Category Archives: Chance

Diane Borsato, Touching 1000 People (2003)

Touching 1000 People

Performance intervention and photographs

2003

I read a study that suggested that when people are subtly touched, it can affect their behaviour and well being. For a month I went out of my way to delicately bump, rub past, and tap 1000 strangers in the city. I touched commuters, shoppers, cashiers and taxi cab drivers on the street, on the metro, in shops and in museums. The exercise was like a minimalist performance. I was exploring the smallest possible gesture, and how it could create an effect in public.

The action was performed for one month in various locations in Montreal in 2001, and repeated for ten days across the city of Vancouver in 2003.

EXHIBITION HISTORY

Vu, How To Draw Winter, Solo Exhibition, with catalogue essay by Amish Morrell, Winter 2006, Quebec City

Artcite, The Moon in my Mouth, Solo Exhibiton and Visiting Artist Talk at University of Windsor, Spring 2006, Windsor, Ontario

Truck Contemporary Art in Calgary, Sleeping with Cake, in ‘Mountain Standard Time: Festival of Performative Art’, Fall 2005, Calgary

Mois de la Photo, How to Eat light, Solo Exhibition curated by Martha Langford at ‘Occurrence’, Fall 2005, Montreal

CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener, Solo Exhibition as part of ‘Peace of Mind’, 2005, Kitchener, Ontario

Gallery TPW, Warm Things To Chew For The Dead, (Solo Exhibition), during Contact 2004: Toronto” (credit)

Diane Borsato, The China Town Foray (2008-10)

“The China Town Foray, Intervention and photographs, 2008 – 2010

I invited the Mycological Association of Toronto (an amateur mushroom hunting club) to go on a mycological foray in “Chinatown” or, the Chinese supermarkets and medicinal shops in Markham, Toronto. With field guides and magnifying glasses, we debated Latin species names and toured the suburban marketplace in the same manner that we would research and identify Ontario fungi in the forest or field.

Special thanks for the work and expertise of Alan Gan, and the participating members of the Mycological Society of Toronto.

The event took place in various locations in Markham, Toronto, in the summer of 2008. In 2010, the urban forage was repeated in New York City, with the collaboration of the New York Mycological Society. Special thanks to guest mycologists Paul Sadowski and Gary Lincoff.

EXHIBITION HISTORY

AGYUTerrestrial / Celestial and Walking Studio, curated by Emelie Chhangur , Spring 2012, Toronto

Articule GalleryTerrestrial/Celestial, Presented as part of Mois de la Photo, curated by Anne-Marie Ninacs, Fall 2011, Montreal, Canada

Umami Festival Performance, The New York Foray, Urban foraging events with the New York Mycological Society. Curated by Yael Raviv, Spring 2010, New York City

Mercer UnionThe Chinatown Foray, Solo exhibition, main space, Fall 2009, Toronto” (credit)

Aislinn Thomas, The Slow Walkers of Whycocomaugh (2012)

Slow Walkers of Whycocomagh and Fast Walkers of Whycocomagh came about to address
what seems like an age-old problem: how to spend time walking with other people who
have an ideal pace different from your own. Negotiating precisely what “slow” and “fast”
looked like on any given day was an interesting part of the experience, as was noticing the different relationships to each other and the landscape facilitated by the different speeds. This piece was originally part of a larger project, the Whycocomagh Skillshare, which was conceived of in response to living in a rural context, in an intentional community that centres people labelled with intellectual disabilities. The skillshare took form as an ongoing series of free workshops, presentations and activities and was an attempt to actively seek out connection, engagement and exchange while challenging normative ideas of expertise and value. Since then, the slow walking groups have taken place in a mall in Mississauga, along rivers and downtown streets in Cambridge and on a mountain trail in Banff.

Credit: Outdoor School: Contemporary Environmental Art edited by Amish Morrell and Diane Borsato. Page 120.

William Anastasi, Untitled (Pocket Drawings) (1969)

scribbly drawings

“Anastasi folded these sheets into eight squares, making them small enough to fit into his pocket. As he walked, he held a tiny, soft pencil against the exposed paper inside the cramped space of his pocket; the resulting marks graph his movements. When he deemed a section complete, Anastasi refolded the sheet, creating a new blank surface, and the process began again. “I love walking,” the artist has explained. “I find that walking does something to my thinking, to my mental process, that is different from sitting or lying down.” These “pocket drawings” are part of a broader practice that Anastasi has described as “unsighted,” including works made while walking (holding a pad, he looks at his destination as he draws) and riding the subway (the train’s stops and starts, bumps and turns, direct the line’s size, weight, and orientation). — Gallery label from A Trip from Here to There, March 15–July 30, 2013.

Medium Pencil on two sheets of transparentized paper
Dimensions each: 10 7/8 x 14″ (27.6 x 35.6 cm)” (credit)

Ana Mendieta, Silueta Series (1973-78)

“The “Siluetas” comprise more than 200 earth-body works that saw the artist burn, carve, and mold her silhouette into the landscapes of Iowa and Mexico. The sculptures made tangible Mendieta’s belief of the earth as goddess, rooted in Afro-Cuban Santería and the indigenous Taíno practices of her homeland. Exiled from Cuba at a young age, Mendieta said that she was “overwhelmed by the feeling of having been cast from the womb (nature).” Seeking a way to, in her words, “return to the maternal source,” she used her body to commune with sand, ice, and mud, among other natural media, as a way to “become one with the earth.”

Yet these works resist easy categorization in form or theme. The “Siluetas” are not self-portraits or performance pieces, except perhaps to the few who witnessed them. Each piece was subsumed by the earth, meaning photographs are the only remaining traces. Similarly, the thematic complexity of Mendieta’s life and these sculptures resist collapsing into neat categories of nation, diaspora, race, or gender. By using the body as both an image and medium, these aspects of identity are complicated. Mendieta’s earthworks occupy a liminal space between presence and absence, balancing the inevitable politicization of the self while searching for meaning in older, sacred traditions. …

The “Siluetas” were an ongoing, ritualistic relationship between Mendieta and the land. I read each work as a spell, a fragment of an ongoing incantation that was not “the final stage of a ritual but a way and a means of asserting my emotional ties with nature,” as Mendieta once said. She wanted to send “an image made out of smoke into the atmosphere,” so that each work was designed to disappear, to be reclaimed by the force she revered in an effort to come closer to it.” [credit]

“Spanning performance, sculpture, film, and drawing, Ana Mendieta‘s work revolves around the body, nature, and the spiritual connections between them. A Cuban exile, Mendieta came to the United States in 1961, leaving much of her family behind—a traumatic cultural separation that had a huge impact on her art. Her earliest performances, made while studying at the University of Iowa, involved manipulations to her body, often in violent contexts, such as restaged rape or murder scenes. In 1973 she began to visit pre-Columbian sites in Mexico to learn more about native Central American and Caribbean religions. During this time the natural landscape took on increasing importance in her work, invoking a spirit of renewal inspired by nature and the archetype of the feminine.

By fusing her interests in Afro-Cuban ritual and the pantheistic Santeria religion with contemporary practices such as earthworks, body art, and performance art, she maintained ties with her Cuban heritage. Her Silueta (Silhouette) series (begun in 1973) used a typology of abstracted feminine forms, through which she hoped to access an “omnipresent female force.”¹ Working in Iowa and Mexico, she carved and shaped her figure into the earth, with arms overhead to represent the merger of earth and sky; floating in water to symbolize the minimal space between land and sea; or with arms raised and legs together to signify a wandering soul. These bodily traces were fashioned from a variety of materials, including flowers, tree branches, moss, gunpowder, and fire, occasionally combined with animals’ hearts or handprints that she branded directly into the ground.By 1978 the Siluetas gave way to ancient goddess forms carved into rock, shaped from sand, or incised in clay beds. Mendieta created one group of these works, the Esculturas Rupestres or Rupestrian Sculptures, when she returned to Cuba in 1981. Working in naturally formed limestone grottos in a national park outside Havana where indigenous peoples once lived, she carved and painted abstract figures she named after goddesses from the Taíno and Ciboney cultures. Mendieta meant for these sculptures to be discovered by future visitors to the park, but with erosion and the area’s changing uses, many were ultimately destroyed. While several of these works have been rediscovered, for most viewers the Rupestrian Sculptures, like the Siluetas before them, live on through Mendieta’s films and photographs, haunting documents of the artist’s attempts to seek out, in her words, that “one universal energy which runs through everything: from insect to man, from man to spectre, from spectre to plant, from plant to galaxy.”²

Nat Trotman

1. Ana Mendieta, quoted in Petra Barreras del Rio and John Perrault, Ana Mendieta: A Retrospective, exh. cat. (New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1988), p. 10.

2. Ana Mendieta, “A Selection of Statements and Notes,” Sulfur (Ypsilanti, Mich.) no. 22 (1988), p. 70.” [credit]

Rebecca Gallo, One Walk Sculptures (2016)

“A series of found object assemblages, each comprising objects collected during a single walk departing from and returning to home. Exhibited in Written In Time curated by Catherine Benz at Delmar Gallery, Ashfield, January-February 2016.” [credit]

“On walking: in mid-2014, I adopted a dog and I started walking. We would walk for at least an hour a day, and she was quick to sniff out scraps of food: half-eaten kebabs, chicken bones, that sort of thing. So, I would scan the ground, trying to spot hazards before she did, and quickly I started to notice other things. Bright coils of wire from electrical repairs; stray nuts and washers; the translucent green of expired whipper snipper cords. Handwritten notes,
packaging moulds and small weights from the rims of car tyres nestled into the crooks of gutters.

Collecting and using found objects was already part of my artistic practice, but the act of walking changed and focused this. A walk came to be told through the haul of items I could hold in my hand or fit in my pockets. Human movement, traced and told through human discards.”

Patrick Gillespie, Prosthetic for Public Space (2008)

Some artists might take dramatic action to hone in on sound, such as Patrick Gillespie (1980-) in his performative walk, Prosthetic for Public Space (2008) in which he donned a suit made of sheepskin that limited his sight and ability to speak. As he marched wearing this suit in a parade  curated by Fritz Haeg, entitled East Meets West Interchange Overpass Parade (2008), he mainly relied on sound and directions from others to make his way, discovering new people and objects.

Carolee Schneeman, Labyrinth (1960)

“I had composed my first live outdoor event, Labyrinth, 1960, after a tornado blew through our fragile cottage in Illinois, bringing down trees and raising mud, dirt, and rocks from the streambed. Friends were invited to follow instructions written on cards to crawl, climb, and interact with the landscape. The passage was initiated by my cat walking through a smashed kitchen window, in acceptance of this altered space. As a landscape painter, I recognized this gesture as breaking the traditional frame, which would soon lead me to develop movement principles within the Judson Dance Theater.” [credit]