• By: Keith Whittier

The Visual Delights of Canada Scene

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Photos courtesy of the National Arts Centre / Canada Scene

Just in time for the national birthday, the National Arts Centre's renos have filled the once dim corridors and glazed extensions with some much-needed light. Along with it, tied to the massive Canada Scene festival, the NAC has provisioned the new spaces for multidisciplinary arts exhibits. This evolution will be shown to full effect with an offering of visual experiences that aim to reflect the expanding cultural richness and diversity of Canada in its 150th year.

Here’s what’s on offer at the NAC and in nearby locations over the coming weeks.

What: Range Light, Borden-Carleton, PEI
Who: Kim Morgan
When: June 15 – July 23, 2017

If you must start with any exhibit from this list, then start big. “Range Light” spans 60 feet and is made up of about 2000 square feet of latex and is best seen at night when lit up internally. It’s a life-sized cast of a real lighthouse in PEI, now derelict and fallen into disrepair. The Saskatchewan-born resident of Halifax, Kim Morgan, created the piece to symbolize our changing relationship with the architecture that once occupied an important place in our lives. 

Who: Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett
When: June 15 – July 23, 2017

Changing up from brooding and somewhat mournful, CLOUD is described as “playful” by the Calgary-based artists who fashioned it from 6,000 incandescent bulbs, steel and exposed electronics. The delicate and fragile looking artwork is interactive, but in the analog, mechanical sense. Viewers are invited to tug on what appears to be streams of “rain” falling from the cloud — actually, pull-strings that will turn interior LED lights on and off — so that the spectacle is dependent on how many others are interacting with it at the same time. As with Morgan’s “Range Light”, the piece is a commentary on the transitional nature of our technology and built environment as we advance into the 21st century.

What: It’s Complicated
Who: OO7 (Ottawa Ontario 7) Collective
When: June 15 – July 31, 2017

150 years may be something to celebrate for many Canadians, but for the original peoples of this land, it’s complicated. A century and a half is a fleeting moment in the span of their many varied histories, but one that has brought profound and often painful upheaval. The 007, a collective of artists from Ottawa, will open their collection of works to the public with a panel discussion, where they will be present to discuss their art. According to the collective, each piece represents an extension of the artist’s body of work and provides an alternative and poignant perspective on this nation and the indigenous people it has displaced.

What: Sinha Danse
Who: OttaW(olly)Wood
When: July 8 – 9, 2017 (Please check for
dates & times)

If you’re a fan of those flash mob displays in public places on social media, then this next one could be for you. Founded 25 years ago, Sinha Danse is a professional contemporary dance company based in Montreal. The choreographic projects they create are directly influenced by, but not limited to the Indian heritage of the founder, Roger Sinha. He’ll be directing dance professionals and volunteers from the Ottawa-Gatineau region in an outdoor dance event that promises to be contagiously energetic for all that come along. Be sure to check for times.

What: Our Masterpieces, Our Stories
Who: Various artists
When: June 15 – July 30, 2017

Complimentary to exhibits such as “It’s Complicated”, “Our Masterpieces, Our Stories” aims to showcase art from parallel cultural narratives in the history of this land from prior to and beyond the arrival of Europeans. Located mostly in the redesigned Canadian and Indigenous Galleries (it expands into the Contemporary Gallery for anything post-1968), visitors can interact with educational material that is intended to provide “personally meaningful experiences” for all ages.

Who: Aurélie Pedron
When: July 13 – 15, 2017 (Please check dates & times)

In keeping with the meaningful experiences, ENTRE offers to be one that is altogether more personal. Indeed, only one participant at a time will be allowed to enter the installation, fitted with a blindfold and headphones. Within a cocoon of what resembles a folded pile of flexible, air-filled plastic tubes, the participant is then exposed to an “unsettling” environment of sound, movement and “the artist’s touches.” Due to the nature of the installation, space is limited to 20 participants on the day of each performance, so you’ll need to sign up with an ENTRE volunteer at the site and it’s possible that you’ll have to return another day.

What: Open Access – A Demonstration
Who: Carmen Papalia
When: June 23 – August 16, 2017

Not your usual protest at City Hall, “Open Access” is nevertheless activist by design, highlighting the artist’s experience of the support institutions that have failed him as a recipient of their services. Participants are invited to experience life, albeit for the brief duration of the demonstration, away from a culture that that privileges the visual experience. The social practice artist, Carmen Papalia, hopes that his walking demonstrations will open a window onto the problems of accessibility in Canada and by doing so, formulate of new models and practice unencumbered by ableist thinking.

What: Wapikwanew: Blossom
Who: Jaime Koebel
When: June 22 – July 30, 2017

You might know Jaime Koebel from her Indigenous Walks tours in Ottawa. She’s an artist of Nehiyâw, Michif and German ancestry and she says she is influenced by the floral motifs in Michif art. Koebel has curated this exhibit of works by indigenous and non-indigenous artists at the Ottawa Karsh-Masson Gallery to signify the artistic importance of the blossom in many cultures, but also in her own life, as a force for beauty, balance and happiness.