STOP @ forever - 2012
LOCATION: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (halifax, ns)
This exhibition features selected works by Lisa Lipton, that illustrate the multiple aspects of her artistic practice. STOP @ forever includes installation, video, musical and sculptural work that describes Lipton's sometimes romantic, sometimes nostalgic, always carefully considered, take on the world around her.
- AGNS website
- AGNS website
Because you can't, you won't, and you don't stop
Can’t stop – I’m listening to my friend Rose Zack’s Lipton experience from October 2010, during the Nocturne: Art at Night Festival. Zack watched from across a street in Halifax’s North End as a group of seniors crossed to get a better look at the performers in the windows of a home in their neighborhood. Standing in their own windows, in their home, they had watched as the crowds grew outside the house across the street, as window after window lit up to reveal a fantastic world of delights and horror in operatic, punk, bluegrass, and pantomime performances. Lipton’s hypnotic Window Ballet[ii] drew people of all ages, engaging them, and finally enticing them to be part of a performance that promised them: “more than death.”
Lipton’s work holds to that promise. Her practice follows a deep exploration of the human themes of love and death, ritual and community. She takes a layered approach in her work and often fills many roles therein: performer, artistic director, dancer, ringmaster, impish agitator. Lisa is an artist whose sense of romance, nostalgia, and humanity is embedded in her practice, allowing us to believe in fairy tales, in magic, in transcendence and ultimately sending us away with a sense of hope. Through her examination of the inevitable – Death and if we’re lucky, Love – Lipton strives to uncover and to recover the human experience, be it through her videos, sculptures, installations, performances or musical collaborations.
Lipton won’t stop – she’s a pied piper, a Scheherazade, delighting, distracting and delivering. When she needed a viola for a project, she picked up the instrument and learned to play. For come on and the Eldritch Waltz, she choreographed her version of a Viennese Ball. Blast Beats, one of her latest works, pushes the limits of body and mind, as well as our ideas of what constitutes visual arts. Drumming 4 to 8 hours a day, Lipton aspires to reach the level of speed drummer Zach Hill. She can’t stop – this piece culminates in a performance that sees five drummers under a fringed canopy, finding a common beat, a universal heartbeat. In that beat she finds forever.
Lipton is formally trained as a painter/sculptor, holding a MFA from the University of Windsor. That rigour brings structure to her work. Each of the works selected for STOP @ forever is representative of her multi-disciplinary practice. Lisa sets the stage, dressing her characters in sculptural elements such as knitted costumes or adornments. Music underpins each of her videos, and provides a thread tying each together. Lipton’s employment of the overlapping worlds of visual and musical arts places her alongside Atlantic Canadian artists Eleanor King and Stephen Kelly, Craig Leonard, Graeme Patterson, and Craig Francis Powers, to name but a few. As with these artists, Lipton doesn’t restrict herself to a single medium or even voice.
The tight interplay of visual and musical elements makes rich, fully immersive environments. Lipton invites her viewer to participate, to chase dreams, to mourn lost lovers, and to find new ones alongside her. In an age of impersonal, highly digitized art-making, Lipton connects to her viewer through tactile, tangible, even comforting elements in her works. She uncovers unsung heroes in The White Voyage, and takes us along for the ride. Her videos invite us to join a trek through the desert, high over the hills, over snow and even to peer into our own grave. Death and Love manifest as symbiotic forces. Lipton faces each head on, and through the sometimes absurd alternate realities created in the videos and sculptural installations, performs a ritual exploration of what lies at the very essence of each, and how we face those fears. For example, in the video Death Valley, Lipton’s main character travels to the lowest physical place in the western hemisphere, Death Valley, California, where she plumbs the depths of pain, sorrow, suffering and lies atop a cave-like grave. We are, again, drawn in. As she rises, so do we: Death be not proud. We won’t stop.
“Death is not the end” promise the singers in Window Ballet. Faced with her grandfather’s declining health, Lipton proposed to knit a human suit, giving birth to the character of “Bob.” One imagine donning the “Bob” suit, and taking on the challenge of an aging body. Baby Blue brings together Lipton’s own parents and singer and actress Victoria Parker in a musical performance, drawing in the ultimate personal elements. In The Living Room Series, Lipton pushes this examination of family expectations, pride and family ties, by filming musicians performing for their family members in their childhood home. As accomplished artists in their own right, these musicians perform a favoured number for their immediate family members, who watch from the comfort of their home couch. This intense scrutiny is highly revealing: we see the physical exertion of the artist, the subtlety of parental pride and fear, and the intimate family setting. From the universal to the deeply personal, Lipton is painfully aware of the limitations of the body and the short time it has on earth. She, like many others, fights that brevity and challenges the permanence of fear and death.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.[iii]
This is what the best artists can do: face the inevitable and slip past – escape death’s clutches and show us how to do the same. Lipton’s musing on love and death urge us to come together, to face the monsters in the attic, the closet, or the far reaches of our minds, and dance with them, waltz with them, drum with them. Together, we don’t stop.
- Sarah Fillmore, Chief Curator, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
[i] Beastie Boys, Sure Shot, Ill Communication, 1994
[ii] Window Ballet I was performed as part of Nocturne Art at Night, Halifax, NS, October 16, 2010
[iii] John Donne, Sonnet X, 1633
performance images from opening night - february 2012...
You Can Take My Bicycle
starring jess lewis, victoria parker & laura peek - singing "You Can Take My Bicycle"
starring tim dunn & ross burns - singing "The Gospel"
Stars in that Baby Blue
starring brian lipton, victoria parker & karen lipton - singing "Baby Blue"
a song for Boo
starring ross burns - singing "a song for Boo"
Strangers in the Night
starring ian bent & victoria parker - performing "Desert Isle"
starring laura peek & jess lewis - performing "Desert Isle"
The Alchemy Project
starring jess lewis, victoria parker, laura peek & lisa lipton - singing "The Barbershop"
photos courtesy of AGNS
(edited by frankie)
(edited by frankie)
the pin project (15,000 sewing pins)
Baby Blue,You Can Take My Bicycle & when you finally see them
come on and the Eldritch Waltz, Window Ballet & Death Valley
The White Voyage
The Living Room Series
*** you can watch The Living Room Series - Part I on VIMEO - https://vimeo.com/50706535
You Can Take My Bicycle
*** you can watch You Can Take My Bicycle on VIMEO - https://vimeo.com/50705803
The White Voyage, Death Valley, Baby Blue, a song for Boo, come on and the Eldritch Waltz & Window Ballet