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‘I resolve to do better’: Playwright Robert Lepage on 2018 race controversy

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MONTREAL — Renowned Quebec director Robert Lepage is promising to be more racially sensitive with his work in the new year after two of his plays in 2018 were widely condemned by members of Quebec’s black and Indigenous communities.

In a public letter published Friday, Lepage — recognized around the world for his theatre productions — acknowledged “clumsiness and misjudgments” that led to the cancellation of his play on black slavery last summer during the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

Called “SLAV,” the play included a mostly white cast picking cotton and singing black slave songs. Activists protested outside the theatre and accused Lepage of appropriating black pain for profit.

Lepage admits in the letter “the version of SLAV that we were presenting last June was far from finished and that perhaps it wasn’t by chance that the show’s dramaturgical problems corresponded exactly to the ethical problems the show was criticized for.”

The director and playwright didn’t make many public statements during the controversy and Friday’s letter goes into detail about his meeting with a group of black artists and activists whose protests helped cancel his play.

“… Unlike the angry far-left extremists depicted in certain media, the people I met with were welcoming, open, perceptive, intelligent, cultivated, articulate and peaceful,” Lepage wrote.

He said following the June protests “the content of SLAV has been reworked and rewritten” and the play is scheduled to be shown again in select theatres across the province beginning in January.

The Gilles-Vigneault theatre in Saint-Jerome, about 60 kilometres north of Montreal, is one of several venues scheduled to host SLAV, in early 2019. Tickets can still be purchased for dates in cities such as Sherbrooke, Drummondville and Saguenay.

“As this new year begins,” Lepage wrote, “I resolve to do better.”

Lepage committed in the letter to inviting a member of the activist group to rehearsals of SLAV to witness changes made to the show before it is remounted next month. He said he would make “structural changes” within his production company and will “ensure a significant representation of people of African descent from Quebec City in the programming” of his upcoming new theatre in that city.

One of the artists and activists mentioned by name in the letter is Lucas Charlie Rose, whose initial posts on social media about SLAV helped trigger the protest movement against the play.

“I’m really happy this letter got posted,” Rose said in an interview. “I felt like it was important to show people that we are actually in contact. What happened this summer wasn’t just a controversy … but the start of a really important conversation that we hope is going to change the artistic climate in Quebec.”

Friday’s letter did not address the criticism surrounding another one of Lepage’s productions — “Kanata” — a play about the relationship between whites and Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous activists and artists accused Lepage of producing a culturally insensitive play with little input from the communities portrayed.

The play was scheduled to run in Paris but was cancelled in July after American co-producers withdrew. But in September, Lepage announced the show would go on, reworked and under a new name: “Kanata — Episode 1 — The Controversy.” Three Indigenous artists from Quebec travelled to Paris in December to see the dress rehearsals for the show and came back disappointed.

Rose said he’s not optimistic the revamped “SLAV” will be better than the original.

“I’m very curious to see what it’s going to look like, and I speak for myself when I say this, but I’m skeptical,” he said. “I think the best thing to do, is to go back to the drawing board and put together a brand-new play.”

Rose, however, lauded Lepage’s commitment to including more black perspectives in his future work in Quebec City.

“Only good things can come out of something like that,” Rose said. “Because black people have a cultural power that is very important.”

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press


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‘Treated like mines:’ Feds mull stronger rules for Indigenous cultural property

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The federal government is considering how to legally enshrine Indigenous people’s ownership of traditional culture — from songs to art to the use of medicinal plants.

Ottawa has signed agreements with the Assembly of First Nations and the Metis National Council to explore ways for Aboriginal communities to control and benefit from their cultural knowledge.

“We want Indigenous people to understand … that their traditional knowledge and traditional culture expressions are protected in a manner they feel comfortable with,” said an official, speaking on background, from Innovation, Science and Economic Development. 

It’s an attempt to reconcile western individualist concepts with Aboriginal ideas of common inheritance. It must balance ownership against stewardship and temporary rights with permanent protection.

“When it comes to First Nations knowledge and cultural expression, every copyright, trademark or patent regime does not accommodate First Nations interest,” said Stuart Wuttke, an AFN lawyer who was in Geneva last week for international meetings on the issue. 

“There’s no protection for that knowledge. Anybody can come and use that knowledge for themselves.”

The question has deep roots in Indigenous communities, said Niigaan Sinclair of the University of Manitoba’s Native Studies Department.

“This is absolutely huge,” he said. “Indigenous peoples are treated like mines. We’re like things to be extracted and stolen from and then turned back to those communities and charged triple the price.”

Canada is just at the start of a long and complex discussion, said University of Ottawa law professor Jeremy de Beer. Copyright law may not even be the right way to address it.

“Copyright and patent law lack the legal tools to allow for truly collective ownership of content or ideas. It’s a poor fit.”

The Constitution guarantees Indigenous people the right to a cultural heritage, de Beer said, but it may be up to the courts to decide what that means.

“I won’t be surprised to see this issue arising in litigation in the context of (the Constitution).”

There are few precedents aside from the well-known Igloo trademark on Inuit art that was transferred to an Inuit organization in 2017.

Part of any talks will be about protecting Indigenous intellectual property. Another part will be on setting terms for its use by non-Aboriginals.

“There’s ability for outside parties to gain some of that knowledge,” said Wuttke. “It is possible, but there’s a process involved instead of someone just taking the knowledge and registering it, and they become the owner of it.”

Engagement is the difference between appropriation and what Sinclair calls appreciation.

“Appropriation is not free speech. Appropriation is theft. Appreciation is relationships,” he said. “When you appreciate something, you use it in your art or in your medicines. You appreciate it by making sure that it is better off because of your involvement.”  

De Beer said it will be crucial for copyrights around Indigenous knowledge to be led and designed by the people who will be most affected.

“The most important thing is that Canadians not attempt to define for Indigenous peoples what protection of Indigenous people’s traditional knowledge or cultural expression should look like.”

What happened at the Vancouver Olympics — an Inuit Inukshuk was used as a Games symbol without consultation — should never happen again, said Sinclair.  

“Whether it be stealing the land or stealing the stories, it’s the same stealing. Stealing is stealing is stealing.”

— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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Open Studio Tour This Weekend!

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Open Studio Tour 2019

4th Annual Open Studio Tour – 2019

The Red Deer Arts Council is thrilled to announce its fourth Open Studio Tour, June 22 and 23, 2019! This is a self-guided tour of artist studio spaces and free to the public.

Twenty-one visual artists in fifteen studios bring you this amazing experience. They will open the doors to their private art studios from 12:00 to 4:00 pm, and welcome the public to see the process of creating fine art as each artist demonstrates their processes. From sculpted clay to sculpted metal, from paintings to silk, from jewellery to glass, the fascinating techniques and works of some of Red Deer and area’s most recognized artists will be on display for visitors.

This self-guided tour is free of charge. Visitors can download or print the tour brochure and a map to help find all the studios, and artist bios to read before arriving on scene. The artists will not only demonstrate the processes they use, but happily take questions about their media, style, technique or anything related to art. Artists love to answer questions about their art!

Please Note: some artists are open both days, others open either Saturday or Sunday only. The brochure is divided into each day and which artists are participating on that date. Additionally, Vivian, Emily & Naomi Williamson have had to withdraw from participation so their Sunday studio is no longer going to be open.

Each studio is also offering a door prize for visitors. Eligible to win one prize only. Must be 18 years or older. Winners will be notified by telephone and/or email. 

The downloadable/printable brochure and map are available below!

Participating studios in the 2019 Open Studio Tour

SATURDAY & SUNDAY

Marianne Harris PAINTWERX STUDIOS

95 Piper Drive, Red Deer, AB

www.MarianneHarrisArt.com 403-350-8106 (C)

Marianne’s home is a gallery FULL (200+on the walls) of water-based media artworks (watercolours, acrylics, mixed media) of every size, shape, & subject matter! Photo-inspired, to imagination-inspired, and everything in between will delight your eyes, with something for everyone’s taste in art!

Marianne will demonstrate watercolour make-and-take minis.

Marlene Kallstrom-Barritt KALLSTROM STUDIO

5750 41 Street Crescent, Red Deer, AB

www.kallstromstudio.com 403-307-3620

For her abstract-realism paintings, Marlene Kallstrom-Barritt uses a combination of painting and drawing with watercolour, acrylic and ink. She draws inspiration from the Canadian landscape. She participates in art shows in Red Deer, Lacombe and Calgary.

Marlene will be working on paintings and art cards.

Roberta Murray

63 Oxley Close, Red Deer, AB

uncommondepth@gmail.com www.robertamurray.ca 587-457-1201

Roberta Murray is a poetic impressionist painter. Working mostly in oils, Roberta seeks to create paintings that contain elements of light, atmosphere, and emotion reminiscent of the Soviet, Dutch, and British impressionists.

Roberta will be doing a painting in progress. Visitors can try mixing a colour and adding a few marks to the canvas.

Roberta is sharing her studio with Larry Reese

Larry Reese

larryreese51@gmail.com 403-396-0970 (C)

Larry’s oil paintings are based on direct personal plein air experiences within a 150 kilometre radius from his front door in Half Moon Bay, Alberta. Whether outside or in the studio, Larry tries to replicate an emotional experience to the subject rather than a documentation of the scenery.

Larry will be demonstrating small oil painting landscape techniques.

Darcy Gusse Edinga SILK CONCEPTS

152 Allwright Close, Red Deer, AB

www.silkconcepts.ca 403-396-8781

Darcy Gusse Edinga creates luxurious, vibrant hand-painted silk artwork, scarves, garments, banners, and prints. Most of her work is Canadian-inspired, with images of wildflowers, mountains, prairies, tundra, northern lights, wildlife, and cultural history.Her work is in galleries and gift shops across Canada.

Darcy will be demonstrating painting on silk.

Darcy is sharing her studio with Margriet Hogue

Margriet Hogue

www.margriethogue.com margriethogue@gmail.com 403-347-3574

Margriet’s work is mixed media paintings in which she uses her own photos and makes her own papers.

Margriet will be demonstrating mono-printing and collage.

Margaret R. Hall HAPPY YAK FELT

48 Good Crescent, Red Deer, AB

mrhall_ca@yahoo.com 403-346-8289

Margaret Hall, fibre artist, enjoys creating whimsical andfunctional items to be worn or for the home. Working mostly in wool she enjoys exploring the sculpturalproperties of wool fibre and uses the natural world asher inspiration.

Margaret will demonstrate felting a hat from wool fibre and weaving and spinning.

Jeri Lynn Ing GALLERY IS STUDIO

5123 Alexander Way, Red Deer, AB

www.jerilynning.com 403-341-0340 (C)

Jeri Lynn Ing is a contemporary abstract painter living and working in Red Deer Alberta. Jeri Lynn has converted her former gallery space to become her studio, situated in historic downtown Red Deer. Jeri Lynn continues to develop and explore abstraction and light in her large contemporary paintings.

Jeri Lynn will be demonstrating acrylic painting and collage in different stages of development to better show the viewer her process.

Shirley Rimer WORKS IN CLAY

24 Springfield Ave, Red Deer, AB

shirleyrimer@shaw.ca www.shirleyrimer.com 403-347-2634

Shirley has been working in clay for the past 40 years. Her work is both sculptural and functional and she will have a selection of works to view in both categories during the tour.

Shirley will demonstrate her throwing skills and answer any questions you might have.

YOUR CHANCE TO WIN ART!

Tour the studios and enter for a chance to win a unique door prize created by one of the participating artists.You can only win once, but may enter at each studio to increase your chances of winning.

Saturday Only

Leanne Keyes CHARMED BEADS

4723 56 Street, Red Deer, AB

www.charmedbeads.ca leanne@charmedbeads.ca 403-343-1841

As a kid, Leanne spent hours sorting through her mom’s button box, fascinated with the colours, shapes and designs. As an older kid, she’s thrilled to create a bowl of glass beads, her own “button box”. She is inspired by bright colours and simple, clean designs.

Leanne will be making Lampwork glass beads using a torch and kiln.

Trenton Thomas Leach & Holly Elliott ROGUE ART AND DESIGN

4026 50 Street (Ross), Red Deer, AB (Beside the Little Ice Cream Store, Back Alley Entrance)

rogueartanddesign.com rogueartanddesign@gmail.com 403-755-1548

Trenton Leach and Holly Elliott design and create primarily one-of-a-kind sculpture, mosaics and interior/exterior design pieces for individuals, commercial and public enjoyment. Their mediums include metal, glass, fabric and photography, and they take inspiration from nature, music and travel.

Trent and Holly will be demonstrating stained glass.

Wendy Meeres. ART & LAMPWORK BEADS STUDIO

600 Lancaster Drive, Red Deer, AB https://www.facebook.com/WendyMeeresArt/ raku_wm@telus.net
403-318-8638 (C)

Wendy expresses her creativity through two media: lampworking and painting. Her mixed media paintings use colour and composition to bring places and objects together, often including photographs from her travels. The Lampwork beads are bright and playful. She makes pendants, earrings and necklaces with her beads.

Wendy will be demonstrating glass bead-making.

Out of Town Saturday Only

Bobbie Seright Palanuik BOBBIE SERIGHT ART STUDIO

4837 50 Avenue, Bentley, AB (Directly across from The Kite Guys) info@BobbieSerightPalanuik.com www.BobbieSerightPalanuik.com

Bobbie Seright Palanuik is an Alberta visual artist, landscapephotographer and writer. Her artwork reflects and is inspiredby her passion for nature.

Bobbie will be demonstrating her work with pastels/oil.

Pat Matheson THE FARM STUDIO

www.patmatheson.com 403-748-2557

Directions: Go 1.5 km west from the Highway 20 and Aspelund Rd intersection (6 km north of the Sylvan Lake Roundabout on Highway 20). At RR 1-4 turn right and go North 1.5 km. Watch for signs “The Farm” and (Site #) 39423.

Pat Matheson creates one-of-a-kind hand-built Raku-fired ceramic forms, bowls,boxes, and more in his studio, that at one time was his grandparent’s homestead.

Pat will be demonstrating the Raku-fire process which involves removing his pieces from a red hot kiln – lots of fire, smoke and fun!

SUNDAY ONLY

Gordon Hiebert GORDON HIEBERT PHOTOGRAPHY

100 Pamely Ave, Red Deer, AB

gordonhiebert.com 403-877-1556 (C)

Gordon Hiebert is a unique panoramic landscape photographer, specializing in very wide angle views of the prairie sky, landscape, and heritage landmarks. He tends to follow dramatic weather, and photographs older buildings and vehicles in ways that give a sense of history.

Gordon will demonstrate detecting colour accurately in the landscape.

Vivian Williamson CALLIGRAPHIC ART WORKS STUDIO
Naomi Williamson- Artistic Inspirations
Emily Williamson – Emily’sExuberant Photography

34 Rutledge Crescent, Red Deer, AB calligrav8@gmail.com http://facebook.com/pg/ calligraphicartworksbyvivian 403-358-9020

Vivian Williamson creates mixed media artwork with calligraphy including batik, watercolor, chigiri-e (Japanese paper tearing) and alcohol inks and incorporates a variety of lettering styles with her artwork.

Vivian is joined by her two daughters, Naomi and Emily, in their family studio showcasing photography, drawing and Zentangle artwork.

Vivian will demonstrate decorated letters on watercolour paper and calligraphy on a watercolour background.

Suzanne Le Beau SPIRIT OF CLAY CERAMICS STUDIO

30 Manning Street, Red Deer, AB Studio is in the detached garage spiritofclay@hotmail.com 403-342-6344

Suzanne Le Beau is a local ceramic artist and graduate of RDC’s Visual Arts Program. Her original hand-built and carved ceramic work shows Oriental, modern and primitiveinfluences.

Suzanne will be demonstrating a hand built maple leaf bowl.

Sharing her studio with

Kristina Cryderman KRISTINA’S WHEY ART

kristinaswhey@icloud.com

Kristina creates detailed wire wrappedfigures and creatures with sea glass,shells and beads with individual whimsical personalities. Her love of the sea gives hercreations a seaside feeling, influenced byliving on both Hornby and Saturna Islands for many years.

Kristina will be demonstrating a wirewrapped dragonfly.

12–4:00pm SATURDAY, JUNE 22and 12–4:00pm SUNDAY, JUNE 23

For studio map and tour details, visit www.reddeerartscouncil.ca/news/events or call 403-348-2787

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june, 2019

fri21jun(jun 21)6:30 pmwed03jul(jul 3)12:00 amTHE WORKS ART & DESIGN FESTIVAL6:30 pm - (july 3) 12:00 am

sat22junmon01julEdmonton International Jazz Festival7:30 pm - (july 1) 9:15 pm

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