also pointed out it — All of that gets wrapped in this semi-fictional frame of this Institute. And we could get into that. I think that that was, in some way — Yeah, a response to what I was just saying about how do you produce traction for your work? Or how do you kind of — How does your work land somewhere, right now? And as I was working, you know, I was making a solo exhibition work and working on these kinds of self-contained artworks. And I was kind of not getting excited by that. And I thought, this is not really pivoting enough in response to this moment. And, yeah. I kind of started to [ Laughs ] hallucinate this fictional institute that was based in Kingston. I was writing, I was doing a bunch of text experiments, writing with the voice of this institute. And that was producing a kind of more interesting dynamic for me, in that, this entity was demanding to institute itself through the work. It wanted to kind of emerge. And it was applying pressure to me, in the making and kind of saying, this is — We want to carry this kind of emphasis. Or we want to have a really specific focus on Kingston and things like that — So, it just became a kind of helpful tool for me to tether the work to some kind of — Some kind of sense of traction. I hope it’s making some sense.

Dinah: This really fascinating. I love how multi-tiered or multi-layered — Maybe tiered is the wrong word. It sounds a little too structural, I guess — But multilayered, anyway, the motif that’s happening here. But also I think that the media that you’re using — You use several different kinds of media to –

Neven: Yeah, absolutely. So I could talk to that. I mean, I think that that’s important because, I should also say that, you know, when you go to the show, you’re confronted with a lot of paper. Like it’s a digital work, but there’s this stream of documents that you are confronted with on the screens. And this was kind of my response to this fictional institute wanting to assert itself. So, I thought, what are some tools that I can use to do that? And I had just, as I said, moved back from Ottawa. And I had this kind of archive of notes and meeting minutes and PDFs that were the kind of grey literature or the kind of marginalia of an actual space making project that I was engaging in, in Ottawa. And I started to think of these in the same way of how, you know, in climate science we have these data points that we can locate in the now. And how these data points or these trends, in the present, can infer a kind of image of where we might be in 10 years, 50 years from now. So this kind of — I don’t know if it’s deduction or inference or something. But using a kind of set of coordinates to produce an image of some kind of future state. Or in this case, a kind of future institute. And so I started working with these documents. And I didn’t just scan and reproduce them. I altered them. I kind of would take PDFs and perform a kind of grangerization – a thickening of these documents. And through that, I started to see this institute forming. Through how they were making these documents, you know?

Dinah: Yeah. That totally makes sense! Yes. Okay. So I’m kind of curious then if we can — If we can explore a little more about the media. So your — Your work is drawing on like text on screen with moving images. There’s some minimalist music involved.

Neven: Right.

Dinah: Lots of colour. How do your media forms convey ideas and messages in the way that you want them to? In ways that other media cannot, for example, like a painting.

Neven: Yes. I wish I could paint…


Dinah:
Maybe this is like the kernel, like, what does it all mean? What is art, kind of stuff, right? But why did you choose — What is it — What is it about the media that you use that conveys messages that other media cannot, at least for you?

Neven: I wonder if I know exactly how to answer that. I mean, you mentioned the minimal music thing and it makes me think of how, you know, I make work for a gallery context often. And work with time-based media for a gallery context. And that situation of a gallery, it has a very specific type of viewership in it. You don’t know when a viewer will enter the work. You don’t know if they are even there to see your work. They might be passing through to look at the Rembrandts or whatever.

Dinah: Yeah. As some people at the Agnes do. [ Laughter ]

Neven: Yeah. As they should. So I’ve always thought of it as a challenge actually, for time-based work. And at the same time, I am sort of not a fan of seeing cinematic style works in a gallery, where you have to sit down for 45 minutes or something to take it all in. Or see the second half first and then see the first half later. So this can be challenging. It can also be liberating. You then don’t have to worry about your work having a beginning, a middle or an end. You have to kind of produce strategies in the work that will win the attention of that viewer and sort of compel them to commit to the work. That is really the starting point for me, when we talk about these other strategies of like minimal music or using text. I want to produce that commitment. And so I want people to encounter the work, be addressed by the work and to be kind of pulled into it. And also to feel like that there is some kind of system happening. That if they spend time with, they could sort of figure out that system. So I think that’s my connection to the minimal music. Is, how it’s different from kind of ambience in that — We do have a sense that there’s some kind of compositional strategy happening here. Like I think of the work of Julius Eastman specifically. A kind of more militant form of minimalism, that encourages — Encourages a form of committed listening, or committed viewing, things like that.

[ Music ]

Dinah: I’d like to learn a little bit more too, because we’ve talked about the text, as well, that appears in this work. Do you — Are you — What kinds of — What text are you using? You don’t have to give it all away to us, but are you writing specific like prose or poetry and then adding it in? Or are you selecting meaningful passages from Moby Dick or something? [ Laughter ] What is the text that you’re using?

Neven: It definitely varies from project to project.

Dinah: Okay. Is it your own creative work or are you using, or modifying the work of poets or authors elsewhere? Or you saw some news clips or something?

Neven: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, let’s take this project as the one to look at.

Dinah: Okay.

Neven: It’s definitely a blend of what you’re describing. There are a lot of PDFs in this work that have been rearranged. And titles of works that have, yeah, have been sort of turned inside out or are tripping over in themselves, and things like that. So there is definitely an element of having a relationship to texts which already exist. I became interested in this work specifically, with like the experience of like skimming through a book like this and how that’s a form of reading because you pick up the text that is in bold font. And it kind of — It carries like just the aroma of the concept or like the vibe of what the author is trying to do. And I wanted to try to privilege that type of skimming of — Or like speed reading a bunch of documents. So that strategy makes me want to write, or rearranged those texts, in a certain way, in that they need to sort of transmit something when they just move across the screen for two seconds. There’s also a form of writing in this work of marginalia, like where you have a text and you see the way a reader has thickened that text with their own private notes, or they put a heart somewhere or a star. And I became interested in that too. Like leaving this trace of the imagined institute and portray something about them as a thinking body, where there’s kind of thought at work in the archive — In the imagined archive, and things like that. But you know, unlike other projects that would require completely different – [ voice fades out ]

>> Nobody knows what an institution can do, just as nobody knows what a body can do. Only the practice of exhibition-making gives the organization a sense of what it is capable of inventing, of its range, of its reach, its core, its expertise, its strength, its focus, its sense of what is possible, feasible, imaginable, inventible. Kodwo Eshun.

Dinah: The current exhibition too is based — Like this is work that you’ve just created within the last year, since the pandemic became an everyday part of our lives. But it also sounds to me that the textual aspects are almost a little bit autobiographical, if I may, because you are a pre-comp, PhD candidate. You are speed reading at the moment and doing a lot of marginalia. And it’s going to get weirder and heavier as you move towards your comps too, right? [ Laughter ] So, was that intentional? Were you thinking about that as you were getting the texts together? Were you like, this is what I do. This is what I’m doing every day.

Neven: I mean, that’s a good point to bring up. And another layer to add to that is that, it is drawing from an actual archive that I produced by doing actual work as a curator. You know, actual work. I mean, I think it has autobiographical elements, but tries very hard to move away from those.

Dinah: Right.

Neven: That’s kind of a direction of it. It tries to draw a line with an arrow, away from those sort of specific autobiographical components, to point towards this other entity.

Dinah: Yes.

Neven: But you know, another thing that’s great about that is that, it means that making the work is possible because — Yeah. I think it just kind of folds into work that you’re already doing. And I found it a lot easier to sustain that behaviour I was mentioning, because it just sort of required tweaking a certain form of study that I was doing already, and will continue to be doing. And it does create a kind of strange relationship with that work in that, when I’m making notes, I sort of think, oh, maybe this is something for the institute. I’ll photocopy this and I’ll make another version that has it annotated in their voice or something like that. So it makes it — It kind of — It adds a bit of fun. [ Laughs ]

Dinah: Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing so much. We appreciate it.

Neven: You’re welcome.

Dinah: So, does the exhibition itself have local connections as well? I also understand that part of the theme is — Part of the theme was, as described on the Agnes’s website, it was something about an empty art space in downtown Kingston. Are we thinking of the Artel here? Or an imagined space? So, I had to ask!

Neven: No, of course. Of course. It’s explicitly stated there and also in the show that there’s this local connection. I think that choice goes back to something I was just saying earlier about the way that the pandemic has upended usual circuits of the art world, you know. I remember early on, in like April, watching webinars and things by curators and people running galleries that — I mean, while it was really a terrible situation, there was also this feeling of relief that — I remember one curator, Clementine Delice, she said, “We no longer have the pressure of the motherships, the biennials, the commodification of the museums, the residencies, the auction houses and the art fairs. The galleries are going to have to rethink what they did. It’s time to sharpen our pencils.” And so I felt that I — You know, I was in Kingston. And I wanted, as I said, this work to have some kind of traction with where I was and in this moment. And so I made an active choice to tether it to this city. And again, to transform something which I was experiencing, which is this space that I’m in right now. It’s an actual space downtown. It’s a studio space. It’s large enough to host events and exhibitions. So I wanted that to become a condition of the work too. That I could speculate about what this place could be in the future. Maybe this is where the institute would set itself up. So if I was in a different city, I might make that explicit connections to the local place as well. But it’s just because I am here that I wanted the work to behave in this very direct relationship with the Kingston. And now that it’s open, I feel quite happy about that, because I feel uneasy about inviting people from out of town to come to Kingston and see my show. But I can engage with artists who I know here. And we can look at the work together and extend things from that work. So I think I’m happy that it has been kind of scaled to the situation that we’re in. And we’ll see how that plays out now, over the course of the coming months. That’s kind of the exciting thing about making that move is that, the show is open, but now there’s like more work to do. And it kind of hangs in the balance, whether it does have traction or a kind of projective behaviour as a work. That’s up to the coming months, you know?

[ Music ]

Andy Berg: This is an energy force — — coming up out of the ground.

[ Background Sounds ]

>> Partially buried — — partially exposed. It is a strong communicator. It is accessible. And it has nutrient density. It is a rather odd thing.

[ Background Sounds ]

>> The question is, can this repel exclusionary language? Arrogance, doomsaying, exploitation, or disempowerment?

Neven: For sure.

[ Background Sounds ]

Andy: If it will function of selfishness — — bad lighting — — broken hearts — — billionaires — — fascism?

[ Background Sounds ]

>> Tried to figure out — — the blame game here. Is there a blame game? We talked about it.

Neven: We spent years labouring over —

Andy: We talked about childlike wonder.

Neven: A possible construction of a realizable site.

Andy: Curiosity.

Neven: We tested out video art strategies, group visioning exercises–

Andy: Generosity.

Neven: — and other celebrated assemblages, in hopes that they would guide our blueprints, grant applications.

Andy: We talked about efficiency.

Neven: We listened back to hours of field recordings and webinars, scrubbing through audio in search of some kind of directional…

Andy and Neven: Possible.

Andy: The unknown.

Neven: Eventually, we started to sense the presence of a constant lateral emotion, a vibe. Which at times seemed as big and as uneven, as the whole world put together.

Andy: We talked about the possibility of shape shifting.

Neven: We all consented to maintain it in us.

Andy: Strengthening — — and transforming.

Neven: We took to rotating simple objects in our hands; rocks, lanterns, pipes, all talking together about what we were seeing and not seeing.

Andy: When looking at this- — spewing out water — — is there a blame game?

Neven: Through rounds of observation, our mediations were activity recalibrating.

Andy: Why is there so much orange?

Neven: Our knowledges.

Andy: Under this water?

Neven: Rendering social, once atomized crafts of interpretation.

Andy: What discernment can we bring today upon this scene?

Neven: Our learning is changing the very thing being learned.

Andy: The fact is, that this is sitting on top of an artesian well.

Neven: We spend sleepless nights here.

Andy: And there is a large underground river —

Neven: Transforming.

Andy: — just above the little hill, where this pipe is.

Neven: These flows into a launch pad, a binaural habitat.

Andy: The water is rich with iron –

Neven: It’s not easy to hear the currents of our reality.

Andy: — and calcium.

Neven: Before it has happened to us.

Andy: That is why you have this beautiful orange colour today.

Neven: But it has become a necessity.

Andy: It is draining out.

Neven: A way for us.

Andy: And it is flowing into a bigger river.

Neven: To ground ourselves materially.

Andy: Which is flowing in.

Neven: In.

Andy: To.

Andy and Neven: The sea.

>> Vibe Check, episode one.

[ Music ]

>> Special thanks to Andy Berg.

A striking variety of line

Transcript

A striking variety of line
Rebecca Cowan, Artist, Kingston

Rebecca Cowan: I’m Rebecca Cowan, I’m an artist, primarily printmaking but also book arts, here in Kingston. I have been printmaking for over thirty years. And I actually had no idea what an etching was when I started art school. And I took an etching class, and I just fell in love with it.

I thought I would start out by just taking a minute to talk about how an etching is made. A copper plate is coated with a resist or ground. Originally these resists were mostly wax but in 1645 a French artist, Jacques Caillot, published a manual of etching that recommended using the kind of varnish that instrument makers used. Once coated, a sharp tool or needle scratches lines through the resist to create an image. And there are a variety of different needles that you can use and they give you a different thickness of line. You can also vary the pressure to change the thickness of your line. The plate is then placed in a bath of Dutch mordant, which is a mixture of potassium chloride and hydrochloric acid. Any mark on the plate that is not covered with the ground is etched and creates a line. This process can be repeated more than once. And finally, the plate is cleaned off of all the resist, and inked, and printed using damp rag paper on an etching press. And the reason that damp paper is used so that the ink goes right into the fibers of the paper.

The first thing that struck me was really the variety of line. So I wondered if she used different needles, or if she put the plate into the acid more than once. Or if it is a combination of both. So I suspect it is a combination of both. Because there are very fine lines in the foreground of the image, for example Mary’s feet and the pillow. And also very fine lines in the background. And then the lines of the drapery and the babies and of course Mary and St Elizabeth are much darker. So, I can only imagine this if I were doing this etching. I would probably start with a very fine needle and do an initial etch of basically where I want everything to be. I would etch it, take it out of the acid, clean it off, maybe run a proof, and then recoat it. Now the great thing is that the resists that Elisabetta was using were transparent. So she could see the lines she’d already created. So I think then she would go back and redraw the lines that she wants to be darker. Of course the other option is she may have simply been such an adept draughtsman that she was able to control the pressure she used on her tools as she was using them.

One of the things I would say about when you are etching in black and white like this, there is a constant tug, when you are creating images like this, between the foreground and the background. I think that the stairs were added afterwards with a very light etch to push the image of Joseph further into the background. If it had been a light background he would have taken more prominence. It seems to me like the two women and the little pillow, everything we really would consider foreground, was done first. And then you would start working on the darks adding more lines where you want the darks and that might be a second etch. That would include of course all these crosshatching of the shadows and I noticed that Mary’s neck is very dark and the outline of her face is very dark. If Elisabetta wanted to add something in the background but felt that the foreground was complete, she would simply have to make sure her varnish was very heavy there, was very thick so that the acid would not go into it.

What I love the most about etching is that you never know exactly what is going to happen in the acid bath. I mean you have a plan, but the acid strength varies depending on the temperature, how many plates have gone in the acid, how long you leave it in the acid, you know, and so you can think that you have a certain image, and then when you clean off your plate and you print it, it might not be what you had planned. So I always feel like I’m in a conversation when I’m making an etching, I’m not working alone. And when I’m teaching in my own studio, I sometimes think that I would like to have a little recording of a fanfare that happened [laughing] you know [laughing] after—after somebody has pulled something. Because so often people pull a print and they’re like “wow I didn’t think it would look like that!” or “oh my god that’s horrible!” [laughing] you know but more often happy, right, because you don’t— even if you are very experienced there are always surprises and that is one of the fun things.

The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist

Transcript

The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist
Dr Suzanne van de Meerendonk, Bader Curator of European Art

Suzanne van de Meerendonk: My name is Suzanne van de Meerendonk and I am the Bader Curator of European Art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University. In this Collection Highlight, we take a closer look at Elisabetta Sirani’s etching The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist. In this touching depiction of motherhood and kinship, we see the Virgin Mary nursing her son Jesus while playfully interacting with the infant Saint John the Baptist. John’s Mother, Saint Elizabeth, is seated right next to them winding the swaddling bands of the newborn Christ child. While most attention is given to the women and children, Mary’s husband Joseph can be seen in the background doing woodwork. Almost entirely covered in shade, his axe however gleams in the sunlight, ready to strike – a singular detail focused on hard, manual labor that draws contrast to the tender scene in the foreground.

Sirani’s etching was acquired by Agnes in 2018, and, dating to the 1650s, it represents the earliest work known to have been created by a female artist to enter our European art collection. Early modern Europe was a highly patriarchal society, and not many women were able to establish themselves as independent masters. As a result, collections of historic European art often count few artworks documented or signed by women artists. That does not mean, however, that they did not exist, but rather that such works were often not recognized, undervalued and under-collected. There may be women artists among our unsigned, unattributed artworks, and we just would not know because no name has been preserved. And with no name, there is usually less scholarly attention for a work, and so the cycle continues.

Elisabetta Sirani, however, was very aware of the importance of signing her works to promote herself and her abilities. Trained by her father in Bologna, Italy, she was celebrated for her depictions of biblical and mythological subjects, a genre then still almost entirely dominated by men. The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist exemplifies her brief but remarkable artistic career, and we are lucky to be able to care for it here at Agnes.

In this audio guide, we deepen our understanding of this artwork through the lens of two distinct perspectives. The first is by Kingston-based artist Rebecca Cowan. She brings a maker’s perspective to the work by looking at its finest details and staged etching process. In the second audio segment we hear from art historian and renowned Sirani expert Dr Babette Bohn, who situates the print further in the artist’s dynamic hometown of Bologna.

Success breeds success

Transcript

Success breeds success
Dr Babette Bohn, Professor of Art History, Texas Christian University

Babette Bohn: My name is Babette Bohn, I am professor of art history at Texas Christian University and I have been working on the women artists of Bologna for a long time. I just recently published a book on the women artists of Bologna in which Sirani is one of the star players. Elisabetta Sirani is, I think, a fascinating figure in the history of art. She’s an exception to many of the usual rules or tendencies that govern painting in Italy. For starters, she is a woman, which makes her unusual to begin with. She is not the first woman in Italy to be a painter, but she actually is one of the earliest to become what we call a peintre graveur that is a painter who also makes prints. Sirani was principally a painter, she produced around 200 paintings and she was only occasionally an etcher, producing ten etchings that are still known today.

Sirani principally produced religious subjects. Even within the context of her painted production her single most popular most frequently repeated subject either includes or exclusively represents the Virgin and Child. And she shows the virgin and child interacting in a variety of ways. Sometimes the Christ child is crowning Mary as the Queen of Heaven. Sometimes as in your etching he is nursing so it is a more intimate mother-child connection. Sometimes they are interacting more playfully. Sometimes Mary is worshipping the Christ Child. So this is a subject she thought quite a lot about and one might be tempted to hypothesize that as a woman she was sensitive to the mother-child relationship. But she herself had no children, never married and in fact died quite young at the age of twenty-seven, so I think we have to be careful about hypothesizing too much based on the artist’s gender, but certainly this was a favorite subject of hers and I think many of them are notable for the intimacy in the ways they portray the interactions of the Virgin Mary with her infant child.

Etching was a relatively new art form so it is not surprising that we don’t have loads of Italian women who were active as etchers before Sirani. In the sixteenth century there are some earlier Italian printmakers, Isabella Parasole and Geronima Parasole for example were both woodcutters and Diana Mantuana is active also in the sixteenth century and she works as an engraver. But women begin to produce etchings on the historical record as far as we know only in the seventeenth century and so Sirani is one of the earliest. I do think it is noteworthy that in Bologna itself Sirani’s example creates a precedent and she is succeeded by a number of women who are active as etchers in the later seventeenth century and in the eighteenth century.

Women artists in Bologna are recorded beginning in the fifteenth century and there are a growing number of women artists whose names and to some extent careers I was able to track down in the course of working on my book so today I can point to some 68 women artists, which makes Bologna by a considerable margin the number one Italian center for women artists.

Bologna is a really interesting city in a lot of ways. The churches of Bologna are effectively redecorated in the course of the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries so it provided a location that was really full of opportunities for all artists male and female during that period. I think another key factor in Bologna is that it was filled with dozens of noble families and quite a wealthy and prosperous merchant and banking class and fascinatingly lots of people from what today we might call the lower middle class up were commissioning and collecting artworks. So, in terms of Sirani, her most original conceptions in my view were typically produced for merchants and bankers and fishmongers and jewelers rather than for noble patrons and perhaps she felt freer to think out of the box while working for sympathetic patrons who were perhaps a little less wedded to traditional approaches. So, it was a pretty exciting place to be as a woman artist and Sirani’s very successful example paved the way as I already mentioned in some measure for literally dozens of painters, many of whom like Sirani enjoyed successful public careers. So really success breeds success I guess we might say and Sirani’s success opened lots of doors for other women artists to follow her exciting example.

 

Meet Emelie Chhangur, Director, Agnes Etherington Art Centre

Transcript

Meet Emelie Chhangur, Director, Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Emelie Chhangur, Director and Curator, Agnes Etherington Art Centre in conversation with Dinah Jansen, Campus Beat, CFRC 101.9 FM
Sandra Brewster’s “Blur” (2019)

Transcript

Sandra Brewster’s “Blur” (2019)
Sunny Kerr, Curator of Contemporary Art

>> Hi, there. My name is Sunny Kerr. I’m curator of contemporary art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. And we are here in the Agnes Atrium to talk about a new installation by Canadian artist, Sandra Brewster, called Blur. And Blur is, first and foremost, a bold statement regarding black Canadians, black Kingstonians, almost as if it’s saying, “We are here.” Really asserting a kind of presence of black people in our communities. And this is important because we live in a climate that can be sympathetic to a kind of postracialist idea, a post-racialism idea wherein it’s almost as if normative cultures, white centred mainstream cultures, are saying racism is historical. We’re not racist. But at the same time, one often hears broad assumptions or one makes oneself broad assumptions like, you know, Kingston is so white — Canada is so white, which enacts a certain kind of erasure of racialized peoples and black Canadians, particularly. And so with this work, especially through her material choices, Sandra Brewster is making this kind of strong assertion at the same time that it’s — it has many layers of complexity. So at the same time that it’s making this bold assertion, it is also doing it in a complex way that, I think, eschews the politics of tokenism, and makes more complex the, kind of, demand for multicultural representation. And I think, through her material choices, Sandra Brewster is also — one of the keys to the work is that certain things are always kept hidden. So essentially, the work is images of three black community members from Kingston. One of them, of course, appears twice. There are four figures, as you can see here. Brewster is depicting them here in blurred motion. And in — and that’s the way in which she really gets at a kind of transitional state at the same time as there’s this, kind of, sticking to or presence, there’s also a sense of movement and transition within. Really influenced, I think, by Sandra Brewster’s own heritage. Her — the legacy of her own parents’ migration to Canada from Guyana in the 1960s. And it’s through precisely the — the material process, which is a gel transfer process. Ink is printed right onto the walls in a quite unpredictable and labour intensive process. And — and through this they come to look almost like old, worn photographs because of the kind of tearing, creasing, and folding that happens during the gel transfer process. I should say, finally, that the installation was also designed as a commission for the collection, whereby Sandra Brewster visited Kingston and, through an open call, photographed members of Kingston’s black community and made these new works, one of which will be entering the Agnes collection and then can be remounted at — at this scale in the future.

Godfrey Kneller’s Scholar in His Study (About 1668)

Transcript

Godfrey Kneller’s Scholar in His Study (About 1668)
Dr Maxime Valsamas, Curatorial Assistant, European Art and Exhibition Curator, Agnes Etherington Art Centre

>> My name is Maxime Valsamas and I am the Curatorial Assistant, European Art at Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University, and I am the curator of from Tudor to Hanover: British Portraits, 1590 to 1800. One of the works in the show that I am thrilled to highlight is Godfrey Kneller’s A Scholar in His Study, painted around 1668. Of the three works on display in this exhibition, this is the earliest example of Kneller’s work, and it shows exciting connections to two Dutch masters, Rembrandt van Rijn and Ferdinand Bol.

>> While Kneller is not an artist whose name is well known today, he was a sensitive and celebrated portraitist during his lifetime. In this audio guide, we will hear from experts from diverse fields from within the Queen’s community who will delve into the deeper connections and meanings found within this early work, focussing primarily on the connections it has to 17th-century Dutch art and society.

>> So, who was Godfrey Kneller? He was a German-born artist and completed this painting while studying art in the Netherlands. He was in both Leiden, and later in Amsterdam, where he studied under the celebrated artists, Ferdinand Bol and Rembrandt van Rijn. The impact that these two Dutch masters had on Kneller’s stylistic development are apparently in A Scholar in His Study, in both composition and subject.

>> After his studies in the Netherlands and a stint in Italy, he established himself in England during the mid-1670s, becoming the dominant portraitist of his time and as the court painter to the English monarchs, following the footsteps of such notable artists as Hans Holbein the Younger and Anthony van Dyck. In England, Kneller received a tremendous amount of praise and was hailed as the Shakespeare of English painting. A Scholar in His Study shows his tremendous talent as a young artist and also demonstrates a key moment in his early career when he painted in a Dutch Rembrandtesque style.

>> Looking in depth into A Scholar and His Study, will draw attention to the importance of this painting, its subject matter and iconography, and the artistic ties between Kneller, Ferdinand Bol, and Rembrandt. I’m joined by art historian, Professor Stephanie Dickey; historian, Professor, and Principal Emeritus, Daniel Woolf; and conservator, Natasa Krsmanovic.

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Godfrey Kneller’s Scholar in His Study (About 1668)

Transcript

Godfrey Kneller’s Scholar in His Study (About 1668)
Dr Maxime Valsamas, Curatorial Assistant, European Art and Exhibition Curator, Agnes Etherington Art Centre

>> My name is Maxime Valsamas and I am the Curatorial Assistant, European Art at Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University, and I am the curator of from Tudor to Hanover: British Portraits, 1590 to 1800. One of the works in the show that I am thrilled to highlight is Godfrey Kneller’s A Scholar in His Study, painted around 1668. Of the three works on display in this exhibition, this is the earliest example of Kneller’s work, and it shows exciting connections to two Dutch masters, Rembrandt van Rijn and Ferdinand Bol.

>> While Kneller is not an artist whose name is well known today, he was a sensitive and celebrated portraitist during his lifetime. In this audio guide, we will hear from experts from diverse fields from within the Queen’s community who will delve into the deeper connections and meanings found within this early work, focussing primarily on the connections it has to 17th-century Dutch art and society.

>> So, who was Godfrey Kneller? He was a German-born artist and completed this painting while studying art in the Netherlands. He was in both Leiden, and later in Amsterdam, where he studied under the celebrated artists, Ferdinand Bol and Rembrandt van Rijn. The impact that these two Dutch masters had on Kneller’s stylistic development are apparently in A Scholar in His Study, in both composition and subject.

>> After his studies in the Netherlands and a stint in Italy, he established himself in England during the mid-1670s, becoming the dominant portraitist of his time and as the court painter to the English monarchs, following the footsteps of such notable artists as Hans Holbein the Younger and Anthony van Dyck. In England, Kneller received a tremendous amount of praise and was hailed as the Shakespeare of English painting. A Scholar in His Study shows his tremendous talent as a young artist and also demonstrates a key moment in his early career when he painted in a Dutch Rembrandtesque style.

>> Looking in depth into A Scholar and His Study, will draw attention to the importance of this painting, its subject matter and iconography, and the artistic ties between Kneller, Ferdinand Bol, and Rembrandt. I’m joined by art historian, Professor Stephanie Dickey; historian, Professor, and Principal Emeritus, Daniel Woolf; and conservator, Natasa Krsmanovic.

Sandra Brewster’s “Blur” (2019)

Transcript

Sandra Brewster’s “Blur” (2019)
Sunny Kerr, Curator of Contemporary Art

>> Hi, there. My name is Sunny Kerr. I’m curator of contemporary art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. And we are here in the Agnes Atrium to talk about a new installation by Canadian artist, Sandra Brewster, called Blur. And Blur is, first and foremost, a bold statement regarding black Canadians, black Kingstonians, almost as if it’s saying, “We are here.” Really asserting a kind of presence of black people in our communities. And this is important because we live in a climate that can be sympathetic to a kind of postracialist idea, a post-racialism idea wherein it’s almost as if normative cultures, white centred mainstream cultures, are saying racism is historical. We’re not racist. But at the same time, one often hears broad assumptions or one makes oneself broad assumptions like, you know, Kingston is so white — Canada is so white, which enacts a certain kind of erasure of racialized peoples and black Canadians, particularly. And so with this work, especially through her material choices, Sandra Brewster is making this kind of strong assertion at the same time that it’s — it has many layers of complexity. So at the same time that it’s making this bold assertion, it is also doing it in a complex way that, I think, eschews the politics of tokenism, and makes more complex the, kind of, demand for multicultural representation. And I think, through her material choices, Sandra Brewster is also — one of the keys to the work is that certain things are always kept hidden. So essentially, the work is images of three black community members from Kingston. One of them, of course, appears twice. There are four figures, as you can see here. Brewster is depicting them here in blurred motion. And in — and that’s the way in which she really gets at a kind of transitional state at the same time as there’s this, kind of, sticking to or presence, there’s also a sense of movement and transition within. Really influenced, I think, by Sandra Brewster’s own heritage. Her — the legacy of her own parents’ migration to Canada from Guyana in the 1960s. And it’s through precisely the — the material process, which is a gel transfer process. Ink is printed right onto the walls in a quite unpredictable and labour intensive process. And — and through this they come to look almost like old, worn photographs because of the kind of tearing, creasing, and folding that happens during the gel transfer process. I should say, finally, that the installation was also designed as a commission for the collection, whereby Sandra Brewster visited Kingston and, through an open call, photographed members of Kingston’s black community and made these new works, one of which will be entering the Agnes collection and then can be remounted at — at this scale in the future.

Digital Possibilities: Danuta Seirhuis on New Digital Strategies at Agnes

Transcript

Digital Possibilities: Danuta Seirhuis on New Digital Strategies at Agnes
Danuta Seirhuis, Digital Development Coordinator in conversation with Dinah Jansen, CFRC
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Meet Emelie Chhangur, Director, Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Emelie Chhangur, Director and Curator, Agnes Etherington Art Centre in conversation with Dinah Jansen, Campus Beat, CFRC 101.9 FM

Transcript

Meet Emelie Chhangur, Director, Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Emelie Chhangur, Director and Curator, Agnes Etherington Art Centre in conversation with Dinah Jansen, Campus Beat, CFRC 101.9 FM
The radical possibilities of art
Katherine McKittrick, professor in Gender Studies and Cultural Studies, speaks with Michelle Bunton, Elvira Hufschmid, Sunny Kerr, Nadia Lichtig, Josèfa Ntjam, Anne Riley and Jol Thoms.

Transcript

The radical possibilities of art
Katherine McKittrick, professor in Gender Studies and Cultural Studies, speaks with Michelle Bunton, Elvira Hufschmid, Sunny Kerr, Nadia Lichtig, Josèfa Ntjam, Anne Riley and Jol Thoms.

Note: This conversation was edited for content and length.

Katherine McKittrick: And for me the radical possibility or what I have learnt from Black studies, particularly from people like Sylvia Wynter, but also Gilroy and Fanon is the role of art and cultural production. And the one question that I have for myself is how do we, — how do non-artists and artists have conversations where the artists’ work isn’t the object of analysis, but is instead part of the theoretical conversation? So, is there a way to think about art as theory and theory as art? So, the typical example that I give in my work — — when I am giving a presentation on interdisciplinary is how do we read Toni Morrison’s novels? Not her essays but — how do we read The Bluest Eye as a theoretical text? But that isn’t to discount the theorist, right? So, Judith Butler is usually my example. So, the example is what can Judith, — what can Toni Morrison teach Judith Butler, but also what can Judith Butler teach Toni Morrison? So, it has to be a conversation.

>> I think there is a tendency, particularly with black art to, — and I see this in the courses that I teach so, so often, to only position the art as object. And for me, the only way I could have survived this world, this academic world, was to believe with everything in my heart that black artists are intellectual interlocutors and brilliant. And often anticipate theory.

Jol Thoms: Yeah, that is something else I would — you know, which is part of like feminist decolonial practices also is this rejection of these universalizings and absolutes and rejecting the idea of, — you know being able to exactly define, which came up quite — it was quite apparent in your text. And we are having these situations where as artists, we are working in the science fields and kind of rubbing up against these onto-epistemic divides which are sometimes kind of generative, but I just — am worried which — in which direction those generative things are flowing.

Josèfa Ntjam: Because I really like the concept of indiscipline. And for me indiscipline is the porosity between multiple and different discipline in how you can connect history with poetry, with sociology and music and everything. And when I started to make some research when I was in my first year of school of fine art I made a lot of research about Afrofuturism and what is Afrofuturism. And for me, this is the same for you when you say about the concept of collective and not the individual concept, because Afrofuturism is not a movement and is not even a concept, but it is a kind of a flu [unintelligible] — and like you cannot touch the shape of Afrofuturism because it’s always in movement. So, you always have a new reference to put in Afrofuturism. It is – you will always have a new story and subjective, and maybe global story to put in Afrofuturism. And this is how I can connect your texts and your concepts. Even when you speak in your text about the shadows, it is also a concept I use in my work because we do not pretend to create in the shadows and maybe not in the lights. I have developed a lot of concept about the shadows and melancholy and like the soul adage. This is how you can create around this, — around the, — and in the darkness sometimes. This is maybe a really particular place to create revolt and build a new revolution away from light and public.

Katherine McKittrick: We use scientific concepts in a way that is — that enmeshes with our liberatory project in our art worlds. So rather than inserting, like for example, rather than hiring a black scientist, right? So rather than sort of looking for the black person, who is going to fix the problem and instead, like, are there any scientific concepts or ideas that we find useful around openness that can, — that are in conversation with the work we are doing, the anti-colonial work we are doing? So here, — you know, I am very interested in Glissant for example, and his relationship with computers. He is interested in computers; he is talking about computers. Sylvia Wynter’s very interested in AI as a recursive system. So, is there a way for us to sort of have a relationship with science that, — where we are not just talking about how we are oppressed by it?

>> And I think, I mean, because you are an artist, I feel like you have, — you know, at your fingertips creative ways to integrate this into a visual project. So is there a way for you, like, as an artist to sort of, — you know, use these tools in a liberatory, — like in a practical, concrete, liberatory fashion. So, what happens when you go up and you do an eye scan, right? And, or fingerprinting? So here Simone Brown’s work is really important to me. Like, fingerprinting, branding, tattooing, all these types of things that are produced. That produce the black subject and other marginalized people as always oppressed. How do we turn that around and subvert the very system that is seeking to enclose us? So those are the kinds of questions that I think about a lot — — in relation to science. But I don’t, — but I mean, I think the other thing that, — you know, that you said, and I think it’s important. And I think it’s something to keep in mind is that that’s hard work, right? Like that this isn’t, — it’s not easy to go up against science. It is not easy to sort of — because it — because science is a god, right?

>> There is that supposed neutrality that is very, very hard to — — call into question, I guess. But again, I’ll call up Sylvia Wynter in her reading was Aimé Césaire which is — this is what Césaire’s project is and this is what Sylvia Wynter’s project is, is that the sciences are half starved and they need the creative text in order to provide us with a fuller definition of what it means to be human. We need to parasite the scientific and the creative or Césaire said the science and the poets. That the poetics and the science, they have to be understood as always in conversation with each other.

>> So, to imagine the artist as the, — as someone who conveys an — like a rigorous intellectual theoretically nuanced project is I think part of — — you know, something that really — is something that is really helpful for interdisciplinarity and for practices of liberation. Because it — dislodges that idea around science as the only knower.

>> But also, in my research, I learnt that there are a lot of really interesting ideas in physics or in mathematics that are about openness, right? So, I feel like as a non-scientist. I am trained to understand science as a practice of — — finding definite answers. But then I started like looking at like the theoretical physics, like theoretical physics like the, those folks that come out of university of Waterloo. And they are like thinking about like endlessness and like mathematics that go on forever and infinity. And so, there is this generosity there that is really useful. And it is something that like black scholars talk about. Like, they write about this and artists, — you know, produce work like that. So, there is a conversation there. So, I think it is great that — if we are making those links.

Sunny Kerr: You – Katherine brought up this idea of kind of grabbing metaphors that are useful and beautiful and generative in the work.

Katherine McKittrick: Yeah.

Sunny Kerr: And you also at some point mentioned the idea of, — you know, recognizing or agreeing together on what we cannot tell and what maybe we should not know, or we should not even try to know. And then at another moment, — you know the idea of creating in the shadows of or using the darkness as a place for building a revolt. And so, — you know, there is a sense I think from our science partners that artists are going to make visible dark matter for us.

Katherine McKittrick: Right.

Sunny Kerr: — from this — the basic terms. And — you know, their understanding is a lot more nuanced than this I know. But there’s — it always seems to be the kind of default nature of this relation. And so, I am curious to know how this metaphor of dark matter resonates for you? And what does it — how does it relate to this question about why are we looking for dark matter?

Katherine McKittrick: Uh-hmm. That is a hard question for me to answer. So, — I mean, I don’t know much about dark matter, but I think it’s like fleeting and it’s not material, it’s not touchable, correct? So, for me, the materiality of that, — of the dark matter would be the narrative that produces it as what it is, right? So, which is manmade right? So, I think, — I mean, I think that I would think along those lines. Like I would think of it as a narrative that is produced by science, and itis also produced through the desire to know and pinpoint. But what does it mean to desire to know and make material dark matter? Why can’t we just sit with it and be okay with the fact that it is not knowable? Can — or can we — are we not designed to do that?

>> So is there a way to sort of keep these, like some sort of relationality, even though it is going to be uneven and clunky where the art is not beholden to the science.

 

Footnotes
Image Credits
Queen’s University
36 University Avenue
Kingston, Ontario
Canada K7L 3N6
T (613) 533.2190
F (613) 533.6765
aeac@queensu.ca
Agnes Etherington Art Centre is situated on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory.

Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway): Gimaakwe Gchi-gkinoomaagegamig atemagad Naadowe miinwaa Anishinaabe aking.

Kanyen’keha (Mohawk): Ne Agnes Etherington Art Centre e’tho nońwe nikanónhsote tsi nońwe ne Haudenasaunee tánon Anishinaabek tehatihsnónhsahere ne óhontsa.
© Agnes Etherington Art Centre 2021

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