Artist Statement : Migration Parade

Our first conversations around this work happened on a beach in Penticton, forest fire smoke giving way to long-awaited early fall rain and the first fresh air in months. In these discussions we discovered that we had been exploring many similar themes in our artistic work. We were both preoccupied with embodiment, bodies, collective movement of bodies, hives, swarms, stillness, natural phenomena, and other related ideas.

 

We had visions of building large white sculptures, dimly lit in a room. The feeling of this imaginary space was church-like and visceral. The forms were ambiguous, evoking for us diving bells, eggs, spindles, cicadas, cocoons, seed pods and hives; both a collection of individuals and a singular entity, united in purpose. They felt primordial and strange, yet paradoxically serene and unchanging.

 

Danielle had travelled to Colombia in 2018 and spent a number of evenings recording a community of frogs in Manizales. Being immersed in this chorus, at once alien and familiar, was like being steeped in a mass of devotional conversation. A similar feeling had overtaken her with a group of seagulls in Montréal, a murder of crows in Trois Rivières, a ceaseless wall of car horns in Mexico City, and a swarm of bees in Slab City, California.

 

Those field recordings were one of our jumping off points in creating the aural voices for each sculpture. We were drawn to sounds that move in hive-like, primal patterns and choral groupings; swells and flocks, assembly and dispersal; the beauty or intensity of vocables in motion; sounds that could encapsulate the incongruity of both migration and stillness, visceral agitation and meditative expansion. From her studio in Montréal, Danielle wove the sounds of frogs, dogs, human whispers, water, and birds into her exploration into how sonic terrain interacts with felted/textile terrain.

 

Alexandra’s sculptures were shaped by this collaborative process that moved across mediums and time zones. She was interested in exploring sculptural work and relational space: the tangible space that is occupied by her relationship with the emerging work, her medium of textile, Danielle’s medium of sound, all of you who are experiencing the work, and the gallery space and staff, and her collaborator. She wanted to explore what it would be like to dream into artwork collaboratively, even while working from different sides of the country, and remaining attuned to the shifting process.

 

This questioning around our ability to “tune in” to our collective dreaming in service to a work of art became an expression of her musings on collective movements, group intelligence, the phenomena of hive-mind and migration. What forms can communication take in this context? How does this shape a collaborative artwork? What is this relational space we share, and how can we become more sensitive to it?

 

Migration Parade: A Workshop

As part of the Migration Parade Exhibition in Wells, we offered a one day workshop. What follows is the description we used to promote this event: 

 

"This exploratory workshop welcomes all to participate. The workshop is free to the public thanks to support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Arts Across Canada Public Outreach program.

In this event, we will be moving away from teaching technical skills and instead aim to cultivate and deepen sensitivity as it applies to the arts. We will do this through cultivating a space where a “dropping down” can occur into our animal senses. From there we will experiment together in a group, applying this cultivated sensitivity to simple art-based experiments and compositions that can be used and applied in the studio and our greater lives.s

The first half of the workshop will be mindfulness exercises done individually, in partners and in the context of the larger group, specifically relating to two aspects of embodiment: attuned listening and manual/haptic sensitivity (becoming attuned to the wisdom of our hands as it applies to art-making).

The second part of the workshop will be an application of our explorations in the form of ephemeral art pieces. The impetus for the pieces will come from ideas generated by the group itself. In this way, we will build on the aesthetic themes we have been exploring up until that point. Emphasis will be placed on the dynamic of collaboration, group intelligence and attunement within these explorations.

This workshop features arts-based sequences, somatics, mindfulness techniques and playful experimentation/inquiry drawn from our respective studio practices, with references and anchoring in the work on display in the IMA gallery space. There will be plenty of time built into the workshop for reflection and dialogue. Experience in the arts not a prerequisite."