This year marked CAFKA’s tenth anniversary. As part of its first show in 2001, CAFKA displayed 17 projects at the Kitchener City Hall and environs; for its biennial exhibition this year, CAFKA commissioned 20 artist projects in a wide array of civic spaces throughout the Waterloo region. The result was a cohesive collection of accessible, engaging and unpretentious work.
“SURVIVE. RESIST.” was a reaction to the increasing complexities of a global community. CAFKA placed art pieces in public spaces; the most successful works were witty and subtle responses to their environments. On the University of Waterloo campus, one might look skyward and catch a glimpse of the artist Laurel Woodcock’s transient message, “WISH YOU WERE HERE,” written in red, trailing behind a chartered plane. Hikers passing through the RARE Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge would stumble upon Imitate (After Nils-Udo) (2011), in which two famous earthworks—Woven branch arch Langholm, Dumfriesshire April 1986 (1986) by Andy Goldsworthy and Root Sculpture (1995) by Nils-Udo—were replicated by the Kitchener artists Michael Ambedian and Sheila McMath. Fancy Fences (2011), by the Quebec City–based group BGL, was a whimsical intervention at Waterloo Town Square; control barriers made of PVC tubing hung from the tops of lampposts, trees and buildings, creating a curious commentary on political and social liberation.
The exhibition, despite its often playful tone, revealed an underlying struggle to reinterpret a world that is quickly evolving past our current abilities to understand the scale of its expansion. In “The Limits: Tracing Time and Seeing Space,” an exhibition at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery curated by Crystal Mowry (on view to January 8), CAFKA’s ultimate question is set forth: How do we begin to redefine the role of public art in an age in which the intersections of space and time have drastic new definitions?
This is a question perhaps best answered by spurse, the creators of MATR 1291 (2011), an app for smartphones produced in collaboration with Communitech Apps Factory. MATR 1291 acts as a new sense organ for deep time, an understanding of temporality born out of research with geologists, astronomers and ecologists that extends our present into millions of years.