Thursday, 24 January 2013


This version of the blog is in the past.   Go HERE.

Monday, 21 January 2013


WINDSOR CONTEMPORARY ART will be moving to WordPress in the next week.  (Everything is a learning process. Mistakes must be made.)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

2012 48 HOUR FLICK FEST: Interview with Jarrod Ferris

Sasha Opeiko:
We agreed to do this interview before the screenings and before the results of the 48 HOUR FLICK FEST were announced. You won "best picture", congratulations. Let's be frank for the readers. We've been friends for a number of years and once in while we return to the topic of what it means to be a creator in Windsor... what's disappointing, what works. In fact, it is during one of such conversations that I finalized my decision in beginning this blog at all.  The 48HFF is circumstantial, so is your winning the competition. We've been meaning to have a coherent discussion for a while, and here is the time.

How does this year's 48HFF compare to previous years? Have you participated every year? Why?

Jarrod Ferris:

This year's 48 Hour Flick fest was certainly the largest, in terms of participation, in its six year run.   There were a handful of very well made shorts, but also, quite a few more films from what I would imagine are younger students, maybe late high school, who are still finding their way around their gear, and their "voice".   Even these films are still interesting to me because you are seeing artists in their relative infancy.  We've all been there.  My first few short films were totally unpolished, but these types of raw, fledgling projects, can have an unconscious beauty to them, free from the strict rules and self-criticism that any art takes on once the artist becomes fully aware of their craft and how to wield it.  

About 15 years ago I was really into making music, until I actually learned what I was doing, at which point it started becoming very routine and boring.  I can still go back and hear some interesting things in the tracks when I was literally just fucking around with the synths.  So, seeing young, or first time filmmakers giving it the 48 Hour shot is still very captivating to me, especially with the intention of following their progression.  I would encourage every filmmaker who enters, to keep entering and pushing themselves each year.

23skidoo!, my filmmaking partnership with Gustave Morin, has competed in all six years, first and foremost because it is a lot of fun.  It's also a great chance to test other skills such as time management, leadership, and teamwork - skills that are incredibly valuable in the real world industry - skills that don't often get used when one is just shooting a short with some friends over the course of a few weekends.  The clock is ticking on the 48 Hour.  You either have a film at the end or you don't.  There have been a few people questioning why we continue to make films in the contest, some feeling we have outgrown the competition, or that we should step aside and let the kids battle it out, but I ask them "why?"  First of all, if we're too advanced for the contest, why has it taken us six year to win "best film"?  Secondly, what does age or experience have to do with it?  It's a film competition - come one come all.  And having some teams in the mix with more experience can only help to up the ante or competition level from the other teams.  

How does it feel to finally win "best picture"? Do you think that this award reflects on your own standards of what your good film should be?

Winning anything is always nice, especially when it is something you've worked hard on and people have responded to. But it's not the end all be all, as you know.  All art is subjective.  Sometimes what you create just happens to appear at the right time or in the right place for applause to land in its lap.  Other times, the right set of circumstances just don't happen.  Film history is peppered with great films that were either ahead of their time, fell prey to horrible marketing, or just came out at a time when people's interests were on something else.  And other times, films will win awards or be praised, but years late are almost forgotten because they were not especially great - just timely.  

Winning "best film" this year is a bit tricky because we won for a film that is vastly different from the films we usually shoot.  So the first questions are, "were we doing something wrong before?" and "should we let this positive response dictate the direction we take from here on out?"  The answer to both is no!  We have to keep doing what we do and never cater a film to what other people want to see.  Make the film you want to make, the best way you know how, set it out there, and it either sticks or it doesn't.  Having won though, there is a small part of me that wants to say "Okay, we've taken that as far as we can, let's step aside".  It would be enjoyable to preside over a flickfest, lay out the rules and stipulations. Maybe that is something I can look into should the opportunity arise. 

But overall, winning has been a bit of a moral boost.  I have three other short films, which I shot over the past year, which still sit in the editing stage on my computer.  I had been in a bit of a filmmaking glut.  But now I feel energized to not only get the other three films completed, but to move onto bigger things.  23skidoo! have been doing short films now consistently for 6 years.  It's a long-time coming, but I think it is time to see if we can muster up the financing for a feature film.  But first, we must settle on a viable and economic script!

I feel this is a good place to clarify your process.  You typically do not work with a script, and I understand that this creates a lot of tension among your crew, who await direction. The way I understand it is that it has been an organic process that takes time to reach boiling point. To some extent you have relied on accidents, but you have also been accused of neglecting to roll continuously to capture some of those accidents that cannot be recreated. Can you elaborate? Perhaps a couple of specific anecdotal examples?

My reasoning for working without a script is essentially a case of trying to get the most out of what I have access to.  Shooting in a cinema verité, improvistational style is not the ideal model for me, in terms of the kinds of films I want to be making in the future.  It is almost polar opposite to the way I would make films in the perfect scenario.  But right now I am making movies essentially with zero budget.   90% of my films so far have been done with available, diegetic lighting.  And the same thing applies to working with unprofessional actors.  If I had access to classically trained thespians, I would definitely be working from a script.  Working with non-actors, I have found that rather than torturing the audience with stilted performances, I try to cast people who are extremely engaging personalities in real life, have them be themselves, and allow that to make its own gravy.

I'm not sure I like the phrasing "rely on" in terms of happy accidents.  I never rely on them.  But I also am not afraid to include them in the final edit, because when something unexpected and magical happens how can it not be included?  I imagine there are so many accidents that happen in professional films that are left on the floor because it takes the film off script for just a few seconds, which is a shame, since so many polished films are chronically dull.  So this gets back to the power of improv.  I think there needs to a balance though, in the end. 

Shooting in the manner we have been can be a bit of a roll of the dice.  Some nights, everything clicks, the performers are sharp, witty, things become effortless.  Other times, all the ducks are lined up, all the rabbits are squared, and an all-night shoot yields nothing!  I think some people involved with our shoots were thrown off by that at first, but that's come to be the 23skidoo! recipe.  I don't want to say, "throw shit at a wall and see what sticks", because there is definitely an idea of what we are shooting.  We're not just running around with cameras being fools, but maybe close.  It all rests on the people selected to perform and how it comes together in the edit.  I almost never give myself a director credit on these films.  I use the credit of  "shot/cut by".  I'm more of a documentarian than a director on these projects.  I find the right people, pull their ripcord, and capture it on tape.

An Incident at Rose Creek from Jarrod Ferris on Vimeo.

Do you plan to feed this process into your script-writing, which is a much more solitary, contemplated, and intended procedure? 

I feel like I am a completely different artist when I am writing screenplays as opposed to what we have been doing with 23skidoo!  Our shorts are organic, instinctive, modulating creatures.  When I am writing a screenplay, I agonize over every detail.  Now I have my director's cap on.  I'm visualizing every facet because as long as it is still in the imagination, the budget is limitless.  Whenever I work on a script, I write as though budget is not a problem.   Thankfully I don't write space epics or comic book extravaganzas, so even my most ambitious screenplay would not cost an exorbitant amount of money.  My biggest fear is that when I finally get around to directing scripted material that I will be ill-prepared to deal with actors in that working model, but my hope would be that the ways in which I have been shooting will bleed over into the scripted material and lend to loose or playful performances.  

Let's talk about finances.  How have you stayed afloat all these years? Where does your creative integrity sit and are you fed up with what you've been doing? Do you see your position as a result of your own choices or of societal systems and expectations? What I'm trying to get at here is, where do you see your division of labour, as a creator (of art) and a doer (of jobs) if your real primary task in life is to be a doer of creating?

Staying afloat is always a racket.  I imagine I stay afloat the way 99% of people in my field do - shameless, thankless, corporate projects… things I would never show off or admit to shooting. Haha,  you are asking how do I separate that soul sucking work from my creative endeavours.  Well, it's fairly easy for me.  Corporate work - I am delivering a product, there is little wiggle room for creativity.  Here is what I have to shoot - shoot it.  It doesn't carry over into my personal projects at all.  However, the need to make money - as you put it, societal systems and expectations - is a bit of a different story.  THAT can come in conflict.  I have friends who have spent many thousands of dollars out-of-pocket on their labours of love.  I don't see myself in a position to do that.  I get by, but I am not running a super-lucrative production house.  Any budgeted film projects are going to have to come from development deals, investors, grants, or benefactors.

Why Windsor? 

It's where I was born.  The cost of living is cheap.  And it's where I have the most connections.  I am not one to tell you how wonderful Windsor is.  Windsor has enough cheerleaders.  But it's not horrible either.  I would say it is an extremely average Canadian city.  I would prefer to live somewhere coastal and beautiful.  I am no longer a big city guy, so Toronto is unappealing to me at this stage.  But for the time being I am anchored here for the reasons stated above.  I don't see myself here in the future though.

What is wrong in Windsor for film-makers?

Besides a lack of certain higher end infrastructure (rental houses, post-production houses, etc.) there is nothing wrong with Windsor as a home base for filmmakers.  The price is right, the weather is mild, and people are interested in helping out in any way they can.   High quality gear is extremely affordable now.   A great no-budget film can be made equally in any city.   If you want to talk about higher levels of production - union crews, name actors, etc. then Toronto and Vancouver still have the obvious advantage.  
If I have any criticism of some Windsor filmmakers, and it may be the same in the other cities too, I don't know, is that there is this sense that Hollywood is knocking.  That somehow this place is so special and unique that major motion pictures will be shooting here if only they knew what we had to offer them.  We had a film studio constructed a few years ago out near the 401.  It sat there, stagnated, and is now closed down.  I think I heard something about it being used for storage.  Windsor has a lot of talented people, and I think they collectively would be better served making Windsor its own scene, as opposed to clinging onto a dismal pipe dream that this is going to be a great production hub for the outside film industry.  That boat sailed years ago.  

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Whitdel Arts: ENGAGE, Oct.6-27 2012

Phillip Olla and two viewers synchronizing the signage.

The topic of interactive art is somewhat overwhelming to me, because there are so many kinds, and I have not had extensive experience in interacting with interactive art, with making it, or with talking about it.   This, in combination with my chronic plague of mixed feelings about definition, is why I have been procrastinating in putting down my responses to the exhibition Engage at Whitdel Arts, Detroit, MI (Oct. 6-27, 2012). However, I have just happened to skim over  The Museum on my Mind, Part III by Rob Marks, and was reminded that interactive art is not so very different from experience of art in general. 
Matthew Lachowski, I know a director living out in L.A. who owes me a few favors. paper towel dispenser, ink. [Photography by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts]
Any work of art demands from a viewer some type of response, bodily or subjective; it waits to be activated.  When thinking this way about interactive art, it can be observed that the point of activation is quite basic, familiar, and democratically (?) accessible.   

Video games and iPhones come to mind… hands-free hand dryers, payphones, self-checkout stations in grocery stores – processes of utility that most people know and understand, and which at some point were new and had to be learned, standardized, accepted.   (Interactive) Art, too, is a learning process.  (what isn’t?)
 Konic Thtr, "Cuerpo SMS", documentation of live performance.   [Photography/video documentation (of documentation)  by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts] 

I went to Whitdel Arts with Phillip Olla, curator of the exhibition.  Phillip Olla is new to art, and new to curating. I found this interesting, because he is not of the 'art species', and closer to the patterns of living life that don't need to be reconciled with the patterns of living art.  His identification as "futurist" is more practically tangible than romantically utopian, as tends to be the stigma associated with the term "futurism" (in my humble experience). 

 After allowing me some personal time to experience the show, I was given a brief tour, explaining how each piece is meant to work.   I am glad I was given the chance to discover on my own, prior to the tour.   

Andrew Malone, Exquisite Corpse Machine. (Photo by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)

Detronik, Mannequin Forest, video installation. (Photo and video (below) by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)

Figuring out how to activate the work is important… Otherwise, if you are told what to do, it becomes a didactic process, like being told how to add and subtract. [aside: Why are math lessons in school not based on the process of figuring out how to solve problems unsupervised, instead of regurgitating recipes? I may have become a mathematician had mathematics not been treated like a product in a marketing system.]

Dawnice Kerchaert's Sensory Chamber-Sound. wood/birch exterior, piano string, mixed media. [Above video/interaction by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts]

In some cases, however, as in Detronik's Mannequin Forest, it is a sort of reversal of roles... the viewer's movements direct the robotics, the viewer provides the instructions, and the work reacts. A similar reversal happens in Nicolas de Cosson's sound-reactive animation Gathered Voices (below).

 (video doc.  of foot stomping by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)

DataSpaceTime (Lisa Gwilliam, Ray Sweeten), "Dear Detroit". (video doc. by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)

 I would not have gotten so addicted to self-checkout counters in grocery stores if the supervising cashier gave me a lesson.  I use them now only because it is a process I stumbled into on my own, it is my own.  One day I went shopping at Superstore and discovered there is a piece of art waiting to interact with me.  Well what’s this, how does it work? It was mysterious and enticing, like art; however, it quickly became didactic as well (like art?).  The machine gives instructions, taking charge and roboticizing the customer in the process. Perhaps this is where interactive art differs from the “real” world of technological experience – although interactive art is in some cases didactic, it is not a service and it is not anything in particular… You can distance, or “disinterest” yourself in the end (a nod to the aforementioned Rob Marks text, nodding to Kant), you can pull the experience apart and not come up with any definitive conclusions like “I just bought broccoli without using eye contact”.  Maybe it is because of this, that there is always room for chance and error, individuation, anomaly, even with specific instructions. In Erika Heffernan's installation, for example, everyone is given the same directions on how to build a structure using the same set of blocks, yet everyone ends up with different results. Similarly, DataSpaceTime allows the same parameters or circumstances for engagement for anyone (at least anyone with the right technology), but the determination of which "Dear Detroit" letter the viewer will interact with is left up to chance.

Video still from Erika Heffernan's Learning How to Build.  (Photo by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)

Erika Heffernan, Learning How to Build (video), 28 Variations on the Same Building (photography), & Please Build (installation with sound). (Photo by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)
(Photo by Sasha Opeiko)
"Engage" comes from Old French for "under pledge", implicitly suggesting ideas of choice toward a kind of promise or irrevocable exchange. The labeling of work, with instructions, can both aid and dismantle this irreversible vow to interact.  Again referencing  Rob Marks, <<The more traditional label ... risks undermining the piece’s multiple levels of experience—aesthetic, psychological, political—not by offering such an instruction, but by providing an explication of the concept behind the work, by dissecting the joke before telling it>> which can <<make “getting it” into an intellectual exercise that inoculates against the revelation that the emotional experience delivers.>>  However, to a more wary viewer who is not accustomed to touching art, the label can entice interaction and visceral experience that would otherwise go unactivated. 

Sang Jun Yoo, Distant Light, projection, Kinect, mixed media. (Photo courtesy of Whitdel Arts)

Matthew Lachowski, Boys should learn to anoint what burns with points they've earned, pinball machine, tape, ink, paper. (Photos by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)
Matthew Lachowski, Please believe Aunt Maxine when she says she's seen the scene screened inside this stupid thing, so it seems she means to plea: notice when he leaves, he leaves. cardboard, tape, paint, video. (A booth with propaganda video designed to fail in the conversion from hetero to homo-sexual... There is no label to clarify this.) (Photo by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)

Video still from Matthew Lachowski's Please believe Aunt Maxine when she says she's seen the scene screened inside this stupid thing, so it seems she means to plea: notice when he leaves, he leaves. (Photo by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)
4 different views of Tommy White's Dialogue, acrylic on acoustic panels, shelf. (interactive painting, which makes sound upon rearrangment) (Photo courtesy of Whitdel Arts)

Angelo Conti, Walk. mixed media. (Photo by Sasha Opeiko, courtesy of Whitdel Arts)

Angelo Conti, "Walk" [Video documentation/interaction by Sasha Opeiko]

This exhibition is predicted to be a biennial event.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Season of The Word

Language is unavoidable, how obvious… but this week it is particularly so, and seems to be a deliberate theme in Windsor art-academia. Of course I am speaking of BookFest 2012, which for the most part I am not attending due to a viral upper respiratory malfunction. Nonetheless, there was the Messagio Galore take XII performance. During the BookFest panel discussion “WORD to IMAGE” at Artcite Inc., with Amin Rehman’s exhibition "A is for…"  as a backdrop, Alana Bartol performed as “Slow News”, which was a gesture in the slowing down the flow of news headlines to the bodily speed of handwriting and listening through a tin can. The one ten park windows are adorned with new installations. Doubtless, I am missing something... only reiterating what has been directly at hand, of late. Does this mean I am lazy?
I must say I was disappointed in the panel discussion, though it was a worthy effort. I find that such structured public discussions, in general, only gloss over the surface of the proposed topics.  It takes an hour to state the platform, to situate the “kinds” of things that everyone has assembled to discuss. After this, just as a discussion begins to unravel, the time limit has lapsed, the audience disseminates.
Perhaps to insinuate a “kind” of thought is the point, and I am taking it for granted because digging, unfolding, rearranging, is a second-nature habit for me (though fleeting and often ineffable, especially linguistically) and might not be for others. This disappointment I speak of, is not necessarily a criticism, because I myself also love to generalize, and I also love failure.  I have acquired two degrees by intuitively skimming through books, dropping names, referencing ideas that I am drawn to but have no thorough understanding of.  For this I was rewarded with scholarships, good grades, praise. I get rewarded for misunderstanding? I only sense I understand something-or-other, approximately, maybe… but then again, my learned trade isn’t all text, it is mostly doing, thinking, responding, taking, throwing away… battling with time and matter.
Or, perhaps this aforementioned disappointment speaks to the innate difficulty of language itself, its limits, its incestuous self-love… Even for academics and poets, who devote their lives to the activity (with the exception of bodily and emotional priorities: their self-love), it is difficult to articulate and extricate ideas.  People are quite powerless to language. The mechanical mental investment that is required to make something that is beyond the self, and beyond the word, into something communicable to a group of people - is immense.  
Also there is the decision of whether or not to begin the investment at all… What’s the use? Failure is certain (or at least as certain as anything can be). What’s next? Such is the labor of naming, of negotiating between the realm of inner self-awareness/intuition/enlightenment and the realm of collective facts/known systems/languages.  In my unreliable opinion, the two realms are actually interchangeable, like an equation, and behave accordingly. Hence the reluctance, or rather the inability to… what, say what you mean? The moment a word escapes, it is on the other side of the equation, referencing nothing but itself, equating with its own reflection.  [I don’t quite know what I’m talking about anymore… Do I sound convincing enough? Do I get an A?]

But I sense this is not unlike the self-referential nature of painting, of images.

Amin Rehman’s exhibition A is for… at Artcite Inc.  (October 19 – November 17, 2012) is a fitting example.  This kind of equated duality and conflict can be seen in the embodiment of the juxtaposition of conflicting phrases.  The sets of phrases, as narratives, reference a kind of battle – with/in history, with/in meaning (what history? what meaning?).   

“we just see more of the
you have
same yet we continue
the watches
to do the same
we have
why should not we leave
the time
they continue making

the case for staying”

“there is no intuitive
when the head
certainty until you
is rotten
burn; if you desire
it affects
this certainty
the whole body
sit down on the fire”

[above are transcriptions of two vinyl lettering pieces, not true to font, appearance, or function.]

Amin Remin, from A is for... (Image courtesy of Artcite Inc.) [more here]

Amin Remin, from A is for... (Image courtesy of Artcite Inc.)  [more here]
The works in this exhibition, although of different media (vinyl lettering, neon sign, encaustic painting, and crisp sculptural plastic letters), generally function in the same way. The words, the letters, the meaning of the phrases, is transformed throughout the process of reading.  There is a point in reading the work where it makes no sense, the physicality of what the letters are made of takes over, just as you realize the collision of meanings, a kind of unrecognition where “everything” falls apart... time without past or future, the “=” sign.  In my experience this psychosis lasts only for a split moment, due to the systems of language - including social composure (the wearing of clothes, keeping oneself upright, etc.).  Maintaining a norm includes this automatic evaluation of whether or not something is worth emitting an emotional response for (emotional responses also have a language)… And most things around us generally are defined as not worth the trouble of feeling. This is taught to us since infanthood, in order to survive through society, to learn how to function, and it becomes instinctive, natural. At the moment when something that's intrinsic to this constructed system falls apart, we immediately and unwillingly identify as a computational malfunction, and language glazes over. Need I elaborate on the value of computational malfunctions? I am not sure if I can, and I feel at this time that this is not the place. 
Like the aforementioned panel discussion, this blog post too follows certain time limits, social constraints, and personal insecurities.   I am even wondering if this is worth posting at all… Well, what the hell, I’ve invested enough time typing this up, even if it says nothing.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

jwcurry: the UNWANTED's, and MESSAGIO GALORE: Take XII, Oct. 18-31 2012

Stills from Messagio Galore: Take XII performance. (jwcurry, performing his score)
Sitting in the second row, twice I felt a droplet of spittle extend its utterance to my belated chin.
No written text can communicate the ferment which occurred on the evening of Sunday October 21, 2012 at Common Ground Gallery.   This was a highly under-attended, singular performance.  The quartet QUATUOR GUALUOR (jwcurry, Alastair Larwill, Georgia Mathewson, Brian Pirie) traveled to Windsor from Ottawa and said, sang, yelped, mimicked, acted, danced twenty-nine poems/compositions/renditions, ranging from Kurt Schwitters to Frank Zappa tojwcurry himself.
There aren’t enough entries in Thesaurus for “sound” to communicate the swell of vibratory flux, flexing and shape-shifting upon the cochlea.  How incommunicable I feel, with Thesaurus dangling from the keyboard keys. Language cracked and putrefied and I am still picking up the eggshells.  My own poetic trials are dwarfed in comparison, should I resolve to desist? 

[Film documentation unavailable at this time.]

The Messagio Galore: take XII program (cover).

The Messagio Galore: take XII program

The Messagio Galore: take XII program

The Messagio Galore: take XII program

QUATUOR GUALUOR, performing their scores. (L2R: Georgia Mathewson, jwcurry, Alastair Larwill, Brian Pirie)

            Among the audience were jwcurry’s UNWANTEDS and their handwritten dilapidated tales.  Usually existing as nomadic graffiti personalities on other people’s places, this is the first time these “prints” have ever been shown in a gallery setting holding their own ground, together with their biographies.   Their derelict contortions appease, amuse, and astonish, and their painted life span will be murdered with paint kill on Halloween (of course), the erasure being not unlike the cycles of graffiti markings in the outer world. 
These characters have set up a set of circumstances, following linguistic rules with handwritten familiarity, witty additives, and a glaze of syntax we all know and love.  The sound poetry performance, in this context, shifted and shuffled everything in its site, like a ventilating collage in phona-scapes (at least for those who were there)…

Installation in progress. jwcurry preparing his stencils.

UNWANTED's stencils (only 1 stencil per image!). Installation in progress.

jwcurry, printing the UNWANTED's onto Common Ground walls.

Meet Chris Heidie, UNWANTED
Meet Jan Treblinka, UNWANTED.

Monday, 15 October 2012

INTERVIEW - one ten park: a working space

external view of one ten park, with Oct.2-22 2012 window installations by Collette Broeders and Susan Gold. Image courtesy of Susan Gold.
On Friday September 21, 2012, one ten park: a working space (110 Park St. W.) held an opening reception for a brand new studio space in the core of downtown Windsor. The space is hosted by four local artists, who are all of different age groups, backgrounds, and methods of working. They are Alana Bartol, Collette Broeders, Susan Gold, and Arturo Herrera.  

Currently on view in the one ten park windows are Collette Broeders’ “Synchronicity No. 5”, which is a drawing that came as a result of meditative performative gestures, and Susan Gold’s Persistence of Insincerity 2010 -2012”, which questions the gloss of appearances and authenticity.  The two works are installed October 2 – 22.  The subsequent installation will reflect discourse on the existence and function of literature, as it will be in concurrence with the annual BookFest Windsor (October 25 -27).

view from the entrance. Susan Gold's (foreground) and Arturo Herrera's (background) spaces.

Each artist has an area sanctioned for the pursuit of their own experiments, procedures, and assembly, making the entire space a testing ground for ideas prior to distribution into the world. There are no walls separating the work areas, making it feel homogenous, yet each artist’s zone has its own distinctive ambiance.

While Arturo Herrera’s space is riddled with paint paraphernalia, photographs, props, lighting equipment, and hat contraptions, Alana Bartol’s mannequin guards her collections of nature-stuffs, among pinned-up reference materials, books, and a grassy Ghillie suit beside the photographic aftermaths of its performance.    While Susan Gold’s area is decorated with reproductions of flora and fauna, clad with an artifice of herbaria wallpaper, Collette Broeders’ space has a transcendent methodical aura, intending on form, mapping, and placement.  In between, the lines begin to blur.  Is this a communal garbage can? Whose box is this? Whose bag is that?
Arturo Herrera's space.

I approached the ‘group’ with a few matters of curiosity, as follows.  [Alana and Collette were unfortunately not in the position of leisure to indulge my curiosity at this time.]

Sasha Opeiko: Someone asked me recently if one ten park is an artist collective. My response was that you are not a collective, but individual artists simply sharing a space.  Was that a reasonable response, and how do you feel about the possibility of that kind of confusion occurring in the future, in relation to your own practice?

Arturo Herrera: We have been called different names ever since we got together. The most popular is a gallery. I don't think I feel influenced in this respect by the public.

Susan Gold:  Yes, we are four artists sharing studio space. But one ten park is more than a business arrangement and is a developing concept. But right from the beginning we noticed shared needs and desires among us. We all needed dedicated studio space to develop our art practice. We all liked the idea of being on street level in the downtown core. All of us have affinities in our practice to installation work, process, and community arts. (None of us could afford the space by ourselves.)

SO: On a similar note – what kind of changes, if any, have you noticed in your creative processes now that you are sharing a workspace? Is this the kind of shared work environment you’ve encountered time and time again in the past, or is this a brand new venture for you? What is so particular about this specific conglomeration of people and ideas?

AH: Having just earned my BFA, I really enjoyed working in a room with others. The shared space I think is more a convenience than wanting to share. I mean, I do enjoy being with others, but I think we all got together for many reasons; and one important one was that we couldn't afford the space by ourselves.

SG: We also have noticed skill sets among us that move us along in exciting ways. It seems one ten park has a life of its own and we are all part of it. 

Changes in creative process are notable.  First there is always the influence of the space and particular possibilities of the space that inform my work immediately. I am normally influenced by the potentials of the space and architectural details of the space. The high walls are number one. The window possibilities. The light from the windows. The cornices and funky wallpaper and framing on one of my walls. The skills and ideas of others working in the room. The space and situation has and will undoubtedly influence and stimulate my work. 

Susan Gold's space.
SO: It is evident that the four of you feel more connected to the general public in this space. It is a prime location, lots of foot traffic…   Although you have individual work areas, there are no walls or barriers physically portioning off your space. What is the role of privacy in your work, and do you ever feel, in this new space, that you are lacking your own walls?

AH: I think all depends: at the beginning I was worried about stepping onto others space when I work with my photo shoots or with models... I require lots of walking space. But as we got to know each other the invisible walls disappeared. 

SG:  Loving the space and not dividing it with walls was one thing that we immediately agreed on.  But the need for some working space and storage space we could call our own was arranged easily. We also know that we couldn’t actually work in a showcase or a store. So one ten park is not a gallery but rather a working space.  Loving the windows! And immediately wanting to install work in them was another thing that was immediate!
We then had to make decisions on the clean up, the painting, miscellaneous purchases, announcements and signage - down to the font and punctuation. Some of these decisions were made easily. Some took scores of emails – but reaching consensus is not a quick and easy process. We kind of enjoy working through everyone’s comments. 

SO:   (to SG) I suspect such negotiations aid in the makeshift definition of personal boundaries as well.  Making known and extending your comfort zone/desires for the health of immediate neighbourhood and coexistence, perhaps allows for overlaps and intersections with others, which allow for a kind of partial immersion in the comfort zones/desires of your neighbours.   You speak of negotiating practical matters, such as signage and purchases, but such mundane necessity is part of creative discourse as well.  They are nonetheless physical points of connection between one person and another (eye contact, fingertip nexus of digital correspondence, time invested in acknowledging mundane questions), without which other, more creatively profound connections would not be very probable.  That is my own intuitive tangent from what I think you are talking about, when you mention the enjoyment of working through everyone’s comments…. However, returning to the related topic of privacy, and perhaps the necessity or unavoidability of private experience…

There is a Boris Groys essay titled “The Loneliness of the Project”, which discusses ideas around the insistence on project-based art practices (the proposal toward an end, and allotted times to achieve that end).  One detail of this essay references the tendency for creators to isolate themselves, once they have secured the funding or support to complete a project, such as an exhibition or a residency.  This kind of isolation is necessary and socially acceptable, because without investing every waking moment toward the project and temporarily suspending obligations to friends, family, and other activities, the project – deemed as a worthy effort for society – would not be realized.   How do you respond to this line of thought? Do you yourself function on a project basis?  Does one ten park allow you to feel less isolated during the rigorous time of production?

Alana Bartol's space, from Collette's vantage point.

SG: Role of privacy.  For me that remains to be known. I have never worked in a studio situation with other artists. But my husband and I have always shared studio space successfully. I know I need total privacy at some times to be completely absorbed, alone with my thoughts, and not self conscious of external judgment – I guess that is what I would mean by “free”. But I find myself alone in the space often and I think I will come to feel alone – with the others – to have the situation work successfully for me. On the other hand, I have always found it productive to work off the productivity and energy of others working. And that is definitely happening at one ten park. So there you have a productive contradiction. And there are many in creative work!
So although this space represents different things in each of our practices, there are things in common that are making this an exciting project.

AH: Previously I was in a different studio space up the street, and it was a 200 square feet room with a large window. I felt too isolated, I felt desperately in finding a new space as soon as possible. But I think it depends on the project you are working on. Isolation is good for painting.

SO:  Ditto.  As an aside to the previous question, what is the rhythm of the studio like, now that you have more or less settled in the space?
Collette Broeder's space

AH: Hmmm, at first I wanted to keep track of who was coming in or out just so I didn't interfere on anybody. But then I just didn't care. As a matter of fact I am thinking I would like to build the traditional studio walls that photographers used to use in the early 1900s so light would not come in inside the studio... Like a laberinto! 

SO:  Have you connected with any other shared studio spaces in the Windsor area?  And if not, is that a possibility you would be interested in and for what reason?  Do you intend to form or maintain relationships with other arts organizations in the area (who)?

AH: Yes, but so far I don't think we have socialized too much. Just recently we had a walking tour during Artcite's summer art festival.

SG: We of course love being connected to the “general public”, downtown street life and especially to our immediate neighbours: Artcite Inc., Broken City Lab, Print House, Workers Action Centre. We have no immediate plans for formal collaboration but informally we are already linked into possibilities for downtown cultural developments.

SO:  Lastly, what are you working on now?

SG: What am I working on now? I am developing installation material and possibilities for a project, Decorating the End of the World.  The work is a little divided between my Nobel studio, one ten park and my work space at home. But I am gradually pulling it together for the May 2013 exhibition at the Mackintosh. There are several exhibitions I am involved in in 2013 and 2014 so the work is not isolated to one exhibition but is developing organically (and undirected) as well. I am traveling to Norway in October to gather additional material for future work.                      
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This interview occurred a couple of weeks ago.  Susan Gold is currently in Norway.

Arturo Herrera is currently preparing for a wearable art exhibition (STRUTT, Nov. 3 2012) at Niagara Artists Centre.  During my last visit a few days ago, he showed me that he has started a new project, sculpting enlarged peppercorns (approx. 1” diameter) out of clay, organically responding to these creations and pondering on what to do with them once he has a quantity.  

Copyright Alana Bartol. Photo credit Arturo Herrera.
Alana Bartol: will be doing a Skills for Goods workshop on Tuesday, October 30th at 7:00 at Broken City Lab (411 Pelissier St.) on how to create your own ghillie suit. (visit  or  for more information)

"Forms of Awareness: Ghillie Suit, is a series that reveals and examines the prevailing set of aesthetic and environmental concerns in North American suburban communities… Through public walks and "un-camouflagings" in city and suburban streets, parks, fields, suburban neighbourhoods, new housing developments and naturalized spaces in urban areas, Ghillie inspires many reactions including fear, awe, confusion, anger, wonder and laughter… The ghillie suit is traditionally used by military snipers and hunters to camouflage the human body, allowing the wearer to blend into various 'natural' landscapes such as woods, prairies and swamplands. As Ghillie, I investigate the shape shifting abilities of the human body… while also questioning our assumptions about gender.”

Collette Broeders:  "What I'm currently working on.  Although I have many sort of ongoing projects, my main focus has been performative drawings such as the one you see currently at the one ten windows.  A little about the work follows. 

The series of Synchronicity drawings investigate symmetrical, repetitive motion using my body as an instrument to form a rhythmic pattern of line.   I execute the drawing in a hypnotic tempo and meditative state that manifests itself into physical form to unite the viewer with the intimacy of the experience.   The drawings are performed in private and public space and examine the limitations of the body with continuous motion over several hours until a state of exhaustion is reached.

The drawings begin with intense spontaneous gestures within a small space that replicate, synchronize and divide and gradually swell and burst to the outwardly extended body.  Like a cell dividing, the internal self-generating energy of the process is bilaterally and equally distributed as the image grows.  Ultimately, the drawing becomes a study of contrast showing the peaceful-chaotic, soothing-painful and joyful-desperate moments of the performance."

CB adds a story:
"When we first moved into one ten park, construction immediately began at the apartments above us.  There were several vaults placed within the studio making and scaffolding on the outer building surrounding one ten park.  We decided to make use of the surrounding scaffolding.  Arturo had painted several images that led to the door of one ten park and in July, I completed a synchronicity performance drawing on the scaffolding that allowed the community to engage in the public performance.  The drawing was eventually dismantled by the construction workers and may be in circulation at another construction site which is sort of interesting too!"

 Synchronicity No.4: