Project for Past and Projected Projects

Project for Past and Projected Projects is an anchoring studio project which began in the late fall of 2012. Vintage suitcases house completed works, performance remnants, studio research documents and collections of various household objects and documents. Each collection is painstakingly documented and the movement of objects carefully mapped in a futile attempt to create a static narrative. Project for Past and Projected Projects regularly renders new work and additional collections. Iterations of Project for Past and Projected Projects are outlined below and include exhibitions, installations, community outreach/research and curation.

Project for Past and Projected Projects (2012.A.01-11 – 2017.D.01-13), 2018

Here. Now! group exhibition curated by this town is small, Gallery at the Guild

Project for Past and Projected Projects, 2018

Who’s Your Mother, group exhibition curated by Pan Wendt and Lisa Theriault, Confederation Centre Art Gallery

Photo by Oakar Myint
Curator’s Case, 2012 in the collection of Confederation Centre of the Arts; Photo by Oakar Myint

Art in the Open at 10 Years: An Incomplete Archive
June 19, 2021 – September 26, 2021

From the exhibition catalogue:

“(The) present is a space as well as a time. It is within this space-time that we manipulate our memories of the past and future, construct our narratives and create our recollections.”

The Postdigital Membrane: Imagination, Technology and Desire,Robert Pepperell and Michael Punt

I make work with collections of all sorts. One way I do this is by storing completed projects and related materials – documents, objects, images and ephemera – in vintage suitcases. When working with the cases, I painstakingly document the contents and attempt to map my evolving understanding of where particular items “belong” at different points in time. 

Of course, the process is an exercise in futility. There are no static narratives when it comes to memory, but this methodology works for me as new, more refined collections emerge and case contents are re-rendered to create new works or complete bodies of work. 

Documenting the many material and digital assets as archival artist for Art in the Open at Ten Years: An Incomplete Archive clearly involved processes central to my work, but my practice itself was also impacted by my Art in the Open experiences. I benefited from two remarkable residencies with William Robinson (2013) and John G. Boehme (2016) and three projects – Burning Words (2014), Make me a sandwich (2015) and Public Work (2017) helped define my performance conventions.

It is interesting to me that my methodology and Art in the Open grew up together and that ten years later – and in no small part because of Art in the Open – I had the skills required to co-curate Art in the Open at Ten Years: An Incomplete Archive. In this space-time, this seems an appropriate and fulfilling coincidence.

Fabric Stories, 2022

As part of Radiant Rural Halls curated by this town is small, March, 2022

“Donnalee Downe’s current work explores how personal narratives and private histories emerge when speaking about the fabrics we remember. Her Radiant Rural Halls project involves informal one on one and small group gatherings where Downe will share her current work and exchange “Fabric Stories” with rural Islanders. Downe’s fabric narratives involve apron and tea towel collections, her child’s baby clothes, a quilt made from threadbare pyjamas, and renderings of textile patterns based on sketches provided by members of her family. She is interested to see what stories Islanders have related to fabrics they have held on to or remember from their childhoods. The project’s research will inform new works representing a complete index of the artist’s memory of lost fabrics (1964 – present).”