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Pre-demolition car wash hosts art exhibit

By Rachel Woodward, May 14 2015 —

Calgary-based curatorial ensemble Wreck City is partnering with Sled Island Music Festival to give local artists an interesting venue to display their works.

Their newest project, Demo Tape, will take over the abandoned Penguin Car Wash located in Calgary’s Ramsay neighbourhood, which is slated for demolition following the conclusion of the project. It offers artists the opportunity to take a short residency in the building and display their art.

In preparation for the project, Penguin Car Wash will be open to select artists and performers until June 19. This installation period gives artists time to transform the space into a makeshift art gallery.

Co-curator of Demo Tape Caitlind Brown says the goal of the project is to explore what it means to preserve something in a stage of pre-demolition.

“It’s funny, because I think there is a great deal of opportunism in the way that this comes together,” Brown says. “There’s a desire that’s being filled. You have to balance impulse with conceptual foundation. It makes [audiences] think about what temporary means versus permanence.”

The project intends to highlight temporary art, forcing audiences to reflect on the creation of pieces that will be destroyed along with the building they’re housed in. Since the artist’s pieces will survive only as long as Penguin Car Wash, contributing artists are asked to incorporate ideas about change over time in their work.

“The nostalgia is important, but that reckless abandon is also really important,” Brown says. “It’s nice as curator because you never need to fully identify what the project will be. Ultimately, the artists are what make the project. I think it’s the same with the audience too. They come into this space and they see the project through eyes we don’t have. They usually bring this whole perspective in the way that they respond.”

Brown says the relationship between music and art is particularly important, which is why the group partnered with Sled Island for the project. She says Wreck City is “hoping to preserve some sort of methodology that looks at the overlap between music and art or sound and image.”

The music festival has been a huge motivator for Demo Tape, Brown says. Sled Island was cancelled after Calgary flooded in 2013, but multiple house performances began to take place for musicians whose shows were cancelled.

“There was this really fascinating vibe that people were calling ‘Flood Island.’ The year [Sled Island] got cancelled, they were trying to find ways to pay tribute to that vibe and they thought of Wreck City and found the connection there,” Brown says.

Brown says it’s tough to say what kind of art will come out of the open call. Submissions for the project are currently under review. Wreck City will provide 32 grants to artists wishing to showcase their work. The pieces range in size from large installations and sculptures to one-time performances.

Wreck City will present Demo Tape from June 19–28 at the Penguin Car Wash in Ramsay.


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