DEMO TAPE was a site-specific art exhibition at the old Penguin Car Wash in the Calgary neighbourhood of Ramsay. Presented in conjunction with Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, WRECK CITY invited 50 artists, musicians, writers, and performers to respond to the defunct car wash, working onsite for one month. Within this raw, utilitarian, and malleable context (not unlike a garage jam-space), artists were free to significantly alter spaces, empowered by the understanding that their work would eventually be destroyed along with the surrounding building. Originally instigated to explore the intersections between music & art, DEMO TAPE evolved into a broader examination of sound & image, action & object, transient & solid, invisible & visible. Just as the overall exhibition overlapped with Sled Island, DEMO TAPE artists explored the overlap between various disciplines, with a focus on ideas of change over time.
As with WRECK CITY’s previous projects, viewers were invited to participate in art as an immersive experience, activating sounds and lights in The Cave, traveling through the eerie Ghost Car Wash, hanging out with Stoned Cheerleaders, exploring the categorized rubble of Future Destruction, meeting Scrubby: The Last of His Kind, reading Forty-Four Fragments for a Car Wash, and much more. Both jokesy and thoughtful, DEMO TAPE was curated to engage, provoke, humilify and offer a momentary escape to the sublime. On a broader level, the project speaks to the violent turnover connecting past with future in Calgary, the radical potential of utilizing forgotten civic space, and the hidden underground art/music scenes that make our city secretly awesome.
DEMO TAPE was open to the public from June 19 - 28, 2015, with 3,350 people visiting the exhibition. The project was made possible with support from Alberta Foundation for the Arts and a Venue Sponsorship from Torode Realty.
WRECK CITY Photos by Diane + Mike Photography (including most images above and below)
DEMO TAPE // LIST OF ARTISTS
#TRAMGROP: Chelsea Allard & Steele Duncan
Let Go of Your Woe in a Single Throw
#TRAMGROP is conducting a free service opening night that will address participants anxieties through low-risk non-passive meditation. This object-based interactive performance comes with complimentary memories and a metaphorical tote bag (Limit 1 per revelation)
#TRAMGROP is easily distracted. We present the value of personal discovery and play through interactive contraptions and performance. Our work focuses on participants willingness to participate, the belief that doing is more important than thinking, and the notion that instant gratification is the same as giving up.
Don Hill, Jayda Karsten, Ed Keeble, Sarah Prodor, Alicia Wai Lan Yip
The Cave is an immersive, site specific installation that will transport the viewer on a unique adventure via audio and light interactive components. The experience is user controlled and will be different for everyone that enters the darkened cave. The more people that enter the cave the bigger the celebration of music and light the experience will be.
The Cave's collaborative team consists of five members from various backgrounds and disciplines each bringing a unique skill set to the team. However, what they all have in common is their interest in Ephemeral Architecture and how it exists in our built environment. Each member maintains their own respective individual practices ranging from sound artist/ broadcaster, visual artist, intern-architects and new media art/ software engineer.
Lowell Smith & Sarah Storteboom
Scrubby – The Last of its Kind
Scrubby is an oversized robotic brush that leaves a trail of suds and bubbles. Little is known about this native carwash species, but scientists speculate that Scrubby is a senseless creature driven by compulsive habit and little to no intent. This observation was mainly due to its hectic cleaning pattern and the occasional collision with walls.
Lowell Smith and Sarah Storteboom use technology in their work to create immersive and interactive experiences. They previously collaborated on Wreck City’s Phantom Wing project, and are also engaged with individual practices. Additional information on these artists can be found on their websites:
Wash Cycle, or: a song for waiting and anticipation
wash cycle, or: a song for waiting and anticipation is an escape into wanting that feeling of being a kid waiting in the car going through the wash in anxious fascination. As the windows turned into a live canvas and the vehicle shook when the brushes worked their way across its skin, immersed in material, the moist-dust smell seeping in through the vents, we anticipated the drying stage when the doors opened to the sun. Revolutions of renewal and decay, punctuated by candy bars and pop, ending with a return to the dust of the countryside.
Dichotomy in black and light. (theres a moon in the sky called the moon v.2)
there are two sides to every coin and neither of them are apparent until one hits the ground.
Mackenzie Boyle is an artist living and working in Calgary, Alberta. His gallery "Rodeo Art Space" is set to open in late June. Bobby Vindelay is a liar from Connecticut who has won the Indianapolis 500 nine times over the past 26 years and has no hopes of redeeming himself in his mothers eyes.
Rachael Chaisson is a multidisciplinary artist working with intersections between sound, movement and the suggestion of narrative. Lately her work has been leaning towards the creation of meditative sculpture in which the viewer is invited to take time. Sometimes it's nostalgic, and usually reflects on states of liminality.
Eric Makwich & Sandrine Anna-Brigita
A Shy Light
A collaboration between Eric Makwich and Sandrine Anna-Brigita, A Shy Light is an immersive, interactive installation that acts as an anti-audiovisual work. When audio is present, the visual aspect is proportionally removed. The more sound the light “hears”, the dimmer the bulb gets, almost as if to hide itself; this perceived shyness draws attention to the psychological qualities of noise/sound, and bustling, crowded areas.
Eric and Sandrine are slowly becoming one person with two bodies and a single consciousness. Sometimes they're awake long enough to attend classes at the Alberta College of Art + Design, sometimes they spend 52 hours straight editing experimental films, and sometimes they stay out all night taking photographs of doors that wont open.
Michel Gignac & Alia Shahab
Our urban landscapes ceaselessly transform keeping up with the mad rush of business, but these past spaces have a lingering presence. Gone, but not forgotten. Washed away is an interactive installation that creates a visual representation of this ephemeral phenomenon.
Michel Gignac is a multi-disciplinary artist living and working on the outskirts of Whitehorse, Yukon. In summer 2014, Michel travelled to New York City as part of the collective Night Multimedia to create Plastic Island, an interactive installation for Governor Island’s Figment Arts Festival. At the same time, he entered the Whitehorse art scene with the joint exhibition Seasonal (dis)order at Arts Underground, the installation Chiaroscuro for the first annual Whitehorse Nuit Blanche and Mouthful/La bouche pleine for the multi-disciplinary francophone exhibition Onde de Choc at the Yukon Arts Centre.
Alia Shahab builds physical spaces to interact with and explore. She is an artist from Calgary, AB and an explorer of the imaginations labyrinth who seeks adventure and play.
Guy Gardner & Liyan Wong
Tapescape weaves together various elements of the Penguin Carwash site - the architecture, views of the city, and daylight using strands of re-purposed cassette tape.
Guy Gardner grew up in Calgary and studied at ACAD and the University of Calgary. He currently works as an intern architect, and has been involved in numerous collaborative design/build projects, including Phantom Wing.
Liyan Wong was born and raised in Calgary and studied music, botany and architecture at the U of C. Since graduating she has worked as an intern architect at Mckinley Burkart. Guy and Liyan are both interested in using digital and traditional forms of production to craft space and narrative, and in collaborative forms of practice which engage the public.
Lena Elliott & Gwen Morgan
In their installation "Wrecktum", Morgan and Elliott are creating a labyrinth of internal organs, with pulsating walls that will guide you to an unholy meta reality. An amorphic human tube that transports the subjects to a realm of the abject and the grotesque that is a strangely familiar, distopic playground.
Lena Elliott is a recent graduate from NSCAD University and Gwen Morgan is a current student at ACAD, both of whom major in sculpture. Morgan and Elliott both work with similar materials and subject matter that questions the body and our feelings towards the abject and disgust. Together they combine their knowledge of electronics, mechanical devices and their abilities to work with different materials varying from silicone to taxidermy.
Welcome Home (this place is never open!)
The place or point of beginning, beyond which something true will take place.
Svea Ferguson is an emerging Calgary-based artist who recently obtained a BFA with distinction at the Alberta College of Art + Design. Ferguson’s work has been shown in major community based pre-demolition projects Wreck City and Phantom Wing (both 2013), and was recently included in group shows at Barbara Edwards Contemporary (2014) and Stride Gallery (2015). In 2014 she co-curated navigation(s): the spaces that form us, an exhibition of interdisciplinary student work at TRUCK Contemporary Art Gallery, Calgary.
Ferguson is currently preparing for a solo show in the project space at the Esker Foundation, opening in July 2015.
I'm Here to Shoot the Ghost
"I'm Here to Shoot the Ghost" is a performative exploration of cowboy archetypes, invisibility, and a negotiation of place. Through a series of performances, Jake will be waiting and searching for a lost enemy in the abandoned site. He will attempt to draw out his foe from hiding with hidden relics scattered around the building in order to enact his revenge.
Jake Klein-Waller is multi-disiplinary artist who recently graduated from the Alberta College of Art + Design. He currently lives and works in Calgary, with a studio at Capitol Hill Elementary School. Jake Klein-Waller participated in the 2014 Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival and was in an emerging artist group show at Stride Gallery.
Joe Kelly & Jay Crocker
JOYFULTALK is wily, restless and connected. The most recent brainchild of Canadian composer Jay Crocker (No More Shapes, Ghostkeeper), JOYFULTALK is a curious dialogue modified to make a little universe of itself; wordless rivers of analogue tongue, glitching fields of electric grass, an orbit of junked vocabulary. Live Visual accompaniment by Calgary based media artist Joe Kelly using new low-fi content mixed and delivered live on VHS tapes. Cool fuzz and microcosms layered and combined to reveal previously unseen schisms of nature, sinking the audience into the vanishing point of analogue noise and light.
Joe Kelly works primarily with moving images projected through lenses
in installation, film, video, and performance.
Jay Crocker has spent the better part of his lifetime creating inimitable music.
My site specific interventions use materials left on sites following demolition or dumping in hopes of drawing attention to the context of their creation. The act of creating site specific interventions stems from a desire to engage a viewer or casual passer-by with spaces and objects they may not otherwise notice. The sculptures present a fleeting moment, not unlike a site in transition between absence and presence.
Aaron Moran is an artist based in Surrey, BC. He received his BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and his MFA from University of Windsor. His sculptures and site specific projects have been exhibited in Canada, the United States, and abroad.
Xan Hawes, Nina Hitzler, & Phil Wilson
As the penguin car wash is slated to be demolished, our proposal investigates the impact of future development proposed for the site through the imagination of its future material form. The representation of the proposed development, modelled with rows of balloons, lights, and strings, grows over the course of the exhibition, ultimately reaching the height of a typical mid-rise residential building. The installation symbolizes future development, acts as a beacon to the entire city attracting a wide audience to the event, and provides an immersive experience on site. Participants may play with the balloon strands and are encouraged to rearrange them on site as well as transport them off site, expanding the project throughout the city. This project represents a participatory connection between the present and future use of the space.
Xan Hawes graduated with a Fine Art degree from the University of Guelph, and is currently pursuing a Master of Architecture at Dalhousie University. As a practicing artist in Toronto, he has shown nationally and internationally at galleries such as the AGO, Mercer Union, MOCCA, Paul Petro Gallery, G-Gallery and Art Metropole.
Nina Hitzler is currently working towards a Master of Architecture at Dalhousie University in Halifax. With previous experience in Germany, she is here in Calgary for a work term at SPECTACLE Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism.
Phil Wilson graduated with a master in architecture from Dalhousie University with previous experience in The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. Interested in understanding all realms of culture and how these converge to evolve our built environments.
Desiree Nault & Lane Shordee
This two-tier installation is a wind driven dispenser, trickling tiny iridescent smithereens into an enclosed space below. It's also what it would look like if you trapped the souls of 1000 care bears in a small room in a derelict car wash. It is resilient happiness in the face of unavoidable destruction.
Ema Clarke & Igor Gvozdenovic
The Infinite Vegetable Cabin
The TV portal out of your suburban home. That comfortably disgusting club house you always wish you had. A couch potato fever dream with comfort provided via all dressed chips.
Ema Clarke and Igor Gvozdenovic have been making music together as Preserverts since 2010. They are two lost teens in plastic animal masks, traversing a hauntological dreamscape amidst the sounds of
strange field recordings and distorted Bruce Springsteen hits. Ema is also a founding member of the Calgary Outsider Art Society and Igor is part of local noise punk band Dri Hiev.
Desiree Nault and Lane Shordee are both artists from Calgary. This is their first collaboration. Lane makes things and Desiree does too sometimes. If you would like to know more about these people, google them.
City of Drift
Multiple stacked shipping pallets are arranged like audience rows to create a sitting area and an arena for performers. They provide a gathering place where people can hang out, read, work, picnic, nap, or dance. The space will be also activated by music performances and informal conversation sessions led by invited artists, community builders, and researchers on the topics of economic system and art, public space and culture, and utopian ideas for urban living.
Hye-Seung Jung is an artist based in Calgary working locally and internationally. Her current artistic practice involves an observation of built-environments and organization of urban spaces as they relate to human interaction, a sense of belonging, and creation of culture. Through experiential installation, participatory projects, sculpture and photography, she explores the themes of place, culture, community, and value system.
Jennifer Bassett & David Tyl
Me, You, Us
'Me, You, Us' is an interactive way finding installation that increases the localized scale of the Demo Tape exhibition to inhabit the surrounding community. The installation comments on multiple scales of relevant components within a community, establishing an understanding of the individual, the group, and everyone in between. Signs are installed through out the community and are visible both to vehicles and pedestrians traveling from various parts of the city. The wayfinding device, or signage, becomes an installation within the function of itself.
'2x2 is a design collaborative guided by the visions and design concepts of Jennifer Bassett and David Tyl. Currently attending the University of Calgary's Master of Architecture program, Jennifer Bassett possesses an undergraduate degree in Art from the Alberta College of Art and Design, as well as a Master in Art Education from Concordia University in Montreal. She has worked in various streams of art and design, as well as art education, and possesses 3 years of hands-on design / build experience in the professional realm. Currently employed as an Intern Architect with the Alberta Association of Architects (AAA), David Tyl possesses over three years of professional experience in the architecture field, working as a designer in Berlin, Germany, and currently in Calgary. He attended and successfully completed the Dalhousie University's Master of Architecture program, spending one year in Germany at the Peter Behrens School of Architecture (PBSA). David also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Design from Dalhousie, and a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy from the University of Calgary..
Ben Nixon & Rachelle Quinn
Perhaps This Sound
Perhaps This Sound is an audience-generated, audio-visual landscape that incorporates repurposed materials and reimagined concepts. The installation is set in a blossoming “forest” with interwoven lights and sounds that respond to text-poetry choices made by participants. With a vast number of elements for participants to create their own enchanting artwork, there are far more possible outcomes than there are stars in the universe.
Ben Nixon and Rachelle Quinn form a multi-media creative team that draws from combined backgrounds in music, poetry, graphic design, painting, sculpture, lighting design, sound engineering, and recreational crafting. They have been collaborating since 2012 on a variety of projects including music videos, photoshoots, live event design, visual installations, and music merchandising. Ben and Rachelle are thrilled to be a part of Wreck City after admiring the iterations that have come before.
It’s a sign
Speaks for itself.
Geneva Haley has roughly 60 years to live, likes to tell stories, and draw pictures.
Miles Cooper Seaton
For over a decade Miles Cooper Seaton’s work has defied genre and discipline, spanning immersive ambient installations, intimate sets in sacred spaces and festival stages from Halifax to Tokyo, as a solo artist and founding member of Akron/Family. The common thread in his work is the raw emotional charge that infuses every performance with incendiary energy, leaving listeners hyper-sensitised to their own feelings and bodies, to each other and to the world around them.
My Favorite Buildings
My Favorite Buildings is a fastidious deconstruction of the Penguin Car Wash office space presented as a complete building package prepared to be rebuilt elsewhere. This project is an alternative to the inevitable displacement of the car wash to the landfill and is now preserved for all time as an extraordinary object: a potential solution for the lamentable waste of new developments. The package aims to signal an approach to mitigating the discomfort and guilt attached to the real things we no longer have use for and the loss of those real things we have no easy way to cope with.
Kelly Pleau & Kerry Maguire
What was everyone else doing in Dazed and Confused while those girls were getting hosed down at the car wash?
Kerry is a student at ACAD, and Kelly is graduate from Concordia University. They are both musicians, practising artists and gardeners in Calgary, AB.
Palmer Olson is an artist and writer who lives and works in Calgary. He went to university there as well.
Sarah Van Sloten
"My bruise is coming in nicely"
My bruise is coming in nicely is a long fabric braid will be wrapped once around the building creating a visual intervention and drawing a quiet attention to the building, including its structural nuances and areas of aging and disrepair. This simple yet time-consuming process shows a caring for the object which is being wrapped. The delicate braid strand represents a naïve attempt to hold together the building, and to care for it, even though this attempt is entirely futile.
Sarah van Sloten received her BFA from ACAD in 2010, and is currently completing her MFA in Windsor, ON. Her work is mostly installation-based, and involving paint or paint-like materials. Her work is humourous, offhand, and at times naïve in its presentation. This yields awkward, sad, poetic, and self-deprecating results. Van Sloten has been involved in exhibitions in Calgary galleries such as TRUCK, Haight, Avalanche!, STRIDE and UAS.
Su Ying Strang
Flightless is a new installation work created in response to Penguin Carwash and the WRECK CITY mandate. This largely invisible work is comprised of two components - an audio piece created from a live recording of the Calgary Zoo’s penguin exhibition, Penguin Plunge, and humidity, recreating the wet, dense environment at both penguin sites. The piece is a cheeky homage to the DEMO TAPE site’s namesake, giving a final breath of life to the carwash mascot and waxing nostalgic for one of Calgary’s favourite coin-operated carwashes.
Su Ying Strang is an artist currently based in Calgary, Alberta. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2010. In addition to her studio practice, Strang is an arts administrator and artist advocate who has worked in the not-for-profit arts sector since 2010.
Wash Out is a monument to the carwash. It is a soapy phantom, frothing bubbles that spill out over the sign. Looming over the lot below, it serves as a reminder of the activities that once occurred in the building behind it.
Peter Redecopp is an artist & experimental musician whose practice includes sculpture, installation, audio/visual performance and new media. Through out his body of work there is an emphasis on novelty and experimentation, as he continually looks for new ways of combining ideas and materials.
DEMO TAPE // WRITERS-IN-RESIDENCE
Jenna Swift is an artist and curator with dual degrees in Fine Art and Art History from the University of Calgary. Her critical interest informs her studio practice, in which she investigates the impact of gallery spaces on viewers. As a result of this work, she was in 2011 appointed to an internship at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, and she continues to be involved with local artist-run centres in Calgary including the New Gallery, TRUCK and Stride. In 2013 she won the Canadian Art Foundation Writing Prize.
Part aesthetic philosophy, part comedy, part love story, Forty-Four Fragments for a Car Wash is an epistolary novel written in the empty parking lot of a pre-demolition building. Through the fragments, the book follows the life of a narrator obsessed with sexuality, repetition, isolation, and the great abandoned car wash of all things: other people.
J.D. Mersault is a writer from Canada. His criticism and memoir has appeared internationally in The American Reader and he is a regular literary contributor to Freefall Magazine. His art texts have been published by The Art Gallery of Alberta, Pith Gallery, The New Gallery, and the Untitled Art Society. His second book, a novel in Onegin verse,
Maresia, is forthcoming in summer 2015.
DEMO TAPE // PHOTOGRAPHER
Michael Tan is one half of Diane + Mike Photography, and an all-round cool guy. He didn't submit a bio to WRECK CITY, but he deserves one, so we're fabricating it for him. Mike has history as a stage performer, including with Theatre Junction, a background that becomes clear when you watch him as a photographer: he's constantly searching for (and finding) quintessential moments of action + relationship. A "self taught" photographer (presumably with some expert guidance from his partner, Diane Scaman), he captures incredible images that somehow epitomize moments and freeze them for the future. He popped out of the woodwork unsolicited during the first WRECK CITY project, casually captured the most beautiful images imaginable, and we've been delighted to work with him as often as possible ever since.
DEMO TAPE // DOCUMENTARY FILMAKER
Lewis Liski is a documentary filmmaker that has been focusing on artists and art since graduation from the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2012. He has exhibited in various venues, from the Glenbow Museum and TRUCK Contemporary Art, to the $100 Film Festival. Lewis continues to work in the visual arts, more recently for Nuit Blanche Calgary and Wreck City. His newest project looks at the life of a near and dear, artist and educator, Vera Gartley.