Actor Boy: Travels in Birdsong
Charles Campbell
September 21 — 24, 2017 at Flotilla

Curated by Joni Low

Location: 141 Kent Street, Charlottetown, PE

Installation open: September 22 – 24

Performance: Friday September 22, 8:30-10:30PM

View Flotilla schedule for full details

Presented by the Or Gallery and Confederation Centre Art Gallery

Why birdsong? we ask Actor Boy. He tells us of the songbird’s rapid decline; their absent voices pointing to something we must pay attention to. He draws links between ecological and cultural ruptures, and between human and animal migrations both instinctual and forced. He reminds us, in ways we do not expect, that endangerments and perceived absences require closer consideration – as do their reappearances. And that time is the medium of sound.

Actor Boy is a character from an alternate future conceived by artist Charles Campbell. With roots in the Jamaican emancipation celebration Jonkonnu – a carnivalesque event known for disrupting the social order of plantation society – Actor Boy is both witness and instigator, a six-dimensional being capable of folding and travelling time. Tapping into lines of flight, where thresholds between dimensions are crossed and an array of possibilities open, he brings these aspirations to the present, manifesting alternative possible futures.

For Flotilla, Campbell will present Actor Boy: Travels in Birdsong, a sound installation and performance responding to migrations and settlements up the Atlantic coast, and the emergence and disappearance of early black communities across Canada. Actor Boy will investigate the Bog, Charlottetown’s often-forgotten African Islander and mixed-race community that emerged in the early 1800s, and dispersed within a century.

For the September 22 performance, Actor Boy will delve into a space of violence, complicity and ecological and cultural disruption, interrogating collected memories to ask: what forces led to the historical erasures of communities, and to their reappearance? How can we find continuities within disruptions?

Charles Campbell is a Jamaican-born multidisciplinary artist, writer and curator. He has curated exhibitions in the UK, Canada and Jamaica including Anything With Nothing: Art From the Streets of Urban Jamaica at the National Gallery of Jamaica where he was Chief Curator. His work has been exhibited at the Havana Biennial, the Santo Domingo Biennial, the Cuenca Biennial, Brooklyn Museum, Alice Yard, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Puerto Rico, the Houston Museum of African American Culture and Rideau Hall, Ottawa. He has written for numerous publications including Frieze and ARC Magazine, a Caribbean arts journal. Campbell holds an MFA from Goldsmith College and a BFA from Concordia University. His work is concurrently on view in Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago at the Museum of Latin American Art in Los Angeles. He lives and works in Victoria BC.

Flotilla is the 2017 iteration of a biannual convening of Canadian artist-run centres hosted by the Atlantic Association of Artist-Run Centres.

Image: Song Catching – The Bog, 2017.
Photo by Marsha Gallant

Download the Essay Booklet here.

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