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Lisa Anne Auerbach - Video

In this video Lisa Anne Auerbach explains how her art works in the 2014 Whitney Biennial are meant to be examples of alternative publishing. By this, I think she means that her knitted items can carry around and display a legible narrative, by way of text and symbol. Using a knitting machine, she makes garments that record her chants & rants ("keep abortion legal"), her past times (food and drink are represented with readable symbols), her collections (an archive of psychics' predictions makes up a large banner). Also, to make the publishing theme unavoidable, she has included in the show a "megazine" -- an oversize publication that documents her research into psychics at work.

In the video she comments on her self-sufficiency in the works' production. Really, it is her use of studio-sized industrial machines that makes her self sufficient. The oversize colour printer is pictured, and the knitting machine cannot be too far away. I find this intriguing: her work refers to DIY culture (yarn bombing and 'zine culture), but through the works' materials and processes, she has forced this aesthetic through industrial processing. Is she claiming a creative territory in the rapidly expanding world of rapid prototyping? What does the "maker" culture think of her work? What is retained from the DIY in her large-scale, quick-copy publishing?

Her work is well placed in this iteration of the Whitney Biennial since so much of the selected work concerns the "complex relationships between linguistic and visual forms," in the words of her curator, Stuart Comer. I thought the exhibition in its enormity displayed the complex relationships between visual forms and just about everything else. Much of the work situated art practices in other worlds, and situated other worlds (publishing, archiving, narrative film...) inside the world of art.

Craft of Use

Kate Fletcher, a UK researcher of fashion and sustainability gave a public lecture at Emily Carr University this week. She is a proponent, and analyst, of alternative fashion systems. In particular, she advocates for something she calls “craft of use.” Fletcher believes that if we consider the properties of clothing –what we find necessary and beloved, as well as the skills that we need to make, re-make or maintain clothing, as well as the impact of our clothing decisions on others and the environment, we might be able to mitigate the fearsome global impact of the fashion industry.

Her story telling about the clothing trade in the UK (echoed around the middle class world, one assumes) is shocking. Over the last 10 years there has been a 26% reduction in the cost of clothes in the UK. This doesn’t mean that people have redirected their saved consumer dollars into other things (education, health, community development, arts & culture??) --instead, they have bought a greater quantity of –lesser quality—clothes! It is estimated that about 2 million tons of clothing are purchased annually in the UK; but only about 1 million tons are discarded. Which leads one to wonder, what kind of hoarders have people become? As one of the oldest industries, second only to food, clothing/fashion has one of the longest supply chains. The environmental and social impact of production is felt all along the way: from the production of the resources needed to make the fibers; to the transport of the materials in and out of textile and clothing processing facilities; to the garments’ appearance inside a complicated marketing system; to your closet; and eventually into your garbage bin or into yet another supply chain of clothing recycling processes (thrift stores, and eventually recycling facilities which turn the fibers into other textile products – such as shoddy). The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) estimates that in order to avoid a tripling of resource extraction by 2050, the developed world needs to cut consumption by a factor of 5 – about 80%. Fletcher made a convincing argument for the dire environmental implications of fashion and the urgent need to take on dramatic changes in how we cloth ourselves.

Unfortunately Kate Fletcher’s concept of “craft of use” is a complicated proposition that seems hard to pin down to concrete or realizable solutions. But, the outcomes of the concept can be very simple, and very beautiful. Her current research project called Local Wisdom is one such manifestation. It is a growing web archive of the experiences that people already possess for making individual pieces of clothing enduring and endearing. In this project, she asks participants to attend a photo shoot, in which they are asked to discuss and demonstrate the way their craft of use makes their objects more useable. The website is becoming populated with photos and stories that quote people who have modified out-of-shape items; or who share with other wearers wardrobe pieces that only get used ‘once in a blue moon’; or who have such commitment to a garment’s fit and function that they continually have replicas made each time the item becomes worn out.

By coincidence, the Vancouver-based performance artist, Margaret Dragu – none other than the Mending Aktion persona, just this week completed the video How To Be Old – Chapter 3: get thrifty !!! If you need a few practical “craft of use” lessons that anyone can take up, see Margaret Dragu on Vimeo.

Honouring the Mending Aktion - Verb Woman Wins a GG

Congratulations to Margaret Dragu on winning one of this year's prestigeous Governor-General's Awards in Visual Arts and Media. How great it is to see her long career of gestures and interventions, correspondences, conversations, dances, bike rides, fictions -- in a word, AKTIONS-- recognized by the Canadian art world. Margaret has ammassed a vocabulary of art actions that describe to me a way of integrating creative experiments into a daily life and community. Living on the shoreline of an enormous land, she coreographs her body and the bodies of those around her to describe the conditions that we experience as individuals and as a collective.

Thank you for all of your encouragement, and your inspiration Margaret. And thank you for the mending aktions... sewing with me.



Read more about Margaret Dragu's Governor-General's Award here.

How to Spot a Wolf - Recognizing and Preventing Elder Financial Abuse



June 15 2011 is World Elder Financial Abuse Awareness Day. It is a fitting occasion for the inaugural screening of the video, How to Spot A Wolf - Recognizing and Preventing Elder Financial Abuse.

The video is a community video project produced and directed by The Elder Financial Abuse Dialogue Group (North Shore Neighbouhood House), and Lois Klassen.

The video formed part of my creative research project on dialogical art forms and was largely funded by the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship as well as the Emily Carr University President's Research Fund and many in-kind supporters (Emily Carr University, North Shore Neighbouhood House at John Braithwaite Community Centre, Finding Home™ Initiative, VIVO Media Arts Centre, and more).

Join us for the launch at John Braithwaite Community Centre in North Vancouver on Wednesday, June 15 at 1pm. Elder Financial Abuse Awareness Day at JBCC -  Flyer

I am also planning to screen this video along with Word Finding in or around Emily Carr University near the end of the summer or in fall. These two videos were produced in tandem as alternate approaches to the community video process. Stay tuned for details on the screening and discussion of both works.

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Degree Exhibition

The end of 2 years of studies at Emily Carr University.


In the exhibition of the Master of Applied Art students in the University's Charles H. Scott Gallery, I am exhibiting a new video work called Word Finding.

This gallery-based piece is a reflection on a community-based video project that I am currently completing with participants of the Elder Financial Abuse Dialogue project in North Vancouver, and students from the Film and Video program at Emily Carr University.

It looks something like this:


I am very grateful to Bette, Iara, Glenys, and Claire for being so willing to get involved in a community video project. The entire project will be screened on June 15, 2011 - World Elder Abuse Awareness Day at the John Braithwaite Community Centre in North Vancouver.

These are some of the words that the participants have found to address the issue of elder financial abuse:

financial abuse

seldom stops by itself

you need to take some action

much to my disbelieving ears

I heard my own voice

saying I do believe

you are trying to scam me

I am a feminist & social worker

who has worked in the field

of family violence for 25 years . . . .

Offit opening

has been launched.

Tomorrow (July 25, 2pm) is Offit Offsite, a conversation event featuring three emerging performance artists, in conversation with visitors of The Lowry Hotel: Rachael Nutter, Rowan Oliver-Weaver and Darren White. Everyone welcome, meet at the Hub M3, Riverside Complex in Salford, Greater Manchester.


Offit not on it


During their six-week collaborative residency at Hub M3, Lois Klassen and Mary Oliver have been exploring the locale specific to the gallery, just on the border of Salford and Manchester. As travelers and explorers the artists are considering the imbalance caused by the presence of cultural production in urban spaces.

‘Offit’ - Salford vernacular for ‘not on it’, out of sorts, or not quite right, is an installation in which the visitor finds themselves confronted with things that are ‘Offit - not on it’. This exhibition asks: does art produce a condition of offit? and is this a useful condition from which to view the process of urban regeneration?


Lois Klassen & Mary Oliver

Art Exhibition and Events
July 23 - 30 2010
Hub M3
Unit 3 Riverside
Salford M3 5FS

Offit Opening reception - July 22 6.00pm

Offit Offsite Conversations
Sunday, July 25 2.00pm
Thursday, July 29 7.00pm
The artists invite the public out to two of Salford’s best places to talk. Meet at Hub M3. Spaces for the Offit Offsite Conversations are limited - please reserve (up to one day in advance) through email [email protected] or phone 07793 018209.

Offit exhibition hours -
July 23 - 30, 12.00 – 6.00pm (closed Monday)

Lois Klassen is a Vancouver Canada based artist, community worker, writer and educator.
Mary Oliver works as a performance and media artist, educator and researcher in Salford.