Notes to the Neighbourhood

Notes to the Neighbourhood #1, Caitlind r.c. Brown, 2020. Analog overhead projection and hand-cut transparencies.

Notes to the Neighbourhood is dedicated to our amazing neighbours in Ramsay.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we were struggling (like everyone else) to understand our role in a dramatically shifting world. For many years, we’ve been cultivating disparate interests ranging between international art spaces (festivals and exhibitions), a municipally-oriented public art practice (The Wandering Island, Delta Garden + The City Unseen, etc) and collaborative local projects (The Hibernation Project, WRECK CITY, etc). Each of these ways of working offers different material and disciplinary flexibilities, with new perceptual understandings of systems, communities, and places. When Canadian citizens were first asked to return home, we were in Cologne with CLOUD, exhibiting at COLLUMINA International Light Art Project. We’d been discussing further projects in Germany, daydreaming of a studio practice in Europe. Within two weeks, we were back in Alberta, and we haven’t left since.

Notes to the Neighbourhood #3 (2020)

The impacts of this moment in time will unfold for decades to come. We are being asked to radically rethink our relationship with the global community, our national policies, our cities, our healthcare systems, the power dynamics of society, the structure of our living and working spaces, our family relationships/responsibilities, our personal space, and our understandings of consent. We discussed many of these ideas at The Future of Touch last May, and these concerns continue to evolve.

Notes to the Neighbourhood #4 (2020)

At the beginning of “shelter in place” regulations, we were concluding The Hibernation Project – our annual 12-week domestic intervention inviting artists to embrace and combat Winter through weekly art experiments. Needless to say, the project transformed dramatically to encompass safer, more distanced “gatherings” (you can read more here). Though The Hibernation Project was conceived as the antithesis of our structured and often bureaucratic public art practice, COVID-19 brought a new role for the first few online gatherings; it became a community check-in, a “proof of life” during the first uncertain days of the pandemic. After the 12 weeks of The Hibernation Project concluded, we felt the need to keep reaching out – in a way our domestic work facilitates with more nimbleness than our municipal or international practices allow.

Notes to the Neighbourhood #5 (2020)

Notes to the Neighbourhood #6 (2020)

Notes to the Neighbourhood came from a place of soft emergency, of questioning our role in a time of crisis, of “taking it a day at a time,” and of using the materials we have on hand to express impulsive poetics into the darkness – for the primary audience of our neighbours.

Using an overhead projector, hand-cut from transparencies, theatre gels, and photographic slides, Notes to the Neighbourhood was a series of projections onto our rental house in the Calgary neighbourhood of Ramsay. Projections began in March 2020, and occurred intermittently until September 2020.

Notes to the Neighbourhood #7 (2020)

Notes to the Neighbourhood #8 (2020)

Notes to the Neighbourhood #9 (2020)

Projections began in a textual format and slowly transitioned towards imagery. The series came to include sign language, photographs from my family, and cut-outs of buildings in our community that no longer exist.

Each projection came from an impulsive concern, topical to that particular moment: loneliness, hope, frustration, boredom, mourning, protest, touch-fear, nostalgia, absence, and more.

Notes to the Neighbourhood #10 (2020)

Notes to the Neighbourhood #11: Vigil for Black Lives (June 2020)

Notes to the Neighbourhood #12 (2020)

Notes to the Neighbourhood drifted into and out of being without pomp or circumstance, existing only for a handful of neighbours, dog walkers, and nearby nighthawks. While we made this series for ourselves (selfishly, to stay sane), sharing it in the semi-public/semi-private space of our house facade illuminated a domestic potential that thematically encompasses this past year.

At an April 2020 online gathering, Alone Together, presenter Boban Stojanovic spoke about how the temporary slowing down caused by COVID-19 would give us “an amazing chance for all humankind to really rethink what kind of life we want to live.” He cautioned us to move through this crisis considering not what we want, or even what we need, but to “see what you have.”

For us, these wise words have resonated over the last year, especially in the long gaps between confronting difficult truths. As we continue to consider our roles and responsibilities in a dramatically shifting world, we recognize (and appreciate!) more than ever the power of domestic space and its possibilities to interface gently with our immediate community – the neighbours who share the other side of our walls.

Notes to the Neighbourhood #14 (2020)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s