Lorna Mills and Sally McKay
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More top tens coming, too drunk to format. Soon. SOON.
Look at the poor doggy.
Rob Cruickshank's Top 11 Internet Cat Videos of 2010.
I was supposed to do some art this year, but I got busy watching cat videos, and the time just ran away on me. For those who actually spent the year doing art, or going to grad school, or going to shows, and generally thinking and stuff, here's a quick catch-up on the significant events of 2010.
#11 Joel Vietch, The Internet is Made of Cats
Not strictly a cat video per se, but it set the tone for the year to come, and we were all humming the tune for days, even whole weeks.
# 10 Ultimate Kitten Snuggle
One of the most significant cat videos of 2010.
#9 Cat vs Printer, the Translation
We'd all seen that video a million times, maybe even in a comic-sans email from Dad, but the voice dubbing made it new again.
#8 Fainting Goat Kittens -original video
Not every cat video made us LOL. Charlie and Spike made us cry. Ok, we laughed a little bit before we heard that they died. Then we spent the rest of the day sorting out our feelings, and watching the odd fainting goat video.
#7 Cat attacks Vicious Gators -Unbelievable.
Would they have intervened if the gator had eaten the cat? Who knows?
#6 Cats Playing Patty Cake, what they were saying...
The quality of voice dubbed cat videos just keeps getting better. It's offensively dumb when people do it with dogs or babies, though.
#5 Epic cat fight (cat's horror) Crows vs Cat vs Cat Street Fight
Inter-species weirdness is always a winner. These kitties are playing for keeps, which makes it a bit disturbing, but that's part of the appeal.
#4 Red Lights, by Holy Fuck.
Toonces, the Cat who Could Drive a Car Meets Bullit. How could it be anything but awesome?
#3 Sneaky Cat is Watching You
An instant classic in traditional internet cat video style.
#2 Kitten Riding Turtle
It's a tortoise, not a turtle, and it's not the original video, but if you don't have Baby Elepahnt Walk as the soundtrack, you're doing it wrong.
#1 Many too small boxes and Maru
Once again, Maru is the most famous cat on the internet. Mark my words, we'll be watching these as part of a big retrospective at MOMA within a decade.
Special honourable mention to Devo, whose live stream of a cat party to launch their latest album Something For Everybody cost the global economy countless person-hours.
Andrew Harwood’s Winnipeg top 10, Honourable Mentions & Dishonourable Mentions
1) Diana Thorneycroft, “Canada, Myth, and History, Group of Seven Awkward Moments Series” Winnipeg Art Gallery, June 12, 2010 to August 22, 2010
Diana Thorneycroft never ceases to delight me with her often humourous and darkly themed artworks. This exhibition of photographs toys with the paintings of the Group of Seven, as they serve as backdrops to plastic dolls and homemade props engaged in various “Canadian” activities. I haven’t laughed out loud in a gallery in a very long time. Thank you for this treat of a show and hilarious re-visioning of Canadian history and art history.
2) Deirdre Logue, “Rough Count”, Platform Gallery, Winnipeg, “Cabin Fever” group exhibition curated by JJ Kegan McFadden, October 30 – December 15, 2010
Counting confetti never looked so good! In this series of videos by Logue, she undertakes the onerous task of hand counting a big bag of confetti. “Rough Count”, 2006 –present, seems like an impossible task and according to her own rules, she stops and starts the counting over again as she miscounts pieces, she also stops taping and starts over again. This work is about patience, a playful form of obsessive compulsion and trying to make order out of chaos. Several monitors portray Logue’s counting so that while watching these works, I was almost overwhelmed with the idea of having to count and recount confetti.
3) Mary Anne Barkhouse “Game”, Urban Shaman, Sept 10 – Oct 2
Barkhouse uses nature and the idea of play in her whimsical and engaging show “Game”. One of the best sculptures/maquettes I have seen this year is “Beaver Lodge”; a riff on modernist architecture, doll houses and yes beaver damns. In “Beaver Lodge”, a mock up of a beautifully constructed modernist house scattered with toy-like beavers going about their work of making damns and chewing wooden bits. This work is deceptively cute in that it also questions our understanding of what is “natural” and “manmade”. And perhaps Barkhouse is also questioning our current obsession with modernist architecture?
4) Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, New Gallery at the Buhler Centre, University of Winnipeg
Congratulations to Plug In, on their groovy new digs on Portage Avenue. The grand opening of this gorgeous new gallery was also a fabulous event attended by thousands over the course of 3 official evenings of welcome. (Winnipeg Art Gallery – take note – Plug In knows how to host thousands of people, see: Dishonourable Mentions below.) Neil Minuk and his architectural firm, DIN, are also to be congratulated on a spare, bright, modernist-inspired building located on the campus of the University of Winnipeg, housed in the Buhler Centre. The whole centre was also designed by DIN and the Buhler Foundation is to be given huge props for donating $4 million to this project. Three great new galleries now house the exhibitions of Plug In; my only complaint – dump the florescent lights in the gallery spaces – this trend comes into vogue for galleries and artists every ten years or so (like camouflage in fashion). Otherwise - REALLY WELL DONE!
5) Lori Blondeau & Adrian Stimson, “Putting the Wild Back Into the West”, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Nov 6 – Dec 19, 2010
OK I am so crushed out on these two artists, I am not sure I could ever be objective! Blondeau and Stimson exhibited restaged black and white photographs reminiscent of colonial portrayals of the west. They deconstructed the racist portrayals of “Cowboys and Indians” to revise and update the historical content. What was so fabulous about this work is, that these artists also had tonnes of costumes at the opening reception and the audience participated in dress up and a photo shoot! People learn way more through play than dusty inaccurate history books written by white dudes!
6) Eleanor Bond, “Mountain of Shame”, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Nov 6 – Dec 19, 2010
Prairie fave Eleanor Bond’s new works, “Mountain of Shame”, looks at the naïve and vibrant aspects of modernist art in painting and sculpture. Bond makes reference to colour field and abstract expressionism in her lush, yet simultaneously spare paintings using a heavily 1970’s inspired colour palate. The child-like qualities and intentional naiveté of her works are wonderfully disarming and cheerful. I know you are not supposed to say that about art, but touché Eleanor Bond!
7) Ming Hon’s performance at Plug In ICA. Summer Institute, August 2010
Ming Hon is a Winnipeg-based performance artist and dancer who participated in this past summer’s Summer Institute at Plug In. Hon wowed a large audience at the Summer Institute’s closing reception in August with her dance performance that incorporated the use of a meat cleaver that she used suggestively on her body, but also clanged on the floor so that it issued sparks from the blade to punctuate moments in her dance. Her choreography and movements were elegant and also violent. The piece also hinted at the idea of the body as food and the tension between the knife and her body was electric.
8) “I Know What My Weakness Are, Probably Better Than You Do” August 2010, group show, Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner
“Freud’s Bathhouse & Diner is a private, artist-run gallery in Winnipeg’s Exchange District attempting to showcase the work of captivating and challenging artistic individuals and endeavors from Canada & abroad.” The name says it all for me! This new space is 3rd wave Grunge, with an emphasis on the juncture of music and art. Their summer Zine show in August “I Know What My Weakness Are, Probably Better Than You Do” was refreshing; featuring works by emerging Winnipeg artists such as Reuben Illanos, Zine artist Ameena Scream, genius live video mixer mrghosty and up-and-comers from out-of-town such as Toronto-based Beth Frey, Rhode Island artist William Schaff, and Ramsey Beyer from Chicago. I loved the sculptural piece by Kara Passey called “Foxes are the Wolves that Bring Us Flowers” using what looked like “Dad’s” beer bottles and his foam insulation sprayed and stuck together. This wonderfully hideous piece was set on a depressing wooden coffee table – perfection! Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner is so hip and grungy - you can feel the bedbugs crawling off the used furniture and biting you with provocative art!! Amazing! Or was that a performance?
9) “Remix City”, Kevin Fawley, October November 2010, Raw Gallery
“RAW: Gallery is a site specific art gallery dedicated to establishing a dialogue between artists/architects and the general public on issues pertaining to the art of architecture and design. Our mission is to promote experimental and exploratory architecture and design.” Raw Gallery is great new gallery in Winnipeg run by smart and sexy Joe Kalturnyk, located in the basement of 290 McDermot Street. The space is, as the title implies, quite raw, but beautiful, like a gorgeous version of the basement in “The Amityville Horror”, but not at all creepy. Kevin Fawley’s “Remix City” was a perfect fit for this space. He re-imagined the city of Winnipeg through the use of collaged imagery – portraying an apocalyptic future. He used historical photos and the use of drawings to imagine grayed-out visions of speculative pasts and futures colliding.
10) Leslie and the Lys at Plug In’s “DIY Craftiva” May 2010.
I had the great honour of hosting an event at Plug In’s DIY Craftival this past May. Leslie and the Lys performed their amazing music and sold all things crafty and Leslie at the Craftival, a three-day craft fair with performances and dj’s organized by Plug In. Her wicked beats and hilarious Iowa white rap holds up well and her new tunes got the entire gallery dancing with delight! It was so great to see her again after introducing her to Toronto at TAAFI 2005 (the year it was really good – thanks Barr & Pamila!)
1) Honourable Mention - Golden City Gallery
One of the new crop of DIY and alternative galleries sprouting up in Winnipeg. It hosts some of the best in emerging artists and throws wicked parties, thank you! Adrian Williams show rocked!
2) Super Honourable Mention – The Orphanage
Local booze can, speakeasy, after hours club – the best one I have ever been to anywhere. Dj Beekeeni (she’s worked with the B-52’s) plays the most delicious retro 60’s, 70’s music mixed with current dance faves. Dreamily beautiful bartender April doles out great cocktails! Artists love this place, on occasion there are Hollywood types here too, when in town they show up after long days on film shoots. A fascinating mix of fame, artists, grunge, booze, fags, dykes, trannies, dancing, music and the friendliest straight people evah! Wish I could thank the owner here, but its Winnipeg’s best kept secret!! Refuge and respite for all Orphans. Thank you!
1) Dishonourable Mention - Winnipeg Cultural Capital 2010
Who, what, when, where, why and how much? Well no one seems to know much about any of this. The Winnipeg Arts Council maybe largely to blame for the mismanagement of this enourmous failure of a project. It was granted federal monies and then made it difficult for artist-run centres and public galleries to access the funds and on top of this, they also then tried to control any of the funds that they did give to non-profits. The transparency of whom the monies were doled out to has not been made particularly clear and the “process” smacked of favouritism. Ouch, and well with the exception of Nuit Blanche no one seemed to go to any of the events planned for Cultural Capital LOL – disaster! Like a tornado of federal cash cascading over the Prairies – except where did it go? It may have gone down either the Red or the Assiniboine. Shame! We’re not talking $100 dollars here.
2) Dishonourable Mention - Winnipeg Art Gallery and Nuit Blanche Winnipeg.
Huh? The WAG hosted Winnipeg’s first Nuit Blanche. It seems to be too dangerous to have performances and art on the streets of Winnipeg by artists and also for the general public to attend. Mind you, also a bit late in the season to have artists out in the cold at the end of September, anyways. The WAG was reportedly prepared for roughly 400 guests, but had thousands and turned away that many people at the door. The building can easily hold 1,000 + people comfortably. They did not have enough security, gallery staff or hospitality to actually host the event. Apparently, Wanda Koop’s art also fell off the wall during the event and she insisted that it be re-hung by whatever overwhelmed and scant gallery staff present during all of the chaos, divine!! Diva! I would have done the same thing girl, even if it had been my shoddy workmanship that caused the installation problems in the first place.
3) Dishonourable Mention - aceartinc.
Do not ask any questions of the staff here, they are way too busy and self-important to talk to artists or writers. Do not enjoy yourself whilst viewing their shows or have fun at their fundraisers. aceartinc. feels like one of the most unfriendly places in Canada to view art, folks it’s colder inside this gallery than Mercer Union in the early ‘90’s after the Eli Langer debacle. Would it kill you to be nice for three seconds – does visiting an artist-run centre have to feel that uncomfortable for your viewers? Young commercial gallery receptionists and administrators from New York, should be sent to an aceartinc. residency to learn how to work with the public. Oh yeah aceartinc. is publicly funded – oh I almost forgot. P.S. I have discovered that I am not the only artist in Winnipeg that feels this way, without even prompting the topic. Public relations. People.
However, aceartinc. did sneak out a great two-person show by Elisabeth Belliveau and Jessica MacCormack, “Natural disasters, pets and other stories” August to October 2010.
This exhibition featured beautifully rendered animations, drawings, and collages using the themes of psychic phenomenon, animals and disjointed narratives.
Von Bark's Top 5 swell Epic Movie Musical set-pieces of the 20th Century:
Oliver!: Who Will Buy?
Carousel: June is Bustin' Out All Over
Sweet Charity: Somebody Loves Me (I'm a Brass Band)
South Pacific: There is Nothing Like a Dame.
Gold Diggers of 1935: Lullaby of Broadway (2)
Note: Also considered were West Side Story, New York New York, My Fair Lady, An American in Paris, and Forbidden Zone. Not included probably because selecting the Set-Piece didn't exactly conform to the 'set' perfectly..
|Top ten science fiction/speculative fiction novels Sally McKay was reading and/or pondering this year, with various tangentially related images for illustration.|
1. Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood
I picked these scenes from 28 Days Later to illustrate Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood because there are some real similarities, both in plot and atmosphere. In Atwood's book it's the near future and due to a technoscience catastrophe in genetic manipulation humans are pretty much done for while everything else organic, including weird new species, has started taking over. There are scary, macho, militaristic dudes with knives and guns and tough survivalist women who figure out how to deal with them. The main characters belong to a religious cult based on environmentalism and science. In their incantations they rhyme off their Saints, including Saint James Lovelock, Saint Stephen Jay Gould of the Jurassic Shales, Saint E.O. Wilson of Hymenoptera, and Saint Dian Fossey, Martyr. Oh, and Saint Jesus of Nazareth, Fish Conservationist. Atwood is really riffing in this book, and in parts the fast-paced complexity of cultural-referencing starts to feel almost like William Gibson or maybe more like Douglas Coupland. Anyhow, it rocks, and it's way more fun that some of her other dystopias, like Handmaid's Tale. Year of the Flood is an excellent sequel to Oryx and Crake (which I also loved) but it totally stands up on its own.
2. Dhalgren, by Sam Delaney
Urban sex and violence and the end of the world. Delaney writes great characters and sets them in a situation that is never really explained. Everything is fucked up. The sun is fucked up and the world seems to be ending. People are banding together in tribes and cliques in the streets of a big city (New York). Squatting, fighting, foraging, partying. The main character is queer and charismatic, one of those unwilling leaders who is forced to learn how to wield his power. It's a door stop, and a page-turner. I thought about using Escape from New York as an illustration because there's, you know, hedonism, punks and street gangs and fires-in-a-barrel. But there's an existential streak in Dhalgren that keeps it more interesting than just a porny paperback, and the book's cover, with all it's sci-fi cheese, is perfect. I also picked a stock photo of a dying sun.
3. Enchantress from the Stars, by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
I really ought to read this one again. It's been about 35 years. Here's what I remember — People from a technologically advanced sciencey planet show up on a peasant-type planet that has been taken over by a bunch of resource-extracting developer-types from a business-oriented planet. The advanced technology people are there to intervene and help the peasant people but they have a Star Trek-style prime directive thingy so they can't let the peasants in on any of their science secrets. The developer people have bulldozers plowing down villages and forests and the peasant people think the machines are monsters. The techno people pretend they are sorcerers and enchantresses so they can use their science weapons on the bad guys. Oh, and they have telepathic powers, which they have to hide. But it turns out that some (well, one) of the peasant people have telepathic powers too. Of course there's a transgressive peasant/techno BFF/love affair (written for 12 year olds). There's a frigging great scene where the main telepathic technology "enchantress" gives the main telepathic peasant character a wadded up bit of bread and tells him/her (can't remember the gender) that it's a magic pill that will block out pain because the peasant person is about to get captured by the baddies for some kind of torture. The peasant person is really smart and figures out that the so-called enchantress is messing with his/her head... stupid fake bread pill, not magic at all, etc. But the enchantress person breaks the prime directive, and, through the awesome power of telepathy, manages to communicate with the prisoner in his/her cell, and lets him/her know that yes, the bread pill is a fake but he/she has the power within himself/herself to detach from the pain and withstand the upcoming torture. Crazy! And It works! In the end, this being a kids' book, the smarty pants magic/techno people and the peasant people manage to drive the developer people away and then the techno people also leave so the peasant people can get back to their normal lives. But it's very sad because the main peasant character has had a taste of advanced science/telepathy/magic/technology but now has to stay behind in the muck to be a leader for future generations (at least, that's how I remember it, it's been a loooong time).
4. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
Who do you like better, William Gibson or Neal Stephenson? Stephenson can do character development and create a compelling narrative, but Gibson broke the seal on cyberpunk with his ruthless, hard-edged postmodern use of language. Gibson was a master of the plausible near-future and Neuromancer introduced readers to a world that was awful, familiar, prescient and also kind of fun. I chose Existenz as an illustration because the visceral, spine-crunching depictions of jacking-in evoke the kind of painful reality-wrenching that Gibson's characters undergo when they shift in and out of the matrix (way better than the smoothed off edges of The Matrix movies). I chose Blade Runner because, well it's just the best cyberpunk movie ever. Von Bark tells a tale of Gibson going to see Blade Runner right before Neuromancer came out and falling into a pit of despair because he felt like he'd been scooped. I chose Grace Jones because that's who I'd cast to play Molly.
5. Ridley Walker by Russell Hoban
Originally I was going to leave this one off because others seemed to be more in the forefront of my mind, but while working on this list I realised that some small part of my brain has been permanently assigned the task of thinking about Ridley Walker all day, every day. The book takes place in an invented language and you just have to keep reading until you get into the groove and start to understand it. It's a post-nuclear-disaster, medieval-style, pagan-ish society on the brink of re-discovering some get-us-out-of-the-dark-ages technology. Their creation myth is great, enacted in the form of a punch and judy style traveling puppet show. In the hart of the wood there's a little shining man, named Addom, who get's split in two. The hart of the wood is both a big stag, with a little dude hanging out between his antlers, and the heart of a tree, which provides fire. Some hero named Eusa did the whole Addom-splitting thing. Here's an eerie snippet from the post-apocalyptic lore.
Owt uv thay 2 peaces uv the Little Shynin Man the Addom thayr cum shyningnes in spredin circels. Wivverin & wayverin & humin with a hy soun. Lytin up the dark wud. Eusa seen the Little 1 goin roun & round insyd the Big 1 & the Big 1 humin roun inside the Littl 1. He seen thay Master Chaynjis uv the 1 Big 1. Qwik then he riten down thay Nos. uv them.I collaged my own illustration of the little shining man riding the stag (Hoban himself was in part inspired by the story of St. Eustace who allegedly came across a stag with a little shining crucifix. I don't know how Eustace relates to Hubertus, but this is where I got my stag.). Of course there's also the whole Jabberwocky/crawling in the muck/medieval peasant thing going on too...with Punch n' Judy to make life bearable.
6. Never Let Me Go, by Kasuo Ishiguro
I loved this book so much that I can't bring myself to see the movie. Ishiguro is probably best known for Remains of the Day. There's a similarity, in that the characters are contending with unthinkable horrors by shifting between states of denial and resignation. Life goes on. Augh! It's horrible. I chose Charlotte's Web as an illustration because as I child I was utterly creeped out by the idea that humans could slaughter a talking pig and I was traumatized by the pathos of a spider and pig bonding out of necessity under such dire, tragic conditions. Never Let Me Go inspires the same feelings in me (except now I am a grown-up and the characters are human). And Animal Farm...well...it's just more of the moreness, only it's about how individual critters internalize state oppression so that the situation becomes self-perpetuating. OOf. It's all too nasty, but Ishiguro is such a good writer that the misery is somehow mitigated and everything that happens feels like it's bathed in a clear and watery light. That's why I chose the sanitorium.
7. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin
I read this book several times when I was a kid because it just seemed so sensible compared to everything else out there. People can be androgynous — D-uh! There's some setting and plot and stuff like that but I forget it. The cover is a classic and the other images...well, let's just say that science fiction does gender-bending really, really well sometimes.
8. Fiasco, by Stanislav Lem
I restricted myself to one book by Lem because otherwise everything on this list would be by him. I don't want to write spoilers for Fiasco. I will say that the story lives up to the title. Lem is really really good at metalevels of thought and meaning. His plots are often quite unhinged, and, pre-cyberpunk, his characters slip in and out of various sorts of reality. But, you know, it's human astronauts in space dealing with time, technology, and the possibility of life of other planets. Sounds like classic sci-fi and it is - Lem's powers of description are great and the stories are gripping. His combination of philosophy & boys home adventure makes for rip-roaring tales with really awesome mind-bending twists. In Fiasco the world remains pretty consistent, but the story is a tangle of tangents, all of them page-turners, and everything classically structured to return the reader to the urgent, over-riding narrative. I chose this picture of Lem himself because you can see in his face how much fun he's having and that mischievous teasing is there in the prose as well (and comes through great in translation). Plus a really great fan drawing of Lem's recurring character, Pirx the Pilot.
9. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
As implied above, back in the 90s Neal Stephenson gave William Gibson a bit of a run for his money in the cyberpunk genre. Stephenson's narratives were a little tighter and his characters a little less adolescent, but Gibson always had the edge with his fantastic lingo. Eventually Stephenson stopped writing straight-up sci-fi and moved into historical fiction about science and technology. Anathem is a return to the classic sci-fi arena, and this time it's all about language. It's as if Stephenson decided to take one more crack at Gibson, this time on Gibson's terms.* Anathem is full of made-up words, complete with etymological footnotes and dictionary definitions. At first I thought it was too clunky and forced. But after a while the cultural history of the fictional language just seemed to seep in and take on a deep, rich texture. I chose a big old monastery as an illustration because the book takes place in a setting much like this and — small spoiler — outer space is outer space. It's kind of like A Canticle for Leibowitz, only the story just charges along. Another door stop page-turner. Perfect for staying in bed or travelling.
*I'm not totally fabricating this rivalry. Read this, it's hilarious.
10. Mocking Bird, by Walter Tevis
Are people getting stupider? I read this book right after watching Idiocracy. Mockingbird is better — mournful, heart-wrenching, nuanced. Yup, it's the future and everyone has become really, really stupid...and it's up to a couple of autodidacts to save the day. Autodidacts are the tribe I want to belong to, because while our puttering, quixotic information-seeking processes can seem rudderless at times, it's people who gain their knowledge through enthusiasm that really know how to spread it around. Mockingbird was published in 1980 but it keys right into 21st century anxieties.* There's a sad sad intelligent cyborg who just wants to die (but can't), an empathetic thought bus, and a couple of canny humans who teach themselves how to read and get a grasp on history. And a cat. I chose Miyazaki's cat bus as an illustration because of the obvious thought bus/cat bus connection, but also because the tensions of darkness and light in My Neighbour Totoro are laced with a similarly melancholic sense of hope. I picked the image from Man on a Wire beause it relates directly to the plot, but also for it's greyed-out, atmospheric, existential clarity which is the kind of feeling that permeates the book.
*I don't believe for one second that people are getting stupider. But there's a polarized battle front emerging with we-don't-read-books-and-we're-proud-of-it types on one side and snobby-elitist-academic-ivory-tower types on the other. yike. As an auto-didact, I feel like I'm being forced to take sides and I don't like it.