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Survive. Resist.

Spread for "Survive.Resist" by Andrea Lacalamita, Canadian Art, Winter 2012, pp 136

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.

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