The notion of place can be quite tricky. What gives a place its significance? What is it about a place that can generate certain feelings? How is connection to a place established? Where is this place?
Montreal-based interdisciplinary/performance artist Victoria Stanton recently launched her first Indiegogo campaign for This City, My Love: Mapping the Unspectacular in Saint John.
“I didn’t choose Saint John. Saint John chose me,” Stanton explains. “I don’t necessarily decide on a destination.” Third Space Gallery, which does exclusively off-site programming, got in touch with her two years ago because of a different project. She was essentially chosen twice by them, once when they asked her for a proposal and second when they approved said proposal.
Stanton admits to doing very little preparation on a place before going there. Instead, she leaves herself open to possibilities. “That’s when the research happens. It’s like ‘Ok. I’m here! Talk to me! Show me stuff! What should I read? Where should I go?’ And that’s how the place reveals itself. By actually being there,” she says. “The project was about meeting people and learning about the place through the people I was meeting. I was not necessarily visiting landmarks, but places that are meaningful to people for any number of reasons, whether something good or bad has happened there.”
“One of the first things people ask is ‘What are you going to do with this?’ when we meet. It’s an interesting question because yes, ostensibly, if I’m meeting them and I’m trying to get something, learn something, then I guess it would go without saying it’s because I’m collecting it towards something. So, it was fun to answer, ‘Well, I don’t know. I might not do anything. I’m thinking of doing an exhibition, but I’m not sure yet. It’s just this: the meeting.’”
This March 2014, she will be returning to Saint John for the second part of this project: the exhibition. But first, she must build the installation. “I kept getting flashes of these map formations and these ideas,” Stanton mentions. “While I was there, I kept feeling like if I have the opportunity it would be really nice to, in a second stage of the project, show something of this experience that’s happening while I am here.” Stanton hopes to build “a kind of ‘sense map’ that somehow encapsulates and embodies ‘what is a place.’ Notions of place form a human geography perspective. How a sense of belonging is what creates a sense of place.”
This is where the Indiegogo campaign comes in. Initially, the campaign was an idea Stanton struggled with. “That’s something other people do, I can’t do a campaign, and precisely for that reason I will do a campaign.”
Stemming from the performative exchanges, the conceptualization of something that not only sits in a gallery, but does something is in the works. People who have to do something to activate the work.
“If it’s at all possible to get some sort of dialogue, even if it’s really tenuous, even if it’s not a dialogue with me or something that I bear witness to, around those themes and ideas that I’m so moved by, that, to me, is really exciting. And I think that making and showing work is one way of generating dialogue, but if there’s a sense of community involvement in the making of the work, on the way to the work, that has a lot of value also.”
Victoria Stanton’s Indiegogo campaign runs until February 6th. Click HERE to contribute.