What if we were alive at Untitled Art Society, Calgary

What if we were alive, the group exhibition currently on view at Untitled Art Society, explores both the simplicity and the complexity of living. These eight videos investigate through effortlessness, strangeness, and creepiness the wonderful, hilarious, banal, and fantastic moments of our lives.

Salote Tawale, Sometimes you make me nervous and then I know we are supposed to sit together for a long time, 2015, video

Bridget Moser’s How Does it Feel finds her executing a series of carefully arranged but bizarre actions: awkwardly finding her way into the interior of a lamp or fighting her way out from behind sheer curtains. She plays a character of herself who interrogates how we interact with the world. In Live my Lief Steve Roggenbuck reads a love poem to a handheld camera. Only his mouth and nose are seen as he recites each line. The wind and rain are visible and audible in this lo-fi piece. There is a sweetness and innocence to it that helps translate the premise of the exhibition.

oualie frost’s videos feature the artist being fun and sweet, yet vulnerable and even messy, to create an honest portrait of being human. In one, she dances to Olivia Newton John’s Let’s Get Physical while working out. In AD in HD, she throws a hat onto her head, puts on lip balm, brushes her teeth, and applies black liquid eyeliner to them. The videos are playful but explore existence at its most basic.

The Splits by Allison Hrabluik presents a series of vignettes of individuals performing a range of activities. This piece correlates each activity through sound in an intricate woven narrative. And in Salote Tawale’s videos the artist performs actions in an outré but honest way: singing Creep by Radiohead in the dark, a cappella; or in black and white face paint, eating fruit with total abandon, the paint slowly rubbing off with each bite.

Through curator Natasha Chaykowski‘s critical eye, What if we were alive posits questions about being and culminates as its own poem. It tells a story about everyday life through the intricacies and boring details we often overlook. The beauty in this exhibition is the realization that these everyday commonalities are what makes life worth living and recognizing within them that this is what it means to be alive.

[Update 10/05/18: Steve Roggenbuck’s works have been removed from this exhibition. Read the gallery’s statement here.]

What if we were alive continues until November 3.
Untitled Art Society: http://www.uascalgary.org/ 
The gallery is not accessible.

Maeve Hanna is a writer and curator who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours in Visual Art and Literature from York University and the University of Leeds and a Master of Arts in Art History and Icelandic Studies from Université du Québec à Montréal and the University of Manitoba on location in Iceland. She has previously written for Black Flash, C Magazine, Canadian Art, esse arts + opinions, Frieze, Sculpture Magazine and the Senses and Society. She is Akimblog’s Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @mcbchanna.