This is Paradise

Art and Artists in Toronto May 28-31, 2015 | Justina M. Barnicke Gallery & University of Toronto

An incredible 3 days of Toronto looking and thinking about the city. I thought about it through the perspective of a visitor from a different place. Below is the video for the panel Artists, Networks, Cities. Adam Welch and E.C. Woodley were co-panelists. I start around 50:00min.

Artists, Networks, Cities from Justina M. Barnicke Gallery/UTAC on Vimeo.

This paper responds to the conference call for:

  • “art-historical accounts of art in Toronto — including accounts of individual artists; artist communities (artists’ scenes and social networks).”
  • “Strategies that focus on local artistic practice within a broader regional, national and international framework.”

Toronto via Vancouver: Image Banks and Filing Systems for Networked Bodies

Existing scholarship acknowledges the connection between Vancouver’s Image Bank and Toronto’s General Idea in the early 1970s; however, their shared publishing activities and exchange of correspondence remains to be explored as it complicates the relationship of reading publics to a notion of “place.”

General Idea’s FILE magazine is recognized for its contribution to an imaginary that defines Toronto as a “place” of artistic community. Image Bank’s International Image Exchange Directory; on the other hand, has not received as much attention despite a notable presence of Toronto addresses. Does the Image Bank Directory also play a part in the story of Toronto’s artistic community – as the gaze of these Vancouver artists helped shape an image of the place from afar?

FILE magazine and Image Bank’s Directory were published in 1972, and a series of cross-references are shared between the two. Both projects grow out of earlier activities in which the two collectives mirrored each other, literally with slivers of reflective glass; and figuratively through the recording action of a camera lens or in the traces of bodily desires imprinted in image and text. The cover-image for the first issue of FILE magazine features Vancouver’s Mr. Peanut posing against the skyline of Toronto. The Directory reciprocates with images of Toronto’s Jorge Zontal modeling “Evidence of Body Binding,” filed under “G.” Their joint list-making activities and transmission of subcultural codes through images could be read as a mode of kinship mapping between bodies bound up with technologically mediated images and text.

Scholarship that addresses the imaginary produced by these artists often characterizes it as “underground” and as an early example of queer world-making. Nonetheless, the lasting power of these publications lies in the ability to attract overlapping readerships that transcended subcultures – and municipal or regional limits. This paper will explore these two publishing initiatives as simultaneous undertakings, asking how a localized sense of place develops in relationship to community existing elsewhere?

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