Destabilizing Dystopia: art exhibition & artist talk – curious arts

Rosiland Breen- Apex

Q & A with Heather Leier

A dystopia is not a welcoming place. It suggests an unhappy, discomforting environment that is built within the limitless realm of our nightmares. Concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ do not exist; any conscience is worn down and jaded. Destabilizing a dystopia is a process that disrupts the nightmare… Does this disruption place something good into an environment where anything bad can happen? The Art and Design Graduate Student Association (ADGSA) exhibition Destabilizing Dystopia suggests answers to this question.

I asked Heather Leier, the Vice President and Secretary of the ADGSA, to discuss this project:

What is Destabilizing Dystopia

Heather: Destabilizing Dystopia is the title of this years ADGSA exhibition and guest lecture. The exhibition includes 20 graduate or recent graduate students’ work from Canada and the United States that explore themes of dystopia through artistic research practices. The exhibition opens with a reception on Friday April 10th at 7 p.m. at dc3 Art Projects.

In addition, Peter von Tiesenhausen will give a lecture entitled “In Tending the Future…observations, actions and reflections from the margins…” on April 9th at 5:15 p.m. in FAB 2-20. Von Tiesenhausen has garnered a great deal of public attention after claiming the land where he lives and works as copyright and fending off major environmental destruction.

How does the art and research included in this exhibition relate to destabilizing a dystopia?

Heather: Each piece brings a different perspective to the concept. Some of the works present the human body as a dystopic site that requires refiguring. Others represent our current world and the ways in which we aim to survive in what could be a dystopia, and many works question our future, alluding to desolation and environmental destruction.

Gillian King - Haunts the Human Animal

Gillian King – Haunts the Human Animal

What is one work that you particularly connected with? What’s the story or meaning behind it?

Heather: Nicole Clouston’s installation Untitled (bones) is an investigation into method and technology through the subject of the human body. She cast a femur in plaster, then re-cast the result without removing the flaws, then re-cast that and so on. The result is a haunting lineup of bones that slowly morph into new forms as you look down the line. This flawed method of production produces questionable results and forces me to consider the way our society produces and consumes at such a rapid pace. It makes me question what the physical result will be for our planet and for each of us if we continue on this trajectory.

Nicole Clouston- Untitled (bones)

Nicole Clouston – Untitled (bones)

Thinking about this exhibition in a larger context, how does it contribute to current discussions in contemporary art?

Heather: A thread that runs through this exhibition is dystopia as it relates to the environment. Artists everywhere including Peter von Tiesenhausen are using their artistic practice to voice concerns about the destruction of our planet. I think that many of the works in Destabilizing Dystopia function to create moments of pause and reflection for viewers to consider their own role in our planet’s future.

Article’s feature image is Apex by Rosalind Breen.

Event title: Destabilizing Dystopia art exhibition
Featured exhibiting artists include: Rachel Nelson (University of Maine), Mona Sheybani Zaveh (University of California Irvine), Aimee Odum (University of Arkansas), Gillian King (University of Ottawa)
Bre Gipson (Pacific Northwest College of Art), Adam Reynolds (Indiana University), Ross Mazzupappa (University of Iowa), Angela Sneider (University of Alberta), Trevor Amery (University of California San Diego), Jim Koerner (Towson University), Natalie Jachyra (University of Alberta), Bertrand Morin (Pacific Northwest College of Art), Nicole Clouston (University of Victoria), Emilie St. Hilaire (University of Alberta), Misa Nikolic (University of Alberta), Morgan Wedderspoon (University of Alberta), Kyle Appelt (University of Alberta), Rosalind Breen (Rhode Island School of Design), Danielle Foushee (Pacific Northwest College of Art), and Brian Kooser (Central Washington University).
Exhibition dates: April 10 to April 18, 2015
Opening Reception: Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m.
Venue:dc3 Art Projects, 10567 – 111 Street, Edmonton
dc3 Art Projects Regular Hours:
Wednesday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday 12 p.m . – 8 p.m.
Friday 12 p.m. to  5 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Admission: Free.

Artist Talk: Peter von Tiesenhausen
Date: Thursday, April 9
Time: 5:15 p.m.
Venue: FAB 2-20, University of Alberta
Admission: Free.

About Peter von Tiesenhausen
Peter has exhibited and lectured widely across Canada as well as in Europe, the United States and Mexico. He has had over 50 solo and many group exhibitions, which have been widely reviewed and the subject of 3 national television documentaries including a one hour award winning film “Elemental” produced in 2000 for “Adrienne Clarkson Presents”.

His multidisciplinary practice includes painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, installation, event, video and performance. His work often involves the community in which he is working and utilizes the materials to be found there. He has created several permanent and ephemeral public artworks throughout North America and in Europe and has works in many public and private collections.

The land where he lives constitutes his primary and ongoing artwork and in 1995 he claimed copyright over that land. He has been successful on several occasions defending this artwork against the incursions of multinational corporate interests.

Recently he was a driving force for the construction of a sustainable timber frame straw bale community centre in his community of Demmitt, Alberta.

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