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Artist Statement

Warren Arcand — Melting Point: An Amusement

There’s an image of the individual informed by the western movement from the religious to the secular – where the Individual is roughly like the Galilean shift of the centre from the earth to the sun – also a sense where this individual is a smuggler of sorts, crossing and recrossing national boundaries, bearing the highest ideals of the nation while at the same time representing the direst crisis of the old regimes – and still, at this last stage, the nations we love best and most have about them this whiff of something unsavoury – a Hapsburg hangover...

Segue to a Milan Kundera set of observations regarding the willful erasure of a nation by another – he speaks of memory and forgetting, of the effects of totalitarianism...

Segue, with these two notions held up to a thought of the Aboriginal experience in Canada – hold it up to the things the newest Gov. Gen. said about the solitudes … the third solitude, that is the Abo experience within the idea of Canada (both ideas – the Abo and the Canadian – must be conceived as multiple, and heterogenic, really) – so little is known of that relationship – there are the popular or common or ready readings of these things which suggests the story is done – but no – and one’s general agitation is part of that – or a stillness – also a sense or sign that the work is yet to be done...

So an image of a nation that couldn’t or wouldn’t or didn’t think of allowing multiple players from co-articulating it – or maybe it was all too soon, the establishment of that thing which is still twitching into liveliness before our very eyes...

WARREN ARCAND


Arcand in Superchannel (performance, grunt Gallery, Vancouver, 2004)
photo: Merle Addison

I’m actually quite an optimist...

So, what of identity in the face of a negative desire (that negative desire that would have chased the Abo into various oblivions) – what of that persistence of identity? Why does that guy keep bubbling to the surface? What is that insistence? Why are we still, or why am I still saying these things? What the heck is up with that?

So, Performance suggestion: an action in a lard wig – it looks like a powdered wig, it looks like an enlightenment image – of a nation state en route (Looks a little like something Laurence Sterne wears – Tristram Shandy?) And, so arrayed, I engage in a set of actions regarding desire and identity - the wig melts and even cooks a bit, releasing aromas into the room, hot awful odors, sweet delicious odours of a body in heat – so moving from a skilled representation of an individual’s enlightenment and its melting point – clear rivulets of molten lard running across my face, over my body – a weeping, a melting, a disfiguring or refiguring – and under this flavoured duress, a pantomime of becoming – an image of individuation – and a puppet play of sorts, a dance of the Abo perhaps – an Amusement regarding nations, naming, the making or modeling of an individual, what it is or isn’t – and maybe finally arriving at an appreciation that much is at stake at making Individuals because it entails making a claim on the world – a potentially totalitarian reproduction...

And what is the way out? Follow the bouncing desire (following D and G and their talk of productive desire)...

Do you follow?

Warren Arcand, September 2005

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