From the category archives:

Reviews

Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em: “Frida Smoked” at INVISIBLE-EXPORTS

by Emily Colucci on June 1, 2016
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What image is conjured by a woman smoker? Is she chain-smoking Betty Draper living in a Mad Men world defined by advertising and women’s magazines, or grungy and addled Courtney Love, tossing her lipstick-smeared cigarette butts at unsuspecting and adoring fans?

Whether exemplifying the height of ladylike femininity or illustrating the depths of a disheveled mess, there is no denying that throughout history, smoking has come to define numerous female stereotypes.

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Breaking into Broken Systems: On Being Marginalized, and the “Politics of Refusal”

by Rea McNamara on May 31, 2016
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On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the second floor of Toronto’s Theater Center was packed with artists for the panel DAMNED IF YOU DO: A Conversation on the Politics of Refusal. Co-presented by local artist-run center Whippersnapper Gallery, the panel focused on stories and strategies from the trenches of the “marginalized”: namely, the tricky pursuit of navigating art and funding systems as an “artist of colour” or “visible minority” or whatever fraught PC term can describe what it means to be a racialized body in the art world.

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Housing Costs Too Much: A Responsive Series of Awkward Dinner Conversations

by Chris Green on May 23, 2016
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“How can you say that affordable housing should go towards artist studios rather than homeless domestic violence victims?”

The question, asked on Monday evening by the Village Voice’s Neil deMause during dinner at a luxurious Chelsea apartment, sent some hands reaching for wine glasses. It was a moment in William Powhida and Jennifer Dalton’s MONTH2MONTH, the public art project running in private residences around the city throughout May, that made the stakes of such a project’s engagement housing uncomfortably clear. The guests at the dinner, a varied mix of artists, patrons and the curious, were faced with a paradox of the liberal sensibility whereby supporting the arts might be tantamount to taking housing away from the truly needy. At least until Powhida announced that he, an artist, didn’t think artists should be given studio space over anyone.The problem is one of affordability. The discussion moved on, drinks were refilled.

In the age of poor doors and museum-sanctioned real estate summits, MONTH2MONTH, produced by MoreArt, asks what role the art community, which is so often viewed as an agent of gentrification, can play in the debate around NYC housing.

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David Hammons at Mnuchin Gallery: Sellout, or Seer?

by Rob Goyanes on May 18, 2016
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The weird web of a pivotal black artist, finance capitalism, and Donald Trump.

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“When the Cat’s Away, Abstraction” Offers a Candy Store Gleefully Blown to Bits

by RM Vaughan on May 2, 2016
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Sometimes you happen upon an exhibition that is so bang-on in its intent and presentation that all you can do is stand back and admire its charms. Such is the lucky fate of anyone who wanders into “When The Cat’s Away, Abstraction”, a new group show highlighting works that begin from digital sources and end in traditional commodities.

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Abigail DeVille Mines America’s Oldest Museum

by Michael Anthony Farley on April 28, 2016
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Abigail DeVille’s ambitious solo exhibition Only When It’s Dark Enough Can You See The Stars dredges up the history of the defunct Peale Museum, set to reopen later this year.

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Improper Administration: Mike Hoolboom at Images

by Rea McNamara on April 25, 2016
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If you live in Toronto and have friends in the arts, they were likely busy last week. Most of the local art world were attending the screenings, gallery shows and live presentations launched as part of the Images Festival. Now in its 29th year, Images is the largest North American annual festival for experimental and independent film and video.

Few screenings saw greater demand than Mike Hoolboom’s sold out Incident Reports. Even press, such as myself, were put on a waiting list. This wasn’t exactly a surprise: the Toronto-based filmmaker is an influential figure in the Canadian film and media scenes. He’s not only had a prodigious output that’s warranted retrospectives at festivals worldwide (including Images), but is a co-founder of the exhibition collective Pleasuredome and was the first artistic director of Images (2000).

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Just Looking: Stephen Shore at C/O Berlin Amerika Haus

by RM Vaughan on April 19, 2016
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Stopping in front of a Stephen Shore photograph is like being the horny one in a sexless marriage. It is frustrating, yes, but also strangely comforting, because you always know where you stand.

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In the Ring: Paul Pfeiffer at Carlier/Gebauer

by RM Vaughan on April 6, 2016
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At least half the fun on any spectacle is the after-chat: the armchair philosophizing, the intention guessing, the interpretation, the endless acts of interpretation. The ancient Romans knew that much.

For instance, think of Beyonce’s recent Super Bowl performance, which is now generating MA theses, or Taylor Swift’s over-discussed Grammy speech, or, even more fleeting but just as worthy of spin-offs, that moment during the Golden Globes when Lady Gaga bumped into Leonardo Di Caprio – memes sprung up like freshly watered Sea Monkeys. (And, no, I hardly think it accidental that these three examples are all centred on people who present as female – women are still watched far more closely than men, because men still run the shows).

Paul Pfeiffer’s tri-part video installation, “Three Figures in a Room”, digs into this watch-analyse-watch again circle by distilling one world media event (a televised boxing match) to its core elements – sights and sounds.

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When Facts Become Art: Alison S.M. Kobayashi at Gallery TPW

by Rea McNamara on March 23, 2016
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History needs historians. They chronicle the past, poking and prodding at the accumulated details that ultimately defines public record. What’s perhaps less obvious, though, is that history needs artists too.

At least that’s the conclusion I drew after visiting Say Something Bunny!, Alison S.M. Kobayashi’s solo show at Toronto artist-run center Gallery TPW. Having received from a friend a 64 year old wire recording purchased at an estate sale, the Toronto and Brooklyn-based artist manages to unspool a multigenerational yarn of Rothian heights. The audio, augmented by Kobayashi’s rigorous and thorough research, uncovers the trials and tribulations of a middle class Jewish family from Long Island. Throughout the installation, Kobayashi renders the facts that define the lives of these idiosyncratic cast of characters deeply felt and most remarkably, close and real.

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