Kenneth Gordon Fletcher (1954 –1978) was an artist and an active member of the Mainstreeters until June 1978, when he committed suicide at the age of 23. His death caused a profound sadness among his friends.
Upon his passing the Mainstreeters underwent a period of mourning and took up residence at his home to care for his personal things and his pet cats. In keeping with the way that documenting life had become a way of living it, they took images and video of Fletcher’s house, but also his absence from it. What remains from this period documents a solemn process of grieving and preserves a shadow of the role Ken played in their lives.
Excessive emotion and indulgence in substances were, after a time, channelled into the production of work. The magazine Ennui, created by Carol Hackett, Mary Janeway and Charles Rea, was conceived in this period, while Paul Wong arranged a posthumous contribution of Ken’s work for an exhibition at Nova Gallery. In addition to this Paul created the video installation piece in ten sity, which was exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery in December 1978, and dedicated to Kenneth Fletcher.
Ken’s surviving body of work, though small, is remembered as a sensitive development of playful idioms and the careful arrangement and collection of domestic materials like bowling pins, coffee filters and kittens. His early video experiments, such as Ken’s Coffee Spill (1975), were slow and careful observations of the world around him. As an active collaborator and friend, his sudden loss continues to be grieved amongst the group and contributed to its dispersal over the ensuing years.