Category Archives: Response


Protest Lip Slips

27 December 2023

By Amanda Boulos

When I’m chanting for justice, peace, a ceasefire, and mercy for Palestine and Palestinians at protests in Toronto, I catch myself mixing up the carefully constructed asks. I blame this on my grief—my cold body marching for hours at a time. I think about these mix-ups and how perhaps the variations on these chants, many of them over 30 years old, will help someone to finally hear what I’m saying. These mix-ups—or, as I sometimes like to call them, lip slips—allow me to take a different cognitive path to the part of my brain that keeps me living and creative, the part that works on healing. 

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PLL BCK TH CRTN: On Colin Miner’s The clearest image

21 November 2023

By Jonathan Scott

01.

The clearest image is a fucking mess. Holes are cut in and through walls. The crap that came out swept together with the other detritus from the installation into little piles around the space. A deathtrap of electrical cables lay strewn on the floor, excretions from the neon-light entrails which spiral to infinitude. A polluting vibration of sound embroils itself with the feeling of controlled unruliness. A patient kind of anger tightens the air as if we’re waiting for something to happen, but unsure if we’ve just missed it. 

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Becoming Slime: A Field Guide to a Gooier Life

22 May 2023

By Lauren Prousky

1. Have your child squeeze about ½ cup (4 ounces) of glue into a glass bowl.1

For as long as I can remember, I’ve found comfort and pleasure in the sensation of soft things slipping through my fingers. I actively sought, and continue to seek out, sensory experiences I can squish in my hands, savouring the feeling of something being squeezed through the delicate space between each finger. As such, the space between my fingers has long been a murky secondary pleasure zone, producing in me an eagerness to run my hands through any dangling, soft, or gloopy matter within reach.

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Image description: A photograph of a living room. The room is filled with hundreds of spoons that are seemingly falling from the ceiling, or exploding upwards from a pile on the floor. The room is dimly lit. The only light comes from the large picture window, which shows a snowy outdoor scene.

Perspectives Towards a Crip Horizon

16 January 2023

By Tangled Art + Disability

COVID-19 has been a mass disabling event. The disruption of societal routines meant that many people who never before had to worry about overcoming obstacles to accessing their social environment suddenly had to negotiate and advocate for their needs to be met. Shifts around the value and the location of work have taken place, as many in our sector have worked from home and have had to navigate the collapse of private and public space, or had to navigate new concerns for the safety of themselves and their loved ones while working in public. Many of us have had to provide childcare and homeschooling while navigating jobs, mental health, physical illness, grief and loss. In this milieu, many arts organizations have begun considering accessibility in new ways. They’ve made commitments to their Disabled audiences, whether that be to provide digital programming accessible from people’s homes or to do an accessibility audit at their place of work. 

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Resisting Quantifiable Instruction: Lan “Florence” Yee’s Tangerine, After Grapefruit

7 January 2023

By Marisa Kelly

The Montréal- and Toronto-based artist Lan “Florence” Yee is showcasing their newest series of works Tangerine, After Grapefruit in their upcoming solo exhibition, Just Short of Everything, which will be showing in January 2023 at the Pierre Léon Gallery inside Alliance Française Toronto. Their series of works Tangerine, After Grapefruit features nine different swathes of large five-by-five-foot linens, which are hand embroidered with dark blue thread. The embroidery instructions read as a kind of wry and whimsical poetry, which are partially inspired by Yoko Ono’s 1964 conceptual instructional poetry book Grapefruit. Similarly to Ono’s instructions, Yee’s do not offer much didactic sense to the reader—their instructions are achievable, but are humourous because they aren’t inherently logical, presenting as counterintuitive to our capitalistic mindset that hyper fixates on productivity and rational thinking. In this sense, the artist’s instructions are anti-capitalist agents, where Yee playfully deviates from the standards of the rational and instead calls for the viewer to step into their emotions. 

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The Invisible Institution: How pandemic troubles have re-shaped our understandings of institutional education, and reminded us of our communal and bodily existences

16 April 2022

By Ella Adkins

Between January and March of 2021, my Monday to Friday ritual went a little bit like this: 

I’m sitting on Zoom, and a grid of familiar strangers looks back at me. I see myself in the top left corner next to my professor. My hair is slightly unkempt after my daily pilates workout, and I hadn’t cared to look in the mirror—a regular occurrence these days. After some awkward virtual small talk (“How’s the weather in California, Andrew?” and “How is everyone coping?”), the professor clears his throat to begin class. He begins with a reading of the Archibald Lampman poem “Heat:” 

Beyond me in the fields of sun

Soaks in the grass and hath his will;

I count the marguerites one by one; 

Even the buttercups are still.” 

I walk over to the stove to stir my oatmeal, carrying my professor’s voice to the kitchen through Airpods. 

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To Move; To Struggle; To Live;

20 December 2021

By Kalina Nedelcheva


To Move;

Unspeakable truths—
I’m drowning,
Searching for a mediation between
Beauty and the grotesque
But they are absent,
Unknown;
Broken.
Are these abject apologies
That ring in my ears…
Belonging to those who struggle?
It is impossible
To follow these narratives;
One relies on destruction,
To create meaning…
The Drowned;

To Struggle;

Capture my soul,
Twisted in thoughts of a present singularity
What is right and what is wrong—
I am told these are universal truths,
Like bird songs in winter;
To me, they are
Lost in translation.
Truths or
Is it my comfort,
Weighted down by all that is known?
For the cruel and insidious,
These spectacles of chaos…
Resonating loudly,
Is to captivate;
The Saved—

To Live;

It is negation;
That is a sovereign to my being.
It exists in the crevices:
Of reality.
Reverberations of hope—
Escaping my ego which is
Dead.
Lies
That stops the heart;
Venerated spectres
The holy and benevolent that transition
To the depths of the psyche;
Like a cacophony of crumbling realities
A distraction wasted on
The human and nature;

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Fermentation for the Spirit: Auto-reflections on the rise of sourdough art and glutinous practices. Part 3

26 July 2021

By Lauren Fournier and Greta Hamilton

This essay is the final instalment in a three-part series on culinary fermentation practices and their recent associations in the art world. “Fermentation for the Spirit” considers the rise in popularity of sourdough bread baking during the start of the pandemic, while theorizing on the larger social, political, and cultural potentials of fermentation.

LF: Half a year before the pandemic began, I was aware of a growing trend of sourdough and bread-based practices in contemporary Canadian art—especially art made by late-emerging and early to mid-career women and queer artists, many of whom were white settlers. As boules in art proliferated across a range of gallery spaces, I was curious about what prompted this development. Why were so many white women artists making bread art, and what are the discernible meanings of this shared theme within their disparate practices? Sourdough and bread art can be seen in recent work by artists Andrea Creamer, Bridget Moser, Zoë Schneider, Terri Fidelak, and Lexie Owen, to name a few. There are precursors to this art in work by another artist, Chloe Wise, who began her series of bread bags in 2013, melding challah (braided Jewish bread eaten on ceremonial occasions such as Shabbat and major Jewish holidays), bagels, and pancakes with luxury goods. 

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Fermentation for the Spirit: Auto-reflections on the rise of sourdough art and glutinous practices. Part 2

9 July 2021

By Lauren Fournier and Greta Hamilton

This essay is the second in a three-part series on culinary fermentation practices and their recent associations in the art world. “Fermentation for the Spirit” considers the rise in popularity of sourdough bread baking during the start of the pandemic, while theorizing on the larger social, political, and cultural potentials of fermentation.

GH: The winter I started making sourdough, I also kept a fermentation diary as documentation for a conceptual art class I took with Amish Morrell at OCAD University. The diary was intended to function as a how-to for sourdough bread, inspired by instructional works from conceptual artists like Yoko Ono, Lee Lozano, and John Cage. It chronicles the origins of my sourdough starter, its multiple deaths, the many flat loaves of bread I ate with various soups, my relative hunger and fullness, the smells and tastes of my domestic surroundings. It was an attempt to present the document of a material process as a final artistic product—a tactic used by conceptual artists when materials were scarce and materiality was deemed overwrought and commodified. While writing the diaries, I meditated on the possibility of decentering materiality in a contemporary sense, perhaps held in the potential of writing. 

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Fermentation for the Spirit: Auto-reflections on the rise of sourdough art & other glutinous practices. Part 1

30 June 2021

By Lauren Fournier and Greta Hamilton

This essay is the first in a three-part series on culinary fermentation practices and their recent associations in the art world. “Fermentation for the Spirit” considers the rise in popularity of sourdough bread baking during the start of the pandemic, while theorizing on the larger social, political, and cultural potentials of fermentation.

As more artists make work that exists between art and food, is there space for art writers to also be food writers? In the early days of the pandemic, we were struck by the importance of food and fermentation to us as writers and artists, but first and foremost, as humans who were hungry. We found ourselves asking: Do I care about food and fermented materials more than I care about art or the work of criticism (and by extension, language, research, and articulation)? Do these have to be kept separate? Why not mix them together and let them autolyze? What would it mean to expand the task of the art writer or critic to include the work of baking, gardening, activism, community organizing, planting native species and pollinator gardens, preserving and sharing those seeds, composting, telling stories, building libraries, building homes, tending to microbiomes—both within and around us? Can the work of art writing and criticism include all the work that nourishes a community, that feeds us physically, affectively, and spiritually, as writers and as people with guts?

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The shape of your face, the speed of your speech

14 May 2021

The Toronto Experimental Translation Collective (TETC) is a group of six artists and thinkers: Benjamin de Boer, Nicholas Hauck, Fan Wu, Eddy Wang, Yoyo Comay, and Ami Xherro. The collective first met and lived together at Artscape Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island in summer of 2020. Since then, they’ve been exploring the possibilities of collective translation. Their latest residency was in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. They are recording an album to be released this year.

In this live garden interview conducted in Fall of 2020 around a suspended microphone, Xherro and the rest of the collective discuss alterity, meaninglessness, intuition, transcription, and zoology.

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A Correspondence on ‘Memory Palace’ at Franz Kaka

23 March 2021

By Parker Kay and Madeleine Taurins

Thursday, September 10, 2020:

Robin Cameron’s solo exhibition titled Memory Palace opens at Franz Kaka’s new location at 1485 Dupont Street.

Sunday, September 13, 2020:

Parker,

We were both headed to see Robin Cameron’s exhibit Memory Palace. I was walking, you were riding your bike. We had apparently chosen the same route, only different methods of transportation. I had turned around halfway because a few seconds earlier I realized that it was Sunday, not Saturday, and the gallery would be closed. As I turned, we crossed paths–you headed where I was just a few seconds ago. Now that I was turned in the direction of my house, changing directions again seemed like too much change for one day. You continued on, risking the possibility that you would show up and there would be no one to let you in, but there was. You saw the exhibition that day, a Sunday. I did not. You sent me a picture of the show and I regretted not turning a second time, back in the direction of the destination I never made it to.

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Eli Langer: Paintings

11 December 2020

By Gregory Humeniuk

Dear N,

It was great to catch up with you and R in Winnipeg in February. Visiting Plug In and the WAG reminded me of how much I miss the essential pleasure of an exchange about art before art. Clint Roenisch’s Eli Langer exhibition would have been an antidote to the usual bunch of second-rate shows any time, and when Ontario’s emergency orders were still novel, Clint welcomed a private visit on a Tuesday afternoon. With everything closed, Langer’s paintings from LA around the turn of the century, through the aughts, blotted local mediocrities and lifted my spirits.

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Vague Appropriation

26 September 2020

By Michael Eddy

“If I want to imagine a fictive nation, I can give it an invented name, treat it declaratively as a novelistic object, create a new Garabagne, so as to compromise no real country by my fantasy (although it is then the fantasy itself I compromise by the signs of literature). I can also—though in no way claiming to represent or to analyze reality itself (these being the major gestures of Western discourse)—isolate somewhere in the world (faraway) a certain number of features (a term employed in linguistics), and out of these features deliberately form a system. It is this system which I shall call: Japan.” 

– Roland Barthes, Empire of Signs

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Witch Weather

27 August 2020

By Lillian O’Brien Davis

There is a moment in a gust of wind that precedes a rumbling stormy sky, when I suddenly feel different. A sudden restlessness comes over me, a sense of longing for a place that does not exist, perhaps buried in the ashes of a village destroyed by merchants seeking to sell human flesh. The electric, tense change in that moment recalls magic to my skin, an embodiment of the magic of the Zabat, a Black woman’s rite of passage. For a moment I feel ancient, powerful, and lonely—as if I’ve forgotten something important and I’m on the verge of remembering it. (1)

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Colour, abstraction, and queerness in the art of Derek Dunlop

2 May 2020

By Hannah Godfrey

 

and speak in vain to the silent ash                                                                                                                                                     

Catullus, “101,” trans. E. Cederstrom

 

 

and talk (why?) with mute ash                                                                              

Catullus, “101,” trans. Anne Carson




I was boarding a train from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. At the end of the platform, on the wall of the station, above the clock, was some large, pink neon handwriting.

I Want My Time With You.

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Like Home

18 October 2019

By Graham Wiebe

 

I’m sitting outside what used to be my studio drinking a terribly sweet, one dollar iced coffee. I’m trying to comprehend that all the artwork I’ve ever made is gone; burnt and lost in the fire. As the ice cubes disappear into the milky, shit water, I imagine myself standing inside my third story studio as the fire is happening. I watch as a decade’s worth of work and the objects I cherished most become a collaborative pile of ash with the twenty-five other artists who also had studios within the space. Continue Reading

Painting and Obstinacy

9 May 2018

By Andrew Witt

Last year a number exhibitions, events and talks addressed the state of contemporary painting in Vancouver. The following essay is a belated survey of these exhibitions and events but also an analysis of the blind spots, clichés and missed opportunities that have stood out during the discussion. Paying close attention to the works on display, ‘Painting and Obstinacy’ attempts to short-circuit the dominant currents and tendencies of the debate by thinking through how the artworks themselves, through their formal manoeuvres and political content, shore up a new vocabulary for the reception of contemporary painting in the present.

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