Based in Nova Scotia, David Tallis graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s in Fine Art from NSCAD University. Drawing from an intermedia and conceptualist practice, Tallis’ work investigates trace, mark and absence. As a VANS member for the last year, Tallis has attended and benefited from VANS workshops, information sessions, participated in peer discussions and exhibited his work in i Spy: a group exhibition in the Corridor Gallery in 2011.
I have been a VANS member for about 1-year now. What I like most about my VANS membership, is learning about opportunities which extend my practice. I attend VANS workshops and events. In the fall, I participated in a peer discussion on artist talks, called Open Mic, and practiced giving an artist talk. I find there’s a nice group of people that will frequently go out to VANS events, so I can meet up and discuss my practice with my peers. I also enjoy borrowing resources from the VANS library; I particularly like signing out art magazines. I think VANS is a great membership, especially for the opportunities that come through the Virtual VANS newsletter.
A piece I had in the NSCAD graduation show in 2010 was directly influenced by Nova Scotia weather. It was called Thunderclap. It was a result of experiencing rainy weather here. I had been trying to create work outside because of not having a studio, and it had been raining all the time, so I decided to use the experience in some way.
A lot of my work is created outside. It can be really tricky not having an indoor studio, because what I find most difficult in maintaining a studio practice is the weather. The lack of sunlight can be a deterrent, too. However, when it’s gorgeous outside I’d prefer to be in the studio for hours. I still create work in my apartment during the winter, so I still produce indoors, but I find that most of my studio inspiration and productivity comes from just being outside and walking around.
Trace and Mark and Absence
When I think about my work, I think about things like trace and mark and absence. In my perspective, a trace is just as much there as it is not. My work also has a performance element, not so much necessarily a bodily performance, but an activity, like a performance of objects. I also like to deal with subjects that are contradictory to each other, or there’s a contradictory element. It allows me to think it through more… like this give and take. When I’m editing a project, I always take it too far, and then bring it back. I always take the work as far as I can and then strip it down; this allows me to think about the essential elements of my work. When there’s the contradictory element, there’s more for the viewer to consider from various angles, rather than just making a general statement.
NATO Brevity Code
Since this past winter, I’ve been working on a body of work using NATO brevity code words. Brevity code words are the procedural words that try to pack in tactical information. For example, if there’s a missile launch, there’s a NATO word that would give that information, usually quite separate from missile, like wolf, for example. Another one I know is daisy for a mine. What I find interesting it that there are these violent and heavily loaded words that are given words that have completely separate meanings. I find that really interesting that separation, that humanizing aspect of those destructive processes. So, my plan is to take those code words and superimpose them over NATO member flags to play with their aesthetic elements.
I’m keeping my practice very open at the moment. In June, I’ll be an artist-in-residence at Artscape in Toronto for “Renouncing the Art Object” and I will be heading to Toronto in May. The residency will provide a great opportunity for me to experiment in the studio and outside of my normal context. I’ve also applied for the 2012 Nocturne: Art at Night in Halifax and a few galleries, so we will see what turns up.
For more information, visit David Tallis.
Special thanks to Samantha Merritt our NSCAD student intern this winter, who interviewed Tallis and transcribed her notes, for our first Artist Profile. Stay tuned for more artist profiles.
VANS Artist Profiles aim to identify, promote and educate the public about current members of Visual Arts Nova Scotia (VANS). Artists who are profiled are current members of VANS, have participated in a VANS program(s) and maintain an active practice in the visual arts. Each profile explores the impact of VANS programs and services and the interests of our membership, in general.