A multimedia, multinational exhibition opens at Eastern Edge in St. John's March 7. Four artists have united under the intriguing title "Slippery Terrain," and some are presenting very far from their home turf indeed.
Juliana Espana Keller is based in Montreal; Nina Lassila in Sweden; and Thora Gunnarsdottir and ElÍn Anna ThÓrisdÓttir in Iceland.
Running concurrently is "100 Stories About My Grandmother," by Canadian visual artist Peter Kingstone.
The Telegram conducted a roundtable, via e-mail, with three of the artists: Gunnarsdottir, Kingstone and ThÓrisdÓttir.
What kind of work are you presenting at the gallery?
TG: A six-channel video installation in monitors.
PK: "100 Stories About My Grandmother" is a video installation. I have interviewed 100 male sex trade workers about their grandmother. Those videotaped stories are presented on four separate screens. Each screen has an hour and a half of work, therefore there are six hours of interviews to be watched. The audience is welcome to sit in comfortable chairs, eat hard candy and watch as many stories as they like.
EA: My work, "Penetrating my Idol," contains a four-minute video and a few paintings. In the video, my parents are braiding my hair in their living room. They do it in the style of Pippi Longstocking (a character in a popular Scandinavian children's story by author Astrid Lindgren.) They comb my hair, divide it in two parts (with a little quarrel) and do one braid each. The paintings are expressive and figurative but sometimes abstract. You can see testicles, yellow wolfs, Pippi's hair. … They are made spontaneously but often the same images appear, reflecting feelings and thoughts of that time.
How does it represent your concerns as an artist?
TG: My video work includes an installation of several videos each in its own monitor. Together these videos express fragmentary encounters with moments and memories based on the artist's interaction with the animal world and the concept of image, all of which toy with Deleuze and Guattari's notion that "every attempt of trying to become will ultimately be more about the attempt itself than about any metamorphosis."
PK: I am a video artist both making single channel work and video installation. I have been making many works using my family and history as starting points. This piece fits within those. Also, with this piece I am interested in giving voice to a voiceless group. Members of the sex trade are not given the chance to speak, they are vilified, policed or at best ignored. This piece allows the subject to tell their own story, not about their job but about who they are.
EA: (By investigating) my own Identity, freedom and limits. I admire Pippi for her strength and creativity, which in my opinion are symbolized by her sticking-out, red plaits. In the video my parents form my hair into plaits and I wonder how much part they have in creating my Identity.
In terms of media or theme, it is a departure for you?
TG: I don't understand the question … sorry.
PK: I am a mid-career Canadian media artist. It's pretty much what I do.
How do you expect it to interact with the other pieces in the exhibition?
TG: Not really. However the reason these four artists came together is for, in our approach to expression, we find certain similarities that intrigue us. I refer to the text by Jacob Wren:
Perhaps resonating with the oft-commented-upon similarities between Nordic and Canadian culture (something to do with the climate?), they noticed many resonances between their respective practices, discovering that, as female visual artists, they 'utilize and appropriate strategic similarities in order to mirror others, to imitate, to immerse and to become,' traversing varied thematic material from 'animal telepathy to animal rights, cartography and human behavioral studies and traditional folklore to contemporary tales of spinning lies and tall stories. Looking at this work I was thinking about these chance encounters one has while travelling, how such encounters are perhaps the reason one might want to travel (as an artist) in the first place. I was thinking about unchained similarities, free connections, between very different artists from fairly different countries and how such resonances stay with us for the entirety of our artistic lives.
PK: Sadly I do not know the other pieces in the exhibition, so I could not answer that.
EA: It's impossible beforehand to imagine how our works will interact. The viewer will experience that on his own terms. Warm greetings.
The event kicks off with artists talks at 3 p.m., followed by food and drinks at 5 p.m. The exhibition continues at Eastern Edge until April 18. For more interviews with Peter Kingstone, visit website www.peterkingstone.com.