The Alberta Biennial festivities are more or less over. What a weekend. I didn’t feel too present somehow... I think it’s because I couldn’t really fathom my participation in a Biennial.
I had my first ever media preview, which was this weird dance of wanting to promote myself as an artist, but then having some misgivings about doing such a thing, so I kind of half ran away from reporters. When one managed to nab me, I got to feel all awkward and shy and nervous and stupid speaking into a microphone. I gave a radio interview for CJSR and talked about having balls. Classy Gab, always classy. I also gave a tv interview (in French! good lord!) for Radio-Canada. To the lovely Emilie Tremblay who interviewed me, you have a ton of editing to do to clean up my French efforts.
There were some really great moments. What I am grateful for is the experience of meeting Nancy Tousley. I’d never spoken to an art critic before. I’m also glad to have met some of the other artists in the show. Everyone was unbelievably kind. I was introduced at the media preview as the youngest participant, and then Nancy went on to introduce Eric Cameron as the eldest (at 76). I made a point of chatting with him later, as one extremity meeting another, in a mathematical impossibility. He was very sweet and full of stories. Chris Cran was very friendly, Gary James Joynes and Alysha Creighton were comforting presences that I could stick to in those first uncertain moments of the Biennialities. It was a relief to meet and have a laugh with Kyle Armstrong and Noel Begin. Got to briefly meet Sarah Fuller. When getting into a group picture I stood beside Mia Rushton and we shared looks and then laughs that kind of said “oh my god this is crazy.” I very much got the feeling that we were in this together, through the honour of it all and awkwardness of it all. Everyone seemed kind of uncertain as to how to place ourselves. Everyone just honored to be there, everyone feeling slightly out of place. Happy oddball soup.
Anyway that’s my read on everyone and everything about it, but what do I know? How funny it is to be on this side of a Biennial.
At the opening itself I was pretty amused to realize that not all of my friends who made it to the show realized I was IN the show. Some of them figured it out. It was pretty hilarious to watch the reactions.
It was nice to hear Nancy talk about my work in the curators address, the way she situated the work and saw how it fit and related to other works in the show. She managed to weave a new context for the work, and yeah changed the way I saw the pieces in the show.
I was impressed and so happy that this show resonated with my family. I heard my dad talk about art in a way that I haven't heard from him before. All in all I felt pretty disconnected from all the hubbub. But I think that disconnect was healthy. I don’t want to get hooked on the catharsis of the thing.
Edmonton, seriously we’re so lucky to have this show here! It’s an amazing survey of contemporary work. Please visit it. I’d be just as vehement about this if I weren’t in it.
Here's the trailer for one of my favourite pieces in the show, a 25 minute musical by Trevor Anderson.