By Shauna Jean Doherty
Adam Basanta’s compositions (whether material or sonic) possess a resonance that deconstructs the foundational principles of acoustics: his work sees sound, composes silence, and locates melody in the din of a hum. Through the creation of sculptures that oscillate between the absence and presence of sound, Basanta reflects on a contemporary climate saturated by noise, proposing strategies of feedback and silence as methods to counteract a deafening modern landscape. Through this technical finesse his creation of sound-based systems intervenes in the social, material, and spatial processes inherent in auditory experience.
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.
by Christine De Vuono
Approaching Tamara Henderson’s Seasons End: Out of Body exhibition in Oakville’s Centennial Gallery, one is greeted by a display reminiscent of an ethnographic collection of an ancient culture’s esoteric regalia and artifacts. The collection of robed figures stand in a dense, haphazard formation, curiously pulling the viewer into their maze-like world. Dimly lit with tempered overhead lights of blue, magenta and green, the costumed figures impede the viewer’s ability to examine the exhibition as a complete entity. Tamara Henderson’s final rendition of this ever-changing, internationally-shown installation draws the viewer into a dreamlike world of talismans and detritus, impermanence and demise, each holding equal status within the display. Henderson attempts to create an exhibit of otherworldly and spiritually infused artifacts created from her personal reference points, ultimately rendering them with uneven success. Read More
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.
By Brit Bachmann
“This exhibition is an attempt to illicit your support. We want you to buy in, to sign up, and join us in what we see as nothing less than an essential endeavour to protect, nurture, create and value all that is beautiful.” (1)
Ian Gillespie, founder of Westbank Corporation conveniently summarizes the intention of Fight for Beauty in the opening track from the audio guide. The exhibition, located in a tent outside Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim, is a lavish attempt to masquerade real estate development as art, to posture condo sales as altruism, and to mislead the public into joining a movement that satirizes anti-gentrification and affordable housing initiatives across Canada. Read More
By John Nyman
For Abbas Akhavan, Sameer Farooq, and Joshua Vettivelu, intimacy describes an oscillation of investments and outpourings, a rhythm of emotional life. Loss, too, plays an important part in Vacancies, their group show at Toronto’s Towards gallery, though it acts less as the lack of a distant ideal than the vehicle for a circulation of affects. Loss, in other words, is the means by which our vulnerabilities—including those of emotion, identity, physicality, and expression—allow us to be moved. By strategically invoking the resilience of art objects, the artists featured in Vacancies help us relive our experiences of these difficult and often transitory feelings in respectful conversation with others’. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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-Palache’s 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-Palache’s Unwelcome Mat is made with yarn, Kanekalon synthetic hair, human hair, and beads. The contrasting yet earthy tones spelled out the word “UNWELCOME” in bold, block letters. For me, it didn’t 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 silenced—or othered—came forward in this work. Read More