ABOVE: Alex Poruchnyk, Untitled, video installation with iPod, shelf and wall-mounted monitor.
Cliff Eyland: MAZE is an exhibition that features new tenure-track and one recently tenured faculty. For people who don't know, could you tell us what "tenure-track" and "tenure" mean, and could you tell us about how you became a tenure-track professor?
Alex Poruchnyk: As a sessional one is always working standing next to the door. Long term planning for an area is difficult because you never know if you will be back to follow through on a task (whether it be a fundraising effort, a collaboration, or an upgrade to an area etc.), or if the next person will have a chance follow up on developments that arise.
As a tenured professor I now have the benefit of continuity and the freedom to pursue not only what advances the video area and the University of Manitoba but my research as well.
Tenure is a long term relationship that is not entered lightly by any of the parties. You will be working with the members of the faculty and the University of Manitoba for a long time. It's interesting to realize that the person you are talking to will be at college years into the future. It's a commitment almost like a marriage -- hopefully for better not worse.
Cliff Eyland: What is it like to be an art professor in Winnipeg?
Alex Poruchnyk: I became a professor years after my involvement in the art community. I'm one of the original Video Pool members who basically got the ball rolling. We wrote a couple things into the mission statement of Video Pool that I'm still happy with. We set up workshops to introduce the medium as well as set up a credit hour system that allowed interested parties to develop the skills regardless of their income. I also taught through the Manitoba Arts Council's Artist in the Schools Program. This gave me the opportunity to travel the province and see its diversity as well as meet many great people that spend a good part of their time keeping a wedge in the system so that students can get the benefit of art making and thinking. So in a way I fell into this working as an artist while trying to support development in video generally. This probably sounds odd but when I graduated many of my colleges wanted to work in video and performance and there was very little available. To continue to work you had to leave the province.
Making Art in Winnipeg is great. You can afford a studio and produce work. As a video maker there is distribution and support for artists. There are many Galleries for on to show in or to see work from other centers. We have a pretty good airport and it's possible to go anywhere while being centered here.
I reconcile the demands on my time by working to the wee hours and by having computers spread around so I can keep working in between my other duties. Time to work and time to develop are similar but different. It's fun but tricky when I spend time fundraising for video (the School of Art). When we get new equipment and software I have to squeeze time to update my skills and knowledge before I start teaching with it. It's getting better now in the last year or so since I've been involved in raising some well needed funds with other faculty to upgrade the area. Now I can teach again from practice and not learn software to teach.
Cliff Eyland:How is your art related to what you teach?
Alex Poruchnyk: Both are challenging and both are real. Art making isn't a career it's a day to day practice that is as important is as eating or sleeping (well maybe not quite). It puts a shine on life. It's the thrill of the chase the satisfaction of discovery and a way to keep life sharp not boring. I can never understand why anyone would resist it.
Cliff Eyland: Can you talk about your art in this exhibition?
Alex Poruchnyk: The piece in the show is a simple work that is about the times between. It's like breathing: balancing a meditative experience and activities of the day.
Gallery One One One, School of Art, Main Floor, FitzGerald Building, University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus, Winnipeg, MB, CANADA R3T 2N2TEL:204 474-9322 FAX:474-7605