Friday, April 27, 2007

A survey of galleries in Canada

So, we had a little spare time on our hands, and were wondering what the relative profiles of some galleries across Canada are. A little time on survey monkey, a couple weeks to let the responses come in, and then it's done.

If you want to see the results, you can download the survey here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Antihero Decor

If you drop by the CCL1 before April 26th you will be met with the dingy yellow glow of a streetlamp. The light cast by this familiar fixture strips the colour from everything in the room, including your skin. The streetlamp draws you into the world of Classic Film Noir through the creation of a black and white world, filled with creepy shadows that are so central to Noir aesthetics and narrative. The lamp also gives the gallery space the requisite nightmarish urban setting where gangsters and femmes fatales are known to linger.

Jon Sasaki’s exhibition Anithero Decor puts visitors into the position of a Film Noir protagonist. As you come upon each work you momentarily experience what it is like to be a character whose life spinning out of control. However, his works also calls attention to the cinematic techniques used to create this effect. It’s not like you’ve been dropped onto the set of a 1940s film, but more like you’re actually in the film and at the same time oddly privy to the film’s style, soundtrack, and narrative devices.

You can experience this drama and danger for yourself at the Centre for Culture and Leisure at 83 Elm Grove Unit 102 until April 26th. The gallery is open 1-5 Wednesday to Friday and Saturday 12-6.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Four not-to-be-missed exhibitions

Anitra Hamilton (A Retrospective on Parade) and Kristan Horton (Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove) both open at the Art Gallery of York University next Wednesday the 25th and continue until June 24th. Kristan Horton is also exhibiting at Jessica Bradley Art + Projects from the 14th of April until May 12th. Jon Sasaki's excellent exhibition at the Centre for Culture and Leisure #1 closes next Thursday, the 26th.

Don't miss 'em.

For more information, visit:

Monday, April 9, 2007


Sol LeWitt died yesterday in New York. He was 78.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Ice Storm Party, Friday 13th of April

For those who remember the cute little bannered baby New Year from last December's Member's Show, here is an update. Baby 2008 is now in his late 30s, has developed a taste for frilly shirts and scarfy haberdashery, and has become known in some circles as a top-notch partyist. He plans to be in attendance this Friday for the Ice Storm Party, carrying three sets of keys on his person.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Recess with Rob Waters

Welcome to the second installment of Mercer Union Hall's, "Recess". This series is devoted to Mercer artists and is the platform upon which I, your devoted interviewer, ask them a maximum of five questions. These entail, but are not limited to, both serious questions about their practices and stupid questions that may only have word associative significance. For this installment, I asked Toronto artist Rob Waters about his recent Mercer exhibition, "Man at a Computer".

CT: In your "Man at a Computer" piece, you've done an installation that includes packing tape and cutting out the image of the man directly onto the wall. In the past, you've used a similar technique with paper surfaces. There seems to be something more resolute in having a sight-specific installation with this application, specifically as it relates to the fragility of the material you've used.

RW: I certainly agree that the site-specific 'Man at Computer' installations are more resolute than the 'Man at Computer' works on paper. One reason, I believe, is that the site-specificity and time-specificity of the installation act as necessary counterpoints to the general nature of the subject matter. Because the man at computer could be any man, anywhere, the fact that it exists on a permanent wall provides a necessary grounding. It will exist for a month, at Mercer Union, and then it won't. The gallery becomes part of the piece as the image, the man actual being the gallery wall.

In terms of the material - brown packing tape - I think that it is more the impermanence than the fragility that is important. Although the drawings won't last forever, they will probably be framed and will certainly exist longer than the installation. The short life of the installation better reflects the planned obsolescence of computer technology, and in relation to
the body points more directly towards mortality.

The increase in scale also makes the installation more effective, as the installation becomes a space that the viewer occupies, with (and not just) an image to consider. The greater size allows for more detail in image, and an increased common to life relationship between the man and the viewer. I believe this increases the sense of voyeurism in the viewer, as they move towards and glimpse over the shoulder of the image.
The body in relation to technology and thought is primarily what this piece is about, and the increased physicality of the installation heightens the discrepancy of these relationships.

CT: Looking over a person's shoulder can allude to so many privacy issues that arise with computer technology. While Big Brother so often comes to mind, computer-related voyeurism, in this case, then becomes just that much more invasive. As in: anyone can spy, anyone can spy upon. While perhaps not initially at the foreground of your concept, I think the over-the-shoulder pose allows me to run with this train for a while..

RW: The type of voyeurism I was initially interested in was purely physical - one of 'shedding light' by providing access. I wanted to bring a private, though common situation into public view. I had been reading different articles about horrified wives discovering the digital pornography collection of their husbands, and mothers who had walked in on their sons to find them masturbating at their computers, unsure quite what to do. I thought this was very interesting - both that computers were being used for sexual exploration and stimulation, but also that there was the intention that such activities always be kept hidden.

It was also interesting, (or perhaps not), that it was a gender-specific chain of events - men trying to hide their actions and women eventually finding them out. I wanted to bring such activities to light, and to question the necessity for such discretion.
I was thinking of precedents like Degas, who painted women as they watched an opera, part of the audience, unaware that they were being watched. For my series, however, I wanted to turn the tables so that it was men who were being objectified, portrayed in a position of vulnerability.

In terms of computer voyeurism, or 'Big Brother' as you suggest, it does somewhat relate to my subject matter. When you suggest that anyone can spy, however, I don't quite think that's the case. It is primarily those in control and those with a specialized knowledge of computer technology (often the same people), who are capable of such voyeurism, or access to
information. We all of course can learn to become hackers, but there is definitely a knowledge gap when it comes to understanding how computers work.

I believe the biggest issues we face right now in relation to computer voyeurism and compromised human rights on the Internet are the issues of surveillance, censorship, and control. I have been reading about such things as the manipulated version of Google developed for China, and of a computer program developed by the United States Department of Homeland Security that monitors email in order to identify language patterns common to the development of terrorist plots. These increased controls and invasions of privacy go against what I believe the Internet should be - more free.

CT: And finally, you into this album or what?

RW: Kraftwerk is actually one of those bands on my to do list.

Stay tuned for next month's Recess. Who will it be? Damned if I know, sir.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


My favorite website for discovering new work celebrates its first birthday this week. The site is refreshingly free of commentary, serving mostly as a curated links page to artists' own websites. Both emerging and established artists are featured, including many who have exhibited at Mercer Union (Paulette Phillips, Kelly Mark, Kristan Horton and Germaine Koh, for example). The address is (www. v v, not w). Check it out.

Toronto Bliss: The On-Going Saga of Street Furniture

It's officially official, the designs and proposals for new Toronto street furniture will be exhibited in City Hall tomorrow, April 5th, until about 8pm.

City officials confirmed with the Spacing crew that they will be looking at more dates to exhibit the furniture in the near future.

E-mail if you think it's important to exhibit these models as often as possible before the April 30th deadline (that decides which one of these babies gets the big contract).

For more info stay tuned with

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Happy April Fools' Day.

To celebrate, why not visit, a new site launched today by the king of the hoax Joey Skaggs. Both historical and instructional, the site examines the Prank as satire, protest and artwork, and features essays from the classic Re/Search volume "Pranks" (and the recent "Pranks 2"). Skaggs, who spoke in Toronto last fall as part of the 7a*11d Performance Art Festival, is responsible for Cathouse For Dogs, Celebrity Sperm Bank, The Fat Squad and dozens of other classic media pranks.