Field Notes

Fall is always the busiest time of year for me for teaching. You can find me at NSCAD University most days, but I've also been doing the occasional workshop at Visual Arts Nova Scotia lately, too. Local workshops in the city are easy to get to and a great mix of folks I know well and artists I'm meeting for the first time. But I feel extra lucky to get to go further afield into different corners of the gorgeous Nova Scotia fall landscape! Last weekend it was Bridgewater, at Art Happening, for a Grant Writing workshop. Next weekend (Nov 4-5) it'll be Sydney, Cape Breton for a two-day retreat, called "Work it! Work it! Boot Camp for Artists." Excited to see a new city and meet more of my peers across the province!

If it's not in Venn diagram form, I probably can't know it.

Wanted: stories of neighbourliness and care in times of trouble (for my Halifax Explosion film).

Invitation to Participate!

I am making an animated short film about the recovery efforts after the Halifax Explosion. Over the past several months, hundreds of people have helped on this project by volunteering to draw the images I animated. I now need to create the sound for the film, and again, I need help.

What kind of help do I need?

I am looking for individuals who are willing to share their stories of neighbourliness and resilience in Halifax. It could be about times of disaster affecting whole communities, like Hurricane Juan, or times of personal need, like sickness, loss of a job, or loss of a loved one. I will be booking times to record interviews and conversations over the next two weeks. I must have all recording completed by November 3rd. I cannot offer much in exchange except for coffee, cookies, a film credit as a participant, and your own private copy of the final film.

Why do I want these stories?

When I first looked at W. G. MacLaughlan’s footage of the Halifax Explosion aftermath and relief efforts, I was struck by all the images of people jumping in to help each other out. These images, in a way, summed up my own experience of living in this city: precarity and disaster being pushed back at by loving, collective energy that buoys us. I’ve seen it here so many times, and I’ll be honest: it’s why I stay. I wonder if you’ve experienced this, too.

What will I do with your stories?

I want to combine these stories as threads to go along with the animation so many people have helped to create. You are invited to spend as little as 10 minutes with me, or as long as an hour. I’ll be happy to show you the animated images, too. I don’t have any super-structured agenda for these conversations. I can’t promise I’ll use every last bit of everything you say, but I intend to respect the spirit of your contribution. The final film will be screened in Halifax during the Halifax Explosion Centenary in early December and it will be on CBC TV, as well.

How can we get in touch with each other?

Please send an email to becka@beckabarker.info or simply message me if you’re already my friend on Facebook. The greater the variety of stories and experiences I can gather, the better I think this film will be. And of course, if you know anyone you think would be interested in participating, please help me connect with them! I can probably take on no more than 10 sessions in total over the next two weeks (the entire film is only going to be about 3 minutes long), so please don't hesitate to get in touch if you are interested.

I have been so impressed by everyone’s willingness to jump in and help me with this project--but then again, that has always been the point of this exercise. It’s incredibly humbling and a great reminder of the spirit that guides my family’s choice to live here. Thank you, everyone, for your help on this small project so far. And thank you in advance for your help again!

2017 HIFF screens "And When Alone, Repeat"

This is the fourth year in a row that I have been lucky enough to be programmed in the Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival, and I'm grateful to be part of such a strong program! After two years of premiering 'expanded cinema' film installation work, this year marks my return to the regular Atlantic Auteurs program. My new short film And When Alone, Repeat will screen as part of the Atlantic Auteurs II Program at 9PM on Thursday, June 8th. Tickets for the screening are available here.

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And When Alone, Repeat is a five-minute rotoscoped animation that explores layers of misunderstanding in image and language. GoPro footage from amateur weather balloons and Russian dashcams are paired with an old cassette recording of a high school choir's attempt to sing "Choose Something Like a Star," a musical arrangement derived from the Robert Frost poem of the same name. The pairing of these different kinds of reproductions reveals the power--and limits--of modernist assumptions around photographic imagery and quantitative science, and parallels this with the power and limits of images and sounds we create from our bodies. 

Looking Back at 2016

It was a busy year! Below are a few more highlights of events and exhibitions that went unmentioned here earlier in the year.

1) Place Holder III. Solo exhibition, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax, NS. Oct 11th-22nd.

Thank you again to the Anna for inviting me to debut the third installment of the Place Holder series this fall! Place Holder IV--the final installment of this series--will be completed in 2017. 

 

2) The World Around. Single channel animation. RE:Member @ Centre for Art Tapes. August 25th, Halifax Central Library.

RE:Member featured new works by CFAT members that centered on the idea of community, membership, and participation on multiple levels. 

 

3) Place Holder I-IIINocturne Art at Night. October 15th.

For this year's Nocturne Art at Night in Halifax, I used the windows of Gallery 3 at the Anna Leonowens Gallery to present Place Holder I-III together for the first time.

 

4) And When Alone, RepeatAnimation With Love festival, Carbon Arc Cinema, December 2-4, 2016.

The final exhibition of 2016 for me was this lovely local festival that has grown from a one night showcase of new local work to a three-evening festival including animated feature films and panel discussions on independent animation, the local industry, and what it means to be experimental.
 

Above: Panel on Local Animation in Halifax. Below: Panel on Independent Animation. Carbon Arc photos.

Despite the challenges 2016 presented me (and so many of my peers), I was grateful for the opportunities. I look forward to 2017 and the completion of my largest project to date, The Evolution of Max, as well as my final installment of the Place Holder series. Here's to a great 2017!

 

Come see How We Are Talking

I was one of four lucky local artists who was chosen to participate as a mentor in the 2015-2016 Visual Arts Nova Scotia Mentorship Program. I was paired up with the wildly talented Anna Taylor and had a fantastic time reflecting on both our practices in myriad ways over the past year. This program culminates in a group exhibition every year, and ours is on June 29-August 7 at the Craig Gallery in Dartmouth, NS. 

Left: Anna Taylor, Moral Code (cotton thread on linen, 26″ x 24″) and right, Becka Barker, Place Holder II: 110/300 km/hr (digital video, 1920x1080). Installation shot from How We Are Talking, VANS 2015-2016 Mentorship Program Exhibition.

Left: Anna Taylor, Moral Code (cotton thread on linen, 26″ x 24″) and right, Becka Barker, Place Holder II: 110/300 km/hr (digital video, 1920x1080). Installation shot from How We Are Talking, VANS 2015-2016 Mentorship Program Exhibition.

The show, titled How We Are Talking, also features new work by Alice MacLean, Claudia Legg, Sophie Paskins, James MacSwain, Ian McKinnon, and Mathew Reichertz. Find out more about it here

 

How to Cope with a Toronto Heat Wave

I packed exactly one cardigan sweater on my recent 3 1/2 week trip to Toronto. It rained roughly 60 minutes the entire time I was there, barely punctuating two record-setting heatwaves that occurred during my time there. How did I ever survive, you wonder? Simple: 

I spent most of my time in a cool, dark room under some cool LED lights working on some new work at Toronto Animated Image Society. This new work, commissioned by TAIS, will be part of an exhibition at the PIX Film Gallery in Toronto in fall 2016. More details to come!

Oh, and that sweater? I didn't need it until I got back to Halifax. 

The Frame is the Keyframe with TAIS

I'm pleased to announce that this summer, I'll be one of seven artists creating new animation work through the Toronto Animated Images Society (TAIS). We're responding to the prompt "The Frame is the Keyframe: Frame Anomalies." The new work will be shown this November at PIX Film Gallery in Toronto. This commissioning project is curated by Madi Piller with an essay by Clint Enns. Looking forward to spending a few weeks in Toronto this summer getting to know TAIS and its artists!

I AM NSCAD (and maybe you are, too?)

Thanks in no small part to my super-skilled and talented brother, Garrett Barker, I managed to create a new set of hanging 4x6 light boxes for this year's NSCAD Alumni Exhibition. It's a show and sale, and I can confirm from the sneak peek I had today that there is some super-fine stuff from real living artists that'll get snatched up fast. If you're in Halifax, stop by the newly-renovated Anna Leonowens Gallery to check it out. Show closes October 9th.

Fun fact: a 6x4 photo frame can perfectly display 24 frames of 35mm motion picture film.

Fun fact: a 6x4 photo frame can perfectly display 24 frames of 35mm motion picture film.

'Beacon Project' for Nocturne Art at Night

I am pleased to announce that I am creating a new work as a 'Beacon Project' for this year's Nocturne Art at Night scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 17th, from 6pm - midnight in Halifax. My new work, How to Say, will mark my first time creating an audio piece. More on this as the festival gets closer. Many thanks to Nocturne for inviting me to participate!

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New work, "The World Around," screening as part of Carbon Arc 5th Anniversary

The Carbon Arc Cinema has existed largely as a labour of love here in Halifax for the past five years. What better way for the cinema to commemorate its anniversary than with another instalment of Animation with Love

For this screening, I was asked if I could create a cinema version of my installation, The Hundred-Eyed Satellite. The result is The World Around, a meditation on the process of making and exhibiting that installation. I am pleased to be premiering it at The Carbon Arc's anniversary screening on July 16th. The screening starts at 8pm, but be sure to come a few hours early--there'll be some serious noms just outside at the Halifax Food Truck Rally earlier that evening!

Many thanks to curators Siloen Daley and Dylan Edwards for including me in this program!


Wander With Care at Struts Gallery June 16-27

I'm about to go pick up a projector from AFCOOP and head up the road to Sackville, NB for the day to install my work as part of Struts Gallery's summer exhibition series, The Living is Easy. You can check it out in the back gallery for the next couple of weeks.

And hey, why not make an afternoon of it and see the shows up at the Owens Art Gallery, too? Stop in at The Black Duck or Mel's for some food and top the day off with a drink at Thunder and Lightning where you can chat with your friends about what you saw. 

Nothing better than an art road trip in the summer time!


TONIGHT: HIFF premieres Wander With Care

I'm about to head downtown to start installing my film loop piece, Wander With Care, which will be up for one night only at the Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival. I'm told doors open at 6:30pm, and the piece will run continuously through the evening in the main corridor of the Neptune Studio lobby.

Also at the Neptune Studio Theatre tonight: HIFF will also be screening a special program of shorts, REprogram, selected by Claudette Godfrey (SXSW), Lydia Beilby (Edinburgh International Film Festival), Curtis Woloschuk, and Dan Karolewicz (Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Montreal), at 7pm in the Neptune Studio Theatre. At 9pm, HIFF will be screening Jem Cohen's Museum Hours. Screenings include Q&A sessions afterward. 

All this and a bar! And popcorn! Hope to see you tonight. 

New Work at HIFF

I'm pleased to announce that I will be exhibiting a new film installation at the upcoming Halifax Independent Filmmakers' Festival (HIFF), running from June 10th-13th at the Scotiabank Studio Theatre. The festival hasn't posted a full schedule yet. More details to come. Until then, you can check out the trailer for the festival on the Official HIFF 2015 website.

The installation will have images that include this frame: