Photos: Tenille Campbell
Visitors can catch Sean Caulfield in the exhibition, borderLINE: 2020 Biennial of Contemporary Art at your AGA from September 26, 2020 to January 3, 2021.
Featuring 38 artists and collectives across two provinces and five treaty territories, borderLINE calls attention to how borders are defined, who can enforce them, and what is confined by their limits.
borderLINE: 2020 Biennial of Contemporary Art is organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta and Remai Modern, and curated by Sandra Fraser, Felicia Gay, Franchesca Hebert-Spence and Lindsey Sharman. Presented by ATB Financial at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
What are the borders you are confronting with your work?
In Power Line I was thinking about several borders at once. The borders that exist as a result of the production of energy, as well as who controls energy. The political and social structures that have formed (with both positive and negative consequences) in our society as a result of energy production that we may not always think about.
In addition to these borders, I was also thinking about the difficulty in imagining new modes of economic, social and political organization that need to develop as we try to create more sustainable energy systems and economies. This is perhaps a mental border/barrier that is difficult to think beyond?
What are you hoping that visitors to the biennial will take away from your work?
In creating Power Line I attempted to explore several references at once including speaking to the infrastructure of energy production, a votive or sacred object, and a child’s toy. In doing this, I hoped to raise questions around what our society values and how we convey this to new generations. Here again, I am wondering about how we might teach and imagine different futures as we try to respond to the environment, economic and social challenges we face today.
If visitors want to know more about your work or the issues you are raising where should they go to learn more?
More work can be found at my website: seancaulfield.ca
In addition to this I am currently involved in a number of collaborative and interdisciplinary projects that have influenced my work:
- Dyscorpia - dyscorpia.com
- Speculative Energy Futures - justpowers.ca/projects/speculative-energy-futures/
- GardenShip and State - gardenship.ca
Has the pandemic affected your studio practice? Has it changed how you are thinking about your work, considering that the theme of the exhibition is borders?
On the negative side, I think there is a risk that the pandemic may be increasing a sense of polarization in political and social discussions. In this period of uncertainty and fear it is vital that we maintain nuanced, complex and respectful discourse as we tackle the complex problems that our society faces. As an artist I am trying to think carefully about how we can all positively contribute to fostering this kind of productive discourse.
On a more positive note, I also think the pandemic has given people an opportunity to slow down and reflect about what is most important in their lives and in society. Perhaps this challenging period is also an opportunity for positive change…
From where do you make your work? How does that inform your work/process?
As an artist I tend to be drawn to labour intensive and processed based working methods. For me this is a way to process and think through the ideas I am trying to investigate.