Can you tell me your name and title?
Anna Paluch, though in some professional circles I go by Ania, so either works! I am a PhD student at Carleton University, independent curator, and emerging artist.
Can you please tell me a bit about your background?
I have more of a theoretical background when it comes to art, as I have a BA, MA and working on a PhD in art history and theory. I am a first generation Canadian, with family coming from Poland so I am always excited to work on projects that bring the global and the local together, and especially in solidarity with Indigenous communities (such as with my Indigenous+ Diasporic Friendship Festival).
What made you want to create this piece?
My neighbourhood is very tight-knit for a Centretown area, we have even started a little email group. I was realizing that because a lot of people walk by but we can’t interact, I wanted to create a space of mutual enjoyment. I also miss going to vernissages and a lot of curatorial opportunities are no longer available, so I thought, why not make my own? Why not stick a few postcards to the side of our window, play some nice music, and create a mini vernissage every few weeks?
What were the challenges?
Though I have a steady supply of postcards and promotional material from art shows and studios, one big challenge will be eventually running out of content. I am also limited to a small window, so I have to think of the use of space.
Why did you specifically focus on a window gallery rather than something else?
The market for curating and putting on shows is very competitive, and now with galleries being closed for the time being, I was looking for creative and safe ways to interact with the community through art. A virtual space works just as well, and I’ve seen succesful Instagram projects where artists take over (like Self House Residency), but I wanted something very personal and local. Like when you walk through a neighbourhood and see those mini libraries, I wanted my little window gallery to be a hidden gem on someone’s daily walks. And it is within social distancing guidelines too!
How long will the project run for? Do you have plans to exhibit it elsewhere?
At the moment, I think I can safely exhibit indefinitely. When I run out of postcards, the gallery can turn into a museum, or I might run window art workshops when the weather is nicer. The window faces a large parking lot that has no traffic at the moment (it is used as church parking normally), so there is ample space. So far I haven’t thought of any other spaces to exhibit, but there is an online presence, where I also curate a set of activities and at home workshop suggestions.
How does this project fit into your practice?
My research has always been community based, and so I love that I can engage with my very localized community on such as personal level. A lot of these postcards hold important memories of travels (one show had postcards from my trip to Austria for a conference, from my first visit to Vancouver to see my brother, and a spontaneous stopover to Amsterdam to visit family). As an independent curator, we often have to search for institutions that will give us space, and we tirelessly write proposal after proposal. This little gallery is in a way a treat to myself – I made the space for myself, and it is good creative practice in terms of stimulating my imagination, always coming up with a new theme every few weeks.
What has been the community response?
So far, my neighbours love it! I’ve had a few emails asking for constant updates, and even a few family friends from other neighbourhoods ask when the next show is so they can drive by or walk over.