Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Artistic Licence: Emerging/Enfant

So I got my Artistic Licence last week.

Issued as a part of a "performative installation" called the Artistic Licence Bureau by Glen Johnson, the PLATFORM centre for photographic + digital arts was transformed.

A wall bisected the gallery space, with an opening to dispense and take in forms and a second opening to take the applicants' photos. Add to that chairs, clipboards, a rack of pamphlets, a bell signalling that the 'clerk' was needed and the effect was complete.

BING! (I rang the bell, of course...and tried to keep from giggling.)

My favourite part of the exhibit, besides the card, manual on how to apply for an Artistic Licence, and the half-dozen pamphlets on a variety of art-y subjects was how panicked it seemed to make "innocent" bystanders.

People would come in to Artspace's lobby, peer into the installation from the doorway of the gallery, and look dumbfounded.

The 'clerk' would cheerily invite them in. At which point, they'd take a nervous step back. A few entered the installation and browsed the pamphlets. ("Was this a joke?" I could almost hear them thinking, as I finished filling out my application.)

I will add my Artistic License to my 2004 ID card from the Banff Centre that listed me as an Artist and featured a similarly bad photo. (But oh, how I needed to have someone call me an artist...)

I will also mentally add it to the Winnipeg Sun designation by Tom Broadbeck, years ago, that I was "con artist" (it was an article protesting WAC and its distribution of funds; I'd recently got a grant and so they listed me by name...).

Yay! Fun!

* * *

From Platform's website:

"In a parody of the bureaucratization of the art world, and the seemingly endless ways artistic practices have become systemized, Glenn Johnson has created an office where artistic licences are dispensed.

Visitors to the Artistic Licence Bureau [ALB] will be able to experience all the fun that comes with a trip to a government office: waiting in line, filling in forms and having an unflattering photograph taken.

The ALB also offers a veritable potpourri (pronounced potpourri) of information pamphlets intended to demystify the various artistic practices one might endeavour to pursue: "It's Nothing Really, a Guide to Making Conceptual Art"; "ME, ME, ME, Turn Your Self-Obsession Into a Career as a Performance Artist"; and "How Long is This Thing? A Guide to Video Art" etc. Visitors to the ALB will be able to apply for (and possibly receive) a provisional Artistic Licence in order to finally have proof that they are not dilettantes but actual artists.

Since graduating from the University of Winnipeg with a BA in classics in 1993, Glen Johnson has produced a large body of writing that has been distributed in the form of brochures, novellas, and insertions within various catalogues and books. His performances, invariably involving text, and that take the form of storytelling segments or lectures accompanied by projected images, have been performed at The National Gallery of Canada (2008), the University of Winnipeg's Gallery 1C03 (2007), Winnipeg Art Gallery (2006), Mount Saint Vincent University (2005), PLATFORM, Winnipeg (2005), aceartinc (2009, 2005, 2003), and The Annex (2004). Among other strategies, Johnson incorporates humour in almost every (guess which ones!) artwork he produces.

No comments: