Elizabeth Chitty, Distance of Their Mouths St. Catharines, Canada 2011PHOTO courtesy of the artist VIDEO Berenicci Hershorn
Thursday October 13, Saturday October 15 6:30 pm, Sunday October 16 4 pm
Starting from Geary Lane
Walk with me. We are at the western edge of the watershed of a lost river, Garrison Creek. I will tell you something, then we will stroll through the neighbourhood for half an hour in silence. Perhaps we will hear water beneath our feet, on the surface of the concrete, in our bodies or the air. You can tell your thoughts to the microphone. (Audio files generated in the walks may be used in the performance, Daylighting.) Please bring only water in re-fillable bottles to these walks.
For research for this work, I am very much indebted to the community organization Lost Rivers Walks (see in particular their Lost Rivers Central Toronto Key Map) and citizen geographer and photographer Michael Cook (see his page on the Garrison Creek West Branch Storm Trunk Relief Sewer). Daylighting Walks will cover a very short above ground portion of the sewer path.
Friday October 21 7:30 pm
Shining light on the street surface and conjuring an image of the buried creek to the east, we will provide relief to what lives in the cracks. We will listen to one another thinking about water in the city. We will walk a straight line like the city’s grid, but you can choose to meander like water, which knows what to do.
Interdisciplinarity has been at the core of Elizabeth Chitty’s artistic practice for 41 years. Site, corporeality, temporality and attention to process thread through her work, which addresses being in a body, a place, with others. She creates performances and video and sound installations and lives in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Elizabeth Chitty (with, Berenicci Hershorn), Lucius’ Garden St. Catharines 2015 VIDEO STILL Vickie Fagan
I explore what it means to be in a body, a place, with others. Interrelations of temporal-kinaesthetic-visual-aural-textual interests flow through my body of work.
Judson Dance Theater was one of the earliest influences on my work. The artist-run centres of the 1970s provided the perfect place to start applying ideas from one art form to another. Conceptual art was my springboard and evidence remains in my work. The social value of art has always gnawed at me and this intensified when I moved from an urban art community to a rural area. This strengthened my early resolve to value both subject and form. Living outside a sympatico art community likely exacerbated finding a balance with participatory and social practices. Mothering and spiritual practice provoked me to vow to never let my work add to the hatred and suffering in the world—and why bother when popular culture does it so well? Resisting our culture’s privileging of The Word but having verbal proclivities, I’ve worked hard against my monkey mind to wayfind into my body.
I make video and sound installations and performances. There have also been artist gardens and some constructed photographs. I recently started to make single-channel video again. I like the public realm and have often worked outdoors. I’ve written text since the get-go and there are words in most of my work. Some of it is maybe poetry and some of it is drawn from technical reports. There’s humour in my work but most of it is Very Serious. Most of the poetry was written in times of plummeted emotions and turmoil.
Performances have ranged across fairly broad territory. Most of them have used video and there was a time of two large-scale works with multiple still image projections. I am happy to make performances for a stage if requested and I’ve avoided all allegiance to either/or performance lineages except at first when I vigorously rejected dance. Later that seemed arbitrary and of-a-certain-time, and I came to appreciate the depth of sensorial sensitivity, expressive integrity and boggling skill amongst dancers I admired.
Most of my recent work is about water in North Niagara, where I live. Currently my work often involves groups of people walking together. It reconnects with performances I did in the 1990s in which the audience walked paths and trails (one of which was performed at the first 7a*11d festival). My current work is place-based. I focus on place mostly through considering a site’s geology, plants and birds, natural and built landscapes, governance including treaties, histories, and water and its infrastructure. To do this I research and engage with community members in walking, looking and listening. Walks generate video and audio files that I use in subsequent digital spaces. The work is anchored in sensing and making sense of our surroundings through bodily experience, social interactions, and simple technologies. The ground might shift a little through a lurking lens of social justice.
I’ve made art continually for 41 years regardless of whether anyone was watching. My old standbys are: The personal is political. Think globally, act locally. Don’t be a jerk.
— ELIZABETH CHITTY
Elizabeth Chitty, Progress of the Body 7a*11d 1997 PHOTO Cheryl Rondeau
Progress of the Body
Thursday August 7 to Monday August 11 9 pm
Trinity Bellwoods Park (Queen St W to Dundas St W, Gore Vale Ave to Crawford St)
Elizabeth Chitty is a senior interdisciplinary artist working in performance, video and installation. She has also been active in arts support fields as a producer, consultant, administrator, curator, technician, writer, teacher, and practices as a mediator, facilitator and consultant in conflict resolution. The imagery Chitty uses is based on an interest in cultural conceptions of the processes and organs of consciousness; specifically notions of the relationship between the physical body and the immaterial (spirit, emotion).
Elizabeth CHITTY, Progress of the Body 7a*11d 1997