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Canadian Artist of the Week
LOOK AT THIS: Chris Flanagan’s Explorations Of Musical Subcultures (Real And Imagined)
May 31, 2014
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Rita Marley Lived On Degrassi St.

LOOK AT THIS is a weekly series featuring the work of Canadian artists, designers and creators of all sorts.

Name: Chris Flanagan

Born: Adelaide, Australia, 1978

Lives and works: Toronto

What he does: Flanagan makes art installations that deal with music, secret societies and historical narratives (real and fabricated).

Current exhibition: Rita Marley lived on Degrassi St. is an interactive installation taking place next week at the Art Gallery of Ontario that unearths Toronto's reggae history from the perspective of a reggae-obsessed outsider fascinated by the culture. The exhibit features a crystal-encrusted mixing board which acts as a portal to the basements, booze-cans and studios where some of the most interesting music in Canada was developed and traded.

Reggae in Toronto?: "During the 1970s and 80s, Toronto's downtown was dotted with record shops and small studios catering to the Jamaican community," Flanagan told "Records with names like Toronto Dub, Bathurst Street Skank... indicate a reggae map of the city and a largely untold story in the canon of Canadian music lore."

On music’s role: Music is a big part of Flanagan's art. For Sphinxxx, he explored musical subcultures and folklore by creating a fictional band and music genre from mid-'80s Windsor, Ontario, complete with cassettes and "archival" photographs (there's one in the gallery above, and you can listen to Sphinxxx tunes on Bandcamp). For Cambridge, The Album Project, Flanagan created a soundtrack for a small Canadian city. "I bought used records from local junk shops and thrift stores, composed eight new compositions based entirely on samples from these records, had my new score pressed on vinyl and ultimately concealed it back in these stores to await discovery at a later date," he explained.

What secret society would you most like to join?: "I know nothing about secret societies of any kind and would kindly request that you ask me no more about them. :)"

Rita Marley lived on Degrassi St. will be part of the Art Gallery of Ontario's First Thursday event on June 5.


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