Welcome Back Ye Annunaki
When: Opens Friday, 6 p.m. Runs to
Where: Open Space, 2-510 Fort St.
How would you host a special guest from an alien world?
What would you feed them and where would they sleep? What would you offer as a welcoming gift?
Eighteen artists representing three countries responded to a call for cosmic hospitality made by Noxious Sector Arts Collective, "a formalized forum of informal inquiry." Their proposals will be unveiled at an opening Friday at Open Space.
"Everyone has kind of engaged in it in a different way," said Doug Jarvis, who co-hosts the exhibition with Ted Hiebert. "It reveals our biases and our customs and the things we feel are important."
Given the creative potential of the call, the results are predictably varied.
Vancouver's Ella Morton created calling cards to mitigate homesickness for her guests. Victoria's Christine Walde curated a library of books on human-alien relations, while Karen Hibbard offered a map of local gardens that might make good landing pads. Winnipeg's Kegan McFadden sent slabs of tyndall stone a natural memento from his home province of Manitoba. Meanwhile, Cindy Baker and Megan Morman of Lethbridge, Alta., proposed a business called BenBen Brothel: A Bed Away from Home. They'll conduct interviews for potential sex workers at the opening.
The opening also features a performance by sound artist s* of Whistler, as well as a potluck hosted by Mary-Anne McTrowe what better way to introduce outsiders to local cuisine? Those interested in partaking are asked to bring a dish of their own.
Jarvis and Hiebert took inspiration for the title from author Zecharia Sitchin, who wrote that humans were genetically engineered by an alien race called the Annunaki to serve as slaves.
"We were kind of interested in doing something around 2012 and working with one of the mythologies," Jarvis said. "One that caught our attention was Planet X or Planet Nibiru."
According to Sitchin, the Annunaki hail from an addition planet in our solar system with a wide orbit that approaches the Earth every 3,600 years - coinciding with the 2012 end-of-cycle predicted by the Mayans.
But Jarvis and Hiebert were equally inspired by a local tradition of hosting, which takes many forms. International students commonly participate in homestay programs - Jarvis himself has been hosting students for six years. It's also an opportunity to reflect on the guest-host relationship between many Victorians and the Coast Salish land.
In a related project, Jarvis is working with Open Space director Helen Marzolf and curator-in-residence Peter Morin to develop a program of circle ceremonies that explore that relationship.
All 18 cosmic proposals will be on display Friday, as well as sculptures and other creations drawn from a part of each proposal.
"People are having fun with it, exploring the different ideas around hosting and being a guest," Jarvis said.
Additional local artists represented in the show are Roy Green, Robin Kirkpatrick, Shawn Shepherd and Rhonda Usipiuk. They're joined by Marlaina Buch and Ross Macaulay of Kamloops, Robert Gallup and Josh Kopel of Seattle, Serena Kataoka of Peterborough, Ont., Katie Bethune-Leamen and Ryan Park of Toronto, Sherry Tom-palski of Ottawa, as well as Kruno Jost of Cakovec, Czech Republic.
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