“Curate is such a buzz word,” says Elise Dawson, a recent graduate from the University of Manitoba’s School of Fine Art.
“People curate their clothing, their wine choices, ad they curate their Tumblrs. Certainly, soliciting submissions and organizing them is a curatorial effort. It’s what we have been doing since the beginning of Chesterfield, but now we’re expanding beyond the confines of the magazine.”
Chesterfield is a DIY collective, which was founded on campus at the U of M in September 2010. They began with a free, original content magazine, curated and published by artists in Winnipeg.
Every couple weeks the collective would ask for submissions from artists of all walks, and it didn’t take long before the magazine became insufficient to showcase all the art they wanted to share. The collective then developed Chesterfield TV to provide a platform for video and performance artists. Now they have let their interest in curating evolve from publications to gallery programming with their month long stay at the Edge Gallery this August. While the DIY group has multiple events held under their own name planned (including a 24-hour band project, and group and solo art shows), this new initiative is collectively entitled Chesterfield Presents….
Two other curators working with Dawson for the month are Scott Leroux and Ryan Ginter, who are also members of Chesterfield. So far they have screened their newest episode of Chesterfield TV, and Ginter curated an evening of Show and Tell, which was exactly what it sounds like. People were invited to share their pets, a song, or even perform magic tricks for 10-minute intervals. Chesterfield also invited other groups, such as the Places for Peanuts drawing collective who hosted a night of drawing games.
Some of the events last only one evening, while others are installations that last a few days. One project called Gesamtkuntswerk will be featured the entire month of August. The strangely named installation is a wall in the gallery given to all artists to come in at any time to self hang their art.
““Gesamtkunstwerk” is a term borrowed from Joseph Beuys who took it from [Richard] Wagner. Wagner meant it as a total artwork, an artwork which included multiple medias – Beuys extended it to include the social fabric of art. I picked it because I wanted a succinct descriptor of a participatory artwork but really, gesamtkunstwerk sums up Chesterfield as well. We take care of the details, the gallery, even give you our tools, you just need to show up with your art and hang it,” explains Dawson.
Dawson also curated a group art show called INCOMPL, which examined emerging artists’ unrealized ambitions and unfinished artworks. Artists submitted their unfinished ideas, whether they be typed up statements or preliminary sketches. Artist Emily Sirota did a performance where she distracted herself with the website Tumblr all evening, eating candy and blogging.
With the month coming to an end, you should really check out the rest of their programming. Word is that they’re having a Chester Feast on August 30 at the Edge Gallery (located at 611 Main St), starting at 7 p.m.