Hands on: New installation for LUGO encourages ‘tactile conversations’

An annual art extravaganza hosted at the Remai Modern is giving the people of Saskatoon a chance to see, hear, feel and experience what the artistic world has to offer.

LUGO, one of the biggest art parties of the year in Saskatoon, takes place Saturday. This year’s event, called LUGO Deep, it offers a plethora of artistic expression ranging from dance to sculpture to spoken word performances.

But if Marites Carino has her way, attendees won’t simply be looking at art. They’ll be experiencing it first-hand — literally.

Carino’s installation, Handshack, is an experiential piece set up in the Remai Modern’s Connect Gallery on the main floor. The event guides participants through a blind exercise that eventually culminates in a simple handshake. The catch is that the participants have no idea who they’re shaking hands with in Carino’s curtained booths.

“I wish in our society we wouldn’t make so many visually-based judgments on people,” Carino said. “And then I asked myself the question, what would happen if you got to know somebody through touch?”

Marites Carino stands in one of the booths in her installation for LUGO at the Remai Modern art gallery in Saskatoon, SK on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

Carino also said the point of the exhibit is not for people to simply shake hands. Instead, she said people should think of it as a “tactile conversation” in an era when people are too obsessed with their virtual lives and experiences over real human contact.

“Because of technology, a lot of our first interaction with people is virtual,” she said. “Opportunities for physical contact become fewer … it’s diminishing.”

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Born in Saskatoon but studying in Montreal, Carino said it was “actually amazing” to be one of the centrepieces of an event like LUGO Deep. She said the fact that Saskatoon now has the Remai Modern gallery and continues to host events of this scope is huge for the arts community in the city.

The rest of this year’s LUGO is filled with talent spanning a variety of art forms. The different internal venues in the Remai Modern will be devoted to contemporary dance, sculpture projects, immersive light and sound displays, spoken word poets accompanied by visual pieces, and more.

LUGO provides a chance for people to immerse themselves in artwork in a way that’s very different than a typical gallery show or exhibition première would, in the same way that Carino’s Handshack provides a chance for people to meet each other in a way that’s different from what they might be used to in a technology-heavy world.

Carino said she hopes her installation will get plenty of participants on Saturday night — and she loves that she’s able to share her work in her hometown.

“It’s always cool to come back to Saskatoon … it’s just a really nice city,” she said. “It’s just kind of amazing how this whole thing actually happened.”

maolson@postmedia.com

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