Category: Review

Our Ancestors Are Laughing at Us: Talking Comedy, TV, and Cancel Culture with Life of a Craphead, Kiki, and more

Review March 4, 2020

By Chelsea Rozansky

 

Part 1: A weird garage at the Toronto Biennial

 

Writing about the work of Life of a Craphead, the art collective of Amy Lam and Jon McCurley, Artists-in-Residence during the Toronto Biennial of Art (September 21 – December 1, 2019), presents one with the frustration of explaining a joke. “We’re not really giving people anything to work with other than we make funny art and we’re racialized people,” McCurley tells me. “And there’s two of us,” Lam offers. There is a set-up, punch line quality of much of Craphead’s work. Read More

Teresa Tam’s ‘2 cents cart’

Review February 21, 2020

By Stephanie Wong Ken

 

A small crowd gathered around Teresa Tam’s 2 cents cart, set up in front of the CommunityWise Resource Centre in downtown Calgary. The performances were part of the programming curated by Signy Holm called Fare Trade: a fundraiser for M:ST Performative Art Festival. Around the corner, there’s an upscale eatery that sells expensive versions of dim sum and Asian street eats, another recent addition to a growing trend in the city: high-end ethnic fusion food. The crowd at Tam’s cart was a mix of arts community folks, curious onlookers, and people killing time while waiting for a table. Read More

The Shadow of Sirius: Jennifer Murphy at Clint Roenisch

Review February 5, 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.  Read More

Length, Breadth, Thickness and—Duration by Beth Stuart

Review January 22, 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’

Review January 9, 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. Read More

Nadia Gohar: Mudstone at ESP

Review December 20, 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. Read More

Yakoweyentehta’onhátye Ayontahonhsí:yohste’: Tsi nikanó:ron ne Kawennaráhston Nè:ne Í:kare ne Biidaaban: First Light, Yakaón:ni ne Lisa Jackson

Review November 27, 2019

By Margaryta Golovchenko

 

Né:’e tsi watyé:sen tsi waktsi’nonwatényes tsi kathonwíseres, wakhtheronkwén:nis tahnon wakenehrakwáhtha ne VR, né:’e tsi kakwényes akaká:raton’ nè:ne tyako’nikonhratihénhthoht; kakwényes ó:ni ayón:ni’ ónhka ok aontayakétahkwe’, nikarihwéhsha, tsi yakohténtyon tsi yonhwentsyá:te nè:ne yakonhwentsyayenté:ri. E’tho káti yah tewakateryèn:tarahkwe oh nahò:ten akáttoke’ shahatì:ren’ akenon’tsihstà:ke ne VR atkahránha tahnon onkwathón:te’ne’ ónhka’k yakóhthare ó:ya thikawennò:ten nè:ne yah tekahrónkha. Eh niyohtòn:ne tsi tontáhsawen’ ne Biidaaban: First Light (2018). Né:’e tsi kanatowá:nen tkená:kere skáhne é:so nihá:ti nè:ne ó:ya nihonnonhwentsyò:tens, wa’kate’nyén:ten’ akyén:tere’ne’ ne owén:na, e’tho sá:ne wakateryèn:tare tsi yah thaonkkwényon tahnon yah thaonke’nikonhrayentá:’on. Né:’e tsi ónhka’k á:yenhre’ aya’ì:ron’ tsi yah teyakoteryèn:tare, ahse’kén yah teyakote’nyentén:’on ayontahonhsí:yohste’, tahnon ónhka’k á:yenhre’ ok nahò:ten ahonwatirihwanón:tonhse’, yawehronhátye tókat ónhka ok aontayerihwa’será:ko’, eh na’kakarò:ten ne Biidaaban – rotihonkará:wis nè:ne ronteró:roks ahonnonhtonnyón:ko’, nè:ne yá:wet tóhsa ahonnonhtónnyon’ tsi ronteró:roks.      Read More

Tina Guyani | Deer Road

Review November 14, 2019

By Juilee Raje

 

A hide suspended from the ceiling engulfs the room in a tawny glow. Though when I first walked into the gallery I was bathed in warm light and brightly coloured blankets, a closer inspection of the works revealed encounters with baleful spirits. A lone footstool conjured a somnolent ache for warmth, a persistent drone reverberated around the walls and gnawed on my senses. Glittering pennies invited me to circle around displays of taxidermy bucks with their antlers adorned with bells, but also vandalized with yellow barricade tape screaming: ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE AREA, ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE AREA. Read More

Blur at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Review October 30, 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. Read More

the body is a butter brain at Calaboose

Review September 29, 2019

By Rosemary Flutur

 

1

 I walk along St Charles street toward Charlevoix Metro, an April afternoon with a chill, and do so with speed, hoping that action, like rubbing sticks, gets me warm. The sun helps a bit—its eye lit wide in an otherwise undisturbed sky—but it is my moving body, my temporary companion, that really thaws me.

I pass through the Metro doors and pay my fare with blemished coins. Today I opt for the escalator over the stairs, not for a quicker descent but for stasis; my body deserves it after all the rapid movement. Forced into action again when the stairs fall flat into the floor, I make my way toward the subway tracks. With each step I move further into the sour air of the Metro’s basement, into an air that never changes, but waits, like breath, to be exhaled. It never does; instead it sits unreplenished in tiled corridors, the city’s wet subterranean lungs. Read More