Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Banff Centre

Last Thursday I travelled to Banff, where I had been invited by Jesse McKee, curator of the Banff Centre's Walter Phillips Gallery, to respond to Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson's Bottles Under the Influence, a sprawling exhibition that features staged assemblages, two publications and a performance.

This was my sixth visit to the Centre since 1996, when I was invited to give a reading for the Literary Journalism program. Since then I have participated in a couple of Pan-Canadian Wordfests, an opera residency and a curatorial symposium.

As has been the case with all my visits to the Centre, I am immediately struck by its changes. At first these changes concerned the old dining hall, where, over time, fewer and fewer tables were reserved for artists, and more and more for corporations, who come to conference there. Nowadays, however, the more immediate changes are architectural, with glass-and-concrete buildings, such as the Kinnear Centre for Creativity and Innovation (see above), replacing those made of wood-and-carpet, such as Farrally Hall (see below).

The Banff Centre of today is a very different place than the one I first came to. Where until this last visit I stayed at the Centre's residences, this time I was put up in town, at the Fox Hotel, as the Centre was booked-up for a Environmental Economics conference. While I did not mind the peaceful fifteen minute walk to and from the Centre, much of that walk was spent thinking about the changes I have seen since my first visit -- and how some of these changes I do mind.

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