Where to see it and where it’s been.
April. La Nuit Sauvage. Theatre Junction Grand. Calgary, AB.
April. Hamilton Artists Inc. Hamilton, ON
May. Le Lieu Unique. Nantes, France.
September. Glenbow Museum. Calgary, AB.
January. White Water Gallery. North Bay, ON
Chroniques des mondes possibles. Seconde Nature. Aix-en-Provence, FR
Mondo Monde. Struts Gallery. Sackville, NB
eyelevel gallery. Halifax, NS
AND festival. Liverpool, UK.
Hardanger Kunst Senter. Norheimsund, NO.
About Butterflies. Species at Risk at the Edge of Reason.
This work consists of a number of books currently or historically threatened either from religious, political, or social authorities. They are mechanically animated as butterflies at rest. As the books open and close, the light bouncing off the pages illuminates the space to varying and constantly changing degrees.
I am particularly interested in ideas and books that have been threatened for having challenged established doctrines. Though the suppression of ideas and the banning of texts has been relatively constant throughout our history, we tend to look back at the more prominent examples as our most embarrassing lapses (such as the church’s condemnation of Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems). We also tend to think, wrongly, that we’ve grown past that sort of behaviour. Salman Rushdie’s forced exclusion from the recent Jaipur literary festival is testament to this.
A growing opposition to empirical thought and reason once again puts beautiful, elegant, and potentially revolutionary ideas at risk. Subtly, this is done by casting suspicion towards science, scientists, and evidence based thinking (a favourite technique among alternative therapists, “spiritual” gurus, and conspiracy theorists). More blatantly this takes the form of loud condemnation for the work (consider faith based opposition to Darwinian evolution). Both cases are expressed with a vehemence that prevents reasonable dialogue, and both tactics tend to be met with the more conciliatory response of those who dare not challenge ideas based in faith. The relativist notion that all opinion is equally valid may protect from offence but dilutes ideas, limits debate, and offers little protection for those ideas brave enough to challenge widespread beliefs.
The books themselves fit the criteria of “beautiful and threatened ideas”, either historically or currently. This includes Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, and Galileo’s Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems. Threatened literary works, both contemporary and historical are also included.