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Fall Arts Guide: November 2007 

The Sea Lion Woman gets crafty but that library book’s way overdue; the revolution will be televised and he poos clouds once more.

by Sue Carter Flinn, Sean Flinn, Mike Landry, Lindsay McCarney, Shannon Webb-Campbell

CAL LANE: CRUDE

Cal Lane's vision is like no other in Canadian art.

Turning everyday, hard-working objects into art, Lane elevates the potential meanings of wheelbarrows, oil cans, shovels and more. If we're to use a spade, for example, to help beautify our landscape with a garden, why shouldn't a shovel be a beautiful thing?

She turns these tools—inverting the association of an oil can with being dirty (physically and politically)—into patterned surfaces, like someone working in textiles or printmaking.

Her sculptures are made by plasma cutting, which essentially involves sending an electric charge through gas that is itself passing through a nozzle. A plasma blast is created and the operator can make intricate cuts in metal with it. Here we have the best expression of the material and ideal being combined in art. Who would've thought of taking such a refined and industrial-weight tool to the many hand-tools and the work carried out with them that we take for granted?

Cal Lane will fill Gallery Page and Strange with an installation of her work, under the banner, Crude. With the Iraq war failing, barrel prices skyrocketing, and the climate changing, this is timely and engaging stuff. (SF)

November 2-27, Gallery Page and Strange, 1869 Granville, 422-8995, www.pageandstrange.com

NEOCRAFT CONFERENCE

Long before knitting and crafting became DIY hipster mainstays, there were academics and artists developing critical thinking about professional craft and its place in the world. Occasionally misunderstood or relegated to a secondary position in the arts, it's time for professional artists and theorists to stand up and take their place as an important part of contemporary culture, especially considering 2007 was declared to be Craft Year in Canada.

NSCAD professor Sandra Alfody took on the gigantic task of organizing NeoCraft, an international conference on crafts and modernity, which brings over 60 speakers to Halifax, including former NSCAD prez and current Corcoran Gallery director Paul Greenhalgh, and other curators, critics and directors. While this might not mean much to the majority of the population, what you should care about are the exhibitions around town during this conference. If you're a fan of comics or pop culture, do not miss Close to You at Dalhousie Art Gallery, a textile art show that includes amazing comic hero costumes, and work by the indefinable Allyson Mitchell—best known for her sexy human-sized, fun-fur sasquatches. At Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, you can enjoy L<0x00E9>opold L. Foulem's ceramics as beautiful, functional objects, or dig deeper to uncode each piece's symbolic layers. Of course, things will be lively at Mary E. Black Gallery who will be presenting the work of seven "fibrticians," but make sure you save enough time to catch all the other gallery shows—most exhibitions are running longer than the conference, but be sure to check The Coast's visual arts listings for full dates and times. (SCF)

November 23-25, various locations, www.neocraft.ca

FARHEEN HAQ

Internationally acclaimed artist Farheen HaQ creates visible poetics. The Victoria-based video/performance artist and photographer crafts a visual representation of humanity, and her body of work is reminiscent of the context, ambiguity and intimate sexuality found in Jeanette Winterson novels. As with Winterson, she draws parallels between ritual, gesture, gender and cultural depictions of the body. The time-based visionary unravels her work and self at the Khyber, as the visual voyage opens in November.

"I am moved by landscape, the human body, movement, spirituality and the rituals we create," says HaQ. "These all inform my art practice. I am inspired to play with these ideas and examine, and re-examine them, particularly with cultural constructs such as ritual or religion." The artist studies how such practices take hold of our bodies and psyches as she ponders the conundrum of believing and practicing. This development is simultaneously restrictive and empowering. She explores this contradiction in her compelling 5 minute video-loop entitled "(un)covering," as she presents an ethnic woman, stone-faced, ritualistically wrapping cloth around her head. She further develops her fabric fascination in the three-channel video installation "Endless Tether," a seven-minute film clip of red material being suggestively wrapped around a female figure, signifying the fluidity of sexuality. (SWC)

November 3-December 8, opening reception November 2 at Khyber Institute for Contemporary Arts, 1588 Barrington, 422-9668, www.khyberarts.ns.ca

UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL: THE MYSTERY OF THE ABANDONED TROUSERS

Listen up, Dalhousie library science students: this play's for you. The cumbersomely titled Underneath the Lintel: The Mystery of the Abandoned Trousers, is an acclaimed (and apparently moving and funny) one-man show, written by American playwright/TV scribe Glen Berger (Arthur, King of the Hill). It's about a fastidious Dutch librarian who embarks on an obsessive global search to find out more about a book that's mysteriously returned to his library, 113 years overdue. The play's set up as a faux-lecture—with the librarian regaling the audience with anecdotes from his journey. "He's probably a little OCD...leaving his job, to travel the world, to trace this book," says veteran Halifax actor Christian Murray, who'll be playing the unnamed librarian in the upcoming Halifax production of the play, produced in association with Live Art Dance Productions.

Even if you're not a library enthusiast (poor, poor you), this particular version of the play is definitely worth a look-see—Murray has been kicking acting ass countrywide for the last two decades, and the play marks show-helmer Mary Vingoe's return to freelance directing, following a stint as artistic director for the prestigious national Magnetic North Theatre Festival. You'll also be seeing this top-notch theatre in a dynamic venue that Murray describes as "very, very intimate." And really, who doesn't want to see a Dutch librarian up close and personal? (LM)

October 23-November 4 at Theatre Nova Scotia Space, 2353 Agricola, 8pm, $12-$15, 420-0003

THE VEIL

The Veil is adapted from the best-selling Iranian novel Khanoom, a 600-page epic that takes its reader across two continents and spans three generations. If there's anyone that could tackle such a story, it's One Light Theatre's artistic director Shahin Sayadi.

Fluent in Persian, Sayadi adapted the story, mixing plot points and characters. Six actors will play 20 different characters. To aid in the storytelling, The Veil will feature interactive projections. Instead of setting the background, projected images and videos will interact with the actors. An actor can shove a projected image and it will move.

Just as new technology is being used to depict the past, the play itself offers a new perspective on an old story. Born into a Persian royal family at the turn of the 20th century, heroine Khanoom recounts her experiences with two Iranian revolutions, the rise of communism in Russia, and both World Wars. Every major event of the 20th century is seen anew from the perspective of an Eastern woman. "This story is not about her," says Sayadi. "It's about how she sees us. How she sees the world...how she finds a place in the world and peace with herself." View the trailer at onelighttheatre.com. (ML)

October 30-November 18 at Neptune Studio Theatre, 1593 Argyle, Tuesday-Friday 8pm, Saturday 4pm, 8:30pm, Sunday 2pm, 7:30pm, $15-$35, 429-7070

BRAHMS GERMAN REQUIEM

Most with a general knowledge and appreciation of classical music think of Mozart when they think of the requiem—but then there's Brahms. "The Brahms German Requiem is lesser known but is really one of the great Romantic choral works of all time," offers Jeff Joudrey, chorus master with Symphony Nova Scotia.

With soprano Donna Brown and bass-baritone Olivier Laquerre, the SNS Chorus includes members of the Halifax Camerata Singers and eight young voices from the Camerata's Youth Mentoring Program—all told, verging on 100 singers. The symphony expands for this Remembrance Day performance too, bringing the total to some 130 performers on stage, Joudrey notes. "The music is bloody exciting—so dramatic."

For Joudrey, "the real challenge for me is to help the chorus understand that it takes a big effort and concentration on their part to remember that their job is to be heard—cut through Brahm's huge orchestration. And to convey the emotion of the huge dramatic changes in the text is always a challenge: going from the softest of pianissimos to thundering fortissimos in a matter of a beat takes practice, confidence and nerves of steel!" (SF)

November 11 at Rebecca Cohn, 6101 University, 7:30pm, $32-$47.50, 494-3820

DJ OLYMPICS

It's late fall 1997. Maybe a hip friend asks you if you want to go to the Khyber. And maybe you figure "sure," because that new Piggy cassette just doesn't compare to the first two. Maybe you catch a breakout performance by unknown phenom Skratch Bastid. "Did the emcee just say that guy's name is Scratch Bastard?" you perhaps ask. We'll pardon your ignorance, because this is only the first DJ Olympics. You'll get his name right sometime in the next nine years. In case you weren't one of the lucky 500 people to fill the Khyber during that fateful three-day competition, or if you want to relive some of the DJO's dopest performances, this year the DJO are bringing your favorites back onstage. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the competition has been shelved for an incredible display of talent and a hall of fame showcase. Not all competition has been postponed, though: Select DJO veterans will face-off at DJO 2.0 WiFi Rockstars. A North American first, this competition will test each DJ's ability to use a time-coded vinyl and laptop combination to mix tracks live, a la Girl Talk. It'll be a spectacle that might make up for missing that first competition. (ML)

November 10 at The Marquee Club, 2037 Gottingen, 10pm, $6

FEIST

Leslie Feist is currently ubiquitous. The quintessentially quixotic musician has managed to consecutively earn an indie-rock pedigree and high commercial currency, while remaining true to her artistry. Over the course of her ever-evolving career she's managed to play guitar in By Divine Right, share bills and rent overhead with Peaches, acquire four Juno nods (plus Video of the Year and Single of the Year nominations), and appears in the liner notes of nearly every Arts and Crafts release—Broken Social Scene, Apostle of Hustle, Kevin Drew—not to mention Hypno Love, Kings of Convenience, Mocky and Teki Latex.

Whether you've heard her latest incandescent, Polaris Prize-nominated album, The Reminder, while grabbing a cappuccino at Starbucks, or on the tube for HBO's summer promos, or spotted her dancing in a sparkling navy-blue pantsuit in director Patrick Daughter's choreographed music video "1234," featured in Apple's iPod nano ad campaign, Feist has become a household name. The former Calgarian, ex-Parisian,

Torontonian finds herself at the Cunard Centre on November 30.

Prior to her appearance on the red carpet and stage of 2006's Juno Awards, the songstress sold out a double-night gig in January of that year at the Marquee. Unimpressed by the boisterous boozy gathering, an all-ages show will keep the keen-eared sobriety afloat. (SWC)

November 30 at the Cunard Centre, 961 Marginal, $30-$35, 494-3820, www.artscentre.dal.ca

FINAL FANTASY

Who knew there would ever be a correlation between cloud-shaped feces and the almighty sky above? St. Matthew's United Church was made for the sounds of Final Fantasy, as Owen Pallett filled the pews last November, earning him Best Canadian Solo Artist (Male) in The Coast's Best of Music poll, and second place in the rankings of Best Local Live Show of 2006. Not to mention that Pallett took home last year's inaugural Polaris Prize for his celestial He Poos Clouds release from TomLab.

The Torontonian string-based songwriter is startlingly skilled, performing on violin into a sampler controlled by foot pedals, only to loop it back and continue to layer melody upon melody. Pallett's an explorer of thought and sound; his lyrics and explosive vocal ranges could be citations of Renaissance-era poetry, accompanied by his personal coy observations of humanity.

Last year's performance featured projectionist Stephanie Com. She added a multi-dimensional, visual aspect, helping secure the high praise Pallett's earned from critics across the globe. She built sinister, yet queerly childish visual aids around the complex arrangements found throughout Final Fantasy's repertoire. One can only pray for a return appearance from the woman who creates life through transparencies and a mere projector bulb. (SWC)

November 16-17, St. Matthew's United Church, 1479 Barrington, $15, 423-9209

ODESSA HAVANA

Toronto-based trumpeter Dave Buchbinder recently put together a unique project with Cuban pianist Hilario Duran (who's replaced on stage by Luis Guerra). He's marrying Cuban and Jewish music (including the Ashkenazi community's beloved klezmer) in a seven-piece called Odessa Havana.

"I actually have been harbouring this secret for almost 20 years," Buchbinder explains from Toronto. "I was in fact playing salsa before I ever heard about klezmer, per se—it wasn't around at all when I was growing up—and once I began to get into playing Jewish music as well, I heard the sonic similarities immediately."

To make such a "musical mash-up" work, he knew he had to find the right "collaborator from the other (Cuban) side of the street." A 2006 Juno gig with Duran sealed the deal. The two types of music have plenty in common, according to Buchbinder.

"The modes used and some of the melodic approach, as well as the fact that the basic Yiddish dance groove, the Bulgar, is a 3-3-2 rhythm that is identical to the front half of a forward clave, the matrix on which all Cuban music hangs. I posit that these two musics actually have a common heritage in medieval Moorish Spain." (SF)

November 17 at Commons Room, Holiday Inn Select, 1980 Robie Street, 8pm, $20-$25, 492-2225

More Fall arts Listings:
September
October

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