The Works Festival of Art & Design is full of holes-in-pocket type secrets, the kind that are unexpected and sometimes sour, but at other times like finding out that the clanking in your dryer was a toonie all along.
Performance artists merge with patrons and viewers on Churchill Square, sometimes their performances are known and expected, other times their movements and spectacles are unknown and unannounced even to the staff.
Hidden associations can also be found if The Works’ curatorial choices or more likely happenstance are carefully considered. One of my favourites is iHuman’s Graffiti wall, which for a day displayed “Defend the Sacred - Resist 150” next to City Hall’s equally large permanent Canada 150 sign.
Kasie Campbell’s quietly momentous immersive installation is secluded in the small strip of grass, picnic tables and trees on the East side of the Square. Inside and Out sits like a squishy, wrinkled fleshy volcano, its skeleton a metal trailer, wheels engulfed by drooping girth. Inside and Out erupts with questioning and occasionally explosive patrons hourly. Despite of, or perhaps in spite of, the large vaginal looking entry into Inside and Out the piece feels surprisingly un-gendered, it feels uncomfortable and alive, it sits shaded, and dirty just outside the ring of conventional white cube gallery tents. Although soft, padded and cosy inside (its interior is lined with pillows and blankets) music pulses with a too-loud base, reverberating your chest and ringing your ears. Inside and Out, to me, has a queer reading of deep discomfort, of feeling trapped and controlled by your body, of having your flesh rebel. Through out the festival Kasie periodically performs with her child, Mav, both in costumes made from stuffed nylons, the same materials as the fleshy skin of the trailer. Kasie’s slowness oozes in comparison to Mav’s jerky childish motions, both are uncomfortable, and off-putting, they speak to me of repulsion of gender, and enforced identity based on physical attributes.
Whether you are in it for the hidden treats, sneaky rewards, or the beer tent, the Works Art & Design Festival most likely has something up its sleeve (or staining its shirt) for you.
Lucy Pauker is a multi-disciplinary artist from Toronto currently based in Halifax. She is about to complete the final year of her BFA at NSCAD, majoring in Intermedia. She is influenced by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Maggie Nelson, Simone Veil, Anne Carson, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Vivek Shraya, and Candice Hopkins (to name a few). Lucy uses intersectional queer and feminist approaches in order to make installations and performance utilizing textiles, ceramics, poetry and video. Lucy was awarded the Creative Innovators of Tomorrow Award upon her acceptance to NSCAD. Her work and collaborative publications have been shown in Canada, with one collaborative project in Europe and the U.S., her co-curated show (with Camila Salcedo) Ritual/Virtual was selected as a must-see by Canadian Art in 2016.
She would like to acknowledge the incredible work of many Femmes, Women of colour and allies that came before her, that have made possible the opportunities she has been able to access.