Tag Archives: toronto

Justin Aranha’s A Night To Remember at Gallery 44

8 November 2022

By Maria Kanellopoulos

Toronto-based photographer Justin Aranha’s first solo exhibition at Gallery 44’s Member’s Gallery transported us to the early summer of our senior high school year. In June 2018 and 2019, Aranha photographed graduating students of his alma mater, St. Joan of Arc CSS (formerly Jean Vanier CCS) in Scarborough, Ontario. A Night to Remember included dozens of undirected snapshots of prom-goers: couples, individuals and groups of friends. The interactions with his sitters were brief, lasting a few minutes in his paper-backdrop photo booth set up in the prom banquet hall, but the impressions the students made on him and his viewers will last a lifetime. The artist was recently chosen by The British Journal of Photography for their 2022 Ones to Watch list,1 the journal’s annual selection of emerging image-makers. Aranha’s simple yet disarming photography centres around portraits that capture fleeting moments of joy, courage, laughter, love, desire, angst, and beyond. 

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Natural Speculations: Multi-Species Daydream: a garden in the depths of winter by SK Maston and Merle Harley

3 November 2022

By Cason Sharpe

If the past two pandemic-burdened years have taught me anything, it’s that humans are very strange creatures. Without context, the way we behave—how we live, communicate and move through the world—sometimes makes very little sense. Take art, for example: what strange impulses, to make art, to share it with others, to build sacred halls for its display. These were the thoughts I was having as I ferried across Lake Ontario to the Toronto Islands this past February to visit Multi-Species Daydream: a garden in the depths of winter, a site-specific installation by SK Maston and Merle Harley. 

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Co-materializing Across Screens: We Quit Theatre’s 805-4821

12 October 2022

By Tyler Cunningham

On a Thursday night in October 2021, like many other weeknights, I sat down at my small desk, opened my laptop, and logged onto the blank canvas where most modern-day, creative endeavors originate: Google Docs. The blinking cursor beckoned me to press my fingers to my keyboard, but I resisted since I was waiting for the start of 805-4821, a play within Google Docs conceived by the Winnipeg-based theatre company We Quit Theatre. While the piece saw a live, in-person performance history prior to the pandemic, this iteration at the Toronto-based Buddies in Bad Times’s Queer, Far, Wherever You Are series was a part of the show’s run adapted for an online space. As if the lights were dimming in the theatre, the cursor began producing words that filled the Google Doc. The show had begun. 

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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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Wall Drawing #1 and Wall Drawing #2: A Conversation between Sean Weisgerber, Daniel Griffin Hunt and Rebecca Travis

29 April 2022

Sunday March 20, 2022, 1pm EST. Three individuals (Sean Weisgerber, the artist; Daniel Griffin Hunt, curator of The Size of a Credit Card at the plumb; and Rebecca Travis, Curator and Collections Manager at Open Studio) meet at Open Studio in downtown Toronto to look at and discuss Weisgerber’s solo exhibition at the gallery’s Feature Wall, aptly titled Wall Drawing #1. The trio sit around the work in folding chairs, one with a large book on his lap…

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Images of Mothers with Breasts: A Conversation between Amanda Boulos and Jasmine Reimer

13 March 2022

In She Can Cook a Potato in Her Hand and Make it Taste Like Chocolate, an artistic research and exhibition project led by Jasmine Reimer, she investigates Neolithic goddess mythology and symbols with twelve artists, researchers and academics, including Toronto-based artist Amanda Boulos. Interviews related to the project took place over Zoom and subsequent email correspondence due to strict COVID-19 lockdowns, when stories were told only through screens. In this conversation, Boulos and Reimer speak about their practices in relation to the visual language and body of “the Goddess.” 

Boulos discusses her latest series, Mother’s Storage (2020), dedicated to her Mother as the storyteller of the family and to the nurturing nature of their relationship. She tells us how the abstract imagery emerges from familial narratives, body language and excessive smothering. She deeply admires and relates to Reimer’s goddess drawings from the recent series, The Great Round (2020-2021), asking about her inspirations for the towering charcoal works. Reimer’s The Great Round explores how “the Goddess” and her various manifestations as rocks, bodies of water, trees and plants helped Neolithic communities connect to non-anthropocentric lifecycles. In her drawings, Reimer adds to the mythology via gender-fluid hybrid forms.

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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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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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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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Structures for the Expanded Plane at YYZ Artists’ Outlet

17 September 2021

By Casey Hinton

It’s a familiar scene used in countless films: the slow drift of bright car headlights shoot through a window, casting diagonally shifting patterns across a dark interior wall. This haunting cinematic moment was replicated in Chris Foster’s solo exhibition, Structures for the Expanded Plane, at YYZ Artists’ Outlet in Toronto in January 2020. The darkened gallery was lit by a single, waist-high spotlight that rotated with a steady mechanical whir in the centre of the room. There was something strangely familiar, yet unrecognizable, in both the piece’s scale and motion—simultaneously a sun, a clock, a searchlight, a lighthouse, a panopticon—a mechanism for both illuminating and revealing. 

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Tie-Dye for Germans at Angell Gallery

8 September 2021

By Stephanie Cormier

Tie-Dye for Germans is an intimate and intensely radiant exhibition of paintings by Janine Miedzik in the Project Space at Angell Gallery. These new works have emerged by bringing together the ways Miedzik has previously approached materials, including a dialogue between her painterly and sculptural approaches to making work. Her combination of painting and sculpture in a spirited, perhaps even comical way, further materializes in the reciprocity between two different methods of working, and ways of seeing. 

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Art for Future Humans: Camille Jodoin-Eng’s Earth Shrine

30 August 2021

By Megan MacLaurin

If the trajectory of our contemporary era is one of environmental destruction, how will this legacy be felt by people 10,000, or even 100,000 years from now? What will these future humans know about us?—that is, if our species manages to survive its own self-annihilating habits at all. One possible way to ensure we will be remembered is through shrines. Across time, shrines have codified and communicated the values of their makers, immortalizing the time and place of their creation by distilling what is considered sacred. 

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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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consciously incoherent: anti-aesthetics & associational networks in ‘fractured horizon—a view from the body’

15 June 2021

By Zach Pearl

The poignance of an exhibition is often measured by its ability to distil a historical moment, letting it hang in the air like luminous vapour. Amongst the media art exhibitions of the last year, perhaps none were more poignant than the eight-part artist video series, fractured horizon — a view from the body, which circulated during the weeks of protest that followed the killing of George Floyd. Curated by Toronto-based curator and editor Yaniya Lee as the culmination of her research residency at Vtape, Canada’s largest video art distributor, an impressive range of works by BIPOC women artists from Canada and the United States were sent out to Vtape subscribers’ inboxes like supplements; weekly injections of perspective and affirmation for all those in the arts community already feeling disheartened amidst the first wave of a global pandemic, and one now imbued with the urgent politics of fighting anti-Black racism and revealing white privilege. Like a shot in the arm, every Friday between June 5th and July 24th, 2020, a new piece would go up on Vtape.org, sometimes elegiac in tone, sometimes documentarian, but all of them anchored in their conjuring of the body politic. Pieces by Buseje Bailey, Richelle Bear Hat, Hannah Black, Deanna Bowen, Thirza Cuthand, Cheryl Dunye, Donna James and ariella tai each, in their own way, worked to reaffirm the vital connection between the social and material factors that constitute a “body” in the contemporary moment and, more specifically, to interrogate the strategies of representation that keep existing power structures in place. 

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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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New Strata at Hearth Garage

4 May 2021

By Angel Callander

The year 2020 was, for many, characterized by forcing our collective attention toward myriad social issues, emphasizing not only their interdependence on each other, but on exploitation and class differences as well. It became clear very quickly that ‘essential’ jobs are the ones that cannot be done from home; they are also the ones with the lowest pay and little to no health benefits or sick days. Large numbers of people already in precarious positions lost their jobs, their income, and for many, their homes. Demands for rent cancellation and mortgage relief, particularly for those in large Canadian cities, underscored the cycle of working people living month-to-month who pay large portions of their paychecks to landlords, most of whom use tenants’ rents as their only income, and who in turn give that money to the bank for their mortgage. But who did the government ultimately bail out? Amidst subsidies for banks, there was never rent cancellation or legislated relief for tenants, just calls from government officials for landlords to “do the right thing.”

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A Conversation with Sean Sprague

19 April 2021

By Zoe Koke

Sean Sprague is a photographer from Toronto who now lives in Los Angeles. His work—large-scale singular tableau photographs—stage moments he observes in daily life, then recasts and reconstructs. These are spaces of in-betweenness aggrandized. Questions of labour and class drift through his work, tensions between the real and unreal, yet evidence is always withheld, faces turned away, details guarded, while maintaining that everything appears in piercing focus. Sprague, like many of his references and predecessors, is preoccupied with the gaps around truth. In describing his work he states, “Through staging of documentary scenes, these works seek to challenge the authority of the documentary traction in photography and its narrow definition of truth that excludes so much.”

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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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James Knott: Plenty of Fish

15 February 2021

By Shalon T. Webber-Heffernan

Plenty of Fish opens with James Knott’s shadow dramatically shaving off body hair behind a dimly lit partition to an assemblage of sounds. The West Side Story tune “I Feel Pretty” harmonizes with the clamouring of an electric razor, sheep shearing, and the buzz of a lawn mower. Meanwhile, the famously cinematic score from Alfred Hitchcock’s horror-thriller film Psycho resounds. The figure behind the divider seductively unravels a pair of stockings as Nina Simone’s The Other Woman melancholically lingers quietly in the background. Knott eventually emerges from behind the partition scantily dressed in vintage lingerie and dramatically falls down onto a duvet, while the dimly lit lamps conjure a lonely night time scene. The audience is in the bedroom now, and we find Knott waiting like a lonesome queen.

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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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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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Nourishment as Resilience: Meals for a Movement at Koffler.Digital

1 November 2020

By Hailey Mah

How can we create the conditions for intimacy, solidarity, and nourishment while we’re apart? How can we break bread and share knowledge over a virtual table? Meals for a Movement, an online project organized by Koffler.Digital, shows us how answers to these questions might take shape. Transcending the typical online exhibition through an intimate audio format, the project’s three sound pieces invite the viewer to share invaluable space with BIPOC women artists and activists. Launched in February 2019, its works have only gained relevance since. When I first began writing about Meals for a Movement in March 2020, social distancing orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic made the project’s online format feel suited to the current moment. Then a global uprising against systemic racism and police brutality began its resurgence, and Meals for a Movement’s lessons in metabolizing resistance became more resonant than I could have anticipated.

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I, Saffron

18 October 2020

By Margaryta Golovchenko

A warm sensation arises inside of me as I step into the Joan Goldfarb Visual Arts Study Centre. Originally a storage space for artwork that has recently been converted into a small gallery as part of a pilot project, the space is small and cozy. The gallery is well-lit by large circular lights hanging from the ceiling, the light warm and soothing as opposed to glaring in the way white cube galleries sometimes are. There is an interplay between black and white in the space, the exterior wall on the left-hand side of the gallery is painted a matte black that instantly draws the eye. A rug on the floor and the comfortable-looking couch just off to the side serve as an invitation to linger, adding a sense of intimacy to the space.

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Between Ice and Earth

19 September 2020

By Chris Gismondi   

The exhibition, Between Ice and Earth which took place last summer at Xpace Cultural Centre, celebrated a close-knit community of Indigenous OCAD students, transcended barriers, and vibrated with a palpable uneasiness. The showing by Ana Morningstar, Dehmin Osawamick Cleland, Megan Feheley, Laura St. Amant, Amanda Amour-Lynx, Ben Kicknosway, Kaya Joan, and Tom McLeod addressed frustrations about the expectations of Indigenous art and the pressure of being makers inheriting Indigenous and settler cultural legacies. The artists responded to the familiar theme of relating to the land and space of Tkaronto, but with a distinct anxiety about anthropogenic pollution, the climate apocalypse, and how the continually degrading health of the land affects Indigenous protocols, ceremonies, and material practices. This angst presupposed our current political climate, while offering an antidote of community solidarity—a fundamental element which should not be ignored.  

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Methods of Parallax: Works by Robin Kingsburgh and David Griffin

6 August 2020

By Shannon Foskett

 

“Science does not have a monopoly on empiricism,” historian David Topper once noted, arguing that empirical matters are, in fact, “germane to all visual imagery.” (1) Recognizing the role of visual images in the production of theoretical knowledge means understanding that their value extends beyond mute illustration to their unique capacity for discovering and articulating new information. An elegant case in point is trigonometric parallax—the “gold standard” of geometric measurements—first developed by Hipparchus (190-120 BCE), and still used by today’s astronomers for determining the moving edge of our expanding universe. (2) Whereas distance measures the spatial difference of two points, parallax derives distance through the mediation of a third: observing a distant object while alternating between two lines of sight, one can measure the apparent shift in an object’s location.  Continue Reading

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

Right Hook, Release: Muscled Rose at Scrap Metal

13 May 2020

By Philip Leonard Ocampo

 

At the opening of Muscled Rose, I didn’t get a proper look at Divya Mehra’s There are Greater Tragedies (2014). The same goes for my return visit, as the wind is blowing the large flag in a direction that makes the text on it difficult to read. I feel unfocused anyways—my mind is fixed on an argument I had with my parents about leaving home last year. I tell myself that I’ll see the flag on my way out and enter the gallery.

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The Shadow of Sirius: Jennifer Murphy at Clint Roenisch

5 February 2020

By Penelope Smart

 

The moment at evening 

when the pictures set sail from the walls

— excerpt from “Cargo” by W.S. Merwin

Pictures on the wall in Jennifer Murphy’s The Shadow of Sirius stand tall and still. In the gallery, jewel toned birds, moths, dragonflies, frogs and flora of human-scale have migrated from a dream-like state or have been grafted from the pages of a children’s storybook. Except—as in a Grimm’s fairy tale—prettiness tends to couple with death. Murphy’s exquisite creatures came to life within our new countdown: one in which our time-frame for saving the planet can be counted in months (131), not years. As an exhibit that was mounted in the autumn of 2019, a few weeks after Iceland held its first funeral for a glacier and a few months before Australia’s skies turned red from its burning shorelines, Murphy’s silent gathering of animals, insects and flowers—borne from love, anxiety and heartbreak—take on the power of a silent vigil.  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

Blur at the Art Gallery of Ontario

30 October 2019

By Ricky Varghese

 

In the Right of Inspection, Jacques Derrida wrote of the medium of photography in these terms: “You could speak of…[a photograph] as of a thinking, as a pensiveness without a voice, whose only voice remains suspended.” I was reminded of this evocative description when I saw Sandra Brewster’s show Blur, on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario from July 24, 2019 to March 29, 2020. The association between Brewster’s work and Derrida’s thinking was brought on by those very final words in the latter’s statement—“…voice [remaining] suspended.” (1) In fact, suspension—or rather what it means to be suspended, to be seen in a seeming state of frozen arrest, both within the frame and, perhaps, beyond it—seems to be an apt way of understanding and talking about the artist’s new work. 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

Towards a Contemporary Caprice: Every empire has an end at Franz Kaka

23 July 2019

By Lucas Regazzi

 

Capriccio, or Caprice—as it’s been anglicized—refers to a historical genre of painting developed over the 16th to 18th century. Artists of the genre proposed, for the first time in Western history, that ruination architecture be ushered from background to subject. Immediately preceding this, architectural depiction in the Roman tradition of painting was relegated to ceiling frescoes, illusioning space to elicit divine wonder in God’s house. With this understanding of symbolic potential, artists began fantasizing architecture—assembling disparate buildings and monuments in pictorial space, or imagining new buildings and circumstances altogether—as a sort of visual poetry. At the genre’s height, the most notable caprices depicted dilapidation. Continue Reading

Animal Love: Catherine P. at Egret Egress

11 July 2019

By Jessica Baldanza

 

At first glance, the titular Animal Love of Catherine P.’s solo exhibition at Egret Egress is puppy love—the kind of sanguine affection one feels capable of in the early days of a new romance. This impression is gleaned from Catherine P.’s saccharine artist’s statement, as well as the soft textile wall-works of naively articulated pups batting lashes and touching noses. And yet, the works inspire a palpable dis-ease, the source of which reveals itself only when one makes themselves vulnerable to the works, so as to reflect the circumstances in which they were made. Continue Reading

Tal Sofia: I am so afraid of words at Ignite Gallery

13 June 2019

By Chelsea Rozansky

 

In 1933, Sophie Rosenbaum packed her things and left her native Berlin to go to Argentina. Among her possessions was a collection of postcards, one side bearing pictures of celebrities popular in Germany when Rosenbaum was a kid: famous singers, movie stars, directors. On the other side were autographed signatures and the street address of the home Rosenbaum was to leave behind. They must have been important to her, the postcards. Presumably, she could only take with her the essentials and valuables. Continue Reading

Silver 35: Mike Goldby at Sibling

27 March 2019

By Parker Kay

 

How am I going to get to The Junction to see this show?

As I think about the various routes I might take to arrive at Sibling, I realize I am staring blankly at my phone, whose screen has since locked. I find myself in what I have learned to identify as social paralysis, the experience of the body locked in stasis when confronted with social planning—it happens a lot.

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Peggy Kouroumalos: Snakes Under My Bed at Main Street

14 March 2019

By Kate Kolberg

In 1914, Giorgio de Chirico, a founder of the Metaphysical art movement, painted the well-known proto-surrealist work Le Chant d’Amour (The Song of Love). The painting shows the face of a Classical bust hanging on a wall beside an equally large rubber glove. It is a simple enough painting but, true to surrealist tendencies, even though the forms in the painting are well-articulated, their sense is incoherent. It makes you question how this “timeless,” disembodied face of kanon-like (1) perfection feels about this generic, flaccid rubber glove beside it. Or, if this is a love song, who sings it? What do they yearn for? Revel in? Le Chant d’Amour is now over a century old, but Peggy Kouroumalos’ recent exhibition Snakes Under My Bed at Main Street in Toronto had me turning in similar spirals. Consisting of two paintings of bedroom scenes and a collection of ceramic sculptures that look as if they spilled out onto the surrounding floor, the work all felt rather familiar—yet embodied an incoherence that forced me to wonder about who was meant to dwell within them. 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

Embedded Here, in Cracks and Niches: Shannon Garden-Smith & Emily Smit-Dicks at 8eleven

22 March 2018

By Tiffany Schofield

 

Bestowed on us at the entrance of She Makes Two From One and One, a two-person exhibition by Shannon Garden-Smith and Emily Smit-Dicks, is a text by Jasmine Reimer. “At the table, the sisters wear plastic scraps of light”, an excerpt of the poetic work reads. It’s a fitting narrative, for there is no doubt that we are entering the domestic abode of two sisters. Their shared tendencies (and might we say neuroses?) are on display in muted tones, obsessive materiality and labour-intensive production. One of the first exhibitions to take place after 8eleven’s relocation to 888 Dupont, Garden-Smith and Smit-Dicks handle the dérive with grace. Come in, stay awhile, they beckon.  

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the royalty’s inherent

3 October 2017

By Olivia Wallace

 

Stepping into Daniels Spectrum is not your everyday gallery visit. Daniels Spectrum is the cultural hub for Toronto’s Regent Park—a neighbourhood of individuals from a wide range of socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. The Invisible Majority, displayed in the Hallway Galleries of Daniels Spectrum, is Zahra Siddiqui’s first solo exhibition. The artist is a Torontonian of South Asian descent whose photography practice has centered on people of colour from Toronto, the Caribbean and the US. Her portraits, as described in the gallery write-up, “[demand] our respect and reverence for her subjects” and “[connect] us to the actual composition of this multicultural metropolis”. (1) Considering Siddiqui’s usual practice, I anticipated an unparalleled perspective in portrait photography. Her kaleidoscope of remixed photographs delivered that and much more. Continue Reading

coming home* to queerness

21 September 2017

By Philippe Pamela Dungao

 

To walk through home* is to inhabit the contentious space that locates belonging and queer subjectivity. Curated by Adrienne Crossman and exhibited in Toronto’s R \ F gallery, home* featured works from four Ontario based artists working across disciplines and mediums: Sarah Kelly, Lee D’Angelo, Bethany Rose Puttkemery, and Luke Maddaford. With works that explored the intersection of queerness, community, and belonging, home* felt like an arrival to one’s own queer identity, a homecoming in more ways than one. Continue Reading

Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Many Silences: “Rubber Coated Steel” (2016)

14 August 2017

By John Nyman

 

In Beirut—or, perhaps equally probable, in Toronto—a woman or a man shakes their head at me. Not the slow back-and-forth of a stubborn “No,” but a rapid jostle, with something like the velocity of a spring recoiling. It means “I don’t understand,” “I didn’t hear you.”

Growing up in settler Canadian culture, I learned to communicate the same message with a blank stare, maybe a head cocked sideways. But I find something different in the Arabic gesture, which isn’t so passive or absorptive. It is, in part, supplicant, since it admits there is something crucial the gesturer hasn’t grasped. But it is also assertive, even commanding: it says, “You meant to say something, so say it!” Rarely do I feel so called to account for being misheard. 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

Sarah Neufeld: The Ridge + Dialectica

9 November 2016

By Glenn Vanderkloet

 

The Music Gallery (MG), located within St. George the Martyr Anglican Church at the southern end of Toronto’s Grange Park is, according to its website, “a centre for promoting and presenting innovation and experimentation in all forms of music, and for encouraging cross-pollination between genres, disciplines and audience.” I would say that it unequivocally delivered on its mandate and did so in a highly entertaining fashion on a recent visit payed by myself and my consort. The impetus for the visit was a performance by Violinist Sarah Neufeld, as well as some not as well known, but equally impressive opening performers. 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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