Contemporary art forum runs until Oct. 4

The region of Kitchener-Waterloo is currently being invaded by contemporary visual art.

With the biennial Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area (CAFKA) exhibition, local and international artists are able to display their pieces in both local galleries and public spaces.

Laurier’s Robert Langen Art Gallery is participating in the festival, showcasing Marla Hlady’s Playing Piano.

Described as a sound-art sculpture, Hladly reconfigured a 1928 Ampico piano with new technology to produce a very deconstructed sound composition.

Suzanne Luke, the curator for the gallery, explains that it is a “very impressive piece and perfect for our space.”

Participating in CAFKA is an exciting opportunity for the Langen Gallery; Luke explains it is “really important in our community to collaborate with different forums and institutions” to raise awareness and “support different visual and cultural programming.”

Luke also appreciates the effort CAFKA is demonstrating in trying to make art more accessible.

Gordon Hatt, the executive director of CAFKA, said that the art forum’s mandate is to use public space to engage the public where least expected.

“We’re punking them … it’s an amazing gag,” he told The Cord, while observing artist Robert Hengeveld’s half-sinking shopping carts floating throughout Victoria Park Lake.

While visiting various featured locations with the bicycles used for the recently-introduced cycle tour, Hatt talked about the unique experience CAFKA offers.

By searching for the art, you are taken on an adventure to find obscurely unconventional pieces. “It’s about the journey,” Hatt added.

Beginning in 1996 as a two-day art festival called Artworks, the forum grew into an annual event following the move of City Hall to downtown Kitchener from a less central area of the city.

The new location gave an opportunity for artists to discover the spaces by the hall.

Eventually, CAFKA became its own entity expanding and incorporating more art forms.

This year’s theme is “veracity” – the question of truth and the search for what is real in our modern digitalized world.

Each artist has responded to this theme differently, and a viewer must consider the pieces wholly to find a correlation.

However, Hatt is not worried if the public doesn’t completely understand.

“Art is a springboard to conversation, something to spark debate. It brings people together… it shouldn’t really be self-contained,” he said.

He adds that artists usually don’t like to prescribe meaning to their pieces, as they’re open to as many interpretations as possible.

“As an artist [you] always have to be prepared that the public doesn’t see what you see.”

Essentially, Hatt explains it is important for any art piece to stimulate thought.

Like any form of creativity, art starts with concepts.

For Hatt, CAFKA “is conceptually reimagining the city.”

“The show is about where we live and how we imagine it to be … in visual themes.”

Concurrently, CAFKA is reimagining the city in a very real way.

The artistic revolution of Kitchener-Waterloo (a region known for being a hub of science and technology) was initiated by CAFKA and its partners.

Hatt acknowledges that “CAFKA is here as a magnet for artists” who now feel that it is possible from them to maintain a successful career.

The arts in Kitchener-Waterloo are being highlighted, which Hatt feels is very important not only “to improve the quality of life… [but] to have a culture that holds people together.”

The art forum began on Sept. 18. and runs until Oct. 4. Currently under occupation are spaces such as Kitchener City Hall and the Centre Block Parking Lot.

On exhibit: Sept.30


LPDE tubing

Victoria Park Lake

The exhibit consists of shopping carts strewn throughout Victoria Park Lake, floating without direction around the lake.

The Graffiti Research Lab

Mixed media/performance

Kitchener Civic Square

The lab explores the Laser Tag system, which enables users to write on a virtual building surface through their eye movements.

I is for Confidence

Mixed media/performance

Kitchener Civic Square

The exhibit features a “confidence helmet”, which the artist walks around the room wearing and encouraging others to try on.

Concave Head Sculpture

Digital prints

Kitchener Civic Square

The exhibit explores our eye’s limitations in depth-perception by using a model of a concave head that seems to follow you.

Trance Veil

Mixed media

Kitchener Civic Square

The artist uses thin vinyl strips to create a mechanism that emulates a waterfall.