Tag Archives: installation

Honouring the Trees in Reitzenstein’s FML (forests may lie)

11 July 2022

By William Brereton

After a few deep breaths, I took many strolls among the mysterious yet beautiful installation works of Reitzenstein (the artist formerly known as Reinhard Reitzenstein) in FML (forests may lie) at Olga Korper Gallery in Toronto. The exhibition showcased a survey of the artist’s latest sculptural and photographic works that have signified his long-standing investigations into the environment and environmental degradation. For those who may have sought a critical yet playful experience in nature, Reitzenstein’s latest presentation seamlessly offered interpretive and high-spirited vantage points from which to experience the works, as many of us tried to find reprieve during the early months of the global pandemic. As some museums and galleries in Ontario briefly reopened in Fall 2020, this exhibition affirmed the need to experience art in person and perhaps encouraged us to go on an introspective journey. With a direct focus on our geographic surroundings, the exhibition especially paid homage to the artist’s direct engagement with trees native to, and the communities that reside within, the Golden Horseshoe region of Southern Ontario.

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Making your way under darkness: Moonshow at the plumb

25 May 2022

By Dana Snow

The Moon is the eighteenth card in the traditional Rider-Waite Tarot deck. When the Moon reveals itself in a reading, it signifies that a time of reflection, intuitive dreaming and evolution lie ahead. The moon whispers softly to us and guides us to the gates of the unknown, insisting on a balance of light and darkness. Moonshow, curated by Tkaronto-based collective Hearth, and exhibited at the plumb in the city’s midtown, lapped at the viewer’s consciousness like the moon pulls the tide: reflection, cyclical repetition and vibration act as guiding forces through the serpentine project space. The exhibition was on view from January 9th until February 7th, 2021, a time that could only be described as desperate in terms of Tkaronto’s COVID-19 crisis. This show underscored the importance of embracing darkness in dark times, offering a respite to the ever-climbing numbers in the crowded city with saccharine appeals of “hope” that other contemporary exhibitions did not.

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Democracy has Fallen: Howie Tsui at The Power Plant

4 December 2021

By Jacqueline Kok

Democracy is said to be under threat in various countries across the world, such as the United States, Brazil and Venezuela. Political leaders like Trump, Bolsonaro and Maduro have been heavily scrutinized for their divisive policies that have caused political unrest. In Hong Kong, the people face a similar situation: protesters routinely occupy the streets, brawling with riot police. They fight against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the enforcement of laws and security measures that go against liberal democracy. To outsiders unaware of the turmoil, Hong Kong is unruly and violent. To insiders, Hong Kong is in a “state of exception,” sitting at “a threshold of indeterminacy between democracy and absolutism,”1 where, on the latter end, the CCP holds central authority. Laws become slip- pery when acts of violence that are normally condemned, like police brutality, are passed by the current Pro-Beijing government. In these kinds of fragile moments, where past governing systems could rapidly shatter at the hands of a current ruling government, one can’t help but begin to wonder: would anarchy, even with its implications, provide possible solutions to a jeopardized democracy?

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A Taxonomy of Strangers: Libby Oliver’s Soft Shells

24 November 2021

By Tyler Muzzin

The photographs in Libby Oliver’s series Soft Shells engender the same paradoxical nature that the title implies: they are portraits that conceal the subject, while revealing more about the subject’s individuality than most portrait photography could ever hope to achieve. Exhibited at Gallery Stratford, on the edge of the Shakespeare Festival grounds and a short walk from one of the most celebrated costume departments in Canadian theatre, it’s only fitting to quote Jaques’ well-worn prologue to Act II of As You Like It as an epigraph: 

“All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players;”

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Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire: Tania Willard at SFU Audain Gallery

12 November 2021

By Andrea Valentine-Lewis

WE can CHANGE

the FUTURE is INDIGENOUS

the Land is STRONG

I AM the FUTURE

the REVOLUTION has COME

I am the LAND

I have VALUE

Tania Willard’s Affirmations for Wildflowers: An Ethnobotany of Desire, ran from September 14th to November 13th, 2020, within the street-facing windows of the SFU Audain Gallery. The seven statements including “the Land is STRONG” and “I have VALUE” were projected as glowing declarations onto a wall running the length of the windows. Each declaration, or “affirmation” as the exhibition’s title suggests, was accompanied by suspended copper-coloured reflective disks, the surface of which were etched with black wildflower silhouettes. At the bottom of each disk, a trim of pink, orange, yellow, and brown silk ribbons embellished the composition.

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Ninga Mìnèh: Caroline Monnet at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

5 November 2021

By Didier Morelli

In her first solo museum exhibition in Canada, presented by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), Caroline Monnet chose eighteen recent works for Ninga Mìnèh, many of which had never previously been shown. Following her rise to prominence in the local (2020 Pierre-Ayot Award), national (2020 Sobey Art Award), and international (2019 Whitney Art Biennial) art scenes, the interdisciplinary artist of Algonquin and French ancestry made her much anticipated full-scale entry into one of Montreal’s most heralded cultural institutions. Ninga Mìnèh focuses on the architecture of Indigenous communities in Canada, specifically the cheaply and hastily built reservation housing that further entrenches First Nations peoples into economic and social precarity.1 Conceptually striking and spatially inviting, the exhibition draws on postmodern codes and mediums with a politically and socially incisive subtext, thus interpreting new conceptual horizons for the artist’s practice.

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The Objects That We Carry: Lorena Salomé at Trinity Square Video

13 October 2021

By Noor Alé

Migrancy, and its generative potential to create a series of movements, is an enduring interest of Lorena Salomé—a Toronto-based Argentinian artist—whose practice employs technology to activate commonplace objects and dismantled electronics to create kinetic works. In Salomé’s exhibition, The Objects We Carry1 at Trinity Square Video, co-presented with Public Visualization Lab in Toronto, she examined issues relating to global migration, gentrification, and eviction through an installation that invited community participation, as well as a series of collaborations with artists whose practices are engaged with travel. 

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when the big E unfurls its tongue: Michael Lachman at CSA Space

23 September 2021

By Alexandra Box

“Man’s greatness is always to recreate his life, to recreate what is given to him, to fashion that very thing which he undergoes. Through work he produces his own natural existence. Through science he recreates the universe by means of symbols. Through art he recreates the alliance between his body and his soul.”
– Simone Weil, The Mysticism of Work, Gravity and Grace (1947)

Late-capitalist mediascapes require the attention of the broader visual world that existed before workers encountered an economic and hygienic reordering due to mass death and unemployment, such as the affordance to some for working remotely. This social and biological decline is making it difficult—at most times, unsafe—to show up in traditional ways for provocation, or a mundane office job. Labour can only benefit from collective reflection, particularly on culture (abstraction, ornament, material, narrative) coming out of charged social and material conditions. Artist Michael Lachman grips onto the strength of fiction and satire as sculptural strategies in his solo exhibition, Let Me Introduce Myself, at CSA Space in Vancouver. Lachman transforms the gallery into a dreamlike office space riddled with stylized artifacts, producing a comedic story told by objects. Technical changes to the gallery space, such as dropping the ceiling height and lining the floor with blue modular carpet, reduced the standing posture for viewers and added to the satirical landscape of “the office.” The exhibition encapsulates the methodical rituals of the nine-to-five workday using comedy, as Lachman steers gallery visitors towards cultural mores, overdetermined ideas of professionalism, and the absurdities of manhood. 

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Ursula’s Garden at Sibling

4 August 2021

By Alex Lepianka

I am surrounded by two hundred and twenty-two plaster polyps cast in place along the perimeter of Sibling’s gallery floor. The forms, which make up Robert Anthony O’Halloran’s installation Ursula’s Garden, are nippled, bellied and creased, with a rare few still stretching the condoms in which they were cast. Pushed up against the wall or slumped onto the floor, collapsing, tired and erect, the castings demarcate a lively zone within the gallery. There is humour to O’Halloran’s installation, and it hits like a scrap of itinerant latex flung, forgotten and rediscovered in a faraway corner of my bedroom the morning after a low-consequence fuck. O’Halloran’s garden is not the underwater Disney hell that the show’s title references, but neither does it realize a place of oceanic, post-coital peace. Instead, each one of its castings strikes an irreplicable pose, hardened or perhaps exhausted by its once-living desires.

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Jeremy Shaw’s ‘Phase Shifting Index’ at Centre Pompidou

2 March 2021

By Helen Lee

There is no fresher horror to the modern-day luddite than the social media Live Video function. In the Live Video, the subject is tripled: there is the subject filming, the subject being viewed, and the subject auto-saved for posterity by the filming interface. Live Video has a forebearer in performance art, such as Joan Jonas’ incorporation of live video into her “actions” during the 1970’s. In describing Jonas’ performance Vertical Role (1972), curator Barbara London writes that by using live video, Jonas invokes the “unedited present” as a means of dislocating space and elongating time. (1) In contrast, the practice of “going live” on social media renders the unedited present as digital content to be viewed and shared on a for-profit platform. The medium of video art in the contemporary context is uniquely positioned to ask: Where is a better vantage point from which to view the present than Live?

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Tasman Richardson’s ‘Kali Yuga’

7 January 2021

By Madeline Bogoch

In her 1976 essay “Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism,” Rosalind Krauss attempts to pinpoint the singular essence of video-based artwork, speculating on the possibility of the claim that the “medium of video is narcissism”. (1) For Krauss, the linchpin of this perspective was the (now taken for granted) instantaneity of video, which produces perpetual feedback that captures the subject in a closed circuit of “self-encapsulation”. (2) There is an implied intimacy in this simultaneity—while Krauss perhaps over-essentialized the quality of video, she shrewdly identified the implicit correlation between video and the psyche. 

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Nadia Belerique at Daniel Faria Gallery

30 December 2020

By Erin Orsztynova

Recently I had a memory come back to me—the type of memory that comes to the surface seemingly out of nowhere, one I imagine would be considered so very mundane that any brain, in an attempt to conserve space, would erase immediately. But there it was, collapsing time, a visceral scene from childhood of me squeezing into the small space beneath my bed. I remembered the tightness of the space, so tight my child-sized head could only fit in sideways. I remembered the smell of the dusty cambric from the boxspring, and the feel of the carpet on my cheek. Close and containing, this small space gave me the experience of disappearing entirely from view, complete with the contradictory desires to both remain hidden and be found. 

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The Oral Logic by Xuan Ye

8 July 2020

By Emily Fitzpatrick

 

In the early 2000’s, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency under the United States Department of Defense working on social forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI), began to develop machine-learning agents that could cognitively engage with each other, their environment, and essentially ‘learn’ from their experiences in a simulation. During one simulation, two learning agents named Adam and Eve were programmed to know some things (how to eat), but not much else (what to eat). They were given an apple tree and were happy to eat the apples, but also made attempts to eat the entire tree. Another learning agent, Stan, was introduced and wanted to be affable, but eventually became the loner of the group. Given the natural development of the simulation—and a few bugs in the system—Adam and Eve began to associate Stan with food and one day took a bite out of him. Stan disappeared and thus became one of the first victims of virtual cannibalism. (1)  Continue Reading

Length, Breadth, Thickness and—Duration by Beth Stuart

22 January 2020

by Daniella Sanader

1.

If you’ve spoken to me recently, I may have told you my (unresearched and unsubstantiated) theory about dreams and déjà vu. I usually proceed to explain that while I rarely remember my dreams, I am regularly struck with quietly disorienting bouts of déjà vu, something like once or twice a month. I like to speculate about these things as if they exist on a spectrum of cause and effect—the idea that sublimated dream imagery, while consciously inaccessible, bubbles up elsewhere in one’s perceptual life, grafted briefly onto shapes and colours and other structures of the world we move through. (1) That uncanny doubling, a sudden familiarity: it’s a sensation we all recognize, but one that quickly dissolves the very second you try to focus on it, let alone attempt to put it into language.

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Break-and-Enter: On the Exhibition ‘Undomesticated’

9 January 2020

By Zach Pearl

in miniature

The mid-century modern across the street, now composed, perfectly centered within the window of the storm door, appeared angelic and fantastically distant in its miniature state. (1) Unassuming power poles and trees were mirrored in the wetness of the street, and they seemed to extend forever, piercing the top and bottom of the frame. Paralyzed there, like a moth under glass, the image of the house was a reality unto itself. All power lines and branches led back to its door, its half-open windows. “Thus, in minuscule, a narrow gate, [had] open[ed] up an entire world,” in which details were all that mattered. (2) The silhouette of a radio, a spider plant descending in pairs. This was all I could focus on as I came face to face with the Intruder. Continue Reading

Nadia Gohar: Mudstone at ESP

20 December 2019

By Chris Andrews

 

The day before visiting Cairo-born artist Nadia Gohar’s Mudstone at Erin Stump Projects, I read in the news that Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically-elected president of Egypt, had died in court—or rather, was forced into living in prison conditions that may have led to his early passing. Morsi had eventually betrayed the same democracy that brought him into power, and with it, the hope that many had following the events of the Arab Spring. As if in response to this symbolic event, though only a timely coincidence, Gohar’s exhibition uses material as an embodiment of democracy. Through this keen interest in objecthood, an environment is created where every being, every thing, is granted a voice, and the importance of each material radiates. It is through this material vibrancy that Mudstone gestures toward the role of humble objects: the exhibition is a call for democratized symbols, vernacular value. Continue Reading

Fortune Flavors the Bold at Xpace’s Project Space

11 September 2019

By Rebecca Casalino

 

Before entering Arezu Salamzadeh’s Fortune Flavors the Bold you must take off your shoes. Sock-footed, you are greeted by glittering red foam installed over the floor of Xpace Cultural Centre’s Project Space. Dark teal walls enclose the gallery, framing crates and shelves of items for sale. Fresh mandarin oranges are available to purchase as snacks, there’s also ginger and colourful ceramic casts of salty fish inside large glass jars. Salamzadeh stands by the cash register (a children’s toy brightly coloured with large cartoonish buttons) tattooed with lucky cats, selling art and chatting with visitors. She wears gold which compliments the New Years pouches decorating the walls and plinths in large blocks of red. Behind her, a gold sign with small red lights reading FORTUNE hangs above a gumball machine. On the other side, a large lucky cat about the same size as the viewer squats beside, as if to snap a picture. Continue Reading

Untitled (eyelids): Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik at PS311

1 March 2019

By Zoe Koke

 

In 2018, artist Mat O’Hara modified an adjoined section of his MFA grad studio into an ad-hoc project space called PS311. The space opened with Untitled (eyelids), a video installation by Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik. eyelids was created in the throes of Jordan’s final MFA year, and it bears the marks of this experience—its talk of poison, its intense introspective focus, its peculiar saturninity illustrated by a bubbling cauldron of slime. If you theorize something like MFA aesthetics, I’m sure it would include a healthy dose of suffering. But eyelids doesn’t stop at suffering; it moves through its own breed of catharsis, and from that surfaces the potential for something else. It plays with internal anguish, following a wave until the feeling changes. This is why I’m drawn to it, why I wanted to write this. Jordan and I—long-term friends and new collaborators—share a desire to make something heartfelt. We often ask ourselves why this seems so inane in the current art climate. Or just in our culture, where oversharing or letting your guard down isn’t palatable, it’s to be avoided, ironically mainly in the realm of making. The awkward uncoolness of intuition and sincerity (and a privileging of distancing tactics) is enforced by context cues, groupthink, but never explicitly, for that would be too insensitive. Continue Reading

A Body Knots: Laurie Kang at Gallery TPW

28 November 2018

By Jenine Marsh

 

I view Laurie Kang’s A Body Knots on my phone, as images. I’m on another continent, missing the show. But feeling that I know her and her practice pretty intimately makes up for some, though not all, of the texture and spacing that the real thing provides. At Gallery TPW in Toronto, a steel skeleton wall of studs and flexible tracking marks a new—albeit permeable—barrier through the two adjacent gallery spaces. In the second and larger gallery, four analog photograms of un-fixed, thickly applied darkroom chemicals on overlarge paper hang loose and heavy from the studs. Although forever halted in the jpgs, these photograms’ chemicals will continue to develop and change, reacting slowly, subtly, to the light in whichever space they occupy. Tiny silver spherical magnets hold the prints in place. Continue Reading

The Un-Othered Body

14 June 2017

By Tori Maas

When I first walked into the gallery at the opening reception for The Un-Othered Body, I was met by artist Dainesha Nugent-Palaches Unwelcome Mat, a fitting beginning and anchor for an exhibition that unapologetically asserted and centred the voices of six women of colour whose work was brought together by curator Esmaa Mohamoud. Nugent-Palaches Unwelcome Mat is made with yarn, Kanekalon synthetic hair, human hair, and beads. The contrasting yet earthy tones spelled out the word UNWELCOMEin bold, block letters. For me, it didnt feel like a signpost saying that I was unwelcome, rather it symbolized an act of strength. The mat embodied a voice though there was no real speaker; the voices and bodies of women otherwise silencedor otheredcame forward in this work. Continue Reading

Astral Bodies

30 May 2017

By Evan Pavka

“Body” is an unconfined term, referring to the personalskin and boneand the celestialstars and orbiting planets. The word also signals the individualmy bodywhile referring to the collectivea political body. At Mercer Union the exhibition Astral Bodies, comprised of works by Shary Boyle, Shuvinai Ashoona, Karen Azoulay, Pamela Norrish, and Spring Hurlbut, questioned the possibility of a body beyond this. Continue Reading

In Praise of Unforeseen Circumstances: One year of ‘art rock?’

25 November 2016

By Daniel Colussi

For just over a year Vancouver based interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker and musician Casey Wei has produced a series of shows under the banner of art rock? Wei’s practice is primarily in film and video but she has also curated several site-specific projects that transform the character and use of communal space. For Toronto’s 2015 Images Festival, Wei was the first ever artist-in-residence at the Chinatown Centre Mall on Spadina Avenue. She activated the mall’s lower mezzanine with ballroom dancing, mahjong tables, karaoke and live music, the kind of activities reflective of the demographics of mall’s primary users, who are for the most part Chinese and elderly. For the course of that week, Wei virtually never left the confines of the mall, during the day she hosted and documented the lower mezzanine and at night she had in a room in the Super 8 hotel attached to the mall. Continue Reading

Stretched Painting

2 November 2016

By Tori Maas

Stretched Painting brought together the work of four female artists, all of whom are interested in referencing the conventional notions of painting while pushing their work into three-dimensions. Fields of texture, lavish colour and art historical references were transformed onto multiple planes for the viewer to traverse. Situated at the Ontario College of Art & Design University Student Gallery from September 8th until October 1st 2016, the show also marked the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic year at OCAD University. The exhibition was curated by Toronto-based artist Emily Harrison, and featured the work of Wallis Cheung, Michelle Foran, Jennifer Wigmore as well as Harrison herself. With varied approaches to materiality and process, each artist brought different perspectives to the curatorial theme of expanding the field of painting. Continue Reading

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