BIRTH OF THE BEAST
In February 2020, an art party at 44 Gaukel Creative Workspace featured a blind collaboration experiment involving four local artists. Each had a set of black ink materials, one white illustration board & a few hours to eke out something weird in their own style. Their assembled exquisite corpse was magnificent!
Buoyed by the potential emanating from that first corpse but bound by sudden pandemic restrictions, we shelved plans for bigger, weirder art parties (for now) & adapted the concept. After some gestation, The Beasting was hatched as a digital program that could be produced safely with artists one at a time & mostly shared online, plus it would also result in an irresistible physical exhibit in the future.
A roster of two dozen artists were invited to 44 Gaukel to each create one of four beast sections using limited materials & a few hours. Their creations were slowly revealed from July to October 2021. We celebrated pandemic Halloween by curating, puzzling together & unveiling six spectacular beast combos!
Check out this Tech About Town column from late July 2021 about the project's development.
Exquisite corpse is a drawing game popularized in the 1920s & a technique wielded by early surrealist artists to make collaborative compositions. Each participant takes a turn drawing a portion of a wildly imaginary body, concealing their partial contributions from other participants until the figure is finished.
Typically this kind of blind collaboration is accomplished by folding a shared piece of paper into sections, so we've elaborated & improvised. Once all 24 artists in an annual edition have created their body parts for The Beasting, the resulting six different heads, six different upper torsos, six different lower torsos, & six different legs & feet can be combined in many charming & disarming ways to form six shape-shifting beasts.
The cadavre exquis above by Man Ray, André Breton, Yves Tanguy & Max Morise is from here.
The director, developer, organizer, promoter, video editor, string-puller & all-around production hustler behind the scenes of The Beasting is Eric Rumble, the City of Kitchener's coordinator of arts & creative industries. All contributing artists to this project have been fairly compensated by the City of Kitchener.
The other director, strategist and graphic designer, Vincent Marcone, aka My Pet Skeleton, suggested we riff on the exquisite corpse idea in fall 2019 & then made it happen at the 44 Gaukel art party. His creative branding & project assembly skills have since brought The Beasting to vivid life. He's also halfway to drawing his own quartered creature, diving in head first in 2020 & conjuring an unbelievable belly as a 2021 project contributor.
Special thanks to Zoë Woodrow, a graphic design undergrad at Conestoga College whose 2021 co-op placement with Vincent unearthed The Beasting logo. Special thanks also to Anestis Papoutsis, whose photography expertise & time lapse capture experience were invaluable to creating our production setup. One more special thanks to Midtown Radio's Danielle Deveau, who conducted & broadcasted interviews with all 24 artists for the 2021 edition of this project.
John Spaulding photographed all contributing artists to the 2022 edition of the project & also captured Vincent & Eric in the photo above at his 44 Gaukel studio. The snap below is John as the test subject for his 2022 desk shoot setup & further below is his exterior shot of 44 Gaukel too.
44 GAUKEL CONNECTION
All contributions to The Beasting were made inside a private office at 44 Gaukel Creative Workspace, the City's collaborative facility project with ArtsBuild Ontario & Accelerator Centre in downtown Kitchener.
Vincent has been a tenant at 44 Gaukel for a few years. He also created an incredible mural for the front stretch of the building, installed in fall 2020.
That original exquisite corpse created by Vincent, Luke, Ethel & Sumaira also hangs in 44G's lobby.