CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area

North-South-East-West at CAFKA, Kitchener Canada 2003.


North-South-East-West (DVD) exhibited as part of ED Video‘s Triangulation Project, at Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener & Area CAFKA.03 PROBING INTO THE DISTANCE, the Canadian Biennale of Contemporary Art, September 2003.


To mark the 150th anniversary of the Waterloo Region, we chose a theme that related to landscape and modes of looking at the land. Our theme for this year comes from a phrase by Northrop Frye: “The sense of probing into the distance, of fixing the eyes on the skyline, is something that Canadian sensibility has inherited from the voyageurs.” Artists were asked to consider landscape, mapping, borders, and ways in which we parcel and understand the very ground that sustains us, that provides us with our home.


The expansion of area suburbs and the encroachment of development upon the region’s borders have encouraged people and governments alike to consider the sustainability of the rapid growth of the Grand River Basin. Many of the projects dealt specifically with these issues while others could be termed more as exploration using these ideas as aesthetic starting points.


Artists’ Projects and Texts

Triangulation – ED Video

Triangulation is a series of web based artist projects produced through Ed Video Media Arts Centre in Guelph, Ontario. The development of these projects included intensive workshops, discussion groups and technical support. For most artists this was their first project using databases and scripting.

David Gelbs project Sitestream locates Schneider Creek, which runs through Kitchener but is largely overrun by urban development, through references to everyday and historical placemarkers.

Placelines by Tom Leonhardt allows the viewer to create visual patterns which reflect social behavior by overlaying various map views of Waterloo County.

GoodWater by Rene Meshake, invites the audience to contribute stories about where they travel to find fresh, drinkable water. These locales are then mapped geographically.

North South East West by Graham Thompson uses the Ojibway sweat lodge as an interface metaphor for a meditation on the process of spiritual renewal and healing in his Flash-based project.

Other Artists

Instant Coffee presents the Urban Disco Trailer (UDT). This UDT is a 1972 holiday cruiser retrofitted to perform such various tasks as a temporary disco, an exhibition/performance site, a set for independent films, a platform for street protests, a venue to screen videos, hold slide shows and other such events. Employing a participatory model, Instant Coffee often uses the UDT as the locus point of its activities and in so much uses it to reflect their interest in bringing together a diverse group of artists.

Instant Coffee is a service oriented collective of artists, writers, curators, designers and code writers. Together they have developed a practice that culminates in bringing together large numbers of artists, designers, musicians and other cultural producers under loosely themed events. They offer networking services that promote local, national and international activities and publish a monthly on-line magazine, Instant Coffee Saturday Edition. In conjunction with their events, they also publish bookworks, posters and other multiples (including the Urban Disco Trailer #1). Instant Coffee’s most consistent members are Jinhan Ko, Jenifer Papararo, Kate Monro, Jon Sasaki, Cecilia Berkovic and Timothy Comeau. Instant Coffee because it doesn’t have to be good to be meaningful.

Jean Baudrillard is a cultural critic and social philosopher. In one of his essays, The Evil Demon Of Images, he proposes that images obliterate meaning. To test that proposition this device converts reality into a ‘virtual’ bubble. You as a viewer are now safely protected from the Evil Demons and you can assess how far the image obscures the meaning of the object you look at.

Juan Geuer is an artist who works with science, reads philosophy and believes that humans should be lazy. He was born in Holland but he forgot the date and the country was too wet for human habitation. In Germany he hated their politics, in Bolivia he became allergic to revolutions (16 in 14 years!), and in Canada he was jailed only once because he does not like weapons merchants. He hopes you like his work.

CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area Backgrounder

CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area is a non-profit, artist-run organization that presents a free biennial exhibition of contemporary art in the public spaces of the City of Kitchener and across the Region of Waterloo. Between exhibitions and throughout the year CAFKA promotes art education through its public tours and workshops, videos, public lectures and other ancillary programs and events. The CAFKA biennial serves as the vehicle for the expression of the community of artists, arts professionals, art students and friends of contemporary art in the public spaces of the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, Ontario. It is created to take the experience of contemporary art out of the gallery, to present it as a critical and integral part of community life, and to make that experience accessible to everyone in the Region. The exhibition is curated to engage public discourse around issues of public and private space, bringing groundbreaking artists from around the world to contribute to the discussion. CAFKA is committed to working with local technology companies to support new and experimental work in visualization and communication projects and to develop exploratory humanistic content for existing visualization systems. CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area

CAFKA.14: IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE THIS WAY, May 31 – June 29, 2014.

CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area announced the line-up of its 9th exhibition of contemporary visual art in the public spaces of the Waterloo Region. CAFKA will present more than 16 original installations, performances and projections by contemporary artists in civic squares, storefronts, parks and community atriums in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge. Artists featured in CAFKA.14 will be Jefferson Campbell-Cooper (Hillsburgh, ON), Darren Copeland & Andreas Kahre (Toronto, ON & Vancouver, BC), Dagmara Genda (Guelph, ON), Don Miller (Shelburne, ON), Sara Graham (Vancouver, BC), Ann Marie Hadcock, (Wiarton, ON), Robert Hengeveld (Toronto, ON), Ruth Gibson and Bruno Martelli (London, UK), Nova Jiang (Los Angeles, CA), Steve Lambert (Beacon, NY), Mary Mattingly (New York, NY), Laura Moore (Toronto, ON), Samuel Roy-Bois (Vancouver, BC), Seripop: Yannick Desranleau and Chloe Lum (Montreal, QC), SWINTAK (Toronto, ON), and Krzysztof Wodiczko (New York, NY).

This will be the first CAFKA biennial exhibition to take place in the spring as well as the first month-long exhibition. It will also be the first time that CAFKA and the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound (June 5 – 15) will present their biennial programs in partnership. CAFKA is also pleased to announce its five curatorial partners: Cambridge Sculpture Garden, Cambridge Galleries, University of Waterloo Art Gallery, the City of Kitchener and the Critical Media Lab. Together the two festivals and curatorial partners are creating a multi-part event in which the city will be seen through the lens of contemporary art and music.

CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area is an artist-run organization that produces an international biennial exhibition of art projects in the public spaces of the Region of Waterloo. Through the exhibition, lectures, tours and related special events, CAFKA develops opportunities to learn about contemporary art and participate in its making, creating memorable experiences and contributing to the creation of an engaging, animated and stimulating urban environment.

CAFKA grew out of Artworks, an annual visual arts festival collaboratively run by the City of Kitchener and artists from the community. The two-day event was held in the Kitchener City Hall and consisted of an art sale, a cultural information exchange and 6 artist projects. The objective was to encourage the public to participate and see “art being made.”

In 2000 Artworks was re-evaluated and a group of artists from the region transformed the event into an artist run organization focused on presenting contemporary art projects in the public realm. That year nine projects were presented at the Kitchener City Hall. In 2001 the festival changed its name to CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, presented 17 projects by Canadian and international artists over nine days, and expanded its base to include Kitchener City Hall and environs. A volunteer board of directors and part time Artistic Director organized the forum, and in 2003 a Public Relations Coordinator was added. Until the festival incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2005, it operated under the umbrella of Globe Studios. After the 2005 event, CAFKA adopted a biennial format and the following year a full-time Executive Director and Artistic Director were hired. CAFKA received charitable status in 2011.

Each edition of CAFKA takes on an over-arching theme relating to the history or current preoccupations of the region. By having artists from across Canada and around the world participate, each theme has been explored from diverse social and cultural perspectives. In 2009, the festival included 26 installations, performances, projections and exhibitions involving collaborations with local art galleries and museums as well as collaborations in programming and marketing with the Impact Theatre Festival and Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound.

To date, CAFKA’s exhibitions are:

  • CAFKA.01: And Then We Take Berlin
  • CAFKA.02: Power To The People
  • CAFKA.03: Probing Into the Distance
  • CAFKA.04: Peace Of Mind
  • CAFKA.07: Haptic
  • CAFKA.09: Veracity
  • CAFKA.11: Survive. Resist.
  • CAFKA.13: CAFKA@The Walper Hotel

20 International artists take over Kitchener’s downtown for “Probing into the Distance” from September 20th to September 28th, 2003.

Kitchener’s annual exhibition of international contemporary art, Contemporary Art Forum | Kitchener and Area.03 (CAFKA) takes place from September 20th- 28th, 2003 at Kitchener City Hall and in Downtown Kitchener.

One of the most original visual art festivals in Canada, Contemporary Art Forum takes cutting edge art out of the galleries and brings it to street level for 9 days each September. Artists are on hand to animate their innovative works: sculpture, installation, performance, video, and all forms of artistic intervention into the urban landscape.

The thematic title, “Probing into the Distance” was chosen to mark the 150th anniversary of the Waterloo Region. The phrase is an excerpt from Northrop Frye’s The Bush Garden (House of Anansi Press, 1971), p.222: “The sense of probing into the distance, of fixing the eyes on the skyline, is something that Canadian sensibility has inherited from the voyageurs.” Artists were asked to consider landscape, mapping, boarders, and ways in which we parcel and understand the very ground that sustains us. Many of the projects deal specifically with these issues, while others could be termed as exploration and experimentation using these ideas as aesthetic starting points.

On September 20th, Kitchener will welcome 20 artists from across Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and China. Round Table Discussions feature an impressive roster of museum, arts, and academic professionals who will debate issues related to art in the information age, and the landscape as a site for belonging.