Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
A historical and contemporary primer on stained glass
Monday, May 29, 2023 | Angel Callander
The history of stained glass is ancient and global. But given the conceptual demands of contemporary art, stained glass is a supple and compliant medium that can be imbued with almost any concern. What is most interesting about looking at these artists together is that, contrary to what one might expect, the more secular character of stained glass is largely sidestepped in favour of a slight bend towards spirituality and religiosity, often in critical, ironic, or unconventional terms. Materially, stained glass is combined with other quotidian or industrial elements, either in an effort to aggrandize the latter or situate the former as pragmatic and functional.
Complex machineries of ethics and desire: in conversation with Melanie Jame Wolf
Monday, March 14, 2022 | Angel Callander
Melanie Jame Wolf is a Melbourne-born artist currently based in Berlin, whose practice uses moving image, textile, and sound to broadly analyze the complexities of performance as a discipline, and in everyday life. Wolf eloquently describes her concerns as being “the poetics and problematics of ghosts, class, pop, sensuality, gender, narratology, and the body as a political riddle.” In 2021 she released two new works that marked significant changes to her practice. Acts of Improbable Genius (2021) follows Pierrot the Clown and Wolf’s persona of Stand-up Ron performing the same monologue on the nature of comedy, culminating in the death of Wolf’s years-long character study of Ron. Understudies (2021) is Wolf’s first scripted and choreographed film, featuring seven actors performing fragments of Nina’s monologue from Anton Chekhov’s 1896 play, The Seagull. 
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.
Redressing Artistic Labour
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | Angel Callander
In 1905, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was founded to unionize workers who were on the margins of the capitalist economic system—workers who were highly replaceable because of the transitory nature of their positions, such as lumberjacks and farm workers, as well as those in dangerous, low-paying jobs like miners and longshoremen. With an IWW card, labourers of all kinds were able to realize their workers’ rights and take different jobs seasonally, all under the protection of the same industrial union that operated on collective bargaining. Today the IWW still identifies as “a rank-and-file-run, international union dedicated to the abolition of the wage system,” though its power has been diminished by the gradual decline of a robust labour movement and a public conscience therein. 
Reinscribing history in public space
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | Angel Callander
Canada’s relationship to its own history and the symbols used to memorialize it is reactionary. The insistence that monuments should be left untouched as they teach us about history, for example, betrays a concern with nationalism rather than education: this naturalizes dominant histories which serve those in power. As theorist Paul B. Preciado recently wrote, following German author W.G. Sebald, “monuments that represent the power some wield over others paradoxically contain in their violent and grandiloquent style the root of their own destruction.” That is, the preordained authority of a monument in a time and place—as an index of an event, or an icon of a powerful figure—is bound to outlive its purported permanence once an educated public decides it is not served by the way this history has been told. This is why prevailing discourses on whether certain monuments should be taken down, or what should be done with them once they are, miss the point of what kind of transformation people really want and need. These are liberal questions that sidestep the material issues reinforced by this ecology of monuments and public space. Statue removal on its own is a symbolic reordering, but replacing their modes of representation—the ideas, symbols, and values bestowed on society by centuries of capitalism—is a much deeper process. The transformation of these modes is a process of iconoclasm that starts with a rejection of inherited and uncritical ideas of the status-quo as the only way to live. In its stead, we must critically examine how histories and lived experiences are embodied in and structured by the ecology of public space... 
The Good, the Camp, and the Ugly
Wednesday, March 11, 2020 | Angel Callander
Leigh Bowery, Carmen Miranda, “Love Shack,” Showgirls, Björk’s swan dress at the Oscars, Macy Gray’s outfit emblazoned with the release date of her next album at the 2001 MTV VMAs, reality television, just about everything Lady Gaga has ever done—in a truly nebulous set of relations, references, and time periods, these things all have in common that they are beholden to the legacy of camp. Last year’s Met Gala put camp on our minds again, reviving Susan Sontag’s prominent essay, “Notes on Camp” (1964), and distributing it to celebrity stylists in what was itself a campy gesture of mingling pop culture and intellectualism.    Camp has not really been at the forefront of discourses surrounding cultural production over the past decade; though, in actuality, it has operated heavily in the background....
Updating the logic of the monument: in conversation with Susanna Jablonski
Wednesday, December 11, 2019 | Angel Callander
Susanna Jablonski is a Stockholm-based artist working with sculpture, moving image, sound and music to test the boundaries of materials, time, and human experience. She considers the tensions of interpersonal relationships in the collective, as mediated through objects, nature, historical consequences, and human-built systems.  Jablonski is a frequent collaborator of artist and filmmaker Santiago Mostyn. And together with performance artist Cara Tolmie, she organizes an ongoing series of Listening Sets as part of their joint research project “Gender of Sound,” which hosts work by artists that support a practice of close listening with the participation of an audience (encouraging those with all levels of experience or enthusiasm for music). The project gathers these voices in a collaborative effort to find a language for articulating the myriad ways we listen, hear,...
Inhabiting zones of estrangement
Wednesday, July 10, 2019 | Angel Callander
Andrei Tarkovsky's seminal 1979 film Stalker was produced in the late Brezhnev era of the Soviet Union, and centres on the journey of three men to a forbidden location called the ‘Zone’– the product of an extraterrestrial visitation, purported to manifest the deepest desires of any person to enter it. Every empire has an end, an exhibition at Toronto’s Franz Kaka, juxtaposes the work of Jennifer Carvalho and Jenine Marsh to explore the material sensibilities and conceptual dialogues of their art practices through the lens of the film. Together, Marsh’s sculptures and Carvalho’s paintings summon the themes and visual languages of Stalker; its mysterious ‘Zone’; and its investment in time utilizing what Tarkovsky referred to as the “long take.”  Like the ‘Zone’ of the film, a site of antagonism and...
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...