September 21, 2012
hey! mike, 2012, new york, new york.
sittin’ with, 2012, montréal, québec.
inked dreams, work on paper, 2012.
le mur saint martin, 2011, paris, france.
viva! art action, 2011, montréal, québec.
porteur de rêves/dream listener the book, 2011.
Read the rest of this entry »
May 25, 2013
Karen Elaine Spencer will speak in Art Now at 12:00 noon in the Recital Hall on March 15
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.
March 5, 2013
February 27, 2013
February 27, 2013
November 9, 2012
September 22, 2012
blog for hey! mike : http://email@example.com
September 17, 2012
Profile of artist Karen Elaine Spencer, winner of La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse prize By John Pohl, Visual Arts Columnist September 7, 2012
September 8, 2012
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.
September 3, 2012
July 9, 2012
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
$20.00 + shipping (Canada wide $10.00) Total: $30.00
1. Bond, Lindsey, 1984 2. Edmonton Remand Centre- -
In art. 3. Photography, Artistic. I. Spencer Karen, 1960- II Title
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.
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.
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.
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
March 24, 2012
title: revus (with mathieu beauséjour, clément de gaulejac, aude moreau and david k. ross)
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.
March 16, 2012
March 7, 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.
February 16, 2012
title: 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.
February 15, 2012
title: speech acts, orange, walk with me
location: bain st-michel, montréal, québec
duration: 6 days (4-9 octobre)
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.
February 5, 2012
February 5, 2012
February 5, 2012
October 20, 2011
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.
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.
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.
October 18, 2011
prix – price : $30. +
. . . . . . . . . . .
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
did you dream last night?
tell me your dream.
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.
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
. . . . . . . . . . .
262 fairmont ave, west, montréal, québec
. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
October 11, 2011
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:
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…
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.
September 28, 2011
it is an interesting question. how do we judge what “counts” as a performance and what defines for us the word “performer?”
but first, some thoughts on today. i understand as a white female who practices an acceptable level of hygiene and portrays an acceptable appearance, that i get by. i mean, i can do things in public without being a suspect in advance of any crime. i am not male, not black, not homeless…
and so, i get to think of other things while i sit. i get to be seduced by the “place” where i have located my body. and today i was. seduced. the place is constructed like a theatre with the benches circling the perimeter. safe. back to the wall kind of feeling with the world before you. the world performing for you. today the leaves were beautiful. they had turned yellow, fallen to the ground, curled into themselves and were now ready to be picked up by the wind and led in the dance. and all the while they made that dry leaf scurrying over each other and the ground sound, and their leaf sound could be heard over the motors and brakes screeching from the road sound and the water hitting water from the fountain sound. and today i saw again the man in the blue plaid shirt and blue jeans who walks with his neck bent forward, and i saw again the blonde haired woman in the high heels and black skirt who pulls the empty dolly behind her on her way to the bank, and pushes the full dolly in front of her on her return. and again the woman wearing the faded pink pants and the pale green shirt stood at the bus stop for a good hour until she boarded her bus.
i wonder. about these people i see, whose paths cross “my place.” i wonder about the nearness and the farness of our bodies in relation to each other, and i wonder how this moving past each other affects us. i wonder, do we mean anything to anyone we pass? or are these other bodies merely screens? screens who reflect back to us those “other bodies,” the known bodies in our lives, our mothers, fathers, lovers, sons, friends. i wonder what i can possibly “mean” to anyone who notices me sitting here…again. i wonder if i will remember any of these people i have watched. will they come to me in my dreams? will something of the way they move, or a particular incline of the head, a swing of an arm, a manner of holding a cane, will any of this be held by me?
and what does it mean to be the stationary body, the body that occupies a “place” that is not her own, in this space of passage?
and here i rejoin my initial question. can a non-doing constitute a performance? can i claim this sitting as a performance because i declare it to be so? can one perform a pause, the comma that comes before the sentence is finished, before the definitive mark of the period?
September 27, 2011
jè-st’ : un festival d’art performatif et d’intervention, moncton new brunswick, 2011.
sitting on a bench in a public space is something we want to believe “anyone” can do. but if we stop and reflect for a moment we will realize, like most privileges in life, there are people who are unable to access this “right.” specifics of body can pose a barrier, for example, if your body can’t tolerate exposure to the sun, or you are confined to a wheelchair. however, there are also socially constructed barriers, enforced through laws. one of these barriers has to do with whether or not you are marked as homeless. generally speaking visibly homeless people are discouraged from accessing public spaces like parks and plazas. this “discouragement” can be engineered through the construction of the bench itself, with a metal bar being placed in the centre of the bench so a person cannot lie down, or quite simply, benches will either be removed or never appear. as well, fines can be levied for misuse of city furniture which can include putting your feet up on the bench, loitering, or spitting.
to date i have not seen one visibly homeless person sitting on the benches at city hall. if you know these benches, they are not constructed to discourage homeless users. however, as an aside, i have discovered the benches are not as they appear – their material of construction is not wood. rather the benches are made from a metal that is then covered in a material mimicking the look of wood. i wonder if my body was marked, covered in a material that mimicked the look of homelessness, if i might find out why no visibly homeless person is sitting on a bench at city hall in moncton, new brunswick.
September 27, 2011
jè-st’ : un festival d’art performatif et d’intervention, moncton new brunswick, 2011.
i am the intervention. my body taking up space, here, in this public square. for 3 consecutive days, september 26th, 27th, and 28th, i will be here, at place moncton, 655 main street, in front of city hall, in front of bmo financial group. i sit on a bench from 9:00 to 17:00. with breaks, lunch and coffee. three days is not long. i am not sure what will happen, if “anything” will “happen.”
as i watch people moving by me: smoking (or not,) holding hands, on skateboards, riding bikes, wearing suits, phones to ears, high heels clicking, clutching keys, sporting backpacks, hands in pockets, carrying bags, wearing baseball hats, holding tim horton coffee cups…
i am struck by the realization i have no idea what is going on in their hearts. this man with the blue plaid shirt, is he happy to be alive? the woman who comes outside to sit on the bench and smoke, is she feeling worn and tired? and the man pacing back and forth with his hands in his pockets, is he waiting for someone, is he anxious? i have no idea. i do not “know” them. they are strangers to me, as i am to them.
September 27, 2011
September 27, 2011
August 22, 2011
August 19, 2011
May 7, 2011
May 6, 2011
October 27, 2010
location: union station, toronto, ontario, canada
duration: 9 days from 9am – 5pm
supported by: 7a*11d international festival of performance art
press: steel bananas
i am wondering what it means, what it asks of us to locate the body between the active and the utterly passive, between standing and lying down? i am wondering what it means to sit in a public space as a deliberately repeating presence.
a presence marked as female.
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thursday, october 21, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.
upon entering union station from front street you will see a row of red seats. these seats are for the ‘red caps’, and they won’t like it if you sit there.
friday, october 22, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.
at the top of the stairs leading to the main mall of union station there is a sign. the sign says: “see something suspicious? say something! call union station security…”
saturday, october 23, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.
union station was part of the great nation building unity project, i.e. capitalism. now the station is part of the transportation system, this never-ending movement of bodies and goods, i.e. capitalism. i just wanna know, when do we get to stop?
sunday, october 24, 2010 – union station 10 am – 5 pm.
every morning i take myself to a place of transit. here i sit, mostly; but i also stand up, walk around, go to the washroom, eat and drink. i do not read or write, text or call, photograph or videotape. nor do i capture sound. at the end of the day i walk back to my hotel and write my sentences for paul to upload onto this site.
tuesday, october 26, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.
this morning one of the ‘red caps’ walked over to where i was sitting, stuck out his hand, and said, “hi, i’m dan.” i took his hand, smiled, and said, “hi, i’m karen.”
wednesday, october 27, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.
when in the great hall turn west and look up at the arched window between the interior and exterior panes of glass. you may see a ghost-like silhouette of a person walking from one side to the other.
thursday, october 28, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.
the impulse is to share, but i withhold. certain things can be destroyed through their transmission, so today i withhold from sharing and fold into that place of protection my already articulated and re-membered recollection.
friday, october 29, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.
if you come to see me but cannot find me, does this mean you missed my performance? this is not my question. if you come to see me but cannot locate me, my question is, “what does this produce?”
saturday, october 30, 2010 – union station 10 am – 6 pm.
he asked me what i was doing here. i replied, “working.” i then contextualized this by saying i was doing research, embodied research, researching what it was to be a stationary presence within a place of transit. he accepted my explanation saying if there was anything i needed, they were always here.
As her performance project for 7a*11d, Karen Elaine Spencer has chosen to spend eight hours a day in a single location throughout the festival – not quite a squatter, but a sitter, inflecting her presence as observer and (un)observed. After spending a day walking the streets of Toronto, Spencer has chosen her point of arrival, Union Station, as the location for this inhabitation. At the end of each day she will post her reflection on the day’s experience on the 7a*11d website, distilled to a single sentence.
photos: henry chan
natalie loveless, festival blogger posts:
Natalie Loveless is an artist, teacher and writer. She recently completed a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, on transdiciplinarity and its implications for new models of pedagogy and socially engaged art practices. She is a visiting assistant professor in the Visual Arts Department of the University of Western Ontario and is on the editorial board of >> liminal << the journal of new performance. Natalie’s blog posts are marked ‘(NL)’.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Karen Elaine Spencer: Thursday October 21, 2010 / Day One (NL)
It is 2pm and I am wandering through Union Station to find Karen Elaine Spencer, who is performing a durational piece called Sittin’. Over the course of the festival she will sit from nine to five each day in the same spot at Toronto’s Union Station. I wonder about the choice to sit, for a full day, in the same place. If it were me, where would I sit? What kind of place? A designated seat? A corner of a stairwell? In the middle of a throughway? It takes me a while to find her – she is literally in the last place I look, and I find her right before being ready to give up.
Spencer is sitting, nondescript, in a corner, five chairs in front of the Front Street entrance. She sits in her hoodie and drab old sweater staring into space. As I approach she greets me and I ask how the day has been. No one has bothered her yet. She has taken food and pee breaks, always returning to the same seat. I ask if I can observe for a little while, and step back to decide where to sit. Sitting in front of her and watching seems, somehow, wrong. Though designated performance, this action doesn’t want attention. Her body posture invites the eye to move on: arms gently crossed over bag, slightly slumped, and eyes staring into the distance, first left, then right, as if waiting. I am reminded of Faith Wilding’s poem and performance “Waiting” and decide to sit with her for a while, to try and get inside the performance for a bit.
In front of us are three advertisements. I wonder how much time she has spent staring at them. I find myself fixating on the people passing by. How they walk. The middle aged man slumped at an unnatural angle under a duffel bag; the aging couple shuffling towards the coffee shack. The workers. The crinkle of a donut bag being crumpled and thrown away. Everything is suddenly worthy of attention as I contemplate the task of sitting here from nine to five. Nine to five: a full day’s work. The temporality of industrialized labour. The train-station as site. My back begins to hurt and my eyes move to the roof. The architecture. The signage with departure times and destinations. I expect that all of this has, over the course of the day, moved towards a kind of local, inhabited knowledge for Spencer. I wonder about the patterns, temporal rhythms, and textures of existence she must be experiencing as time stretches and slows over the duration of the performance.
For me, it’s only been 46 minutes and 12 seconds. For her, it will be 480 today, 4,800 over the course of the festival.
I leave her sitting.
Posted by Natalie S. Loveless at 1:29 PM
An illustration of the Foucault idea that the production of the working body is the main effect of modernized,
alienated work? Thematizing the
rigorous discipline, endurance, and physical
effort that is required to simply remain present at a
workplace from the beginning of the working day
to its end?
October 22, 2010 3:17 PM
Friday, October 22, 2010
Karen Elaine Spencer: Sittin’, Union Station, Friday October 22, 2010 / Day Two (NL)
This time I approach from the other side and spot Spencer, sitting, eyes closed, hoodie partially hiding her from the world. She is sitting in the same set of chairs as yesterday. I skirt around silently to take a seat a little way down from her and watch. She opens her eyes, sips a drink through a straw, and looks off into the distance. Today she has no backpack, just a little paper bag tucked up beside her.
She notices me and smiles. I approach and ask how today has been. Busy, she says. Lots of foot traffic. The guards have begun to notice her but no one has yet talked to her or asked her to move along. She tells me that today has been more internal than yesterday – instead of watching so much she has been listening. She suggests that I close my eyes and just listen. I do. A deep hum. Low bass. A drone. A slightly higher rumble with a slight whine. Someone is talking on a phone loudly at my right. It irritates me to no end, wanting to just drift into the ambient sound. But I am learning a lot about his wife. His job as an insurance agent. His son Michael. Eventually I manage to tune him out and move back to the hum. The rumble of the trains. The little buzz of suitcase wheels. The clop of footsteps. All the sounds are predictable but somehow it is just delicious to sit here for a bit, listening. It is like listening to the world through a railway-station shaped conch shell.
I open my eyes to a little child running around. I see a wall of workers in front of me. I look at them intently and wait to see if they will notice me, return the look. They don’t. I glance at all the elements that attracted me yesterday – the architecture, the signage, the advertisements. I stare at the marble floor and, after a while it is transformed into a lovely detailed drawing – each crack a gesture speaking to time, weight, stress, history. The stone walls, too, emerge as paintings with delicately rendered all over patterning. I take a deep breath, glance back over at Spencer, and return to the sounds of the space. Beautiful. Dramatic. Symphonic. Today I experience sitting with Karen Spencer as a gift of music. With gratitude I return to her and leave her to the hardness of the seat, the expressiveness of the space, and the onslaught of passing people.
Posted by Natalie S. Loveless at 1:25 PM
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Karen Elaine Spencer: Sittin’, Union Station, Sunday October 24, 2010 / Day Four (NL)
We are less than halfway through Spencer’s ten-day performance action: sitting for eight hours a day on a set of benches near the Front street entrance of Toronto’s Union Station. I approach the performance site half expecting not to see her. Expecting that at this point she might foil expectations, change the rules of the piece and sit somewhere else. But no, she is still there. And this makes sense, as one of the things that Spencer is curious about is how long she can “loiter” in one site before someone – anyone – asks her what she is doing there.
I approach her, ask how her day has been – it’s now four, the workday is almost done – and about yesterday. It was great! she says. A couple people came to see me after reading the blog and sat there watching me for an hour before introducing themselves. I had no idea I was being watched. I sit down with Karen again and think about this. I look around. Could I mistake anyone for a surreptitious observer? There’s one young man, maybe twenty years old, texting and glancing up now and then. He could easily be an art school student. I look off into space, sitting, and imagine him watching me. A wedding party enters. A woman with a limp passes by. A Muslim woman struggles by with a baby carriage and too many suitcases. Someone catches my eye and then looks over at Karen. Is he here for the performance? No, his eyes move on and land on his travel partner and they move off.
If day one, for me, was about sight, and day two was about sound, today what I notice most is the cold. These seats are directly in front of some vents and after only twenty minutes I am chilled to the bone. The other thing I notice is a kind of anxiety linked to boredom, both actual and prospective. I am not actually bored, but the moment I stop and just sit, contemplating eight hours a day every day, I begin to feel the oh god what have I gotten myself into and how and I going to do this that I often feel at some point near the beginning of my own durational pieces. It’s a sensation linked to moving towards the unknown in an experience. It’s a sensation linked to any act of experimentation: the parameters are set up and the phenomenological journey embarked upon, in all its unexpectable complexity.
Spencer spends most of the time I’m there alternating between sitting and standing next to the chairs. While the performance is called Sittin’, today it is more about loitering than sitting. Sitting as synonymous for occupying space. I loiter, in solidarity, and wonder how long it will take for someone to say something to her – whether a question: what are you doing here everyday? Or a command: stop sitting here every day. I also wonder at my desire for exactly that – for some drama. I remember Spencer talking to me a bit about her inability to just drift off and relax during her days because of the site she has chosen: directly in front of the “Red Caps” – people who function, as far as I can tell, as a mix between security officers and porters. Sitting in front of them keeps her always alert to her role as public performer, as interloper, as potential problem. I think about this as I loiter in front of the Red Caps, trying to ignore them and dissolve into my surroundings, go back into the visual or sonic detail of the site. I listen to the echo of the hall, to a couple arguing in a corner. I wonder how long it would take me to exhaust my surroundings and what, exactly, exhaustion might mean in this context? Would I just keep peeling layers away from the space like an onion? Only if I wasn’t chilled to the bone. Maybe someone reading this will bring Spencer a windbreaker…
Posted by Natalie S. Loveless at 6:50 PM
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Karen Spencer: Sittin’, Union Station, Thursday October 28, 2010 (NL)
It is three thousand seven hundred and twenty-three minutes into Karen Spencer’s Sittin’ performance at Union Station. It is cold, and I am not the only one here. I recognize a festival-goer sitting with her. Together they gaze gently into the distance, in roughly the same direction, as if waiting for something or someone.
I know from having talked to Spencer earlier that her experience of the site has changed. One of the “Red Caps”, sitting in front of us, named Dan, introduced himself to her the other day, asking how she was doing and if she needed anything. Only in Canada, I think to myself, having recently moved back from the US. The drama I was waiting for finally arrived and it came in the form of a gentle query. No request to move on. No harsh what are you doing here and where is your ticket? Feeling somehow included in the formal social life of the station, no longer waiting for someone to notice and say something – perhaps to send her packing – Spencer is visibly more relaxed. Or at least it seems this way to me.
Spencer comes up and offers me her seat: it’s the best seat in the house, she says. I put aside my computer and just sit. At first I notice visual rhymes: two green bags, two yellow ones. But quickly, this time, possibly because of the set-up by Spencer, I find myself feeling more deeply rooted in the space. I’m reminded of a wonderful short story by Ursula K Le Guin called “The Direction of the Road”. It is told from the perspective of an oak tree watching the world walk, gallop and drive by. Similarly, here, I feel like a node in the center of a world that is spinning at different speeds.
Today I am tired. Doing this bloging with a new baby at the breast has wrung me out — its own form of durational performance. Even at a slight distance from the vents that blow just behind the row of chairs, I am chilled to the bone. I can feel it around my neck and creeping into my jaw. Nonetheless, sitting here with Spencer relaxes me. I let the rest of the world drift away and concentrate on the production of space. On inhabiting a thoroughfare. On experiencing architecture. On the subtleties of the intervention: sitting. A seemingly passive act rendered so very active in intensity.
Three thousand seven hundred and fifty seven minutes into the performance, I leave, refreshed.
Posted by Natalie S. Loveless at 1:45 PM
daniel baird, festival blogger post:
Born in Los Angeles, Daniel Baird lived and worked in New York City from 1989, where he was a founder of The Brooklyn Rail, a magazine for which he worked as an art editor, feature writer, and monthly columnist. Since moving to Toronto in 2000, he has written on the arts for numerous Canadian publications, including Canadian Art and Border Crossings. He is the former editor of The Walrus, and remains a regular contributor on topics as diverse as contemporary art and history, political theory and religion. Daniel’s blog posts are marked ‘(DB)’.
Most performance artists insist that what they do is distinct from what is disparagingly termed “mere spectacle.” I take this to mean something like this: performance is not reducible to the images it might result in, which can be remarkably beautiful or grotesque, but rather consists in the ineluctable series of acts that unfold in time. This may seem obvious, or tautological, but it’s important to keep in mind right now since the work of some of the most influential performance artists, like Marina Abramovic, is largely experienced through finely staged and crafted documentation, and is now conceived in a way that performances can be restaged like theatre events, sometimes decades after the original performance. Yet it is the specific, vanishing singularity of actions in time that gives performance art its distinctiveness, and is also the place where the boundary between art and life begins to blur.
The Fluxus artists famously insisted that no real distinction should be made between art and life—art is life, and life is art. This, of course, raises the broader philosophical question of what constitutes “life” and “art” in this context. These questions were given special importance for me this morning when I headed off in search of Karen Elaine Spencer’s performance in Union Station, which was scheduled to take place between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. I purposely did not investigate in advance the nature of the performance but rather went there cold, hoping to encounter it accidentally like any other passerby on his way to catch a train to Montreal or Winnipeg. This proved considerably more difficult than I had expected. Lurking in front of the station, I found myself focusing in on a short, compact woman somewhere in her thirties dressed in tight jeans and a windbreaker, her straight blond tamped down by a toque. She looked upset, agitated, standing beside a suitcase packed to the point of bursting. Occasionally she stamped her feet as though about to launch into a tantrum, muttered to herself, and walked out in a semi-circle around the plaza in front the station. She did this repeatedly with such precision it struck me that it was part of a routine, and I was convinced that she was Karen Elaine Spencer and that this was the scheduled performance, or at least part of it. At some point she pulled an iPhone out of her pocket, stared at its screen, and began to cry, and I started to feel uneasy about the fact that I had been standing there watching her and even taking notes for a long time—after all, she might not be Karen Elaine Spencer! Then a woman I gradually realized was probably her mother arrived and she started yelling, in French, about how she had too much luggage with her, how she had to get rid of some things, and her mother told her that she had to calm down or else she would miss her train. By then I fully understood that this could not be Karen Elaine Spencer, and that I was not watching a work of performance art, but still I followed them into the station and to the line for the train to Quebec City. She was not Karen Elaine Spencer, was not a performance artist, was simply a woman on her way back home to some sad event, like a funeral. But then maybe she was Karen Elaine Spencer, maybe the performance consisted of posing as someone going to Quebec City under tragic circumstances. Or not. And so forth.
I later learned Karen Elaine Spencer was sick and the performance that day had been canceled.
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Ideas Incarnate: 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art Descends upon Toronto
The 7a*11d collective, also known as Gale Allen, Annie Onyi Cheung, Shannon Cochrane, Paul Couillard, Jess Dobkin, Adam Herst, Johanna Householder, and Tanya Mars, are descending upon Toronto for the eighth time with the biennial 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art. With 30 local and international performance artists in tow, from October 21st to October 31st the elusive world of performance — so often living spontaneously, cryptically, and ephemerally in urban areas across the globe — is opening itself to Toronto audiences who may or may not be aware that they are stumbling into a world where ideas are incarnate, and bodies transcend traditional norms of performance. If you are not filled with joy and terror, you should be.
The world of contemporary performance art is typically outside of the usual fine arts crowds of Toronto, straddling the barriers between theatre and installation, text and embodiment. The work of performance artists is to engage crowds with something both visual and interactive, often transcendental, often absurd and conceptual.
The body itself can be used as an art object, as Canada’s Karen Elaine Spencer’s Sitting suggests, as she kicked off this year’s festival performing publicly in Union Station, sitting, perhaps waiting, still in the same seat amidst travellers in transition. Her body is working against the movement of the crowd in flux, her stationary position the antithesis of their motion. I think of the homeless people I see outside of our invisible superstructure. I think of Hardt and Negri’s assertion that the only way to subvert globalization is to stop moving. I think of people in waiting rooms, waiting for a loved one, bad news, a cab, a route canal. The body itself becomes a springboard for interpretation, begging us for the scaffolding of cohesion, offering us a sitting body in wait and letting us fill in the gaps. It is performance art at its best, and its intent exists only in autonomous fragments of a body in memory; what each individual subjectivity can take away.
Art object or provocateur, the body can be used to provoke and stir the audience’s notions of the finite. As Norway’s Stein Henningsen’s untitled performance at the Mercer Gallery suggests, the body and its limitations can be used to actively provoke and disturb the viewer. Beneath a four hundred pound block of ice, Henningsen lays with his hands beneath him, ice melting into his body, water pooling on the floor. Labouring to a knife across the room, he crawls onerously and the body’s limitations become the viewers’ concerns, each breath stinging through the crowd’s singular body. This performance is tactile, physical, breathtaking.
The festival has only just begun, and Steel Bananas will be weaving in and out to sample the spontaneous fare of Sylvie Tourangeau, Michael Fernandes, TouVA Collective, Agnes Nedregard, Martine Viale, Étienne Boulanger, and more. The festival is more than worth the two-year wait, as this year’s miscellany of artists from all over the globe offer a striking pastiche of perspectives which will surely move audiences to fits of joy, fear, laughter, and tears.
Check out the festival guide here, and we hope to see you there
September 11, 2010
May 21, 2010
date: november 3rd, 4th and 5th, 1999
location: saint mary’s hospital center, sir mortimer b. davis jewish general hospital and montréal general hospital, montréal, québec
duration: 40 minutes each
supported by: public art as social intervention
the three interventions were unannounced (no time, date or location was given in advance) and no visual documentation was recorded on site. the work was presented orally at the conference on november 6th, 1999.
rocking/sucking at saint mary’s
i enter saint mary’s hospital with my backpack containing the jar of honey. i go up to the fourth floor waiting room. i take off my back pack and sit on the floor. i assume a sitting position: feet together, legs bent, arms wrapped around knees and hands clasped together. i slowly shift my weight backwards until i surrender into the fall, into the rocking motion. i rock myself. i rock myself back and forth. i rock turning my body on its axis in a clockwise rotation. rotating twice, i stop, wait, lift myself to the standing position, retrieve my backpack and leave the building.
still on the hospital grounds i sit on a bench at the front entrance. i sit next to a man who is dressed all in white and smoking a cigarette. i take the honey-jar out of the backpack. i hold the jar in my hand. i open the lid and place it nearby. i raise my right hand and slowly submerge my fingers into the honey. i lift my honey-drenched fingers to my open mouth, close my lips around my fingers and suck. i suck and suck until all the honey is gone. i then slide my fingers through my lips and begin again. i repeat this gesture until half the honey in the jar is gone. then; i put the lid back on the jar, return the jar to my backpack, sling the backpack on my back and walk away.
May 11, 2010
may 27, 2003
jess and i meet on the grounds of the st. james united church. jess is already there sitting at a picnic table. i am bringing food: bagels, salmon, cream cheese, chocolate, yellow pepper, some chip mix with chocolate and peanuts and an exotic kind of fruit i don’t know the name of. we sit at the picnic table facing each other and i feed jess and jess feeds me. we can’t put food into our own mouths. a guy walks over and asks us if he can have some of our food cuz he doesn’t want to go into the kitchen where food is served at the church. he sits with us and chats while we prepare his sandwhich (actually it is jss who does the preparing.) another guy comes to sit with us and asks for a light, jess asks for a cigarette in exchange for chocolate.