Friday, May 6, 2011

day zero / jour zéro

Hello, I'm Todd and I am an artist / bonjour je m'appelle Todd et je suis un artiste.

So maybe that will not work, but the positive parts of this is that Montreal is truly a Canadian city and fully aware of its duality of Languages, well at least its duex langues officielles anyway. And my work has been constantly moving away from speaking at all anyway, or at least speaking with out words. I arrived in Montreal after a little more than an hour of turbulence and it is more than slightly raining here - it is wet and pouring. Anne Bertrand meets me at the bus stop at Lionel-Groulx and we run to her car and go to my new home (for the next week) on Ste. Marguerite in the neighbourhood of Saint Henri. I will be residing at the CRUM residency - The Centre de recherche urbaine de Montreal (CRUM) is a symbiotic (parasitic) research group with no exhibition space of its own. It uses the pre-existing exhibition network to present diverse projects. The CRUM is an artists collective dedicated to exploring links between art and urban space. Once there we are greeted by Karen Elaine Spencer and Douglas Scholes; Doug is the Guardian of CRUM and a collective founder and also a great artist exploring aspects of urban wilderness and detritus (my words, not his).

We sit around and chat I try to collect my bearings and share that I have not really slept since I was traveling at six - had to be checking in by five and should leave home by four… why bother. After about an hour or so we depart and Anne drops Karen and off at a Metro station and we head downtown / Centre Ville where Karen and I grab some food and catch up. Karen is one of the most sensitive and perceptive artist I know and we chat about a spectrum of things and at one point she ask me about how I think my artistic career might have went if certain in my life had not happened?

I think I am probably rather dogmatic and maybe romantically practical (not practical in romance, but romantic about how practical I am) and respond that everything that has happened to me makes me who I am - both great and not so great -- we are all products of our environments and responding to those. I try really hard to take ownership of things that I mess up and to respond in the moment, to offer praise, to be honest with myself and those around me... we talk more and she opens her pack-sack and shows me a loaf of white bread and a spool of twine, not thread. We talk more about what she has planned and then she asks me about me - my least favourite topic - about loss and grief and about my changing body. We talk a bit about this and she ask to place the bread on a part of my body that is deficient (my words) or changed. As we are also talking about dance and dancing I immediately think about my feet - missing toe and all and since my feet have been such - pardon the pun - sore points for me I discredit that in my mind - I think of my legs - but lately my calves and think have grown larger and more firm so I think not. We talk about a project that I have shared with Karen about having my hands bound for 72 hours and I think no to this as well. More and more I am drawn to my face and mouth, my eyes. However, in the end I pick my neck. I think of dancers and the symmetry of bodies and the definition and definite lines of muscle and sinew. She slowly layers about six or seven piece of white bread on my neck and secures it by wrapping it with the thread. The bread smells of yeast of and carbs. I re-dress and we enter into the crowds at Place des Arts.

Later in the evening Karen notes that I look graceful and handsome and that people notice me - it probably has to do with the slices of bread wrapped around my neck - however I do notice that people notice me and stare. at the end of the evening the bread is dry and starting to crumble and I ask Karen to cut it off of me and we leave it to go back to the earth or at least to the pigeons.


Anne said...

...hum, reading your post is like picking up a book mid-way into the story. Lunch today felt more like an intro with some family history, shop talk, gossip. good to get to know you a bit. I would be shy to probe into some of the things you refer to on your post that relate to your body even though body awareness feels like my next frontier (it can no longer be ignored as i age...)
karen is special and am grateful for the space she has made us take back for art. (huh?)

TJ said...


Thanks for your comments - feel free to ask away, however some discussions might be off-blog.

The Line said...

You were right to direct me here, old friend. Perfect reading on a rainy Tuesday in Ctown far in space and time from the events described.