Media Arts on the Waterfront

A few years ago the Yukon Film Society (YFS) unsuccessfully bid on a lease for the Hatch House in Shipyards Park, in hopes of hosting an artist residency. Although that didn’t work out, it planted a seed that has borne fruit this summer.

Throughout the spring, summer, and fall YFS will support an artist residency program in the Jenni House Studio at Shipyards. “It was really time for an artist residency program in Whitehorse,” says the executive director Andrew Connors. “Studio space in town is expensive and we wanted to create a space where we could support both local artists, and artists from Outside, to create more work.”

Connors says the residency will allow YFS to better serve media artists across the territory and further encourage the development of media arts on the Whitehorse waterfront.

It isn’t just YFS who is bringing art to the Jenni House this summer though; the program will also be supported by the Atlin Arts and Music Festival and the Yukon Arts Centre Public Art Gallery, who will each sponsor one artist residency. “So far the residency program has been very successful,” says Connors. “The artists are making work and through that bringing more life to the park. It’s been really exciting to see.”

Multimedia visual artist, Michel Gignac, kicked the season off with large-scale sculpting — using discarded manufactured materials, animal fur, and antlers. He was followed by two artists, Lindsay Dobbin and Douglas Drake.

Dobbin, a sound media artist visiting from Nova Scotia, is creating a sound piece through explorations of the Yukon River called “Somewhere Over the Radio”. Leading up to the longest day of the year and Whitehorse’s Nuit Blanche, Dobbin collected fi eld recordings and stories along the river. The end result is the creation of a new work broadcasted live over the 12 hours of Nuit Blanche on CJUC 92.5 FM, with the opportunity for audiences to add to the broadcast live, in real time, from the Jenni House. “It’s been really nice working at Jenni House,” says Dobbin. “In the past when I’ve done residencies like this, with a really strong field recording basis, I haven’t had an indoor space to return to and work in. Now that I have that here I’m realizing how valuable it is.”

Drake, a local media artist, is constructing a filmviewing geodesic dome. He will be exploring topics such as technological obsolescence, repetition, environments, and social issues, through found objects, physical constructions, and video installation.

In July, the Atlin Arts and Music Festival will sponsor Jordy Walker, a Whitehorse-based media artist and musician.

In total, eight artists will be supported this season. And given this year’s success and popularity, Connors expects the program to grow in the future.

The residency will also provide the opportunity to showcase some film and photography work. For example, in September a public exhibition of a curated photo collection titled Whitehorse Shipyards: Images of a Frontier Community, will provide the public with a glimpse of what life was like in Shipyards from the 1960s to the 2000s.

If you’d like to check out what’s happening in Jenni House, Connors suggests stopping in during the Fireweed Community Market on Thursday. “If the doors are open, you should stop by and chat with the artists and see what they’re up to.”

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