Guerilla and National Gallery go great together

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Hammerheads brought the funk. Photos by Matthew Miller

The tour group foyer with the water fountain glass ceiling was wonderfully transformed into a dance floor on Thursday, March 25 as part of a whirlwind night of culture at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC).

Guerilla had come together with the NGC for the co-hosted event to launch Guerilla #23 and bring the magazine contents to life. The vibe in the venue was just right, as attendees enjoyed a range of performances and hands-on cultural activities.

Before the headlining Hammerheads got the dance floor busy with two signature sets of groovy 70s funk, the charming Megan Jerome treated the crowd to a vocals/Wurlizter/accordion solo performance and Dr. Lee created an enthused circle around himself in an African drumming workshop.

Ongoing tours of the NGC’s current Nicolas Baier exhibition and a popular silk-screening workshop were offered between 7 and 9 p.m., while photographer Martin Lipman presented a slide show of his images of Governor General’s Award-winning artists.

Big thanks go all guests, volunteers, organizers and to Matthew Miller for contributing the event photos posted here.



The thaw of borders highlights EBA's "de-icing" group show

Monday, March 22, 2010

Borderline (2010), a dual-stream video installation by Rachel Kalpana James at Enriched Bread Artists

Themed group shows are a crapshoot, but I was already very happy to have dropped in at the Enriched Bread Artists (EBA) building on Saturday for the two-day De-icing show when I climbed the stairs to see the captivating video work called Borderline by Rachel Kapalna James.

Launched on the first official day of spring (March 20), De-icing offered a range of interesting and challenging works, including a delightful arrangement of hardened foam and other wall-adhered objects by former EBA artist Uta Riccius and a small branch-and-resin sculptural piece by Marika Jemma that beautifully captures the often-delicate nature of winter melting away.

Upstairs, James connected to the de-icing theme metaphorically in a looped, two-channel video that contrasts the exaggerated ceremony in a nightly closing of the Pakistan-India border against a solitary traveller’s lonely walk through a different section of the same border.

Captured at the crossing between eastern Pakistan at Wagah and northern India at Amritsar, the ceremony video shows elaborately dressed border guards marching with choreographed flair and urgency on both sides of the divide.

James explains it in her artist’s statement: “Cheered on by thousands of patriots from each side, mustachioed guards tote guns and batons and march in ritual combat with their enemy counterparts in a goose-stepping choreography of military bravado and national pride.”

The parallel video offers a much more subdued border crossing:  “… a somewhat silent, solitary and surprisingly casual walk across the India/Pakistan border, as permitted by the bittersweet privilege of the right passport,” explained James.

Born in Warwickshire, England, James’ ancestry is rooted in India and her art practice in her immigrant history.

“I like epistemological questions,” the artist writes on her web site, “such as how we know others and ourselves. Primarily through installation—using bookmaking, photography, video, digital technologies and performance—I explore constructed systems and ideas of language, history and memory in an effort to avoid the usual dichotomies of past/present, private/public, us/them.”


Global photo competition now bigger and better

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The incredible international photo contest that Guerilla is a part of—10 Best 10—is getting better by the minute, but the minutes are counting down to the March 22 final deadlline for entries.

Now that SONY is the presenting sponsor, 10 Best 10 has kicked it up a notch. Entries posted to the contest web site thus far offer a fantastic range of top-quality photography from Canada and around the world.

The winning Canadian entrant will be assigned a photo shoot by Guerilla, with the resulting photos published in our June 2010 edition. The results of the shoot will then go head-to-head against shoots assigned in the nine other magazines from around the world to determine the grand prize winner.

For full details or to enter, visit the contest website:


Fouhse embroiled in American contradictions

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Photos from the American States exhibition by Tony Fouhse

Photography talent in Ottawa is growing massively, but stalwart Tony Fouhse regularly trumps most of his peers with exceptional commercial projects and personal work that compels through its stark simplicity and the hard labour that you can see has gone into every image.

Fouhse exhibits again beginning Thursday, March 4 at Exposure Gallery (above Thyme & Again at 1255 Wellington) with American States, an exciting selection from the photographic road trips he frequently takes south of the border. Thursday’s vernissage begins at 6:30 p.m.

Guerilla first chronicled one of Fouhse’s U.S. trips way back in 2004 (“Capturing Americans,” Guerilla #2), but the Ottawa native has since collected several more U.S. immigration stamps in his passport. Here’s a conversation I had with him on the topic.


Guerilla: How many trips to the States have you done and to what parts?

Fouhse: California twice, Mississippi + Alabama, Ohio, New Jersey and, finally, Arkansas. That'd make 6 trips.

You've said Americans are generally very approachable and willing to be photographed. Why else do you go there on these road trips?

I find the USA sexy. And, like I say in my statement, it's like taking 1/4 hit of acid. I think, too, that there's something to be said for going "away" to shoot. Even the USER work [portraits of crack addicts], shot in Ottawa, is kind of like going "away." There are photographers who work close to home, in every sense of that word, who are doing good, important work. Think of Justin Wonnacott's series on Somerset Street. I'm the kind of guy, though, who likes to get away.

What have the trips taught you about American society? People? Geography?

What I find most interesting, meeting and working with average Americans at a grass-roots level, is how as individuals they are open, hospitable and not afraid. But American society, taken as a group, and their body politic, seems the opposite. Closed, xenophobic and paranoid. I love and embrace contradictions.

How many photos in the show?

There are 31 images. They were selected from over 300 shots I've printed from these trips.

How did the show come about?

When Carrie Colton, the curator at Exposure Gallery, asked me if I'd be interested in showing some work there, well, I jumped at the chance. I saw it as an excuse to throw all my American shooting into a big pile, stir it up and see what came out. You see, before this opportunity, each trip yielded a portfolio, but each portfolio was a stand-alone thing. Having the chance to mash all that work together and make a broader (but also more focused) statement was too sweet to pass up.

Are you going to continue to shoot personal projects in the States? Any locations in mind?

Yes, I will. Los Angeles, baby.


National Gallery taps into twins mystique

Sunday, February 22, 2010

Sophie and Isabelle Lynch, University of Ottawa students and National Gallery twins participants this summer


The public’s enduring fascination with twins will be front at centre at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) this summer when a recreation of Damien Hirst’s performance piece Ingo, Torsten is featured as part of the exhibition Pop Life: Art in a Material World.

At the 1992 Cologne Unfair art fair, Hirst commissioned identical twins named Ingo and Torsten to spend time sitting in front of his trademark spot paintings while doing identical activities. The piece was said to be about surface appearances, individuality, and making a scene.

For the 2010 version of the work, the NGC is seeking numerous sets of identical twins to perform in “shifts” doing any identical activities they wish.

The first local pair of twins to show interest were Sophie and Isabelle Lynch, second-year students at the University of Ottawa studying philosophy and art history. The Lynch sisters were on hand for a publicity shoot on Monday, February 15 at the NGC.

“Isabelle was working on an essay and procrastinating by browsing the Tate Modern website at 3 a.m., explained Sophie. “The Pop Life exhibit was on view there. The Tate was, like the NGC, searching for twins to take part in a Damien Hirst artwork. We wrote an email to the National Gallery of Canada and agreed to be part of the project.”

The twins first heard of Hirst when his For the Love of God skull was famously displayed in London with an asking price of £50 million.

“We've been lucky enough to see some of his works at museums in New York City and London,” said Isabelle.

The Lynch sisters are happy to lead lives that are deeply interconnected in the way of most identical twins.

“We’ve always shared friends, clothes, books and birthdays,” said Isabelle. “Growing up, we loved being together: ballet classes and duets on the piano were some of our favorite twin activities.”

“Today, we have different part-time jobs and spend time apart,” added Sophie. “Still, having a twin is like having a loving lifelong companion and things are always better when we experience them together.”

Sophie and Isabelle are already looking forward to performances this summer.

“You can do anything: read the same book, talk, stand, sit as long as you’re doing the same thing,” said Isabelle. “Depending on how many shifts we work, we might be able to finish War and Peace. Ha!”

Eligible twins must be aged 18 or older and are invited to apply online at Participants will be compensated for their time and presented with a photographic memento of their performance, signed by Damien Hirst.

A North American exclusive at the National Gallery of Canada this summer, Pop Life: Art in a Material World will be on view from June 11 to September 19.



Ottawa artists rally for Haiti relief

Monday, January 25, 2010


Gritty street illustrator Michael "Zeke" Zavacky received a flood of donations when he spread the word about Here for There, the art sale fundraising event he initiated to bolster the Haiti relief efforts.

Response for the Thursday night event at La Petite Mort gallery was so strong, in fact, that Zavacky has had to decline further donations.

More than 100 artists have donated work that will be affordably priced, with 100% of sales going to help the tragic situation in Haiti. Cash or checks accepted and a minimum $5 donation fee will be asked for from all attending.

Here for There happens 7 to 10 pm at 306 Cumberland.

Proceeds will be donated to WORLD VISION Canada, with the Canadian government matching every dollar.