Post by Stephen Cook. Stephen is a son of YEG and a newcomer to YOW. He currently studies journalism at Carleton University. Twitter/IG: @stephencooked
On October 19, the Enriched Bread Artists co-op will open to the public for its 25th Anniversary Open Studio. Based out of a 1920s bakery (hence the name), the co-op will showcase photos highlighting the building’s history as well as pieces from their Ottawa 2017 project “Cut the Cake – Celebrate.” The workspaces of twenty-three artists will also be open to viewing, including that of installation artist Christos Pantieras.
“Over the years we’ve had over 100 artists come through because it’s been around for so long,” says Pantieras. He’s perched comfortably on a fold-up chair in his studio, blue jeans and trim beard tinged by a touch of grey. “A lot of artists have gone on to have national and international careers.”
In the past, many artists would move away. But Pantieras says this is changing.
“A lot of people are now staying in Ottawa because the art scene has grown. There’s no longer this thought that you have to leave Ottawa to make it.”
Pantieras has been a part of the city’s art scene for over 20 years and the EBA for 17. His work uses online exchanges – emails, dating website messages, SMS – as the basis for his projects.
“There’s so much writing that’s out there,” he explains. “It’s archived but it really isn’t – it gets lost into this stream of information.”
Salvaging this material is a way of remembering but also, as Pantieras describes, “about taking this moment and monumentalizing it, showing how people can be very dismissive of each other in the online dating arena.”
One of his latest works, “Am I Worth It?,” is made up of a series of rectangular slabs that now sit unassembled against one wall. When set-up, the sections are joined together to cover a room’s entire floor. Attached concrete letters are then half-buried in sand and, as Pantieras describes, ambiguously set between excavation and burial.
The raised text, taken from an SMS sent by a former partner, reads “I’m not willing to make the effort.”
Despite being so personal, Pantieras hopes that his work can appeal to people of many different backgrounds.
“Even though mine is of a gay experience, I feel they’re universal experiences.”
You’ll be able to see Pantieras’s studio, along with his fellow co-op members, at the opening celebration on October 19 from 6-9pm and for the following two weekends (Fridays 6-9pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11am-5pm). There is no cost but access to the building is limited to stairs – there are no ramps, lifts, or elevators. Full details can be found on the EBA website.