Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
A historical and contemporary primer on stained glass
Monday, May 29, 2023 | Angel Callander
The history of stained glass is ancient and global. But given the conceptual demands of contemporary art, stained glass is a supple and compliant medium that can be imbued with almost any concern. What is most interesting about looking at these artists together is that, contrary to what one might expect, the more secular character of stained glass is largely sidestepped in favour of a slight bend towards spirituality and religiosity, often in critical, ironic, or unconventional terms. Materially, stained glass is combined with other quotidian or industrial elements, either in an effort to aggrandize the latter or situate the former as pragmatic and functional.
'Funnily Enough': in conversation with Lan "Florence" Yee
Tuesday, May 23, 2023 | Nawang Tsomo Kinkar
I try to infuse much of what I do with humor, or at least an ironic tone. The title is a good indicator of my interest in futility, or the thought of impossibility. Ghosts, not having skin, cannot get sunburns. But it’s my desire to materialize things that haunt us, in order to deal with them. That’s the general ethos of how I make work…trying to give a host to these specters floating around in my life. Since most of my work is autobiographical (slightly fictionalized of course) and draws from personal experiences and anecdotes, I try not to focus on huge tragedies. I’m more interested in the trickling awkwardness. I think they relate much more to experiences of living with trauma, rather than the tragic event itself.
Shadows and Scripts
Monday, May 8, 2023 | Chenoa Baker
Paper folds, creases, tears, and crinkles. It holds the vestige of notes passed to one another or journal entries of dreams and nightmares. It facilitates exchanges of currency, and other types of social contracts that become real when written down, and perhaps, letters to a lover. In many ways, paper is an empath; impressionable, and observant. It's a vessel that lives, dies, and becomes reborn through decomposition. Paper “bridges the material and immaterial” as Hong Hong describes. Papermaking, since the Han Dynasty in 206-220 CE, traveled a circuitous route to share our stories and accounts of our environment. 
An Imaginary Grid: in conversation with Elizabeth M. Webb
Wednesday, April 26, 2023 | Magdalyn Asimakis
Elizabeth M. Webb is an artist and filmmaker whose material practice is entwined with experimental research. These two aspects of her work are inlaid, as it is nearly impossible to speak about one without the other. Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Elizabeth’s family history is embedded in her work, in particular its oscillating histories of racial passing throughout the United States. The artist often considers her own experience, and that of her family’s, as a way of examining broader social structures, and how those structures are at odds with lived realities. Her research process acknowledges these limits, her questions leading her through and around theoretical texts into the homes of estranged family, local churches, and former family plantations.
Holding the Devil’s Hand
Wednesday, March 29, 2023 | Kerry Maguire
Black Diamond is a small town located forty-five minutes south of Calgary. In a mutual decision by local councils to prioritize “cost savings,” it was recently merged with the nearby town of Turner Valley, Alberta, and the area comprising the two has, as of January 1, 2023, gone by the name Diamond Valley (clever!). We must not forget that these are all colonizer names—although youthful, punkish me had a fantasy that Black Diamond was named for the KISS/Replacements song, and not for the prevalence of coal in the area. The actual, earthy land of Diamond Valley ripples off to the east, shaking out into the prairies—which are not flat, if you are not familiar; they roll and undulate and sometimes drop off into breathtaking river valleys, house many small critters like mice and birds, and if you stop to inspect the ground, there is a tangle of plants (including cacti) as diverse as any forest. To the west of Diamond Valley is land that gathers together in larger formations until it becomes, rather suddenly, the Rocky Mountains. This is the traditional territory of the Treaty 7 people.
Installation Art is for Lovers
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 | Emma Fuchs
There is something intimate in being horizontal: lying side by side, gazing into the face of your lover or at the same strange tilted perspective: the wrinkled sheets that mountain and valley around you, the blades of grass that shade your views, or the unfamiliar slant of things. When you are horizontal, you share new spaces, physically and visually. Experiencing visual art can have a similar effect: lines direct the gaze, and those that emphasize horizons and horizontal elements invite an intimacy that parallels laying horizontal or making eye contact. As the eyes of many different viewers are pulled in the same direction, the artwork invites a sense of intimacy through sharing a gaze, a perspective.
Toward a future to hold on to
Tuesday, February 28, 2023 | Mike Curran
Art’s “smallness” becomes apparent when measured against the sociological and environmental precarity we are facing. It appears smaller still when positioned as the antidote to this degrading reality—a narrative often promoted by those most responsible for our societal death spiral. Recognizing the tendencies of corporate entities to decouple their support of socially-conscious art from the actual impacts of their operations, Davis writes: “The entire art industry is built on the fantasy of artists as a special class of visionaries whose imagination will Change the World—it is always more palatable for powerful people to fund an art show of radical images than actually to get behind radical change.”
Sun & Sea: Epic Theatre in the Sand
Tuesday, February 21, 2023 | Rachel Kubrick
Three years after its Golden Lion win at the 2019 Venice Biennale, Sun & Sea arrived in London. The Lithuanian performance on climate change was brought to the British capital as a collaboration between We Are Lewisham Borough of Culture 2022, London’s International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) 2022, and the Serpentine Gallery’s Back to Earth programme on the climate emergency.  This multitude of producers from all corners of the London cultural sphere begged the question: “what exactly is it?”, as many people enquired when I mentioned my summer evening outing. In each context, it became a different art form. Was it a public community event for Lewisham council, a theatrical production for LIFT, or performance art for the Serpentine’s contemporary art audience? Perhaps the most successful description is an opera, the ‘total’ or ‘ultimate’ art form—a beach opera to be exact. 
How to Stop Yawning
Tuesday, January 24, 2023 | Hannah Bullock
To yawn, and to witness it spread through a room, unveils a mysterious inter-connectedness between ourselves and others. Its contagiousness (the immediacy and visibility of its contagiousness), raises questions about what it means to construct a concept of the self that is entirely independent and separate from the ‘other’. In addition, if it is read as a nonverbal and preconscious form of communication, it deviates from how we understand the structure of communication itself. It is not willful or within our control: we do not read or interpret the way a yawn passes from one person to another, we do not choose whose yawns we mirror. It does not follow the order of language, or body language, for that matter.  
Burning the Old Year
Monday, January 2, 2023 | Cinthia Arias Auz
Every year on the first midnight of January, Ecuador celebrates La Quema del Año Viejo (the burning of the old year). My father used to build our family’s monigote — also referred to as the “old man” — using his old clothes. At the waist, he would stitch a shirt and a pair of pants together. Later, he would fill it with sawdust and old newspapers. He would then close the legs and arms with stitches. We would purchase a prefabricated paper mache head with a painted face of an "old man" as the finishing touch. We would bring our monigote to the middle of the street, where our neighbours would come out with theirs and we’d pile them all together. Everyone would buy gasoline and explosives to set them on fire, we would jump over the burning pile while laughing and hollering. Granted, these were not commercial fireworks, and all I can recall was staring out the window from the safety of a car, entranced.
A year in charismatic trash
Friday, December 30, 2022 | Madeline Bogoch
The phenomenon of photo dumps first entered my radar during the early days of the pandemic when they arose as a practical alternative to the prior era of polished lifestyle photos. You've probably seen them on Instagram, a loose descendent of the bygone Facebook photo album, now used to assemble disparate off-the-cuff snapshots into an impressionistic gallery of one's recent affairs, or an absurdist slideshow of the abject, banal, and/or beautiful. The content and its provenance are less important than the overall sensation left on the viewer. This shift away from the calmness of perfectly composed shots of plants, teak, and pastel walls seems to signal the end of a certain Millennial aesthetic that has begun to recede in favour of a messier and more libidinal image culture. More so than a formula, the best photo dumps tap into an ineffable quality, often expressed as a vibe. The contrastive maximalism of this emergent aesthetic adds substance to the presumption of millennial fatigue, but it also reveals the degree to which photo dumps, and the grimy images that occupy them, rely on felt impressions to encode meaning. This dynamic alone is a timely practice. Around 2021, the idea of vibes made a strong comeback from their New Age-y roots and entered our lexicon as a mode of reading art and culture.
Atlas as Process
Monday, November 7, 2022 | Fan Wu and Dan McFadden
The classical figure of Atlas—let’s take the Farnese Atlas as our oldest extant example—holds on his back the world in the shape of a celestial globe, a readable image of the heavens. If we were to circle this sculpture in three-dimensional space, we would count 41 constellations from ancient Greece: illustrations of star patterns whose forms have persevered to this day. Atlas’s spine is contorted and his muscles bulge; I witness his neck bowed and tug instinctually at my own shoulders, stiff in sympathetic reciprocity. It’s not that the sky is that heavy. Rather, Atlas only knows the sky as a burden handed down to him, and treats it with the weight that punishment projects into it. (And I have to admit that where others see Atlas’s strength, his exhaustion is what I want to see; this is the interpretation my mind magnetizes.)
Africanist Autoethnography: same old bad joke
Wednesday, September 14, 2022 | Chigbo Arthur Anyaduba
Africanists, as some of us have come to know them, are white academics who are experts of that monumental piece of fiction called “Africa.” It is to Africanists we owe a lot of our “knowledge” of Africa. They tour “Africa” regularly and return to Europe and North America to supply academic facts and knowledge about Africa and its peoples, animals, geographies, and whatnot. Their knowledge of Africa is never in short supply: they’re stupendously widely published in major Western academic journals and presses. One finds them regularly giving interviews to mainstream Western media on this/that crisis in Africa. The media call them experts of Africa. Africanists are well funded; they can easily afford to spend years anywhere on the African continent researching Africa. Africanists have theories for just about any African problem. In fact, they invented African Studies and over the years grudgingly made allowances for certain African scholars to be considered experts in African Studies—but only once the bloody African scholars can demonstrate some fluency in the theories and vocabularies of engagement produced and circulated by Africanists.
Seeking Writers : ongoing
Tuesday, September 13, 2022 | Public Parking
Public Parking is currently seeking critical thinkers, attentive cultural observers, and meticulous point-makers to write for the publication. We are also seeking visual artists interested in using the publication as a testing space to write adjacent to, or discursively alongside their own or a peers studio practice.
Friday, September 2, 2022 | Maya Hayda
A kind of precarity runs through FRET SCAPES, stemming from the exhibit’s tense climate of sagging letters and shadowy streets. There is a preoccupation with attempting to grasp that which is fleeting, redolent in the camera’s attempt to capture quickly falling water-bounded letters or fix an image of the ghostly outlines of two pairs of palms on a dusty door of the subway.  Yet, despite the abundance of transient moments passing through Ebner’s exhibition, there is a call to pay attention to the physicality of things. The show prompts us to turn our gazes and thoughts to the matter which constitutes these spectral photographic moments of everyday life and the words used to describe them. As Ebner’s poem FRET ends, the impalpable voice of a writer on the horizon calls to all of us, “FRET TO THE LEFT / & THEN FRET / TO THE RIGHT. / A LANDSCAPE OF / DIRT FORMS ITS / SHAPE NOTES, / CALLS OUT / INTO THE NIGHT, / FIGHT &/OR FLIGHT.” In FRET SCAPES, words take on a physical shape, expanding beyond immaterial meaning. To pay attention to this matter is to take heed of Ebner’s verse. 
Propertyless Subjects
Friday, July 29, 2022 | Alexandra Symons-Sutcliffe
Photography is a politically efficacious technology with the potential to enable those who are socially and economically excluded to preserve ordinary moments of life. Describing this belief, [Terry] Dennett is quoted as saying, “Photographs are documents we can make ourselves, documents we can have some control over with regard to distribution. Also important in this respect are the ephemeral materials of everyday life, the redundancy notices and tax demands etc. Such material constitutes a vivid historical counter-archive, for it often contains photographic images made outside the sanction of officialdom and of events censored from the press, and, perhaps more importantly, shows things so ordinary and everyday, or so unique, that no one else has recorded them.” For Dennett, representation is not a fixed category or an image but a process via which one realises one's own capacity as a social being.
The artist as wizard: in conversation with Guillaume Adjutor Provost
Monday, July 25, 2022 | Didier Morelli
Guillaume Adjutor Provost is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher, and educator whose carefully considered material practice combines installation, sculpture, performance, video, drawing, and text. In his oeuvre, Adjutor Provost creates ethereal landscapes meant for thorough contemplation by his viewer. The artist envisions the space of the exhibition as a container of ideas and sees the act of exhibiting collections as a vehicle for issues such as class consciousness, counter-culture, vernacular imagery, and experiences of queerness. The figure of the wizard, a cross-cultural fictional practitioner of magic that has inspired young and old for centuries, is a wonderful character that Adjutor Provost has appropriated for himself for years. Not too dissimilar from the romantic archetype of the visual artist, the wizard enjoys a rich and mythical history in folklore. From these, legends of the supernatural have also emerged a sense of opaqueness and the unknown.
Bedtime stories
Wednesday, July 20, 2022 | Chelsea Rozansky
It’s strange to witness your own behaviour in states of panic. I’ve never considered myself much of a hypochondriac, but one night after moving to Montreal, I convinced myself that my new apartment had bed bugs. I have found that the trick is to make myself exhausted so that when I finally do have to sleep I am too tired to be scared. I say yes to every invitation and go to everything so I hardly have to be at home at all. The night I ran out of options and thought I would finally have to deal with my imaginary infestation, I booked a train ticket last minute to Toronto. Fear always takes you back home.
Lost in Parallel Worlds: in conversation with Guanyu Xu
Tuesday, July 12, 2022 | Zinnia Naqvi
Guanyu Xu is an artist working with photography and cultural iconography to create compositions that deliberately disorient the viewer. His project 'Temporarily Censored Home' has reached international acclaim, currently showing at the International Center of Photography in New York. In this work, he visits his family home in China and creates elaborate photo installations by mining images from his personal photographic archive, printing them out, and physically placing them within domestic settings. Many of these photos are from his life in Chicago and draw on aspects of his queerness - a part of his life that he does not share with his family - in order to reclaim this space.
Time Travel
Tuesday, June 21, 2022 | Su-Ying Lee
I have poor time perception, or chronoception, often fumbling with questions about when past events occurred. Air travel, an experience that fucks with routine spatial and temporal rhythms, is made particularly difficult to grasp. In November 2021, taking my first break from hyperlocalness under COVID-19 measures, I flew to Vancouver for a six-week stay. Flights are strange ways to spend hours. Although from Toronto it only takes five-hours, one of the shorter transit times I’ve gotten through, I experienced the trip as exceptionally long. For once, I’m confident that the sensation of elongated time is more connected to our state of pandemic-induced inertia than my characteristically flawed perception. It’s incredible what you can lose in eighteen months. In February of 2020, I wrapped up the 3rd Kamias Triennial (with co-curators, Allison Collins and Patrick Cruz) in Quezon City (Philippines), arriving home to Toronto on March first. Province-wide physical distancing came soon after. Home became nearly all there was. 
Desirability, relationality, and dreaming of what the gallery can hold: in conversation with Adrienne Huard
Monday, June 20, 2022 | Mahlet Cuff
Adrienne Huard is a Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer Anishinaabe curator, academic, art critic, scholar, and performer. As a Two-Spirit Indigiqueer, Huard brings a unique focus and position to their research on desire within Two-Spirit and queer Indigenous visual culture on the prairies where they are embedded in the community and draw on these networks in inspiring ways. A citizen of Couchiching First Nation, Ontario, Huard was born and raised in Miiskwaagamiwiziibiing/Winnipeg. After graduating in 2012 from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in photography, they pursued and completed a Bachelors in Art History at Concordia University in Tio'tià:ke/Montreal. Thereafter, Huard completed OCAD’s graduate-level program in criticism and curatorial practice in Tkaronto/Toronto. . Huard is the co-founder of gijiit, a curatorial collective with their collaborator, Jas M. Morgan. In September 2020, Huard began a Ph.D. program in Indigenous studies at the University of Manitoba. Formerly, they worked as an Editor-at-Large at the national art publication, Canadian Art magazine [now defunct].
Is the image a bribe?
Tuesday, June 7, 2022 | Emily Doucet
Cwynar’s collections of objects and images are just as mobile as digital images. Evident in her work is a profound appreciation for the long life-cycle of objects and images. Sorted by colour or subject, among other metadata, their fate is not unlike the images on our phones: sorted, searched, organized, collected, but often forgotten. And yet, these images take up space, on our phones, in our minds, on servers. Our collections take on weighty forms, drawing us into a constellation of extractive industries in inescapable ways. This extraction is material (not least in the minerals and exploitative labour practices which form the matter of analogue and digital photography alike) but also psychological. Participation in systems designed to circulate, store, and collect images also ensures that we are never forgotten by any device or service ever encountered. This too, Cwynar reminds us, is true of objects and images; we can’t quit their material forms. The plastic and celluloid detritus of the twentieth century is a kind of data, exchanged for convenience and forevermore with us. At this point, you may have noticed that I have not provided much description of the visual content of the objects that Cwynar uses in her work. This is because the mechanisms and apparatuses of image circulation are the real subjects here. Perhaps, as she suggests, we have “lost the plot on the image,” mesmerized by movement. In a 1963 speech entitled “Authoritarian and Democratic Technics,” Lewis Mumford described the relationship between the public and technological systems under capitalism (what Mumford calls “authoritarian technics”) as a kind of “magnificent bribe.” Mumford’s concept of the “bribe” describes the process by which individuals abdicate autonomy in exchange for convenience—forgoing personal data privacy in order to use corporate social media platforms, to use a contemporary example.
In our very own hands
Monday, May 30, 2022 | Luther Konadu
The first impending signs of Saint-Pierre’s May 1902 cataclysmic event became visible weeks prior, in the latter half of April. Months earlier, however, there were faint intermittent rumbling sounds and steam coming from the direction of Mount Pelée. The steam persisted, travelling outward to the town adjacent to it, St. Pierre. The residue of the spewing gas left a foetid odour in the air and this kept on for weeks before worsening. This was followed by an increasingly loud banging like that of a thunderstruck or cannon fire, but negligent authorities continued to overlook the power of one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in history that was to come. Prior to May 1902, St. Pierre was a small idyllic town northwest of the then French colonial island of Martinique. About 64 by 20 kilometres in size, the island is the result of millions of years of successive volcanic activity. Sprawling throughout the island are countless volcanic peaks and in 1902, Mt. Pelée was one of the youngest, constantly on the brink of erupting. Often shrouded in mist around its peak, it rises about 1500 metres above the ground. Roughly seven kilometres southward from the mountain, past valleys, a swamp, and stretches of open land, is where the town of St. Pierre was situated—right at the foot of Mt. Pelée, with its face towards the Caribbean Sea.
Extractive Implication and Potlatch as Method: in conversation with Tsēmā Igharas
Thursday, May 26, 2022 | Gabrielle Willms
Last summer, I biked to Point Douglas, an eclectic, old Winnipeg neighbourhood dotted with stately historical buildings and defunct industrial sites, to find Tsēmā Igharas’ installation, Tailings Pool. Housed on an empty lot, the piece seemed, from a distance, to be a large, nondescript pile of gravel, not unlike the rubble of a construction site. But as I approached, the smooth, angled sides of the mound came into focus, and a jaunty neon yellow swimming ladder revealed itself, straddling the edge. Climbing up to look in, I found a bean-shaped pool of tantalizing blue, glinting in the dry heat, noxious yet seductive. 
Listening against the grain: in conversation with Kamila Metwaly
Tuesday, May 24, 2022 | Alifiyah Imani
Curator, researcher and writer Kamila Metwaly’s dedicated long engagement with Egyptian born composer and musicologist Halim El-Dabh (1921-2017) has involved digging through university archives and libraries, connecting with his friends and family, and collaborating with a transnational group, who has followed El-Dabh’s work closely. Originally from Cairo, Metwaly moved to Berlin in 2017. She encountered El-Dabh’s work, Ta'abir Al-Zaar—one of the earliest known electronically composed works—purely through a chance encounter, and connected with him shortly before his death.
Shapeshifter(s): Pigeon People
Thursday, May 19, 2022 | Khairullah Rahim
The best time to catch pigeons in action is when the sun is up. Like us, these diurnal birds carry out most of their essential activities under the sun. When it sets, they retreat back to their warm and hidden shelters. Pigeons are also very hardy and are known to be unfastidious when selecting their homes; almost any spot that provides them with some kind of temporary cover, such as roofs, trees, and building ledges, will suffice. I used to always find excuses whenever friends asked to come over to my place after school. After I turned 18, I gradually stopped turning up at family gatherings. Even after five years of being in a committed relationship with my then-partner, I would quietly sneak into his bedroom by climbing through the window from the corridor whenever we had a sleepover. I wished everyone would have stopped asking why our families weren’t more hospitable to us. If only we were not so poor. Visibility and light are commonly associated with safety for the majority who fit in, but certain lights illuminate more intensely on some than others. For people like me (queer, brown, and poor), exposure comes with a fair share of risk and a lingering sense of shame. It was often the gentle shade and not the glaring light that offered me security when I needed it, especially in environments presumed to be safe, like around my family.
Creation Story
Tuesday, May 17, 2022 | Omi Rodney
Oreka James’ Untitled 1 sculpture features fabric stretched over plywood fastened to a brushed aluminum anchor. The sculpture bursts out of star-shaped soil to come to a star-shaped point. The structure spins continuously, flashing between two abstract paintings that evoke the beginning of life. As the pulsing sound of the motor mimics the relentless tide of the ocean and fills the room, I am moved to a beginning when our life was first dreamed up and summoned out of primordial sea. I see the sun as it shines down and pulls earth up from out of the abyss and strikes it to make black Earth. Breaks the earth apart to give way to new life. As the evocative midnight purples meet life-bearing reds that then spill past James’ sky to meet earth, green life pulls through to give way to us. Before me, time and space break apart and I see that we were many things.
Making of a monument: in conversation with Hannah Somers
Tuesday, May 10, 2022 | Nawang Tsomo
The last couple of years has seen an immense surge in the toppling of monuments of white European colonizers across the Americas. The monumentality of these long overdue take-downs is also met with mixed feelings, even for the communities who have experienced and continue to live with the atrocities of centuries of “new world building.” It goes without saying that the repair, the re-building, the re-imagination of world orders does not happen overnight. I am reminded of the many who go on living, resisting colonial figures well outside of their bronze bodies and into the aftermath of their fall. Much of the conversation in mainstream media focuses on the taking apart and breaking down—the theatricality—of colonial structures. What remains and what persists after the fact is seldom addressed.
Gestures of absolute helplessness
Monday, April 25, 2022 | Chigbo Arthur Anyaduba
Noo was a fashion blogger until June 2020. Then she wrote a piece on the removal of the infamous statue of English enslaver Edward Colston by Black Lives Matter protesters in England. Someone popular shared her blog piece on Twitter.  The viral blog post was her reaction to the language the media used in describing protesters’ removal of the statue. “They use words such as FALL, TOPPLE, DEFACE, TORN DOWN, TARGETED, VANDALIZE,” Noo wrote.  “These words work to turn the real act and force of violence on its head. They signal that protesters’ removal of the statue is a violent act—not remedial. Even more pernicious is the underlying meaning suggested in these word choices. The language of toppling and falling is loaded with grotty double entendre. In addition to calling protesters violent, this language positions the statue as a sovereign authority and protesters as its subjects. Rhetorically speaking, pulling down the statue becomes an act of rebellion—an insurrection—by subjects seeking to overthrow the sovereign. Such a cheeky use of language!”    So much has been written about media representations of the struggles of oppressed people that you get easily wearied reading any new thing. But when you read Noo’s post you were captivated by her idea that the language of media reports positioned colonial statues as sovereigns. It struck you that this language might inadvertently be describing a struggle against a condition of power exercised in excess. After all, besides their manifest presence in physical spaces marking land and time, statues appear to convey a sense of surplus presence. Their adamant visibility in the public sphere is a demonstration of power over physical and mental space. Could the protests against these colonial statues be coming from an equally tacit recognition of a condition of power so profoundly manifest, insuperable?  
Sex work and performance as virtual resistance: in conversation with Veil Machine
Tuesday, March 22, 2022 | Lena Chen
My Zoom background depicted a Catholic confessional. Clad in a bra of dollar bills, I stood at the virtual pulpit, removing each dollar piece by piece, as a congregation of online audience members reported their sins via the chat window. Combining my experience as a stripper and my penchant for the unholy, this performance was one of several that made up E-Viction (2020), a “virtual arthouse/whore gallery” organized by New York City-based sex worker art collective Veil Machine.