LiveJournal

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LiveJournal

Audio Intro via YouTube

Artist Statement: The internet is about connection. Data connection, human connection, intellectual and dating connection and a myriad of more. The anonymity of it allows us to be ourselves in ways we might not feel comfortable in person, and this can be manifested in both positive and negative ways.

performancescript-page-001performancescript-page-002Back in 2000, when dial-up connected us to the World Wide Web, along with aol, chat rooms, and that annoying dancing hamster, LiveJournal emerged as an early social networking site, before that was even a term. LiveJournal is an anonymous and public journal platform, where strangers can comment and discuss your posts.

I will be reading aloud 5 unedited sequential posts from my LiveJournal in the winter of 2001-2002. The journal as an archive is a way to explore, express, and in this case seek support. The issues and struggles of being a daughter and sibling of people with mental illness are performed verbatim. In between each reading of an entry, I will interact with the participant/audience members who have taken the name badges and roles; Social Worker, Family Doctor, Psychiatrist, & Guidance Counsellor, by asking the question, “What should I do?”

Each discipline within the mental health system had different advice. And the truth is, 14 years later I am still asking the same question, along with thousands of other people struggling to support their loved ones with Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.

By reliving these questions I asked as a teen, I take comfort in the fact that this feeling of not knowing what to do is cyclical, just like mental illness. That time moves at different paces. I see that at present with our societal view of mental illness, there are simultaneously no answers to my questions, and too many that do nothing.

This performance was a final work for a Cultural Production Class, ENVS 6348 at York University, December 2015.

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Rejection Collage

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rejectioncollage

 

Artist Statement: This piece represents the majority of art in the Yukon, and an innovative way to continue working with and through rejection. Using my last rejection letter from the Advanced Artist Award, and mixed paper acquired at the Visitor’s Centre, this project was created onsite, and speaks for the 70% of Yukon artists whose work does not get funded. Caught in a cycle of paperwork, some projects reapply, and some never end up materializing. Every artist, every human experiences the disappointment of rejection. But we must move forward. This piece meditates on this, simultaneously highlighting all the work that goes on behind the scenes to be order to live and create, and acknowledging all those which do not develop further. By creating this work that is valued at the exact original amount I applied for, this piece becomes conceptual and transforms, exploring the intersection of grants and the creative process, and embodying art’s ability to respond and represent.

This work is priced at $5000, the amount of the grant I was rejected for, and will be submitted yearly to the Yukon Permanent Art Collection Acquisition Call, as the price is part of the concept and life of the work. This peice was originally created in July 2015, as part of the En Pleine Air Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon, put on my Yukon Artists at Work.

Disco

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Disco Meditations

Meditation

This 3-part sound art series set in Dawson City plays with public places, personal relationships to them and landmark identity, using the medium of guided meditations. Satirical, clever and local, each piece is recorded and written on site. At 5 pm each day there will be a public guided meditation.

Friday August 14th at the Snake Pit

Saturday August 15th at the Quigley Landfill Free Store

Sunday August 16th at the George Black Ferry

The background music for each piece is recorded and edited on site,  and a humorous guided meditation script is written. Then synthesizer is added to complete the sound art project. Each piece is approximately 5 minutes long. If you can’t make it to Riverside Arts Fest, then please listen to these relaxing and hilarious guided meditations to connect with Dawson City. To connect with Whitehorse, please see River Guide, my 2014 sound art guided meditation recorded at 5 sites along the Yukon River.

Zine Tree

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A studious opening, with lots of mini-zines ready to go

A studious opening, with lots of mini-zines ready to go

I built a tree out of wood, zines, birch bark, wire, paper mache, branches and a solid typewriter base. This Zine Tree is a community installation designed to grow zine culture in the north, a distro and a creation station all at once. Free photocopying too! This piece plays on the idea of a tree of knowledge, even down to the details, as the zine shelves are collaged with pages from an encyclopedia called The Book of Knowledge.

I am the Whitehorse Public Zine Librarian, and am using the collection as part of the community installation. I feel strongly that zine culture can do well here, I even tabled at the local gun show one year and it was wildly successful. Many in the North live without running water or electricity, by choice, and I see Northern resourcefulness, off-grid aspirations and zines as a great potential threesome.

July is International Zine Month, and I have several free workshops you can come to and make zines at, or just learn more about what a zine is at Northern Zine:  The Zine Tree Project art show at the Edge Gallery at Arts Underground, the show is open Tuesday to Saturday 10-5 pm until July 26th.

Here’s an interview I did with CBC Radio One about the project, zines, and #julyisinternationalzinemonth on July 2nd.

The fabulous ZINE TREE

If you have any zines you would like to donate to the project, please get in touch! amelia.merhar@hotmail.com

Zine Tree will also be at Artist’s Alley at YuComicon in August, and will be participating in Riverside Arts Festival in Dawson City.

Traveling with Nyki

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Nyki Kish is in prison for a crime she claims she didn’t commit. I have worked on and off in jail outreach for years. What the incarcerated often fear most is being forgotten. Nyki was a traveler, and so am I, and one day we had a conversation about me putting her head on a popsicle stick and taking photos of her on my travels, so it would be as if she was still out and about and free in the world. Over the years, I have taken Nyki to several countries and around the North quite a bit. Here is are some of my favourites from Northern Canada and Alaska. The use of a poor image is a conscious one.

This is an ongoing project.

Houseboat Happiness, Yellowknife

Solo Show, Chena Lakes

Solo Show, Chena Lakes

Bison Highway, BC

Sheep Mountain, Kluane Lake

Sheep Mountain, Kluane Lake

Snowmobile Nyki

Snowmobile Nyki

Dyea, Alaska!

Dyea, Alaska!

biggestgoldpan

Largest Goldpan in THE WORLD

Vinyl Tarot

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Listen to awesome records, and figure out your life at the same time. Vinyl Tarot. A working tarot deck made of records. The cover art, artist and specific song unite, creating the coolest deck ever. Music influences our lives in so many ways. Vinyl Tarot is upfront about that influence.

I have made the Major Arcana (22 Cards)*, but I am working on digitizing the deck with it’s own website, and then completing the deck (78 cards total) during an upcoming residency. I plan to perform Vinyl Tarot at select festivals and venues in Western Canada this summer, then pass the deck into the loving hands of Weird Canada!

Check it out

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck out of records

Clockwise, top left; Temperance, Heirophant, Chariot and Magician cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck out of records

Clockwise, top left; Hanged Man, Fool, World and Strength cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck made of records

Clockwise, top left; Devil, Justice, Hermit and Death cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck out of records

Clockwise, top left; Sun, Wheel of Fortune, Star and Moon cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck made out of records

Clockwise, top left; Emperor, Tower, Empress and High Priestess cards

Vinyl Tarot, the working tarot deck made out of records

Left; Judgement and Lovers cards

The first performance of this piece was at Dawson City’s Riverside Arts Festival. I’ve done small readings around the North with this piece, and it was in-residence at Rue Studio on Manitoulin island, Ontario, for a year. I’ve created an accompanying booklet that describes the card’s significance, and how to do a simple, 3 card/song Gestalt reading. Each reading takes about 15 minutes, to explain the card, and then listen to the song.

For example, Billy Joel, ‘Only the Good Die Young’ is the Death card. Boney M, ‘Rasputin’ is the Strength card. Prince, ‘You Got the Look’ is the Magician. Tom Waits is Judgement, The Singing Nun is Temperance and the High Priestess is Aretha Franklin.

Check back for more news about this project.

*record selection is minimal in the Yukon, so I need an urban residency to complete Vinyl Tarot

CD Collage Party

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So, you may or may not know of my musical career as Big Mama Lele. I have been up late, gluey fingers and tiny bits of paper everywhere, making custom CD artwork.  The album is called GDFC, because that is chord progression for all of the songs. Each of these unique collages is called something different, beginning with the letters GDFC, to celebrate all you can do and say with only 4 chords.

Check it out

GDFC Artwork

(Top Left) Gentle Days For Cats, Giant Delicious F**king Club Sandwich

(Top, Centre) Growling Dominant Ferocious Cougar, Galactic Demonic Fire Car!

I have made a limited number of collages for GDFC, and they will be available for sale at my CD Release, and afterwards, remaining ones (if any) may be ordered online though bigmamalele.com.

Big Mama Lele's ReRelease