We’re back, and excited to share with you the work of our 2021 Artist in Residence, Breanna Barrington. Breanna is a multimedia artist based in Amiskwaciy-Wâskahikan (Beaver Hills House) ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Edmonton, AB) on Treaty 6 territory. A recent graduate of the University of Alberta Fine Arts program, Breanna’s work has been shown at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Alberta Council for Ukrainian Arts, and Mile Zero Dance.
Through illustration, performance and bricolage, Breanna arranges visual metaphors that explore the relationship between modern urbanity and the not-so-distant past. Their work aims to invoke a whimsical awareness and an ethos of care around our shared environment. By utilizing recycled matter from back alleys, the River Valley, and thrift stores, Breanna gives forgotten items a new poetic context. Through careful arrangement, these materials are given a new life.
As the climate crisis advances and the need for eco-awareness grows, Breanna’s residency challenges the viewer to rethink their relationship with garbage, and to contemplate the theory of deep-time - with the hope that it will challenge us to reconsider the way we live out the impacts of our lives.
Within the world of this residency, I ventured to frame the idea of “Empty Cities” through a collaborative visual-performative lens. I combined a series of fluxus-flavoured prompts for mindfully navigating the urban labyrinth of "Edmonton," with a collection of “crystal ball” vignettes crafted from metro debris.
I am drawn to the Fluxus movement for its emphasis on asking questions through acts of play, the value of process over finished product, and blurred lines between life and art. With this in mind, the folks at hcma Edmonton and myself had several virtual conversations about the movement in relation to Empty Cities, which influenced a series of zines disguised as PowerPoint presentations. We talked about climate change, durational performance, guided walks, slowing down, and invisible corners that surrounding our lives.
To illuminate the idea of an Empty City and how it could come to be that way in the first place, we considered the element of time. Before metropolis, before prairie rivers were low and turquoise in August. Time spent writing in the sand, staring at your bedroom wall. Tracing the vacant lines of your gas-station parking lot. Empty years between chemical spill and garden. A distant future where Garbage fossils are regarded as artifacts of opulence, freeways seen as Stonehenge, and the concrete islands we call home paved over by greenery. Clock time vs. Nature time.
It must be said that I found it difficult to focus on the idea of Empty Cities after the year we’ve had (while staying hopeful). After all, I am a sensitive artist who likes to create pockets of whimsey to cozy away into. However, the challenge of the subject reminded me that on the other side of burnout, there is an unignorable need to alter the systems we inhabit.
If we are to effectively navigate the present moment out of treacherous waters, we must do everything we can to take care of our individual and collective mental health. To slow down, play, take the time to cultivate hope and reorient ourselves so that we don’t lose sight of the future.
Thanks for stopping by!
Breanna invites you to download these zines, print them out, and go for a wander. Share them with your friends, your dog, the fairies that live in the decorative bushes outside of your grocery store, your neighbourhood free library, or just take a look online.
Click here to download.
For more of Breanna’s work, and a behind-the-scenes of Breanna’s residency follow them on Instagram, and check out their website.
Interested in becoming our new Artist in Residence?
Applications for 2022 are now closed, thank you to those who applied. For all things TILT, join our mailing list to be notified first.