In a double take, we notice something interesting which catches us unawares, bearing a second look. A current portrait project of mine, Double Give, begins with a double take: I and a partner sit down and stare at each other to produce a drawing, hopefully noting something novel about each other in the process. The Give comes in when we exchange pictures, and the observations made on paper are shared.
The idea comes out of a recent vein in my thinking regarding boundaries of identity between artists and participants, which itself comes from my community engaged work, particularly the stuff with art therapy characteristics. The facilitator’s role is typically secondary in a certain sense, with participant experience being at the forefront. Conversely, the artist is highlighted when presenting their own work, even when it involves participants.
As an artist, I’m naturally quite interested in questions of authorship for any project I might be involved in, and a little while ago started getting very curious to explore if/how there could indeed be a 50/50 split of the spoils.
Double Give is my first experiment along these lines. This Sunday morning, a gorgeously bright and unusually cool day for summer, I grabbed my marker bag and a couple of clipboards and headed for the easternmost terminus of the route for Open Streets TO at Parliament and Bloor to find a few folks who might want to get on board. St James Town Arts had a pavilion, as did Career Skills Incubator, a really interesting group devoted to empowering the un(der)employed to develop towards their dream career in a fun and supportive environment (in this case, at the Centre for Social Innovation, Regent Park). I got great responses from both organizations and had a steady line up for double-portraits, one after the next.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, the idea of Open Streets is fairly straightforward: to shut down the streets, allowing the citizens of Toronto (as well as elsewhere in the world) to experience the city in a new way. In that sense, it provided a perfect backdrop conceptually considering the goals of my own project!
I’ll be writing more about the evolution of Double Give as it comes along. In the meanwhile check out the picture gallery for the project!
You can also take a look at both Career Skills Incubator and Open Streets TO by following the links below: