Michael Fernandes

Audio Transcript

I’m Michael Fernandes and my piece is called group on and I want to point out some of the elements in my work. The work is installation and also is apart of a performance that goes with it. The elements are quite, not many, a few of them. There’s a clock, there’s a clock on the wall, and its position above my height. I’m about six foot one and the clock is about seven feet so just about upstairs there. The clock and the clock is a major element in the work. It’s a clock that has a tempermental life of its own. Apart from me, I use this clock. This clock, if you get to see it, you realize it doesn’t work well. So that’s okay. I regard it as an essential part of my reflective mood of what my work is about. So we got a clock, we have a little shelf here with a jar that says flax seeds but on top of the jar there’s wild rice and then there’s a banana. This grouping sits on a shelf and this shelf is almost at hand level and it’s right under the clock. As we move out into the space in front, the wall, in front of the wall on the floor, there is a dumbbell, I think it’s 25 lb dumbbell and it’s tied up with a skipping rope, an everlast skipping rope so it makes it kind of, I was interested in this way. I call all the works that you can handle and try it out yourself and come to terms with it. It’s a hands on situation representing nothing is precious here. Everything can be used. I was thinking of the weights in terms of getting older. They’re like assisted, not just ready made but I call them assistive aids. You know they’re all assist in my actions of carrying on. So you have the dumbbells tied up with the skipping rope. Makes it a little, takes an effort. Not only to lift the weights but to skip and also to get them apart from each other. It’s not that heavy but or that constraining but just to provide the idea that there is some kind of restrain mechanism in using it. That’s how I use the skipping rope, tie it up and there is a part from that, a pair of shoes, running shoes, they’re very colorful. I like the idea of youthfulness of them. they look, you know you’d like to have a pair. I like to have pair like this myself but I’ve never use them but I’ve tied the laces up together so I’ll never use them but I like that notion, I like that space where you’re tempted but you can’t go through with it, you know what I mean? (laughter) So again you can handle it, you can even try them on, you can button them if you wish you can untie them, that’s okay with me. it’s working.

Then we have this stool, on the stool in front of the runners, the pair of runners is a configuration with two table tennis rackets taped together with a ball, a table tennis ball inside. So the table tennis ball is stuck in there and the rackets are taped together so they provide a clamp for the table tennis ball, can’t get them apart. I love playing table tennis, it’s one of my favorite games, people tell me I’m pretty good. I’m not professional but I’m recreational. I like the idea that I can enjoy. I like competition but it’s okay, people who are beginning can also beat me that’s fine. It has happened but I’m a good gamer. So you have that configuration with the table tennis rackets sitting on top of the stool. It’s somewhat like playing with myself. You don’t have to, I find that as I go on in my life, it’s very hard to find companions, it’s very hard to find colleagues, it’s very hard to find someone who wants to play with me so I decided this is a reminder that I can play with myself. And then there is my hat. The hat on wall it’s on a regular hanger. What is it called it. It’s a bracket that receives it that you could hang up your coat, you could hang up your hat. This is my hat, my hat I usually wear in all situations. I kind of looking at it as you know some people who do certain things, like if you’re artist, some artists friends I have seem to go about their work differently then they go about their life. I try to bring them all together so to me its a symbol of like a metaphor too. It’s one hat for all jobs. I kind of use my hat to remind me that. It’s the same hat for all situation. Then across from my hat is my trusty spring loaded walking stick. It’s puts the spring in my step (sound of a spring) here I am operating it. It just feels like it’s useful. It feels like it gives me that extra spunk. That’s how I like to think of it. Again, it’s literally a stick but it’s got a spring junction to it and that’s where I have to make my leap. And those are the elements. And then my performance, I will be using these and talking about them and maybe just what I said here, it could very well be the performance of the work. No different by maybe it will be different because it will be another experience I have with the objects. So I hope I make some kind of understanding and that’s it. I hope you enjoy, chao.

Artist Statement

I am a senior Canadian artist, living and working in Nova Scotia. As I grow older, my work has become less obvious and revisits the mundane with an eye to simplicity. I wear the same hat with regard to both art-making and living my life.
It’s a blurred line, both having equal value.
Day by day, life finds me less critical, more playful.
I have no excuses.
No one to blame.
Curiosity prevails.
There is no failure
I seek to engage rather than impress.
Hurting. Where I used to soar – a milestone of acceptance has passed with a determination to carry on.
I like the work to be open, exploratory, with no desire to resolve.


Michael Fernandes’ practice combines linguistic and performance events catalyzed by humour. Currently living near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Fernandes was born in Trinidad and moved to Montreal when he was 17 years old. Initially a painter, he turned to installation and multimedia to create situations that actively solicit participation from the viewer, while accommodating the viewer’s subjective response.

Fernandes is an instructor in Intermedia and Fine Art at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. He has exhibited and performed throughout Canada and internationally, notably at The National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Museum of Modern Art P.S.1, New York; Calaf Art Públic, Barcelona; and The Context of Art Biennial, Warsaw. In 2006 he exhibited the interactive installations Room of Fears and Fixing Room at MSVU Art Gallery. His work was included in the nationally touring exhibition Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965-1980.