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Fall Arts Guide: September 2007

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as scarves are donned and boots are laced up, in anticipation for the fall arts season. To help you choose, here are monthly art, theatre, books, music and movie picks.

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by Sue Carter Flinn, Sean Flinn, Mike Landry, Lindsay McCarney, Shannon Webb-Campbell

That doe’s a dead deer but the Marquee is alive, and we all scream for ice cream at the Jim Jarmusch film survey.

PROSPECT 12: DUSTIN WENZEL

When up-and-coming sculptor Dustin Wenzel pictures a deer he doesn't imagine a doe running through the woods. Nor a buck calmly drinking from a stream. He pictures roadkill. A retrospective of Wenzel's work is on display at the MSVU Art Gallery and each piece examines our relationship with animals, depicting animals as they truly are around us—on the dinner table, on the side of the road, or hidden in the ocean's depths. "It's not in any way trying to be preachy," says Wenzel. "It's important to be educated. I'm bringing into the foreground what's going on but not saying it's wrong."

Wenzel uses expensive and hard-to-work-with metals for his cast sculptures. The juxtaposition of high-art bronze forming whale brain cavity casts is bizarre. And the uneatable, cast-iron, pre-cooked chickens hanging on the wall cause a tension in the psyche. This shock shows our distance from animal relationships. "We've lost something. I guess I'm sentimental about it," says Wenzel. "Animals used to show us the way. Now we're so stuck in our own circle, I wonder if we're missing out. I think we haven't learned all we can from them." (ML)

To December 9 at MSVU Art Gallery, 166 Bedford Highway, free, 457-2447, www.msvuart.ca

18 ILLUMINATIONS

Each year at this time daylight recedes, a movement made more poignant in this post-9/11 world. After September 11, a date still memorialized in downtown Manhattan with twin beams of light, 18 Illuminations co-curators Corinna Ghaznavi and Carla Garnet "wanted to put an alternative vision out there, one that sheds light and reveals what is hidden and illuminates as artists do." The artists include Micah Lexier, Tom Dean, Lisa Neighbour, Sheila Moss and Ed Pien.

By turns, the works use light sources as material or reflect on light, from paintings to sculpture to video and photography. "We worked hard over a period of many months to choose artists who ultimately see light as both revealing and hiding, understand that darkness—shadow—always accompanies light, that balance is required. We wanted the works to be conceptual in nature and not simply using light as a medium." The show clears the mind, while filling it with new and welcome thoughts and impulses, including sound. "Once the show was installed I really loved the sound elements. It seems to me to be at once whispering in darkened places, reflective of a nightscape that allows what we don't usually hear in the daytime to be , and glaring." (SF)

To October 7 at Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, Loyola Building, 5864 Gorsebrook, free, 420-5445

EAR I AM

It's hard to imagine Halifax without Live Art—thanks to their annual contemporary dance season, audiences have an opportunity to witness the finest international performances without ever boarding a plane, and get intimate with local emerging talents. To celebrate their 25th anniversary, the dance presenter is bringing in some past favourites, like the one-of-a-kind Tedd Robinson, Crystal Pite and the fascinating cross-discipline artist Ame Henderson.

Live Art kicks off their season with lots of noise, thanks to the world premiere of Belgian choreographer Barbara Mavro Thalassitis's Ear I Am, a commissioned work at the James Dunn Theatre, featuring local dancers Jacinte Armstrong, Susan Chui and Elise Vanderborght, soprano Janice Jackson and composer Lukas Pearse. In May, Thalassitis visited Halifax to lead a workshop that lead her to the talented cast. "I had an idea of what I wanted to do at the time," she says, before rehearsal at the Dunn. "I was looking for dancers who dare to use their voice and are open to that. It was really interesting to meet the dancers from here. They were all skilled in different ways."

Thalassitis, who has a background in dance, theatre and lyrical singing, considers Ear I Am a musical comedy, "not in the way that there's a narrative," but in how it explores the sounds a body can make: with objects, voices, bodies. She takes advantage of the loud sounds created by a crinkly silver rescue blanket, and Pearse was also given specific instructions for the soundtrack. Thalassitis says, " I didn't want the composer to make a sound for them and they move on the sound, I want the composer to use the dancers' bodies as an instrument." (SCF)

September 27-29 at Sir James Dunn Theatre, Dalhousie Arts Centre, 6101 University, 8pm, $16-$23, 494-3820, www.liveartproductions.ca

THE MARQUEE REOPENING WEEK

There's no need for Chris Murphy to pen a follow-up track to the Between the Bridges' classic "The Marquee and the Moon," as the legendary cabaret-style venue announced it will be re-opening for a solid four nights a week.

The Marquee is unlike any other club in eastern Canada, with its plush, heavy wine-coloured curtains hugging the stage area, tall bar stools, tables and tea lights. Above, the peculiar antique artifacts hanging from the ceiling seem like an aerial graveyard of mannequins and masquerades.

"The Marquee Club holds a special place in the hearts of Haligonians," says owner Victor Syperek. "It's great to have it open once again on a regular, and, I emphasize, permanent basis."

The grand soiree kicks off with DJ Ollie Teeba Of and The Herbalizer, an electronic/hip-hop DJ on September 27. After the booze wears off and you're ready to get down to business, the official re-opening party features Cape Breton's multi-dimensional funksters Slowcoaster and Dr. Dfunkt on September 28. The next night sees members of Toronto's ever-expanding collective Broken Social Scene roll into town in support of lead singer Kevin Drew's pseudo-solo disc, Spirit If. The last time the troop of scenesters found themselves in our fair port town was during 2006's Juno awards, when they took home Alternative Album of the Year. (SWC)

The Herbalizer, September 27 at The Marquee Club, 2037 Gottingen, $7. Slowcoaster w/Dr. Dfunkt, September 28, $12-$15, ticketpro.ca. Kevin Drew, September 29, 9pm, $20, 494-3920 / www.sonicconcerts.com.

JIM JARMUSCH SURVEY

The name "Jim Jarmusch" always makes me think of jam. This jam-based free association is likely the product of me having had relatively minimal exposure to the famed indie director's work—I've only seen his two most recent cinematic offerings, Broken Flowers and Coffee and Cigarettes.

This lack of Jim Jarmusch knowledge is apparently a common affliction, and it's something that the Dalhousie Art Gallery is looking to help people rectify with its upcoming survey of Jarmusch's work. (I suspect I'll have to work through the jam problem on my own.)

The retrospective started on September 26, with a screening of the director's first film, Permanent Vacation, and will continue until December, with Jarmusch screenings every Wednesday. Eight of the director's 10 films will be shown in total (with Johnny Depp-starrer Dead Man, and 1984 Cannes Golden Camera winner Stranger than Paradise among them).

On November 8, Ron Foley Macdonald, the gallery's film curator, will also give a Jarmusch lecture, entitled, The Hipster As Filmmaker: Jim Jarmusch's Birth of the Cool. The curator admires Jarmusch's ability to bring the marginal to the front-and-centre.

"He's kinda the filmic equivalent of Tom Waits, because he comes from that same kind of indie-offbeat, rooted-in-the-beat-generation, kind of thing," adds Foley Macdonald. "His films are really unique in the canon." (LM)

Wednesdays (starting September 26) at the Dalhousie Art Gallery, 6101 University, 8pm, free, 494-2403, www.artgallery.dal.ca

More Fall arts Listings:
October
November

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