In the current exhibition at the School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA) office at SFU Woodward’s, Pretense on Curation, second year MFA candidate Jaime Williams uses the location as both the setting and the subject.
In her video installation, shot in the SCA office after hours and incorporating props and costumes that adorn her body, Williams enacts atypical movements within the space. Whether crawling over and under a desk or writhing around on the floor under an overhead shot, Williams’ actions within the six videos stimulate specific areas of the office. The movements are suggested by the props, as well as by directives from the curator, Curtis Grahauer. They activate areas of the space using a performative and humourous approach.
In this interview, Williams and Grahauer discuss the methodological framework used to execute Pretense on Curation and reveal the philosophical concerns of Williams’ working process.
Curtis Grahauer: Pretense on Curation uses the SCA office both as a location and a subject. What was your interest in using the office in this body of work?
Jaime Williams: I am interested in what is happening in the present, and working site-specifically allows me to respond immediately to energies and aspects of the space.
CG: The videos are playing on a screen above a filing cabinet, with another video hidden inside the drawer. It is discretely installed yet reflects the space back onto itself as the backdrop to your performances within the videos. Do you see this project as an intervention and commentary on the space?
JW: Results of my investigation indicate that manipulation of the office space in combination with the philosophical concerns of the artist and curator creates a loop in thought and action that folds back on itself and contradictorily leads to something new — something beyond the original combination of philosophical concerns and the immediacy of working in the site. It is through engaging in the space — consciously and with a sense of presence — that my philosophical concerns become new, which subsequently imprint themselves on the space, becoming a record of the past. The videos capture the process of imprinting.
CG: How do you see the props functioning within the video? Are they highlighting certain aspects of your body? Do they create differences as they change from video to video?
JW: Your questions relate to the body in space in the present, which carries the debris of philosophical concerns and also past traumas. The past becomes present through physical and psychological scars. I examine and then exploit these scars through body-mind stylings, i.e. costumes, props, states of consciousness, psychosocial ‘games,’ and experimentation. The stylings relate to these scars and allow for a deeper engagement with them.
CG: What was your interest in disturbing the boundaries between the artist and curator during the production of the videos?
JW: Your scars, similar to my own, become evident in our joint engagement with the space. The results of our work together manifest as a critique of space, but in reality scars are somewhat independent of the space — insofar as anything can actually be independent. Fortunately, spaces seem to critique themselves, and perhaps because of shared content, this critique exposes itself when juxtaposed next to the scars of the artist and curator.
Pretense on Curation is open to the public until January 16. The SCA Office (GCA 2860) is located on the second floor of SFU Woodward’s.