Thursday, January 25, 2018

Cultural Engineering: Addenda

After nine quarterly issues of an online video magazine (www.culturalengineering.ca), the Cultural Engineering project comes to a close with the opening of the exhibition, Addenda, in SAW Video's new project space The Knot from January 25 until March 3, 2018.

The artists participating in the project have eloquently borne witness to the historic infrastructural investment at Arts Court that has substantially transformed the downtown of Ottawa and given a significant boost to the stature of local arts organizations. Stationed as critical observers more so than cheerleaders of the undertaking, the two stalwarts of the project, Meredith Snider and Tim I. Smith, have contributed videos to each issue of the magazine since its launch in February 2015. A number of guest artists have also contributed videos, expanding the points of view and adding to the diverse range of topics addressed, including city planning, social justice, Indigenous issues, transgender rights, labour, and the conservation of built history, among others. With the exhibition, the first in The Knot, the Cultural Engineering artists have been given an opportunity to go offline and make a physical intervention at Arts Court.


Meredith Snider, Communal Artifact (reused), mixed media, 2018

Each artist in Addenda is contributing work that incorporates and transforms materials that have been salvaged during the demolition phase of the Arts Court renovation. In keeping with the structure of the previous online installments of the project, the exhibition includes new work by Snider and Smith, as well as work by guest artist, Mélanie Myers.

Addenda is fittingly titled since the catalogue for the Cultural Engineering project was produced over a year ago. Information about the exhibition will actually be found in an addendum to the publication. The title of the exhibition is in the plural form to suggest there are many instances within the exhibition (not to speak of the Arts Court redevelopment itself) where things have been added with an aim towards improvement. One could say that it applies to SAW Video too, since it is only now after 35 years that it has added an exhibition space to its operations. The Cultural Engineering project has demonstrated that city building (and the growth of arts organizations) is an unfinished project that is always open to the redress of historical omissions and to an update in plans.

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