CAAF Residency @4Five, June – August 2014
Tammy McGrath holds a BFA in Painting from the Alberta College of Art and Design and an MFA in Intermedia from the University of Regina. She is a multimedia artist and has taught studio arts at the University of Calgary and the Alberta College of Art & Design while also programming the Visual and Media Arts at the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts. She was the curator and co-creator of Soundasaurus: Multimedia Sound Art Festival in Calgary and has received numerous awards and grants. McGrath has written for local and national art publications and spearheaded/initiated projects such as the Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival and Space for Space in Calgary, AB. She volunteers for multiple non-profit art organizations, and has been a jury member for local/national granting agencies and art institutions. In her art practice, McGrath examines how truth is constructed and knowledge is retained and erased.
Over the past ten years I have been working on installations, sound, digital media and performance pieces that examine the use of hierarchy and access (or lack of access) to information, knowledge and truth.
One of my recent works titled Voir Dire is specific to the death of knowledge and truth (essentially the violent cutting of ties to story, history, heritage and place). Voir Dire is old French and is loosely translated as: “to speak the truth.” It is a legal term used to define the process by which lawyers question prospective jury members to determine if they are unbiased and suitable to be part of a fair and impartial jury. The installation is purposefully dark and ambiguous featuring giant creatures with ominously sharp claws and hooked tails hovering over 1400 burnt books. The viewer is never clear if the taloned beasts simply arrived too late – or if their sole purpose is to guard the truth of the destruction below them. I am currently expanding on the theme of Voir Dire and incorporating context from books by Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka and Paul Auster. All three of these authors explore themes surrounding our innate human need for self-knowledge, history and belonging. They also explore the duality of being human – our propensity for both good and dark deeds relative to individual moral compasses and circumstances.