Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taking to the Halifax Streets

Spring was barely sprung when this gem was made. Thanks to Lucas Dambergs and the People's Dance Party for reminding us to take advantage of every second of the better weather.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Frank Film

2657 Fuller Terrace
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada, B3K 3V8

Dear N.V.A.P.-

I didn't make this, but wanted to share it.

The "Mid-West"

Oklahoma, USA.

I don't trust anyone who calls it "The Fly-over".

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ongoing Project

Artists, send one video art DVD to N.V.A.P, 2657 Fuller Terrace, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3K 3V8 for participation in Northern Video Art Port, a domestic video art exchange service. videos must be the work of the sender and must be accompanied by one self-addressed padded envelope, sufficiently stamped to secure Canada's greatest postal distances. Do not include a bio, C.V, or statement. With every video the artist submits to N.V.A.P (a maximum of three, independently mailed), they will receive another artist's video in return that they are obligated to screen privately or publicly. N.V.A.P will not inform the artist of the new location of their video, however, the artist's contact information will be provided to the receiver. Contact is not necessary. N.V.A.P requests that receivers refrain from asking the artist for a bio, C.V, or statement in relation to the N.V.A.P video screening. Senders should not expect the return of their work. N.V.A.P is for video art senders and receivers in Canada only. Payment for N.V.A.P's services are encouraged but not necessary. 

I've been working on N.V.A.P for the past nine months or so. I've been taking it pretty easy, only putting the call out occasionally on Instant Coffee, but I'm still a little surprised by how few submissions I've received. I understand that the call is not exactly warm, but I'm keeping it the way it is. This project isn't just about my interest in the postal system, mail art and video art, but it also serves to reject a certain kind of call for submissions that I see dozens of every week in this country. First of all, thematic calls are out of control. One can't just submit their fantastic artwork. No, the work must be about "pluralities", "liquidity" or should explore the "vertical manifestation of the pedagogies of placeness". In addition to the work, the artist must submit a number of things like a curriculum vitae and an artist statement. I understand that that's normal, but I just want to unclog the system a little. With N.V.A.P, if the artist can actually get their video to me, I'm interested.  

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Borderline Racist

I was recently in Chicago for the first time. I usually think New York is where it's at, but I'd been hearing that Chicago is even better. I didn't see how that could be possible until I went to Chicago. Every day there I found myself saying "Now this is my kind of town!" It's full of culture, but it's unpretentious. I was also pleased to find that those I met are not ignorant about Canada (unlike New York brats). My American friend told me that that's because Chicago is close to Canada. But Illinois doesn't actually border on any Canadian provinces. Aside from sharing a lake, Illinois is entirely surrounded by American States, unlike New York which borders two Canadian provinces, along with other states north of it. 
There seems to be a conception among Americans that Canadians are the epitome of Midwest Americans, but I have never known any Canadians that speak like Midwest Americans (the long wide-jaw vowels, skipping the last consonant). I hear that there are a few people in the Niagara area who do this, but other than that I think it's a distinctly American thing that they have somehow turned into their leading stereotype of Canadians. In fact, I once heard a linguist on the CBC explain that people from Winnipeg have the most neutral accent found anywhere in all of Canada and the United States (a disproportionate number of them are hired for radio). 
Canada doesn't talk much about it's own Midwest. It's geographical identity seems to be primarily West/East, with Ontario being the divide. This ignores the North that makes up the majority of this country's land, but the majority of the Canadian population lives in cities and towns close to the border, drawing a line from one end of the country to the other. 
When you actually think about it, Illinois is further east than it is west, so why isn't it called the Mideast? I suppose that America started in the East, so everything West of that is West. But why do Americans like to make fun of their Midwesterners so much anyway? Obama is from there! It's one of the grandest landscapes I have ever known. But people call it the "grease belt" or the "fly-over country". 
So I'll end this post with lines from the song that Frank Sinatra sang so well:

Chicago, Chicago, that toddling town
Chicago, Chicago, I'll show you around- I love it
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose your blues in Chicago
The town that Billy's Sunday could not shut down

On State Street, that great Street, I just want to say
They do things that they don't do on Broadway
They have the time of their life
I saw a man and he danced with his wife
In Chicago, my hometown