This project is located within the fields of sound performance, critical theory and visual art and community practices. The aim of the research is to develop a practice-based creative analysis of identity, power and place, through the immersive environment of the kitchen. In particular, my aim is to create a strategic laboratory for collective engagement, informed by critical perspectives and art-making processes, by exploring principles of participation and relationality.
I wish to investigate what sounds mean and how they affect a listener and how this might change over time. I seek to question what you want sounds to evoke in the listener: what should they feel, think, experience and know.

The spatial politics of the communal kitchen workplace shape our daily experience. In my own activities, as professional cook, mother, wife and visual artist, I’ve observed the banality of the everyday through the actions of manual labour in the kitchen. With the collection of hand tools and electric motors that I’ve accrued, I’ve developed a critical sound performance practice that shifts and repositions their status as tools and social markers, in ways that seek to open up sites of resonance and resistance.

Upcoming Performances: FOFA Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal, 2016

from the solo exhibition, 'modern camouflage', 2009
galerie art mur, montreal

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Invisible Menschen, Berlin Germany 2012

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Originating from Early Victorian Photography, The ‘Invisible Mother’ found-images were read or defined as a ‘photographic strategy’ in order to ensure a sharply focused image. A child’s portrait was captured on or beside a mother’s lap while she sat under a shroud or a draped piece of cloth.
Since most of these shots were captured in domestic interiors with a slower shutter speed, it was a logical decision to keep the children as still as possible while they posed for the portrait.

The mother was draped out of the foreground into the background, so that the result was to appear like a single photograph of a young child or children.
In a contemporary context, this juxtaposition communicates to the viewer in the present day as the work of a ‘trickster’.

Therefore, this action play of the photographer can be read in so many different ways: touching on social and cultural complexities of social class and gender, feminism, cultural identity, marginality, psychology and post-colonialism, the unconscious, racism, oppression, shame, humiliation and much more.

My own impulse was to think about the mother in terms of: her own vulnerability and fragility of being a woman and the photographer who asked of this pose. This relationship between who is posed [the anonymity of the sitter] and the artist is interesting to me in so many ways.

When I arrived in Berlin in May of 2012, I proceeded to make some tests of my own, utilizing this strategy with varying results. After all, my relationship to my own mother had been strained for many years and these images struck a cord with and within me.

I have always been attracted to the fragility of the human experience and how to communicate this in my own artwork.

My first subjects who appeared in my first photo shoot happened by pure encounter.
I was staying in the residency, next door to an Artist and mother with her accompanying daughter who were visiting Berlin for the first time.
[Hlif Asgrimsdottir and her daughter, Brynja Steinþórsdóttir]. Brynja was so excited to be in this big city and she communicated this to me.

I captured my first portrait of ‘a young girl coming of age’ with her artist mother. Hlif was draped in her own artwork [a skirt she had hand-painted while in residence].
This communication led as a stepping-stone towards other images, which were developed and researched further at the SIM in Berlin.

The only rule I gave my subjects was to bring a piece of cloth, fabric or clothing with them to the photo shoot. I thought this would activate their relationship and emphasize the masking of their own body by personal choice and visual aesthetic.
women with kitchen appliances
a member from 2008 to 2013

"We are three, four or five or six. Identical. Interchangeable. Disposable. And dead serious. We are a rock band, a sound project, a cabaret act, a synchronized rubber glove routine, a BBQ chicken washing machine, a confectionary flour Christmas jingle and Kitchen certification service."

Women With Kitchen Appliances made sound and noise with anything you can find in a kitchen. We will rock you like a hurricane!!!!

Formed in 1999, more than one dozen artists have participated in the WWKA collective project.
They have performed live in theater and for cabarets, on radio, television, in lofts, lounges, galleries, corner stores, white cubes and black cubes, in bars, at festivals, in people's homes, and their kitchens.

Woman With Kitchen Appliances have performed for audiences in Montreal, Rouyn-Noranda, Hull, Toronto, Ottawa, New York, Shawinigan, Bruxelles, Québec, Baie St. Paul, Alma, Rimouski and in Gaspésie.

wwka iceland

wwka occupy, the peoples park, montreal, 2011

Museum of Contemporary Art, May 2011

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WWKA Iceland

TEXTILE - Center for Contemporary Textiles, Montreal, Quebec 2010
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The Canadian Centre for Architecture Museum, Montreal, Quebec, Main Gallery Space

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WWKA [Woman With Kitchen Appliances] performing "WWKA ROYALE" at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal, Quebec [Conference for Bargaining Women's Equality] 2009

MAC [The Museum of Contemporary Art], Triennale

27th International Symposium for Art, Baie St. Paul, Quebec 2009

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Island: 22 Artists on Iceland
Eastern Michigan University Gallery,
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

Curators: Amy Sacksteder and Greg Tom

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Mother Nature and The Tuning of the World from Juliana España Keller on Vimeo.

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The video stills you see above come from a new video work that were inspired by a song ‘The Garden’ , written by the German postindustrial
and experimental noise band - Einsturzende Neubauten in 1989.

The retake recorded by the artist herself is a soulful, musically layered track
that introduces the viewer to a female creature who is known as ‘Mother
And who is ‘Mother Nature’? Perhaps, a female creature, part human, part spirit who guards and protects us against landscape predators?

Almost all early cultures revered nature and fearfully regarded her revenge and
destruction as an act of provocation, that resulted in mother nature unleashing
her wrath.

All instruments and voice-over have been recorded by the artist and
accompanying local musicians from Montreal. The video footage reveals layers
of the Icelandic landscape and its myths, its smells and its sounds. It can also
be a meditation on the psyche of things and the decline of the natural
environment around us. As a cultural construct, nature as always been
regarded with a measure of ambivalence, although celebrated as a spiritual
place, it has often simultaneously been feared as the abode of evil. In either
case, nature as in life has been regarded as a sanctuary for outsiders of every
kind at odds with their society.
Island: 22 Artists on Iceland
CAVE Gallery, Russell Industrial Projects,
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

Curators: Amy Sacksteder and Greg Tom

As a child, I used to spend hours learning how to play chess with my father. I learned from him that chess develops memory. The game theory is difficult and I had to learn to recognize various patterns and remember lengthy variations. During the game you are focused on only one main goal ‐‐ to checkmate and become the victor. I hated the fact that my father always won although he was my mentor.
I still credit the game of chess with logical thinking and although mistakes are inevitable and chess, like life, is a never‐ending learning process. Chess teaches independence. You are forced to make important decisions influenced only by your own judgment. It promotes imagination and creativity.
It encourages you to be inventive. There are an indefinite amount of beautiful combinations yet to be constructed.
I am now married for eons and have experienced the dynamics of a long relationship with my husband and best friend. My take on the whole issue could be akin to most modern relationships, like a game of chess. Chess like any partnership, friendship reveals that the more you practice, the better you'll become at it. You should be ready to lose and learn from your mistakes.
The images in Sluttspill are tableaux…that create a storyboard about a relationship in‐flux.
A game board of chess is a test of patience, nerves, will power and concentration. It enhances your ability to interact with other people. Sluttspill is about a couple, held together in a tug of war, consisting of two players, a man and a woman wearing the same sculptural head mask that hovers over the game board. A tight knot in the middle of the tubular mask separates their head space in order to sense the other’s move...they see through a meshed material that blocks their view somewhat of the chess pieces.
The two models I chose were two Norwegian artists, a couple who willingly participated in this interactive gamble. The location that I chose was the Museum of Contemporary Art in Reykjavik, Iceland. An appropriate space since they are both visual artists. A museum is like a stage. It is in a small reading room in the museum that I luckily came across a chess table for them to interact with. The positioning of these players could be used as a metaphor for any complex system that subjects its participants to a set of binding rules under which they are compelled to play.
It keeps the viewer off guard by creating an unorthodox chess problem and gives us a sense of being caught in a mental tug of war and allows us to appreciate the underlying thematic implications of the chess motif in the narrative.

Models: Torgeir Husevaag and Catrine Thorstensen
Location: Reykjavik Art Museum is located in three different buildings. Hafnarhús is located on the waterfront in Reykjavik

The Nordic House, Reykjavik, Iceland
May 2011

Marcel Duchamp, whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist art movements, challenged conventional thought about artistic processes and art marketing, not so much by writing, but through subversive actions Therefore, he insisted that the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.

The performance work, ‘Bird Song: An Ode to Marcel Duchamp’ is a conceptual strategy to remove the artist from a high-art practice and distance herself from commodity culture to concentrate on creating an intervention in the landscape.

It is arguable that the art market always finds ways to incorporate the activities of those dematerializing the art object within existing institutions and structures but Juliana hopes that by creating an outdoor exhibition in solidarity with the natural environment, greatly extends an allied interest in ecology and green politics.

To add to this discourse, this performance work is a subversive act to attract the colony of birds and wild life that live in the wetlands to the staging of an outdoor art exhibition of Icelandic Art of a cross-disciplinary nature….

Laminated images taken from the internet and constructed as sign posts were staked around the wetlands area surrounding the Nordic House. They symbolically represent a small selection of well-established Icelandic Artists who have left their historic stamp in the Icelandic art world and at large, whether it be through Painting, Music, Theatre, Sculpture, Photography or Film and Television, etc.

Juliana’s performance incorporates the installation of this outdoor intervention as an art exhibition for the wildlife of the wetlands. She invites the viewer to the ‘vernissage’ alongside with the wetlands wildlife who wereserved trails of bird seed distributed along the path so as to observe each artist posted along the trail.

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The 'Slippery Terrain' collective travelled to Draakoni Galleriin Tallinn, Estonia in November, 2010.

'Amy', a series of [32] portrait images of a woman peeling off a mask.

After this presentation, we were invited to present an exhibition in the Nordic House in Reykjavik, Iceland in May 2010.

Here is the link to the Slippery Terrain Blog.

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Images displayed at the Nordic House

Eastern Edge Gallery, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada 2009

video still from ugly betty - tram #6

The title of the exhibition, “slippery terrain” was born because negotiating artistic territory was significant, despite geographical distances.

The [4] female visual artists who presented new work in Eastern Edge Gallery in celebration of “International Women’s Day” were:
Thora Gunnarsdottir (Iceland], Nina Lassila [Finland/Sweden], Elin Anna Þórisdóttir [Iceland] and myself, Juliana Espana Keller [Canada/England]

I met these artists when in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2006 for a solo exhibition.
We found strategic similarities in order, to mirror others, to imitate, to immerse; although the exhibition was a composite of different media, materials and influences such as video, photography, installation, sound and other media.

Our individual directorial freedom included research into such interesting subjects such as animal telepathy to animal rights, cartography and human behavioral studies and traditional folklore to contemporary tales of spinning lies and tall stories, all produced by women.

This video project ugly betty was made in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2006. I was working on a solo exhibition in Gothenburg and wanted to leave with a document or work that reflected my connection to this place.
In my own practice, I utilize tools of masking, camouflage and excessive mimicry to act and to become something else, to transform, transpose and reflect on imitation, theatrics and simulation through performance and intervention.

This video was filmed in the late hours of the day on the #6 tram that winds its way into the heart of Gothenburg on any given night perhaps with the same weary travelers who always take this tram at the same hour.
Using campy costume drama, I got on the tram from the outskirts of Gothenburg’s dark periphery, and took my place amongst the night passengers moving with me against the background of urban landscape.

I built a special structure for the presentation of this video as a digital projection. Since the piece was filmed on a moving tram, I constructed a special support for the digital projector and DVD player, I mounted this structure in a corner of the gallery as a floating projection screen to emphasize the movement through time and space.

This work and the artists of slippery terrain have now been invited to Tallin, Estonia to present a similar project in Gallery Dragonn in November of 2010........

Video still courtesy of Elin Anna Þórisdóttir [Iceland] ©2009

Juliana España Keller [UK/Canada] , Installation view of Ugly Betty

Performance work still courtesy of Nina Lassila [Finland/Sweden] 2009

Benveniste and España

Douglas Coupland on the wild:

In Canada, the wilderness is out there – millions of square kilometers of it – and it likes to mess with
your mind. It seduces you with beauty and calm – that’s the bait. You have to be careful with the
wilderness, because one false step and you’re blood, hair and bone. Or you’ve vanished 1.

Nothing is close to anything......

Ritual and repetition affects how culture is created. Two female urbanites step into
the wild landscape of Canada’s north and into a campy constructed narrative. This
act repeats a typical Canadian weekend out in the country presented in all its
banality. A brisk workout into the wilderness, hunting and scavenging for prime
firewood; are they campers? Who else goes out into the arctic air to build a
campfire and roast marshmallows in the middle of nowhere? It all looks familiar and
all Canadians have a story of a similar encounter that binds us together as a
community, as a people, as Canucks.

The plot thickens by the call of the wild, the attempt to communicate with it and in
its deepening perspective of the glistening, snowy landscape that encircles them.
The female protagonists outfitted in protective winter gear are equipped for any
winter scenario and the valuable contents of their handbags. They are after all
carrying significant ‘Canadian Tire’ hand tools; a given for most Canadians who are
equipped for this type of terrain on any given day.

This video work is a collage of the real + fiction. Arranging a composite of multiple
layers [inherent in cultural identity] manifests a new hybrid of parts that fabricates a
new reality.
Is it a fake documentary? Are we portraying ourselves as Canadians? Or perhaps
we are just merely portraying ourselves as we are in the unavoidable; ‘actors’ and
the Canadian experience immersed in an interwoven fate.

1 Coupland, Douglas. Souvenir of Canada, 2004. Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver/Toronto 2004

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