Concordia graduate Steve Bates reflects on creative process as inaugural Bronfman Fellow in Contemporary ArtBy: Liz Crompton
Bates' two dogs play with a squeaky toy and play-growl in the airy,
light-filled studio he shares with four other artists. A train rumbles
by, a dog knocks its bowl in a request for water, and the photographer
in the next studio suddenly pumps up the volume.
The noise is
fitting, in a way, since Bates -- whose roots are as sound artist,
musician, audio technician - is preparing for an upcoming exhibit that's
all about the repercussions of sound. Entitled FDBK
, a sort of technical shorthand for "feedback", it will be at Concordia University's FOFA Gallery from May 2 to May 25, 2012.
video installation, sound, light and radio transmissions, the
exhibition explores the use and influence of feedback in everything from
music and politics to biology and cybernetics. The germ of the idea
came from a live punk rock album from Bates' youth that made him think
about the interplay between feedback, its source and its audience. Steve Bates within the projection, Feedback for a Black Box, 2012. Photo by Anne-Renée Hotte.FDBK
is not just any show: it's the exhibition that marks the end of the
two-year Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Fellowship in Contemporary Art
Fellowship that allowed Bates to concentrate on his professional
development and not worry about paying bills as he made the transition
from student to practicing artist. According to him, it's done precisely
"They've really designed a fellowship that is perfect,"
says Bates, noting both the generous length of support and the specific
budget elements. He says he found two years "immensely more useful and
effective" than one, and the costs at least partially covered include a
living allowance, studio space, research-related travel, materials and
the culminating exhibition.
Bates, who earned his MFA in Studio
Arts (Open Media) in 2010, is the inaugural Concordia recipient of the
Bronfman contemporary art fellowship. Announced in December 2009, the
award allows fine arts graduates to develop their professional practice,
exhibit their research/creation, and expand their teaching experience.
at approximately $55,000, the fellowship is given each year to a
promising post-graduate in visual art and design from each of Concordia
and the Université du Québec à Montréal. The first recipient from UQAM
is painter Véronique Savard. The fellows from 2011 are UQAM's Aude
Moreau and Pavitra Wickramasinghe from Concordia.
winners of the Bronfman fellowship, the third of five planned sets of
recipients, will be announced on Thursday, May 3.
share a little bit of advice: take the first few months to figure out
what they truly want to accomplish in order to best take advantage of
the opportunity. Time well spent
As for Bates, he
used the travel allowance within the first year to go twice to Europe,
the first to curate a project in Austria and the second to take
workshops at STEIM, an Amsterdam-based electronic music studio that
helps performers create unique instruments. The latter he found
particularly valuable. "More so than the technical information I
learned, it was useful in terms of my thinking around making work with
that kind of technology, and also performance."
fruits of his research into the production of work, the past winter has
been particularly busy for him. As well as a residency with a pair of
Montreal artist-run centres and writing two articles for publication,
Bates mounted four shows. These included a solo exhibition in Winnipeg,
where he grew up, and a work in the Québec Triennial 2011 contemporary
The exposure he's received from this creative
outburst has helped him make connections. For example, two of the
curators at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, which presented
the Triennial, submitted his name when the London-based Institute of
Contemporary Arts came looking for artists for an international
exhibition called SOUNDWORKS
. As a result, he's going to have
work in a show in London, while the city hosts the Olympics. Curators
from Paris and San Francisco have also recently visited his studio.
fellowship has given me the time and space to be able to make these
other opportunities happen with people who are very supportive of my
work," he says.
The fellowship contains some goals that its
recipients have to meet. As well as creating an exhibition, these
include teaching and giving a public lecture. Bates taught the winter
semester of a course in Concordia's ARTX program, and he's planning his
public presentation for late May, at which the catalogue for his FDBK
exhibit will also be launched.
"The last two years has made me
change my way of thinking about being able to be an artist," he says.
"It was really a way to commit to being an artist."What: FDBK
by Steve Bates When:
May 2 to 25, 2012Where:
Gallery, Room 1-715 of the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual
Arts Building (1515 Ste. Catherine St.), Sir George Williams CampusRelated links: