CHMA welcomes artist-in-residence Zachary Gough

Gough presents ‘Correspondence’ and ‘Circus of the Normal’

This month in Sackville, the circus is coming to town. But be warned: this is not your typical circus featuring clowns and trapeze artists. This particular circus is much more absurd, much more chaotic, and much more surreal. It is the “Circus of the Normal,” where anyone and everyone can take centre stage, and where everyday activities are the focus of intrigue and wonderment.  The circus, scheduled for Jan. 25, is one of two projects that artist Zachary Gough will be bringing to Sackville this month. Gough is also acting as CHMA’s first ever artist-in-residence, where he will present “Correspondence,” a platform for community-generated programming that allows Sackville residents to create their own news media.

Gough, who graduated from Mount Allison in 2008, is a Portland-based artist whose current practice focuses on participatory performance art, and revolves around the concept of art as social practice. Gough’s work typically involves an increased collaboration that blends audience and artist. This is the case for both of Gough’s upcoming projects, where community participation is an integral part of the creative process.

“The Circus of the Normal” is built upon the precedence that everyday activities can be ridiculous, outlandish, and absurd. It questions the idea of normalcy in our society in a light-hearted way, while celebrating all kinds of individual expression.

“It can also pertain to queer politics,” said Gough. “We can ask ourselves what is normal? What does it mean now? I want to think about the ways that I see myself as normal. What is the social canvas and what are the things that stand out on the social canvas?”

The circus will be presented as a cabaret, and will feature acts of about five minutes or less. As Gough notes, “the sky is the limit.”  The community-based performance is a fundraiser for The White Rabbit Arts Festival. Performers are invited to cultivate a character or develop an act to perform that explores one area of so-called normal life. Anyone who has ever dreamed of joining the circus can email [email protected] until Jan. 24 if they wish to participate in the performance. “An appreciation for the absurd is the only requirement,” said Gough. The performance will be held on Jan. 25 in the vacant space next to the Black Duck café.

When he isn’t casting his circus, Gough’s attention is turned to his month long residency with CHMA—a brand new program piloted in conjunction with Struts Gallery and Faucet Media Arts Centre. Beginning next week, he will be recruiting volunteers from all around Sackville to participate in a correspondence news team. Participants can each have his or her own beat. If someone has a particular interest in fracking or agriculture, for example, they could learn to build a balanced and critical radio piece about those issues, as they pertain to Sackville.

According to Gough, creating new media is in itself an artistic form of social practice, and the potential in Sackville to create more meaningful news outlets is yet untapped. This project, he believes, has the ability to create social change and dialogue surrounding significant local issues.

“I understand that CHMA has a heavy student focus, but the potential of what CHMA could offer to Sackville is incredible,” said Gough. “We consume so much shitty media, and I think it’s a valuable enterprise to engage a new media generation, and get people making their own media.”

“Correspondence” participants will work closely with CHMA to receive on-air training, and will perform site-specific broadcasts at the end of the month, from Jan. 28 to 30.  Interested individuals should email Gough at [email protected] to get involved.


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