Friday, November 12, 2010

Clear skies as we descended into Calgary. A familiar sight: sprawling homes set against a faded doormat of lawns and fields, then the runway.

The last time I was at the Banff Centre for the Arts was in 2008, a guest of the artist Janice Kerbel, who led a science fictive residency here. Studio visits, then my talk, which began with an assigned essay (a chapter from Jacques Larrain’s 1979 book Marxism & Ideology) paired with a screening of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).

At the time, the Kinnear Centre for Creativity & Innovation had only just broke ground; now it is bulging with libraries and meeting rooms, and the Maclab Bistro on the main floor. That they chose to deposit this four-storey square at the circular centre of the Centre’s expansive middle is unfortunate. (A public space I miss entering, either on my way to a meal or to join in on a conversation.)

When I mentioned this to one of the administrators, I was assured that the space was only being “moved” -- in this instance, to the site of the old dining hall and tuck shop, where the mountain view (Nature) is even more spectacular.

Nature versus Culture has long been a battle in this country, one that is clearly not lost on the Banff Centre. But this is the new Banff, a place devoted as much to 12-tone scales and comma splices as “Mountain Culture” -- a Centre in its own right.

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