Nov 272010


Felicia van Bork is a Toronto artist now living in Davidson, North Carolina, with her husband, the poet-novelist Alan Michael Parker. DG met both Felicia and Alan when dg was the McGee Professor of Writing at Davidson College in the spring of 2005, a semester memorable for friendship, conviviality, the brilliance of the students, and for sitting in Zoran Kuzmanovich’s kitchen drinking flavoured vodka. It was always an amazing experience going to the Parker-van Bork house for the proliferation of art work which hung from the walls in every room. In those days, Felicia worked mostly in encaustic, whereas now she has veered off into print-making, especially monotypes as represented below. To dg, what is amazing about these prints is the tension between the apparent immensity of the space inside the frame and the actual dimensions of the works. Felicia somehow implies vast spaces and grandeur in the shapes she creates. Also places—silent marine depths. And life forms, and dramatic, swooping gestures. There is little representation here, but implication is all. She limns a world pregnant with immensity and motion. When dg wrote to her about the new work, Felicia responded:

It’s true. Encaustic is awesome, but things change. A couple of years ago, I was in Provincetown, in the MFA program at the Fine Arts Work Center. I was making nice paintings. Then I took a three-hour monotype workshop in the printmaking studio and – and – that was that. I bought the biggest piece of plexi that would fit on the huge American French Tool press and started making prints like “Deep Music in Deep Water.” In fused encaustic, it’s difficult to make graphic lines, hard edges and gradients, but in monotype printmaking, those pictorial elements are part of the basic tool set. And because prints are worked in reverse and with the unpredictable action of pressure on ink, my addiction to chance is still being fed. Unexpected things happen all the time, and I get surprises every time I peel the paper away from the plate. A single print may go through the press more than ten times, so there are lots of opportunities for the Divine to have a go along with me.

I do edge-to-edge printing, meaning I don’t leave a border of unprinted paper around my images. When the plate is inked and the ink has been manipulated, I have the freedom to place the paper on the ink as the image demands, without worrying about registering the image perfectly in relation to the edges of the plate. And because inked plexi is more or less transparent, I can see how the ink marks on the plate will be positioned on the image in progress.

—Felicia van Bork



by Felicia van Bork



Deep Music in Deep Water, 2008, monotype, 35.5″ x 106″, diptych


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Nov 262010

Kim Aubrey writes about Toronto, her adoptive home, soon to be left behind. Vet visits, bed bugs, in-laws—and the silence and melancholy of being uprooted and leaving loved ones and things behind.


What it’s like living here

from Kim Aubrey in Toronto

Bathurst Street

You drive the six miles home down Bathurst from your doctor’s office, where you’ve been weighed, measured and questioned about the year’s habits, good and bad. You pass the bagel shops and delis, the Bowlerama where you used to take your daughters for birthday parties, and a little further south, the square squat apartment buildings with their blond-brick facades. A young man in jeans and a light jacket dances up the sidewalk, hips fluid, hands pressed together, long arms flipping outward and upward, as if he’s a yogi praying. When someone approaches him from the opposite direction, the dancer lowers his arms, quiets his body to a walk. You wonder if he’s just being polite and will start up again once he has the sidewalk to himself.  Or if it’s simple Canadian diffidence, only surprising in one willing to dance at the edge of a busy street in the middle of morning.

Yonge Street

Your Jetta crawls in rainy rush-hour traffic up what used to be the longest street in the world. You and your husband were in Paris yesterday morning, eating croissants and jam in a sunny café, the Pantheon cutting its iconic shape into a blue sky. Now you’re both jetlagged, ready for bed at six in the evening.  Instead, you’ve agreed to pick up your daughter and her field spaniel, Iggy, from the vet, who has sliced away the puppy’s testicles and sewn him back up again.

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Nov 242010

John Proctor introduces video artist Christine Dehne and her work. This is something else. Amazing, strange, obsessive, hilarious, provocative work. Attentive to small domestic changes & acts. Edging into surrealism and experiment, absent context and frame, in a way. Yes, terrifying, for a writer, to think of giving up so much interpretive cushion. Makes me twitchy, the idea of not being able to explain my characters. Something to think about as NC dabbles in word & photo essays, off the page poetry, photoems and such.


The Video Art of Christine Dehne

By John Proctor

I have a special relationship with the work of video artist Christine Dehne. When I met her in 2007, she was at work on a project in which she was recording cell phone conversations in public places. She had just moved to New York City a few months before, and was using the project as a way of exploring and learning about the city. I asked her once if she was recording our conversations. She responded with something about us not being in a public space, but the message was clear: “Don’t flatter yourself, pal.”

Christine eventually finished that piece as a sound collage, with a video map of the city as the visual. The piece is less concerned with forming any “narrative,” per se, but rather capturing voices, isolating them, and shaping them into a work of art with a logic of its own – in essence making them strange. The piece has shown at Arizona Digital Media Investigations in Flagstaff, the Heritage Film Festival in Baltimore, and Sweet Lorraine Gallery in Brooklyn. You can see and hear it online here.

Though Dehne hasn’t read any Shklovsky, she’s studied Marcel Duchamp, a historical contemporary of Shklovsky, extensively. I won’t even pretend to know more about Duchamp than what she’s told me, but I will say that perhaps his best-known work is his 1917 Fountain, which was simply a “found” urinal he submitted as art for an exhibit that promised everything submitted would be accepted. Duchamp’s intention was to make the statement that anything could be art, if brought out of its utilitarian framework and examined as art – again, if you’ll pardon my intrusion, if it’s made strange.

Dehne actually has a recently piece that is an indirect decendent of Duchamp’s Fountain, titled “Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter as a Fountain.” The piece, from the multi-year lifelog of her pregnancy and motherhood of our daughter Amalia, refers back to Bruce Nauman‘s “Self-Portrait as a Fountain,” which itself, intentionally or not, refers back to Duchamp’s Fountain. Dehne’s 31-second piece slowly, meditatively lingers on Amalia’s chin as she, well, drools like a fountain. The first piece in her lifelog series, “Everyone Told Me the World Would Look Different,” begins completely out of focus, slowly “awakening” to the world of, well, an ear. About a minute into 1-minute, 17-second piece, we hear the sound of a binky being sucked and see, for the first time, Amalia’s face.

One fascinating thing about Dehne’s work, at least to this narrative-oriented writing-type, is the complete reliance on the object and the empathy it can evoke in an audience. To me, this is a terrifying concept – I’ve always relied on the drive of the narrative to pull me and the audience through, and especially expected it in the film work I’d been exposed to before meeting Christine. To think of video as a non-linear, concentric medium is, I guess like reading non-narrative, lyric poetry – something else I’ve frequently stumbled over.

It’s been both ironic and a bit self-gratifying, then, to have worked my way into Christine’s life, and even, in a small way, into her work. Before we were married, she began working on a series of short pieces involving her (and by now our) dog Pants, and decided to use him to symbolize her own domesticating instincts, creating a series of ultra-short film loops with Pants as a stand-in for her.  The dog became a metaphor, and also a work-based connection between me and Christine’s art. She eventually showed these pieces together at the “In Home: In Response” show in Baltimore, but the most erudite criticism, in my opinion, came from our friend David Marshall:

What range! I laughed.  I cried. Despite his somewhat proletarian appellation, Pants epitomizes nobility.  He’s a veritable Lipizzaner of the canine world.  His form and tireless pursuit of perfection in “20 minutes” awed and delighted me.  His (dare i say it?) dogged search for truth in “30 minutes” was inspiring. His courage and sheer animal magnetism in doing an interspecies homo-erotic love scene left me panting for more.

You can share the love here.