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FFOTO's Five Quarantine Questions for Tatum Dooley, Clive Holden, and Chris Shepherd

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Tatum Dooley's personal assistant

Tatum Dooley's at-home work set-up, featuring Raffi, her personal assistant 

When the chips are down, it's human nature to look for ways to lend a hand. FF/QQ 4 turns the spotlight on members of the Canadian art scene who are finding creative ways to give back to their local communities: Writer and founder of @cdnartforecast Tatum Dooley, and artists Clive Holden, and Chris Shepherd. 

- Craig D'Arville

 

 

TATUM DOOLEY, Writer/curator (@tatum_dooley; @cdnartforecast; @cdnart_in_isolation)

Tatum Dooley's #WFH selfie

Tatum Dooley's #WFH selfie

Craig D'Arville: What are you working on right now? 

Tatum Dooley: At the moment, I'm continuing to finish up reviews of exhibitions I saw before everything was shut down. There's a weird disconnect, like I'm writing about an entirely different time. Do I mention the virus and self-isolation in my reviews? It feels like it's shading all of my thoughts and opinions, so it's hard not to gesture towards it in all of my writing. 

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your creative practice?

TD: I usually spend a few days a week visiting exhibitions, meeting people for coffee, or studio visits. While I can do some meetings over the phone, it doesn't have the same energy, which I think will reflect in my writing. I'm also distracted by the situation, which means I only have a couple of good days of writing a week. My productivity is down, but I'm trying to be gentle on myself. I'd like to use physical distancing as an excuse to work on an ambitious project that doesn't fit into the market, because who knows if there will even be a market to fit into when this is all over.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

TD: Lots of phonecalls! I put out a call on Twitter that any of my followers were welcome to reach out if they wanted to talk, so I've been connecting with people all over the world. I've also started an art sale on my Instagram account @cdnartforecast with 100% of sales going directly to artists. Even if things don't sell [edit. - pieces are selling as quickly as they get posted!], I hope the initiative shows artists that people care about them and that there's still a community willing to come together. Superframe, a frame store in Toronto, very generously agreed to partner with me and offer people a discount on framing and will make a donation to the artists. They're also making plexi-glass boxes to protect doctors from the virus. Examples like that, of community leaders stepping up, are so inspiring to me. It makes me want to do my best to let people know I love and care about them.  

[edit. - on April 15, Dooley and Margaux Smith (@margauxlenore) launched Canadian Art in Isolation, an initiative designed to connect artists with seniors who are self-isolating in long-term care centres. Go check it out!]

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

TD: This is always such a tough question for me, so many artists have my attention! Right now, photo-based artists I love include: Zinnia NaqviCamille RojasAnique JordanLuther Kondu, and Sondra Meszaros

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

TD: Pick a time every day that you stop working. It's so easy to let work bleed into the evening when your office is always visible...resist the temptation! 

Visit Tatum Dooley's website

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CLIVE HOLDEN, Artist (@cliveholden

[Clive Holden donates 50% of the income from his art sales to a Toronto food bank, where he also volunteers. During the Covid-19 crisis, members of our community are relying on these social services more than ever before. - Craig D'Arville]

Leader of the Free World, 2020. Detail from 100 minute seamless loop, 4K, silent, for lightbox and large-scale projections.

Craig D'Arville: Tell us a bit about "Leader of the Free World".

Clive Holden: I made this with a few feet of Super 8 leader and some glitched video, mixing them in a ‘live’ process like they were notes coming from a musical instrument. I was thinking about techniques from loop-based music like Dub and Hip Hop. And those extra large paintings from the 1950s, but the size here is in time –– I mean the work's overall feature-length loop is seamless, it goes on forever.

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

CH: Not much so far, I usually work alone in a room. But I’m feeling for everyone who’s normally on the edge trying to eat, feed kids, rent, and is suddenly pushed into a new place that will be terrifying for many. I also miss touching my friends, and crowds surprisingly, I suddenly miss crowds. Lately, I’ve been feeling the urge to do live performance again and this is adding to that, so maybe it will affect my art practice in that way.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

CH: Seems like it has to be simple things for now. I’ve been trying to keep in touch with single people, they need the company, and we’re getting groceries for some friends who are in quarantine. That could be a growing need, coming up. A lot of our community’s limited to online at the moment, and since I tend to go for two-way and interactive relationships anyway ... I mean I follow people who follow me back … I guess that’s my daily community at the moment. A lot of them are other artists; I’m surprised how good some of these friendships have become in recent years, and how much strong art I’ve found that way. 

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

CH: l recently went back through my friend Jan’s (@theswinburnecomplex) post history, which is amazing, she’s brilliant. And I’m re-loving work by other friends whose work I’ve gotten to know primarily online, like Jean Smith (@jeansmithpainter), fellow FFOTO artist Chris Shepherd (@cjsart), and Kavi (@art_by_kavi). I’m going to do this more, travel back in time to see what people have posted, there’s a lot of art there and just good life stuff, which means more in this new context.

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

CH: This will sound very Canadian, but think of things you’ve enjoyed doing in the past during a cold snap. 

And talking is important. Call people, with or without the video part. I’ve worked in the Yukon and met several modern-day prospectors, hermits really, who’d come into town after months alone. They’d have ‘cabin fever’ and really need to talk, to get the words out. It’s a human need. Get a cup of tea, or a beer, sit back and call someone. 

Also: wear a shirt that makes you feel good.

Clive Holden's #WFH selfie

Clive Holden's #WFH selfie

Shop FFOTO: Clive Holden

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CHRIS SHEPHERD, Artist (@cjsart)

Kennedy Station, Platform Bench, by Chris Shepherd

Kennedy Station Platform Bench, 2014, by Chris Shepherd

Craig D'Arville: Tell us a bit about "Kennedy Station Platform Bench".

Chris Shepherd: This is the Kennedy Station Subway Platform in Toronto. It's the last subway stop east of the city. Not the end of the line, just the end of the subway. Trains pull in, everyone gets off, and then cleaners come in for a quick overhaul before each train heads back in the direction they came from. You can see a yellow mop bucket to the left of the wall behind the bench, and trains waiting on either side of the platform for the return journey west. This maintenance was a key aspect of this shot. It spoke to me about the business of keeping people moving, and trying to maintain a busy urban system and that a key part of this process is the unglamorous and never-ending act of cleaning. Although nobody appears in the frame, like the whole place is abandoned is the most consistent part of my work. It's not actually empty, the vacancy is a simple function of patience, I wait for the right moment. Like all photography, this picture doesn't exactly tell the truth. It looks quiet when in actuality the shutter is simply catching a millisecond when people were about to pass into, or had just passed out of the frame.

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

CS: My practice has always been predicated on physical distancing. There's an aspect of the post-apocalyptic in my photography. There's always humanity in this lack of people. I'm forever waiting to be alone. Sometimes this happens quickly, sometimes this takes a bit of patience. Shooting in the last week or so has been very odd. I don't dream of a world without people, nor do I wish for it, despite my love of depicting solitude, I love my fellow travellers and explorers. Recently I've felt my sense of being alone change. As the people disappear, my head gets noisier listening to the panic and anxiety of the world around me and trying to capture the peace and Zen-like calm I love is difficult in a time full of such uncertainty. I can't perpetually lock myself indoors, so with concentration and a little care I've been able to walk a lot without danger of affecting others or them affecting me. The real difference is everything takes longer now and everyone is on edge. I would often take transit to a destination and then walk with the camera, but now I have to walk or ride my bike to avoid public transit. I walk a lot more, 10-15 km a day. We're always to a degree isolated in a city full of people. That isolation is just more acute now.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

CS: My wife Jill and I are in contact with friends and neighbours through texts, chats, phone calls and distance visits. I still get most of my community contact from walking. I engage with my surroundings more than people. But I do see people when I walk and we can have distant conversations. I miss the privilege of eating out and socializing with local businesses, but we're trying to maintain those relationships through deliveries. We really are privileged, and always have been. We're both still working full time jobs from home, and we're healthy and eating well. If we stay away from the news we can remain hopeful. This privilege allows us to direct our money to our neighbourhood. Which is what we've always done. We want everyone to be well and healthy, and for many that's a money issue. We spend to help. We're aware how lucky we are and with that comes the requisite guilt.

[edit. - Shepherd is sending some of his artworks to Tatum Dooley's artist-support initiative via @cdnartforecast. The proceeds from those sales will be donated to the local arts community - CD]

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

CS: I've been engaged in an email conversation with Jon Setter (@jonsetter), who's another FFOTO artist. As a result I've been looking at a lot of his wonderful work but I look at a lot of other work that's not photography. I'm addicted to the wonderful sketchbooks of Mark Dicey (@paddlecoffin), Micah Lexier (@micahlexier) is always a favourite, and Clive Holden (@cliveholden) is using IGTV very well lately and his durational work is always intriguing. I have a ton of others like Kate Wilson (@kate.wilson.eidetics), Kristine Mifsud (@kmifsud1000), Nick Rubi (@rubi.nick), Joe Friday (@joe_a-friday), Alison Postma (@rumalow) and Tatum Dooley's @cdnartforecast but the list is long. I'm a bit of an IG addict.

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

CS: I'm not sure I'm one to give advice. I'm fairly anxious myself but I would say, take time to think -- and don't worry about being productive. Productivity is an illusion. It's wrapped up in the capitalist economic engine. I'm not saying sit on your ass all the time, but there's comfort in not doing anything that has a goal sometimes, and not doing anything is just fine. Be busy but don’t worry about productivity. Don't let others dictate how and when you feel good. Look after yourselves but also be aware of your surroundings. Take care with everyone, and give them all and any support they need and try to be selfless in this endeavour. Helping others is still the best way to feel good about everything, including yourself. We are ALL in this together. The only way we're gonna get out of it is to be kind, caring and compassionate. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Chris Shepherd's #WFH selfie

Chris Shepherd's #WFH selfie

Shop FFOTO: Chris Shepherd

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