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John Wood & Paul Harrison – CAG/Ballet BC: Build a unique art/dance commission

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John Wood & Paul Harrison – CAG/Ballet BC: Build a unique art/dance commission

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01 Dec, 2014 to 16 Jan, 2014

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Contemporary Art Gallery and Ballet BC:  Build a unique art-dance commission

The CAG and Ballet BC in association with the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative are excited to announce a new project.

For our project, selected by independent jury for Art|Basel’s curated page on Kickstarter, we are commissioning visual artists John Wood and Paul Harrison to team with the renowned dancers of Ballet BC, to produce a collaborative cross-disciplinary performance combining the very best in both contemporary dance and visual art.

To back this project and read more click here: http://bit.ly/cagXbbc

Or go to the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/pages/artbasel?ref=artbasel

The funds will be used to bring the visual artists to Vancouver for an intensive development period during spring and fall 2015 with the premiere in 2016.

The collaboration between CAG and Ballet BC recognizes the distinctive contribution each of us brings to the project, making the whole much bigger than the sum of its constituent parts. Our supporters are a major part of this, extending that partnership into a broader sense of sharing and building a real community involvement in this dynamic venture.

The cost of developing and producing such a commission can often be prohibitive despite the strength of idea and partners involved. While accessing of funds for the actual production and performances in 2016 provides many openings, the research phase is where we need help now. We need assistance in supporting the artists’ commissioning fees and expenses in order to get the project started.

We need to bring the artists to Vancouver for the research/development phase, an initial one week orientation and introduction in April-May 2015 where ideas can be discussed and meetings made, to be followed by a second two week intensive period developing the project through a series of rehearsals and workshops.

The completed work will receive its premiere in Vancouver in 2016 and then have potential to be presented on tour.

The artists

Since Wood and Harrison’s first collaboration in 1993, their work has evolved from single shot ‘studies’ filmed against neutral backgrounds to longer pieces in which a sequence of actions unfold within constructed locations that have more implicit meaning and contribute to greater narrative complexity. Pieces maintain a strict internal logic, with the action directly related to the duration of the work. Inside this ‘logical world’ action is allowed to happen for no apparent reason, tensions build between the environment and its inhabitant, play is encouraged and the influences on the work are intentionally mixed.

Why should you support it?

This cross-disciplinary approach to contemporary culture signals an ambitious attempt to join together in the production of what will be a major new work, combining great opportunities for artists and audiences alike. This project will be a first for all involved, marking  a significant and transformative partnership between each institution as well as an exciting and key opportunity for all artists. For Wood and Harrison, despite their work often being written about in relation to contemporary dance, it will be the first time they have ever worked toward a live performance.

Be a part of this major art-dance collaboration  BACK THE PROJECT HERE.

www.harrisonandwood.com
www.balletbc.com

 

 

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Artists/Participants:
John Wood  
Paul Harrison  
Ballet BC  



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Curatorial Intern April Thompson sat down with John Wood during his recent visit to Vancouver.

Artists John Wood & Paul Harrison have been collaborating since the 1990s. With an interest in observing the human condition, they create art that questions how things work. Wood & Harrison are investigators, best known for their intricately structured film performances which carry the illusion of graceful accident. John Wood was recently in Vancouver to workshop their upcoming collaboration with Ballet BC – a choreographed live performance with up to 10 dancers (a first for the duo, who have not previously exhibited in Canada). I sat down with John to find out more about their practice, intent and progress.

AT: When did you and Paul Harrison begin to collaborate?

JW: Paul had a residency working in a local school in Bristol, where he was working on movement and the human body. I went and visited him to see what he was up to and we recognized that we were really interested in similar things. Our first collaboration didn’t come out until some years later in 1993. We had both been in MFA programs within painting but we were both not interested in painting and so I had my eye on Paul, I was aware that we had that similarity.

AT: As an artistic team you have been termed sculptors, architects, scientists, a slap-stick duo, magicians, mimes, conceptual performers and choreographers. Each of these titles speaks to your practice yet ultimately fails to contain you entirely. Is it your intention to evade definitive categorizations of your art practice?

JW: We are definitely a mixture of all of those things. It’s not that we try to evade categorization, more so that we are interested in blurring the boundaries. All of those things interest us in various ways and so our practice becomes a fusion of them. We have always been interested in popular materials and mass culture as much as any high art objects. We have watched a lot of bad movies and gained many ideas from there.

AT: Your creative process almost always begins with a sketch or diagram. As artists you are constantly switching between the realms of 2D and 3D. The filmed piece “100 Falls” features Paul Harrison entering a white room, dressed in black. He ascends a wooden ladder that leads off camera only to fall to the floor suddenly from above. The editing allows a seamless transition so that the viewer at first is unaware that the falling figure is a dummy. The gesture is repeated, with the figure again ascending the ladder, disappearing and falling. It is easy for one to imagine how this piece may have looked originally sketched out in a minimal diagram-like format. Do you encounter difficulties in this translation of your work from drawing into movement?

JW: Lots. When we work in 2D we have this kind of limitless freedom because we can imagine ideals in terms of movements and bodies and effects. It’s very different when we then move to 3D and are restricted by actual bodies and space. The genesis of drawings is very important to us as a part of the work. We like to create this kind of looping process: taking something from 2D form and making it into a 3D performance, but filming that to turn it into a flat 2D video, then placing it in a gallery where the viewer experiences it in a 3D setting. So, we are constantly switching between the two forms. We now have works that stand alone as drawing pieces, which is a new thing for us to move into – the drawing as having its own endpoint as a solo work. We are both really interested in the idea of the drawing as a kind of lexicon or encyclopedia. It’s a nice way of looking through our work, since we have a huge amount of drawings and sketches from our ideas – I would say about 300 stored up from the working out process.

AT: Your films have been described as being like a magic trick in which the trick is disclosed in the very act of carrying it out. Do you intend for the initial drawing to be somewhat perceptible in the end piece or do you seek to conceal the schematic process?

JW: The drawings are part of the process and so they are very much a part of the work in themselves. I would say that our sketches are perceptible in the end action, in that watching the performance you could imagine their initial form as drawings. It was always our idea, especially with the videos, for them to have that feel of a school textbook with diagrams, generic figures and drawn out instances.

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What brought you to volunteer at the CAG?

I’ve always had an interest working in an art gallery, and I discovered the CAG last summer while exploring. I began chatting with Jocelyn at the front desk, picking her brain regarding her journey on how she got to work there, and she recommended I submit my resume to volunteer. I believe that volunteering at a place you are passionate about alters the perspective you have on yourself as well as how you are spending your time. It is not only a great experience, but you single-handedly place yourself in a position where opportunities that pertain to your interests or career path are presented to you. I wanted to work and learn from curators, artists and other fellow volunteers, as this was my first time working in a gallery. Now, being at the CAG since May, I’ve made new friends and have learned a great deal about the art world and all its facets!

What is your favorite thing about your volunteer position at the CAG?

Currently I help at the front desk, and being able to answer any questions that visitors may have I find really rewarding, as it aids in their exploration of artwork that the CAG exhibits. Opening nights are always great as well, since I get to check out the new exhibitions the day of, and mingle with like-minded individuals as well as the artist(s).

What and where was the first Contemporary Art work that you experienced?

Some of the first Contemporary artworks I experienced were probably back when I was living in Amsterdam as a teen.

What other creative activities do you do?

I have been sketching since childhood, and have just begun teaching myself how to paint this year! I’m very much enjoying the process. I have also been drumming since I was a teen, and I also edit films on the side, as it is part of my job in the film/TV industry.

Check out Michelle on Instagram, her painting here and a sample of video editing here.

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Related Blog Posts

 

We are very excited to launch and follow the progress of our Kickstarter campaign for a new partnership commission with Ballet BC and artists Wood & Harrison. Since launching last week we have 12 initial backers and lots of press on the project.

Click below to read what they are saying about us!

http://www.straight.com/blogra/783156/ballet-bc-and-brit-artists-launch-project-kickstarter

http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2014/12/03/art-basel-chooses-contemporary-art-gallery-project-for-crowdfunding/

More on the project….

The CAG and Ballet BC in association with the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative are excited to announce a new project.

For our project, selected by independent jury for Art|Basel’s curated page on Kickstarter, we are commissioning visual artists John Wood and Paul Harrison to team with the renowned dancers of Ballet BC, to produce a collaborative cross-disciplinary performance combining the very best in both contemporary dance and visual art.

The funds will be used to bring the visual artists to Vancouver for an intensive development period during spring and fall 2015 with the premiere in 2016.

The collaboration between CAG and Ballet BC recognizes the distinctive contribution each of us brings to the project, making the whole much bigger than the sum of its constituent parts. Our supporters are a major part of this, extending that partnership into a broader sense of sharing and building a real community involvement in this dynamic venture.

The cost of developing and producing such a commission can often be prohibitive despite the strength of idea and partners involved. While accessing of funds for the actual production and performances in 2016 provides many openings, the research phase is where we need help now. We need assistance in supporting the artists’ commissioning fees and expenses in order to get the project started.

We need to bring the artists to Vancouver for the research/development phase, an initial one week orientation and introduction in April-May 2015 where ideas can be discussed and meetings made, to be followed by a second two week intensive period developing the project through a series of rehearsals and workshops.

The completed work will receive its premiere in Vancouver in 2016 and then have potential to be presented on tour.

The artists

Since Wood and Harrison’s first collaboration in 1993, their work has evolved from single shot ‘studies’ filmed against neutral backgrounds to longer pieces in which a sequence of actions unfold within constructed locations that have more implicit meaning and contribute to greater narrative complexity. Pieces maintain a strict internal logic, with the action directly related to the duration of the work. Inside this ‘logical world’ action is allowed to happen for no apparent reason, tensions build between the environment and its inhabitant, play is encouraged and the influences on the work are intentionally mixed.

Why should you support it?

This cross-disciplinary approach to contemporary culture signals an ambitious attempt to join together in the production of what will be a major new work, combining great opportunities for artists and audiences alike. This project will be a first for all involved, marking a significant and transformative partnership between each institution as well as an exciting and key opportunity for all artists. For Wood and Harrison, despite their work often being written about in relation to contemporary dance, it will be the first time they have ever worked toward a live performance.

– Jill Henderson

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