Lorna Mills and Sally McKay
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Some readers may not know of Andrew J. Paterson, which is a darned shame. His recent Pleasuredome video and performance night rocked the house. It was a live-action retrospective, in which Andy interspersed and overlapped seven live monologues (seven! with costume changes!) with video and super 8 film, dating from the early 80s to current works in progress.
Andy Paterson abhors the oversimplification of polarities, and the term "false binarism" is a favourite of his. Yet duality is a big feature in much of his work. A cultural bureaucrat named "A" discusses anarchy and other matters over the telephone with an identical cultural bureaucrat named "B" (both played by Andy, of course). Their argument is circular, but the circle doesn't close. By presenting two positions, Andy opens up the territory for many (maybe infinite?) points of view.
The cultural bureaucrats:
B: How can you honestly believe that anarchy is capitalism? How many anarchists do you know, on a conversational level?
A: Enough. Look, B, since capitalists would prefer that government play as minimal a role as possible with regards to private or "free" enterprise, and anarchists advocate the elimination of government, then anarchy would seem to be the ultimate extension of the free market principle.
B: If there's no government there can be no government regulation of free trade, right?
A: Precisely, B.
B: But the anarchists I know are socialists. They advocate the breakup of large nations into smaller intelligible and accountable units.
A: That's not anarchy, that's democracy!
B: But they don't believe in elections ..."
"My job is to weed out illegal or underground economies, not only to stop them in process but also to prevent them from even being imagined. I am on duty to keep incompatible languages apart from one another. You cannot have incompatible languages competing for public space ..."
The driver:Andy Paterson's mind is complicated and sometimes hard to follow, but the man is a generous and charismatic entertainer, and the door to his ideas is pretty wide open. Summing up Andy's stories does them no justice, because it's their very layered interconnectedness that gives them clout. Pay attention, and you'll find yourself firing neurons you never knew you had. That said, I will try to name a few themes: exchange and commodity, public space, media and language, class and mobility, oppression, censorship, bad puns, mental illness, more bad puns, music, art, math, and history.
"Here in my car
we won't get very far
because I cannot drive
and neither can you
so there ..."
(sung to the tune of Gary Numan's "Cars")
For a recent online project by Andrew J. Paterson click here.
For videos and information look at VTape's excellent catalogue.
Kelly Mark's magazine-style art website, samplesize.ca is well worth a few visits (and participation! send in the writing, folks). On a recent browse, I really enjoyed Micah Lexier's Group Show 1. Minimalism that includes scary Ulay and Marina Abramovich but leaves out boring ol' Donald Judd. Conceptual art that includes the wonky Daniel Buren and omits the often pompous Joseph Kosuth. Now that's my kind of curation! This simple series of images resonates deep, giving background warmth to a kind of contemporary art that sometimes feels cold and bleak. While Daniel Olson is not on Lexier's list, I'd say that Olson, Lexier and Kelly Mark are three Candian artists with a particularly keen eye for understatement. They all take their minimalism seriously but they don't leave out the fun stuff. Lexier is the driest of the three, and the sense of quiet resignation I sometimes get from his art has turned me away in the past. His curation on samplesize, however, gives me some new thoughts about locating his work as a fine-tuned practice that is gentle yet precise. I was particularly happy to see a work by Eric Cameron: that sad-eyed, Quentin Crisp-like art history prof with a shaky hand, and an art practice that makes your skin crawl as he delicately and persistently coats objects with layer upon layer of white acrylic, nudging them into monstrous shapes that slowly grow ever larger as their true forms morph into obliteration.
I've been in USA for 2 months and therefore pondering cultural differences on either side of the border. One big difference is beer. Art types, intellectuals and urbanites in USA are scared of beer drinkers. As my friend Kris says, "Beer to me means football and date rape." Well, we have football and date rape here in Canada too, but somehow or other beer here also means art openings, christmas cheer, paddling a canoe, open mike poetry readings, hockey and just about anything else where people do stuff in a group. Imagine my relief to get home! And my surprise and delight to find out that a beer magazine paid for by our national beer store has sprung up during my absence!
Here's an excerpt from issue #1 of chill:
Trailer Park Boys Speak*(*if you don't know who the Trailer Park Boys are then you aren't watching enough Candian-content tv. click here.)
Chill: Would you be willing to clean up your act and stay out of jail so you don't sully Bubbles reputation like Jimmy Carter's idiot brother did?
Ricky: I don't understand what the f--- the word "sully" means. So because whoever asked this question decided to use big fancy school words that I haven't learned yet, I can't f---ing answer that.
Julian: Lots of people in jail have friends in politics. I think people will take us for who we are. We don't plan on trying to cover up anything. Cover-ups always turn into sh--storms, politicians should just try being honest.
And while I'm on the topic of loveable hosers:
Jack Black's star is rising (for better or worse) and we should remember to listen to Tenacious D once in a while ...you know, that it's-not-exactly-all-a-joke mock hard rock band that Black started with Kyle Gass. Crank it, listen, laugh, and rock out. It's inane boy stuff, but their 6th track, F--- her Gently, has a decidedly feminist bent. It's absolutely my favourite song with the word "Sally" in it. click for lyrics. (CAUTION: they really use a lot of swears)