Welcome to The Hibernation Project, coronavirus edition. We began the project in 2019 as a domestic art intervention occurring weekly from Winter to Spring in Calgary/Mohkinstsis. A tool for embracing – and combating – Winter in Canada, each weekend an open community of artists, musicians, and participants respond to a different theme, making new work for the duration of one night. Previous editions of the project have been located in our house and yard in the neighbourhood of Ramsay. Learn about our origin and mandate.
This year, in light of the global pandemic and subsequent social distancing, we’ve radically reimagined The Hibernation Project to include abstract “locations” spanning virtual, auditory, public, interstitial, and time-based spaces, leveraging common technologies like Zoom and public amenities like parking lots as experimental venues for art.
While some of this year’s themes will unfold online (and can be viewed from near or far), other weeks will elapse on the radio, on tobogganing hills, in cars, or over time in our backyard, making for a chaotic marathon of imperfect (but deeply satisfying) art-making in ‘weird space.’ At the heart of The Hibernation Project is DIY art that brings us together.
Like last year, a few artist-friends joined us in dreaming up the themes for this year’s Hibernation Project. We’re delighted to have guest themes from (chronologically) Khalid Omokanye, Mike Tan, Rebecca Reid, Jennifer Crighton, and Matthew Waddell & Laura Anzola. Thank you! 💖
Back by popular demand, the first theme of 2021 is THE HIBERNATION STATION: public access (internet) TV from our house(s) to yours! Inspired by 70s and 80s DIY television programs, especially Winnipeg Babysitter and Stairway to Stardom, artists from across Canada will share video art, performances, vignettes, and the weather via Zoom “TV.”
You’re welcome to tune-in! RSVP here to receive your Zoom link.
Simultaneously, local artist and professor Khalid Omokanye will launch his theme, ISOLATED BABEL: a socially distanced collaboration spanning the 12-week duration of The Hibernation Project. For more about that project, see here.
Sledding adventure during the Arbour Lake Sghool Christmas Party in 2009
Our second theme of 2021, proposed by local performer and photographer Mike Tan, is SLIPPERY SLOPE: build-your-own-toboggans and tobogganing race! Participants will construct functional toboggans (with an eye on safety) and bring them to the sledding hill behind Ramsay School for a spread-out slip-sliding adventure.* Will the fastest toboggan win? The most inventive? The fanciest? Only time will tell! An active, light-hearted adventure in playful thinking, SLIPPERY SLOPE engages all the senses in physical fun.
*Dependent on COVID-19 AHS regulations. Social distancing and masks required, and helmets recommended.
Our third theme, SOUNDS FROM THE MYSTIC BEACH: escape winter daze on radio waves, is one of two radio-based themes hosted on CJSW 90.9 fm – our local campus & community radio station (with thanks to Jasmine Vickaryous and Adam Kamis). With this theme, we were thinking about invisible mediums and the power of sound to take you places. There is a role for escapism in surviving winter in Canada. In an era increasingly moderated by screens, digital stimulus, and external communications, we wonder, is “the mystic beach” a paradise outside reality? The utopia within? Or something else entirely?
The fourth theme, proposed by local multidisciplinary artist Rebecca Reid, is SMOKE & MIRRORS: a touchless carnival of the unconscious. A mystic in her own right, Rebecca is curious about the intersecting roles between stage magic and real magic. Artists are invited to explore “doors to the unconscious, trickery (optical/interpersonal/spiritual/political?), appearing & disappearing, (impermanence/mortality/quantum reality?), floating, secret things, conspiracies (aliens, illuminati, etc.), esoterica and the occult, illusions (the illusory nature of physicality?), spell casting, or a literal exploration of smoke and mirrors as makers mediums.” The final installations will be part of “an outdoor mini ‘carnival’ that one can look at but not touch.”
This theme will unfold in our backyard (COVID regulations permitting), with social distancing and face masks. The first 23 visitors will receive a free souvenir.
The fifth theme, from Calgary-based artist and musician Jennifer Crighton, is INSTRUCTIONS & RULES: how to follow the rules and how to break them. In a time characterized by prolonged health and safety regulations (and subsequent kickback), Jennifer’s theme invites artists to playfully subvert interactive instructions, creating “a game of rules and adaptations.” Drawing connections with Yoko Ono’s instructional artworks, and Jennifer’s previous Birthday Cake Bake-a-Long, INSTRUCTIONS & RULES blurs the line between artist and audience, and everyone following or breaking rules becomes an active participant.
The sixth theme takes place in the semi-public, semi-private space of the automobile. CAR SHOW: a mobile exhibition in trucks, back seats, and truck beds is exactly what is sounds like. In an attempt to subvert the car-centric culture of Alberta and utilize the ‘non-space’ offered by the interior of an automobile, CAR SHOW invites artists to install artworks in their own cars, or the cars of their friends. These interiors become safe, socially distanced, micro-galleries to view from the outside. A slow rally of the CAR SHOW vehicles will travel to a series of parking lots (TBA) around Calgary to create a mobile exhibition.
The seventh theme of the project marks the return of Hiber National Gallery – an imaginary gallery located in virtual space. This year, Hiber National is getting a much-needed facelift, returning for a new exhibition called INFINITE CUBE: grand reopening of the newly remodelled Hiber National Gallery. Participating artists will each be given a “room” in the “gallery” to show their work. A gallery attendant will help our VIP guests navigate the space using an interactive gallery map. Pull up a glass o’ wine and a cheese plate, and join us for the much anticipated reopening! RSVP here.
“Infinite Cube” references both the myth of neutrality in ‘the white cube,’ and the seemingly endless unfolding of digital space in the internet era: imagine a cube, deconstructing itself without end. In a time where virtual reality, fake news, and skillful renderings are almost inseparable from their true counterparts, how can we determine what is “real” and what is imaginary? And why do we care? Hiber National Gallery embraces the potential for creating ‘uncanny architecture’ using common video-sharing app, Zoom. Through the eye of the webcam, an artwork of any scale – whether virtual, sculptural, live, pre-recorded, big, small, etc. – will fill an entire “Zoom room,” homogenized to the scale of each viewer’s computer/phone monitor, yet expanding into the imaginary space of Hiber National.
Our eighth theme is AIRBORNE: homemade kites, crafted apart and flown together. Using wordplay to restore delight to the tainted notion of things that are ‘airborne,’ this theme is intended as a whimsical performance that anyone, anywhere can participate in. Similar to the DIY toboggan theme, participants are invited to make and fly a kite. In this case, “kite” is a relative term, referencing any fabricated form that floats or flies. While artists are welcome to use whatever materials they prefer, we will host a simple kite-making workshop online (sign up here). Calgary-based artists can “go fly a kite” together on Scotsman’s Hill (with proper social distancing). Artists from elsewhere can fly their kites anywhere the wind takes them, and share photos and video from afar.
The ninth Hibernation week is our second radio theme, VOYAGER RETURNS: alien signals, songs, and sounds, borne by radio to distant ears. Hosted on CJSW 90.9 fm, this sound-based theme references the Voyager spacecraft that NASA launched in the 70s to capture photos and data from across the galaxy. As this flying object enters into interstellar space, travelling further than any human-made object has ever travelled from earth, it carries with it a golden record of “earth sounds” compiled by Carl Sagan. With VOYAGER RETURNS, we’re imagining that the Voyager has been received or intercepted, and “alien signals, songs, and sounds” has been sent back across the void of space in response, received by radio transmitters.
Artists are welcome to interpret this theme however they prefer. The soul of the concept is “outer space speaking back.”
The tenth theme, by Calgary-based artists and animators Matthew Waddell & Laura Anzola, is DIGITAL TRASH: zoom flops, digital stench, and anything else that makes your phone pulse with trepidation. In March 2020, when COVID-19 first paused social gathering and The Hibernation Project moved online, Matt & Laura swooped in with digital dance parties, animation skills, and epic virtual concepts. DIGITAL TRASH asks participants to dredge their spam folders, upend their “garbage cans,” dig deep into the annals of the internet, and mine their meme vocabulary for artworks ranging from digital to performative. Nothing is too “out there” or “outrageous.” There are no wrong answers. Together, we can turn digital trash into digital treasure.
As one would expect, this theme will be presented online through the interface of Zoom.
The eleventh theme of the project is PROXIMITY: so close, and yet, so far. Taking place in the shared physical space of our backyard (COVID regulations permitting), this theme evokes the comedic anxieties of navigating interpersonal space during a deadly global pandemic. Drawing insight from The Future of Touch (a conversation we hosted for artists working in the social sphere during early months of COVID-19) PROXIMITY invites artists to touch upon themes that could include: the risk of intimacy, the difficulty of traversing public places, the dangerous desire for closeness, the unconscious impulse to pull away, the alienating impact of the coronavirus on marginalized communities, the stifling safety of domestic space, the consequences of affection, the renewed need for consent, and so on.
Drawing from the absurd overnight inversion of actions which were once “kind” or “hospitable” becoming “thoughtless” or “sinister,” this theme invites artists to explore the funny frustrated feelings that are so close, and yet, so far.
The final theme of The Hibernation Project 2021, held over from 2020, is GATHER BY FIRE: wooden sculptures for burning (in honour of Matthew Mark 🖤 who loved art, fire, and a little bit of wildness). This theme is open to all artists, regardless of whether or not they knew Matt – as we believe he would have wanted. Participants are invited to construct sculptures out of non-toxic, unpainted woods, to share and burn in a communal ritual to ring in the Spring. Hearkening to primal relationships, GATHER BY FIRE was named for an artwork by Sarah Smalik & Matthew Mark Bourree, and speaks to the great and mystical magnetism of people towards light, heat, and each other.
This project is intended for the shared space of our backyard (COVID-regulations permitting). To reduce risk, we may decide to tier this event into several nights. For fire safety, we have imposed a maximum dimension for artworks – contact us for details.
And there you have it! We offer these 12 themes, understanding that, pandemic or not, we’ve never had a full 12-week Hibernation Project without surprises. Stay tuned for changes! ❤️ Many thanks to the artists, friends, family members, and participants that roll with us, supporting these wild ideas with their generous creative spirits.
We will be navigating Coronavirus regulations throughout this project. If possible, we ask you to stay tuned to our facebook page for updates about each event. If you attend, you are participating at your own risk. We’ll endeavor to keep each other safe. The Hibernation Project is a place of sharing, kindness, and mutual respect.