The S Project
October 15 – November 7, 2019
’S’ is a project about transatlantic communication and virtual journeying between two artists who have never met in person.
The S project
October 15 - November 7, 2019
About the Exhibition:
’S’ is a project about transatlantic communication and virtual journeying between two artists who have never met in person. Carly Butler (Ucluelet, BC) and Gudrun Filipska (the Fens, UK) have been communicating since 2016 sharing their respective territories through a series of virtual and postal explorations. The title of the project references the first transatlantic wireless signal sent from Cornwall to Newfoundland in 1901. The message was simply the morse code signal for the letter ‘S’.
Part of the project involves a virtual map where, tracked by pedometers, the artists’ steps, taken around their respective domestic locations are translated to a digital map where ‘avatars’ walk carefully designed routes between UK and Canada. Butler and Filipska have mapped trajectories to find a variety of half way points between our respective homes using combinations of celestial, nautical and gnomonic mapping techniques, embracing alternative cartographical practices and Google maps alternatives. These maps and charts form part of the ’S’ archive along with a catalogue of objects, artefacts and letters.
The idea of walking long distances without leaving home is a physical expression of the artists’ current limitations as parents with ties to domestic space, and works with an ambivalence towards assumed identities generated around motherhood. The ’S’ project explores the radical potential present in the circular/fugal and domestic walk (set against male, colonial adventuring narratives), feeding into dialogue about feminist walking and journeying practices.
The project also reflects on ‘non-travel’ as an ethical position, both around environmental concerns, and as a critique of settler/tourist culture that has long been preoccupied with a desire to insert ourselves physically into far away places. Critiquing the idea of the ‘globe trotting artist’ as marker of success, ‘S’ challenges the attendant requirements of money and mobility - reaching out to another part of the world and sending a ‘signal’ to another artist with an isolated practice.
Carly Butler and Gudrun Filipska are both interdisciplinary artists working across mediums including drawing, print, video and found objects/images. Living in Canada and the UK respectively, they share an interest in transience, landscape, and performative actions including mapping and navigation.
While Butler’s practice is primarily focused on the sea – using navigation and survival as metaphors to reflect on the human condition – Filipska’s work has focused on Fugal subjectivity based on the psychiatric case studies of patients with a pathological compulsion to wander. These two concerns overlap in a collaborative practice borne out of the shared experience of parenthood and the subsequent re-evaluation of domestic space, travel, personal location and isolation.
The collaboration evolved from Gudrun Filipska’s Arts Territory Exchange project (https://artsterritoryexchange.com/), a global network of connected topographies, particularly focused on those in isolated places and addressing the problems and opportunities of remoteness.
GUDRUN FILIPSKA is an artist and researcher living in the Fens UK. She has undertaken doctoral research into the transient histories of the European route of Industrial heritage – a project which is ongoing. Her work considers the cultural and literary associations of artistic ‘walking’ practices and seeks to re-configure them to include, feminist and ‘other’ itinerant practices- particularly considering the psychiatric model of Fugue as counter to colonial and male-centric journeying. She has recently undertaken an ‘Artist Residency in Motherhood’ for which she received ‘a Red Thread Grant’ and ‘GPS Embroidery’, a project supported by lada (the live art development agency) the Arts Council and Jersey Arts Trust. She has exhibited her work internationally and is also the founder of the Arts Territory Exchange, an organization which facilitates creative collaborative exchange across borders and fosters ideas of ecology and sustainable practice.
CARLY BUTLER is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Her practice reinterprets nautical knowledge around navigation and survival to reflect on longing, regret and nostalgia. Carly has an MA in Art History and studied fine art at Central Saint Martins in London. She recently completed a BFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and was a finalist for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition in 2014. Recent exhibitions include Bedlam and Balance at ArtYard in Frenchtown, New Jersey and Anywhere Else at Campbell River Art Gallery. She is currently completing a course in celestial navigation and is basing a new body of work on this process.