Main Space

March 13 - April 25, 2020

Tape 158: New Documents from the Archive
Kandis Friesen

Exhibition Dates:
March 13, 2020 - April 25, 2020

Opening Reception: March 13, 2020 7PM to 10PM

Artist Talk: March 13, 2020 11AM to 12:15 PM at the University of Calgary, Department of Art, Lecture Hall AB 672 CANCELLED

TRUCK Contemporary Art is pleased to present Kandis Friesen's Tape 158: New Documents from the Archives. Working through architectural montage and narrative collage, the installation builds into a shifting archival loop, making new texts through abstract absences and ghostly presence: new documents for the archives. 
The exhibition is anchored in the re-filming of a 1991 archival videotape, found at the Mennonite Heritage Archives in Winnipeg, and filmed in a small village in southeastern Ukraine; returning to the site twenty-five years later, the experimental essay shifts through future-past narrative modes, asking how body, nation, and time are defined within and without us.

Object constancy
Essay written by Indu Vashist

During these times, we have no concept for the history of this place – to even consider it is not an option.

We must remain in the present, without context.
We must ignore the signs that it is here among us.
We do this through the denial of ruins and the denial of presence.

When we work, we are working in that minute, that second, that hour, that breath.
When we sing, we are singing in that minute, that second, that hour, that breath.
When we talk, we are talking in that minute, that second, that hour, that breath.
When we die, we are dying in that minute, that second, that hour, that breath. [1]

Client: As soon as I landed in Madras, I felt like I didn’t know how to be anymore. Even though the place was familiar, I felt like I had forgotten how to function. How to do the most ordinary things in public. How to have conversations in private.

Therapist: I don’t think that I understand.

Client: I didn’t know how to exist. I remembered living there, I couldn’t recall the experience of it. It felt like the rules had changed, so I had to figure them out without a logic or guide of my past experiences. Like I didn’t know when to make eye contact.

I started having an existential crisis about my relationship to the place itself. I began to wonder if my relationship to home was a phase that I had grown out of it. Or maybe my relationship to home was tied to Ponni. Now that we are broken up, maybe it means that India is no longer my home?

All of that changed as soon as the protests broke out. Everyone’s eyes, ears and mouths opened. The papayas tasted as I remembered them. Strangers looked at each other again. It was as if the fascism had seeped into the interior parts of ourselves and we were self-censoring our senses and feelings.

Therapist: Were you aware of what you were feeling?

Client: When Ximone would message me, they would ask questions about what I was seeing, thinking, feeling. With them, I feel like I cannot evade myself as much as I might want to. However, a strange thing started to happen. Even though, we had honest conversations about our feelings for each other, I would start to feel unsure about the content of those conversations, as if they hadn’t happened at all…

Therapist: Was there anything that would help you remember?

Client: Yes, when they would message me and to tell me that they were thinking about me. I would remember the depth of our connection, but then eventually that memory would fade.

Therapist: How did that manifest?

Client: At first, I wouldn’t care at all. Then I would start rationalizing- like my head remembered the feeling of ‘us’, but it wouldn’t download to my heart.  Then, I would get sad and think, ‘They don’t love me.’ Then, I would feel relief. Unburdened about caring about them.

Therapist: You experienced the entire cycle of grief, in between communication?

Client: Yes, that’s exactly what it felt like.

Therapist: What are you feeling right now?

Client: Really sad. Why can’t I remember our connection consistently?

Therapist: You know that I rarely like to do this kind of thing. Especially because when I tell you about a concept, I know that you will start researching it. However, let me break my own rule. Do you know what ‘object constancy’ is?

Client: No.

Therapist: Children need to experience the reliability and presence of their parents to understand that when they leave the room, they still on the same planet, and will reappear again. As an adult, a lack of object constancy means that a person reads the action of another as if there was no other prior relationship. The person has a hard time experiencing an absent person as a continuous loving presence in their heart, and interprets their absence as loss and begins to experience the cycle of grief.

Client: I can see that with Ximone. Do you think that that same sort of thing was happening to me in Madras? Can the object be a place, a home? If object constancy is difficult for those who were neglected by a parent, what if we were mistreated by a state? It feels like the rupture caused by both fascism and migration then leads to diasporic people to not have object constancy with the motherland. That feeling when I landed in Madras was so similar to what I was feeling when I was communicating with Ximone. In both feeling states, I forgot how to be myself vis-à-vis them.

Therapist: This is why I don’t introduce concepts to you. It enables you to keep inside the protective space of the intellect rather than investigating what you are feeling. So, what are you feeling?

It was a distant desire.                                                                  
A prospective proximity.
An impending closeness.
A breath can be separated from the next, but can it really?
There is no before and after anything.
You could say before and after, but the bombs in my backyard are still there. [1]

[1] text cited from Friesen's text video in the exhibition, Nichevoki Nichevo, which draws it's name from the brief Soviet surrealist avant garde collective called the Nothingists. Existing from 1920-22, their manifesto was to Write nothing! Read nothing! Say nothing! Print nothing! - asserting that everything begins in nothing, working to disintegrate organized language and sound as a process of de-composition, as the work itself.

Indu Vashist has served as the Executive Director of SAVAC since 2013. She is interested in art that is not precious and words that are precise.

Kandis Friesen’s work is anchored in diasporic language, dispersed translations, and disintegrating archival forms. Drawing on Russian Mennonite, Ukrainian, and formerly Soviet geographies, her interdisciplinary compositions build from architectural, material, and spectral inhabitations of exile, amplifying minute and myriad histories at once. Her work has been exhibited at LUX (London, UK), Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago, US), VOX (Montréal, CA), Dare-Dare (Montréal, CA), Mural Arts Program (Philadelphia, US), Workers Arts & Heritage Centre (Hamilton, US), and Eastern Edge (St. John's, CA); her videos have been screened at Festival international du film sur l’art (Montréal, CA), Traverse Vidéo (Toulouse, FR), MIX (NYC, US), Athens Digital Arts Festival (Athens, GR), WNDX Festival of Moving Image (Winnipeg, CA), and Jihlava International Film Festival (Jihlava, CZ). She has received several grants and awards, including from the Canada Council for the Arts and the CALQ, the Images Festival Steamwhistle Award (with Nahed Mansour, 2012), Best Canadian Work at WNDX (2018), and the Brucebo Travel Research Grant (2019). She has participated in residencies at the Santa Fe Art Institute (Santa Fe, US), the Québec Residency at The Banff Centre (Banff, CA), MAWA (Winnipeg, Canada), and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, US). Her films are distributed by Groupe Intervention Vidéo in Montréal.

TRUCK Contemporary Art
2009 10 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T3C 0K4
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