Hived Off

Geist - - Geist - Chris­tine Novosel

I’m wrap­ping up as­sess­ments for stage two of my pro­gram, which means I’m en­ter­ing my third and fi­nal stage. All the con­stituent parts of my project are made, I just need to fig­ure out how to as­sem­ble it all. I’m try­ing to make a filmic in­stal­la­tion that you need to ma­noeu­vre around and “read” to un­der­stand the whole story.

At the start of my course, I was work­ing with “hard data”: archival, his­tor­i­cal and ob­served ma­te­rial. Now I’m writ­ing my own nar­ra­tive and ex­trap­o­lat­ing from re­al­ity. I ain’t mak­ing a doc­u­men­tary!

The un­cos­mopoli­tan, life on the fringes, gen­tri­fi­ca­tion, land use, spec­ta­tor­ship, money and the lone­li­ness of ur­ban life: in­stead of try­ing to ex­plain or il­lus­trate th­ese ab­stract ideas, I’ve found a thing (dog rac­ing) that can stand in as a con­crete ex­am­ple of them.

Even though my sub­ject mat­ter ap­pears Bri­tain-spe­cific, it does come from my ex­pe­ri­ence grow­ing up in Ab­bots­ford, BC, and com­ing of age in the hard­core punk scene (gag). In the in­dus­trial sub­urbs, if you want to have fun you have to make it your own way. When I moved to Van­cou­ver I was ap­palled by the ag­gres­sive ways in which the city was try­ing to fab­ri­cate cul­ture through ur­ban plan­ning. They don’t trust peo­ple to make their own cul­ture. One of the most im­por­tant ideas in punk cul­ture is that you are your own ex­pert.

I’m the to­ken graphic de­signer in my course so I’ve been busy cre­at­ing promo ma­te­rial for ex­hi­bi­tions and posters for bands. I don’t iden­tify with ei­ther art or de­sign and I feel like I’ve got one foot in the door and the other foot out. I use my in-be­tween po­si­tion to avoid con­flict and com­mit­ment. It’ll catch up with me one day!

Out­side of school, I found my out­let: bee­keep­ing! I got in­volved with a lo­cal bee­keep­ing so­ci­ety and am tak­ing in­for­mal les­sons on api­ary man­age­ment. I’m be­com­ing a to­tal fuck­ing nerd, that per­son who shoe­horns bee facts into ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion. I like bee­keep­ing be­cause you need to think beyond your own life/ daily sched­ule and be a stew­ard to liv­ing things that can also fuck you up.

My teacher’s hives are out­side the city lim­its near the vet­eri­nary school. I visit once a week in my street clothes,

en­ter the sup­ply shed and emerge wear­ing my Haz­mat bee suit, ready for busi­ness. I love the sound of thou­sands of bees around you, it’s med­i­ta­tive.

Bee­keep­ing has also taught me I’m less of a city per­son than I thought. I like my soli­tude and iso­la­tion. I es­pe­cially like be­ing on the fringes of the city, mind­ing my own busi­ness. I’m a bit of a junk­yard dog.

Sur­pris­ing re­sults in the lo­cal elec­tions: Con­ser­va­tives won a ton of seats in Scot­land, a first in re­cent his­tory. I think it’s be­cause Brexit is scar­ing moder­ate peo­ple who are turned off by the SNP’S push for in­de­pen­dence. It’s an un­sta­ble time here in the UK. It feels like the dystopian hell-hole in Children of Men. If I do any­thing of sub­stance dur­ing my time here, maybe it’s my vote in the June gen­eral elec­tion.

Glas­gow’s been a great an­ti­dote to my life in Van­cou­ver and a good choice for this point in my life. I can’t imag­ine what it’s like to grow up here, or be stuck here, for that mat­ter. I have the in­cred­i­ble priv­i­lege of be­ing mo­bile and I must re­mem­ber that. Life here is hard. Not de­press­ing, but every­thing is rough: the peo­ple, the food, the weather, the hu­mour, the econ­omy, the out­look on the fu­ture. The beaches are cov­ered in jagged peb­bles and the wa­ter is fuck­ing freez­ing. The Big Brother as­pect of the UK brings me down: CCTV, rules, reg­u­la­tions, or­der and castes. I sup­pose that’s what hap­pens after thou­sands of years of so­cial strat­i­fi­ca­tion and in­equal­ity.

I’m see­ing Canada with a new per­spec­tive. I wouldn’t have iden­ti­fied with be­ing Cana­dian be­fore I came here, but I def­i­nitely do now. I’m ex­cited to re­turn to Van­cou­ver later this year and see what’s next! I need to get a dog, guys. I hope you’re all alive and well.

Th­ese are all wood­cuts on pa­per and fab­ric. The pic­ture hang­ing in the top right is a draw­ing. I’m sew­ing th­ese ban­ners that are in­spired by foot­ball fan flags and union ban­ners. The colour­ful things with numbers on them, on the ta­ble, are ac­tual dog-rac­ing jack­ets used in races. Not sure what I’m go­ing to do with them.

Chris­tine Novosel is a graphic artist from Bri­tish Columbia. She lives in Glas­gow.

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