lights camera sound actions | time-based contemporary art

The Distance of Their Mouths – artist statement

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I am on part-time unpaid artistic leave from my job this week and next and very glad to be working for artists who understand the need for this. I spent a certain amount of time flailing about raging with my life-long issues about not making art, not making the art I want to make because I can’t focus on it because of not having money, etc. etc. and fortunately was able to awaken to the fact that I am making art and have enough money to take this time to make art so shut up already.

The performance is presented by Gallery Players of Niagara on Janaury 22 @ 8:00 p.m. at Niagara Artists’ Centre in St. Catharines. Here is the artist statement to be printed in the program:

Notes on The Distance of Their Mouths: a journey from west to east

The Distance of Their Mouths charts six of the waterfalls in the numbered creek system of the North Niagara watershed. I previously worked with this imagery in the video installation, Fall, shown at Grimsby Public Art Gallery in 2008. Both of these works are rooted in my sense of place and appreciation for the power of waterfalls, which dot the north Niagara landscape.

 In this work, a deeply personal narrative is layered with this landscape. Relationships and stories in verse of grief and despair are embedded in the geology and geography. The narrative journey following the creeks from west to east leads to the great waterfall, which I have described as if viewed in a meditative state associated with a Buddhist path, Dzogchen. The epilogue enumerates the creeks opening into Lake Ontario. Empty and open are identified as states of being overcoming despair and turmoil.

 These expressions of place, emotions and spiritual states are joined to an expression of a theoretical position. Landscape in art is conventionally that viewed and consumed by us. As object to our subject, it is passive and neutral. Through embodying the landscape of my birth and residence with my personal narrative, I disrupt that convention. I support this visually by electronically overlaying the images of the musicians engaged in the live, physical act of playing their instruments. In so doing, I make my small hole in the exploitative relationship with the land and the objectification that sees us as separate to nature.

 I have not addressed the music, which I leave to the composer, Rose Bolton, and I thank her and the musicians of Gallery Players of Niagara for their generous and inspired collaboration in realizing this work.

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