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Thunderstruck – Behind the Scenes

Now that the exhibition has been up for a while, and having had some time to reflect, I find myself thinking about all that went on behind the scenes that made the show possible. Because Thunderstruck’s focus is on dance, and because my background is in dance, I like to think of “behind the scenes” as a “back stage” of sorts. I have always been fascinated by what happens behind the curtain, and have used this interest as a lens in my own dance and film practice. Every exhibition, show, dance (and even every day) has its own untold details and stories. Aspects that are private, hidden, unknown, edited. For Thunderstruck: Physical Landscapes, I want to share a few stories that might otherwise only be known by the few of us who worked closely on the exhibition. Little in-between movements and moments that struck me.

Installation view with Aganetha Dyck’s Close Knit, 1976, seen in the foreground.

Try not to cry on the art

As it was being installed, I almost couldn’t look at the many small, monochromatic, shrunken sweaters of the work titled Close Knit by Aganetha Dyck without my eyes welling with tears. The vulnerability of each individual sweater, contrasted with the collective support of the group, really moved me. One of the Art Bank’s technicians, Steven Allen, also said it was moving for him as he worked with each sweater, one by one. Each item has its own character, history, style, and presence. Each seemed singular, significant, and tender. The work has a kind of sadness to it: these are empty tiny sweaters…whose are they? Where have they gone? Yet there is also something incredibly hopeful in the work. I thought of this work as the spine of the exhibition. It reflects the idea of members of the dance community (or any community for that matter), leaning on each other, holding each other up, without much fuss, just power and strength and togetherness in the doing. The artist’s installation instructions don’t specify where each sweater should go, so the installer and curator are left with the lovely job of deciding which leans against which (or who leans upon whom). Steven did this with great care, sweater by sweater, as I looked on, trying not to cry on the art.

Art Bank technician Steven Allen arranging one of the sweaters as part of the Close Knit installation.

Click here for more behind-the-scenes moments.

Thunderstruck: Physical Landscapes, presented by the Canada Council for the Arts, is curated by Jenn Goodwin. The exhibition is on view in Âjagemô, the Council’s exhibition space at 150 Elgin Street, Ottawa, until January 27, 2019.

About the Author: Jenn Goodwin
Jenn Goodwin is a dance artist, curator, producer, and filmmaker. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Visual Studies in Curatorial Studies program at the University of Toronto, and prior to that she received a BFA from Concordia University in contemporary dance with a minor in video. Over the last 20 years, her dance work and short films have been shown across Canada and internationally.

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