What is a family?

What is a family?

PP: The united force to empower the food chain.

LL: The evolutionary ancestry of the big queer puppy pile.

MM: A chain of skeletons going into the molten core of the Earth.

JA: A zoo of only hedgehogs.

-April 26, 2018

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A Vernissage Avoided

A Non-Visit to the University of Ottawa Bachelor of Arts Graduation Vernissage, April 27 2018.

What first caught our eye was the rusty grate underneath the entrance. This it turns out couldn’t be called anything but “The Missing Troll”. We admired the attention to detail in the rust. The string was a charming Dargerian touch. A classic, tasteful use of dried leaves and rocks added to the elegance. We also noted with pleasure the smatterings of garbage here and there. What it could have used was something actually sleeping inside, though this might have ruined the palpable sight of invisibility

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Nearby, we encountered a startling portrait and/or modernist architectural design, an air conditioner paired with an empty generic coffee cup which was no doubt entitled “A Sort of Irony”. We admired the dappling effect on the conditioner which may have been a bust, a face, or a building, but we had to agree that the coffee cup itself was the real centrepiece. The vines were nice but the single melodramatic leaf on the cup was kitsch, perhaps in a good way or not. Where the pigs are butchered, where the meat is sold.

Air Conditioner
A Portrait? A Meat Factory?

Climbing up the steps gave us a moment to admire an excellent grey bag which draped itself dramatically at our feet. This motif appears to be a reference to The Shroud of Turin, as featured in /kaɪˈmɪərə/’s unreleasable vaporware fourth issue. It is perhaps a city-mouse relative to the same school of design. As the shroud was determined to be a sort of garment, we may conjecture that the bag is a sort of haute couture showpiece for the seldom noticed Ottawa Faceless Bureaucrat, a ubiquitous creature rarely seen because it camouflages so with stale, dusty air.

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Insiders have dubbed this submission “The Self-Hooding Auto-asphyxiation Hood.”
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The Shroud of Turin. Notice the repetition of the sand dune wavelets as a staircase, above.

Looking at the actual door, we noticed a beautiful, neo-medievalist diptych with strong allegorical symbolism. This had to be called “The Magnanimous Excommunication”. The two hands pointing, one representing the heavenly sphere, and the other, more crooked by an estimated 2 degrees, representing earthly imperfection. Upon reading the motto we then realised that we were at the wrong door. And so we had begun by unintentionally starting at the back-entrance of the exhibition, the same building being both 100 Laurier and 600 Cumberland street, depending on who you asked.

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Stepping inside we noticed the first of what turned out to be a continuing motif of several very beautiful, almost neoclassical white heaters throughout the building. These had fine, Grecian composition and an almost Doric gravitas. We debated whether such things were pure aesthetic items or functional.

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Classicism Abounds

We block the front door for a long while admiring a particularly blurry old panel—we wonder whether it is a found-object equivalent to asemic writing, or perhaps an artistic palimpsest recovered from a sorcerer’s grimoire. A man asks us if we can read the names. Believing that his test is a trick question, we utter no definite answer.

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A map of the exhibition somehow being given to us, we make sure to disorient ourselves throughout the tour by actually trying to read it. We are reminded of the circuit diagrams older integrated systems used to print with their programming manuals, technology being a major component of contemporary art.

A coat hanger and coat rack combination; at first a pagan temple deity, then a serial killer’s murder victims, on the order of 15 or so. Death by taxidermy. Who is responsible? It was determined to be not the butler but someone with influence; the mayor? A big metal mailbox system is the morgue.

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A morgue for bodies left over from skinned coats (not pictured, for modesty’s sake).

We are very lost. There are penguins everywhere. We go downstairs. There is a sequence of three garbage cans which we dub “The Modern Venus”. Always coffee cups. An emergency phone which reads SOS (a pun on “sauce”) using a telephone to play on the trendy topic of synaesthesia.

 

Nearby, “I am what I eat” and a toilet that doesn’t flush (which one is the artwork?). The railing of a staircase is determined to be a goat’s horn. A room from a Japanese light novel with murder and mystery involving an after school club, very dark.

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Club room. A virus attack. We spew out very loud associative chains, silencing everyone else in the room, including the artist. The hair is a cave. What is in the cave? An ice worm. A moose. A stop sign. A man carrying a stop sign in outline. A protest. Is it edible? A lollipop.

A door for an elf and a hobbit. We go upstairs and downstairs as you like.

There is a visitor’s book laid out for each artist, usually lavishing simple encouragement and praise, so we cannot resist the urge to fill some of them with automatic writing and drawings:

Automatism

“Where does the ape live when it loses the first leader of its own fire? Blast the horse with its own collar into the seemless.”

“I loom in NO horror I beg the fishermen for sweet tea of eyes.”

“The mysterious universe screams out to me from beyond my fridge where is my wallet?”

“The Tulpa I envision when I think of flowers is more like a crow that eats the tongues of those that tease me.”

“I disagree wholeheartedly with this nonsense!”

“Eyes Worms”

“Bee Stings”

“Sweet OH yes”

Guests

At one point, LL launches an impromptu exhibition on the door to a gender-neutral bathroom, a sort of participatory installation commenting on the act of gendering as othering.

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Fragments beneath a window-sill; nails, a lock, some scotch tape instructions. A message from The Administration: “Please do not lock(ed) this door”.

We consider trying to make an offer to some of the more promising artists of all the benefits of surrealism: the chance to be ignored, profitless, poor, avoided, obscure, mad etc. “Stick with us, kid…”

As for the artworks, we quickly disposed of the obligation of actually reviewing them by means of a simple, and loud, analogical game. It was determined after some discussion that the closest companion to an art gallery we could think of was the barnyard, its different animals and products. Thus, substituting the barnyard entity we associated with each artist’s section, in order of appearance, we encountered:

Artist 1 – nonspecific eggs
Artist 2 – fishing worms, maybe an earwig
Artist 3 – slaughtered beef, ground beef
Artist 4 – goats, their horns, and the junk that they eat
Artist 5 – pigs, blood, chunks, and a vampire
Artist 6 – emus
Artist 7 – chupacabra
Artist 8 – horses
Artist 9 – honeybees
Artist 10 – maple syrup trees
Artist 11 – eels
Artist 12 – crows
Artist 13 – tengu farm
Artist 14 – dogs made out of bananas
Artist 15 – a baseball farm with horses as camouflage
Artist 16 – a fairy farm
Artist 17 – a limb farm

At the end of the night, overhearing someone talking about one of the award-winning students being extra-worthy of attention, we came up with some awards that should be given out that night, but then forget to award them to any specific artist:

Best Self-Tokenization
Most Self-Hating
Least Stable Bowels
Hungriest
Most Similar to the Floorboards
Prize Pig

In retrospect, LL awards himself “The Best Self-Tokenization” award for his unsolicited addition as a tranny.

Decomposing with Dignity

I spoke to the green gull

That forth cometh through the window like road kill,

The strange bowler hat with deep fried pickle grease inside.

The queen of the sea devours sailors;

They go off into a mad teacup

Of distilled essence of the life that never ended in

a spaghettifying mummified cat carcass buried in the walls of your pelvis.

The golden wings of the princes sick of transforming straw:

The great crow squawks,

Squabbles, squirts, and scopes indetermined mind over matter,

Disintegrates into a drop of mercury sliding down your throat.

 

A collective, blind poem by Jason Abdelhadi, Lake, Patrick Provonost, and Vittoria Lion, played on March 18 2018. Written in turns, only the last word of each line was revealed to the next player. 

Utopian Extremophilia

In this game, a utopian condition is given, which the players must then develop to its most extreme, often dystopian limit.

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“Lovable stuffed animals come to life.”

Children assisted by stuff animals murder all adults. Dolls turn children into dolls when they reach a certain age to ensure they do not grow into adults. Immortal dolls and toys forever. In the end, nobody to play with. A stuffed doll unable which is unable to be the object of play.

“All keys can open everything.”

Curious people would open doors into the future, solve all the problems but gain too much knowledge of super-being celestial terrors and go mad in a Lovecraftian fashion. Everyone has to deal with people walking into every house. All passwords would work on all accounts and everything would be accessible. Any piano key could play any song. Any key on a phone can be used to call anyone, even the President. Implosion of all privacy, complete transparency of institutions.

“Everyone is physically comfortable and healthy all of the time regardless of what they do to themselves.”

No illness, nobody needs to bathe or be hygienic or eat, all mental distinctions and character traits derived from physical incapacities and traumas would be wiped out. The value of labour would be driven down by all the free time and the length of life. People would be unable to fake sick days  or malinger, no pretense of unwellness, no leisure – no internal life, no creativity, people can be punished for their actual choices and not hide behind health issues. No exercise, no gains, physical culture would die, people would turn into Greek statues. Perhpaps this is the origin of classical sculpture.

A Rune Reading

PP drew some impromptu runes, and then afterwards interpreted them for us. To be read clockwise.

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  1. Question
  2. Intrigue
  3. Fallen
  4. Pict / Picked/ Prodded
  5. Blocked
  6. Captured
  7. In a cell
  8. Pleasures
  9. Retribution / strength
  10. Reading a sign / path
  11. Gateway
  12. Feast
  13. A great climb
  14. A building with stairs
  15. Inversion
  16. Inversion / waking
  17. A new dawn

 

A Nondescript Stocking

Some recent games arising from the November-December headspace, in the waning light of the solstice, as the nights got longer and darker.

Warmies
Meeting of the Ottawa Surrealist Winter Warmies Group during a -28 cold snap. It was so cold our warmth wear had to run the meeting for us.

The Game of Precursors

Nothing comes from nothing. Name the precursor, analogical antecedent or genealogical ancestor for a particular object. 

The precursor of toothbrushes was the biting of a horse’s mane.
The precursor of sleep was arousal.
The precursor of dinner was fright.
The precursors of forks were very tiny knives.
The precursors of sandwiches were farms.
The precursors of maps were flecks of ink stuck to a page.
The precursors of molars were roller blades.
The precursor of streets was imperialism.
The precursors of tangled hairs were spider webs.
The precursors of bulldogs were bullcats.
The precursors of pinecones were nailguns.
The precursors of fingers were warts.
The precursors of batteries were genies in a lamp.
The precursors of rats were jelly beans.
The precursors of doorknobs were doormice.
The precursors of bees were dryer lint.
The precursor of flame was flatulence.

The Objectification of Morals

A game invented by the Surrealist Group of Stockholm:

“It was a simple analogy game where we found concrete objects as correlates to abstract concepts. We chose an abstract concept, each player suggested one sensory characteristic associated with the concept, and from the constellation of adjectives we kept discussing until we found an object that embodied all these sensory characteristics.”
-icecrawler/heelwalker, from the post Surrealism is a Shrimp

Opposition

Hard, bloody, black, aggressive, blunt, silent, limpid…

A pirate.

“Opposition is a pirate”

Amelioration

Sweet, soft, liquid, furry, clean, efficient…

Bees.

“Amelioration is a bee”

Revenge

Feathered, cold, spicy, metallic, sharp, messy…

A Weathervane.

“Revenge is a weathervane”

Confusion

Buzzing, whirling, short of breath, heavy, soggy …

A pug

“Confusion is a pug”

Question and Answer

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Where can I throw my refuse?

The deserted apiary.

Who brought ruin to Rome?

That group of insecure teenagers.

How do I learn about advanced math as an adult?

By means of a meat-grinder and lots of time.

Bathroom Culture
The canoe beneath the river which is simultaneously a smeared pair of tighty-whities sees the zodiacal spokes of bathroom culture in its inner eye.


A Visit from Beatriz, or the Occult Elevator

Beatriz Hausner also visited us from Toronto. Here’s a group portrait of the evening, “The Occult Elevator”.

Occult Elevator

 (Various players: AC, L, JR, JA, KM, MM and BH)


Mr. Fiddlesticks Florence

Introducing Mr. Fiddlesticks Florence:

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Troll Face,
Roundfaced Glitter Lady,
Yamishibai,
Sociopathic Emoji,
Ape-Like…

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Starch Führer,
The Black Ghost of the Cute Moth,
A Techno-Mao Tankie
Orally fixated on a harmonica made of paper,
And ‘is lovely missus.

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“That scares me.”
“Perhaps some comforting things. Like a bed, with mints on the pillows, and an offering of a diploma – do these make it better?”

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(JA, JR, L, AC, KM, SJ  – November 7th 2017)