Artist to share isolation through technology

Vjeko Sager’s dream as a child was to live in a lighthouse.

The artist, philosopher, curator and teacher at The Emily Carr University of Art and Design was finally given the opportunity to live that dream — although not exactly in a lighthouse — when asked to be this year’s featured artist at Your Kontinent Film and Media Arts Festival.

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After months of planning with members of Cinevolution and Your Kontinent, Sager will be holed up in a tower in the middle of Minoru Plaza, in which he will isolate himself for seven days. During this period of self-reflection, he will create art in the form of drawing and writing, and share those results through Twitter, blogging, and live stream video.

“Maybe it was an unfulfilled dream,” joked Sager as he reflected on the lighthouse inspiration behind his idea.

The task of the featured artist is to commission an original piece that intertwines this year’s festival theme of  “Art, Technology, and Humans” with the artist’s own artistic accomplishments.

“As an artist, I am always interested in these subjects, specifically in the subject of how technology influences our activity today. I decided to use this technology as a bridge from me being isolated in a tower to communicate with the rest of the world,” said Sager.

The tower, which Sager named the “diviNation Tower” is a combination of the two words “divine” and “nation.” Sager will adopt a different persona for each day he’s in the tower, and that persona will guide the work to be produced. His personas embody the various stages of, what he believes is, his own personal evolution.

From shaving his facial hair in different ways, to controlling what he eats, each persona will require a change in appearance, diet and behaviour.

“It’s going to create a feeling of a multiple personality disorder, and people will not be sure who I am,” said Sager.

Although staying overnight in the tower is a possibility, Sager doesn’t intend for his project to be a performance of endurance.

Instead, he hopes the public can view his project as an example of how to use technology to transcend the moment, rather than just be users of it.

“I was collecting and editing myself, and my past years of writing, research, sketching, thinking, teaching are now fitting into some kind of flashback that, in seven days, I will see and present.”

This isn’t the first time Sager has put on a particularly unique exhibition. Known best for designing exhibitions around what he calls “utopian impossibilities,” this North Shore resident, who immigrated to Canada in 1994 from Montenegro, makes a personal pilgrimage every 10 years back to his home country in southeastern Europe to explore himself and his art. In his trip back in 2003, Sager tied himself to a rope and jumped into the ocean in an attempt to physically move a man made island.

Despite growing up in a small, but artistic, Mediterranean town, Sager avoided becoming an artist until he failed an exam in film and media studies at university. It was then he applied to the school’s applied art program and was one of six applicants in his year to be accepted.

“It must be destiny… it found me instead of me finding it,” Sager said. “My universe has been changed since, and I have never lived anywhere but in this world of art.”

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