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Courtesy Arts Commons

Twelve artists interpret Snow’s “Poem”

By Georgia King, June 16 2016 —

Twelve Canadian artists  collaborated to interpret Michael Snow’s 1957 writing, “Poem,” using an eclectic mix of visual art complemented by sound and film.

Electronic music composer Mark Templeton curated the collection, titled VARIATIONS, showing at the Arts Commons Gallery of Alberta Media Arts until August 31.

“I just sort of stumbled across this poem and liked the simplicity. I thought it would be a good thing to anchor the works to,” Templeton says.

Knowing he wanted Canadian contributors, Templeton sought out artists he was drawn to.

“It happened that some of them already had a connection with Snow,” he says.

Michael Snow is a Toronto-based artist who works in photography, sculpture, music and experimental filmmaking.

Despite having work featured in museums from Paris to New York, Templeton says the 86-year-old Snow remains refreshingly humble.

“He’s been very supportive of the whole process,” he says. “To be honest, when you send an email like that, in the back of your mind you’re not really expecting a response. He seems excited about the work and really seems behind it.”

Vancouver student Evangeline Belzile is one of the visual artists working on the collaboration. Belzile said she was attracted to the project because of its large scale.

“There’s so many of us that don’t get a lot of recognition so whenever there’s a chance to work together, I think it’s a great thing to do,” she says.

Belzile worked alongside composer and vocalist Ian William Craig.

“Interpreting the poem, I was thinking a lot about memories — like how they’re there and then they’re not,” Belzile says.

Using an archival approach, Craig and Belzile paired Belzile’s old family footage with some of Craig’s early tapes to interpret Snow’s poem.

“I think no matter what, visual art is always kind of important to view because everybody — no matter who they are — is going to get their own idea from it. It would be different for everyone.”

Templeton says he fights for public presentation of films in a time when most media is presented through the internet in private settings.

“I always liked the idea of having work that was released in a physical format and the opportunity to have the work exhibited in a gallery setting or a screening,” he says.

The Arts Commons Gallery of Alberta Media Arts will feature V ARIATIONS until August 31 where the twelve narratives will be streamed day and night on three public monitors.

Arts Commons will host a reception and art party called Happenings 5 on August 11 from 6:00–9:00 p.m.

For more information, visit artscommons.ca

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