Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
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.
Tobacco, Energetic fields, and Indigenous economies: in conversation with Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill
Thursday, December 3, 2020 | Micaela Dixon
I was in conversation with Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill between this past August and October. I reached Hill from London, UK, and over the period of our interaction, we navigated the intricacies of distant time zones, the entire Atlantic Ocean, and an ever-evolving pandemic. As a conversation partner, Hill was kind, engaging and always honest. Hill is a Cree and Metis artist/writer living in Vancouver, BC, located on the unceded Musqueam, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh territory. The artist employs sculpture, installation, found materials, and paper as tools for enquiry into concepts of land, property, and economy. Hill is interested in Indigenous economies, the valuation of labour, the peripatetic process, tobacco, sunsets in a certain part of town, our relationship to space, ephemera, bunnies and so much more. 
How Raven Leilani's Luster reimagines what it means to come of age
Friday, November 27, 2020 | Chidi Ekuma
At the risk of coming across as pretentious, I love coming-of-age stories. Dramatizing the emotional and mental transition of growing up and with that, growing into oneself is comforting. Although the act of coming-of-age is a universal reality undeterred by class, sexuality, and gender expression, the canonical space is one that has been diluted with stories belonging to the white suburban teen.  When racialized and non-cishet people are written into these narratives, more often than not, they find themselves wearing a mask belonging to an archetype. That is, they play the supportive best friend, wise therapist, or sassy peer. Essentially, the inclusion of marginalized and othered peoples within the fictional landscape of the coming-of-age genre mirrors the ways in which these peoples are expected to stay in the shadows of society. Raven Leilani challenges this idea in her recent debut novel Luster. A narrative that at times feels voyeuristic, Luster explores what happens when due to unemployment twenty-something flaneur Edie is forced to cohabitate with her lover Eric, and his wife, Rebecca. Throughout the novel there is relational tension between the characters, that only grows as they try to learn how to fit into the fabrics of each other’s lives.
in conversation with cultural organizer, Amanda Vincelli
Thursday, November 26, 2020 | Maia Nichols
There is so much value in learning without any type of goal or outcome in mind—you don’t have to perform, you’re not working towards credit. The importance of this kind of learning environment where there are no experts and everyone is accountable for the learning is huge. Most of the time, you end up learning more from each other and working together than about the topic itself. And also from getting an opportunity to experience organizing and facilitating. Most of us don’t have access to a space to learn and practice these skills.
Labouring to keep the body fit for labour
Thursday, November 19, 2020 | Adina Glickstein
Inevitably distracted from the writing task at hand by the tension in my neck, I find myself in a new tab where the phrase “Why is the Aeron chair so expensive?” auto-completes in my search engine. My resentment towards the obligation to work beyond the limitations of my bodily capacity is directed at this object: a top-of-the-line office chair designed by Herman Miller, wrapped up in the legacies of Modernist design and “human factors engineering.” The chair’s glistening curvature promises to cradle one’s wrist, delivering it to the keyboard at an angle so comfortable, one could type forever. It takes on the form of a luxury exoskeleton: rising to meet the body in a perfectly-structured caress. But like a skeleton, in its support, it also constrains. The Aeron is a metonym for ergonomics more broadly, a discipline founded on offloading the responsibility for a systemic problem—the strain of repetitive labour, be it at a desk or on a factory line—onto the individual worker. The fantasy of reprieve offered by the ergonomic chair placates the drive for revolution; labour feeds neatly into purchasing power, entitling the work-weary to rest their behinds and indulge in an individualized, market-based solution.
Antagonistic Realisms: in conversation with Steven Cottingham
Monday, November 16, 2020 | Elliat Albrecht
Halfway through this unusual year, Steven Cottingham opened two back-to-back shows. The first, 'Worldwide Cobweb', was an online exhibition presented by Wil Aballe Art Projects in Vancouver. Unlike most now-ubiquitous online shows—which largely comprise photographs of physical objects in actual gallery spaces—Worldwide Cobweb’s artworks and venue were created entirely with open-source rendering software; in short, beyond electronic data, none of it existed in the physical realm. Digital works included further explorations of bleach-and-vinegar dyed canvases, blow-torched receipt paper, and folded LED curtains glowing with representations of heat emitted by undercover cop cars. Alongside the exhibition, Cottingham published a detailed text on the implications of realism in the technological age which reflected his long-standing interests in semiotics and perception.
Sugar Cube
Thursday, November 12, 2020 | Ivetta Sunyoung Kang
The sugar cube had left an acrid taste in his mouth. Its sweetness became a delusion, yet he kept twisting and turning his tongue in search of it. Suddenly his tongue was paralyzed. “Have you ever doubted the presence of your own tongue?” he felt a growing desire for empathy. Alone, leaning on the wall, he looked outside the window. People were busy preparing for the storm in their cubic condos. The identical apartments formed an infinite horizon like a row of epitaphs, dividing one person’s differences from the others.
Feeling Tomorrow Like I Feel Today
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | Nora Kovacs
“These are days of confusion and contradiction”, begins the editorial introduction to the September 1917 issue of The Crisis 1, the official magazine of the NAACP. Published a couple of months after the East St. Louis Massacre, the issue provides detailed accounts of the labor- and race-related attacks that left between 40 and 250 African-Americans murdered 2 at the hands of white rioters and another 6,000 African-Americans homeless as a result of burning, vandalism and property damage. Founded by writer and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois, The Crisis shares the stories and perspectives that are often ignored, overlooked or downplayed by mainstream publications. The publication continues to fill the gaps in our knowledge and refuses to allow histories of violence and oppression to be silenced. Often citing Du Bois as a source of inspiration, the late artist Terry Adkins permeates his works with a similar sort of resistance. Moving seamlessly between sound and form, Adkins spent mu...
Antagonizing Cottagecore: nature as imperialist America’s femme fatale
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 | Bessie Rubinstein
After Taylor Swift’s album Folklore premiered—an album whose associated videos and imagery are rife with idealized isolation—W Magazine ran an article titled “Taylor Swift Has Discovered Cottagecore.” This headline doubly reiterates the relationship between postcolonial America and the natural world: it celebrates a white woman “discovering” an aesthetic trend that already celebrates the myth of discovery. Cottagecore’s linen, lace, and pleated cotton skirts return to Victorian England, or 17th and 18th century colonial America—periods of imperialism, in which culture was synonymous with hegemony. Across platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest), cottagecore is an online community formed around the antithesis to community: isolation. As a pop singer-songwriter, Swift adopting cottagecore as her own makes sense; its digital presence mushroomed during COVID-19, marked by a look of bucolic seclusion created with elements of nature, gathered and arranged to emphasize their naturaln...
In conversation with Indigenous costume designer Carmen Thompson
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | Michel Ghanem
Carmen Thompson (Diitiidaht/Kyuquot/Coast Salish), 46, has lived and breathed costume design for the last 15 years. Her given name by her uncle is Tl’aakwaa (Nuu-chah-nulth), meaning copper. Copper is a versatile, malleable material with high electrical conductivity, twisted into jewellery, coins, and metal alloys. Copper is a trace dietary mineral, it lives in our bones, and seems to be everywhere else. Thompson’s career embodies malleability. She has played a vital role in the complex visual language of costume on multiple full feature films, commercials, award shows, television, theatre, and opera. Her father, Art Thompson, was a prominent Victoria artist working in carving and painting. She was trained in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, and mentored in costume design by costume designer Warden Neil. She knew it was time to leave L.A. when she turned down a costume design job for a Rihanna music video, and made the decision to...
Can we Change the Canadian Museum ?
Thursday, October 15, 2020 | Aliya Mazari
A particular feeling arises when a news headline confirms what you have felt but did not have the hard data to confirm. A few months ago marked this moment for me. I remember reading the article A Crisis of Whiteness in Canada’s Art Museums, which surveyed the nation’s four largest public art museums—Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery—to ascertain that their top leadership is predominantly white and lacking in racial diversity. For BIPOC artists, curators and art workers operating within this industry, this is hardly news. In fact, a number of prominent figures (such as Syrus Marcus Ware, Zainab Verjee, Devyani Saltzman, Lou-ann Neel, Amanda Parris, Paulina Johnson, Rea McNamara, Nataleah Hunter-Young, Sarah Mason-Case, Armando Perla, to name a few) have recently spoken about the representation, equity and systemic racism present within the arts landscape and its intrinsic connections to larger system...
Annotating expanded practice
Friday, October 9, 2020 | Katherine Adams
The wall label is an apparently simple documentary form that has substantial effects on how we understand and interpret art. Often the most public-facing piece of documentation in arts institutions, it stands out as a minor text within broader institutional records. The wall label’s standard categories distill a specific, historically entrenched model of artistic production. Artist, title, date, medium, dimension, collection—these categories best represent work for which creator and product are relatively stable and distinct. Certain tendencies within contemporary artistic practice challenge these categories so deeply that the innocuous wall label—and the broader institutional archive—may conceal key aspects of the work. Time-based media art, born-digital works, and even historical avant-garde works challenge restrictive ideas of medium by working with digital and other networked sources, subverting the static substructure exemplified in highly compressed form within the wall label. Tr...
Black Lives Matter is an Indigenous issue too: in conversation with Hadassah ‘Hazy’ GreenSky
Monday, September 28, 2020 | Basil Soper
Hadassah 'Hazy' GreenSky is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and visual artist based in the Metro Detroit area where she was also raised. She is a member of the Waganakising Odawa peoples from the lands now referred to as Harbor Springs, Michigan. Like many other young Indigenous women in the midwest [and across the Americas], GreenSky was subject to cheap ill-mannered name-calling like “Pocahontas” by non-Indigenous people when she was growing up. Her personal experiences of racism is a condition of systematic structures and barriers held up by white supremacy all throughout North America. Speaking to GreenSky, she shared with me that the area we now call ‘Detroit’, was originally named Waawiiyatanong by the first peoples of the land. The name translates to “at the curved shores”, as it was a place for trade and supplies. "Oftentimes the Anishinaabe peoples passed through on their migratory routes. Wild rice was grown in the river, fishing was also a big part of our lives, and many p...
A brief history of private expression
Thursday, September 17, 2020 | Nolan Kelly
All my life, I have been compelled to write my way through stretches of time alone, and I have never spent so much time journaling alone as I do lately—living through a global pandemic where nearly every form of socialization is either mitigated for our safety or mediated onto a screen. A notebook is a welcoming alternative to the digital sphere, where participation can blur into performance. Conversely, It is empowering to produce something only for oneself. Yet spending too much time in this mode can often feel a little absurd. Are we documenting our lives or rationalizing our private behaviors? Where does the line fall between the two? The way we tell our stories can change so much of what lessons we learn and what others take away from them, and one only needs to look at notebooks of the past to see that this has been true throughout time.
Rendering as a capacity through which to see : in conversation with Mev Luna
Monday, September 14, 2020 | Jameson Paige
As we move towards reshaping the world into a reality where the most marginalized and oppressed people are able to thrive, unimpeded by state and racial violence, the mediums in which identity manifests are a moving target. Racial and ethnic categories continue to shift, dodge, and take on new forms simultaneous to the expanding social consciousness of systemic racism’s histories. Whiteness in particular continues to evade blame and repercussion for the historical, structural oppression and volatility it has and continues to systematize. Instead, we have witnessed performative allyship from individuals and institutions of power that is as ineffectual as it is performative, undergirded by the circulation of empty rhetoric for change that doesn’t attempt to dismantle the foundations of violent systems. The project of abolition is further troubled by the current Covid-19 pandemic as so much of our knowledge sharing becomes disembodied and mediated by the screen. Much of movement buil...
Send Prayers
Thursday, September 10, 2020 | Ryley O'Byrne
Time is slippery, expanding, and contracting simultaneously. Forward, back, forward, back, searching for balance. Micro-movements make a dance of the fall (like the dances we do on the sidewalk, keeping our distance). Mid-slip feels endless, somehow senseless, we have no idea where the ground is or when it will arrive. (In the meantime, maybe we grow wings?) Everything is expanding and contracting now — lungs, bravery, optimism. — The flowers came late this year. Laggard blooms, stamens tightly swaddled, all wrapped up in pink. I heard it again and again, the cruelest month, the cruelest month, as if no one could think of anything new to say of April. Now I’m sure that May was worse, then June, July — August was horrific. You never know what form your blessings will take. Your curses too. I find myself saying this like a mantra, prayer, or cliché. — Back in spring, when limbs dripped in blossoms and discarded petals floated through the air, I paid artist David Horvitz one dollar to...
On the Creative Praxis of Splattering Paint on Monuments
Wednesday, September 2, 2020 | Bahar Orang
The colonial regime owes its legitimacy to force and at no time does it endeavor to cover up this nature of things. Every statue of these conquistadors ensconced on colonial soil is a constant reminder: “We are here by the force of the bayonet.” - Frantz Fanon Now the statue is bleeding. We did not make it bleed. It is bloody at its very foundation. This is not an act of vandalism. It is a work of public art and an act of applied art criticism. - Monument Removal Brigade What are the aesthetics of carcerality that organize and regulate our psychic lives? Monuments are carceral art objects that overcode and overdetermine public memory. They are symbols of state power and affirmations of the status quo whose function in urban psychogeography is to preserve and advance particular nationalist memories. They interpellate us, the public, as docile subjects and we pass them by, we become accustomed to them, we take them for granted, and our capacity for conceiving otherwise is blunted1. We walk...
Exclusively multiple: in conversation with Ekene Emeka-Maduka
Tuesday, August 18, 2020 | Ruby Chijioke-Nwauche
Ekene Emeka-Maduka is a master of her own visage. She is not the first, and undoubtedly will not be the last in a long line of artists that have explored the world of auto-portraiture. Her work so far has mostly consisted of images featuring the artist’s likeness, depicted against a variety of set designs, and artfully orchestrated scenes to communicate whatever she wants to send across to its viewer. At the age of 23, Emeka-Maduka is on a bit of a rising streak. Having recently come out of art school, she is already gaining recognition from the prestigious auction house, Christie's, on their Instagram. She has been the recipient of several grants and awards such as the Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys initiated, The Dean Collection Start-up Grant. She has completed commissions for writer/activist, Janet Mock, for American actor/activist, Jesse Williams, and for stylist to the stars, Jason Bolden. She also got a glowing shout-out from Mock in a recent Marie Claire feature lauding Emeka...
Three Doors to the Past, Present, and Future: in conversation with Cindy Mochizuki
Wednesday, July 29, 2020 | Yani Kong
I met Cindy Mochizuki when I attended the artist talk for her residency at the Burrard Arts Foundation, culminating in her most recent installation work, The Sakaki Tree, a Jewel, and the Mirror (2020). The work brings out her gifts as a fortune teller and builds on Japanese myth, light, shadow, ceramic art, and puppetry. Not to play too much into the destiny of it all—but when I entered the gallery, Cindy’s eyes met mine in a warm and familiar way. I don’t want to say that she knew I was coming, but when we spoke, it felt like she already knew me. For years, people have been telling me that I must meet Cindy Mochizuki because my research interests in aesthetics are akin to her work which thinks across multiple timelines: Asian and immigrant diasporas, ghosts, and the monsters that are left behind in storytelling. Her large body of work is nourished by the histories of Japanese-Canadian communities in British Columbia and Japan, and her multimedia installations, animations, clay work,...
Book Launch: 'Yours To Discover' by Zinnia Naqvi
Thursday, July 23, 2020 | Luther Konadu
It started with a found photograph, then another, and another. This discovery would later give way to a would-be thesis paper. But the confines of a single essay just didn't do it. Instead, curiosity and ambition grew to allow the initial inquiry to spider out, creating this new labyrinthine collection of writing. It precedes a work of visual art, and although this textual work does not necessarily speak for the artwork in any direct way, it enriches it. Together the written and visual works culminate in the still-evolving project titled Yours to Discover. The title of this project, which centers around the province of Ontario, aptly takes its name from the former Ontario license plate slogan. The found photographs in question are from the author and artist Zinnia Naqvi's family album. They depict the touristic moments from the late 80s when Naqvi's family first visited Canada from Pakistan with the possibility of migrating permanently from...
Proximity and Transmutability of Diasporic Archives: in conversation with Kandis Friesen
Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | Stephanie Wong Ken
My conversation with Montreal-based artist Kandis Friesen was far from routine. In the lead up to our chat, I planned to visit Friesen’s most recent exhibit, Tape 158: New Documents from the Archives at TRUCK Gallery, here in Calgary. But just before this the province went into lockdown and the gallery was closed to the public. Rather than an in-person experience of the show, I had to rely on documentation of the exhibition provided by Friesen: an archive of the archive. While looking and listening to the documentation on my computer, in the comfort of my living room, I was drawn to the intricacy and beauty of Friesen’s show: exploring the ghostly presence of history through video, sound, photography, and installation. As an artist from Canada with Russian Mennonite roots, Friesen’s work looks at the complicated role of the archive, and asks us to consider how identity, nationhood, and historical objects are formed through us, and with us. Her multi-media work seems particularly suited...
“Making Public” : in conversation with Maha Maamoun
Friday, June 19, 2020 | Sarah Nesbitt
This past February, I attended the Berlinale Film Festival for the first time. My partner, Omar Elhamy, had a short film in the competition, and we took the opportunity to make a holiday out of it. I was particularly curious about the Forum Expanded and went with ambitions to write about this unique program. However, for a variety of reasons, including the 300 + minute run-time of films in the exhibition portion, distance between venues, scheduling conflicts, and the looming shadow of other (overdue) writing deadlines, I decided it was good enough to just absorb what I could, and learn for next time, if there ever is a next time. I was, however, taken with one of the Forum’s curators, Maha Maamoun, who I first encountered as the moderator for a screening that included a film by mutual friend, Ahmed Elghoneimy. The program went quite late, and was prolonged by a heckler in the audience who proceeded to offer his “critical” (and therefore important) contribution—a monolog about the deat...
One World Streaming Together
Wednesday, June 10, 2020 | Emily Doucet
Since the early days of the internet, people have shared information and experiences virtually when doing so in person was physically or socially impossible, but the current moment arguably represents something different. I hesitate to be prescriptive about what we should be watching instead, since that should and will look different for each community affected. But all this emphasis on “liveness” and narratives about how we’re going to get out of this have left me yearning for a bit more reflection on how we got here in the first place. Maybe solidarity looks a little bit less like representing the crisis and a little more like telling a story about how things could be different next time.
Haptic suppositions: some ruminations with Brandon Ndife
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 | Luther Konadu
At least for now, the Jersey City artist Brandon Ndife seems to suggest that we take a few steps forward with him towards the future. Or maybe more likely, shuffle across an alternate space/time that mirrors the one we currently occupy. Keeping in touch with history, this hypothetical in-between terrain is murkier, more eerie. It is dystopian like the one we know, and perhaps it is nearing a threshold of something hopeful; but I won’t say it is optimistic. This is where his budding practice in sculpture thrives. It is a place to imagine, think, and speculate alongside felt realities. Even though what we encounter in Ndife’s work is grounded in sculptural thought, it is just as wrapped up in painting, makeup effects, and meticulous preparatory drawing. Over the last six years or so, Ndife has been burrowing progressively through object-making: wandering, feeling out, and retooling. In the show Just Passin’ Thru held at Interstate Projects the bricolage in his work looked...
Concrete solutions for hostile problems: in conversation with Phat Le and Benjamin de Boer
Friday, May 15, 2020 | Cason Sharpe
Phat Le and Benjamin de Boer took different paths to arrive at their current collaborative practice — Le is a student of architecture and de Boer is a poet. Their projects are united by their use of concrete. They embrace the material’s malleability and ubiquity, positioning it as an entry point for civic engagement. In 2016, the pair facilitated a workshop in which participants learned how to cast concrete by pouring rockite into condoms to create moulds in the shape of butt plugs. This tongue-in-cheek approach to materiality and collective action continues in Meditation in Concrete II, Le and de Boer’s latest exhibition, which opened at Alexus Projects’ Grab-a-Slice Gallery this past January. The subject of investigation this time around is hostile architecture, a concept that describes design elements that intentionally impede the use of public amenities. The middle armrests installed on many public benches are an example of this insidious strategy. Their placement prevents people f...