Working directly with members of the Stouffville community, artists Linda Duvall and Timeanddesire (Denise St Marie and Timothy Walker) distilled multiple points of view gathered through their research to reflect back a spectrum of perspectives regarding our relationship to place. Country close to the City is a motto used by our municipality to induce city dwellers to leave the rat race of urban living and put down new roots in Stouffville, historically a rural farming community. The obvious irony in this equation is as more people choose to live the rural dream here in Stouffville the less rural it becomes. As its distinct character slowly morphs into something resembling many other growing suburban centres in Ontario, tensions between new and old residents inevitably increase. It was the desire of these artists to diffuse some of these tensions with conversation, hopefully leading to further understanding.
Duvall put a call out to the community of artists living here in Stouffville and asked them to take her to a spot of their choosing that was a place they paid attention to on a regular basis. She met with 12 local artists and videotaped their locations while exploring through conversation why each one chose this particular spot, what they liked and what they feared/disliked or worried about living here. Each one then photographed their locations and Duvall subsequently transcribed the photos onto commemorative pillows that she constructed. Her intent was to commemorate the places that may undergo change as the community develops. This notion was inspired by visits to our neighbour the Care and Share Shoppe where she added to her own collection of commemorative objects with treasures she found there.
Language is central to Duvall's research and way of working, and through her fieldwork with the artist participants she has mined a moving and sometimes provocative collage of texts that emerge throughout the video - shining a quiet light down upon a particular phrase – a particular turn of thought.
Language is also central to Timeanddesire's method of working. Often intervening within the public realm in the form of official looking signage, they work (and play) with public perceptions and expectations – often turning them completely upside-down. For Artists and Agents they chose to work in a direct way. During this year's Strawberry Festival they set up a booth in front of the Gallery and invited strangers into conversations with the intent of gathering community wisdom. Again the intention here was to gather as full a spectrum as possible in order to reflect the diversity of perspectives within the community. After their initial research was complete St Marie and Walker worked to distil the gathered comments into something prosaic: constructing on the wall of the Gallery, community poetry for all to consider.
We are grateful to all those that participated in this project: Lorne Grove, John Roberts, Joan Chalmers, John Walmlsley, Sandra Cole-Burke, Valerie Ashton, Diana Bullock, Allison Bullock, Mararet Grandison, Ray McNeice, Souvankham Thammavongsa and Gregory Varano as well as all those that participated in Timeanddesire's Community thoughts project.
We would also like to extend our gratitude to the good people of the Care and Share for generously lending us many of the chairs that are acting as framing devices for the commemorative pillows.
Linda Duvall is a visual and media artist who works and presents within gallery contexts, on the web, and within defined public communities. Linda Duvall’s projects focus on how individual identities are formed and revealed within a societal context. Her work often mimics the fieldwork of sociologists as she collects oral histories and records ordinary conversations in order to discern meanings hidden in mundane and familiar language. Her work consistently addresses public knowledge and presentation posited in contrast to the more intimate and possibly private material that is initially hidden. Duvall's projects address the subjective constructed nature of narratives. She starts by setting up conditions or a framework and then lets the process unfold. She puts strangers together in a situation for interaction. This interaction with its surprises and tensions, rather than any final resolution, is her primary point of focus. She looks for ways to engage audiences in this interaction. http://www.lindaduvall.com/
Timeanddesire is comprised of Denise St Marie and Timothy Walker. They employ an interventive style of work that examines the concept of public space, as well as the role perception plays in constructing realities. The pseudonym was created originally for outdoor work done independently by Denise St Marie and now collaboratively with Timothy Walker. St. Marie & Walker have been in featured in the Toronto Urban Film Festival 2011, 2012 & 2013, Art of the Danforth 2012, PARK(ing) DAY Mississauga 2012, Tel-Talk Interventions 2012, BIGonBloor - public installations 2012 & 2013, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto 2012. At The Noise Project 2013 they presented multiple interactive works. Timeanddesire was recently invited to create art-signs for Landslide | Possible Futures.
Denise St Marie has practiced public interventive work for over a decade in places such as Chicago, Las Vegas, Japan, China, across the Canadian Prairies, Victoria BC, Windsor and Toronto. She graduated from the University of Victoria where she studied Conceptual Art attaining a BFA Honors minoring in Psychology. Her iconographic/text-based style is explored in galleries and through rural and urban street interventions. Currently a Toronto based artist, St Marie has received support from Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council. Timothy Walker views Conceptual Art as experience, play, and insight into the human condition. His practice is a means of exploring emerging philosophical notions and issues within our contemporary society. He is a graduate from the University of Toronto where he specialized in Philosophy and continues to work as a teaching assistant. Walker began contributing concepts and commentary to Timeanddesire in 2011. http://www.timeanddesire.com/