2020 Publications

The Small Walker Press addresses the research and creative interests of faculty members at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University, and engages with authors, artists and academics alike to produce small, innovative publications.

2020 Publications: Invisibility

Built to Ruin:
Between Invisibility and Suburbia

Alejandro Cartagena with creative writing by Tim Conley and Nicholas Hauck

Cartagena, Alejandro with creative writing by Tim Conley and Nicholas Hauck.
Built to Ruin: Between Invisibility and Suburbia.

St. Catharines, ON and Vienna, Austria: Small Walker Press and Salon für Kunstbuch, 2020.
56 pages, 18 illustrations
Graphic design by Bernhard Cella
ISBN 978-1-9990860-5-3
CAN $10 + tax


Alejandro Cartagena’s photographs of recently built Mexican suburbs, ask us to look at this phenomenon of the suburban environs and how it has fueled variously the need for solutions to overcrowded cities, or the desire to form and incorporate community living where replication and anonymity are the rule rather than the exception. Whether a phenomenon of globalization, where construction materials such as lumber, steel or glass are sourced from elsewhere, specialized labour often imported, and potential buyers from an economic class that qualifies for variable interest rates over loan periods of twenty-five or thirty years, the so-called housing market is as much an economic barometer as it is a social arbiter of the vernacular world. Viewing these images is not to experi­ence them in any profound, lived way, but instead, to see how through the lens of a discerning photographer, we can construct and project a mythology of place.

Our interpretive tools are often the ones that we share with fiction or film, to think of Tim Conley’s essay, from episodic narratives, picaresque vignettes to cinematic spectacle. Cartagena’s camera captures recently minted versions of suburban row housing in the heat of the Mexican sun and the strong tenebrism it produces in the form form of shadowed lines as well as renditions of nocturnes illuminated by the grid of slender streetlights that carry us to the empty, interstitial or vacant spaces yet to be furbished, with their own legions of small, affordable one or two-bedroom townhouses. The planar, utilitarian geometric shapes of box housing suggest an economy of scale that is as familiar to us in North America as it is to communities throughout the Western world, including Mexico.

The legends Nicholas Hauck has composed to accompany Cartagena’s photographs add poetic poignancy to the suburban fabric of vernacular modernism.

The Dark Redacted

Donna Szőke and Gary Barwin.

Szőke, Donna and Gary Barwin.
The Dark Redacted.

St. Catharines, ON: Small Walker Press, 2020.
48 pages, 10 illustrations
Graphic design by Lauren Wickware
ISBN 978-1-9990860-4-6
CAN $10 + tax


Donna Szőke thoughtfully investigates the fluidity of meaning and presence in her work as an artist of growing national reputation. Rather than elucidating a concept or an experience, she proposes a semi-abstract perusal of collective or intimate issues. Offering a reflection on the evocative instability of the biographical and the personal, and opting for an approach close to autofiction, her work constellates subtle possibilities and its scope defies the limitations of certainty. The artist is a compelling storyteller for whom the quest for meaning and the vagrancies of that search are more significant than plain facts. For The Dark Redacted Szőke proposes traces of a fragile story and never-faltering endurance. Her sequence of images alternates beautifully detailed natural life—a buffalo, intricate vegetation—and minimally sketched-out human presence and personal objects. As a result, her work addresses the viewers’ intuition and sensitivity to the environment.

Szőke’s work is mirrored in Gary Barwin’s text. Without ever becoming too urgent or rapid, his narrative is built on a crescendo and ends as an incantation. A playful style, suggestive wordplays, intuitive associations and magic creations of word-made spaces add to the careful constructedness of the project as a whole and create the impression that an intimate conversation is happening between the narrator and the artist’s persona. At the core is an overwhelming sense of loss reflecting on the power of language or poetics to capture the quintessential paradox of what it is to be human, sentient and cognizant of our own fate. The idea of the ephemeral inveigles Barwin’s prose, which in turn illuminates the tapestry of Szőke’s hand-drawn illustrations. Spare in execution but visually poignant, they are a world into which we eagerly slip if not vanish.

Videopoetry/Vidéopoésie

Daniel H. Dugas and Valerie LeBlanc.

Dugas, Daniel H. and Valerie LeBlanc.
Videopoetry/Vidéopoésie.
St. Catharines, ON: Small Walker Press, 2020.
414 pages, with illustrations, sound and videos
Graphic design by Daniel H. Degas and Valerie LeBlanc
ISBN 978-1-9990860-6-0
Online, free access
https://dr.library.brocku.ca/handle/10464/14790


Canadian digital artist and videopoet Valerie LeBlanc and Canadian poet, musician, and videopoet Daniel H. Dugas have been working together since 1990.

Daniel H. Dugas was born in Montréal, QC. Poet, videographer, essayist and musician, Dugas has exhibited and participated in exhibitions, festivals and literary events in Canada and internationally. His ninth book of poetry, L’esprit du temps/The Spirit of the Time, won the 2016 Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie award and the 2018 Éloizes: Artiste de l’année en littérature. daniel.basicbruegel.com | Videos distributed through: vtape.org

Pluridisciplinary artist and writer, Valerie LeBlanc was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has worked and presented throughout Canada and internationally. LeBlanc’s first video, Homecoming, was collected and screened by the National Gallery of Canada. She is the creator of the MediaPackBoard (MPB), a portable screening / performance device. valerie.basicbruegel.com | Videos distributed through: vtape.org

“Their specific uniqueness within the videopoetry world also lies in the musicality of speaking two languages. LeBlanc’s first language is English and her second French; and Dugas’ is French with English second.” (Sarah Tremlett).

OTHER SWP PUBLICATIONS:

Composures
St. Catharines, ON: Small Walker Press, 2020.
35 pages, with illustrations
ISBN 978-1-7771450-2-6
Online, free access
https://dr.library.brocku.ca/handle/10464/14854


Composures is a collection of brief contributions on the theme of care by members of the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, in the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, Brock University. It includes:
– Artworks (acrylic and mixed media, 2006-2008) by artist Shawn Serfas;
– two short short stories (Derek Knight; Catherine Parayre);
– three short essays (Natalee Caple on dialogical art and queer comics; Nicholas Hauck on translation theory; and Alexander Christie on digital prototyping in reference with Mina Loy’s novel Insel, 1991).

2020 will be remembered as the year of the pandemic. On 17 March, the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency and went into shutdown. What followed was (pleasant) silence, as car traffic almost came to a standstill. Within days we could breathe better and feel the briskness of the air in a way we no longer knew. Over the course of one week, the university adapted to online operation; campus was closed; students left town; and, working from home, we were tasked to reinvent pedagogy and learn new technologies. As researchers, artists, and writers, we were suddenly confronted with the cancellation of scholarly, artistic, and cultural events for an unknown extended period. Again, we had to reinvent, and this time it was ourselves.

Composures is a tiny reinvention. It replaces a colloquium initially scheduled for 16 April 2020. As we could no longer meet, we wrote a book. For the theme, we chose a word that is currently on everyone’s lips: care. The topic and a desire for concision were the only constraints given to contributors, and this at a time when constraints were being applied to all aspects of life, interactions were drastically limited, and we were asked to say home. However, “care” is such a broad notion that it can hardly be envisioned as an unyielding guidepost. From art and creative writing to scholarship, the six contributions in this volume bear witness to how constraint can be understood felt as the freedom to share one’s work.

Distribution

Small Walker Press publications can be purchased at the following locations:

Rodman Hall Art Centre
Brock University, St. Catharines

Campus Store
Brock University, St. Catharines

The Salon für Kunstbuch
Vienna, Austria

Someday Books
St. Catharines, Ontario

The Small Walker Press is homed in the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and receives the support of the Walker Cultural Leader series.

It publishes collaborative work that brings together authors and artists from the Niagara Region, as well as the Canadian or international contexts, covering all disciplines and creative practices taught and researched at the MIWSFPA