Solutions to the Problem of Staying Alive

Part of
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Special Project
January 2020 - March 2021

Texts lifted from phone “Notes” and journals, scribbles on scraps of paper, screenshots from TV shows seen on laptops, photos and memes sent back and forth. These are the activities undertaken alone, late nights, grounding an interconnection and a friendship—forming a fabric. These are the cracks, and the pictures of infected slivers, the itchiness of healing, the self-help rocks dropped in your trunk. They say—write your name out here, and fill in the blanks with blue-ink flowers. They say—tell us your fortune teller. Rewind all the tapes.

Somewhere between being and not being and breathing, straddling humour, hopefulness and despair, Solutions to the Problem of Staying Alive is a collaboration and publication by Hannah Doerksen and sophia bartholomew, made up of many small parts. Seen together, these parts offer entry points—ways for to begin talking about trauma, grief, searches for meaning, and struggles with mental health, as well as the ongoing process of finding your way forward, sometimes screaming or crying or laughing and rolling around on the ground, groping around in the dark on your hands and knees.

It might not be a book exactly, but it's certainly an opening up to others, and a wanting to share in the mess of it all and face these things together.

Publication launch: Copies of Solutions to the Problem of Staying Alive will be distributed by making trades with friends and strangers through the second half of 2021 – documented here. If you are interested in receiving a copy, learn more about making a trade.

Presented in partnership with UNIT/PITT artist-run centre.

sophia bartholomew (they/them) is a non-binary person and interdisciplinary artist who uses text and textiles, objects and photographs, performance and video to explore inter-subjectivity, reciprocity, physical fragility and decay. They are descended from Norwegian immigrants on Treaty 3 territory, and English and Irish settlers in Toronto. Since graduating with their BFA from UBC in 2012, their practice has been guided by open-ended conversation and collaborative work with other artists.

Hannah Doerksen (she/her) is a Calgary-based artist who received a BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2012. During her studies, Doerksen attended the New York Studio Residency Program in Brooklyn, and the California College of Art in San Francisco. Since graduating, she has exhibited in Brazil, the United Kingdom, the United States, and throughout Canada. Recently, Doerksen has presented major projects at the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Walter Phillips Gallery, Centre Clark, Untitled Art Society, and The Art Gallery of Guelph.

Solutions to the Problem of Staying Alive