SOS is a site-specific project installed in various empty buildings in and around the downtown Winnipeg area by local artist Liz Garlicki. The work consist boards with red LED lights in the form of hearts silently blinking Morse code messages. The LED panel blinks a plea that might have come from a jilted lover: “Why are you leaving me?”, “ What did I do wrong?” “What can I do to make you stay?”. The heart shape being used in this project is sentimental; its relationship to advertising and symbolic meaning is widespread. Having this heart placed visibly in the window is meant to be a literal representation of the life of the building itself. The coded voice of the rejected building is appealing to the community for help, and in this way I am creating a conversation between the passersby and the building, in the hope finding a tenant. The generation of this dialogue serves to utilize what before was an empty, lonesome space.
A computer program generates the Morse code messages in lights and becomes a mesmerizing advertisement for the empty building it is displayed in. It is also important to mention that this method of communication is most often used in emergency situations. By using Morse code to animate the vacancy, SOS brings the building to life and points to a subtle and soundless state of emergency.
I would like to thank the Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council and Video Pool Media Arts Centre for funding of this project. Also a warm thank you to John Hunsberger, Atomic Centre Winnipeg, Sacha Kopelow, Ray Peterson, and the rest of my friends and family for all their love and support during this endeavour. Without you all it wouldn’t have happened.
Untitled Community (2008)
In December of 2006, I was asked to participate in Art Building Community, a symposium and art project to be held in May of 2008, curated by Roewan Crowe and sponsored by Mentoring Artists for Women's Art (MAWA) and the University of Winnipeg Institute for Women's and Gender Studies. This presented me with the opportunity to complete a piece of public art, which was especially exciting for me, given that my prior work had been primarily in painting and had rarely been shown in public or outdoor venues.
My proposal was based on the former practice, in Winnipeg, of engraving the names of streets into the sidewalk, at intersections, a practice, which hasn't been employed in over 30 years. The proposal, which was discussed with City of Winnipeg engineers and planners for over a year and a half, was that the following text be sandblasted into the sidewalk at a number of locations throughout the city:
When you walk
on these words
walking in the
You are a part
The final placement of the work is located at the corner of Main St. and Jarvis Ave. (in front of 817 Main).
Approaching the work from one direction, the pedestrian is able to read the text as they walk toward and upon it. Approaching from the opposite direction, however, the text would be encountered upside-down, requiring the viewer to stop, turn around, and look back in order to read it. This interruption and redirection of attention is reminiscent, in some respects, of a stumble or trip: does one go back and look at what they've tripped upon? Or does one simply keep walking? Making the viewer aware of where they are walking will, hopefully, make him or her aware of the surrounding community through which they are passing or in which they live. The text offers a means of speaking not only the people living in the community but to all passers-by. I hope to make the readers/viewers consider and question their thoughts about the community area (be they positive or negative) and to make them acknowledge their location and position within the community as they move through it.
The history of Winnipeg's North End inspires both positive and negative responses, and my own ambivalent feelings toward the area have led me to question how I, as an artist, might engage with that community. I hope to make community members, pedestrians, passers-by, and even myself acknowledge our decisions to contribute to that community or not, and question, if not, why?
In the original proposal, there were to be four separate sidewalk locations where the text would be sandblasted. The pending approval by the City of Winnipeg to do the other two locations depend on the condition of the of Main St. and Jarvis Ave work after four seasons of weather and wear. I would hope to execute the following two, additional locations in the future (note: no further additions made since this projects due to funding):
- Entrance into the North End:
North side after the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge (or Salter Bridge), East side of Salter St. at Flora Ave.
- In front the Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Parish, at 341 Selkirk Ave.:
Established in 1900 Holy Ghost Parish was one of the first spiritual centres for the Polish community in Western Canada and the first Polish school in Canada. This being my family's church, it is deeply connected to my own views of the North End, both negative and positive. Here, the text would be translated into Polish.
Changes that have taken place along Main St., including the arrival of MAWA and The Edge Artist Village, would seem to portend encouraging possibilities for the area, but how does the community view these changes? Is the art community forcing something valuable out of the North End? Has the art community influenced the "original" Main St. community?
As a person and an artist not geographically from the North End, what is my relationship to it, now? Given my childhood memories of the area (having attended Holy Ghost with my family), and given my current position as a neighbour (I work at a gallery in the Exchange District, a five minute walk away), in what capacity do I want to be—can I be—involved in the North End community? I have a great deal of respect for the North End, in terms of its history, and I still go to the markets in North End, yet it also suffers the reputation of being one of the poorest and roughest neighbourhoods in Canada. As a woman, I am cautious of darkened streets in any area, but I am perhaps more so walking through the North End. Still, it can be difficult to imagine effecting positive change in an area without disturbing or detracting from the essence of its existing community. Furthermore, if such changes are to be made, who should make them? The city? The people who live there? The people who work there? Or anyone who passes through the area? These questions were, in large part, what inspired to make this piece; my goal was to bring them to the attention of Winnipeggers as they set foot upon the sidewalk.
When I think of galleries, I think of communities all their own, in their own ways fundamentally insular. But what is the sense in reserving artwork for the few when its potential implications concern everyone? This piece is on a public sidewalk; it is a public artwork, open 24 hours a day. There is no one on hand to tell you what it means or what to think of it; there is no charge to see it, no suspicious glances from those charged with protecting it. It is there every day; it is used every day, and it is kept however ever the elements keep it. I no longer own it or claim it as mine. I am happy to give something to our city and to encourage the public to view work in the outdoors and outside their comfort zone. Be it in an area or around people that makes you uncomfortable, safety is in numbers, and to be put off by the work's location is to miss the point of its being put in the North End, to begin with: seeing this work, I hope, represents one way of stopping the negative and viewing the positive.
I'm #2 (2007/08)
An interesting feature of professional sports is that fans can become as competitive with one another as if they were playing the game themselves. Garlicki points to the heightened tensions present in sports bars during matches and reminds fans and athletes alike that it’s okay to finish in second place.
“I’m #2” began with a simple button that I produced by hand as a gift for a symposium gift bag curator Kerri Lynn Reeves put together in 2007.
In 2008 I took the opportunity to participate in the group project “Super Fan” initiated by Artengine, curated by Ryan Stec, in Ottawa ON. Artengine’s call was a site specific show and a theme on sports shown in downtown Ottawa pubs. Subtle and intergraded into the scenery of a sports pub the coaster makes the statement “I’m #2” was a comment on my own relation to competition sports and life wise (not so competitive and I hate televised sports).
2000 coasters were made and still avail for purchase on
Art Metropole< https://artmetropole.com/shop/8599>
The series Fuck 'n' Buck arose from an examination of conflicting single lesbian desires. The fear of being alone forever battling the fear of developing a new relationship. The Penthouse and Playboy centerfold images being a stereotypical "quick fix" to a single lesbians yearnings. While these images appear to be the perfect stopgap, they quickly prove themselves to be otherwise. An image constructed to be fantasy, quickly unveils it's self to be much less than the viewer had hoped for.
Intentionally to be painted in a line drawing format and increased 1000% in size, the reconstituted image quickly exposes how little a sexy centerfold has to offer. The images are shockingly large, forcing the viewer to step backwards. The colours, evocative of child's play, are so bright that they make it difficult for the viewer to remain up close to the work. These elements propel the viewer backward where they must make a conscious choice to view the work. Therein lies the dilemma of every relationship, "should I stay or should I go?" The viewer is given a moment to reconsider their motivation. Should they choose to view the piece, they are faced with the following decision: enjoy its oddity or reject it on the basis of unsightliness. Should they choose to avoid the piece, they are faced with wondering what it was they might have missed.
Drownproofing Thru Life (2001)
While searching for images of drowning victims and lifeguarding techniques, I discovered two books, which described a technique, referred to as "drownproofing". The example pictures depicted victims who appeared to have drowned; yet were in fact rescued. Looking at these images, I felt that they symbolized the current state of my life and my own personality survival strategies. In this body of work, called Drownproofing Thru Life, I question my chosen coping or survival method(s). Is it because I can’t or don’t or refuse to harness the energy or the ability, to actively save myself? How often do I rely on events to unfold around me? When and how do I rely on fate, chance or circumstance? How much assistance do I need/want in my life?