Category Archives: Writing

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.
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


An excerpt from an exhibition review published in C Magazine 129 (2016), which reflects upon the metaphorical play with the concept of archiving in Hank Bull: Connexion, Galerie de l’UQAM, Montreal, Oct. 23 — Dec. 5, 2015, curators: Joni Low and Pan Wendt.

Hank Bull: Connexion begins with a cactus. It is a smallscale,
brightly painted variety assembled from interlocking
MDF pieces. Behind the cactus, a landscape
unfurls in a palette of many hues with a gestural
brushstroke suggestive of the mind-altering experience
of desert light. A few feet away in the gallery, a
television monitor plays Duster (1991), a video work
that parasitically rearranges the narrative structure,
pictorial conventions and racial stereotypes of televised
Hollywood Westerns. This episode, collectively
authored and performed, features Warren Arcan,
Rebecca Belmore and other artists, like Hank Bull,
associated with the Vancouver artist-run centre the
Western Front.

The encounter with a cactus thriving in the subterranean
environment of Galerie de l’UQAM works
as a visual and spatial metaphor for the exhibition
as a whole. Viewers’ successive discovery of the social
context that produced the TV-studio species of
cactus and its artificial environment stands in for the
way that mediated images influence our unconscious
formation of identity and social groups…

…Ultimately, the exhibition shows that it is more
useful to think about archiving as a series of “events,”
as suspended moments; not simply an institutionally
imposed protocol, but a form of mediation that occurs
at many stages in the circulation of cultural objects.
In this sense, Hank Bull: Connexion is a self-archiving
project with a reflexive relationship to the
public gallery that hosts it, the discursive effects of
art history and curatorial practice.

Peter Doig: No Foreign Lands

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, January 24-May 4, 2014
Experience a virtual tour of the exhibition here.

An excerpt of my review of the exhibition written for C Magazine 123 (2014):

Looking at the paintings alongside my child, I was reminded that landscape is a learned pictorial convention. If visual language (like spoken language) is something we absorb from our environment, how is the Museum as the mediator of my child’s experience contributing to his nascent understanding of place? Doig’s large-scale paintings received a spacious hanging throughout the Museum’s Beaux-Arts architecture, this reinforced our contemplation of “landscape” as representations of a self-contained world existing elsewhere. However, my son’s inability to “see” the overall composition in each of Doig’s paintings meant that he focused on the fragments to which he could put words, such as “tree” or “bird.” This denaturalization of the picture caused me to wonder how Doig’s rummaging through the detritus of both a global popular culture and the global legacies of modernist painting challenge us to think of ourselves as foreign travelers in lands already occupied by other people and their memories.