Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
On the psychology of memory, memes, and knowing who you are: a conversation with Asinnajaq
Monday, March 4, 2019 | Sarah Nesbitt
Inukjuak born, Tio'tia:ke based artist and curator, Asinnajaq works in film, video, installation, and more recently, digital illustration. Her practice is research driven, centres intentionality, collaboration, and histories of representation, and draws on storytelling as methodology and inspiration. Her most well known short film, Three Thousand, 2017 won the Kent Monkman Award for Best Experimental Work and has screened nationally and internationally at major festivals. In fall, 2017 she curated a retrospective for Isuma, the Nunavut-based, Inuit led production company, as they celebrated 30 years of production. From here she has been invited by Isuma to co-curate the Canadian Pavilion for the 2019 Venice Biennale, and is on the curatorial team for the Inuit Art Centre opening in 2020. In the summer of 2018, as part of the most recent...
Into Obscurity and Points of Contact
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | sophia bartholomew
An androgynous figure walks the woods in the near-dark, blindfolded. Thick white cream cotton, uncertain and… followed. Stretch their elbows out, forward and down. Brush up against each other gently, limbs. The branches snap underfoot and roof overhead into green leaves gone grey with the dark and are dried up on the ground, wrinkled. Unseen but not lost. Unknown but not placeless. Feeling fallen behind but catching up again, again. Summer nighttime bug shimmer, but perhaps it is only the woods and a temporary portal between two trees passing, whispering a limp wind direction, and lifting their feet into the force of it, seedless night. These people pass over the moisture of the soil saying that the sound of water could be the sound of passing cars, but here there...
Relaxing into Relation
Tuesday, February 12, 2019 | Ashley Bedet
Floatation is an interesting phenomenon,1 to lay in a solution of water and magnesium chloride that refuses to let a person sink allows for a feeling of weightlessness. Consequently, there are many purported benefits from floating as a form of therapy. The release of tension combined with the pain abetting powers of the salts allows people to enter states of deep contemplation and relaxation — sometimes even slumber. Some users relate that it reminds them of being in a womb. Alternately, it can cause great anxiety and panic, as people can feel trapped in their pods, filled with a terror of acknowledging the enormity of the universe, pestered by vicious repetition of daily anxieties and tasks. The mind can be a safe haven or a perilous trap pending the individual’s...
On Sickness, Institutions, and Care
Thursday, February 7, 2019 | Angel Callander
In 2016, artist and writer Johanna Hedva published “Sick Woman Theory” in Mask Magazine’s “Not Again” issue. The piece began with a discussion of Hannah Arendt’s definition of the political, as being comprised of any action performed in public, which fails to account for groups of people who, for various reasons, are not able to be in public, as well as who is in charge of who appears in public and when. This past November, Hedva gave the keynote address at “Sick Theories”, a conference held at the University of Toronto Department of Visual Studies on November 8 and 9. Organized by Margeaux Feldman and Lauren Fournier, its purpose was to engage the concept of ‘sickness’ in consideration of its various intersections and auxiliaries: illness, disability, madness, sexuality, identity. Regardless...
In conversation with Jennifer Liao
Monday, February 4, 2019 | Clare Samuel
Over the last decade or so, Jennifer Liao has been switching through various hats as a writer, director, and producer. Currently based in Toronto, Liao has had the opportunity to work on shorts, full-length features, as well as spots on the small screen and if that is not enough, she also manages to hold down an unrelated office day-job. The Calgarian-bred multi-directional creator and thinker has been able to work through several projects spanning diverse genres including horror, comedy, crime, and drama. She shares with me her continued inclination for humour in dark storylines. And it makes sense that in 2016, Liao made her triumphant full feature-length directorial debut with End of Days, Inc.; a film that is equal parts humours, strange, and bleak. Clocking in at about an hour...
The Poetics of Error: A Conversation with Steven Leyden Cochrane Regarding his Exhibition Shining Tapestry
Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | Jase Falk
I first saw Winnipeg-based artist Steven Leyden Cochrane at the talk for his exhibit Shining Tapestry which was displayed at aceartinc. during the fall of 2018. Combining digital and craft mediums, the exhibition largely explores the death of Cochrane’s mother in 2006. The way his talk engaged with the histories of the materials he uses, along with the complex ways he was thinking around language, memory, and gender convinced me that I wanted to explore these ideas with Cochrane more in-depth. Cochrane describes himself as a conceptual artist; as someone who is interested in constructing projects through a set of instructions, or through a pattern. Yet his work explores the unpredictability of this construction process, where one fails to follow a pattern or where the directions for constructing a piece...
Opinion: 2018 Flashbacks: a year in “protest”
Monday, January 14, 2019 | Tatum Dooley
2018 feels like a year in which nothing happened in the art world. Or rather, it was a facsimile of previous years. There were record-breaking auctions and door-busting exhibitions (the floral-kaleidoscopes of Hilma af Klint and Kusama were certainly amongst the most Instagrammed). There were petty gripes, debates about appropriation, and art fairs that were control-c—control-v’d from the previous year. Kaywin Feldman was appointed to be Director of the National Gallery (U.S), the first woman to take over the role. A Canadian arts organization pushed for copyright laws to change so that artists receive a cut of re-sold work. Banksy shredded a print, no doubt increasing its value (I’d like to pause here to note that the counterculture can be as guilty of participating in consumerism as the next person)....
Opinion: 2018 Flashbacks: “One More Time, With Feeling”
Monday, January 14, 2019 | Beth Schellenberg
Beginning a New Year on the prairies can be a somewhat discordant experience. Inhabitants attempt rebirth during the darkest, coldest days, reflecting on the past twelve months while ice gathers on windows, accompanied by radiators clanking hiss. 2018 felt long and utterly exhausting on a political and pop-cultural level and saw the two categories, previously somewhat separated (albeit by a barely visible line), begin to merge into a frightening, amorphous blob. On a personal level the year was both monumental and anticlimactic; a combination that seems liable to occur after significant life events take place or projects come to a close. In 2018 I survived Grad school, received a Research Fellowship to study in the UK for three months, and swam in the Atlantic Ocean, the Adriatic, Ionian, Mediterranean, North,...
Opinion: 2018 Flashbacks
Monday, January 14, 2019 | Ani Speranza
2018 will always be the year of the York University Strike, now the longest university strike in Canadian history. The strike was led by CUPE 3903 which represents contract faculty, teaching assistants, and research assistants who were fighting for a job and financial security. My colleagues at the university marched in circles for 143 days until they were legislated back to work by the Ford government. Globally, the past year saw a continuation of the #metoo movement, one that pointed out the need for nuance, patience, and empathy for those involved and people coming forward. I found myself taken aback by some of it - such as the allegations against Junot Díaz shortly after he came forward regarding his own childhood abuse. As the important work of #metoo continues, it...
Activities of looking : in conversation Linda Tegg
Friday, January 4, 2019 | Luther Konadu
An unassuming lone sheep attempts to comfort and empathize with an actress directed to sob. A choir ensemble sings in unison but they make no sound, only mouth movements suggesting a performance of sorts. Assembled trays of grass and seedlings sit and lounge on gallery floors. They are mingled and illuminated by Flavin-esque florescent tubes playfully hung yet serving as a source of photosynthesis for the green living organisms below them. A herd of goats peruse a blindingly illuminated white-walled gallery. There’s a trapezoid plinth in the middle of the gallery, a member of the herd hops on the plinth as if to proclaim and display its presence for an audience. All of the above are Linda Tegg’s inquisitive inquiries into the natural world around us or nonhuman kinds as...
Making Space: Negotiating the Role of Presence and Absence in Abbas Akhavan’s 'variation on a landscape'
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 | Margaryta Golovchenko
I almost missed Abbas Akhavan’s installation when I walked into the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery. Despite seeing photos of the work online, what I encountered in the gallery took me by surprise. Located in the hallway immediately after the entrance, variation on a landscape recalls Akhavan’s other work in its expansiveness. By making viewers walk through the work Akhavan facilitates a chance encounter between the installation and the viewer that encourages active contemplation. A temporary installation commissioned by the Power Plant, variation on a landscape is a site-specific work that changes with the seasons over the course of the exhibition (June 23-December 30, 2018), with a summer and a winter iteration. The changing seasons are reflected in the changes in materials within the work, where only a central circular...
Disobedience : in conversation with Alvin Luong
Tuesday, November 27, 2018 | Lauren Lavery
The lights click off. We’re sitting in the dark facing a flat-screen TV, waiting for the video to start. The scene opens to the exterior of a suburban home at night. As the camera pans slowly up towards the lit square of an upstairs bedroom window, the stylized text of the work’s title appears in the centre of the screen: Turbo. The sounds of a revving car engine accompany the text, which is also the namesake of the fictional character played by the artist, Alvin Luong. Luong’s work is a unique combination of sincerity and satire, of political resistance and mainstream consumerism; in short, he is capable of weaving extremes together into complex yet accessible forms that undermine the way in which we understand contemporary video art. My first impression...
"I don’t know how to put words to it" : in conversation with Tosha Stimage
Thursday, November 22, 2018 | Luther Konadu
Tosha Stimage is driven to stop language in its tracks at all turns. To wring it out, distress it, place it where it has no guarantee, and disclaim until it just feels strange. Speaking with the artist, educator, organizer, and attentive thinker, Stimage, you get her necessity to make language an elusive entity. “There’s a kind of freedom in not having to be a definition, to allow oneself to be connected to other things, other ideas in a very infinite way”, Stimage illuminates in thinking about the black body in relation to the authority of language and willfully turning towards obscurantism. Stimage is never immune to the gravity of history; how it governs the way we see, whether we choose to remain impaired by it or rather empathize with others...
Made through doing: in conversation with Zorya Arrow
Friday, November 9, 2018 | Jean Borbridge
I was lost, I was riding around in circles. I was getting nervous. I thought I would never find the space. Eventually, I saw a small group of people huddling outside, and I made my way in. I found myself at the performance of Much too Much to Say directed by Zorya Arrow in a small building on Ellice Ave. (Winnipeg) at sundown. The space looked like it was in flux. Different patches of flooring and paint revealed its many histories. It was clear, the space and the bodies inside it informed each other. The cast Arlo Reva, Arne McPherson, Bo van der Midden, Emma Beech, and Arrow fed off their surroundings and each other's bodies. I was moved, and I still am when I think back to visceral feelings...
Parking Lot: Darby Milbrath
Thursday, October 25, 2018 | Liza Isakov
A quick scan through Darby Milbrath’s collection of work over the last however many years highlights a palpable impression of undulating motion. Her oil-marked surfaces seem to take the eyes in swim-like flows and swells. They are shapeshifting, fragmented and often appear to billow off into indefinite terrains. They carry the sensibilities of Frankenthaler's colour flood play, the looseness of British artist Sue Williams and even at times Cecily Brown's fierceness.  Milbrath mines from an inward narrative but manages to transcend mere linearity. The Toronto artist willfully quotes from painting’s past of expressive gesturing and in the process frees up new possibilities in the otherwise latent space of painting. Her personal vision of painting surpasses classical notions of the genre. Each canvas opens up the chosen subject from an original...
Shifting Accounts: in conversation with Diego Camposeco
Thursday, October 25, 2018 | Luther Konadu
Hailing from Burgaw, North Carolina to Mexican parents, the once aspiring international diplomat, teen court defense attorney, and all-around high achieving Diego Camposeco turned down his undergrad acceptance letter to Harvard and instead opt to stay close to home where he would later attune his pull towards photography in relation to his community of Latin Americans who continue to shape the social, economic and cultural landscape in the south. Photography work that set out to account the places and experiences of demographics in a truthful and objective manner often overlooked the impossibility of this task and the sure fact of the image maker’s subjectivity. Camposeco’s take on documentary photography gazes more inward than most but it is very much rooted in his connections with others. Particularly the Latin community not...
Cultural Signs (Implied importance) : In conversation Michael Georgetti
Monday, October 8, 2018 | Patrick Klassen
Do you ever take an extra second to break down the logo and imagery on that Monster Energy drink can you’re sucking back in the studio? Melbourne-based painter Michael Georgetti is pulling through to illuminate the sometimes visual tactics and hidden meanings behind the brands, logos and mass-produced commodities we get assaulted with on a daily basis. Georgetti also raises some questions about the art worlds place within consumer culture and the post Internet world. Fresh off his PhD Georgetti packs research and intention into every one of his freestanding abstract paintings. Are simple marketing tactics all it takes to transform a product or painting into a different cultural or economic realm? In the following exchange with Georgetti, he generously shares his mixed feelings about working within an art environment...
Play: In conversation with Molly Colleen O'Connell
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 | Luther Konadu
From seemingly nonsensical dadaist objects, frenetic performances, lyrically debaucherous monologues, Molly Colleen O’Connell’s oeuvre is a wonky jungle chock full of unpredictable detours. As far as interdisciplinary artists go, O’Connell is a chameleon if there ever was one. She meanders her way through comics, installations, ceramics, paintings, video performance, stand-up poetry/comedy, clowning; the list keeps going. This is all achieved in a sensibility akin to that of an inquisitive active child with a measured logic. An undergirding strength to anything she outputs is a comedy, but it will be beside the point to limit her as a comedic act. Through idiosyncratic humor and cartoonish affect lies her own vulnerability and self-analysis. Her clown characters like Dr. Cherish Love are garments for mutating through identities as much as they are sites...
Body in the plural: in conversation with Camille Rojas
Thursday, July 26, 2018 | Public Parking Staff
At a time when we continue to be skeptical of spoken language and the written word grows desensitized, it becomes more imperative to look elsewhere for alternate ways of relating and moving through our surroundings. As dance and other rhythmic movement-based practices remain synthesized within an exhibition context, it also takes hold with the demarcations of the institution giving way to mutable potentials for establishing meanings.  If a number of rising practices today like Anne Imhof's and Angelica Mesiti's, are foregrounded by physically inscribed forms of communication, then there’s a case to be made about reaching beyond words and known language.  To a great extent, Toronto artist Camille Rojas’ budding practice leans towards these non-linguistic modes of communication adapting a shifting assemblage of sound, tone, resonance, sensing, and touch. Through...
In conversation with Rah
Thursday, July 19, 2018 | Noor Bhangu
I am not one to take part in social media debates, but even I couldn’t resist when almost two years ago, in June 2016, the founding editor of the online journal Reorient, Joobin Bekhrad, shared a public post, defending the casting of Leonardo Dicaprio as Rumi. In a later article he penned for the Metro, he clarified that because the Persian poet was born in the “cradle of the Aryan Race,” and that his own family “had skin so white [that their] faces never fail[ed] to turn bright in the sun,” the #Rumiwaswhite movement was groundless and there was no trouble, whatsoever, in Dicaprio assuming the role of the Middle Eastern, Muslim mystic. What is lost on apologists like Bekhrad is taken up by and, indeed, excavated by Rah Eleh,...
The concurrent presence of multiple: a conversation with Evan Ifekoya
Friday, June 29, 2018 | Luther Konadu | Mielen Remmert
From the outset, dissonance has appeared as a recurring preamble in  Evan Ifekoya's practice. It has moved uninhibitedly through their work with a delicate yet acute handle. Ifekoya combines the sharp with the fragile until they dissolve into an amorphous third other. Whether it be their former archival magazine collage work, or their innocuous actions in front of a camera, such as combing their own hair, kneading, dancing or rapping ineptly but confidently about the conception of gender, Ifekoya playfully complicates the relationship between their body and how images contain it. Not just how images inherently essentialize narratives surrounding the body, but also those images others imagine and project. As Ifekoya's work has continued to progress, their individual body has become limited grounds for exploration. Instead, they tell me about...
Parking Lot: Casey Wei
Monday, May 21, 2018 | Public Parking Staff
Casey Wei might not use the word 'auteur' to describe herself or anyone word at all for that matter but I'll loosely reach for it in relation to her. Looking at Casey Wei's oeuvre over the last however many years, if it appears that she freewheels through a varying contrapuntal pallet,  that might be true to an extent but with a closer look, you'll also observe that she does this with a considerable degree of textured analysis and veneration. Seeing her shift confidently through her poly-directional efforts from text to sound to the visual; it becomes needlessly confining to reach for a single describing word. Among the many hats Wei wears, she organizes the exploratory series art rock?, she curates the serial book project Whitney Houston et. al, and she's...
On the Politics of Partying: a conversation with Harold Offeh
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 | Luther Konadu
As with most cultural corners, politics has found its way into nightlife. In a world that presses its dominance upon those who’s self-hood runs contrary to the norm, a life of compromise and constriction becomes the known reality. Since the onset of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, the night time became a release, shield, and celebration of self without bounds. As much as nightlife culture in the eighties provided an escape, it also became a forum for education on safer sex practices and forming a community. This was especially true for marginalized queer and identity-agnostic individuals. Dances parties and off-grid gathering centers became spaces for advocacy and combatting stigma around HIV/AIDS. These spaces continue to have an intergenerational significance and influence as sites for fostering one’s subjectivity and freedom....
Gestures in resistance: a conversation Cameron Granger
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 | Luther Konadu
Traversing a dynamic poly-directional practice ranging from films, photos, and installations; Columbus, Ohio’s Cameron Granger is steadily amplifying his voice as an emerging artist. He discloses his own vulnerability, agency as an artist, and knack for close observation in his varying works. And speaking with him it’s easy to see why. Granger fluently blends the social-political with personal knowledge and fictional with lived experiences to create a generative space for his stories and images. In our candid conversation with Granger, he shares with us his relationship with homogenous spaces like the white cube, how his personal creative pursuits are linked to his community, and how he continues to discover moving images as a means of asserting his authority as a creator. Granger recently completed ACRE residency and the celebrated Skowhegan...
Choreographic Displays: In conversation with Dalia Amara
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 | Luther Konadu
A photograph will always be a point of view of the photographer hence making it subjective and not objective. American-Jordanian artist Dalia Amara is well-attuned to this logic and it serves as a guide for which she directs the on looking viewer's attention. As subjective as photographic images inherently are, they deceptively present undeniable parallels to reality often convincing us of its objectivity. Amara recognizes this divide between her own impulses for crafting an image and how the camera and audiences receive them. “I’m invested in our attempts to represent so-called truth in photographs when the medium is subjective”, she states in our conversation. Her work accentuates the illusory and manipulative role of the camera in mediating our views of self as it relates to the dominant commercial environs. Looking...
2017 in retrospect
Wednesday, January 3, 2018 | Public Parking Staff
The meat world of the arts seem to increasingly become an endangered species. This is evident as most of us continue to be pinned to our screens and into the whirlpool of news, stories, memes, and whatever cultural artifacts that are flushed into the ether these days.  I mean, wouldn't it be nice to live in a more decentralized IRL world where we can save our sweat trekking to the usual cultural hubs? I suppose that is why centers like Contemporary Art Daily understand this desire and makes us complicit to our streaming wherever you want lifestyles. That said, we continue to hold on to the vitality of museums, galleries, theatre houses, and the like. Because they continue to legitimize and uphold these things we collectively agree as being aspects...
"Mediation is our bread and butter" : in conversation with Máire Witt O'Neill
Monday, December 11, 2017 | Luther Konadu | Mielen Remmert
For Máire Witt O'Neill, generating personas is akin to summoning something unconscious within herself. She compares this to performing an exorcism. This process is in many ways an act of critique and scrutiny but it's in no way combative. She mines her own amalgamated overwrought emotional and social exchanges to build characters that are often conflicting, contradictory, and hard to pin down. Given that our everyday interactions are often through intermediaries, be it implicit or otherwise, O'Neill theorizes this as a destabilizer for ideas of "truth". In turn, it allows for a slippage of the good and the bad and as she describes in our conversation, "a "groundlessness". O'Neill uses this space of instability as a means to trouble authority inherent within reality. She does this independently and collaboratively by...
Off: In conversation with Erica Eyres
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 | Luther Konadu | Mielen Remmert
In a lot of ways, Erica Eyres’ primary medium has always been herself, in the most discursive and far-reaching way possible. For the better part of two decades, Eyres has amassed a wealth of work tapping into the fabric of her life and fantasies to irreverent and at times unnerving effect. Eyres has always flourished in the idea of failure. Or rather, she always seems to eschew consensus of the norm.  She engages this idea of failure as a banal occurrence. And she does this through hyperbole, bizarro conceits, and seriocomedy.  In doing so, Eyres reveals her own disquieting vulnerability. You can’t help but giggle with nervous recognition at her more recent videos like Clay Head or Pool of Blood or even CPR Conference, where one of her characters has...
In conversation with Patrick Cruz
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | Mariana Muñoz Gomez
Earlier this past spring, I made my way to  Plug In ICA for Patrick Cruz’s artist talk. I skipped Patrick's gallery walk-through before the talk as it was being given in Taglish (Tagalog and English). Not knowing a word of Tagalog, I had curiously made my way through the event write up in that language, recognizing the affinity between the sounds of some words in Tagalog and in Spanish. Patrick’s exhibition, Brown Gaze (Titig Kayumanggi), had opened a couple of nights previously. In the gallery, I walked onto the paintings installed on the floor, noticed the stacks of cardboard boxes of food products, and stopped at the videos within the stacks. What looked like cell phone videos of a puppy lying on a tile floor, cut to footage of a...
The Perpetual Protest: a conversation with Jelsen Lee Innocent
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 | Luther Konadu
We engaged in a conversation with New York-born Haitian American artist Jelsen Lee Innocent. Coming from a background in the communication arts—advertising and graphic design—Innocent has been hesitant to call himself an artist. He has always been communicating creatively and learning how to use objects to speak for different purposes outside of his own interests or curiosity. Now, he’s been steadily redirecting some of what he knows about object-making into a more nuanced personal and intimate conversation that isn’t necessarily pointed towards a consumer but an audience.   All through our exchange with Innocent, he is every much earnest and fluid with what he shares and how he shares it. When it comes to making artwork, he is very much the same way. Innocent is very much trafficked by, and hypersensitive...