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Lisa Neighbour

August 09, 2012

Lisa Neighbour was born in Montreal and now lives and works in Toronto. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design (General Studies, 1982), and received an MFA from York University in 2009. She exhibits with Persona Volare (a collective of Toronto-based installation and media artists) and is represented by Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art. She is presently a member of the faculty of the Art and Art History Program, a joint program between Sheridan College and UTM. Her recent work incorporates lights and electrical hardware as media and as metaphor. She also uses print media, drawing, video and sculpture to conduct a search for the miraculous qualities in commonplace materials. Neighbour's work could be seen this past weekend as part of the ALL CAPS! Island Festival on Toronto Island.

1. Death

I am always obsessed by death, but these past few weeks have been a plunge into the real and immediate experience of the death of someone I love. Their death was sudden and violent. We spent many hours in a bare room in the emergency ward with the body of our loved one while other family members prayed and we waited for the coroner's representative. I will never fear death in the same way, but my dreams have been filled with violence, guilt, and revulsion as I try to process these events on a subconscious level.

2. Inanimate things that seem to be alive

For instance, I like to watch videos of a sound coming out of an arc of light. There's a subculture of tinkerers who build these things in their spare time. When the arc completes a circuit, music can be heard; it's as if the light has a voice (magical thinking: everything might contain life). Their choice of what music to arc-out on fascinates me too. One of them plays Sweet Home Alabama, a song that evokes a haunted moment in 1975 of being a teenager in the midst of more death and chaos.

3. Building a solar-powered tree chandelier

I imagine it being located far out in the wilderness where wolves and coyotes could sit under it and howl all night. This obsession started while listening to a large group of coyotes under the full moon. I recorded them on my phone. So far the prototype chandelier looks pretty stupid in daylight but better in the dark. A work in progress that illuminates the darkness, tries to understand it or tries to avoid the fear of it.

4. Banlieue 13

A French action movie from 2004 directed by Pierre Morel. Sometimes it's therapeutic just to be swept away by explosions and mindless violence - distracting myself from thoughts of death? I also like to climb stuff that I probably shouldn't, so the buildering part of this movie fascinates me. All the stunts are real, apparently.

5. Vegan cooking

I'm trying to eliminate meat and dairy for health reasons (to avoid death?) and still have edible food. My latest experiments involve cooking Moroccan tagine recipes with harissa, vegetables, and giant raisins.



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