Category Archives: Writing

Complex Networks of Desire: Mapping community in Visual Arts Magazines Fireweed, Fuse, Border/Lines

Las complejas redes del deseo: Trazando las comunidades en revistas de artes visuales Fireweed, Fuse, Border/Lines

Co-presented with Tomasz Neugebauer (Concordia University Library) at DH2018 “Puentes/Bridges” in Ciudad de Mexíco, 27 June 2018.

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Full-size English/Español version of the poster.

We present ongoing research using data visualization and complex network analysis to historicize the production of three periodicals: Fireweed, Fuse, and Border/Lines. Computational methods allow for the visualization of metadata describing these magazine issues as a complex network – but what do these visualizations reveal about real social relations involved in the production and circulation of these magazines? Fireweed, Fuse, and Border/Lines emerged between 1976 and 1986 in Toronto, Canada, from a hotbed of lesbian and gay liberation, feminist and cultural race politics, thereby circulating in relation to transnational social, political and cultural movements (Butling and Rudy, Gonosko and Marcellus, Monk, Robertson). Whereas digital art historical scholarship often applies computational methods to the analysis of visual images (Zorich, Manovich), this paper instead applies complex network analysis to bibliographic metadata describing artist-led magazine publishing. We propose that there is a correlation between the magazine as a site of imagined community (as a discursive site where artistic scenes and poetic community are formed) (Allen, 12-17); and the complex networks visualized from metadata describing production teams and content of each printed issue (Knight, Long, Lincoln, Liu).

To read the rest of this paper, see this extract from the DH2018 book of abstracts: Tayler_Neugebauer_dh2018_abstracts

The entire collection of abstracts is also available.

Toronto’s Urban Imaginaries

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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.

Meetings
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

Profile: Jason Baerg

I had the pleasure of writing this profile of Jason Baerg for issue 93 of esse arts+opinions Sketch/Esquisse

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Jason Baerg is a Cree Métis artist of international reputation working at the intersection of painting, digital media, and installation. He works from a double-consciousness that can be related to the Woodlands School, as Indigenous cultural signifiers are deeply embedded in the process and creative outcomes of his studio practice. Like writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Baerg is part of a generation that deliberately creates work on visual and linguistic terms recognizable to Indigenous viewers and readers. Non-Indigenous publics are attracted to the works through their own uptake of worldviews that are coded within the visual forms. Woodlands stands as a multigenerational reference for visual artists who have worked in this manner. Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Alex Janvier, and their peers adopted the so-called universalism of modernist abstraction as a vocabulary within which they could express an internal landscape of spiritual, cultural, and political affirmation.

In Baerg’s work a transcultural double-coding takes place as tensions arise between figuration and abstraction, and across physical and digital media. This play across representational and intermedial registers can be seen in two bodies of work: Relations (2010/2018) and Authors and Antidotes(2009). Relations reinvents the Western avant-garde’s break with verisimilitude in portraiture, by looking to Indigenous traditions of abstraction that predate modernism in Eurocentric art-historical timelines. The pairing of oil painting with digital sketches and animations inserts a sense of futurity into this redrawn timeline. Authors and Antidotes combines large-scale, hard-edge abstraction with collage-like strategies reminiscent of concrete poetry and combine paintings. The ASCII character code, which unifies the eclectic visual field, is a transposition of Baerg’s reflective writing practice. While this text addresses personal and community healing, these themes are also echoed in the red, yellow, white, and black colour fields, which correspond to the traditional Cree teachings of the four directions. On one hand the ASCII code can be read through a shared subculture of nostalgia for early computer technologies; on the other, this code and its palette camouflage meanings recognizable to viewers with lived experience of Indigenous traditional knowledge and practices.

For the full article and images: http://esse.ca/en/jason-baerg

 

Habitat Conversation

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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.

 

Le Petit Gris / The Grey Guide

The Grey Guide to ArtistRun Publishing and Circulation is composed of a series of seven essays, addressing distribution as a key concern for publishing within artistrun culture, alongside complex issues like conditions of production, copyright and fair dealing, and ethical protocols arising from within a community of practice. The Grey Guide was initially distributed as a serialized biweekly ecampaign, from March 1st to June 21, 2017. A print version is now available as of September 2017.
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Le Petit Gris : guide de l’édition en art et de la distribution autogérée réunit une série de sept rubriques. Continue reading

Roy K. Kiyooka’s “Conceptual Art Trips”

Serial Positionings: Roy K. Kiyooka’s “Conceptual Art Trips” Journal of Canadian Art History, Vol. XXXVI:1 (2016), 128-153.

A copy of Roy Kiyooka’s Transcanada Letters (Talonbooks, 1975) sits in a beam of sunlight upon my desk. Canada Post delivered the book from Vancouver to Montreal after I ordered it from an online bookseller. My desire to own a copy of Transcanada Letters arose after a first visit “out West” to the Contemporary Literature Collection at Simon Fraser University, where Kiyooka’s papers are housed. My trajectory, moving east to west, echoed the coast-to-coast narrative of Canadian nationhood. In this narrative, Vancouver currently plays the role of a thriving twenty-first century metropolis, which evolved from its earlier image as a “fantasy dream” at the edge of British Dominion and American Western expansion. Since the 1970s, when Transcanada Letters was published, Vancouver has increasingly adopted the identity of a Pacific Rim city. In this alternate narrative, the city plays the role of an essential node in global trade routes reaching out to Asia, just as its artists are tangled up in the complex cultural, political, and economic factors folded into the term “globalization.” The imaginary space mapped throughout the pages of Transcanada Letters, however, troubles the attempt to link the locality of its narrative, or the identity of its author, to a defined territory.

Conceptual Nationalisms

The abstract for my doctoral thesis! Successfully defended the 29th of September.

Conceptual Nationalisms: Conceptual Book-Works, Countercultural Imaginaries and the Neo-Avant-Garde in Canada and Québec, 1967-1974

Felicity Tayler, Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Humanities
Concordia University, 2016

Recent exhibitions have redefined conceptualism as a global movement that emerged alongside locally situated experiences of national liberation movements, New Left social activism and countercultural world-making. This thesis proposes an art historical term, “conceptual nationalisms,” as a contribution to the historicisation of conceptualism as the movement emerged in Canada and Québec. The term retrospectively describes book-works and magazines produced by an overlapping artistic and literary neo-avant garde, which evince the symbolic value of print media forms during the post-Centennial period (1967-1974). As funding for the arts increased and converged with labour policy in this period, the relationship between state ideology and a conceptualist critique of the art object as a commodity became intrinsically intertwined. Many conceptual book-works and artists’ magazines were produced alongside publications issued by literary small presses, as such, this thesis also recognizes parallels taking place between the linguistic turn in conceptual art and literary movements such as concrete, visual and sound poetry that emphasize the materiality of the signifier in language.

This thesis introduces three primary case studies: Roy Kenzie Kiyooka’s Transcanada Letters (Talonbooks, 1975); the Image Bank International Image Exchange Directory (Talonbooks, 1972), which parallels the publication of the first three issues of General Idea’s File magazine (1972-1989); and a utopian “linguistic space” produced in the early days of Véhicule Art gallery, with reference to several publications including the magazine, Médiart (1971-1973), Quebec underground, 1962-1972 (Éditions Médiart, 1973), and Bill Vazan’s Contacts (Véhicule Press, 1973). Continue reading