Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
Starting with the object: in conversation with curator Heather Rigg
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | Clare Samuel
I first encountered Heather Rigg’s curatorial work for An unassailable and monumental dignity at Contact Gallery in 2017, and was blown away. It reframed images of Black masculinity in the public sphere. Each work sparked off one another in a way only a strong curatorial vision can create. Rigg grew up in Victoria, BC and relocated to Toronto in 2008 where she received her MA from Ryerson University’s Photographic Preservation and Collections Management (PPCM). She worked at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of that program, then as Programming Administrator for the Contact Photography Festival. In July she was appointed Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography. Last year, Rigg initiated the project space ma ma, with long-time friend and collaborator Magdalyn Asimakis....
Makeshift privacy and pissing bodies: in conversation with HaeAhn Kwon
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 | Laura Demers
I think of HaeAhn Kwon's assemblage works as solutions to open-ended questions. How might we tweak our surroundings to bring light to the things we take for granted? How do our surroundings shape us, our bodies, and the way we behave? How can one inflect change, or make the best of a situation, with minimal means? Or as the artist asks: “How do incongruent parts come together meaningfully to suggest an otherwise?” Working in drawing, sculpture, and installation, Kwon's practice largely revolves around the idea of “the makeshift” -- a word that aptly describes the haphazard site of art production, the art object that emerges both from chance and necessity, and the daily labour of making-do. The makeshift, as she describes it, implies operating creatively within (and despite) material limitations,...
“‘Is This Progress?’ And Other Timely Questions”: in conversation with Misael Soto
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 | Jameson Paige
Loosening, rethinking, and altering the ways we navigate space and relate to one another are Misael Soto’s bread and butter. The Miami-based artist is currently working on large projects situated in public space, rooted in a practice that has continuously intervened in the systems that govern the everyday. Daily life is often riddled with unexpected and often contradictory phenomena that usually go unnoticed and unquestioned: construction street signs, scaffolding, and crisis-averting equipment are all obvious indicators of change—sometimes even threats —yet their ubiquitous and quotidian deployment eases potential anxieties, certainly staving off the urgency that required their invention in the first place. In a moment heightened by polarizing politics, many artists are looking to the nature of relations and relationships between people. Soto considers the challenges of our time through...
The Lake and The Late: in conversation with Sindhu Thirumalaisamy
Thursday, April 18, 2019 | Fabiola Carranza
I first met Sindhu Thirumalaisamy in San Diego. We reconnected later at the airport in Tijuana while we waited to board a plane to México City where we were going to take part in a summer study program at SOMA. Back then, I had only heard about a soundscape she'd done inside a hospital. It layered and built tension around hospital life in a magical and meditative way. As I got to know Sindhu, I noticed her ability to listen with great care and that appealed to me. I wanted to work with her. I later found out she was a filmmaker when she started to work on her latest project, The Lake and the Lake. Both her film and sound works are location-based, multi-lingual, and collaborative. She experiments with...
A cue for continuity: in conversation with Ashley Holmes
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 | Luther Konadu
Listen to any of Sheffield’s Ashley Holmes’ mixes on NTS Radio and it can feel like getting a warm welcome into the mind of a mixer who is every bit as delicate about his choices as he is with their successive arrangements. You can picture Holmes spending hours sifting through record after record, lining them up, seamlessly placing disparate textures together before broadcasting it for us to hear. But he also manages to make the results flow intuitively and casual.  Each time, he takes us on a meandering journey into the decades and then brings us forward and then back again. This back and forth maneuvering is done to a point where you start to lose any geographic or historic orientation you may align the tracks towards. Instead, we are...
The Thickness of That Fabric
Friday, March 29, 2019 | Sophia Bartholomew
gusts of sheets like lungs, breathing the air. dandelion leaves and blades of grass. dimpled fruit branches rustling like a horizon. between here and the pear tree—heat and the slowness of waiting. she says relationships between people are beautiful. head held in creases and folds. deep watered intention or else a seething fury. nearby a woman crouched in a tree, a painted figure eating a fruit. pears piled high in a bowl, she says, I didn’t ask your opinion on being a woman. white noise. white plaster hand, limp-wristed. a man with a cloth held in front of his face made of plaster. hands on her hip bone, sheets tangled up in the line. beside the sink, a window, yellow dish soap, a crumpled piece of paper towel.     I watch...
Not All Men Are Men
Thursday, March 28, 2019 | hannah_g
If I were a journalist, I might begin this piece so: “Davis Plett (23) a petit blonde in a pink two-piece with wide, gold, metal choker, black stilettos, and glasses, began their performance in the midst of a rapt audience. Seated in a large 1980’s office chair (emphasizing their build), Plett operated an overhead projector/laptop hybrid in silence as acetate after acetate, and digital screen after screen of text and image rolled over the fabric of the old projection screen … ” The visual description of the subject, once common in tabloids, directs the reader towards assumptions about intelligence, intention, personality, social standing, and availability. A female-identified body in a public role was regarded as an available body. This still holds true. With simultaneously greater subtlety and absolute brazenness, female,...
Mutant 1 Dew 3, 4, 5: in conversation with Nicole Brunel
Friday, March 22, 2019 | Brennan Kelly
I first met Nicole Brunel in the summer of 2009. That year’s iteration of Sled Island Festival was about to begin and there was some sort of event—the details of which I can’t quite recall—taking place at Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary. I had just finished a gig poster for a show Nicole’s band, Puberty, was scheduled to play, and so when a mutual friend introduced us that evening we talked a bit about drawing and music. At the end of summer, I moved to Montreal with some friends and a few months later, Nicole and their bandmates crashed at our place while on tour. Over the next ten years, Nicole and I kept in loose contact over social media, but I wouldn’t see them again until a surprise encounter...
"Photography has always been a medium in crisis": in conversation with Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 | Jameson Paige
At what Spatio-temporal turning point do images change in meaning, value, and/or audience? Now in a time when images proliferate ad nauseam, the medium of photography speeds towards a precipice of crisis, hinged on its ubiquity, exponentially increased accessibility, immateriality, and now widely understood rehearsed construction. Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez is an artist based in Chicago whose practice contends with photography’s ails, as well as its history, through a formal approach reminiscent of the Information and Systems artists from the 1960s and 70s. In our conversation, he reminds me that, “photography has always been a medium in crisis,” and that our contemporary questioning of its proliferation is just another point of contention along its conflict-ridden timeline. Rodriguez’s work is not preoccupied with a medium-specific version of photography as much as its...
Contact Is Crisis: Azza El Siddique’s Let Me Hear You Sweat at Cooper Cole
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 | Tatum Dooley
Wetness has long been considered a destructive force. Floods. Waterboarding. Torrential downpour. Drowning. Sobbing. A leaky facet. Dampness that leads to mold. In Ancient Greek, wetness was associated with the female body and with it carried connotations of destruction. “Physiologically and psychologically women are wet,” Anne Carson wrote in her essay “Dirt and Desire.” She goes on to quote Hippokrates:   The female flourishes more in an environment of water, from things cold and wet and soft, whether food or drink or activities. The male flourishes more in an environment of fire, from dry, hot foods and mode of life.   This binary between wet/dry and women/men is repeated in contemporary culture. Women’s wetness is weaponized against them. The weeping woman is weak; the sexual woman, impure. Women’s wetness is dangerous, it...
On the psychology of memory, memes, and knowing who you are: in 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...
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...