Mitchell Chalifoux- 2:00pm
The first of four outdoor performances, Mitchell Chalifoux brought the indoors out, taking to the block surrounding dc3 Art Projects, and bringing curtains with them. A pile of thick, colourful linens at the entrance of the gallery marked an anchor point to which they sporadically returned, each time adding a panel to the rod they carried with them throughout the performance. With each lap, the increasing weight of the panels and the gusting wind worked together to test the physical limits of Chalifoux’s body.
It was interesting to contemplate the inversion of an object that in its typical context is fixed in place and unchanging, into one that is flimsy, unstable and in constant motion. Usually a curtain conceals or blocks light and sight from going in or out; however, framed by long panels of fabric, Chalifoux was far from hidden as they turned the heads of onlookers on the streets. The spectacle was reminiscent of a bizarre modern-day crucifixion scene–like Christ bearing the weight of the cross and paraded down the street.
Eventually in the front gallery window Chalifoux found stillness, their body trapped between the glass and the thick wall of curtains. Lifting the rod over their head, they turned to face the outside. From inside the gallery, a hint of silhouette appeared through the layers of fabric. The form of a body revealed itself just enough to peak the curiosity of viewers inside the gallery, and then lure them out to see who was behind the curtains. From the outside, viewers gazed in at the artist, struggling under the weight of their own creation. Ironically, the artist spent the remainder of their performance hidden in the wide-open window of the gallery, and displayed to the quiet, gray public street.
Chelsea Boos- 4:00pm
Among the chaos of torn up concrete, construction equipment, beeping and grinding, Chelsea Boos sat at a tiny table next to an old apartment, her fingers mending away at a piece of cloth. Above her a parachute-like cover flapped relentlessly in the wind, drawing even more attention to the quietness created in her space.
Three candles and rolled up clothes wedged into the nook of a tree created an invisible barrier; from the sidewalk one had to cross through it to reach her. The empty chair at her table seemed like an invitation, but Boos did not look up from her work; she was immersed in her needle and thread. I couldn’t decide if my presence was wanted or not.
Every candle was placed like a tombstone, each one paired with a treasure that I could only assume belonged to the artist: a framed photo of a little girl, a paperback copy bell hooks’ All About Love, and three polaroid photographs, all asking silence and respect in the artist’s space.
I sat down across from her on a soft cushion with a knitted cover. It reminded me of my Oma’s house. After politely offering me a cookie, we chatted for a bit and she asked if I had anything that needed mending. I didn’t, but I dug through the vortex of my bag and found a scrunchie. Somehow she found a loose seam, and with cold, red fingers started mending. Long, silent pauses punctuated our conversation. I let her take care of me through this random act of mending.
Despite her hospitality, the frigid wind and the memorial-like quality of the space left me feeling slightly unsettled. I got the impression I wasn’t supposed to be totally comfortable. While the cushion beneath me was soft, the iron table and chairs felt slightly unstable. The array of scattered mending materials and artifacts reminded me of the state of my house when unexpected company arrives. The cookies she offered were disguised in a woven basket, challenging my own association of cookies as a welcoming touch for guests. There were no walls around us to keep our spoken words private.
We sat facing each other and talked about our grandmothers. I found myself sharing intimate details of my relationships, baring painful memories. She handed back my scrunchie, a thick orange thread simultaneously reinforced the strength of the fabric and emphasized its deterioration. As I got up to leave I realized that other than hinting at a strained relationship, I had not learned anything about the objects that initially drew me into conversation with her. I wondered if she did that on purpose.
Before I left, I looked more closely at the worn, aged photographs. I wondered if the woman was her grandmother. Why bell hooks? Was that little girl her? I turned to look back, feeling somewhat puzzled about what to make of my experience. She seemed so young, and at the same time an old soul surrounded by her grandmother’s things and presence. I wondered whether there was healing or pain in the act of mending things for others.
Written by Brittany Snellen.
Brittany Snellen has a master’s degree in art history from the University of Alberta. She’s spent the last five years facilitating collaborative exhibition projects between art historians and artists. In her spare time you can find her photographing births and writing about art.