Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
Naming home: in conversation with artist Lauren Crazybull
Monday, February 14, 2022 | Adam Whitford
Lauren Crazybull and I met in the fall of 2019 on Treaty 7 territory while they were in the midst of gathering research as the province of Alberta’s first Artist in Residence. A year later, the research culminated in an exhibition, TSIMA KOHTOTSITAPIIHPA Where are you from? presented at Latitude 53 and subsequently at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG). While working with Lauren on the SAAG iteration, I was struck by the depth of personal and historical experiences contained within Lauren’s exhibition. This multimedia project of audio, photographs, a book, and paintings culminated in an immensely thoughtful intersection of personal, cultural, geographic and linguistic Indigenous issues. Through discussions with Lauren, I felt that there was still so much about the travels, stories, and historical context of the exhibition that went unsaid.
My Bloody Island
Wednesday, February 2, 2022 | Ren Ebel
In the summer of 2020 two identical catamarans sat docked end-to-end in the port of Mahón, Menorca. Blown-up photos of sea creatures plastered along their sides advertised glass-bottom boat tours of the island’s giant natural harbour. I took Hanah (my daughter, then nearly three years old) on one of the tours. She was restless onboard as a distorted voice produced facts in five languages about certain landmarks along our route, including a few small, rocky islets floating in the port. Our boat stopped at the edge of the open sea and we were escorted below deck into one of two cramped viewing compartments, where haunted-looking fish materialized out of the green ether to snap at mud-coloured pellets flung discretely overboard by the crew.  
Ancestral and future foods: in conversation with Dupla Molcajete
Monday, January 31, 2022 | Beatriz Paz Jiménez and Zoë Heyn-Jones
Researcher-artists and cultural workers Beatriz Paz Jiménez and Zoë Heyn-Jones work together as Dupla Molcajete: dupla meaning duo in Spanish, and molcajete (mohl-cah-HEH-tay) referring to the Mexican mortar. From the Nahuatl word molcaxitl (molli = sauce and caxitl = cup or bowl), this prehispanic utensil, usually made from volcanic stone or clay, is used to grind spices and other ingredients, and often to make sauces that are served directly in the mortar itself...As Dupla Molcajete, Paz Jiménez and Heyn-Jones have an emergent collaborative practice that creates spaces for experimentation at the nexus of art, food, and culture from Mesoamerican perspectives. Dupla Molcajete works to centre food justice and sustainability, leveraging the resources of art and university spaces to engage with wider communities. They centre ancestral knowledge and (perma)cultural practices between Mexico and Canada—and across the hemisphere—through cooking, eating, talking, writing, curating, publishing, collaging, and making plant-based photochemical images, among other actions.
Hogwash: Artwork and Anti-Work
Wednesday, January 26, 2022 | Sam Weselowski
The pig taped to the wall is the colour of smog. Hung vertically by the snout, its pear-shaped body has had a sizeable chunk sliced from its back, revealing the hammy flesh within. A knife sticks out from the pig’s side, but this looks less like a wound than a sheath. The exposed blade has a bag of cigarette filters stuck to its base, and a blister pack lies close to the pig’s forelegs. An upside-down bunch of white daisies hangs down its centre. Superimposed onto the pig’s body, the orange space behind the daisies suggests some kind of dimensional rupture, a gulf between two worlds—pig and wildflowers—haphazardly sealed by blue tape. Strapped with trash and plants, the animal serves as both feast and landfill, producer and consumer, pork and pig.
Duet for Spackle
Monday, January 24, 2022 | Hannah Berger
I bring up the concept of “stuffedness,” because it has been whispered as the unofficial cause of death. Following the burial, my boss said that if we hadn’t buried Spackle so soon, we could have opened her up to look inside. We saw nibble-marks on the blue insulating foam on the walls of the duck hutch. Before then, I had assumed that the cause of death was “being in service to a children’s summer camp,” because this appeared to be the cause of all other destruction on the farm: the muddy patches of dirt where grass used to grow; the infant vole that the white-blond child grabbed and squeezed; the hand-soap bubbles that piled up under the outdoor sink; all the plants ripped from the ground in elated fits; and, more obliquely, the old hen’s scabbing back patches, plucked bare by the rooster; the sheep’s lost horn; and, finally, Spackle. It was Spackle, stuffed or sick or exasperated, in whom we decided to place our remorse. The bird is swathed in its own Manila sympathy cards and flowers. Only the hard parts remain. 
“Not a just image, just an image.”
Thursday, January 20, 2022 | Olivia Klevorn
1. You go out dancing with the gay boys. Afterwards, you all decide to get pancakes because only sugar can soften the blow of leaving with the same people you came with. At the diner you settle easily into a purple vinyl booth, place your orders, and take solace in the vast blue light horizons of your phone screens. The table goes silent as it always does when gay men re-enter the visual ecology of their natural habitat, mollified by pixelated rivers of naked flesh, retouched ass cheeks as firm, sweet, and stale as a bag of Haribo gummies, luscious trunks dripping with boughs of cheap leather and tacky lace, marbled cerulean skylines sculpted by modernist mansions, and white lily petal buttons of friends, lovers, mentors, baristas, and “that guy” at the gym, each waiting to be plucked.
A recipe for oppositional remembrance
Thursday, January 13, 2022 | Jessica Félicité
In April of 2020, the novelist Arundhati Roy wrote: “The pandemic is a portal.” As we continue through the portal, navigating the emergence of new variants, it is a fertile time to collectively embrace liminality as our mode of existence. Oscillating between states of lockdown and re-emergence felt like constantly taking flight towards the unknown. In the foreword of Borealis, an essay by Aisha Sabatini Sloan published in 2021, editor Youmna Chlala reflects on the tension that exists in trying to situate oneself within the ever-changing spaces we occupy: “It is as if you are trying to land your gaze somewhere but the landscape won’t let you.” We have yet to arrive on solid ground, as we traversed another year shaped by the pandemic.
After the Storm
Thursday, January 13, 2022 | Olajide Salawu
On both the Anglophone and the Francophone sides, Africa was on the podium of literary delight in 2021. It is true as in the words of Samira Sawlani that African writers took the world by storm. Boubacar Boris Diop won the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature for his book titled, Murambi: The Book of Bones, which explores the 1994 Rwandan  Genocide, . It is the fifth decade of the prize and Diop is among the few Africans who have won the prestigious award organized by World Literature Today of the University of Oklahoma.  The Ghanaian writer, Meshack Asare, also was a recipient of the Children’s Literature category in 2015. Neustadt International Prize for Literature is considered one of the most prestigious awards only in proximity to the Nobel Prize, amounting to $50,000.00. More than the visibility benefits, this award would position Diop not only in the African literary market more, but also across uncharted territories where his works have not been read or studied.
This can’t be the right place: reflections on an insurrection
Thursday, January 6, 2022 | Mike Curran
On Interstate-94 between Minneapolis and southern Wisconsin, flattened farmland gradually gives way to sandstone buttes. 18,000 years ago, this ground held a glacial lake. When the glacier receded, an ice dam broke, unleashing a violent flood that forged the buttes’ contours. Eventually, in the flood’s wake, the Waterpark Capital of the World™ would be built. Since the first waterslide was installed in 1980, “the Dells”—shorthand for this area—has become a land of “COUNTRY’S ONLY” and “PLANET’S BIGGEST”. Among these achievements is the United States’s largest inverted monument: the Upside-Down White House. This imitation of the presidential palace is the reason for my visit. I hoped that, a year removed from the U.S. Capitol insurrection, walking its upturned halls would bring some clarity to a democracy forever taking on water, now sinking to impossible depths.
"I'm still here, still alive, still valuable, even when I can't get out of bed": in conversation with Hannah Bullock
Tuesday, December 21, 2021 | Hannah Doucet
Hannah Bullock is a visual artist and writer based in Toronto. Her work explores her lived experience with chronic pain, through printmaking, video, sculpture, drawing, performance and writing. As part of a poetic essay video 2020-09-16 at 11:19:28 AM, Hannah’s voice calmly and firmly recites, “I can’t stop my immune system from failing me from time to time or maybe I could if I took better care of myself. But it’s hard to take care of yourself when your own body doesn't take care of you.” With this work, Hannah draws you into an intimate space of her personal computer desktop and her own world of grappling with chronic pain, the medical system, and her own theorizations around illness. 
In defense of belly button lint and the hole that is nothing
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 | Lauren Prousky
My boyfriend’s opinions about my body generally swing amorously between ecstatic enjoyment and appropriate indifference, and for that I am grateful. There is one outlier, however. One spot pokes a small hole through his studied feminist temperament to reveal a well-meaning but not necessarily welcome qualm about my physical form: he regularly informs me that my belly button is dirty. The first time this happened, my response was disbelief followed by a defensive boast about my usually superior hygiene. He then showed me his own immaculate navel and told me to look at mine in comparison. Realizing then that I had never really looked around in that part of my body, I fearfully peered down, jutting out my pelvis to get a good view. Contorted and vulnerable, I was thus confronted with a surprisingly dark naval cave, unmistakably specked with stalagmites.
Directing the acoustic gaze: in conversation with Oshay Green
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 | Mark Pieterson
“For me, the improvisational skill and experimental language of jazz artists like Pharaoh Sanders, Alice Coltrane, and Sun Ra, gave me permission to seek a plane of creativity that allowed for freedom and liberation, in all its valences”, artist Oshay Green tells me during our conversation outside a Los Angeles cafe. As far as influence, he leaves nothing on the table. Whether it’s the gritty, urban environment near his Dallas studio -- which provides him with an ample source of metal scraps and concrete that compose his sculptures -- or the conceptual approach of 20th-century Japanese and Korean artists such as Nebuo Sekine and Lee Ufan, Green channels his resources and influences to create objects that explore the interdependencies of being. 
Talking screens, translating media: a conversation with Oliver Husain
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 | Emily Doucet
Oliver Husain is an artist and filmmaker based in Toronto. His exhibitions and films combine elements of cinema and performance, drawing on a range of objects, stories, and materials to create lush, curious environments that denaturalize architectures and histories alike. I first wrote about Oliver’s work in a 2016 review of an exhibition of his film Isla Santa Maria 3D at Gallery TPW in Toronto. Then, as now, I was mesmerized by the way Husain kaleidoscopically interrogates his subjects. I spoke with him this summer over Zoom while we were both in Germany (him in Berlin and me in Essen) about several of his recent projects, including DNCB, a collaboration with Kerstin Schroedinger which explores the communal history of Dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB)—a highly toxic chemical used in both colour film processing and alternative treatments for individuals living with AIDS during the 1980s and 1990s—and Streamy Windows, a collaborative experiment in producing for live streaming.
Grounding a story around the senses: a conversation with Francesca Ekwuyasi
Thursday, October 28, 2021 | Ruby Chijioke-Nwauche
Francesca Ekwuyasi is an incredible storyteller. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, she is currently based in Halifax(K’jipuktuk), where she produces poignant literature and multidisciplinary artwork from within her own universe. Her debut novel, Butter Honey Pig Bread has received much acclaim for its honest and heartfelt approach to themes of queerness, belonging, faith, family, and femininity. Notably longlisted for the 2020 Giller Prize, the novel was a finalist for CBC's 2021 Canada Reads competition, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Governor General's Award, among a host of other recognitions. Moreover, Ekwuyasi goes beyond the literary form to tell stories. One of her film projects, Black + Belonging was screened at the Halifax Black Film Festival in March 2019, as well as the Montreal International Black Film Festival, and the Toronto Black Film Festival in February 2020. As is evident from the title, the film explores what it means to be black while occupying different spaces and places; the difficulty of navigating others’ perceptions of oneself while also discovering what that self is, and how that self might expand or contract according to the space which it occupies. 
The Chaos of Eros: in conversation with the programmers of Erotic Awakenings
Monday, October 4, 2021 | Maria Isabel Martinez
Erotic life is a treasure we hold close until we believe its delight might multiply in the hands, eyes, ears, or mouth of another. One such place for sharing is “Erotic Awakenings,” an archive primarily containing writings hosted on the website of Toronto artist-run gallery Hearth Garage. The project is a collaboration between the gallery’s programmers Benjamin de Boer, Philip Ocampo, Rowan Lynch, and Sameen Mahboubi and writer and facilitator Fan Wu. Each piece of writing is singular in form and content, reflective of our varied erotic experiences.
The making of colonial museums: in conversation with Dan Hicks
Thursday, September 23, 2021 | Olajide Salawu
Dan Hicks has been at the center of conversations on the violent history of colonial museums and on how cultural objects pillaged from the Benin Kingdom can be returned to their original homes. His recent scholarship has focused on the colonial histories of cultural objects, work which has intersected with recent global campaigns against racism, continued imperialism in the Middle East, and ongoing ecological disasters. His two most recent books, The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution (paperback 2021) and A Cultural History of Objects (2020) are both diligent interventions that investigate the underbelly of colonialism and the foundations of Western cultural institutions, with a particular focus on museums where artefacts and valuables that have been expropriated from other regions of the world are displayed for visitors. 
Frontiers of the posthuman natural world: in conversation with Alice Bucknell
Monday, September 13, 2021 | Angel Callander
Alice Bucknell is an artist and writer based in London, UK. Her work uses video game engines and speculative fiction to explore the interconnections between ecology, architecture, and non-human and machinic intelligence. Bucknell’s recent works Swamp City (2021), E-Z Kryptobuild (2020), and Align Properties (2020) are artificial promo videos for imaginary development companies that parody the language and aesthetic conventions of real estate advertising...In this conversation, Alice and I discuss her inspiration for Swamp City, and the associated legal controversy with the Oppenheim Group (of Selling Sunset fame), the difficulties of using non-human characters, Bucknell’s home state of Florida, and how parafiction—a term coined by Carrie Lambert-Beatty to describe the blending of facts and fiction—is a necessary strategy for coming to grips with apocalyptic themes.
Rejection Season
Saturday, September 11, 2021 | Danielle Taschereau Mamers
Rejection season coincides with spring—a small cruelty of cyclical rhythms. Winter lifts and I assess what is revealed from under patches of dirty snow. The salt-stained sidewalk and remnants of grey ice are bleak. My inbox is bleaker. As another day runs out of business hours, I manually refresh my email. “Checking for mail…” appears under my various inboxes, each acquired from a temporary gig and kept active on the off chance that someone may want to reach me.  No new messages, just the same old news that has piled up over the past few weeks. A form letter announces a search committee’s inundation with exquisite applications, offering regrets and warmest regards. That note dredged up drafts and dossiers long buried in the back of my mind during the suspended state of winter. Like the detritus that resurfaces as snowbanks recede, my cover letters look weathered in the cold light of mid-March. I mentally cross off another entry on the list of jobs I’ve applied for.
The Republic of Apology
Thursday, August 12, 2021 | Chigbo Arthur Anyaduba
In the Republic of Apology sorry can buy you anything. Can pay for anything. Those were the opening lines of your book on apology. When your editor Zach first read it, he said that etymologically-speaking “sorry” and “apology” were not neighbours. Apology was a statement of excuse,  something put up in defence against accusations. That was how ancient Greeks understood it. Sorry, on the other hand, came from Middle English and expressed sympathy and a feeling of soreness or sorrowfulness. The operational form of the contemporary regime of apology, said Zach, had returned to the original meaning of the word [...] A few weeks after you sent your manuscript to Zach, he called, sounding excited. Over drinks, Zach said, I couldn’t help myself.Your manuscript inspired me to write a story set in your Republic of Apology. His story is about a man who personifies all the apology paraphernalia celebrated in the Republic. He apologises for everything; he greets apology, jokes apology, weeps apology. Step on his feet while in a bus he apologises with a smile. Yet, as it turns out, this man is a serial killer. Gentle in his approach and always full of apologies to his victims even when killing them. “I am so, so sorry that I have to kill you,” he always says to them, “it’s probably no fault of yours, eh. I can’t help it. I do not hate the fact you’re an aberration of nature, a bloody faggot, eh. But I have to say I am sorry it has to end like this, eh.” His last words to his victims were always: “You do not deserve to die.”  Zach was excited about his story. You asked him what the point was, exactly, about a serial killer who apologised to his victims.  The hollowness of it all, he replied.  You told him about an event you recently attended where the Prime Minister delivered an impassioned apology speech to Indigenous peoples. One man in the audience stood up and screamed at the top of his voice just when the Prime Minister had finished talking: “We got our apology! We got our apology!” The man wasn’t far from where you sat. You could see that he was crying as he screamed, almost losing his voice. You weren’t sure whether he was crying because of the Prime Minister’s apology speech or whether his “We got our apology” was meant as sarcasm. One way or another, you said, there must certainly be something in an apology that is more than hollow. In the Republic of Apology where apology solves injustice, Zach said, it’s all the currency there is.
Bot, Interrupted
Wednesday, August 11, 2021 | Uii Savage
Doomscrolling through my Instagram newsfeed as a habituated ritual of self-sabotage, I surf past public personas seamlessly blending amongst literal fake people. Developing a public persona online is as old as the internet. But what happens when we depart from the highly augmented self and invoke a world of bots? Artificial humyns deployed as virtual influencers, or ‘bots', are on the rise, and the interchangeability of their preferred nouns yield audiences who are just as intrigued as they are confused. Incidentally, when referring to some of these influencers as bots, one is also referring to their process of development. These online apparitions, used as computer-generated fictional characters presented as people, are devoid of agency but perform theatrically as though independent from corporate influence. Vapid in personality yet hyperreal in allure, virtual influencers crystallize "brand as lifestyle" in the metaverse where humyn discretion increasingly eclipses.
Strategies to enflesh the archive: a conversation with Emilio Rojas
Tuesday, August 3, 2021 | Laurel V. McLaughlin
How and why do we tell stories? Whose stories are told by History and whose are erased, forgotten, or deemed “dangerous” to tell? How do we acknowledge and confront the reality that particular histories fall outside of “acceptable”; and, how do we instead, critically shift to address, honor, and care for them? These are just some of the crucial questions that have been posed in academic writing, yelled throughout the streets, and scrawled across public monuments. We’ve seen them on international, national, and local scales over the course of this tumultuous year. Recent efforts—enabled by past advocacy—have challenged individuals, collectives, and institutions to examine fundamentally how people understand time. History writ large, marginalized histories, privilege, subjectivity/objectivity, and institutional methods of communication shift. But perhaps we should also be asking ourselves, what are the non-visible methods of record-keeping that might also erect and maintain barriers; preventing critical reassessments of History?
Methods of Holding Complexity and Community
Tuesday, July 27, 2021 | Jessica Félicité Kasiama
In The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin unravels the belief of the spear as the earliest human tool. She writes: “[S]ixty-five to eighty percent of what human beings ate in [temperate and tropical] regions in Paleolithic, Neolithic, and prehistoric times was gathered; only in the extreme Arctic was meat the staple food.” The overrepresentation of the spear conveys the conflict-driven narrative of the hunter as hero. She de-centers the spear and re-centers that which holds: the carrier bag, the basket, the pouch, the stomach. A modality is expressed, one that better reflects Le Guin as a person and writer. The author writes about the importance of “holding” in a life-affirming way. I read the text’s rejection of hierarchy as a caution against alienating the individual from the community. Our bodies hold our experiences, our experiences shape our perspectives, and our perspectives are useful to those around us. But, humans are messy. How do we hold this complexity with care—and subsequently, each other? It feels contradictory to take this up in writing as it can be a lonely, heart-opening practice. However, I do feel moments of possibility when reading collectively written texts: manifestos; community agreements; zines; anthologies. Inspired by collective writing, I reached out to two friends and artists, Hannah deJonge and Natalie Cito, who both address “holding” in their work. Hannah tenderly contemplates the histories of form through varying practices such as quilting and genre-defying ceramic vessels. And memories of intimate dialogue with Natalie Cito affirm my love of novels. Her artistic practice mirrors her approach to life. Natalie’s visual creations represent journeys into women’s stories and histories.
Public Parking: Editorial Residency Project
Tuesday, June 29, 2021 | Public Parking
Public Parking is very delighted to announce our new editorial residency program. For this program, we aim to work with thinkers who are adjacent or outside the realm of the arts as part of Public Parking’s ongoing efforts to broaden the scope of ideas we feature and the communities we reach. This pilot project invites guest editors to be residents at Public Parking over an extended six-month period. They will work with our team to publish a series of either self-written or programmed texts throughout this time. We are delighted to welcome editorial residents Chigbo Arthur Anyaduba and Emily Doucet for the inaugural run of this program.
Other lives
Though the twins came from an environment committed to genetically engineering their own population towards an ideal, an ideal of whiteness, this didn’t save their father from his own murder. The fact of this, and the strive for fairer complexion brought on by the complexities of colourism which continues to plague many communities, not just in the black diaspora, only reinforces the aspiration for racial hierarchy as futile at best. The supposed freedom that comes from aligning with a social cache is by and large a seductive fallacy. But the damaging chokehold of a culture and history that brings on the need for pursuing this very freedom is just as cogent in the mind. The word ‘freedom’ is applied in the form that contains within it, a kind of comforting love, acceptance, and belonging that makes life for the most part, livable. 
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?