He’s the director of Latitude 53, an artist-run centre here in Edmonton and a performance artist in his own right. We sat down with Todd Janes to discuss his work and what it means to be an artist in our city.
How does your role at the gallery play into your work as an artist?
I think they are simpatico. I think being an artist is also about being exposed to different approaches to art, so the gallery is a really rich environment for that to occur. Some of the artists that we exhibit aren’t even from Canada so there has to be something specific about why we’re showing it in Edmonton and that’s often because it’s awesome and no one else is doing this or they’re really very good at their craft or because art has an audience that would benefit from seeing it here.
What does it mean to be an artist in Edmonton to you?
You have to be tenacious. I make art because I want to have a discussion with people. I also think that broader sections of people are becoming more visually literate. I think they’re a lot more engaged so in many ways, Edmonton is a great place to be an artist.
Where is your own work headed and what are you working on now?
For a long time my work was very much about public and private spaces and the dichotomy between them. Now I’m interested in creating a sense of intimacy with strangers and how you create those opportunities. You say intimacy and people think sex right away, but it’s about genuine tenderness. Pushing that a little bit further I’m asking can have intimate exchanges with a person and an object? I was reading this old Romanian myth and it talks about the idea of trees being a kind of holder of energy, like the Mexican worry doll, this idea of an interaction with an inanimate object. I’m curious that if that can occur, then what is preventing us from having more tender moments or empathy with other people?