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Recipe Book of the Dead

Blair Fornwald, Brette Gabel
September 26, 2015

Doors: 7:00 p.m.

The performance will run from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m.

This is a duration performance. The audience is free to come and go. The main gallery will be open and refreshments will be provided.

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Artist Statement

Blair Fornwald (Regina, SK) and Brette Gabel (Toronto, ON) are artists and cultural workers whose practices share certain affinities for the handmade and the performative. Both use traditional craft media and techniques to create objects that have, or suggest, ritual, magical, social, and/or quotidian use. Both are interested in exploring instances where these categories are conflated – in the ways that the magical is found in the banal, the ways that social activities are infused with ritual, the ways that everyday objects acquire fetishistic, narrative, and sympathetic properties.

Recipe Book of the Dead is a multidisciplinary collaboration, begun by Fornwald and Gabel during the Videofag Residency at Anima Casa Rural, in the rural region of San Isidro Mazatebec, Jalisco, Mexico. The project aims, depending on one’s belief, to acquire cherished family recipes from beyond the grave, or to connect with each other silently and subconsciously, collaboratively creating recipes.

Through this work, the artists aim to connect to shared family histories – both raised in rural Saskatchewan, their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and others parted them with specific knowledge: how to quilt, knit, crochet, and sew, how to grow a garden, bake bread, preserve fruits and vegetables, and other homemaking skills. They learned how to cook the dishes of their cultural heritages, but as they were adapted to suit the tastes of new generations, the sometimes-limited budgets of their families, and the often-limited availability of ingredients in small-town grocery stores. What knowledge will be passed on and what will be lost? What has already been lost? What might be remembered only subconsciously?

During this phase of Recipe Book of the Dead, Fornwald and Gabel will attempt to acquire recipes vis–vis a handmade spirit board inscribed with culinary terminology and phrases, which will be placed atop a quilt that doubles as a sacred circle and picnic blanket. These instructions will be transcribed by an assistant, and will provide the basis for the next three phases of the project: the adaptation and cooking of the collected recipes, a ceremonial dinner, and the creation of a limited edition artists’ book/recipe book.

Artist Bios

Blair Fornwald is an interdisciplinary artist and curator living in Regina. She has an MFA from the University of Western Ontario (2007) and a BFA from the University of Regina (2002). Fornwald’s practice and research focuses on empathy and affect, humour and pathos, particularly from queer and feminist perspectives. Working both collaboratively (with artist collective Turner Prize* and others) and independently. She has performed and exhibited across Canada and the United States, and in Berlin, Germany. Fornwald is Assistant Curator at Dunlop Art Gallery, and her writing has appeared in Boulderpavement and BlackFlash magazines, and in publications by Dunlop Art Gallery, the Organization for Saskatchewan Arts Councils, and Neutral Ground.

Brette Gabel’s work spans a variety of media as she strives to carry out an ongoing investigation of the boundaries of comfort and discomfort experienced during seemingly quotidian moments in time. Gabel recently completed an MFA in interdisciplinary studies at OCAD University. While her practice engages with performance, video, drawing and sculpture, her work is primarily situated in textile and craft practices.
Brette has participated in art residencies in Regina, Saskatchewan, Windsor, Ontario, Wassaic, New York, and San Isidro Mazatepec, Mexico. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.