lights camera sound actions | time-based contemporary art



photo: Nell Chitty 2014

Interdisciplinarity has been at the core of Elizabeth Chitty’s artistic practice for 41 years. Site, corporeality, temporality and awareness of process thread through her body of work, which expands on ideas, emotions and sensations of what it means to be in a body, a place, with others.

Her performances may reflect contemporary dance or performance art lineages and respond to concert settings or social practices; her literacy spans the gallery, stage, and public realm. Her installations and performances are usually video-based including sound. She has created public artists’ gardens, video works constructed photographs and has worked with community-based strategies. For most of her life, she has lived in the Niagara region, Ontario, outside of any academic affiliation, shifting among disparate subjects informed by life lived and the local, and the conceptualist base formed early in her career in Toronto and Vancouver.

Much of her work since 2008 has been about water. Her current work is place-based, focusing on a place by considering a site’s geology, plants and birds, natural and built landscapes, governance including treaties, histories, and water and its infrastructure. The work is anchored in sensing and making sense of our surroundings through bodily experience, social interactions, and simple technology.

Since the 1990s, her passion for reconciliation between settlers and First Nations has been reflected in her work, such as Breath and the Heart, Listen (1994), Song For A Blue Moon (2004), Lucius’ Garden (2015), The Grass Is Still Green (2016) and Walking the Talk (2016).

Recent work includes Confluence Field Trips, a project including website, exhibition and multiple,  Lucius’ Garden, a performance sited in a public garden by a fountain commemorating the first waterworks in the City of St. Catharines,  and Streaming Twelve, a video and sound installation including a live webstream, 2 other video channels and audio. In 2012 she was commissioned by Niagara Dance Company to create Gravity doesn’t explain desire and Dissolve; both works included video projection and Dissolve featured interactivity with the audience via cell phones. In 2011 she created and performed Distance of Their Mouths in collaboration with composer Rose Bolton and Gallery Players of Niagara.

She is known as a pioneering innovator in early Canadian performance art and as a video artist her exhibitions included the 11e Biennale de Paris (1980) and the opening of the new National Gallery of Canada (1988). Her early work from 1975 to 1982 was formed in response to the conceptual and multidisciplinary climate of Canadian artist-run centres and was concerned with gender issues, information technologies and a deconstruction of media. Two major interdisciplinary performance spectacles created from 1985 to 1990 followed. Works from 1992 to 1997, in which the audiences followed walks and trails thus actively participating in the works’ presentations, examined the dichotomy of nature and culture. Since 1990, Elizabeth Chitty has produced video installations anchored in emotive experience that traverse landscape, place, birds and the body.

photo: Zontal (1981)

photo: Zontal (1981)

Her work is in the collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, National Gallery of Canada and Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Throughout her career, Elizabeth has worked in many arts supports roles including writer, technician, curator and producer. She taught Creative Process at The School of the Toronto Dance Theatre for 16 years. In the early 1990s, she acquired a Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution. As an administrator, she most recently served as Executive Director of Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists, Ontario Chapter (CADA-ON) and was the first Executive Director of St. Catharines and Area Arts Council (2004-008). She is proud to have been a member of the Steering Committee and first Advisory Committee of the Three Fires Community Justice Program. She maintains a private practice as a consultant –

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