Friday, September 1, 2017

She Wants an Output

For Carleton University Art Gallery's fall programming, I curated an exhibition running from September 1 to October 29, 2017 in Carleton University's MacOdrum Library entitled She Wants an Output. The exhibition looks back at the history of the 1980s punk music scene in Ottawa, through the work of two women who were involved in it: Mary Anne Barkhouse and Julia Pine. The oppositional shout of punk rock was sounding throughout the world at that time, including in Ottawa. A small but vibrant community sprang up here, inspired by the DIY attitude and political consciousness of the movement. Women were key players in the scene, but their story has seldom been told.


Mary Anne Barkhouse, pelage II, mixed media, 1999. 

Restless Virgins were a first-wave punk rock band active in the Ottawa music scene in the early ‘80s. Notably, its bass player, Mary Anne Barkhouse, went on to a celebrated career as an artist. The centerpiece of the exhibition is Barkhouse’s pelage (1999-2000), a work composed of four appliqu├ęd blankets, reminiscent of the button blankets used by First Nations of the Northwest Coast for ceremonial purposes. Each blanket represents a stage in Barkhouse’s life and her development as an artist. Three of the four blankets are on display. The pelage II blanket makes reference to the ten years between 1975 and 1985 when she played, toured and recorded with bands like Restless Virgins.


A selection of items in the She Wants an Output exhibition.

Accompanying Barkhouse’s work is an eclectic selection from Julia Pine’s collection of zines, flyers, records and other ephemera from her “punk days,” when she was involved in the small but vibrant scene as a musician, producer, writer and community organizer, from about 1978 until 1985. The selection will include documents from a project that Pine co-produced with Colleen Howe in 1985: the MATRAX compilation cassette, which featured thirteen all-female bands from Canada, the US and the UK.

Pine’s collection points to the central role women played in the exceptionally diverse local scene and highlights their strong commitment to progressive ideas that were, and continue to be, far from the mainstream.

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