Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
The Great Refusal: in conversation with Michelle Nguyen
Tuesday, June 1, 2021 | Yani Kong
Michelle Nguyen’s artwork will enworld you. Monstrous vegetation joins with naked, dripping, feminine bodies who live ferociously without ever doing too much. Figures pour from one orifice into another and commune with anthropomorphic meat. Colours push out towards the viewer. In the world of the painting, bodies, surfaces, paints, and textures party, seeming to want the viewer to become involved. Her work is luxurious, a little foreboding, and streaked with absurdity. Across her many mediums, drawing, print, clay, and largely in paint, Nguyen shows how the abject is cased in potential, still radiating beauty. Nguyen and I have known each other since 2016, and in that time, I’ve grown a deep admiration for both her and her work. Much like her body of work, Michelle is bold, darkly funny, and deeply tender. She has a lovely friendship with my young daughter. The two of them mixing potions of dirt, fallen flowers, and dead bugs, left to cook in a hot sunbeam. 
Cracks and Fissures: Saúl Hernandez-Vargas’ Strategies of Intervention
Thursday, May 20, 2021 | Katie Lawson
In a time of extreme social and political polarization, it is urgent to examine the historical narratives on which these ideological differences rest. In Mexico, colonial nationalist rhetoric takes on a mythic quality, and results in the homogenization of Indigenous identity and material culture. Yet art can introduce cracks and fissures to hegemonic histories and excavate the stories concealed beneath them. For Saúl Hernandez-Vargas, an artist from Taller de Artes Plásticas Rufino Tamayo, Oaxaca, this excavation is literal. I first encountered the artist through the 2017 works Plate #1, #2, and #3 and through documentation of the exhibition No queda nada para nosotros en la espesura (Nothing Left for Us in the Wilderness).
Smartness and Innovation: a dystopian technological vision in democratic governance
Friday, May 14, 2021 | Jake Pitre
In the Nevada desert you may soon be able to log every single thing you do on blockchain, from obtaining a marriage license to paying for your groceries. There, a largely unknown cryptocurrency magnate named Jeffrey Berns is hoping to install a “smart city” that his company, Blockchains, LLC, will control with the same rights as any municipal government. You will follow their laws. You will pay taxes they have designed. And you will use their technology. “For us to be able to take risks and be limber, nimble and figure things out like you do when you’re designing new products, that’s not how government works. So why not let us just create a government that lets us do those things?” Berns has said. 
Bottled Songs 1-4: in conversation with Kevin B. Lee and Chloé Galibert-Laîné
Friday, May 7, 2021 | Matt Turner
Artist-researchers Chloé Galibert-Laîné and Kevin B. Lee have been instrumental to the development of the contemporary online video-essay, pioneering and developing the form of the desktop documentary through both their individual video projects and the work they have made as collaborators. Combining text, images, and gestures recorded from within their computer screens with verbal or textual narration, using this form they can analyse or criticise a particular form of media in real-time, creatively taking it apart in front of the viewer to show how it functions.
Big, Beautiful, Blue Sky
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | Luther Konadu
The artist mish-mashes a kind of self-preservation shrine to cozy up to in an apocalyptic scenario not far from the one outside of our windows today. It is a surreal simulation that professes an oasis of sanity. It verges on absurdity, but that’s all we got in a world riddled with endless doubt. There’s an allure to somehow keep believing in the grand seduction of inspirational messaging, self-help literature, strength crystals, a rock that has “Peace” engraved on it, or just keep filling our shopping carts with scented humidifiers until a new sense of sanity emerges. In the face of an ever impending doom, the collection of work in 'Inspirational Stones', intimates with a deadpan wry voice that says: ‘sure, you do you, whatever gets you through the day’. For the artist, unsurprisingly, humour is a central part of this. Most of his new objects and spatial arrangements discursively uses the delirium of tragedy to tease out the many—often seemingly irrational—ways we cope, the new habits we develop, and how the grid of consumer culture makes this all the more complicated. Several of the objects gathered here are often advertised to consumers as “therapeutic” or meant to bring about a semblance of respite, however flaccid. Just like humour itself, they act as a comforting pill for navigating the dystopian reality we find ourselves in. But even as these readymades come with vacant promises, they continue to proliferate in the market giving their sheer ubiquity the power to sway. Although in some sense, the objects in the installation aren’t living the lives they were manufactured for, and as such, are hallowed and dead, he gives them a new critical successive life while reorienting our relationship with them in the real world.
A Slippery Fish: the work of Juan Ortiz-Apuy
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | Zinnia Naqvi
The objects in Juan Ortiz-Apuy’s work are carefully found, selected, auditioned, polished, and eventually put on immaculate display. Many do not make the cut, but those with particular stage presence and tactile appeal gain the honour of being brought into the limelight. His most recent exhibition, Tropicana was set up and then closed for four long months. The objects were left to dream. Did they eagerly await the day that the doors would open, and the lights would be cast upon them again? Or did they enjoy the peace and quiet of the gallery space, relishing their undisturbed moments on the pedestal?
'What it's like to grow up pour': in conversation with Hazel Meyer
Friday, April 9, 2021 | Lauren Fournier
I first met Hazel Meyer in Toronto back in 2016, on what was my “first official studio visit” as a newbie curator. I was humbled by Hazel’s generosity as she walked me through her work in what is now the Ubisoft building in west Toronto, inviting me into her world. Hazel’s artwork was well-known to me, then, as an iconic queer artist whose work was advancing conversations about queer bodies and queer histories. I was a big fan of her No Theory, No Cry, which I first encountered at Art Metropole, and which encompassed the feelings of painful pleasure and strife of my own experiences reading theory in art school. Nestled in a womb of cheerleading pompoms, pool noodles, archival photographs of now-deceased Toronto lesbian activist Chris Bearchell next to photographs from kink and leather communities, Hazel and I had an easy rapport. We were enrapt in conversation about what it might mean to have a women’s anal erotics as part of the “queer theory” conversation (where's the feminist butt stuff?), as the artist’s jean jacket depicting little buttholes hung above our heads. When we stumbled upon the shared fact of our working-class/poor backgrounds, our bond solidified—we had found a rare kinship, and we weren’t going to let it go. Indeed, finding out this fact about the other led me to find some power humming below the surface of things—below the surface of the city—a humming loud like industry, and a bit hidden, like shame. It was true: being “out” as someone from a low-income family seemed all too rare in a contemporary art world, where the assumption of middle-class-ness and even, at times, upper-middle-class-ness was the norm. This, too, in the institutions that surround contemporary art ones (like the university). 
Redressing Artistic Labour
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | Angel Callander
In 1905, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was founded to unionize workers who were on the margins of the capitalist economic system—workers who were highly replaceable because of the transitory nature of their positions, such as lumberjacks and farm workers, as well as those in dangerous, low-paying jobs like miners and longshoremen. With an IWW card, labourers of all kinds were able to realize their workers’ rights and take different jobs seasonally, all under the protection of the same industrial union that operated on collective bargaining. Today the IWW still identifies as “a rank-and-file-run, international union dedicated to the abolition of the wage system,” though its power has been diminished by the gradual decline of a robust labour movement and a public conscience therein. 
Cycles of production and disruption: in conversation with Karen Kraven
Tuesday, March 23, 2021 | Beth Schellenberg
Karen Kraven and I shared a series of scattered connections over the course of several months, with COVID-19 creating setbacks and long pauses that stretched out our dialogue, punctuating a busy yet oppressively still fall. Over a zoom call in November we had an electric conversation about workism and productivity, themes present in Kraven’s work and, of course, in our own lives. Kraven’s work, which revolves around cycles of production and disruption, feels incredibly prescient in this interminable “moment” of isolation, societal disruption and the increasingly obvious malaise created by rampant materialism and capitalist ideology.  Drawing on fashion, sports, and industry, Kraven’s exhibitions delicately undo and recreate mutable impressions of bodies, highlighting their absence and instability. In Razzle Dazzle Sis Boom Bah (2014) a series of fanciful hats fit for the royal pate of Queen Elizabeth II herself rest jauntily on hat stands made of salt licks (the type strewn across pastures for grazing animals, large colourful blocks) and metal pipe. Dust Against Dust’s (2019) fabric sculptures gesture towards garments, and are rendered precisely in jewel-toned taffetas with carefully hemmed edges. Other exhibitions feature nets draped haphazardly and rough denim fraying, textile compositions that maintain a jagged harmony, falling just shy of cacophony. This work is not prescriptive, rather it is open, literally coming apart at the seams. 
What mistranslation makes: in conversation with Anne-Marie Trépanier
Tuesday, March 16, 2021 | Hannah Azar Strauss
Anne-Marie Trépanier is an artist, editor, and cultural worker living in Tiohtiá:ke, with a practice that sprawls between writing, experimental publishing, and new media. She co-creates the bilingual publication Cigale with her collaborator Laure Bourgault, writes on and offline, coordinates events, and is involved in research on productive (mis)uses of Zoom. As part of her MA thesis research she is looking at feminist practices of information activism online. Specifically, she’s using archival web research, digital storytelling, and curation, to explore how Ada X (fka Studio XX) — a feminist artist-run centre dedicated to gender and technology, founded in 1996 — has organized, stored, and provided access to information through their website. As is clear in our conversation, these aren’t just research interests; they are entirely enmeshed with Anne-Marie’s life as a queer feminist who has been “online” since childhood.
Aspic Sculpture IV: Material Poetics
Monday, March 15, 2021 | Miles Rufelds
As a dish, the aspic’s practical development has passed through a dizzying range of material interests—aristocracy to royalty to industry to austerity to a kind of uncanny normalcy. All throughout, though, save a few modifications, the aspic’s function has remained consistent: ensconce, maintain, protect, and preserve. Across its many aesthetic manifestations, its migration across social classes, and its distinct pragmatic functions, the aspic’s very materiality has always been silently undergirded  with a material poetics of its own. Though it’s rarely acknowledged by the able-bodied, collagen, from which gelatin derives, is not a neutral substance to mammalian bodies, standing as one of the most primary and precious connective tissues holding joints, limbs, and appendages together. In gelatin, this material function is distilled, abstracted, transposed to unfamiliar shapes, but a basic nature remains. The aspic’s core preservative function, maintaining serviceable shape, forestalling decay and dissolution, is abetted by the very stuff that holds our animal selves together.
SWANA Film Festival: contending with complexities of matrilineal relationships from the SWANA diaspora
Friday, March 12, 2021 | Tara Hakim
Three months ago, I grasped the opportunity and flew back to Jordan from Toronto amidst the global pandemic to be with family. It felt as if I was leaving home to go home; an oxymoron in itself - both literally and viscerally. The first few weeks were filled with an inchoate excitement involving reunions, local food cravings, and late-night catch-up conversations. Then, as time stretched and the pandemic slowness set in, so did my feelings and experience of being back. I found myself feeling more and more disoriented, fragmented, and dis/connected. Disconnected from my true self, my ways of being, and personal culture I have cultivated for myself; a combination of many cultures and lived experiences I belong to. I’m originally Palestinian, born and raised in Jordan with an Austrian grandmother. I was raised with the clear distinction that I am Palestinian, and not Jordanian, and yet I have never set foot in Palestine. Never felt Jordanian, nor Austrian. No identity. Dual identity? Triple? Where do I belong? Sparingly connected to selected moments, people and slices of daily life; mainly among my mother and her parents. In this unhome I sometimes call home, I feel most myself and safest in the confines of my maternal grandparents’ home and sometimes, in my mother’s embrace. I’ve been on a journey of contemplation and reflection since, and the relationship I have with my mother and home has somewhat been at the forefront. 
'My I must know my me': in conversation with Nástio Mosquito
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | Elizaveta Alexandrovna Shneyderman
Angolan-born artist Nástio Mosquito’s work is prophetic, cacophonous, and a bit slimy. His work is actively engaged in defacing existing linguistic taxonomies, bypassing the art-world tendency towards opaqueness. The artist's multimedia works—which span video, sound, sculpture, architectural intervention, and even several collaborative forays—inculcate a viewer into his personal genome. Underpinning his vast output is an investment in the emancipatory potential of correspondence, as well as the ways it can be wielded to elicit the entire arc of a provocation: shock, surprise, awe, acquiescence, nostalgia. He discusses fatherlessness, selfhood, journalistic integrity, fucking, and Western legacies of colonization in the same breath.
Negotiating beauty in times of grief: in conversation with Emmanuel Osahor
Tuesday, March 9, 2021 | Christina Battle
When I moved back to Edmonton in 2019, I started scouring social media in search of other Black artists working in the city. I knew they were here, but I wasn’t seeing them at any of the public art programming I was attending, and I took note of their absence. Through this online research, I quickly came to know Emmanuel Osahor’s work but, since he was in the process of moving to Guelph, Ontario to start his graduate, we didn’t have a chance to meet IRL. By the winter of 2020 I had the opportunity to experience Emmanuel’s work in person: first in even the birds are walking (an exhibition we both participated in) curated by Noor Bhangu for Latitude 53; and soon after, at his solo exhibition No Place at the McMullen gallery. Both experiences left me thinking deeply about care, beauty, ecology, the (im)/possibilities of utopia, poverty, inclusion, diversity, community, and the complexity of pushing against dominant narratives. Emmanuel’s multidisciplinary work opens up questions around how we might reconcile the blurry lines of overlap and opposition between all of these things at once. Born in Nigeria, Emmanuel has been practicing in Canada since 2010. His artistic work has explored processes of painting, photography and installation.
Aspic Sculpture III : Testbeds of Capitalist Erosion
Monday, March 8, 2021 | Miles Rufelds
If Kevin Beasley’s sculptures from 'A view of a Landscape' were largely concerned with countenancing historical narratives, reframing atavistic patterns from the 18th and 19th centuries to emphasize how they remain in place centuries on, Canadian sculptor Catherine Telford-Keogh’s work in the aspic genre reflects squarely on the perversities of contemporary, late-stage capitalism. And if the last essay explored Beasley’s symbolic suspension of exploitation, erasure, and decay, the works I’ll discuss here approach the crumbling worlds of contemporary capitalism by leaning into the encroachment of precarity or decay. Telford-Keogh’s work is largely defined by a flailing sculptural mode similar to those we’ve seen so far: perplexing, intractable wholes composed from anxious, interminable mixtures of unlike objects. This ethos holds across much of her practice, but the genre is most clearly embodied by a shapeshifting series of floor-mounted cylinders she has been producing for the past several years.
Love letters and the color red: in conversation with artist Mohamad Kanaan
Tuesday, March 2, 2021 | Clementine Butler-Gallie
Autumn 2019 in Beirut felt like summer. I had been in the city for one month already, staying as a resident at the cultural space Mansion where I was working on a curatorial research project. The formally abandoned villa sits on a hill in the city’s Zuqaq al-Blat district, the immense creativity within its walls unidentifiable from the street below. It was through the artistic community of Mansion that I first met the artist Mohamad Kanaan. 
Aspic Sculpture II : Exploitation, Erasure, and Decay
Monday, March 1, 2021 | Miles Rufelds
The first patent for gelatin production was issued in 1754, but gelatin’s industrial production began with the Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the 19th century. With their ports blocked by English fleets, unable to receive properly varied food shipments, French scientists experimented with gelatin as a protein substitute. As we’ll see, this predilection to compensate for austere material conditions repeats as a pattern throughout the aspic’s history. Gelatin plants at this time were a second-order industry, often reliant on the scraps from other factories and processors that worked with animal bones, as well as butchers. While elaborate, molded aspics and jellied deserts were still only accessible to the upper classes, a consolidated research program inaugurated the first industrial-scale manufacture of gelatin, which, paired with the presiding circular economy, opened gelatin consumption to people of any economic class.
Somatic Sorcery: in conversation with Francesca Mariano
Monday, February 22, 2021 | Adina Glickstein
Francesca Mariano is an exemplar of balance in unbalanced times. Spanning media (and maybe even multiple dimensions), her creative practice carves out space for connection that encourages pause and pleasure, contrary to the Internet’s default setting of disembodied drift and information overload. To me, the most salient dimension of Francesca’s work is that it affords generous space for nuance and contradiction. She approaches online life with a rigorously critical gaze, yet the Web is a frequent subject in her work and her visual output drenched in digital aesthetics. From Instagram dance documentation to movement seminars in “Archaeo-Choreology” and “Water Info Transmissions” (with dance therapist Sophie Mars), Francesca probes the somatic-political pools of perception. Her projects range from experimental music à la Intuitive Gestures to leading residencies at Nuova Atlantide fusing exploration of language, movement, and landscape. She draws on the language and history of the New Age movement but works strenuously to avoid appropriation, criticizing the commercialized “wellness” industry as vociferously as she critiques the Enlightenment idea of a mind-body divide. A further testament to this nuance is the deliciously ironic fact that Francesca and I first connected via Instagram. I can’t remember exactly how I found her, but I recall the moment of being moved to tears by a video of her dancing to Burial. For a platform that essentially generates revenue by making us feel inadequate so that we compensate by compulsively buying the products that pop up in our feeds, I have to hand it to the algorithm for doing right by me on this one...
Aspic Sculpture I : an introduction to the "aspic genre"
Saturday, February 20, 2021 | Miles Rufelds
Rising to prominence at wide intervals, serving unusual niches across temporal and geographic expanses, aspics appear again and again as a strange kind of aesthetic sentinel. Their formal and material compositions have remained largely consistent throughout their long history, yet with each new period, the aspic’s cultural role is reinvested with new significance, representing novel cross-sections of the era’s fantasies and fears. To be sure, at first glance my opening examples may seem erratic, verging on incoherent, framing a single culinary object as a cypher for continental philosophy, contemporary art, and historical class tensions. I contend that a careful reading of the aspic’s twisting material and cultural histories can offer us a unique (if eccentric) interpretive lens through which to contemplate the ways aesthetic objects filter and reflect their era’s political-economic antagonisms. I pursue such an interpretive lens in this way, at this time, because in a number of ways aspics have begun to proliferate once again.
'What is always already in place': in conversation with Mitra Fakhrashrafi
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | Dhvani Ramanujam
I still haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mitra Fakhrashrafi in person. Amidst a global pandemic, our conversation took place on a quiet afternoon in late October, over a Zoom call from two separate cities  I, from Toronto and she, from Montreal. I’ve known of Mitra’s work for a few years now, and we have a few mutual friends. Maybe that’s why despite the awkwardness I had anticipated by doing this interview online, we instead quickly settled into an intimate, and conversation about her curatorial practice. Although Mitra is temporarily located in Montreal, much of her curatorial work is rooted in the specificity of Toronto. Mitra grew up spending most of her life in different pockets of Toronto. Having recently graduated with an MA in Geography from the University of Toronto, her ability to think deeply about how we make space is something that filters through the work she has curated both independently and collaboratively. She co-curated Habibiz (2019), a group exhibit that examined Toronto's Shisha ban, considering what it means to illegalize already hypersurveilled spaces, as well as Sanctuary Inter/rupted, (2018) which critically interrogated the notion of Toronto as a sanctuary city, in response to a 2013 city council motion that gave the city that status. She also curated Salam from Niagara Falls / سلام از آبشار نیاگارا , a 2019 exhibit for the Contact Photography Festival that took up first- and second-generation Afghan and Iranian home-making in the context of ongoing settler colonialism on Turtle Island. While these three aforementioned exhibits featured work that often dealt with personal and intimate relationships to place and land, each of the exhibits are always already connected to larger transnational issues of hyper-surveillance, displacement, border imperialism, and colonialism. 
Reinscribing history in public space
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | Angel Callander
Canada’s relationship to its own history and the symbols used to memorialize it is reactionary. The insistence that monuments should be left untouched as they teach us about history, for example, betrays a concern with nationalism rather than education: this naturalizes dominant histories which serve those in power. As theorist Paul B. Preciado recently wrote, following German author W.G. Sebald, “monuments that represent the power some wield over others paradoxically contain in their violent and grandiloquent style the root of their own destruction.” That is, the preordained authority of a monument in a time and place—as an index of an event, or an icon of a powerful figure—is bound to outlive its purported permanence once an educated public decides it is not served by the way this history has been told. This is why prevailing discourses on whether certain monuments should be taken down, or what should be done with them once they are, miss the point of what kind of transformation people really want and need. These are liberal questions that sidestep the material issues reinforced by this ecology of monuments and public space. Statue removal on its own is a symbolic reordering, but replacing their modes of representation—the ideas, symbols, and values bestowed on society by centuries of capitalism—is a much deeper process. The transformation of these modes is a process of iconoclasm that starts with a rejection of inherited and uncritical ideas of the status-quo as the only way to live. In its stead, we must critically examine how histories and lived experiences are embodied in and structured by the ecology of public space... 
Choreographies of isolation: in conversation with Nova Bhattacharya and Kevin A. Ormsby
Monday, February 15, 2021 | Brannavy Jeyasundaram
In another timeline, Nova Bhattacharya and Kevin A. Ormsby would have premiered the largest productions of their careers at the crest of fall. Works that invited participation from artists across the globe, filled 3000-seat theatres, and brought a chorus of Black and brown bodies in motion. Bhattacharya, the Artistic Director of Nova Dance, was preparing to debut Svāhā — a pageant of dance, chant, and ritual performed by women — at Meridian Hall. Ormsby, the Artistic Director of KasheDance, was set to debut a choreographic work with the National Ballet of Canada and the 10th anniversary production of his company. When the pandemic hit Toronto in March, everything came to a halt. Suddenly, they were ushered into a sociological experiment with significant creative potential. As dance artists heavily dependent on experimentations of touch, Bhattacharya and Ormsby were forced to reimagine what it means to work. They shifted from building choreography to focusing on the mental well-being of their dancers. Furthermore, as mid-career artists who have relentlessly advocated for meaningful inclusion in Canada's arts sector, the pandemic has shifted their understanding of progress. Bhattacharya uses the vocabulary of Bharatanatyam, a South Indian classical style to build works that explores the interfaces between cultures and creative disciplines. Similarly, Ormsby traverses Afro-Caribbean diasporas through the language of dancehall, modern dance, and ballet. The recognition that they receive today as recipients of grants from federal and provincial arts institutions did not come easy.
Messay films: in conversation with Asa Mendelsohn
Friday, February 12, 2021 | Sindhu Thirumalaisamy
Asa Mendelsohn and I come from very different worlds—Asa is from New York and spent several years in Chicago and in Vienna as a Fulbright fellow; I have lived in different parts of South India and moved to the US for graduate studies. We found each other through the visual arts MFA program at UC San Diego. E.R. Cho, a mentor to both of us, introduced us when Asa was still considering the move. Asa later told me that our initial conversations about the messy labor politics at UCSD and listening practices convinced him that we could be friends—and that he may not have made the move if it weren’t for Cho and me. We have been studio neighbours, collaborators, and close friends since then, translating for each other about the many ways that art and activism intersect in our lives. We have both worked a lot with sound, perhaps as a way of sidestepping our uneasy relationships to cameras. And, despite that uneasiness, we have both approached filmmaking as a means of imagining worlds to which we want to belong—as imperfect attempts at world-making. 
Present Futures: in conversation with Kapwani Kiwanga on power, archival research and plants
Friday, February 5, 2021 | Ella den Elzen
Research can be an opening to the inaccessible, the unknown, or the forgotten. Kapwani Kiwanga explores this fact in her work, perhaps due to her background in anthropology and comparative religion before becoming an artist. By materializing details and histories often pulled from documents, she brings us closer to things that, though, seemingly obscured by dominant narratives, are actually in plain sight. It was during a research project of my own investigating the architectural details of carceral environments that I first encountered Kiwanga’s works pink-blue (2017) and A Sum and Its Parts (2017). These pieces struck me in the way they transformed archival documents and photographs into affective experiences. The method Kiwanga used specifically, unearthing the specifications of carceral spaces and other architectures of control and translating them into large-scale immersive installations was immediately alluring to me as both a researcher and designer. My own research examined the architecture of Canadian immigration detention centres, specifically looking at the ways in which these government-sanctioned facilities that detain undocumented migrants further reinforce ideas of illegality and criminality. The government often refuses journalists and researchers access to these centres, and very few photographs of the interior architecture of the buildings themselves are available. So, when I began analyzing them, my primary interest evolved into a question of how to access this inaccessible information.  
Diversity is a narrow achievement 
Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | Cinthia Arias Auz
As we know them today, branding strategies have moved through several stages of transformation. From advertising new inventions in the mid-nineteenth century and supplying proper names for generic goods to helping corporations find their soul in what writer Naomi Klein refers to as the “brand essence.”1 According to Klein, in the late eighties and early nineties, students were fighting a battle over issues of “representation,” which she defines as “a loosely defined set of grievances mostly lodged against the media, the curriculum and the English language.” However, she elaborates that corporations did not see students as the enemy but as a brand-content source to produce a “new identity.” Corporations managed to assimilate the urgent call for representation and mass-produced diversity as a result. All the social struggles that students advocated for quickly became a continuous supply of content for the branding giants who turned themselves into instant allies to every cause under the sun. There is nothing branding cannot touch. It learns new gimmicks and develops a shallow conscience in the name of revenue.  
Ruminations on a cultural mosaic of light, space and spice
Monday, January 18, 2021 | Elroy Pinto
In 1910, my grandmother, Elizabeth, and her family left everything behind in rural South Kanara to arrive in the city by coastal steamers. My grandfather, John, worked as a weaver at Khatau Mills. Their migration happened through networks of caste, kinship, and village associations and was largely enforced due to poverty and rural distress.  While living in Bombay, my wife and I felt that our job prospects were limited and the idea of moving to Canada with its relatively stable social and political conditions was alluring. Our migration happened through the permanent residency program, a process in which our educational and job experiences were measured as points in a system. 
A history of violence: revisiting ‘The Cars that Ate Paris’, 1974
Thursday, January 14, 2021 | Christopher Michael
The film’s themes of violence and class segregation are especially interesting when considering the suburbanization that took place in Westernized countries in the 1970s. In the United States and the United Kingdom, this was a decade of “white flight”: white families with disposable income fled urban centers, leaving people of color and the working classes behind in rapidly decaying—that is, overcrowded and underfunded—cities. This was largely aided by expanded access to cars for the middle classes, as well as city planning that prioritized cars over public transportation—and thus the middle- and upper-classes over the poor. Public funding went toward making city centers more accessible to those who were able to commute from the suburbs—with several highways built to bridge the gap to and from suburbia. This furthered an already splintering class divide. This context for The Cars That Ate Paris’ release in 1974 is significant: the elite Parisians’ pride in their rural town, which is entirely reliant on cars, can be read as synonymous with their upper-class interests.
Images of Awareness: some reflections from a year of civil protest
Tuesday, January 12, 2021 | Jennifer Torwudzo-Stroh
Do you remember the first time you saw Breonna Taylor‘s face? Or, perhaps more aptly, do you remember the first time you saw her likeness? None of us can really say we’ve ever seen her face because the vast majority of us never knew her. But I can tell you with certainty when I made my first social media post about Taylor: on June 4, 2020, in my Instagram stories, I reshared a Change.org petition called “Justice for Breonna Taylor.” At the time it had 2,949,394 signatures with the goal of reaching 3,000,000. The link to the petition was accompanied by  the now-familiar picture of Taylor at her graduation. In the image, she’s immortalized as a young Black woman, smiling broadly, her face bare, her hair arranged in black and red twists and woven into a crown on her head. She’s clad in a uniform with a bouquet of yellow flowers cradled in her arm and her recently awarded certificate displayed prominently in her hand for the photo. Behind her is the Louisville seal and four standing flags, the Stars and Stripes the most identifiable among them. Her gaze is level and she stands poised and proud of her achievement.
Support through undoing : in conversation with Thulani Rachia
Thursday, January 7, 2021 | Juliane Foronda
Thulani Rachia (b. 1988, South Africa) is a Glasgow-based artist, educator and director whose work carefully documents, maps and generously unpacks (hi)stories within his surroundings, emphasized through lived experience, discovery, research and repetition. Transcending space, circumstance and existences, the acknowledgement of time is vibrantly alive in Rachia’s practice. Time, in the way we spoke of it, can be heavy, charged and non-linear. His initial training in architecture continues to influence his practice through his recurring use of urban environments as material, in his choreography, performances and installations. His ongoing investment in highlighting the racism built into these spaces offers a careful insight into his lived experiences, ancestry, and how markings of colonialism and the slave trade continue to be very much alive and present in our everyday. 
Erin Johnson’s Queer Ecosystems
Friday, December 11, 2020 | Sophia Larigakis
Erin Johnson’s preoccupation with bringing people together through and in her work stems from her time as a campaign coordinator and organizer for a labour union and as a community organizer for LGBTQ groups. For the installation Salidas y Entradas | Entrances and Exits (2018), Johnson and fellow artist Jessica Hankey facilitated improv workshops —along with applied theater practitioner Gina Sandí Díaz—at three public senior centers for a group of elders in El Paso, Texas. “I was interested in the idea of the public community center as this really important site of care that’s always in a precarious state, because it’s city-funded,” Johnson notes. Her desire to connect people and empower them by strengthening ties is a way of contesting the modes by which capitalism alienates us from one another. Her works Lake (2020– ) and Tomatoes (2020– ) are “also attempts at thinking about collectivity on a non-narrative, purely visual level,” Johnson says. She is heavily influenced by feminist scholar and activist Silvia Federici’s appeal to “reconnect what capitalism has divided: our relation with nature, with others, and our bodies,” and these works foreground queer desire and affinity in nature as forms of resistance to the alienated conditions Federici identifies.