21. August 2019 kl. 9.30-10.30 på TækkerAIR Aarhus (de Mezas Vej 5, st. th., 8000 Aarhus C)
Canadian artist Jessie McNeil will conclude her short-stay research residency at Aarhus Billedkunstcenter with an AaBKC Social, where she will invite the public to contribute to her ongoing research on how architecture and city planning impact the lives of local citizens, with a special focus on Gellerup.
This event will also mark the opening of Jessie's pop-up exhibition, Great Big Plans, which combines miniature sculpture and found objects to recall urban spaces that are in a process of transition.
This AaBKC Social will be held in English. Coffee and breakfast will be provided.
Jessie McNeil (Vancouver, Canada, b. 1987) graduated with a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art & Design in 2013 and received a Fine Art Diploma from Langara College in 2008. She has won numerous awards and grants, most recently a Canada Council for the Arts grant (Residencies component of the Arts Abroad Program), The Hnatyshyn Foundation's William and Meredith Saunderson Prize For Emerging Artists and a Salt Spring National Arts Prize (Juror’s Choice Award). She has exhibited in curated and juried exhibitions in Canada and abroad and is currently completing an artist residency here at Aarhus Billedkunstcenter.
About the exhibition (text by Jessie McNeil)
“Big plans make mistakes and when the plans are very big, the mistakes can be very big also…” - Jane Jacobs
Through reading texts by urbanists Jan Gehl and Jane Jacobs, I have been learning of the ill effects of poor city planning, particularly in North American cities. Repeatedly, modernist housing solutions similar in architectural style to Gellerupparken have failed it’s people, since their arrival in the early to mid-20th century. These functionalist apartment blocks were designed to give no room for colour, texture or uniqueness in its appearance, no opportunity for its residents to feel a sense of pride or ownership - which resulted in feelings of anxiety, isolation and exclusion in its residents.
However, I do not get the impression that current residents still remaining in Gellerupparken would critique their home in this same way. During my short time in Aarhus, not once have I heard a complaint about a lack of activity in the neighborhood’s public space, nor stories of feeling trapped in an uninspirational apartment complex. I have learned of creative spaces such as Sigrid’s Stue and Andromeda 8220, that work to empower Gellerup’s community. I was hoping to come away from this residency, reassured that my studies on public space and history of architectural solutions in urban neighborhoods would be clearly confirmed as being universally true. But I am leaving with more questions than answers - much the case, at any artist residency.
As the British architect and urban planner Gordon Cullen demonstrates (in his book “Townscape”), “the most interesting visual ideas are suggested out of the unique reality that already exists, but needs pointing up.” Jane Jacobs believes that the Cullen approach “is the very opposite of design narcissism, because the loved object is the place already existing and the purpose is to enhance its nature.” (quoted from “Do Not Segregate Pedestrians and Automobiles” In Architects’ Yearbook 11, 1965). Environment has everything to do with sustaining or making culture. Builders and policy makers must work harder to consider this.
The miniature sculptures exhibited at TækkerAIR Aarhus stand as a visitor’s impression of the continuously changing cityscape. As Susan Stewart claims in her book On Longing, “We ﬁnd the miniature at the origin of private, individual history, but we ﬁnd the gigantic at the origin of public and natural history.” Oscillating between allusion and deﬁnition, souvenir and model, and the experience of the public and the private, the ubiquitous spaces reconstructed in miniature inspire examinations of civic identity, and the value we place on certain places or spaces over others. Considering the arguments of Jane Jacobs and Jan Gehl, I wanted to explore the godly perspective of the “master builder” using the format of architectural models and found materials currently scattered around the construction sites of Gellerup.
Jessie's residency is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Tækker Group/Tækker Fonden.
About Canada Council for the Arts
The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. The Council champions and invests in artistic excellence through a broad range of grants, services, prizes and payments to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations. Its work ensures that excellent, vibrant and diverse art and literature engages Canadians, enriches their communities and reaches markets around the world. The Council also raises public awareness and appreciation of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities. It is responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO in Canada to contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable future. The Canada Council Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts.