CAFK+A and Open Ears Team Up

Veda Hile is just one of many artists performing at the 2014 biennial celebrations for CAFK+A and Open Ears Festival of Music & Sound • PHOTO COURTESY OPEN EARS
Veda Hile is just one of many artists performing at the 2014 biennial celebrations for CAFK+A and Open Ears Festival of Music & Sound • PHOTO COURTESY OPEN EARS

Anya Lomako

This will be a year of firsts for Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area’s (CAFK+A) biennial exhibition of modern art.

Working under the idealistic theme and title It Should Always Be This Way, this will be the first year the event will run for during June instead of September since the exhibition’s start 11 years ago.

Gordon Hatt, CAFK+A’s executive director, cites the seasonal change as being an effort to make the multidisciplinary festival more accessible to the public.

“[We’re] excited to shift to the spring and early summer, a time that provides us with ideal conditions for outdoor installations,” he said.

Aside from becoming a spring event, It Should Always Be This Way is the first time CAFK+A will pair with Open Ears, a music and creative sound festival, to co-present their both organization’s biennials in what promises to be the most ambitious collaborative exhibition yet.

The collaboration allows both organizations to expand their appeal, offer a more diverse program for visitors, and create prime networking opportunities for artists.

CAFK+A’s Artistic Director Karie Liao notes that while each initiative has its own agenda, the union has done nothing but broaden horizons for arts and culture in the region.

“Our alliance has strengthened our programming and created a critical mass for the arts,” she said.

Open Ears General Director, Cheryl Ewing, shares the sentiment.

“We will always maintain our own identities but we will continue to find ways to enhance the experience of the staff, volunteers and attendees through creating a vibrant and exciting scene in Waterloo Region,” said Ewing.

Behind this year’s theme, It Should Always Be This Way, is Marcel O’Gorman, a Professor of English and Director of the Critical Media Lab at the University of Waterloo.

O’Gorman believes cultural events like CAFK+A give the public a glimpse into a “utopian daydream”, which celebrates a sense of curiosity and creative play devalued in our culture.

O’Gorman says that as a society, “we have shifted from an information economy to an attention economy”.

Events like CAFK+A empower the general population with “the capacity to disrupt this economy in wildly creative ways, provoking surprise, contemplation, laughter, and face-to-face conversation.”

With the support of CAFK+A, Open Ears will expand from a four-day showcase to an 11-day program, which includes a sound installation that will be accessible to the public for an extended three-month stay at THEMUSEUM.

“We are a festival of the unknown,” says Ewing. “If you are interested in how sound permeates our world and the profound impact that a piece of art can have on an individual, then you should be coming to Open Ears.”

The CAFK+A exhibition will lengthen in duration to 30 days; another celebratory change for the biennial.

As always, various locations throughout KW will curate multimedia installations crafted by local artists – no platform is off-limits, including decrepit buildings set for demolition shortly after playing host to interactive installations.

In addition to working with Open Ears, It Should Always Be This Way has a number of sound and curatorial partners, including the University of Waterloo Art Gallery, City of Kitchener, Critical Media Lab, City of Waterloo, Cambridge Galleries/Idea Exchange and Cambridge Sculpture Garden.

The talent featured in the biennial and the geographical space used is drafted partner organizations across Waterloo Region highlight the artistic beauty in unexpected urban spaces.

That said, talent isn’t exclusive to Waterloo Region. International artists like Christian Bök (Toronto), José Luis Torres (Quebec), Mary Mattingly (New York) and Krzysztof Wodiczko (New York) are among the artists in attendance this year.

Attendees of CAFK+A and Open Ears can expect installations and interactive exhibits such as video projections, gigantic doodles, a digital tabernacle, a tree organ, an avant-garde poetry tea event and many spoken word and visual performances.

2014 biennial highlights


Darren Copeland & Andreas Kahre (Toronto and Vancouver)
Victoria Park Gazebo, Roos Island, Jubilee Dr, Kitchener, ON N2G 1J2

SITCOM is the work of Darren Copeland, a Toronto sound artist and Andreas Kahre, a Vancouver-based interdisciplinary artist. They will transform a Victoria Park Gazebo into an interactive bench that is activated by sitting, producing pre-recorded and manipulated sounds of nature and human interaction.

Ruth Gibson and Bruno Martelli (London, UK),
In Search of Abandoned
Hub Interactive Virtual Environment, Communitech Hub, 151 Charles St W, Kitchener, ON N2G 1H6

London, UK artists Gibson and Martelli fuse digital reality and human perception of reality in In Search of Abandoned using an interactive heightmap data. A computer-generated world will be affected by the user’s experience and imagination of reality under digital constraint, the product of observation materializing itself in a three-dimensional stereoscopic landscape.


Radio Wonderland + Weird Canada
The Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener, ON

Watch off-beat music being born as performer Radio Wonderland samples radio music on his ghetto blaster and manipulates it using unconventional objects, producing sound ranging from Negativland to Techno. The second part of the event will feature Weird Canada, a movement to celebrate creative expression, will guide the audience through a curated evening of undancable music.