For over 25 years, FASTWÜRMS, a collaborative art team formed in 1979 by Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse, have been durable generators of DIY culture in Toronto and have been able to maintain a diverse and dedicated audience, and a distinct lineage of imitators and followers. They have built a practice that collides the rigour of conceptual art with pagan rituals and popular aesthetics, creating a fresh language of their own where they are alien witches who make films, video, installations, performances and teach at the University of Guelph, Ontario. With a sobering humor and a love of their community they have produced large public commissions and participated in the 2006 Sao Paulo Biennial. FASTWÜRMS have produced solo projects in Toronto’s many Queen Street West galleries and spaces, including Paul Petro Contemporary Art, X Space, the Gladstone Hotel, the late ZsaZsa Gallery, as well as internationally, including Southern Exposure Gallery (San Francisco), Osaka 90 (Osaka, Japan), Canadian Cultural Centre (Rome), Seoul Museum of Contemporary Art (Korea), Ideal Copy Office (Kyoto, Japan), and in La IV Bienalle de Poesia Visual (Zapata Subway Station, Mexico City).Donkey: to consider interspecies exchange as an aesthetic object in and of itself. Donky: to perversely celebrate the transcendent value of the lowest level of unrewarded labour.
FASTWÜRMS is a collaboration between Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse. They have been together since the late seventies as generators of do-it-yourself culture. They began working in super 8 film, producing feature length films that both built and disrupted the flow of conventional narrative structures. Since then they have branched out to embrace a multiplicity of media, but still carry a cinematic sensibility through their art making, creating elaborate sets as stages for performances.
DONKY@NINJA@WITCH is a conflation of aesthetics and symbols, a colourful mixing of metaphors, an awkward clashing of stereotypes and a jumble of iconographies. It is a visual cacophony of clichés and icons related to Witchcraft through popular culture. FASTWÜRMS are Witches, artist Witches who take ancient symbols like the pentagram, and apply a punk do-it-yourself sensibility to them, treating them more as ephemera than ritual objects. This mix of styles, genres, subcultures and identities is common in all of FASTWÜRMS’ installations.
For DONKY@NINJA@WITCH, their first solo exhibition in Vancouver, FASTWÜRMS brought together a selection of installations that were first presented in storefront art galleries on highly trafficked Queen Street West in Toronto, including Unisex: House of Bangs (1999), Blood + Swash (2002), Denim Pox (2002), Pirate Head (2004), GUSSET NATION, (2004) and BLOOD CLOCK (2005). These installations often act as stages for performances. For Unisex: House of Bangs FASTWÜRMS transformed the space of Zsa Zsa Gallery into a visually chaotic hair salon where any passerby could get a free haircut by the Witches. For Blood + Swash the artists offered magic marker tattoos to any willing participant, these performances were restaged during the opening night of this exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery.
In over thirty years, FASTWÜRMS have moved from film to sculpture to installation, producing large public commissions, and recently participating in the 2006 São Paulo Biennial. They have produced solo projects at the Art Gallery of York University, North York (2007), Paul Petro Contemporary Art (2006) the late Zsa Zsa Gallery (2004), and they have exhibited internationally at Southern Exposure Gallery, San Francisco (1998) and Osaka 90, Osaka, Japan (1990). Recent group exhibitions include Anthem, Carleton University, Ottawa (2007) and Flag, poster intervention, Venice (2007).
The Contemporary Art Gallery is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Vancouver and the Province of BC through the BC Arts Council, the BC Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch and the BC Arts Renaissance Fund which is administered by the Vancouver Foundation. We are grateful for the support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Vancouver Foundation and our members, donors and volunteers.
This catalogue, the first to be published on the work of Canadian collaborative team FASTWÜRMS, accompanied their exhibition DONKY@NINJA@WITCH at The Contemporary Art Gallery in 2008. This colour catalogue DONKY@NINJA@WITCH features a text by Jenifer Papararo, and an interview by Jennifer Fisher and Jim Drobnick.MORE