projects

May 20, 2014

_MG_9829Photo Guy L'Heureux letters home, 2014, montréal, québec.
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07kes2013how  how many is too many?,  2013, 14th street, new york, new york.
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  hey! mike,  2012, new york, new york.
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sittin’ with,  2012, montréal, québec.
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revus, 2012, galerie b-312, montréal, québec.

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inked dreams, work on paper, 2012.

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le mur saint martin, 2011, paris, france.

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viva! art action
, 2011, montréal, québec.

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sittin’ with moncton, 2011, jè-st’, moncton, new brunswick.

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harper’s canada
, 2011, the john snow house, calgary, alberta.

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porteur de rêves/dream listener the book, 2011.

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grandeur nature/life-size, 2011, articule, montréal, québec.

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has not yet arrived, 2011, praxis, sainte thérèse, québec.

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sittin’
, 2010, 7a*11d, toronto, ontario.

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 une étendue apparement infinie et tentaculaire,
2010, skol, montréal, québec. 2010, paved, saskatoon, saskatchewan.

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teasing the furtive, 2010 – 2011, curatorial project with skol.

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_MG_9829Photo Guy L'Heureux

title : never ending
year : 2014
material : ink on paper / encre sur papier
dimensions : 56 x 76 cm.

Untitled-2

title : word
year : 2014
material : ink on paper / encre sur papier
dimensions : 76 x 112 cm.

photos: guy l’heureux

 

2014kesmotsdemp72b

les mots d’une certaine m.p. à partir du travail de a.r.
acrylic sur toile
30.5 .x. 30.5 cm.
karen elaine spencer
2014



372, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, espace 403—Montréal (Québec) H3B 1A2
514 874 9423—galerieb312.ca

POUR L’ART
12 avril—3 mai 2014
Événement d’ouverture le samedi 12 avril—15h
Avec le band Daddy’s Groove

 

 

 



372, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, espace 403—Montréal (Québec) H3B 1A2
514 874 9423—galerieb312.ca

POUR L’ART
12 avril—3 mai 2014
Événement d’ouverture le samedi 12 avril—15h
Avec le band Daddy’s Groove

SARAH A.TREMBLAY FRANCIS ARGUIN JEAN-PIERRE AUBÉ MARIE-EVE BEAULIEU CATHERINE BÉCHARD  THOMAS BEGIN CATHERINE BÉLIVEAU SIMON BILODEAU CATHERINE BODMER CAROLINE BOILEAU GUILLAUME BOUDRIAS-PLOUFFE MICHEL BOULANGER MATHIEU CARDIN STÉPHANIE CHABOT VÉRONIQUE CHAGNON-CÔTÉ KEVIN DEFOREST MARIE-MICHELLE DESCHAMPS RICHARD DESCHÊNES CHLOÉ DESJARDINS JULIE DOUCET JOSÉE DUBEAU VÉRONIQUE DUCHARME CLARA FAUVEL BRENDAN FLANAGAN GABRIÈLE FONTANA LOUIS FORTIER AMÉLIE LAURENCE FORTIN KARINE FRÉCHETTE PASCAL GRANDMAISON ELIZA GRIFFITHS CHARLES GUILBERT ISABELLE GUIMOND SABIN HUDON ALICE JARRY ALEXANDRE JIMENEZ SUZANNE JOOS CHRISTOPHE JORDACHE FRANÇOIS LACASSE NICOLAS LACHANCE MICHEL LAFOREST SÉBASTIEN LAFLEUR EMMANUEL LAGRANGE PAQUET GABRIELLE LAJOIE-BERGERON MANUELA LALIC PAMÉLA LANDRY DANIEL LANGEVIN JOSIANE LANTHIER YAM LAU RENÉE LAVAILLANTE ALEXIS LAVOIE FRÉDÉRIC LAVOIE JEAN-MICHEL  LECLERC JACINTHE LESSARD-L HÉLÈNE LORD MICHÈLE LORRAIN MARIE-ÈVE MARTEL NOÉMI MCCOMBER JENNA MEYERS NIKKI MIDDLEMISS TRICIA MIDDLETON JÉRÔME NADEAU CHRISTIANE PATENAUDE MARIANNE PON-LAYUS MARISA PORTOLESE BERTRAND R. PITT LES RAMSAY GENEVIÈVE ROCHER  KRISTI ROPELESKI FRÉDÉRIC SAIA HÉLÈNE SARRAZIN FRANCINE SAVARD VIDA SIMON KAREN ELAINE SPENCER VICTORIA STANTON CORRI-LYNN TETZ CARL TRAHAN  MARIE-FRANCE TREMBLAY NADIA TRUDEL SUZAN VACHON JONATHAN VILLENEUVE PAVITRA WICKRAMASINGHE JOSH WORMAN JOHANNES ZITS

UN GESTE—Chaque année, la Galerie B-312 vous convie à soutenir les activités du centre en faisant l’acquisition d’une œuvre d’art. Ce faisant, vous appuyez directement la diffusion, la reconnaissance et le rayonnement des pratiques artistiques contemporaines.—UN FOURMILLEMENT—Cette année encore, quatre-vingts artistes ont généreusement accepté notre invitation. Près d’une centaine d’œuvres seront ainsi offertes à la vente.—UN FOISONNEMENT—À cette complicité des artistes exposants se joignent des organismes et entreprises qui, eux et elles aussi, ont souhaité appuyer la Galerie en offrant gracieusement des laissez-passer pour des concerts, des expositions, des films, des spectacles de danse, de théâtre, des abonnements à des revues spécialisées, des encadrements professionnels, des disques compacts, des certificats-cadeaux pour des achats en librairie sans oublier des bonnes bouchées.—UNE COMPLICITÉ—Venez nombreux à la cérémonie d’ouverture le samedi 12 avril 2014, dès 15h, au son du Daddy’s Groove. Cette édition 2014 promet d’être haute en couleurs. Coups de foudre et fourmis garantis ! Ne la manquez pas. Elle ne se reproduira pas. Laissez-vous charmer, inspirer, entraîner. Succombez. —Pour l’art.

La Galerie B-312 tient vivement à remercier tous les artistes qui ont accepté de participer à cette vente au bénéfice du centre, Vincente Lhoste, Daddy’s Groove, les partenaires de l’événement, ainsi que les galeries Art mûr, René Blouin, Donald Browne, Espace Robert Poulin, Leo Kamen, Laroche Joncas, Lilian Rodriguez, Katarine Mulherin, Simon Blais, Douglas Udell, Joyce Yahouda et le Yuanfen New Media Art Space.—La Galerie reçoit l’appui du Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, du Conseil des arts de Montréal et du Conseil des arts du Canada

Isabelle Guimond—Regarder, regarder, 2012, détail—Huile sur bois.


myrespencerFrozenblue72

Un projet d’art public sur la façade arrière du Théâtre de la Bordée conçu par Nadia Myre avec la collaboration de Karen Elaine Spencer

La Galerie des arts visuels de l’Université Laval est heureuse de présenter son tout premier projet d’art public. Cette bannière d’artiste, présentée avec la collaboration du Théâtre de la Bordée, sera visible jusqu’au 11 avril sur la façade arrière du théâtre, rue Notre-Dame-des-Anges.

Conçu par l’artiste Nadia Myre en collaboration avec Karen Elaine Spencer, le projet intitulé Frozen Blue se présente comme une bannière déjouant les règles de l’affichage urbain. Inspirée d’une lecture de la pièce Frozen, présentée jusqu’au 29 mars au Théâtre de la Bordée, l’œuvre présente des fragments d’un poème caché, à déchiffrer. Nadia Myre évoque dans ce poème la métaphore hivernale si présente dans la pièce:

Nuit pénible / Figé. Glacé Rien coule / Maux / Le vent  disperse les mots

Ce projet est présenté grâce au soutien précieux de Louis Garneau qui développe depuis une vingtaine d’années un partenariat fructueux avec l’École des arts visuels de l’Université Laval.

2014myrespencerfrozenDan-Breaut-2

le soleil, samedi 15 mars 2014, p. a17.

crypter l’intime et l’afficher, par josianne desloges.

2013howmany14thsthl72

14th street,  new york.

how many is too many? (3)

October 16, 2013

2013howmany14thsth72

14th street, new york, new york.

how many is too many? (2)

October 16, 2013

2013hwmany14thstg72

14th street, new york, new york.

how many is too many?

October 16, 2013

2013howmany14thstreet72

14th street, new york, new york.

heymike172  heymike272  heymike372

HeyMike – click on link for pdf file.

AiOP Number E-Vite

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 12.25.45 AM

2011jestbooksm

jè-st’, festival d’art performatif et d’intervention/performance and intervention art festival, sept/oct 2011, textes by jennifer bélanger, amanda dawn christie, nisk imbeault. galerie d’art louise et reuben-cohen, moncton, nouveau-brunswick, (2012) 59p. couverture souple. isbn 978 0 9877755 3 5.

moi…la…la.

May 25, 2013

Invitation La moitié du monde

 

Karen Elaine Spencer will speak in Art Now at 12:00 noon in the Recital Hall on March 15

Friday, March 15, 2013 – 12:00am – 12:50am

Karen Elaine Spencer lives and works in Montreal, Québec, Canada. Spencer’s work questions use values and investigates how we, as transient beings, occupy the world. The notion of progress is resisted through the repetition of an action that leads nowhere. Metro-riding, rambling, dreaming, and loitering are among the activities Spencer folds into her practice. A project is sustained over time, often a year, and materials of our day-to-day existence are favoured. Through a détournement of materials or intentions, Spencer intervenes into specific places, where she marks and is marked by spatial and social geographies.

Spencer’s practice oscillates between work in the street, exhibitions in galleries, and disseminations via the web. In 2011, she curated the program Gosser le Furtif at Galerie Skol, Montreal. Her text for the performance group TRAFIC was published in the catalog “Lost and found/Les Bureau des Objets Trouvés,” and she was an artist in residence at The John Snow House in Calgary, Alberta. Her work has been exhibited in Canada, Europe and the U.S.A. She is the recipient of the 2012 Powerhouse Prize.

35kes2013hey72 32kes201372  23kes2013hey72 20kes2013hey72 17kes2013hey72  18kes2013hey72 16kes2012hey72 13kes2013hey72  26kes2013hey72 15kes2013hey72 27kes2013hey72 30kes2013hey72 14kes2013hey72 11kes2013hey72 07kes2013hey72 33kes2013hey72 08kes2013hey72 09kes2013hey72 04kes2013hey72

14stlong72

14stcrop72

 

 

blog for hey! mike : http://heymikehey@wordpress.com

ink on paper – 10 x 15cm.

Loitering: a performance piece by Karen Elaine Spencer set in Toronto’s Union Station. “When I loiter,” she says, “I take ownership of a space.” Loitering, she said, deliberately slows daily life.

Loitering: a performance piece by Karen Elaine Spencer set in Toronto’s Union Station. “When I loiter,” she says, “I take ownership of a space.” Loitering, she said, deliberately slows daily life.

Photograph by: Henry Chan Jr.

MONTREAL – She has rented a room in a poor neighbourhood to find out “how we look at things based on where they are.” She has hired and paid people to loiter in public places to discover who gets hassled for lingering.

Karen Elaine Spencer has won the $5,000 Prix Powerhouse for these actions and others that use a variety of art strategies — including conceptual art, performance, writing and drawing — to focus on daily life as it is lived, particularly in the spaces where it happens.

Spencer’s art is to immerse her physical body into experiences that deepen her intellectual and emotional understanding of a societal wrong.

Knowing is not the same as experiencing, she wrote in an email. “An embodied knowledge through being there is quite radically different than knowledge that is passed by word of mouth, by reading the news.”

Spencer’s life is her art as she explores relationships based on power, vulnerability, marginalization and self-determination, jury member Catherine Bodmer wrote in explanation of why she won the award given by La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, the feminist artist-run centre.

“With great perseverance, she goes deeply into things, without compromise,” Bodmer wrote. “Karen takes risks, not only artistically, but in exposing herself to precarious situations.”

Situations like loitering in Cabot Square, where police keep watch over a park where doctors cross paths with the homeless. Spencer’s street projects, which usually include a sign that evokes the block-lettered placards used by beggars, can be confused with political acts.

“When I loiter, I take ownership of a space,” she said in an interview. “A lot of my work raises hackles, but I think I must keep doing it.”

But loitering is also a tonic for the soul. Loitering, she wrote, “is also about countering the busy, preoccupied nature of daily life with a deliberate slowing and paying attention.

“Loitering focuses on the mundane rather than the newsworthy, the near instead of the faraway, the concrete beneath one’s feet, the sunny side of the street vs. the shady side, the architecture that surrounds, the people who pass.”

Spencer came out of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1986 as a painter, but felt that painting was of little value. She said she didn’t really get engaged in art until she went to UQAM, where she got an MFA in 2001, and got involved with artist-run centres. For her master’s project, she rented a room in St-Henri, to “find out what happens in places you don’t go.”

Not many people visited her project, she admitted with a laugh, but she spent time in her small room, reflecting on her neighbours “who can no longer work.” She laid out on the floor slices of cheap day-old white bread — “in contrast to the $5 organic bread up the hill in Westmount.” Mattresses made of piled-up slices of white bread have since become a staple of her street performances.

She observed that “if you’re a youth, the wrong colour, your clothes not right,” loitering will be less tolerated.

I asked Spencer why she expends energy as an artist to rediscover things that are so well known, like racial profiling by police.

“Even if (racial) profiling is not a revelation, one has to wonder why it continues,” she said. “Why is racial profiling so systematically prevalent in our culture, in our métros, on our streets, if indeed (in the words of Leonard Cohen), ‘everybody knows?’ ”

Spencer has just started a six-month residency in New York, courtesy of the Canada Council’s international studio and curatorial program.

“I’m sure my family thinks I’m wacko,” she said. “My father said: ‘You’re getting paid to do what?’ ”

More information can be found at Karen Elaine Spencer’s website: likewritingwithwater.wordpress.com, and on the website of La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse: lacentrale.org.

Nicole Gingras has been named director of the Centre international d’art contemporain, which puts on the Montreal Biennale.

Gingras, who curated last May’s Quebec Biennale, takes over from Claude Gosselin, who has been with CIAC since 1985 and has directed the Montreal Biennale since its founding in 1996.

For Montreal’s next biennial in fall 2013, two Toronto art world figures have been selected as co-curators: Peggy Gale, a critic, writer and independent curator; and Gregory Burke, a former director of the Power Plant artist-run centre.

The theme of the 2013 biennale is Looking Forward. Burke discussed it in terms of the environment, “looking at the future as a way of thinking about the present.”

Gale said she expects to put on an event that includes big works by a relatively few artists — 20 to 30, she said. Not all the work will be big, she said, but it will be “pungent.”

Ryoji Ikeda, whose visual interpretations of the data that permeates our world is wowing visitors to his exhibition at DHC/ART, will present a live performance on Sept. 15 at the gallery’s sister operation in Old Montreal, the new PHI Centre.

Ikeda, a composer and visual artist, has developed a system that converts any type of data — text, sounds, photos and movies — into bar-code patterns and binary patterns of 0s and 1s.

At the PHI Centre, Ikeda will perform Test Pattern, converting a soundtrack to flickering patterns on a large screen. The images, changing at hundreds of frames per second, will test the audience’s threshold of perception, if his related installation at DHC is any indication.

Ryoji Ikeda performs Test Pattern live at 8 p.m. on Sept. 15 at the PHI Centre, 407 St. Pierre St. Information: phi-centre.com. Ikeda’s work is on display until Nov. 18 at DHC/ART, 451 and 465 St. Jean St. Information: dhc-art.org and ryojiikeda.com.

john.o.pohl@gmail.com

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/John+Pohl+Profile+artist+Karen+Elaine+Spencer+winner+Centrale+Galerie+Powerhouse+prize/7207040/story.html#ixzz25thipt7y

prix powerhouse 2012

July 9, 2012

karen elaine spencer est la récipiendaire du Prix Powerhouse 2012
Remise du prix jeudi 28 juin, 2012 chez La Centrale

La Centrale annonce la récipiendaire du Prix Powerhouse 2012, karen elaine spencer. Ce prix de 5 000$ honore une femme* artiste qui a contribué avec constance au milieu culturel montréalais.

Le prix qui a été décerné lors d’une cérémonie en l’honneur des trois artistes finalistes, à La Centrale, ce jeudi 28 juin, comprend une bourse de 5000 $ ainsi que la possibilité de faire une conférence au centre. Le Prix Powerhouse est un prix de 5 000$ visant à reconnaître une femme* artiste mi-carrière qui a contribué avec constance et de manière importante au milieu culturel montréalais. Ce prix honore une personne qui a fait preuve de persévérance, singularité et influence et qui poursuit son œuvre en demeurant fidèle à sa vision.

karen elaine spencer vit et travaille à Montréal. Elle est active dans le milieu des arts à titre d’artiste, de performeuse, de commissaire, de mentore, de jury, de conférencière et d’écrivaine depuis l’obtention de son BFA (1986) du Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Elle est également diplômée d’un MA (2001) de l’UQÀM. Ses expositions solo ont été présentées en France et au Canada et elle a performé dans plusieurs pays (Finlande, Italie et États-Unis).

 

La Centrale tient à remercier le jury de cette année, composé de : Catherine Bodmer (artiste, présidente du conseil d’administration de VIVA! art action), Jerôme Delgado (critique en arts visuels au journal Le Devoir et en cinéma chez Séquences), Eliane Ellbogen (commissaire et directrice artistique chez Eastern Bloc), Lesley Johnstone (conservatrice au MACM) et Anne Ramsden (artiste et professeure en arts visuels et médiatiques à l’UQÀM).

Voici ce que le jury avait à dire sur la pratique artistique de karen elaine spencer:

« Touchant à l’art conceptuel, à l’art action, à l’écriture et au dessin, karen elaine spencer a développé un éventail de stratégies artistiques qui se renouvelle continuellement (interventions dans la rue et sur des panneaux publicitaires, « mail art », infiltrations, performances, dessins, blogues, etc.). Se nourrissant les unes des autres, ces stratégies insistent sur les questions centrales à sa pratique : le quotidien, les rapports de pouvoir, la marge, la vulnérabilité et l’autodétermination, autant artistique que politique. » – Catherine Bodmer, membre du Jury 2012

Le prix s’intègre au mandat de La Centrale, un centre d’artiste ayant pour vocation d’offrir une plateforme aux pratiques en art actuel portées par les discours féministes et ayant pour objectif de soutenir la visibilité d’artistes et d’initiatives moins ou peu représenté-es auprès des institutions culturelles établies. L’objectif du prix est de promouvoir le travail d’une artiste montréalaise et de célébrer la contribution sociale et culturelle des femmes artistes.
Les finalistes karen elaine spencer, Manuela Lalic et Monique Moumblow furent préalablement nominés par des tiers. Elles furent ensuite présélectionnées par un jury externe en tant qu’artiste dont la pratique est emblématique des caractéristiques que le Prix Powerhouse cherche à reconnaître. Dans l’esprit démocratique du centre, le choix de la gagnante fût soumis au vote des membres de La Centrale.
La Centrale tient à souligner la généreuse contribution d’un donateur anonyme qui a rendu ce prix possible, ainsi qu’à remercier les membres de La Centrale, les artistes nominés, les jurys et tous ceux qui ont participé à cette seconde édition du Prix Powerhouse.

* Le terme inclut toutes personne se désignant comme femme.

Messages To: The Edmonton Remand Centre Newspaper

created by lindsey bond
introduction by anne pasek
essay by karen elaine spencer

56 pages, colour, full text in English
6”x 8”
$20.00 + shipping  (Canada wide $10.00) Total: $30.00
ISBN# 978-0-9880117-0-0

1.    Bond, Lindsey, 1984 2. Edmonton Remand Centre- -
In art. 3. Photography, Artistic. I. Spencer Karen, 1960- II Title

www.messagestoerc.com
www.LindseyBond.ca

PREFACE
The Edmonton Remand Centre (ERC) Newspaper is a daily record of chalk messages, written by family members and friends of the ERC inmates, on the sidewalk outside the Edmonton Remand Centre. Anyone can write a message in The ERC Newspaper. The content changes daily as the messages are washed away by The ERC janitorial staff.

PROJECT STATEMENT
Messages To: The Edmonton Remand Centre Newspaper
explores communication in urban spaces where contact has been broken down. This collection of medium-format colour photographs documents the life of the chalk message and begins to access the complex situation of Remand Centres, while offering a lasting record of fleeting sentiments. This body of work was composed in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, yet the dialogue remains universal

Messages To: has taken form through a book, a series of post cards, a LRT photographic installation (fine art posters displayed in the advertisement slots  in the Land Rail Transit (LRT) Stations across Edmonton) and a Chalk Intervention at Latitude 53 Contemporary Visual Culture. Messages To: works to open up a public discourse about the Bill C-10 “Safe Streets and Communities Act” and acknowledge the individuals and families being effected by the relocation of the Edmonton Remand Centre.

ARTIST STATEMENT
I would like to begin this project with a note on my intention for this project. I began Messages To: in Edmonton during the spring of 2011, while riding my bicycle beside the railway tracks. There, I became aware of the erasure of visual renderings: chalk messages written by one and daily washed away by another.
Nagged by these marks created to communicate messages of love, support and anecdotes, I began to spend more time with the messages and found they reflected the impact of a greater social circumstance occurring in downtown Edmonton. Questions came to my mind such as: Is this a new or archaic system of communication?  How has this act of writing filled a void within this community?
Through the lens of my Hassleblad camera, these images were created to not only document the great warmth and bold honesty worn on the sleeves of the downtown community, but to create an outlet for the inner-city voice. It is my hope the messages will enter back into the public visual culture where they will remain and recall the need for people to connect in urban spaces;  to expose the basic human need to be heard despite circumstance.

sittin’

May 8, 2012

police car rolled into the park, stopped in front of a bench, beeped its siren – the man did not move.

title: sittin’ with
location: montréal québec
duration: ongoing (one year)
supported by: the canada council

a new project still in the unfolding stages: blog:http://sittinwith.wordpress.com

where: 4574 rue sherbrooke ouest, westmount, québec
what: poetry and pastry
who: nathaniel spencer-cross, jack locke, karen elaine spencer

title: revus (with mathieu beauséjour, clément de gaulejac, aude moreau and david k. ross)

year: 2012

location: galerie b-312, and streets of montréal, québec

duration: one month

supported by: galerie b-312

press: le devoir, les samedi 7 et dimanche 8 avril, 2012, livres d’or, paroles d’argent, p. e 7, delgado, jérôme.  ledevoir3

ink on cardboard – 21 x 28 cm. each
photos: the artist

black enamel and acrylic on cardboard -

photos: jack locke

selected comments penned in the  gallery’s guest books are transposed to cardboard and redirected to address a provincial politician. two versions of the transposed comments are exhibited; the ink on cardboard at the gallery and the enamel on cardboard which is taken to the street, held and eventually posted on an existing support. the  comments are directed to jean (charest) the current premier of québec (liberal party), pauline (marois) the leader of the parti québécois, françois (legault) the leader of coalition avenir québec, and amir (khadir) a co-leader of québec solidaire.

les flâneuses

March 16, 2012

 

les flâneuses : camila vasquez, karen elaine spencer, sandra lachance, schütze, bernard; saint-thérèse, québec : praxis art actuel, (2011) 46p. couverture souple. isbn 978 2980546 969.

2012
things that can not be archived
voice: karen elaine spencer recorded by tim d’eon – as part of bia/oar residency at galerie skol, montréal, québec, 2009.
actor: nathaniel spencer cross filmed by karen elaine spencer, montréal, québec.

title: transient traces

year: 2011

location: le mur saint martin, paris france, the twitter site unhoused, and the blog transient traces

duration: one month

presented by: le mur saint martin

 

(messages sur cartes postales adressées aux élus parisiens)

here you can follow the evolution of the wall over the duration of the intervention – from a block of postcards at the start, to one postcard with a figure and painted text at the end.

examples of sent postcards:

 

viva! art action 2011

February 15, 2012

title: speech acts, orange, walk with me

year: 2011

location: bain st-michel, montréal, québec

duration: 6 days (4-9 octobre)

supported by: praxis art actuel, viva! art action

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photos: guy l’heureux

 

speech acts, orange, and walk with me, were conceived to be three separate performances that intertwined and spoke to each other.

 

speech acts took as its locale those spaces in-between the “official” and legitimized performances. the first night performance was between acts, taking the microphone, thanking the audience for their stillness, for stopping. the following nights speech acts moved into the location between the performance space and the washrooms, where people lined up politely, making small talk while waiting their turn. here oranges and a chair were barriers to an easy passage. the aroma of oranges scented the air while an ever growing accumulation of peels and flesh invited flies and decay.

 

orange was an off-site intervention into the space surrounding le bain, taking the orange as a marker, as a trace. over the course of the festival oranges were placed in sites that evoked vulnerability, a certain tenderness.

 

walk with me began a response to michelle lacombe‘s body of work. the one with one performance, first performed with michelle, later spread to other bodies, other walks.

photo: jack locke

 

 

to read what TouVA wrote about walk with me click here.

and to read about what i did as a participant in jessica maccormack‘s intervention click here.

hendrickje – image size: 15 x 41 cm.

new work – ink on paper

February 5, 2012

karen elaine spencer (QC) –walk with me/orange/speech acts

12/10/2011 by the  TouVA collective

(for all the texts by TouVA covering 2011 viva! art action, click here: http://vivamontreal.org/category/blogue/)

 

I’m never quite sure where I am when I’m with karen. I mean, I know where I am: I am with karen. But our being with one-another, together, is often a blurred experience of time-based/art-framed/life-lived/extra-ordinary, and thoughtfully shared moments. I have spent time with karen in her studio and I have seen her “in performance.” I have been in her audience and been with her in an exchange. In her walk with me piece, I am at once her audience and her friend, I am a colleague and I am a witness. Walking and talking, talking and walking. There is nothing out of the ordinary about this walk. Well, almost.

 

The action

 

Before we begin she invites me to come sit on the bottom step of the staircase outside my apartment. We sit in silence for a few moments then she says, “let’s start.” Just as we stand up and head onward, she pauses, reaches into the deep pocket of her hoodie and pulls out two oranges. She hands them to me and says, “These are for you, please hold one in each hand and keep holding them while we walk.” “Otherwise,” she says, “You don’t have to do anything, just follow me.” She is not so familiar with my neighbourhood, but she assures me, she hasn’t gotten anyone lost yet anywhere else. We walk, going along, and aside from that brief introduction, mostly without speaking (at first). Gradually having small conversations about the day, how I like my new place, how the week is going. The stuff of innocuous and convivial conversation. Eventually I notice a particular scent. Familiar. Sharp and a bit sweet. Oranges. Wow, I think, to myself, these fruits are really giving off quite an odor. How is that possible, if I’m only holding them? Then I realize what is happening. When I look over I see a wet spot spreading at the base of karen’s sweatshirt, just under her deep pocket. Her hands, buried there since we started, have been diligently kneading another pair of oranges hiding within.

 

karen elaine spencer

 

The walk continues and eventually we sit down on a bench in a parkette. A perfect day with the sun streaming through the trees. Unusually mild for this time of year (early October) but most welcome all the same. The warmth of the sun, the smell of the citrus fruit, the understated, and gently concentrated presence of karen, creates a momentary respite, a serene interlude into “the rest of my life.”

 

We get up and head back home. Back at the bottom of the steps, karen produces the two mashed oranges and hands them, dripping, to me. She says, “Now we trade.” And I take this set back up the stairs, place them in a glass dish, to fill the house with a trace of our exchange.

 

The art

 

In her furtive actions so much takes place in the invisible. It is so slippery, tenuous, almost barely there, almost not, that it is hard to pin down, to point to, to make stand out.

 

This seeming ambiguity can (and sometimes does) produce discomfort in her audience. Where indeed is the art? Where is the performance? Where am I and who am I in her presence, when we are simply, just simply, walking. Just simply being???

 

“Simply Being.” When we started, karen said to me: “Just relax. This is for you, this is for us.” And as we started I realized: I am really here, and oh, how tranquil I am feeling – the first time in several days. Busy as I have been, rushing from one activity to the next, this is the first moment I’ve had to just BE. I don’t have to be anywhere else, I am not anywhere else. I am here, with karen, walking. And while this sense of calm I am feeling is because I am letting myself be here, it is also largely the result of being with karen: she has given me the permission to just BE. And be here with her. My keen attention to this moment, my awareness of an energy transformed (from harried and distracted to relaxed and centred) – is a salient manifestation, a state altered of the present moment. It is a form of the performative.

 

“Simply Being.” It seems simple but it is infinitely complex. And the complexity lies precisely in its simplicity. The complexity lies in its invisibility. What goes on between the two people walking in the spoken, and in the unspoken. There are multiple layers at work in karen’s furtive, time-based practice. There is a humbling of ego; there is a welcoming of the other. There is a meticulous attention to the context and to her materials. In her directed mindfulness, there is a moment of opening up the space, a third space between “the real” and “the frame” (and, necessarily, between her and her participant) that includes aspects of both but generates its own language and modus operandi. Her work borrows from the everyday and is equally fuelled by recorded art-historical occurrences and conscientiously studied cultural theory. It punctuates the fabric of the mundane by proposing a pause, and is, in turn, infused by that pause – is the space of a transformative (performed) present.

 

karen elaine spencer

 

(That pause was paralleled in the vocal performance she presented at the Bain St-Michel on the first night of the festival. Taking the microphone between two scheduled performances, she quietly thanked us, “I want to thank you,” repeating the phrase several times while adding other verbs, “I want to thank you for stopping,” “please stop,” and increasingly raising her volume. Eventually she screamed, “STOP!” and the shrillness of her voice urged us to consider how important it is to be attentive to our now.)

 

Is what goes on between two people walking, really so different from what goes on between the artist and her object, between the artist and her audience, between the artist and the action, and between actions (in a stage-based presentation)? In all cases, we are observing that in between, that third space which passes, almost imperceptibly, into the ether.

 

I have to admit, I don’t always know where she will go, where she will take me, and I’m not certain that she necessarily knows this at the outset either. But I trust her. The depth with which she explores her practice, through intellectual investigation and experiential means, the integrity with which she consistently engages with the work – even though she might not know (in advance) what exactly she is trying to produce or what the final result will be, she knows this is something she needs to be doing. She trusts herself. And she demonstrates an enormous amount of authenticity and faith. Faith in her process and in her practice. I’m not saying that karen never feels doubt, but if she does, this too I imagine would be folded in to her practice, as another element to be (performatively) embraced, and to be fed back into her work, contributing to its development and simple complexity.

prix – price : $30. +

. . . . . . . . . . .

dream listener

dream listener goes to the street
she stands on the sidewalk
holds words in front of her
words written on found cardboard

words that recount her dream

others look at the words, read the words, approach her, talk to her

she asks,

did you dream last night?
tell me your dream.

she listens.

when she leaves the street
she leaves the cardboard with the dream behind.

. . . . . . . . . . .

introduction by Patrice Loubier
108 pages, colour, full text in French and English, 8.5 X 11 in.
ISBN: 978-2-923612-16-4
2011 – editor : sagamie edition d’art

. . . . . . . . . . .

excerpt from book: “in my dream my x-husband tenderly takes my hand into his and tells me he loves me still and will love me always. i want to tell him i love him too, but i can’t because for him these words mean something different.”

stood a bit back in one of the doorways of the old empress theater. a woman with a cane trudged through the snow to come and talk to me. she asked me what i was doing, i told her it was a dream. she asked me why i was doing that, i told her i didn’t really know, (this felt so true at that moment.) she told me she had a dream last night where she was teaching her ex-boyfriend to dance. she said she has not seen her boyfriend for over twenty years and in fact, he has been dead for the past four, but she still dreams of him every night. she went on to tell me that when she was with him the relationship was not really that good, but in her dreams they go everywhere and do all kinds of things together.

p.22 – text and image by karen elaine spencer

. . . . . . . . . . .

p. 53 – example of another one of the 43 full colour illustrations
. . . . . . . . . . .
Prix/Price: $30. + Shipping and Handling in Canada 15.00  Total: $45.
TO ORDER:
send cheque and your mailing address to:
karen elaine spencer
1001 rue Lenoir, suite B – 334
Montréal, Québec
H4C 2Z6
. . . . . . . . . . .
the book is NOW! also available at galerie articule
262 fairmont ave, west, montréal, québec
phone: 514 842 2144
. . . . . . . . . . .
or, you can contact karen elaine spencer at: kspencerswim@gmail.com
. . . . . . . . . . .

an action performed (by me) as an invited participant in jessica maccormack’s art work for viva! art action 2011. « work  equals worth equals innocence » at place émilie-gamelin, montréal, québec. please check out jessica’s full project here:

workequalsworthequalsinnocence.wordpress.com

photo by: jessica maccormack

i hear the motor start up. i do not look behind. i wait. will the police car back up and drive away? no. coming from behind the police car pulls up beside me. close but not that close. the window rolls down. i do not move. the officer talks. i can barely hear, but i don’t want to leave my spot. i don’t want to walk over to « them. » i want « them » to get out of the car and walk over to me. doesn’t happen. leaning a bit further out the window he asks me if i am o.k. if i plan on sitting on a bench. i answer yes i am o.k. i answer no, i am not planning on sitting on a bench. he asks if i plan on standing there all day. i answer, yes.

i answered yes i am o.k. but no. no, i am not o.k. i am not o.k. with a police car driving up into this square and parking their car in the middle of the park and sitting there. inside the car. an act of what? a show of what? force? surveillance? power? who else can drive and park their car here?

i saw the police car drive into the park. i thought, if i am going to wear this shirt, here, then this is who i am talking to. this shirt that jess made for her project reads, « i have mental health problems with oppression & stigma.» the words « mental health » struck through with a black line. french on one side of the shirt, english on the other. these words directed at those bodies that enact the « law » as prescribed by those currently in power. and so, i put the shirt on over my hoodie, pull my hood over my head and walk over to stand in front of the car. i stand with my back to the car. i give you my back, i give you my indifference.

i stood. i watched. i watched the man on the bike get off his bike. he glanced right and then left and then pissed against the wall. i watched the woman in the knee-high boots take jeans and shoes out of her bag and offer them to a group of men sitting around a bench. i watched an older man offer his drink in the brown paper bag to the woman. i watched the man washing windows high above the ground dangling next to the highrise across the street. i watched the older man in the grey suit and black leather shoes walk by. the police car behind me. police still in car. police not getting out of car to talk or sit with the people. police protected from the people. enclosed in the car.

i stand and wait. i think i may be standing here a long time in front of the police car. but not that long. i hear the motor start up behind me…


photo by: cindy baker

sittin’ with moncton (4)

September 29, 2011

 

jè-st’ : un festival d’art performatif et d’intervention, moncton new brunswick, 2011.

today is my last day sitting on the bench in front of city hall on main street in moncton, new brunswick. today photo and video documentation is arranged. i am watched as i watch. the day unfolds, the scenery changes, two new flag poles are placed in their slots and two new flags are raised. picnic tables and blue garbage drums are brought in. i recognize some of the “users” of the place while other people coming and going are new to me.

three days is not long. but maybe it is long enough. when i watch people i am touched by certain figures who catch my attention and enter my imagination. today for instance, a woman. older, probably in her late seventies, small figured, hair white and curled, dress pink and flowered. she strolls towards city hall. i remark the determination in her stride. one hand is holding the corner of her cardigan, the other hand hangs loose as she swings her arm back. her gait is uneven, one leg is shorter than the other. her spine is curved round. her head leans forwards towards the ground. when she returns from where she came she walks towards me, and, for one brief instant, her head raises up. i notice her face. she is smiling. to herself. if hearts can bloom from the unseeing glance of another, my heart bloomed in this instant. what you love is beautiful says sappho.

and so, yes, to answer my question for myself, yes, i perform “as if” bodies passing each other can and do “mean” something. and yes, i will continue the performance in my memory as i hold these moments inside me. and yes, i will hold these memories, for these moments of gifts received unbeckoned, when we believe ourselves to be unseen, when we are engaged in our daily tasks, when we are not performing for another – these moments of “being” transmit a kind of “grace.” a grace given freely and openly to a stranger who glimpses the face of a woman who smiles to herself as she walks by.

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