Centro Cultural Casa Baltazar – Av. 4, No. 1, Córdoba, Veracruz, Mexico
July 19 – September 18, 2016 with Opening Reception on Tuesday, July 19 at 5pm
Curated by Centro Cultural Casa Baltazar and Scott McGovern featuring:
Raúl Aguilar Canela
Curatorial Essay by Scott McGovern about the video works in Triada:
Often people speak of paintings having ‘musical’ qualities. This is not untrue, but perhaps the artistic medium that shares much more with the form and structure of music would be video. Music and video have always been like friendly siblings that compliment each other. The main similarity is that they are both time-based mediums, so the audience’s experience is dictated over time by the creator, who must predict how to use their catalogue of techniques and effects to elicit the desired response.
In particular, Jazz music (both traditional and contemporary) may even have more parallels with experimental video than other genres of music.
With these thoughts in mind, the videos from four Canadian artists have been chosen to compliment the Triads exhibition at Centro Cultural Casa Baltazar, taking place in conjunction with the Festival internacional de jazz en Córdoba.
The videos all reference the fundamental approaches of jazz – rhythm and repetition contrasted with improvisation and experimentation. The toolset these video artists use may be similar to that of a jazz musician. Expectations are set up, and are sometimes delivered upon and other times denied. Either may be equally effective as a technique.
Janet Morton’s video, Shiny Heart, offers the most literal reference to the theme. It features her partner Colin Couch playing a tuba. He begins playing a classical composition, which soon changes into a improvised composition. While doing this, slowly the instrument is covered by grey knitted yard. The effect is created by Morton’s expert knowledge of knitting (she’s considered one of the best contemporary knitting artists in the world) pioneering a genre that eventually found mainstream popularity as ‘yarn bombing’. A cover for the tuba was knitted using slipknots that untie when the yard is pulled. By playing the video in reverse, the yarn seems to quickly create a cover for the tuba. Rhythm and repetition is the basis of knitting, yet creativity and improvisation is also required to create something original.
Steph Yates’s stop-motion animation Pattern and Imperfection presents a visualization to some of the underlying structural approaches of jazz. Yates, who is also a well-known musician, created the abstract animation using cut out black paper shapes on two layers of glass, moving them intuitively and taking photographs to create video frames. The result is exactly what the video’s title describes – patterns that are made interesting by their imperfections. At once somewhat like sheet music, but also like free-form moving patterns, the animation has a rhythm in the stark moving shapes. The shapes seems to dance with their own logic, to unheard music.
Ambera Wellmann is primarily a painter, but has also been gaining a lot of attention for her photographs and videos on Instagram. She has found a fan in Jerry Saltz, the senior art critic for New York magazine, who regularly comments on and shares her posts. Wellmann’s uploads usually depict uncanny imagery made from banal everyday objects. It’s funny, surprising, and sometimes shocking. Her paintings have a similar atmosphere – imagery is depicted that is just slightly beyond rationalization. She makes videos where she interacts with her paintings, with hilarious and awkward results. Sometimes she makes ‘hands’ from vegetables that caress her paintings, melons with wigs gaze at them, or a sausage with wings flies around observing them. It’s strange, playful, and intuitive, adding an interesting digital intervention to the artist’s work in a traditional medium.
Juliane Foronda’s three short videos from her Accumulation series are illustrative of the structure of music. The artist uses everyday objects to create structures that resemble little bridges propped up in the air. With each addition or subtraction, a photo is taken which becomes one frame of a stop-motion animation of the process. When something goes wrong, such as part of the structure falls over, this is also recorded and included in the animation. In the end, the animations display a fragile yet determined honesty about the action, improvising with what is at hand to achieve the desired effect.
Presented together, these videos offer different forms to compliment some of the underlying concepts of Jazz, some more literally and some more conceptually. These four artists all live (or until recently have lived) in Guelph, Canada. This small city is the home of the well-respected Guelph Jazz Festival, and is also the home of International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, a university department for academics who study improvisation. Perhaps the underlying concepts inherent to these videos may be inspired in some way by this proximity. As curator, it is my hope that these ideas can defy geography and language, to find appreciation with a new audience in Córdoba.
Photos provided by Luis Javier Rodriguez