Browsing articles tagged with " power"
Sep 15, 2010
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Hors la loi (2010)

Hors la loi (2010) version française

J’ai été profondément interpellé et indigné par la récente marée noire dans le Golfe du Mexique. En réponse, j’ai écrit un long billet intitulé House on Fire pour mon blogue en plus de créer la vidéo Hors la loi.. Un extrait de Masse et Puissance de Elias Canetti met en relief l’inégalité des rapports de puissance entre nous et ce qui est sans défense.

Pour plus d’information: danieldugas.wordpress.com/​2010/​06/​03/​house-on-fire/​

Jul 10, 2010
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They Are Outlaws (2011)

They Are Outlaws is a video created in reaction the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The text is an excerpt of Crowds and Power from Elias Canetti.

They Are Outlaws is a video created in reaction the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The text is an excerpt of Crowds and Power from Elias Canetti.

May 6, 2003
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Easy Not Easy (2003)

• Prairie Tales 6th Annual Tour of Alberta Film & Video, touring, 2004
• Faculty show, ACAD, Calgary, AB, 2003

For some it is facile and for others it is difficult. Easy not easy is a tape about Institutions of Power, Economic Systems and how the two direct and permeate society and culture.

 

Jun 30, 2001
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Foundwealth (2001)

• Artcite, Windsor, ON, May 25 June 30, 2001

 

About foundwealth
What really got me going with the FOUNDWEALTH project is a quote I read from the Canadian investor Andrew Sarlos, who was called the “Buddha of Bay Street”. He was quoted as saying, “I like gold, real estate, and floating rate instruments”. I thought, “so do I,” even though I did not know what he meant by a floating rate instrument. From the Buddha of Bay Street, I met Pope Leo the 13th who, in a 1891 encyclical letter, wrote on the condition of the working classes. The letter underlined the duties of the rich and the duties of the poor. I read the amazing story of John Sutter who was in the process, through his sawmills, of becoming one of the wealthiest men on the Pacific Coast. The discovery of gold on his own property in 1848 ruined him. I got interested in the similarity between the gold rush and the tech rush. I saw, floating in the market, in the office towers, the invisible hand that Adam Smith. He was the Scottish Economist who, in 1776, published his theories: An inquiry into the Nature and the Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

FOUNDWEALTH is not a linear story. There is no particular story, only a collection of stories. It is about money and it is about the relationships between people. It is about the gap. It is about the pursuit of happiness and the idea that joy springs up from the consumption of products. It is about consumerism and society’s danger of self-combustion. It is a choice of events and moments, of fragments that I have put together to help me understand what is going on. I wanted the installation FOUNDWEALTH to be a poetic reflection, a kind of frontal collision-relationship of the rich and the poor. I had an image of a bridge made of burning rags that were thrown over the abyss where the river called Economy runs furiously. I wanted the carpet cleaning trainee to talk to the capital risk investor; maybe they could find some common ground?

I have tried to matched high end materials of beveled glass, a light table, thick carved glass with elements of a lower denomination: dirty oil, broken glass, discarded objects, raggedy assemblages. I was attracted to the showcase idea, similar to the ones found at the Gold Museum in Bogotá. I wanted to have inserts in the walls of the gallery; to suggest a relation between the installation and the building that is similar to the relation of the Economy with Society. I wanted the light to be seen and to indicate both the end of a journey and the beginning of a certain degree of hope. I felt that the moment where the light was seen was a moment where space and time were crunched together into a new thing; the split second where choices are made. I wanted the installation to be about that moment where everything could happen. This moment of decision, or indecision looks a lot like our point in time. It seems as if we are moving into a corridor of weightlessness. Acting like astronauts in a tube, we have to look, while lost in the dark, at the light that may come through the cracks; to guide us and to inspire us to continue forward, to believe that there is some worth in everything and that maybe wealth is not what we thought at first.

The installation is composed of seven works: Wealth Maker; Fake Wealth, Found wealth, Seven Seas, The Invisible Hand of Adam Smith, Huge Promises, and Snake Oil (every thing will be OK). The number 7 has always held a powerful and mystical place in the world; we have only to think of the seven seas, those navigable waters of the world; roads to treasures and adventures. The Seven Marvels of the World included: the lighthouse in Alexandria; the Seven Deadly Sins (Envy among them); the Seventh Heaven where God and the most exalted angels dwell; and the Seven -Eleven, a place where you can buy a 6-49.

Is wealth something that one can find? How can it be found and how can it be maintained? Maybe it happens simply, by fortune. Maybe it happens by ingenuity. Perhaps it is a bit of both, luck and skills, patience, timing and audacity. The final answer belongs to Machiavelli:

“Without that opportunity the strength of their spirit would have been extinguished, and without that strength the opportunity would have come in vain.”

 

My personal brush with wealth

•Winning a Mini-trail Bike
At the time I was 14, I went to a Shopping Mall in Moncton, NB. My attention was suddenly captured by this shiny and beautiful bright blue Honda 50cc mini-trail bike. One of the men, at the Lion’s Club booth, asked me if I wanted to buy a ticket. Without hesitation I bought three. I was sure to win. I visualized myself riding full throttle on the trails around town. A few days later, early on a Saturday morning, I heard a big commotion upstairs in the kitchen. I heard people shouting the loudest that they could: YOU WON! YOU WON! I was pleased but not surprised. I had a strange feeling that the bike was mine when I bought the tickets.

• The Gold Museum in Bogotá
In 1978, after high school, I went into the Canada World Youth Program. The country I had chosen to go was Columbia. It was an important and an amazing experience for an 18 year old. We were 15 Canadians and 15 Columbians living together, first in Montreal for the Canadian segment, and then in Medellin for the Columbian segment. One night in the countryside around Medellin, I remember to have met other people of my age that were guerillos with the armed group M -19. They had rifles and looked very serious. On another day, my group was invited by a woman into her home. She lived with her family. The home had just one room, with just one bed and a dozen babies and kids sitting on it. The house was made with cardboard and pieces of tin. The structure was literally holding up with strings. The woman offered us coffee to drink. I remember thinking that all of the coffee she was offering us would be coffee they would not have at the end of the week or at the end of the month. A few weeks later our group visited the Museum of Gold in Bogotá. At the Museum the group was broken in small units. Soldiers with automatic rifles took us into a corral like anti-chamber. A set of doors opened up, and we were permitted to enter a dark room. Four of the guards came with us. They closed the doors and then slowly, in a dramatic manner, lights went up. The room was made of four walls covered with windows. The cases were filled with gold of the Incas. When the lights rose to full intensity, we were all bathing in the gold light, in a surreal silence. It seems that we had become gold nuggets ourselves.

• My Old UIC Office in Calgary
I was getting UIC at some point in Calgary, and the office that was in charge of my case was located on Fifth Avenue in the North West of the city. Just before moving out of Calgary I notice that the building was for sale. A few years later, I was watching the news about the fraud and collapse of the famous gold mining company BRI-X. I was stunned to see my old UIC building as the BRI-X headquarters. I was amazed to see the ‘now dead’ president of the BRI-X gold mining company entering that building. His building, where I used to fill my cards with the now infamous YES, YES, NO, YES, YES, YES. Lately, I was walking front of the building known simply today as the One Nineteen. From the street one can see that the letters are made of bricks painted gold. It is relatively ironic when you know that the scandal that rocked BRI-X was centered on false claims relating to gold deposits

 

Mega Merger or Meager Merger?
Money is like a sixth sense, essential for the complete use of the five others.
Sir Winston Churchill

Before wealth the most ordinary sentiment is not respect it is envy
Fustel de Coulanges

I am not an economist but I am interested in the Economy. I am interested in Economy because it is everywhere and it defines everything, it touches everyone. In other words, I am interested in it because we are surrounded by economies of all kind: large, small, growing, struggling, abusive, miraculous, reckless, inventive, greedy; ever expanding like a big bang of its own origin. It is at the root of human experience: glorious and tragic; our relation to the world is often understood on an economic level. We are reacting to the Economy or to the absence of Economy. According to Jacques Adda, in La mondialisation de l’économie, we have arrived at the ultimate finality of an economic system invented 1000 years ago, by the mercantile cities of the Mediterranean. 1

News of the economic world has invaded our lives. We are saturated, over inundated by it. We are mesmerized by the growth of the economy, by the expansion of economy; we have become obsessed by the power of industries. There was a time when there was no mention of economic indices on television news. It was considered uninteresting to the public. Today, the Dow Jones, TSE, CBOT, NSDAQ, and NEKEI are all necessary, are all important, and unavoidable. We need them. They mean something. Somehow investment has become fun and sexy. RSSP=SEXY. GROWTH OF FUNDS=GROWTH OF FUN. And sometimes it is possible to have the impression that ‘it is working’ for everyone. In fact, it is working very well, but for a small percentage of the population; 86% of bull market gains in the past four years have benefited the richest 10% of the population. Are they the ones that driving the new cars? Now it is possible to go into a parking lot and have a Jeep Cherokee in front of you, a Jeep Cherokee in back of you, a Jeep Cherokee on your left, and a Jeep Cherokee on your right; and if you really look around, you will notice that you are trapped. We have become sophisticated consumers with surprisingly few tastes. Actually consuming goods has become a spiritual activity and heaven is a wasteland ready for condo development.

According to a Warvick University research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of Britain, the price for happiness is at least $2 million. This amount can, according to the study, give “a significant boost to well being.” 2 In 1999 Monopoly was adding its first new piece in 47 years. A sack of money joined 10 others playing pieces that come with the classic board game: a battleship, cannon, dog, horse and rider, iron, shoe, thimble, top hat, wheelbarrow, and race car. Monopoly held an election asking fans to choose between the sack of money, a biplane, and a piggy bank. About 1.5 million people voted at toys stores, by telephone and on the internet. Monopoly was invented during the great depression in 1935. 3 As of 1999-2000 there were seven million millionaires in the world. Since World War II we have had 9 recessions. There are a lot more millionaires than recessions.

Falling Through the Cracks
Study after study reveals that the economic Gap between individuals in society is being defined more clearly. The official position seems to be a desire to close the Gap, but behind the closed doors of power, its function is recognized, maintained, expanded, praised and enjoyed. The existence of the Gap must be a proof in itself that it is a wanted situation. Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote that the first person that fenced off a field and said: “This is mine”, and found people to believe him, was the true founder of the civil society. He went on to say that the world would have been spared crimes, wars and murders if only one person would have taken the stake out of the ground and filled the hole, while shouting to everyone, “Beware of this impostor, you are lost if you forget that the fruits belong to everyone and that the earth is owned by no one! ” 4

Here we are now, like a tribe that lives on a land being ripped apart by a giant earthquake while all of the members can only look at the crevass getting deeper and wider every day. From time to time one can hear: “Watch out! Look out! Step back from the GAP! Become self-sufficient: Sell a kidney!” But most of the time it is too late. The ones on the edge are diving headfirst, sliding into the man-made Grand Canyon. We have taken the custom of saying, “They fell through the cracks.” The only hope, for the ones that are falling, is that the hole will have no bottom. This absence would make the fall eternal, it would be like a gentle slide through the cracks with no one ever being hurt.

The Gap in the Head
Four kids, well dressed, riding BMX bikes, jump from the train station onto the street. The backdrop is a row of taverns and social services agencies blend together in a kind of neo post geo gothic architecture that means nothing to the people who inhabit it. The kids yell to some customers “You can’t even walk on your own legs, bunch of dirt, fucking scum bags! ” The Gap is in their heads as well as in their hearts. It has allowed them to distance themselves from others, and at the end of the day, from themselves. It is easy to see who is holding the shitty end of the memory stickä. The Fabulous Four left the scene, filling the sunset with all the dust they could make with their tires. The Gap is a serious phenomenon that invites exclusion. This is why we have television shows, which reflect the popular psyche, shows such as Survivor, The Mole or The Weakest Link. They are teasing our Roman excitement for the kill. The basic bottom line is that in order for wealth to exist there has to be a lot more sad faces than happy ones. In 1970 the French President Georges Pompidou was asking what was to be done with the high unemployment level that was crippling the French State at the time. One of his advisors told him that is was not a problem but a solution.

Engulfing Gap
An ad on television reminds me of the kids on the BMX bikes. The high end / low-end spot features the famous Formula One driver: Jacques Villeneuves. Jacques (high end) drives a yellow Honda Civic to a streetlight. He is soon surrounded by group of squeegie kids (low-end). They start to work on Jacques’ windows with ardor in role-playing that is reminiscent of the pit workers at a car race. A clock calculates their performance like at Macdonald’s or at Burger King. Jacques looks at them furtively, with distance, like a Russian Tsar floating above the little people. He is protected by the armour of his car; his own little gated community on wheels. He is absorbed by the glory of his class and enveloped by a grand solitude. The kids are done, the time is up. It seems like a good performance. One of the kids opens one of his hand toward Jacques. He his asking for his due, pay for the work he has done. Jacques does not look at him, nor does he pay him, he simply drives away. And then from a distance he looks briefly to his rear view mirror. If you superimpose the gap between people and the gap within one individual does it create a moiré? Will it give you a headache and split your head in two parts like a ripe fruit?

According to an article recently published in The Globe and Mail, the rich are enjoying their wealth more than ever and are not shy about displaying it. The Politically Correct era in which being rich was a burden is finally over! The shareholders are standing firmly on their ground. Example: a recent poll on the Netscape homepage asked people if the pharmaceutical company should offer AIDS drugs at a lower cost to poor countries in Africa stricken with AIDS. The response to the poll by those surveyed was no. (64%)

Such repulsion for humanity is ultimately contributing to the creation of radical organizations such as the Earth Liberation Front who are setting the symbols of suburban success ablaze, “We can no longer allow the rich to parade around in their armoured existence, leaving a wasteland behind in their tire tracks”. 5

The Gap has just gotten a lot bigger, a lot more spectacular. We recently witnessed a US millionaire businessman, Dennis Tito, becoming the first space tourist. 6 Tito paid $20-million US for the trip and fulfilled, we all hope, his wildest childhood fantasy. The chosen few can now float anywhere they want, even around the cracks. From a distance they are free to do a little anthropological study of how falling people wrestle with gravity. One man’s holiday (20 million US) is the collective amount that 100,000 people can expect to earn in one year in Madagascar. 7 It is telling of how wealth is being distributed. Mr. Tito might be a nice person, the fact that he can afford to mingle in the International Space Station (ISS) has no real bearing on his individual qualities. No offence toward Mr. Tito, but with space there is always a symbolic value. We were told that a stroll on the moon was a giant leap for mankind. For the poor, Tito’s vacation in the ISS will stand as a monument to the Gap. In order not to see the poverty, and the misery, and the dirty streets of this world, it might become easier to go into space. It might also be harder for groups such as ELF to blow up space stations.

Notes Towards New Economic Symbols
When I started to write these notes, I wanted to create something positive. This feeling was confirmed and reinforce by another Globe and Mail article, this one by Alan Freeman : Activists’ intimidation a threat to democracy itself. 8 Freeman’s article was written in the wake of the Summit of the America’s. The article talks about an Animal Activist group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. According to Freeman the group is conducting a campaign aimed to shut down the Huntingdon Life Sciences Group PLC, a laboratory that performs tests on animals. Alan Freeman talks about the Animal Activists’ violence and destructive mindset. He also mentions their chilling web site, but forgets to give an address. What is chilling, is the vigor with which opposition is met.

The timing of the article is not a mistake, Freeman and others are trying hard to depict all activists in the same light. Small groups of resistance or protest are a threat to democracy itself. Democracy must crush them as soon as they appear. Will Democracy need to silence every voice of opposition in order to survive? As Capitalism expand and test the limits of tolerance, the demand on nature will increase. There will be people to take the stakes of the fences out of the ground and to fill the holes saying that the earth belongs to no one person.

Personally I do not want to be a threat to democracy itself. This is why I am contributing a new interpretation of these economic symbols in an unthreatening manner. I hope that they can be used in a meaningful way for the common good of humanity.

• The Bear and the Bull

The Bull
We say of people that they have balls; what we mean by that is that they have the reproductive capacity of a bull. That is why those people usually wear loose fit pants to accommodate their huge sexual attributes. They are ready to mate, anytime, anywhere; they can directly invest in stocks on the go using their laptops and cell phones. In brief, their own briefs are full of potential and that confidence is showing all the way. The fight between the Bull and the Matador in the Spanish Corrida is a beautiful expression of the sexual energy and the confidence attributed attached to these animals. To excite the Bull, the Matador waves a red cape. He also wears this glamorous costume with blinding tinsel and sparkles. The Matador starts to dance and the Bull charges, the Matador teases and dodges. In the dusty arena you can see the Matador arching his back and thrusting his sex in the Bull’s face. The Bull is mad now but the Matador has that thing called confidence. And you know that he is confident when you realized that his genitals are covered only by a thin silk opaque pantyhose! The fight goes on and if the Matador usually wins. He will plunge his sword into the flesh of the wounded Bull. At that moment when the hard metal penetrates the Bull’s insides the crowd chants, “To the Vagina! Vagina! Vagina!”

To understand the dynamic on the floor of the stock market it is useful to remember the Matador’s mindset and to never forget that he wears the tight silk pantyhose.

•The Bear
The Bear was adopted to symbolize slowdown of Economy, mainly because it hibernates. When consumers hibernate they don’t drive to the malls to buy stuff that they think they need. Instead they stay home and they slowly burn the goods they have already accumulated. For fear of waking up, they don’t even put the lights on. They don’t shovel the snow that is slowly falling outside their houses, burying them and transforming them into coffin-igloos. Everything stops, even the television broadcasts, the only light now illuminating the sarcophagus, are slowing down. Show Hosts can hardly pronounce the names of the guests. The whole fabric of the world is inexorably freezing over. Fear installs itself deep inside the hearts and the mind of consumers. Wild thought patterns starts to emerge: Will I lose my job? Will we lose our house? Will spring ever come back? Will I stay on top of a high speed train when ‘hobo times’ come back? And then the whole depression era thing, the dust bowl, the soup lines comes haunting us.

Solitary by nature the Bear roams on a huge territory, but unlike the Cow-Bull, he is a wild animal. His freedom is what really fuels our fear for the beast. From time to time we hear stories of people being killed by bears. Tourists, runners, walkers in the woods become slow moving targets. A Bear runs faster than the fastest man on earth, it can climb trees faster than the most fit of monkeys. When it stands on his back legs, it rises as tall as Paul Bunyan himself. It can smell food that is placed inside hermetically sealed bottles immersed into the water of a river. This is probably why there is no Corrida with Bears. The Matadors would have their pretty costumes chewed up in no time. But luckily, they go to sleep every year, it is good news for us but bad news for the Economy.

Hibernation is a funny thing; it is seen as a form of laziness. That does not fit very well into protestant work ethics. At the same time, studies have shown it is a way to live long. How can it be good for the individual but harmful to the collective?

Tales From then and Tales From Now
Throughout History, people have always placed sacred value or character on the killings of animals. The killing was sometime seen as a way to ensure good harvest or a way to obtain the virtue of a specific organ. Courage is in the heart, intelligence in the brain, sexual prowess in testicles or the penis, etc. At the same time, there is the whole tradition of excluding all but man from the realm of divine grace. One thinks, for example, of Pope Pius IX’s refusal to permit a particular society to be organized in Rome. The group wanted to protest the slaughter of bulls for sport and amusement. “… an animal,” he declared, ” has no soul and thus has no claim on man’s moral sympathies.” 9

• June 15, 1637 11:47

“…The Laps consider the Bear the King of beasts and all men who take part in the slaughter are regarded as unclean, and must live by themselves for three days in a hut or tent made specially for them, where they cut up and cook the bear’s carcass…” 10

• May 22, 2000 3:33 PM

The broker that loses his shirt and his customer’s shirt in a bad investment is considered unclean and must live by himself for a few days before he can trade again.

• September 4, 1783, 9:02 AM

In the baptism (of blood) the devotee, crowned with gold and wreathed with fillets, descended into a pit, the mouth of which was covered with a wooden grating. A bull, adorned with gold leaf, was then driven on the grating and there stabbed to death with a consecrated spear. Its hot reeking blood poured in torrents through the apertures, and was received with devout eagerness by the worshipper on every part of his person and garments, till he emerged from the pit, drenched, dripping, and scarlet from head to foot, to receive the homage, nay the adoration, of his fellows as one who had been born again to eternal life and had washed away his sins in the blood of the bull. 11

• February 9, 2000 10:28 AM

In the morning the broker stepped out of the train into the pit of the stock exchange. He donned his colored vest and the number assigned to him. He threw himself into the pit, surrounded by a multitude of screens, sounds and numbers. A deal, which looked good all along became marvellous. In the speed of light the deal was signed and a profit was turned for investors. Papers were falling from the sky. With devout eagerness, the broker received his cut for the transaction. At the end of the day, he emerged, drenched and dripping, almost fluorescent from having been reborn to the eternal life of good times.

New Symbols
Now that the fear of Foot and Mouth disease, and Mad Cow disease is spreading, it seems that the Bull poses more threat than the Bear, which has flat feet. But the Bear, like many wild animals, is known to have worms, which are very difficult to get rid of. Even cooking the meat at high temperature might not kill all of the worms. It seems obvious that diseases and parasites have rendered those folkloric symbols challenged and irrelevant. In the future, biotechnology might offer our economic symbols a new lease on life, but right now it is imperative to revamp the imagery. The Bull symbol could be replaced by a human symbol, perhaps a ‘Blonde Woman Driving a Black BMW’ or a ‘Blonde Woman Driving a Fast BMW in a particularly dusty and poor section of a city’. The Magpie could be another potent animal symbol for an aggressive market. The bird has this obsession of stealing stuff from everybody else. This can only encourage the market toward producing more goods, the basis of the invisible hand proposition referred to by Adam Smith. 12 By searching to fulfill his own personal needs and desire for pleasure, the Magpie, like the rich, is doing society a favor. That would mean that the Director of the Beaverbrook Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick, was accurate when he said the Nazi loot of artworks during the Second World War was a blessing in disguise. They protected the works from being destroyed. 13 By satisfying their own greed, and by annihilating the previous owners, the Nazi served the greater good of mankind?

The Bear symbol, with all its worms, has definitely run its time. We need something closer to our human reality. A human symbol to replace the Bear might be the ‘Blind Man Falling into a Manhole’ or ‘The Blind Man Falling into a Manhole, accompanied by a Laugh Track.’ The squirrel could certainly be the animal symbol of choice. I realized it was a perfect fit while watching a special about retirement on CBC television. One of the couples interviewed on the documentary was talking about building their nest to achieve retirement at age 55. They were pointing out, with much pride, that they were not relying on the Canadian Pension Plan system to provide for the quality of life they have come to expect. They were a cast above the cream of the crop. They were doing it by themselves, not relying on anybody, a bit like Jacques Villeneuve. They are the financial survivalists of a new era. As I looked at them, I saw the faces of squirrels stuffing their jowls appear on the screen, in a subliminal manner. It struck me how perfect the squirrel is if a new ‘animal’ symbol is used to replace the bear; squirrels semi – hibernate in the winter, and in bad economics times, they can be eaten. Their flesh is said to taste like chicken.

Falling

oversized teenagers are falling from the billboards

into the GAP that was set for them

 

the wiser of the group says that he is

a cultural reference impossible to ignore

an opera of Purcell by himself

his khaki soul is a viscous trap made of 10W40

 

jeep Cherokees

caught in the mud

are gliding slowly downstream

the occupants are calming their terror

by thinking of Fitzcaraldo’s boat

and the greatness of the vessel reassured them

 

a man in his Rodeo

deeply seated in his sense of adventure

levitates in a terrible silence

his one-seater is a mausoleum of crystal

his destiny crumbles like chalk on a sidewalk

 

in a parking lot

another man disarms his yukon

in the chrome of his bumper

the distorted reflections of his face

are dancing by themselves

 

his hands are sweaty

he holds a molotov cocktail

the streets are flooded with lights

 

by himself he has become a genre of vietnam

his truth belongs between the building logo

his heart floats in a liquid that resembles napalm

 

he likes the lines that are pure and simple

of architectures that are clear and calm

the blue of the sky has become his cerulean azure

and the whiteness of the ground a fragile marble

on which the foundation of his ivory tower rests

 

he is at the cutting edge of the technology

while being heavy in his own heart

he lives a kind of numeric schizophrenia

in a tight and mediocre choreography

his publicity is a reality of anorexia

 

Falling More

standing at a distance

in the model garden of sterilized culture

under the glass pyramids of the great capitals

gardeners dressed in pale green outfits

work hard to preserve everything that has moved

 

the odor of vinegar is proof

of the immortality of all movement

of the impossibility of any advance

the cultural security that they have concocted

is a testament without leg

a plastic tree that collects the dust

 

in the humid greenhouse

a document of complex research is distributed but the data has no meaning

to divert the attention a one legged dancer is brought forward

a woman with three heads toast her hats up in the air

while underlying the historic moment of the ceremony

a man-bloodsucker puffs himself up and takes off

 

a live camera broadcast on a giant screen

the picture of a crowd in distress

 

Falling Ever More

the food banks are now managed by a few cannibals

they seem to invite with success the hungry ones

to come and rest in their ossuary in blossom

 

their intelligence is a warehouse lighted with cool fluorescents

one can hear Elvis Presley singing full blast

I did it my way

 

on permanent display in the coloured stands of the vampires

under the polymer palm trees

there is a scale model of a grand project

the oasis is said to resemble a large macramé with the drawing of an owl in the middle

 

and while the storm is raging

the gardeners extraordinaire

have written in yellow tulips

onto the green lawns of the dominant tribes

y’a de la joie 14

 

in the frequent mud slides

that are happening in the unprotected zones

hundreds of lost heads

are floating away

their mouths open

singing together in chorus

il était un petit navire 15

 

1. Jacques Adda, La mondialisation de l’économie, La découverte 1998

2. Calgary Herald, March 2001, page A1

3. The Globe and Mail March 17, 1999 P. A21

4. Du Contrat Social, Discours sur les origines de l’inégalité, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Édition 10/18 (1963) p. 292

5. The Globe and Mail, Fighting suburban sprawl with fire, Doug Saunders, April 24, 2001

6. The Globe and Mail, Astronauts approve of space tourist, Melanie Seal April, 30 2001

7. Website : L’Agence de la Francophonie : http://www.francophonie.org/frm/outils/frm.html

8. The Globe and Mail, Activists’ intimidation a threat to democracy itself, Alan Freeman April 25, 2001

9. Nature’s Economy, Donald Worster Cambridge University Press 1994 p.27

10 .The Golden Bough Hunters tabooed The Macmillan Company 1943 p 222

11. The Golden Bough The myth and ritual of Attis tabooed The Macmillan Company 1943 P.351

12. Métaphore due à Adam Smith et qui est depuis devenue courante chez les économistes; toutefois, pour ceux-ci, la main invisible est devenue une autre façon de désigner le ” mécanisme des prix ” (encore une métaphore…), alors que ce n’est pas à cela que Smith pense losqu’il utilise sa métaphore. Les quelques (rares) fois où Smith fait allusion à la main invisible, c’est pour désigner un résultat positif (bon pour la communauté) qui peut découler des actions et des comportements des individus, sans que ceux-ci aient cherché délibérément un tel résultat. Ainsi, dans le Traité des sentiments moraux, Smith écrit : ” Une main invisible semble forcer [les riches] à concourir à la même distribution des choses nécessaires à la vie qui aurait eut lieu été donnée en égale portion à chacun de ses habitants ; ainsi, sans en avoir l’intention, sans même le savoir, le riche sert l’intérêt social et la multiplication de l’espèce humaine. (p. 184 de l’édition de Glasgow des œuvres d’Adam Smith). Dictionnaire d’analyse économique, La découverte 1997 Bernard Guerrien p. 302

13. Calgary Herald, Gallery director apologizes, January 5, 2001

14. Y’a de la joie is a song of happiness written by Charles Trenet during World War Two.

15. Il était un petit navire is a folkoric French Song.

* excerpt from : Le couteau suisse ©2001 Daniel Dugas presented in a poetry-performance at the Symposium d’art actuel Moncton, NB 1999

 

©Daniel Dugas, Calgary May 2001

 

Edited by Valerie Leblanc

 

Daniel Dugas was born on October 29, 1959, exactly 30 years after the Stock Market crash of October, 1929. Between the time this exhibition was first presented, and now, DD saw the shadow of bankruptcy looming over his shoulder. But the shadow left with a shifting wind.

 

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Dugas Takes message to the streets

by Sharon Navarro
Room # 108
May 24 – June 6, 2001

 


May 6, 2000
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Le tapis rouge – The Red Carpet (2000)

• Artcite, Windsor, ON, May 25 June 30, 2001
• Symposium d’Art Actuel, Moncton, NB, 1999

May 6, 2000
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A Needle in a Hay Stack (2000)

• Installation : Galerie Sans Nom, Moncton, NB, 2000
• Performances : Sackville, NB, Scoudouc, NB, Charlottown, PEI, 2000

 

A Needle in a Hay Stack is based on the following two premises:

1. In French to say to have hay in the boots means to have a lot of money. The word boots (bottes) also refers to a stack as in haystack

2. To look for a needle in a haystack is to look for something impossible to find.

My intention is to use the search for the needle to represent a search for money, as a search for few minutes of reprieve in the endless task of making a living. Of course, that is the way the game is designed, some people have to work much longer hours just get by. I want to question the degree of ease or difficulty to find that something. (The needle and the hay serve as references for money or wealth). I also want to question the value of that something, its degree of reality and its degree of truth. I have been working on individual and collaborative projects based on the Economy for the last 10 years. What attracted me to that theme was how much it was grounded in the reality, of everyday life, in its fantasies and in its tragedies. The Economy is the thing that interconnects us all. Economy is a mirror of the world and like birds, many of us are fooled by the reflection. Many of us are asking who is the most beautiful. In this case the needle is found inside the stack etched on a mirror, allowing people to see themselves in the Economy. Money is never a problem but always a solution and so on.

As a performance artist I see a lot of similarity between the theme of Economy and my personal performance art practice. Both are embedded in the real world and deal with pragmatism and imagination. It is my desire to be involved in projects that share this idea of being in the world. In the Needle in the Hay Stack, I give myself the stage name: Dannylonglegs, which is a blend of the Daddy Long Leg spider; my first name; and the spider/web type of project that this is. I decided to dress as a new mutant of our age: half businessman, half scarecrow. The front of my three-piece suit is the businessman and the back being is the scarecrow. My task is to ask people if they have seen the Needle. An encounter would go like this:

Dannylonglegs: Hello, my name is dannylonglegs.
Passerby: Hello dannylonglegs.
Dannylonglegs:I am looking for a needle.
Passerby: A needle?
Dannylonglegs: Yes, a needle in a hay stack.
Passerby: Oh, I understand.
Pause
Dannylonglegs: It has one eye, one leg and it is hiding. If you see it, I could use your help.

I went to the Scarecrow Festival in Harrisville, NB; to the Confederation Center in Charlottetown, PEI; to hayfields in Scoudouc and in downtown Moncton, NB. The costume gave me the freedom to be different and to ask questions. It allowed me to approach people and to interact with them without being mistaken for an aggressor. After all everybody knows the legendary friendliness of the half business man, half scarecrow character. At the limit of entertainment, this type of performance resembles the TRUNK© experience: Ask questions, Get answer and Enjoy the ride. I have seen the good sense of humor and if the needle is sometime hard to find, it is surely the ability to laugh and to hope that it has to be found one day, which makes most of us endure a little bit more a little bit longer.

PS. I suffer from hay fever. Actually I suffer from conceptual hay fewer, hay do not seems to be involve in my attacks, what I fear is rag weed. But nobody says rag weed fever. My allergies are considered severe and I subscribe to Reactine, Claratine, Allegra D and Etc to stop the river of mucus running from my head. It starts in mid-august and lasts until the first big frost. To play in hayfields dress with costume made of hay is, if not a victory over my allergies, some kind of personal victory.

May 6, 1999
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Foundwealth (1999)

Struts Gallery, Sackville, NB March 12 – April 3, 1999
Artcite, Windsor, ON May 18 – June 16 2001

FOUNDWEALTH is about seeing the light.  To see it indicates both, the end of a journey, and the beginning of a certain level of hope.  The moment where the light is seen is a moment where space and time are crunched together into a new thing.  It is the split second where choices are made.  I want the installation to be about that moment, where everything could happen.  This moment of decision or indecision looks a lot like our point in time; the crossing of the two millenniums.  It seems as if we are moving into a corridor of weightlessness.  It seems that the EXIT and the ENTRY, the GOOD BYE and WELCOME signs do not have any particular places.  Like astronauts in a tube, we have to look, while lost in the dark, at the light that may come through the cracks, to guide and to inspire us to continue forward, to believe that there is some worth in everything and maybe wealth is not what we thought at first.
Is wealth something that one can find, like a fat wallet on the sidewalk?  How can wealth be lost?  How can it be found and how can it be maintained?  Maybe it happens simply, by fortune, while strolling down by the lake, by the river, or going home late at night.  Maybe it happens by ingenuity.  Perhaps it is a bit of both, luck and skills, patience and audacity.
FOUNDWEALTH is constructed around a few historical moments.  In 1776, the Scottish economist, Adam Smith wrote in his book An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations about the invisible hand that comes and regulates the economy.  In 1848, John August Sutter, the man who was in the process, through his sawmills, of becoming one of the wealthiest man on the Pacific coast, was ruin by the discovery of gold on his own property.  In 1891, the Pope Leo the 13th wrote an encyclical letter on the condition of the working classes.  References to the work of Alchemists; the all-purpose curative liquid A.K.A. – Snake Oil; and the Greased Pole where goods where hung during village fairs inform this installation.
FOUNDWEALTH is a poetic reflection and a kind of frontal collision-relationship of the rich and the poor.  It is a bridge made of burning rags and thrown over the abyss where the river called Economy runs furiously.  I want the carpet-cleaning trainee to talk to the capital risk investor.  I want to know if the parents are telling the story of how the good RSSP bear grew so big in their own forest preserve.
FOUNDWEALTH is made up of seven works.  Those works bear reference to the number 7, which has always held a powerful and mystical place in History.  We only have to think of the Seven Seas; the navigable waters of the world; forming that road to treasure and adventure; the Seven Marvels of the World which included the lighthouse in Alexandria; the Seventh Heaven where God and the most exalted angels dwell; the Seven Deadly Sins (among them, Envy); and the Seven Eleven, a place where you can buy a 6-49 ticket.
Daniel Dugas, Shemogue NB February 1999

 

Daniel Dugas peers into a glass sculpture that is part of his recent art installation, FOUNDWEALTH

Art by Installation

Daniel Dugas’ last exhibit forced viewers to questions what it means to be wealthy
By Alison Hughes
in Sackville

LUMINOUS lighting emanates from seven surfaces in the dim room. It radiates through yellow plastic beads, shines on carved glass and illuminates messages set into plain white walls.

The exhibit’s overall effect is deceptively simple, but behind the constructions making up Daniel Dugas’ latest art installation is a complex thought process. Drawing on influences from medieval alchemy to modem economics, FOUNDWEALTH uses audiotapes, found art objects and sculpture to examine conflicting ideas about what it means to be wealthy.

A self-described “pluri­ disciplinary artist,” Dugas has been pushing the artistic envelope since completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Université de Moncton, in 1986. His resume includes 12 solo exhibitions, 24 two-person and group shows, as well as dozens of audio, video, radio and performance credits.
Dugas bas received numerous Canada Council and provincial Creation grants for his projects, along with funding from several art institutes. These have led to travel opportunities throughout North America, Europe and Asia, including a role as a Canadian representative at the 1997 Jeux de La Francophonie, in Madagascar.
While working for a year at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Dugas met and began collaborating with his partner Valerie LeBlanc. Together, they headed off to the Art Institute of Chicago.

With LeBlanc originally from Halifax and Dugas raised primarily in Moncton, the two eventually moved to New Brunswick. Here, they gained notoriety in 1996 by travelling to small towns with an exhibit known as the Trunk Gallery. People paid a dollar to look inside the hatchback of a Citation to see the couple’s custom-designed audiovisual installation. After Peter Gzowski interviewed them about this unique way of taking art to the people, they received calls from all across the country.

“A lot of people would go to a Legion, but never to a gallery,” Dugas says. “There’s also a need for more populist art. I think it’s important for an artist to have reactions from many people in order to grow.”

In FOUNDWEALTH, Dugas questions whether wealth is anything more than a marketing illusion in today’s society. The show’s first installation is a wall-mounted piece of beveled glass with the exhibit title etched elegantly into the surface. In front of this hangs a bare bulb with a symbolic and functional string attached.

As a motor on the floor turns noisily around, it moves the string and causes a shadow title on the wall to shrink and grow with rhythmic regularity. This hypnotic motion draws in the viewer, suggesting wealth’s seductive power. Simultaneously, it reveals the crude machinery working behind the scenes to create expensive polished products.

Dugas cleverly combines public perceptions with personal research in offering his insights into the origins of wealth. Central to this installation, both physically and conceptually, is a circular light table. A pole rising from the centre represents the medieval greased pole where foodstuffs used to be hung during celebrations, for those hungry, agile and determined enough to reach them.

On the table itself, seven carefully chosen found objects are displayed like jewels. Each of the items, from a broken doll to a pinecone, has a word written on the surface, forming the sentence “I always thought there were seven seas.”

“The roots of wealth were originally the seven seas,” Dugas explains. “But when I got out a globe, I counted 33 seas. It’s like the growth of wealth parallels the number of seas. That’s the terrible beauty of the free market, that it always finds a way to grow,” he says. “It’s both creativity and cancer, and the role of society is to decide the boundaries.”

A voluminous and eclectic reader, Dugas explored economic limits in the exhibit through three seemingly unrelated men: 18th-century Scottish founder of capitalism Adam Smith, late-19th-century Pope Leo the 13th and mid-19th-century California lumber baron John Sutter.

A white plaster hand mounted in an opening in the gallery wall symbolizes the “invisible hand” Smith described as regulating the free-market economy.

Sutter serves as a warning that even hard work and capability aren’t enough to ensure wealth if the timing is wrong. The millionaire sawmill owner was ruined by the discovery of gold on his property and the subsequent gold rush fever. In the exhibit, a carefully crafted walnut light table holds a pile of yellow plastic beads that look like gold, but have no inherent value.

Having lived the hand-to-mouth existence of an artist for many years, Dugas has given considerable thought to the role of money in society. Like a magpie, he picked up shiny fragments about wealth from novels, financial pages and personal observations during the year it took to assemble the show.

While this installation hasn’t been purchased by a collecting institution, as others have been in the past, Dugas considers it a success. As he begins to dismantle these pieces, though, his mind is on the multitude of other projects awaiting attention. He has just published his fourth poetry chapbook and together with Ms. LeBlanc is preparing more manuscripts for a launch later this spring. Then, there is another word-based project involving parking lots and an audio production already under way. Dugas is also a musician.

“Projects are like kids. The one that squeaks the most gets finished,” he laughs. “Valerie is a very productive artist too. Often we say ‘gee, wouldn’t it be nice to just look out the window and be bored?’ ”

As well as pursuing their own art projects, the couple runs a high-end glass-carving business, producing presentation items and architectural details. Both enjoy the freedom of working together at home in Shemogue, not far from Shediac. Dugas still feels the urgency to communicate ideas through painting, sculpture and other media. Whether the projects are about nature and civilization, media manipulation, or found wealth, he plans to continue making art that stimulates thought about challenging subjects.

“With the crossing of the two millenniums, we’re a bit like in a corridor of weightlessness; the entry and the exit signs, the welcome and the goodbye signs, we don’t seem to have a specific place,” he muses. “I think it’s very important to have a feeling of hope and of the importance of what you’re doing- that it’s of value. ”

Telegraph Journal
April 17, 1999

May 6, 1993
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Transitory (1993)

• The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MFA Show, Chicago, IL, 1993

May 6, 1989
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La boîte rouge (1989)

• Saint Mary’s Unniversity Art Gallery, Halifax, NS 8 février – 11 mars 1990
• Galerie Sans Nom, septembre 1990

La boîte rouge

La boîte rouge montée sur un support d’acier et la chaise fluorescente éclairée par des black lights sont reliés électriquement. Des commandes électriques installées sur la chaise activent un système sonore ainsi que deux projecteurs diapositives. La projection est fragmentée par des miroirs fixés sur la boîte. D’autres commandes, installées sous la boîte activent des composantes lumineuses installées dans un périscope qui peut être tiré hors de la boîte. La projection de diapositives ambrées est composée de close-ups d◊images recueillies dans les journaux. La bande sonore consiste en un collage de percussions et de 30 différents proverbes français

 

Daniel H. Dugas

Artiste numérique, poète et musicien, Daniel Dugas a participé à des expositions individuelles et de groupe ainsi qu’à plusieurs festivals et événements de poésie en Amérique du Nord, en Europe, au Mexique et en Australie. Son neuvième recueil de poésie L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time vient de paraître aux Éditions Prise de parole.

Daniel Dugas is a poet, musician and videographer. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions as well as festivals and literary events in North America, Europe, Mexico and Australia. His ninth book of poetry: L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time has just been published by Les Éditions Prise de parole.

Daniel Dugas es poeta, músico y videocreador. Ha participado en exposiciones individuales y colectivas, festivals y eventos literarios en Norteamérica, Europa, México y Australia. Acaba de publicar su noveno poemario, L’esprit du temps / The spirit of time (Les Editions Prise de parole).

L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time est un projet de transmutation du paysage publicitaire en paysage poétique. Ce livre est à la fois un livre de photographie, un recueil de poésie et un essai lucide mais ludique sur notre société matérialiste. Il a été produit en numérique et imprimé en quantité limitée.

Date : Décembre 2015
Genre : Poésie
Collection : Poésie
ISBN : 9782894239629

Éditions Prise de parole

http://www.prisedeparole.ca/auteurs/?id=148

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