The white cube meets the great outdoors this weekend as artists stage performances in Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park, one of Canada’s most iconic urban greenspaces. Organized by Eyelevel Gallery, its events include mass kite memorials, fake meteor showers, an exhibition of park-residency results and more.
“The art community doesn’t always overlap with a lot of people who attend the park,” says Sarah Burwash, the gallery’s performance series coordinator. “Eyelevel is located in the north end [of Halifax] and the park is in the south end. It’s not that far of a distance, but it’s easy for people in them to not overlap. Through this, we’re hoping to bring the neighbourhoods together.”
The program kicks off Friday, June 24, at 7pm at the gallery proper as artist Aimée Henny Brown opens an exhibit of works created during a residency she undertook at Point Pleasant’s Gatekeeper’s Lodge from January to May of this year. As detailed on her blog, activities from the five-month period included a lamplighter’s tribute, a wilderness tea party and extensive archival research.
The next day (Saturday, June 25) at 11am, the park performances start with Andrew Maize’s Kites, a mass kite-flying event. As the brochure explains, Maize “worked with local communities to build kites out of recycled materials, one for every Canadian soldier and civilian killed in Afghanistan since 2002 (159 to date).” The intent is for the kites to act, in part, as “dynamic ephemeral memorials.”
Next up on the bill are Allison Comrie’s Erased de Comrie and Will Vandermeulen’s Meteor, both of which will move through the park from 12pm to 7pm.
“Allison is touching on the idea of not leaving a trace in a park or in nature,” says Burwash. “She’ll be erasing her steps as she walks using a large branch.” The project scales up Comrie’s longer-term practice of creating drawings using erased marks.
Vandermeulen, for his part, will be leading a team of performers as the fictional Falling Star Society—characters combing the park for a fallen meteor. “They’re looking to try and change the feel of the park through this idea of paranoia and false information,” says Burwash.
As the woodland darkens between 8pm and 9pm, Barbara Lounder will enact her work Stumps: An Illuminated Performance Walk to close the Saturday program. Burwash explains that Lounder’s been doing research with a daycare near the park and “been getting inspired by what their users found interesting throughout the park. She’ll be using a hand-held projector to project related images onto stumps”—many of which were formed during 2003’s Hurricane Juan, which damaged three-quarters of Point Pleasant’s trees.
On Sunday, June 26, Vandermeulen and Comrie will reprise their performances from 12pm to 6pm, while Halifax’s Art Bikers collective, a mobile outreach program, plans to haul zines and zine-making materials along the trails from 12pm to 5pm.
On both days, uniformed Public Performance Ambassadors and other volunteers at major park entrances will help orient visitors to the programming activities. Artist talks will also take place at the Gatekeeper’s Lodge on Saturday evening from 7pm to 10pm.
Though the weekend is short, it isn’t the last time Point Pleasant will be seeing art action. Burwash says the gallery has funding to organize similar programs in 2012 and 2013, and she’s looking forward to what might develop. In the shorter term, Aimée Henny Brown’s show at the gallery continues until July 1.