“Invoker and enchanter Blair Brennan — let’s invent some ideas about his work for a spell, shall we?
More than once has a form of ‘Perish Like The Word’ burned its carnal inverted triangle letter-by-letter into these gallery walls, early on in the 1996 biennial, later as the AGA apple-in-hand mirror-mirrored itself at the nine-decade mark back in 2014. The smell, the heat, the snaking smoke hissing up to the sleeping water sprinklers as the artist and his acolytes pressed and sizzled and melted through the drywall were all, like so much of Brennan’s art, performed as a sort of negotiation with immortality – and what art isn’t that, really? But a subtle sneak attack comes in this: the work is still hidden within these walls, at the very least metaphorically, and certainly in the fact the recipe for this jet-noisy performance is ready to roll in, say, 2032, 2050 and any other 18-year hop some future-days mystic unearths. Just remember to leave the branding irons and torch out on the floor afterwards, shaper — we need to think about that moment since passed though yet to come when the heat and the smell and the danger all filled the room like the pumping of blood, as the eleven-letter AAAAAAAAAAA on the left dove down towards the floor. Was it a scream? A sigh? A realization?
You had to be there / You’ll have to be there / You’ll always be here.”
Fish Griwkowsky is an award-winning filmmaker, photographer and journalist who’s interviewed Yoko Ono, David Byrne and Jim Davis for the Edmonton Journal, though thankfully not all at the same time.
Perish Like The Word, 1996
Text branded on wall, branding irons, canvas bag, propane bottle, torch and assorted tools
Art Gallery of Alberta Collection, gift of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts
Image courtesy of the Artist