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 exhibitionwas 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.
The romantic urban dream of starting a commune, or quaintly living in cottage country, differs greatly from the reality of maintaining a prosperous farm. Such urban perceptions of rural living can seem out of touch, as country life comes with a responsibility to the land and to maintaining community values. This reinforces gendered expectations because, even with modern machinery, the success and economic prosperity of farming, forestry, mining, etc., requires immense physical labour that is stereotypically associated with cis-gender men. Additionally, rural activities such as fishing, hunting or dirt biking require grit, and facilitate a type of camaraderie that is associated with “bro-culture.”
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…
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.
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.
Last year at Platform Centre in Winnipeg, during a slyly theatrical lecture-performance by emerging media artist Colby Richardson, the tall and affable filmmaker quoted fellow Winnipeg artist Mike Maryniuk: “I work with the latest technology to hit the local thrift stores.” This sentiment is an ethos that echoes through Richardson’s interdisciplinary practice, which habitually resurrects media detritus by placing it into bold new arrangements, in order to revel in the afterlife of obsolete equipment. As significant a role as these technologies have played in Richardson’s practice, I took his framing of Maryniuk’s quote to imply that his was not an aesthetics of nostalgia, but rather of access and experimentation.
On a wet and windy afternoon, I followed the road wrapping the southeast shoreline of Harrison Lake in Harrison Hot Springs, BC, to reach the Ranger Station Gallery. Situated on unceded Sts’ailes territory, in a touristy village 131 kilometres east of Vancouver, the gallery is on the periphery of the West Coast art scene. The combined exhibition and artist residency space is perched just above the lake, where you can see wobbling boats and the strip of shorefront businesses through the windows.
Amidst the busy network of overhead trolleybus wires, two massive LED screens are situated on one of the many glass-lined commercial buildings that define the landscape of Downtown Vancouver. With a height spanning two floors, the screens emit their bright light towards the ground for hundreds of pedestrians at Robson and Granville Streets, reflecting and illuminating the area’s commercial activity. Hosted by the City of Vancouver’s public art program, Platforms 2020: Public Works, these VanLive! Screens show Vancouver-based emerging artist Rina Lyshaug’s work, Narratives from the Emptiest Place (2019).
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?