Born in London, and a long-time resident of Spain, Denys Blacker has been in Regina the last couple of weeks preparing for a solo performance at Neutral Ground (1822 Scarth St.) that is scheduled to start around 8:30 p.m. I spoke with Blacker at the gallery on Thursday afternoon. She said Parallel Worlds --The Pacific is the third in a series of five planned performances by her that explore the boundary between the physical self and the broader reality of Earth and the natural environment that surrounds us.
"I started doing drawings a little over two years ago," Blacker says. "The first four performances relate to the four oceans, while the fifth will feature a view of the world from the Antarctic. I looked at old maps and satellite images. I got hooked on the Times' Atlas because I was brought up on it. It's strange how much it influences you."
The first performance on the Arctic was done in France, while the second on the Atlantic was done in Spain. The final two, dealing with the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic, have yet to be scheduled. "With the early maps, I'm interested in how people were able to imagine these images without having the tools we do today, and how accurate those maps are," says Blacker. "Even from the 6th century, there's well-defined coastlines and interesting interpretations about how countries are laid out."
With modern satellite imagery, conversely, Blacker is interested in the perspective of Earth as viewed and measured from space. "I layer meaning in the work. I have very personal meanings that I may find through my everyday maps of life. My personal journey. And then I look at more universal things, and try to understand a little bit how we're living on this planet, and how we're altering it."
"In the past, we had a feeling of being rooted in the Earth. When we become detached from it, what happens? The images we're fed from the satellites, often they're computer manipulated. There's cloud cover, so they take out the clouds. Then these use hundreds of images to construct this perfect view of the world."
In ancient times, people used stories to guide them on their journeys, and relied on familiar natural landmarks. Crude maps followed that allowed people with little personal connection to an area to find their way. Now, we have satellite maps and GPS systems that allow us to locate ourselves and measure things with extreme precision. On one hand, this enhances our ability to survive all the curveballs like storms and droughts that nature is constantly throwing at us. But once created, the maps also assist us in our seemingly eternal quest to control and dominate nature.
Following Blacker's performance, there's a reception that also serves as a kick-off for the Ice & Fire Carnival which will be held on the Rider Practice Field Jan. 9-10. While in Regina, Blacker's been working with students at Balfour Collegiate to create capes similar to the one she'll be wearing in her performance. During the carnival, the students will participate in a dance/procession. To get you thinking about what you'll see in the next few days here's video of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs performing their song "Maps" (YouTube)
Also on tap tonight is an opening reception for Michele Provost's new show Selling Out at the Dunlop Gallery at 7:30 p.m. Look for a review in the Jan. 14 issue of prairie dog, along with a blog post at some point. And if you're looking to do something after the two art events, local rocker Chad Kichula is playing with Black Drink Crier (Cam Wensel) at O'Hanlon's Pub.