2 min

Fall Out at SAW festival

Gallery reaches out to queer artists

Credit: Carl Stewart

There’s a conspiracy going on at your local artist-run collective. The devious plot is to expose the unsuspecting citizens of our fair city to the best in contemporary art, media and performance.

SAW makes a point of reaching out to the queer community, in part because there is a lot of queer content in contemporary art, but it’s also a way to grow its audience.

“It’s a strategy that’s worked for us,” says Jason St-Laurent, a member of the SAW collective, and co-curator along with twin brother Stephan of some of the most successfully-themed exhibitions in SAW’s recent history. “We market to particular communities, and try to attract people who might not be interested in contemporary art, but who have some connection to the artist or the theme of the show. People become more engaged with a work they can relate to. Hopefully they also find something new.”

St-Laurent is committed to bringing “a diverse crew of artists” into the SAW club and gallery space across from the Rideau Centre in the Arts Court building. “We bring in a lot of work that hasn’t been seen in Ottawa before,” says St-Laurent. “It’s inspiring to have someone like AA Bronson, who won the Governor General award, here in an artist-run centre. That was the highlight of the Artstar screenings for me.”

That quest for diversity is part of the reason queer artists are so often featured at SAW. “Queer artists in particular respond to our mandate. Contemporary art tends to be a good outlet to explore and express identities,” says St-Laurent. “And my brother and I are both gay, so we have, uh, a soft spot for queer artists.”

Starting on Sep 12, and running throughout the fall season, Jason St-Laurent and the rest of the SAW collective are proud to present Fall Out, a performance art festival featuring artists from all over North America.

Opening the festival is Carl Stewart, a member of another local art collective, the Enriched Bread Artists. Stewart studied textile art in his native PEI, and has been exploring video and new media in the years since he came to Ottawa. Notable projects include Nice Shoes Faggot (1996) and The Toilet Suite (1998). For Fall Out he will be doing something a little different: dressed as Anne of Green Gables, he will be exploring east coast kitsch in a cabaret-style performance.

Another artist featured in Fall Out will be Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, who plans to shoot the Indian Act to pieces at the Stittsville range, and then mount an exhibition of that performance and a similar one in England. Tobaron Waxman, originally from Toronto but now based in New York, will also be doing a combination of performance and exhibition.


Starts Sep 12.

Club SAW/SAW Gallery.

67 Nicholas St, west of the

Rideau Centre in Arts Court (2 Daly Ave)