Category Archives: Looking

Toronto’s Urban Imaginaries


Jon Johnson of First Story Toronto leads
Indigenous Roots and Routes Along the Humber River.
Image courtesy of Luis Jacob.

Throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, I had the pleasure of leading a Jackman Humanities Institute Working Group at UofT, alongside Barbara Fischer and Elizabeth Legge. The official description of the Group is up on the JHI site, but in response to questions I have had, I’ve list a more detailed description our activities here.

A series of eight meetings took place as public and invitational events working through different presentation formats, with a rotating attendance. At each meeting, core group members were complemented by invited guests including graduate students, scholars, members of community arts organizations, and major public galleries and museums.

September 19. Introductory Show-and-Tell.
Attendance 25

Presenters: Felicity Tayler outlined the goals, objectives and methods to generate interdisciplinary debate within the group over a series of eight meetings-as-events. Barbara Fisher addressed successes and “lessons learned” from the 2015 This is Paradise conference. Rosemary Donegan, Theresa Enright, Elizabeth Legge, Janine Marchessault, Scott Rayter, Dot Tuer, Rinaldo Walcott each presented physical objects and conceptual issues that they would respond to, and work through, in the context of the group.

October 28. Indigenous Roots and Routes along the Humber River.
Attendance 25

This meeting took place as a public event, promoted through the JHI mailing list. Scholar and guide for First Story Toronto, Jon Johnson (French Canadian, with Haudenosaunee and Kichisipirini ancestry), led a walking tour that engaged Indigenous understandings of sovereignty, space, and place as it intersects with the urban geography and settler history of the GTA. Following the protocols of oral tradition, Johnson conveyed Anishinaabe knowledge to the group through a reading of ResurgeFirst Timeline (2017) murals painted by Philip Cote (with Kwest, Nelly Torossian, and Jarus).

November 14. Round Table: Whose Voice? Politics and Identity.
Attendance: 20
Presenters: Andrea Fatona, Rinaldo Walcott, Felicity Tayler
Respondent: Dot Tuer Continue reading



Highlighted as a “must see” by Canadian Art Magazine, my solo show Réécrire/Rewriting was co-curated by Tianmo Zhang and Jean-Michel Ross, and co-produced by Z Art Space and Galerie Tomas Henry Ross. 14 June – 12 July.

Art critic Emily Falvey described the exhibition as “the perfect antidote to the 150 and ’60s nostalgia that has descended upon Montréal of late: an interesting meditation on identity politics, conceptual art, Canadian and Québec nationalism, and collage as an artistic strategy. And there are some fabulous mashups of Tom Thompson landscapes and Playboy magazine.”

Images above are courtesy of Itzayana Gutiérrez, one of several who attended a round table event on June 28. Tianmo Zhang, Jean-Michel Ross and Kanwal Sayed spoke alongside me. Their combined interests in the reception of “Chineseness” in contemporary art in North America, Québécois contemporary art, and contemporary art from Pakistan provided prismatic lenses for interpretation of the collage-based works.


Images below courtesy of Jean-Michel Ross.

Habitat Conversation


This graphic novella was commissioned in conjunction with Luis Jacob’s exhibition Habitat, May 5 – June 10, 2017, at Gallery TPW. It was also used as a talking point during a Saturday afternoon conversation. The graphic novella weaves together references to the representations of Toronto in Jacob’s work Sightlines, ongoing conversations with the artist, and sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s explanations of social space. Print versions were distributed throughout the exhibition. A PDF can be downloaded from Gallery TPW.


A continuous feeling of intense longing


As I was documenting a work that is presently on display as part of La Nouvelle Biennale, this image emerged from a fortuitous glitch in timing and technique.

La Nouvelle Biennale • From April 23rd to June 4th 2016 • Opening on April 23rd at 3pm
Galerie Thomas Henry Ross Art Contemporain and Galerie Margot Eleanor Ross art actuel

Playful Conceptualism

119 m Above Sea Level /  119 m au-dessus du niveau de la mer
6 décembre 2014 – 14 février 2015
Galerie d’art contemporain SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art


CRUM, “119 m Above Sea Level” (installation view), 2014. Courtesy Galerie SBC. Photo: Guy L’Heureux.

A collaborative project with the Centre de recherche urbaine de Montréal (CRUM) imaginatively restaging the lost archives of 45°30′ N-73°36’ W, an exhibition first presented at the Saidye Bronfman Center for the Arts and the Sir George Williams University Art Galleries (1971).

A review of the exhibition for Canadian Art describes the exhibition as, “peculiar, yet compelling.”
– Emily Falvey, “CRUM’s Playful Conceptualism” Canadian Art, 12 January 2015.

Vous avez posé plusieurs problèmes à la fois…

et je voudrais les étaler un peu…


A “graphic guide” or comic book-style explanation of Marxist aesthetics created for Romeo Gongora’s project Just Watch Me. To the right, a maquette of Synthèse des Arts, 1967 by Fusion des Arts.


Reading the comic

The dialogue in the comic is quoted from Alain Badiou’s visit to Montreal in 1968. He gave this workshop on Marxist aesthetics at the same time that he attended the trial of “alleged separatist-terrorist leader,” Charles Gagnon, as one of two observers from the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues.

Network Consciousness: Art Metropole (Toronto) and Residency Unlimited (Brooklyn)

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 11.37.50 AM

Live translation of 1973 agitprop video at Art Metropole (Toronto) alongside launch of Nathan Isbergs’ Atlantic-Griffin Manifesto, 8 February 2014

Nobu Adilman of the Toronto Eater puts the Manifesto into context with the video screening in,  The Atlantic’s Nathan Isberg Cooks Up a Manifesto .

Video screening and Q&A with Julia Oldham at RU (Brooklyn), 18 February 2014

This figure of speech has long been used to describe tangled lines of transportation or communications technologies and the people who use them to send goods and information from point to point. Because of the pervasiveness of social media, mobile phones and other technologies that augment our daily lives, we consider communications systems to mimic human behaviour and thought. By this logic, we can only perform as the technology does… read more

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Cette figure de style a longtemps servi à désigner l’enchevêtrement des technologies du transport et des communications, et les usagers qui les utilisent pour envoyer des biens et des informations d’un endroit à l’autre. L’omniprésence des médias sociaux, téléphones cellulaires et autres technologies qui amplifient notre vie quotidienne nous amène à considérer ces systèmes de communication comme des représentations de nos comportements et pensées. Suivant cette logique, notre productivité ne peut que refléter celle de nos technologies… lire la suite

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