Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pink Poem

At bottom is an excerpt from a text by Karen Henry on the artist Kate Craig, where mention is made of Mary Ready, singer.


These performances took place during the height of the sexual revolution: for the first time, the pill provided women the opportunity to enjoy sex without the natural consequences of pregnancy. Along with the empowerment of sexual freedom came the renewed politics of feminism. The ethos of the time encouraged participatory action and women were working together to organize political and social activities. This new stridency was often “anti-feminine” in an effort to distance women from the overly acculturated terms: pink for girls, blue for boys, dolls for girls, guns for boys. Kate, wryly contrary and ever the individual, turned her collecting interests to an exploration of the colour pink. She collected pink household and fashion items and made her own pink clothes. At one point she had her hair cut in a spiral around her head. Though this was not a performance character, it was a sustained activity in line with the simple Zen performances of the Fluxus movement and French artist Robert Filliou who spent time at the Western Front during this period. Kate was not a performer who loved the stage. Kate was more comfortable integrating performance into her everyday life. It was the context in which she lived, and performance represented a deliberate lifestyle choice. The “pink poem” culminated in 1980 in the videotape Straight Jacket. In the tape, Kate models an intricately tailored straight jacket that she made of pink satin. The soundtrack, a sing-song performed by Mary Ready ( written by Kate with music by Hank Bull) revolves around the theme of “inside-out.” Given the constriction of the garment and its sensual surface, itʼs hard not to see this reflection on the significance of pink in a feminist context, though the tape and the ongoing work ultimately associates the colour with a female sensuality that is bound by social constraints not limited to heterosexual politics. For one thing, Kate had spent the last ten years surrounded by a creative cadre of gay men that practiced its own forms of misogyny 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Plastic Amp

Yesterday, while shopping at Famous Foods, I bumped into Annastacia McDonald (fourth from the left; or middle, if you count the reflection), a member of an art gang that co-curator Allison Collins and I have spent the past year researching towards an exhibition this January. The name of this gang (to paraphrase Talking Heads) is Mainstreeters.

Although Annastacia has refused our request to take part in an on-camera interview, she is generous when it comes to informal, and indeed spontaneous, meetings. On this occasion, she told me about the origin of Plastic Amp, a project she was part of in the mid-1970s.

According to Annastacia, she, Mary Ready and Paul Wong were hitch-hiking to a party in North Vancouver (after having dropped acid at Robert's Creek) when they found themselves inside a drugstore. It was while floating through the aisles that they came upon a selection of small plastic toys; and near these toys, a supply of name-tag pins.

Moments later the three were in the parking lot, where they heated up the toys and affixed them to the pins. Once assembled, they pinned the toys to their garments and, upon entering the party, Syd Morozoff shrieked, "Oh my god where did you get those I want one!"

From that night on, whenever Annastacia, Mary or Paul went out, they brought with them their pins, which they would sell under the company name Plastic Amp. For the longest time Allison and I did not know what Plastic Amp stood for, until yesterday, when Annastacia told me that the "amp" part stands for their names -- Annastacia, Mary and Paul.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Boyhood (2014)

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in an air-conditioned movie theatre in Chinatown.

The film was Richard Linklater's Boyhood, and true to the style of the writer-director's earlier generational films (Slacker, 1991 and Dazed and Confused, 1993), it moves slowly, undramatically, closer to the lives of those who keep the world at bay than those who use it as their trampoline

Most remarkable about Boyhood is that it was made over a twelve year period. Throughout this time we see the "boy" grow from a first-year-of-school six-year-old to an eighteen-year-old on his first day of college, one whose "real life" self is as evident to us as the fictional self he has grown to occupy.

Although I have a number of positive things to say about Boyhood, it only became of interest to me around the 145th minute (the film is 170 minutes long), when it appeared that this "real life" boy was as indifferent to the film he had committed to twelve years earlier as I was to sitting there watching him.

Friday, August 15, 2014

On Rainy Summer Days

Summer rains move us indoors. Or they keep us there. For those who find air-conditioned movie theatres too cold, there are art galleries, where the temperature remains constant because their insurers insist on it.

The Vancouver Art Gallery currently has an exhibition that should appeal to those interested in moving pictures -- Lost In the Memory Palace: Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. Above it, a floor of recent acquisitions. Below it, a fifty-year-old boy's bedroom.