CAMOUFLEURS - KATHLEEN RITTER

DECEMBER 4 DÉCEMBRE 2014 - FEBRUARY 7 FÉVRIER 2015

Camoufleurs est une exposition de nouvelles œuvres par Kathleen Ritter qui explore diverses formes de camouflages, subterfuges et communications encodées. Ce projet examine des pistes historiques parallèles et entrecroise les fils narratifs de la guerre, du suffrage des femmes et des mouvements d’avant-garde en art, musique et cinéma qui ont eu cours dans la première moitié du vingtième siècle. À partir de ce corpus de recherche, Ritter a mis en évidence d’étonnants motifs récurrents, thèmes sonores, séquences d’archives et systèmes d’écriture du siècle dernier afin d’explorer les résidus sensoriels de l’Histoire.

Le titre de l’exposition fait référence au terme utilisé pour identifier les concepteurs d’imprimés camouflage pour les forces armées — camoufleurs —, qui comptaient parmi eux plusieurs femmes et artistes. Résultant de la recherche effectuée sur leurs activités, la murale peinte aux murs évoque un labyrinthe asymétrique de formes noires et blanches. Ces formes sont basées sur les motifs camouflages communément utilisés sur les navires militaires des troupes alliées lors de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Le camouflage disruptif — ou « dazzle » — a été conçu pour provoquer la confusion et la fatigue visuelle chez les opérateurs de périscope, et en théorie, aurait pour effet de nuire à la précision des tirs ennemis. Ce motif particulier est tiré d’une photo d’archives montrant le Women’s Camouflage Corps en train de peindre un exemple de camouflage « dazzle » sur un bateau enclavé, lequel faisait office de station de recrutement dans le centre-ville de New York, en 1918.

On retrouve également dans l’exposition l’œuvre Manifesto (2014), une traduction en sténographie du Manifeste féministe de Mina Loy. Écrit à l’aube de la guerre en 1914, cet appel à l’égalité, faisant suite à une rencontre avec F.T. Marinetti, est une attaque directe envers le « mépris de la femme » autoproclamé par le futuriste. Sa réplique cristallise la démesure de l’époque : elle est explosive et polémique, ponctuée de points d’exclamation, de tirets, de polices agrandies et de soulignements. La présente édition du manifeste de Loy est écrite en sténographie, une forme d’écriture abrégée utile pour transcrire rapidement un discours — la lingua franca des secrétaires et des journalistes. Publiés en édition illimitée sur papier journal, les visiteurs sont invités à prendre quelques exemplaires et les placarder à travers la ville.

L’installation vidéo intitulée Siren (2014), approprie une scène controversée du film muet Extase de 1933, mettant en vedette Hedy Lamarr, et marie cet extrait à la bande sonore du film d’avant-garde Ballet mécanique, composé en 1924 par George Antheil. Le climax de la séquence visuelle coïncide avec le son d’une sirène à manivelle. Cette séquence vidéo, répétée en boucle et diffusée en continu sur un réseau sans fil, devient une réponse affective au « système de communication secrète » créé par Lamarr et Antheil, une importante invention que l’on connaît aujourd’hui comme saut de fréquence, qui est à la base de la technologie de communication sans fil.

Prestidigitations, diversions élaborées, dissimulations flagrantes — toutes ces tactiques infusent les œuvres représentées dans Camoufleurs d’un humour espiègle et d’un esprit incisif. Ici, un moment d’extase se transforme en détresse lyrique. Un message d’urgence est distribué en masse – dans un langage qui est tout sauf obsolète. Le travail de Ritter parcourt plusieurs siècles et différentes technologies, et ainsi découvre au passage le matériel d’un passé lointain, offrant une potentielle clé pour décrypter le présent.

Kathleen Ritter est une artiste basée à Vancouver et à Paris. Elle fut artiste en résidence à La Cité internationale des Arts de Paris en 2013. Au sein de sa pratique artistique, elle explore la notion de visibilité, particulièrement en lien aux systèmes de pouvoir, ainsi que le langage et la technologie au sens large. À travers divers médias tels que la vidéo, l’installation sonore et la sérigraphie, Ritter examine les liens existants entre la politique et l’esthétique, les aspects spécifiques de l’Histoire et l’expérience contemporaine, et entre l’aire muséale et l’espace urbain. De plus, Ritter a organisé plusieurs expositions au Canada et à l’étranger. En 2014, elle fût commissaire consultante pour l’exposition Where do I end and you begin, au Edinburgh Art Festival, en Écosse. De 2007 à 2012, elle occupa le rôle de commissaire associée à la Vancouver Art Gallery, où elle organisa les expositions How Soon Is Now, Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (avec Tania Willard), Rebecca Belmore: Rising to the Occasion (avec Daina Augaitis) et a commissarié pour Offsite des œuvres d’art public par les artistes Kota Ezawa, Damian Moppett, Heather et Ivan Morison, et Elspeth Pratt. Ses écrits sur l’art contemporain ont paru dans les publications ESSE, Prefix Photo et Fillip ainsi que dans de nombreux catalogues.

L’artiste remercie le Conseil des arts du Canada et le Conseil des arts de la Colombie-Britannique pour leur soutien.

/

Camoufleurs is an exhibition of new work by Kathleen Ritter that explores forms of encoded communication, camouflage and subterfuge. The project weaves together research into the intersecting histories of war, women’s suffrage, and avant-garde movements in art, music, and cinema in the early half of the twentieth century. From this body of research, Ritter has excavated notable patterns and auditory cues, film footage and writing systems a century old, to explore the sensory residue of history.

The title of the exhibition is taken from the term used to describe those who designed camouflage for use in the military—camoufleurs—many of whom were artists and women. Grafted from research into their activities, a painted mural covers the walls in an asymmetrical maze of black and white shapes based on the camouflage patterns widely used on allied naval ships during WWI. Disruptive—or dazzle—camouflage was designed to create confusion and visual fatigue on the part of periscope operators, theoretically causing their aim to falter. This particular pattern is drawn from an archival photograph showing the Women’s Camouflage Corps painting an example of dazzle camouflage on a landlocked boat used as a recruiting station in downtown New York City in 1918.

Other works in the exhibition include Manifesto (2014), a translation of a Mina Loy’s 1914 “Feminist Manifesto” into shorthand. Written at the outset of the war and after an encounter with F.T. Marinetti, Loy’s call for equality is a direct attack on the Futurist’s self-proclaimed ‘scorn for women’. Her response captures the tenor of the time: it is explosive and polemical, punctuated by exclamation marks and dashes, enlarged type and underlines. This edition of Loy’s manifesto is transcribed into shorthand, a form of abbreviated writing used to quickly record speech—the lingua franca of secretaries and reporters. Printed as an unlimited edition on newsprint, visitors are invited to take copies away and post them in the streets.

A video installation, titled Siren (2014), appropriates a controversial scene featuring Hedy Lamarr from the silent 1933 film Extase and marries it to the soundtrack from George Antheil’s 1924 avant-garde composition Ballet méchanique. With the climax of the footage timed to coincide with the sound of a whirling hand-crank siren, looped endlessly and played back on a streaming wireless network, the installation is affectual response to Lamarr and Antheil’s landmark invention of a “Secret Communication System,” widely known today as frequency hopping, the basis of wireless communication technology. Sleights of hand, elaborate diversions, hiding in plain sight—these tactics lend the works in Camoufleurs a sly humour and mordant wit. An ecstatic moment becomes an operatic emergency. An urgent message is distributed en masse—in an all but obsolete language. Ritter’s practice skips across centuries and technologies, uncovering material from a distant past as a potential cipher for the present.

Kathleen Ritter is an artist based in Vancouver and Paris. She was an artist in residence at La Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, in 2013. Her art practice broadly explores questions of visibility, especially in relation to systems of power, language and technology. Working across mediums of video, sound and print, Ritter investigates relationships between politics and aesthetics, between specific histories and contemporary experience, and between the space of the museum and the street. In addition Ritter has organized exhibitions in Canada and abroad. She was a curatorial advisor for the exhibition Where do I end and you begin, Edinburgh Art Festival, Scotland, in 2014. From 2007 to 2012, she was the Associate Curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery where she organized the exhibitions How Soon Is Now, Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (with Tania Willard), Rebecca Belmore: Rising to the Occasion (with Daina Augaitis) and commissioned public artworks for Offsite by Kota Ezawa, Damian Moppett, Heather and Ivan Morison, and Elspeth Pratt. Her writing on contemporary art has appeared in ESSE, Prefix Photo, and Fillip as well as in numerous catalogues. The artist acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the British Columbia Arts Council.

is an exhibition of new work by Kathleen Ritter that explores forms of encoded communication, camouflage and subterfuge. The project weaves together research into the intersecting histories of war, women’s suffrage, and avant-garde movements in art, music, and cinema in the early half of the twentieth century. From this body of research, Ritter has excavated notable patterns and auditory cues, film footage and writing systems a century old, to explore the sensory residue of history.

The title of the exhibition is taken from the term used to describe those who designed camouflage for use in the military—camoufleurs—many of whom were artists and women. Grafted from research into their activities, a painted mural covers the walls in an asymmetrical maze of black and white shapes based on the camouflage patterns widely used on allied naval ships during WWI. Disruptive—or dazzle—camouflage was designed to create confusion and visual fatigue on the part of periscope operators, theoretically causing their aim to falter. This particular pattern is drawn from an archival photograph showing the Women’s Camouflage Corps painting an example of dazzle camouflage on a landlocked boat used as a recruiting station in downtown New York City in 1918.

Other works in the exhibition include Manifesto (2014), a translation of a Mina Loy’s 1914 “Feminist Manifesto” into shorthand. Written at the outset of the war and after an encounter with F.T. Marinetti, Loy’s call for equality is a direct attack on the Futurist’s self-proclaimed ‘scorn for women’. Her response captures the tenor of the time: it is explosive and polemical, punctuated by exclamation marks and dashes, enlarged type and underlines. This edition of Loy’s manifesto is transcribed into shorthand, a form of abbreviated writing used to quickly record speech—the lingua franca of secretaries and reporters. Printed as an unlimited edition on newsprint, visitors are invited to take copies away and post them in the streets.

A video installation, titled Siren (2014), appropriates a controversial scene featuring Hedy Lamarr from the silent 1933 film Extase and marries it to the soundtrack from George Antheil’s 1924 avant-garde composition Ballet méchanique. With the climax of the footage timed to coincide with the sound of a whirling hand-crank siren, looped endlessly and played back on a streaming wireless network, the installation is affectual response to Lamarr and Antheil’s landmark invention of a “Secret Communication System,” widely known today as frequency hopping, the basis of wireless communication technology. Sleights of hand, elaborate diversions, hiding in plain sight—these tactics lend the works in Camoufleurs a sly humour and mordant wit. An ecstatic moment becomes an operatic emergency. An urgent message is distributed en masse—in an all but obsolete language. Ritter’s practice skips across centuries and technologies, uncovering material from a distant past as a potential cipher for the present.

Kathleen Ritter is an artist based in Vancouver and Paris. She was an artist in residence at La Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, in 2013. Her art practice broadly explores questions of visibility, especially in relation to systems of power, language and technology. Working across mediums of video, sound and print, Ritter investigates relationships between politics and aesthetics, between specific histories and contemporary experience, and between the space of the museum and the street. In addition Ritter has organized exhibitions in Canada and abroad. She was a curatorial advisor for the exhibition Where do I end and you begin, Edinburgh Art Festival, Scotland, in 2014. From 2007 to 2012, she was the Associate Curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery where she organized the exhibitions How Soon Is Now, Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (with Tania Willard), Rebecca Belmore: Rising to the Occasion (with Daina Augaitis) and commissioned public artworks for Offsite by Kota Ezawa, Damian Moppett, Heather and Ivan Morison, and Elspeth Pratt. Her writing on contemporary art has appeared in ESSE, Prefix Photo, and Fillip as well as in numerous catalogues. The artist acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the British Columbia Arts Council.