Holding Place: Christeen Francis, Emily Neufeld, Andrew Testa
Holding Place brings together the work of three artists: Christeen Francis, Emily Neufeld, and Andrew Testa, who are individually immersing themselves in this place, and exploring who they are in relation to this (new to them) land. This exhibition begins to navigate: how can settler artists with no ancestral connection to Newfoundland build a relationship with this place in a way that is centered around integrity and care?
Using slowness as methodology and paying attention to the rituals of daily life, all three artists search for ways to make meaningful connections to place, and attempt to answer this core question through diverse material explorations in printmaking, installation, video work, and site-specific interventions.
Photos by M+E Photography
Christeen Francis’ work critically engages with aspects of urban development and displacement, considering the lived realities of humans and non-humans in cities, the concept of home, and the trauma of constant change and restructuring. Viewing cities as places of intersection and blurring of binaries such as urban and wilderness, Fallow investigates the fragility of our assumptions of permanence through video installation, and considers the evolving urban landscape, and the transitional or fallow spaces within. Collecting moments of the intersection of built and fallow and blending footage and manipulated audio, she creates a space to pause and contemplate one’s connection to the city as land and consider how we navigate and relate to it.
Originally from Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, Christeen came to St. John’s for a residency at EE, where she took daily walks and fell in love with its many secret pathways and transitional spaces. Seeing St. John’s as a unique intersection of wilderness and city, she eventually made her way back as director of St. Michael’s Printshop.
Christeen Francis, Borough Burrow, 2019, installation view at Alberta Printmakers, relief print, screenprint, collage, chine colle.
Emily is currently an Artist in Residence at Eastern Edge. Working with assistant Drew Pardy, Emily is conducting this residency from BC pending the relaxation of travel restrictions. Emily Neufeld’s work explores the connections between a person’s identity and their location. Through her work, she asks the questions: Can a space ever be empty? Where does the content of a house end? How do our memories survive as we are continually displaced, and our homes eventually dismantled? Neufeld seeks to answer these questions through staging interventions into private homes that have been slated for demolition. Searching for the patterns of wear and tear within homes, she finds evidence of the rituals of daily life and amplifies them through her sculptural interventions. Neufeld documents these installations through photography, before leaving the home to be demolished.
Emily was born and raised in farming country where Treaty 6 and 7 meet in what is now called Red Deer, Alberta. She now lives and works in the unceded territory of the Squamish and T’sleil Waututh peoples in North Vancouver. She is examining her own Mennonite and Scottish settler colonial histories by investigating her relationship to these Indigenous lands in which she now lives and works. Her definition of this place extends beyond the land itself to include plants, the soil microbiome and animal habitats (including the human animal). Her work explores how all of these aspects of place influence and are influenced by each other. This will be Emily’s first time visiting Newfoundland.
Emily Neufeld, Before Demolition: Tides, 2019, Installation in fisher’s house with tide and lunar charts cut through the walls.
Andrew Testa’s work asks and attempts to respond to the questions: What does a mutual and nurturing conversation with the other-than-human look like, and what would be the ethics of such an endeavour? Testa engages with these questions by documenting his daily-rituals of walking, pausing, looking, and listening. In the piece, go for a walk, find a place to sit and wait, wait in this place, go back to where you began, repeat, he creates prints from an intaglio plate that has been dragged on the ground during a long walk. In, All the other things, a series of books document natural items borrowed and returned during his stays in various places (Corner Brook and Kamloops). The photographs that document his performative process illustrate gestures of slowness and moments of intimate interactions with the spaces and places around him.
Testa first came to Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland) in 2016 to teach at Grenfell Campus and has since become an active community arts member in Corner Brook, where he currently lives and works, and in St. John’s, where he currently serves as the Chair at St. Michael’s Printshop.
Andrew Testa, Go for a walk – find a place to sit and wait – wait in this palace – go back to where you began – repeat, 2019, performative gesture/ process, Port Union.
Thank you to our supporters!