The new, with its power of beginning and beginning again, remains forever new, just as the established was always established from the outset, even if a certain amount of empirical time was necessary for this to be recognized. What becomes established with the new is precisely not the new. For the new in other words, difference - calls forth forces in thought which are not the forces of recognition,today or tomorrow, but the powers of a completely other model, from an unrecognized and unrecognizable terra incognita. What forces does this new bring to bear upon thought, from what central bad nature and ill will does it spring, from what central ungrounding which strips thought of its 'innateness', and treats it every time as something which has not always existed, but begins, forced and under constraint? (Deleuze, 1994: 136*)
Unfolding durationally and spatially, as a socially activated thought-space, The Blue Light begins to circulate like a provisional interface in the staging of imaginary situations through a travelling montage of images that continues to change forms, like a nomadic assembly of surfaces, textures and spaces, that sticks to unexpected quotidian events — as it drifts into/ with traces of local queer histories and their still-alive ghosts. Attempting to delay the sponsorship that semio-stimulation has on meaning, at a time when, according to Franco “Bifo” Berardi (The Uprising: on poetry and finance, 2012 and Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide, 2015) — the transformative conditions of cognitive capitalism have themselves been cast as the main protagonists in the psychic dramatization of meaning, this wandering stage-for-thoughts begins to migrate towards the virtuality of an always-receding background, like an unwritten scenography that solicits the events of it’s own sayability, but without a subsequent arrival in language (and as language). Here, somewhere in between the making and the un-making of architecture as a thing that spatializes thoughts as relations into meaning, and meaning as a thing that stabilizes the relationality of relations, this hallucinatory action that seeks direction through the non-directional disassembly of direction, begins to illuminate the placelessness of being inside of anon-being-with a state-of-refusal; the refusal of the here and the now, the refusal of tomorrow and of the what once was (or the “what” that may have been) — the refusal of being without refusing life. The pressing question that surfaces through the ongoingness of this search for how to search through what slips into the unsearchable — is around the act of imagination itself, and how its spacing might be inhabited as a form of making that finds presence in the non-presence of being. The Blue Light, in the sense of its material entanglements with what at times seems to be a state of abandonment, becomes a way of being with the uncertainty of an unpredictable future — a future that finds light through its withdrawal from meaning, and in turn, through the paradoxical possibility of extinction.**
Backgrounded by the psychic projection of these never-ending and circuitous mental re-dramatizations of transitory architectural scenes and everyday moments of drift — this temporary social montage moves across several platforms, both physical and virtual, and begins by reactivating the secret backroom meeting place from a lesbian bookstore that operated in Calgary, in the early 1980’s — inside of an equally secretive backroom at CommunityWise Resource Centre, which served as the original location for Calgary’s mobile Kaffeeklatsch Café (est. 2014), a local coffee-company that drifts through pop-up locations in various sites and curated events from across the city and which was started by Jessica Mccarrel after her directorial tenure with The New Gallery, one of Canada’s oldest artist-run centres***. Inside this hidden backroom, which at times has served as an improvised and out-of-the-frame closet-space for the various non-profit grassroots organizations that have operated at CommunityWise since 1982, there is now a secret microliving environment that during the day doubles as a public reading room and overnight, as a clandestine sleeping shelter for unknown strangers. Taking turns, Jeremy Pavka and Anna Semenoff have outfitted this space with new carpeting, added a second floor and designed reconfigurable and site specific furniture and display props that integrate with the often-unplanned daily functions of this space. Placed inside this newly crafted environment, there is a sleep-inducing drink which was formulated through a collaboration between Jessica Mccarrel and Latifa Pelletier-Ahmed, and which features a selection of local, invasive plant-species that now populate the wild ecologies of gay cruising trails from Calgary. Recalling the often-unwritten histories of psychedelic substances and their illicit circulation through alternative queer social networks, once ingested, this drink is designed to invoke an uneasy mixture of uncontrollable hallucinations and strange physical sensations.
Drifting through time and space, Shyra deSouza, a once Calgary based artist — who is now based in Berlin, Germany — has used this secret microliving environment as a conceptual home-base from where she began to retrace a walking-trail from Berlin, as a way to make an imaginary, intercontinental portal for the virtual teleportation of various physical and mental objects. Continuing with her actions from Calgary, this spring, deSouza in collaboration with Jessica Mccarrel will be re-staging Kaffeeklatsch Café (while serving Latifa Pelletier-Ahmed’s sleep-inducing drinks) in various queer backroom locations throughout Berlin, Germany. Audio and video recordings of deSouza’s ongoing actions will surface unannounced through a reconfigurable choreography of online pop-up windows and textual messages on the M:ST website.
In Calgary, The Blue Light backroom micro-environment at CommunityWise Resource Centre will be activated this April by Jessica Mccarrel,by serving as a venue for the debut of the new, and roving Kaffeeklatsch Project Space which will be featuring a curated selection of music performances, lectures, readings,workshops and work by local, and international visual artists. To keep updated on the upcoming schedule of events, please check back regularly by visiting the freshly updated Kaffeeklatsch online shop.
* Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, (1994, p. 29, 32, 138, 262, 264)
** John Paul Ricco in The Logic of the Lure (2002, p.30-9) describes the untimely time of queer time and how the non-relationality of queer time is entangled with a simultaneous withdrawal from language and its becoming as a thinkable object that structures both the quantification of time and an ontological becoming of thoughts. In his essay Jacking Off/ A minor Architecture (1993), Ricco attempts to further spatialize the notion of queer non-relationality in terms that politicize its spatialization as an ephemeral form of “re-making” architectural space through the performativity of queer anonymous sexual pleasure, a thought that mirrors Michel Foucault’s relationship with the production of paraliterary and imaginary architectural spaces and how these might infiltrate larger, and more “normative” everyday architectures. In turn, I am interested in the relationship between minor forms of architecture and the way poetry carves out parallel spaces through language - a link that at times is picked up by Franco Berardi in his articulations of possible ways to abstract the utility of language away from its usual semio-functions and how these massage the unending proliferation(s) of capital-driven economies.
*** from a conversation with Jessica Mccarrel, I learned that The New Gallery (TNG) - originally The Clouds & Water Gallery and Visual Production Society (est. 1975), initially supported the financial infrastructure that underpinned it’s programming structure by operating an on-site, experimental coffeehouse (the Sancious Coffeehouse).
Alexandria Inkster, Kevin Allen and Mina Harker
Canada Council for the Arts
M:ST Performative Art
Latifa Pelletier-Ahmed is a botanist, herbalist, educator, researcher, and artist. Latifa’s work centres around building connections between plants and people, with the goal of establishing relationships that challenge processes of exploitive extraction and seek a more sustainable and just future. Latifa’s most recent art practice includes a collaboration with Alana Bartol for the piece Seeds for Grassy Mountain and “…if we ignore them they will disappear…” excerpt from Robin Wall Kimmerer curated as part of a group exhibition with u’s gallery.
Latifa lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7 Territory where her efforts centre on recognizing the ongoing destruction of at-risk habitats including native prairie and grassland. Latifa operates a consulting service, Latifa’s Herbs, which offers health consultations as well as educational services related to plants including identification, processing, harvesting, edible and medicinal usage, and cultivating. She is also the co-owner of ALCLA Native Plants, a native plant nursery that was founded in 1992. Latifa is formally qualified with a MSc in Herbal Medicine from Middlesex University, London, UK and BSc in Botany from the University of Calgary.
Jeremy Pavka (b. 1987, Lethbridge Alberta) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Calgary, Alberta and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Media Arts + Digital Technologies from the Alberta College of Art + Design (2011). Pavka’s practice uses analogue and digital technologies combined with comedic tropes to create laborious renditions of the everyday.
Recent exhibitions include: Jarvis Hall Gallery, Calgary, Canada (2017), Platform Gallery, Edmonton, Canada (2017), Stride Gallery, Calgary, Canada (2016), Unitt Pitt, Vancouver, Canada (2016), Sometimes Art Space, Havana, Cuba (2015), and 8eleven Gallery, Toronto, Canada (2015). He has participated in numerous residencies including Still Alive, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff, Canada (2016), Common Opulence, Demmitt, Canada (2015), and the Corbin Union Residency, Corbin, Canada (2013-2017).
Pavka would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Arts Development, and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity for their generous support.
Shyra DeSouza is an interdisciplinary artist originally from Calgary, currently based in Berlin. She attended the Sculpture department at the Alberta College of Art & Design in Calgary, Canada, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts with distinction in 2006. Her primary artistic interests lie in unravelling and reorganising the perceptions that characterise contemporary lived experience, utilising strategies and concepts such as: mimetic exacerbation, memento mori, pareidolia, ennui, and implication of the viewer to drive the development of her work. DeSouza’s practice encompasses a broad set of skills and materials, typically resulting in various forms of film, installation, and sculpture. Currently DeSouza is collaborating on a short film project in Slovakia, applying narratives derived from a controversial historical subject, and using the medium of film to elicit similar inner conflicts in viewers, with the intention of projecting the complexity of experience, and disrupting binary thought processes. She has screened/exhibited her work across Canada, in the United States, and in Europe. As well as maintaining an artistic studio practice, she has undertaken several volunteer administration and board roles within the Calgary arts community, and has been awarded a number of grants and residencies.
Jessica McCarrel is a coffee lover, Canadian artist and cultural worker interested in the subtle tactics of resistance and privative practices that make living a subversive art. McCarrel obtained her BFA from the Alberta College of Art. Her artwork has been exhibited in Canada (Alberta) and in the United States (New York, Los Angeles). She runs Kaffeeklatsch, a coffee company that serves notable coffee in unique and unexpected places to facilitate social connections.
Anna Semenoff: My research is influenced by phenomenology: the study of structures and systems of perception, and the ways that they influence our understanding of our built environment and how we occupy it. Employing a minimal aesthetic, my work utilizes sculpture and installation as an immersive medium, both giving rise to a self-awareness regarding the nature of perception. Specifically, I am concerned with how we give form and shape to our world via a codified perceptual apparatus – with the reciprocal nature and logics inherent within the act of seeing, particularly how seeing is active, and gives form and meaning to that which is seen.
The materials I choose in my work create an arena of associations, such as color, texture, and shape. Structurally, they emulate architectural spaces – functioning as projective maps or scheme. They exist in a fluxive space between the non-representational world of minimalism and projective geometry. Moving between the physically immediate and the geometrically transcendent – this friction aims to mimic the complexity of perception – between the organizing and codifying technologies of perception and the unfathomable depths and non-disclosure of “reality”.
Ashley Bedet came back to Calgary, where she was born. Bedet is the product of many very different worlds reproducing, meeting difference, and then reproducing again. That makes her the product of at least four distinct separate paths. She graduated from NSCAD University in 2014 and has been slowly making and showing work since.
Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Canada, Rocky Wallbaum now lives and works in Calgary, Canada. Throughout his life, Rocky has worked as a cook, a college professor in Culinary Arts & Business, in Human Resources Development, and also in retail - while maintaining a parallel, creative writing and performing practice. Always on the lookout for new things to try, Rocky has volunteered widely, as a singer in church and community choirs, a board member of a United Church, a Big Brother, and a Beaver and Cub leader. Rocky has co-Chaired a School Parents’ Council and directed seminars in cooking and wine tasting. Guided by intergenerational processes of exchange and support, Rocky’s teaching and creative practices have both led him to present at local and international conferences, and currently he co-chairs Rainbow Elders Calgary, a not-for-profit organization that enables local seniors in the LGBTQ+ community to give back to Calgary’s community.
Rocky holds a Bachelor of Education (with distinction) from the University of Alberta, and a Masters degree in Adult Education from St. Francis-Xavier University in Nova Scotia. He is a certified facilitator of True Colours and Colour Spectrums Personality Inventories, and a trainer in Faculty led Instructor development programs. Creatively, Rocky has been involved with drama as an actor and director. He plays guitar and writes songs, and enjoys performing in concerts and around campfires. Rocky published his first erotic story in 1999, and has enjoyed reading and writing erotic fiction ever since. Thematically, Rocky’s stories feature men of different generations, who know and like each other, but discover when they meet one-on-one, that they have other interests in common. Although rooted in fiction, Rocky's erotic stories portray how men may deepen their emotional connections through the pursuit of mutual, sensual pleasure — and his writing, in some instances, has often been perceived as a generative tool for pleasure-making that foregrounds the body in the experience of reading, as a site where writing becomes a sensorial form of nourishment and way of relating, queerly, and virtually, to other bodies. A selection of Rocky’s stories can be located online through the Nifty Erotic Stories Archive (est. 1992).
Mid-career Canadian artist Richard Boulet maintains an active studio practice addressing issues of marginalization, specifically the topics of mental health and more recently, concerns relating to LGBTQ communities. He has exhibited widely, with a national touring that included the Textile Museum of Canada, a 2016 retrospective at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie, plus multiple solo and group exhibitions. The content of his textiles and drawings convey searching for sensibilities of community engagement primarily through semi-autobiographical works rooted in his living with schizophrenia.
Richard has worked in a number of Canadian cities including Winnipeg, Montreal, Vancouver and currently Edmonton. He has also spent periods of time in Calgary and Regina during phases of marginal living. Jobs have included working in a gallery, set painting and mental health advocacy. At this time Richard is employed with the Edmonton office of the Canadian Mental Health Association, and his professional art practice is represented through dc3 art projects.
For formal education Richard has three degrees, most recently an MFA from the University of Alberta, in drawing and intermedia, where he refined his desire to work in fibre combining text and image. This culminated in a focus on quilting and cross-stitch, which is still evident in his current work, although as of late drawing and mixed media also feature prominently. His earlier degrees are both from the University of Manitoba, firstly in Environmental Studies (Architecture) and then a BFA in painting.