An unusual exchange: Visual artists & experimental post-punk mash up
YYZ and Dunlop Art Gallery team up with Unusual Music Exchange, a magazine and platform led by Canadian UK-based visual artist, writer, and musician Josh Thorpe. Together UME, YYZ, DAG, and other institutions and artists will embark on a series of events and publications that bring together contemporary visual practice with unusual music.
The project begins with a mutual interest in vinyl records as a medium, and continues to find other networks of collaboration and distribution. The project spans two albums and three years of Thorpe's work as an entry point to diverse conversations in art and music, art as music, music as art. We aim to rekindle ties between visual art practices and independent music that were more apparent from the 1960s to the 1990s.
This is also a response to evolving video and audio technology. In the 1970s the video camera became affordable, making video experimentation accessible for a generation of artists. Today again we have a revolution of image, moving-image, and sound production and distribution technology. This affords again the opportunity to experiment relatively cheaply with interdisciplinary and international collaboration in these media.
The project timeline will centre around the release of album Love & Weather, published by Thorpe's online collective UnusualMusicExchange.com, and will include:
Other possibilities, possibly for other institutions:
More on Thorpe's music and collaborations with artists
Thorpe's songs respond to the historical moment. The music in some ways pays tribute to an exploding world, a time of ecstatic strangeness. Long forms, dissonant sounds, and non-linear lyrics describing entangled forces in a complex universe reflect this. These songs push against mainstream song forms, which are designed for short attention span, and rely often on Hollywood tropes of narrative and the triumph of the individual. Visual artists have contributed in whatever way they wish, offering free-form images and video that follows their own interests and intuitions rather than the logic of the song or the need to perform a marketing role.
Scrappy Art Rock You Can Dance To (2018) was meant to be both brash and sweet / aggressive and nurturing, to bring together two crucial human moods in a series of songs and videos. It involved collaborations with with senior and emerging artists Ian Wallace, Geoffrey Farmer, Sandra Meigs, Trevor Shimizu, Renée Lear, and Lily Ross-Millard.
Love & Weather (2021) refers obliquely to the need for compassion in the face of various world crises, but also to affect in the mundane rituals of weather, intimacy, and the social. It brings together cover art by Australian Angelica Mesiti and music videos by Ashes Withyman (formerly known as Gareth Moore), Mathew McWilliams, and footage by Devon Knowles, all with Vancouver roots of some kind.
Cloud Study (2021) will feature collaborations with Kristine Mifsud (Toronto), Carolyn Lambert and David Court (Tennessee), M.E. Smit-Dicks (Glasgow).
Thorpe is a Canadian artist based in the UK. He has shown at David Roberts Art Foundation, London; 3A Gallery, New York; Power Plant, Toronto; CSA Space, Vancouver; Museo Napoleonico, Rome; and Open City, Lublin, Poland. He has recently completed a large-scale public work for the City of Toronto, has been a Sobey long-lister and finalist for the TFVA Artist Award, and has published with Art Metropole, Canadian Art, and Momus.