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Building on Dutch-Canadian relations with Enriched Bread Artists

By Apartment613 on May 31, 2013

Post by Tianmo Zhang

Enriched Bread Artists is about experimentation. As one of the most prominent (and largest) artists-studio collectives in Ottawa, Enriched Bread Artists (EBA) strives to assert its relevance and dedication to both art and artists, while continuously challenging artistic and social exchange within the community and abroad. Tonight, EBA brings those qualities to light with the opening of Dutch Settlement, the first segment of a two-part exhibition project in collaborative exchange with artists from Quartair Contemporary Art Initiatives of the Netherlands.

Initiated by Ottawa curator and artist Petra Halkes, the EBA/Quartair exchange project sets out to examine and showcase the commonalities, even perhaps the differences, between the two artists-studio collectives that shared a similar past. Originally driven by young talents in search of a common studio space, both collectives culminated in the appropriation of an industrial space in a re-adapted building, formerly a bread factory. Ultimately, such coincidental finds have defined each collective’s unparalleled identity.

For Dutch Settlement, eleven Dutch artists from Quartair have been invited to put together a group exhibition in the EBA studio space in Ottawa, focusing on the theme of territory displacement and settlement. From Adriaanse’s sophisticated animation films portraying city growths to de Bree’s minimalist installations in response to territory protection, to Ligtvoet’s re-enactment of a fictional traveller’s journey in drawing and photography, Quartair artists have imbued the show with a plurality of unconventional artistic media, anchored within lived historical experiences. Beneath it all, a common thread to all participating artists is their attempt to situate chronicled events within a current and modern contemplation practice, whereby the participation of the viewer is being addressed and challenged.

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Images from the EBA Studios

While some Quartair artists are arriving in Canada with a completed version of their work, others such as Mol and Rahman “let it happen here” by incorporating some of the surrounding elements that are key to the Ottawa landscape and heritage. “Dutch artists want to keep it a surprise,” remarks Mana Rouholamini, artist and member of the EBA.

In fact, it is this unpredictability and excitement of the unknown that propels EBA artists to pursue the project with such conviction. Rouholamini continues, “The artists hope that the exchange would be fruitful, enriching, although not necessarily leading to any particular outcomes. It would be interesting to familiarize with [Quartair artists’] mentality and approach, and to learn from people who work differently. They all have a kernel idea of what they want to do.” Following Dutch Settlement, the exchange project continues and terminates with a curated show by Petra Halkes of EBA artists, Interference, which will be held at the Quartair gallery of The Hague in late August.

How much does it take to embark on a collaborative project with no prediction of outcomes? That is the challenge the EBA took on with Dutch Settlement, an inaugural project of its kind. Through municipal funding and virtual communication via Skype, the exchange project can finally take place, thus allowing for a rediscovery of the forgotten lives and stories of the first Dutch immigrants and the creation of a new relationship between the two artists-studio collectives. Throughout the years, EBA has aimed at staying experimental, and keeping their existence relevant, a goal certainly achieved with the EBA/Quartair exchange project.

Join the EBA tonight for the opening of Dutch Settlement (7-9pm) at the EBA Studios (951 Gladstone Avenue, just west of Preston Street). The exhibition continues from June 1 – 10. This includes Doors Open Ottawa this weekend – Saturday, June 1st & Sunday June 2nd 2013 (10 AM – 4 PM both days). More information at www.enrichedbreadartists.com.