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VISUALEYEZ 2005 JOURNAL: MAY 24

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Angela Dorrer has been working on her pilgrimage for Edmonton for the past few days. It's an ongoing process of gathering information: collecting stories, rumours , phrases and images to create an ‘unofficial' and intentionally subjective map of Edmonton, and a sense of its collective psychology as a city. She has a pilgrimage office in the gallery space, where a map of Edmonton, drawings and notes are accumulating over the wall.

Both the process of collecting the information (through questionnaires) and the ‘office' itself reference the anthropological, and more official/bureaucratic procedures. However, the role Angela is playing is an intentionally subjective one: to interpret the information into symbols, metaphors images and poetic texts, which will make up the ‘pilgrimage' walks later this week. In this sense the work raises questions about the role of art or of ritual as primarily symbolic activity, and around other activities (such as anthropological research or urban planning for example) as primarily functional activities. In an art context, the process of collecting and interpreting the material is made public; in an anthropology or urban planning context, would these activities take place behind the scenes? Would an anthropologist claim to be operating in an objective, ‘scientific' realm, while Angela is not? But, similar to the anthropologist, does it take an outsider to allow us to see our own society in a new light?

Angela is allowing the responses of local inhabitants to generate the raw material/content for the work. This reflects a common approach to works in the festival: where the artist plays the role of translator or facilitator, and the subject matter comes from responses from or conversations with participants, rather than using his/her own autobiography as a basis for the work. It's an approach that may come out of questioning the conventional role of the artist. Such an approach also raises questions around the relationship of the artist-facilitator/translator to the participants, and especially in terms of bringing together a broad range of interpretations (from the responses to the questionnaires) into the framework of the pilgrimage walks. Which responses will be included, if it isn't possible to include everything? In conversation, Angela said that historical pilgrimages presented a unified point of view (such as a religious perspective), but contemporary pilgrimages involve many different perspectives. Perhaps part of the work will be the negotiation of how to preserve these different perspectives, while knitting them together into a narrative (the walk through the city).

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