• The Float –Carole Itter
  • The Float –Carole Itter
  • The Float –Carole Itter
  • The Float –Carole Itter

The Float

Carole Itter

21 October
18 November 1995

Curated by: Janis Bowley

The Float

Carole Itter

Curated by: Janis Bowley

Media Release:


Carole Itter: The Float


October 21 – November 18, 1995
Performance: Friday October 27, 8 pm
Artist Talk: Saturday November 4, 3 pm


Carole Itter acknowledges the participation of: Dominique Fraikin, Jill Fraser, Maxine Gadd, Madonna Hamel, Beatrix Schalk, Esther Rausenberg, Jehanne Rogowski, Rhoda Rosenfeld, Trudy Rubenfeld, Aki Yakimoto, Helen Yeomans. with special thanks to: Luke Blackstone, Shawn Chapelle and AI Neil.


There will be an evening performance by Madonna Hamel and other participants on Friday October 27 at 8pm. The OR Gallery is pleased to present Carole Itter’s The Float to Vancouver audiences. The installation in the gallery functions as a re-working of ideas, materials and documentation which has evolved out of a collaborative performance that took place on Burrard Inlet in 1993. The Float expresses Itter’s on-going meditations on resource mis-management; specifically logging practices in BC and also natural cycles, rhythm and collaboration and their effects on the creative process. The artist has stated: “A group of eight performance artists moved a loosely-spilled indoor sculpture work out of the usual gallery setting and into the ocean. This presentation at the OR Gallery shows what happened in the water. By and large, the incoming and outgoing solstice tides determined the choreography of this event We laid out the objects on an extreme low tide, watched them float for six hours, then wrapped a ‘boom’ around them. We slowly moved this floating mass to a fresh water source during which time it was discovered that these objects could also become percussive. The pieces were rinsed, dried off and then stored; are-enactment of a commonplace process, the ritual of gathering and harvesting.” Carole Itter will be present on the opening day, Saturday October 21, from 2 to 5pm. The exhibition is accompanied by a publication with a transcript of a conversation between those who created The Float.


From a tape recorded discussion in June 1993, the following artists were present: Dominique Fraikin, Madonna Hamel, Carole Itter, Esther Rausenberg, Jehanne Rogowski, Aki Yakimoto, Helen Yeomans.


Carole Itter: “I have a sense of passages of sound and passages of silence. This piece needs its sounds and its silences.”

Helen Yeomans: “The first thing I think of is the sound and the quiet; the quality of the sound that Maxine Gadd’ s flute had, the quality of the sound that our drumming on the wooden pieces had. The pace of the slide dissolve seems to relate to the double exposure photographs (Rhoda Rosenfeld’s). What I find about her photographs was that they have the quality of the pace of that day. It felt like there was that residue of us being on the beach in another place and then moving and moving with the water also moving. There was a rocking sensation which soothed me, which made it different from being on land. Maybe we can repeat the sound and somehow engage viewers in the rocking.”

Jehanne Rogowski: ”The Float seemed very much about cycles to me. A lot of it was about acceptance and going with the ebb and flow of it. First we unpacked boxes of stuff on the beach and in the second cycle, the water came in to pick it up and then we started to play on it and them we towed it over to a fresh water source. For me, one of the most interesting parts was when all the pieces started to get washed because I wasn’t aware that was going to happen. Then my experience was one of real acceptance and definitely trust going hand in hand with that. When I saw Carole pick up the pieces and start to wash them, it just seemed so natural to follow that. A lot was about acceptance and going with the tide.

Carole Itter: “I have a really good memory of it, of all of us there and I hang on to that with a very large handle. I know a sort of sadness in that the real thing did happen and now all the rest of it, this stuff, is only documentation. So, how can we push it back out to the viewers?”


Dominique Fraikin: “Watching the video again, my body was back into the rhythm of the tide. The final documentation should try to capture the feeling of how the day evolved. What was important was the pace, which was connec ted to the tide coming in so slowly.”


Madonna Hamel: “Luke Blackstone’s and Trudy Rubenfeld’s video taping was so slow and unobtrusive. It took its time which was very much in keeping with the process. I don’t have an urge to recreate what we did – we can’t do that – but to hold the essence of it and that would be in the pace. The pace and no real structure, that is, no instruction was given. Everyone had a personal idea and that was also part of the group idea. And following Carole’s original idea, it just sort of happened.”


Carole Itter: “By and large, the incoming and outgoing tides determined the choreography. There was a weak undercurrent which affected the floatation beneficially. A friend of mine, the remarkable dancer and choreographer, Paula Ross looked at my plans for this piece and said “There is no choreography necessary. The ocean will do it all.” I loved her remark; it opened my eyes and reassured me that no direction would be needed.”


Helen Yeomans: “”Pace” and “sound” keep coming up as elements of what transpired, of what stayed with us. And the movement, the swaying.”


Madonna Hammel: “When Jehanne and I got out of the car afterwards and we were walking down the street, we felt like weighted bodies (gesturing the swaying effect).”


Esther Rausenberg: “Luke’s video and Trudy’s video also capture that pacing. He would focus in on a couple of pieces and just follow the movement of those pieces. Some would move
forward; some would draw back.”


Carole Itter: “I had seen video by both of them before this and knew each would be really long and steady with a camera and I kind of knew that that was what The Float was going to need. It’s great that they agreed to tape it.”


Madonna Hamel: “It was quite baptismal too. The cleansing and especially the washing off.”


Aki Yakimoto: “Did The Float still carry the history of these pieces from when it was a floor piece? Or did it turn into something else?”

Carole Itter: “The title of the floor piece was Western Blue Rampage. I put that title together thinking of the debris that’s left over from logging practices on the west coast, the rampages that go on in the name of clearcutting, and the way we’ve ignored, for a century or more, good logging practices.”

Dominique Fraikin: “So the piece continues.”

Carole Itter: “Curious because when I was planning Western Blue Rampage and working on it – this was a few years ago – I wanted it to undulate. I spent weeks trying and failing to design something on the floor that would make it all undulate. My brother is a mechanical engineer so I went to him for ideas on simple ways to lift the whole thing up slightly off the floor here and there. He gave me some sketches and I looked at all of them and realized that the whole concept immobilized me because I didn’t have the skill to do all that. So I decided – forget it. Yet it has recurred in a way; the ocean undulated it finally.”


Esther Rausenberg: “Yet it wasn’t a static piece when it was a floor piece.”


Carole Itter: “Yes, it was. It was the first piece I’d made that viewers couldn’t touch, couldn’t get at to handle and play with. Come to think of it, young children did anyway, they just walked into it!”


Madonna Hamel: “Interesting that there was a log boom anchored nearby when we had it in the water – as regards to forestry practices.”


Carole liter: “As far as I know, those were waste logs, they will never be milled. The Harbours Board hires a beachcomber who collects them and he just anchors them there all year long. I don’t know what ultimately happens to them.”


Esther Rausenberg: “They become the pineapple bowls and the spice racks! (laughter) When I was drying them off and cleaning them, I really started to look at these pieces and said to myself, “what waste”. I wondered how much more of this stuff is out there.”


Helen Yeomans: “When we were washing and drying them, I was looking at the objects a lot more closely. I was seeing so many stories of my childhood – these bowls, friends’ places that had these objects – it felt like there was a bit of history that was coming back in. I noticed how selective I was, which ones I was going towards because I had seen them before and they were familiar. ”


Madonna Hamel: “They became familiar that day because we saw them so often, retrieving them, herding them, playing them – the clock, the shoe, the toy truck, the drawer… ”

Carole Hter: “To me, this is so close to quilt making. If you’ve made quilts or your ancestors have, you remember where all these pieces came from “on yeah, that was old Uncle Tim’s bathrobe, and that over there was my summer dress…””


Dominique Fraikin: “When the objects were on the beach, they became part of the beach, as seaweed or logs. The objects looked as if they came from the sea; nature reclaimed them. When we brought them around to wash them, then all of a sudden they came back to the home and they became objects again. Then they became attached to us.”


Madonna Hamel: “They sort of tamed… not tamed, domesticated. If we could somehow get that sense of that space we had all around us (in an exhibition venue) because even when we were really active in the circle, we were quite aware that there were no walls around us. It never did seem too closed.”


Carole Itter: “We seemed really tiny – it was a very big universe out there.”


Madonna Hamel: “The objects were animated once they got into the water. For example, the beads were like snakes and nothing was heavier than anything else. Everything became buoyant and then when you looked at it later, you definitely knew that this particular drawer is heavier than this little cloverleaf dish. A real difference between weightlessness and weight. Maybe this added to the sensation of being on another planet – those outfits (black and red wetsuits) and then going into a place for most of the day where you are weightless.”


Helen Yeomans: “Weightless. And all we did was wait. Wading. Waiting.”


Dominique Fraikin: “We are all talking about the uplifting experience of this and the cyclical/women space or feeling it created. Yet there’s a serious side connected to it, to logging, to how people gather logs in the water and bring them to the industry. I was constantly reminded of that, especially the way we dragged all these objects to the fresh water. But then it came back to the washing, to the domestic. I’m wondering how this fits in to the big picture. To me, it parallels so much the logging industry yet it is so connected too, to women’s cycles and to domesticity.”


Carole Itter: “Maybe that’s where the surrealism and dadaism comes in. Its one way to present a serious topic. Bizarre too.”


Madonna Hamel: “The cyclical/feminine concerns are not any less serious. They are primal urges actually. That we don’t pay as much attention to the domestic and the cyclical is why we are in this situation with the serious logging infractions. The contrast of urgency versus the slow. Gentle, cyclical nature revivifying itself constantly versus this stopping nature up short. And that’s absurd, the way its done.”


Helen Yeomans: “It felt like the objects were coming home at that point.”


Madonna Hamel: “I liked the element of ‘taking the care’ with those perfect flannel squares of drying cloth. Taking the care.”

Jehanne Rogowski: “And the cloths just appeared!”


Madonna Hamel: “I appreciate entering any kind of domestic reference but this particular domestic chore as a work of art said maybe its not so much that our chores (traditionally as women) are the problem. But that what we do is not taken seriously, and that our chores, our rituals aren’t appreciated. The wiping dry of the objects was funny only because it’s that stereotype. Yet the idea here is that we were not being stereotypical, we were being archetypal. We were celebrating what it is that we do and what it is that we pay attention to. And the details that have meaning for us, the caring and the nurturing that comes with wiping something with a soft piece of flannel. That’s not funny but its that this culture thinks it’s trivial so makes it funny. Maybe we don’t want to stop doing that ritual, we just want to give it the weight it deserves.”


Dominique Fraikin: “The washing and rinsing of the objects was the conclusion to a really nice activity. It was a peaceful finish.”


The Ubyssey, November 10. 1995 by Christopher Brayshaw
The Weekend Sun, November 4th 1995 by Robin Lawrence