Sunday, September 30, 2007

Another Radiohead Hoax?

Last week a site called posted cryptic coded messages about the forthcoming Radiohead album, but the band quickly announced that the site was not sanctioned. Today Billboard magazine reported that the band's new record, titled "In Rainbows", will be available on October 10th as a deluxe vinyl and CD set, or as digital download. And apparently fans will determine how much they pay for the download. "It's up to you" a disclaimer on the site reads.

There were tell-tale signs that last week's posting was not legitimate (including a font and design similar to that of their 2000 release "Kid A") but this site (while a bit clunky, and why not buy directly from is linked to directly from the band's site. It is also set-up to take your credit card number, so if it's not legitimate it moves from net hoax to web fraud.

Radiohead's contract with EMI expired in 2005 and they have not renewed, making them one of the biggest unsigned bands working. It has long been suggested that musicians at this stage in their career wouldn't require a major label but few suspected a business model that so completely departs from the existing one (iTunes and most major labels are regularly battling it out for pricing control: iTunes maintains that all songs should be 99 cents and the labels want the ability to charge more for hit songs and also to bundle tracks together as digital albums and EPs).

But perhaps it's not the huge gamble it appears to be. With the music industry relying less on album sales and more on concert ticket sales (Forbes reported yesterday that the Stones earned 88 million touring last year) and Radiohead shows selling out in seconds, this model could prove lucrative for the group.

It's Only Rock'n'Roll

Today's New York Times has a feature on the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago's new exhibition "Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967" with comments by celebrity couple Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson (who each have a foot in both worlds), Tony Oursler, David Byrne, Mike Kelley, Factory Records designer Peter Saville and Sonic Youth members Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo.

The exhibition takes it's title from the classic Rolling Stones song, as did the previous largest survey of rock's influence on the artworld, the 1997 exhibition "It's Only Rock 'n Roll", at the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona. The Stones might seem like an unlikely choice, or indicate the age of the curators, but the band's connection to the artworld is stronger than one might think.

In 1996 I co-curated an exhibition at Art Metropole of artist-designed album covers and the Stones were better represented than any other band, besting even Sonic Youth (who by that point had covers by Kelley, Raymond Pettibon and Gerhardt Richter, but not yet Richard Prince and Christopher Wool). Robert Frank designed the sleeve and postcards for "Exile on Main St.", Francesco Clemente paintings adorn the cover of a 12" single for "One Hit To the Body" and Jagger's second solo record "Primitive Cool", and of course, Andy Warhol's famous zipper cover for "Sticky Fingers". A Warhol screenprint was also the cover for the Stone's "Love You Live" and the artist is often mistaken as the source of the famous lips&tongue logo (which was actually created by designer John Pasche for a mere $100).

"Sympathy for the Devil" opened yesterday and runs until January 6th, 2008.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ceal Floyer

Yesterday Ceal Floyer was announced the winner of one of Germany's richest art awards, the National Gallery Young Artist's Prize. To be eligible the artist need not be German, but must be based in Berlin. The other three nominees included Jeanne Faust, Damián Ortega and Tino Sehgal (whose performance at the 2005 Venice Biennale was hilarious. A work purchased by the AGO a year later, not so good).

The prize consists of 50,000 Euros and a copy of Joseph Beuys' "Intuition" multiple, cast in museum glass by Vancouver artist/designer Tobias Wong. Published by Vice Versand in 1968, the signed multiple was produced as an edition of approximately 12,000 copies (an incredibly high number for any multiple, especially a signed edition) yet remains fairly valuable.

Floyer was born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1968 and lived in Canada and England for a long time before moving to Berlin - where the prize was awarded - a decade ago. She is best known for her works which sit on the cusp between minimalism and conceptualism, in particular her Monochrome Till Receipts. These works appear as simple itemized receipts from grocery stores, but further inspection reveals that all of the products listed share the same colour. The artist limits the production of these works to one per country. Toronto collector Paul Marks owns the Canadian version.

Floyer won the prize for a new work titled “Scale”, which consists of 24 functioning loudspeakers affixed to the wall. Footsteps are heard one at a time from each stair, endlessly ascending and descending.

Q & A with Misha Glouberman re: Nuit Blanche

From Eye Weekly:

Misha Glouberman is a writer, artist, community activist and host of Trampoline Hall.

A brief but coherent description of what you've been planning: I'm going to get visitors into a vacant commercial space next to Mercer Union, where they will make sounds together, using their voices.

How are you going to stay up all night? I am a very late-night person by disposition. It's only through self-discipline and a desire to fit into society that I am ever in bed before 7am.

If you had to choose a theme song for your project, what would it be and why? Apparently someone recently recorded a full-length, highly accurate acoustic cover of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. That seems appropriate. Or maybe that kids' song about the song that never ends, that never ends.

What are the best-case and worst-case scenarios for your project? The entire project consists of sounds produced by the people who take part. There's nothing to the project except participation. So the worst case is that people don't show up and nothing happens. The best case, what I'm hoping for, is for people to have a genuine musical experience that's potentially surprising – to discover that this unlikely activity is a pleasurable thing to do, and to find something beautiful in groupings of sounds that might otherwise seem pointless or cacophonous.

From the Terrible Noises Facebook page:

Hello! Here are answers to questions, received and imagined, about Terrible Noises for Beautiful People: Nuit Blanche Edition.

* Where is it?
In a really nice cavernous vacant commercial space, right next door to Mercer Union: 35 Lisgar. Just south of Queen, just west of Dovercourt.

* When is it?
It runs all night, 7-7.

People will only be admitted at scheduled start times. These will probably be every half-hour- there will be posted schedule info at the event. Sessions will be around 20 minutes, but you only stay as long as you want to.

* When should I come
Come early in the evening! If only because it will make me happy.

* All night? How will you do this all night?
I will not. I will take a break from 1-3, during which time there will be an all-vocal performance of John Zorn’s Cobra by alumni of the Misha Glouberman School of Learning.

* Is it free?
Yes, of course.

* Will it be good?
Yes. Yes it will.

Mercer Union will also keep it's doors open for the "Instant Coffee: Nooks" exhibition. Please join us at both. For more information, please visit:


The Mercer Union submissions deadline is October 1st. As this date is a Monday, when we are closed, we will be accepting proposals as late as Tuesday October 2nd, at 5pm. We do not accept submissions beyond this date, and post-marked October 1st is not acceptable. Please note that all information must be digital, presented as a PDF file. No materials will be returned, please do note include SASEs. Further details are available at, under 'Submissions'.

As the ratio of exhibition slots to submissions is approximately 1 to 30, the review process is very rigourous, and can take up to 9 months.

Packages should be address to Dave Dyment, Director of Programming.

Our non-exhibition programming ("Platform") deadlines are ongoing and reviewed monthly. Please address these proposals to Elaine Gaito, Director of Outreach and Operations.

A call for proposals for Artists' Multiples is forthcoming.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Democracy Update

After a court ruling in their favour (see below, Christoph Buchel vs. Mass MoCA) the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art has elected not to present the unfinished work "Training Ground for Democracy." The museum will remain closed until November 17th, when the previously announced Jenny Holzer exhibition "Pro-jections" will open. A news release from the museums director states: "We are deeply appreciative of the court's thoughtful scrutiny of this matter. After giving careful deliberation to the interests of many constituents, including the artist's own views, and factoring in the limited time window available given our normal exhibition cycle — together with other considerations both logistical and philosophical — we have decided to begin removing the materials immediately without placing them on public display. We are eager to return to our core mission to serve as an experimental platform for art-making."

I wonder if this was not the plan all along - to prove that they were legally entitled to exhibit the incomplete work, but then take the high-road, and not. Buchel's attorney Donn Zaretsky takes a more bleak view of the proceedings, believing the ruling to have set a precedent which will have grave consequences for artists in the future: "The fact is that, in pursuing its victory over Buchel, Mass MoCA has done serious damage to the cause of artists' rights generally.....their claim that their lawsuit against Buchel will not have any negative consequences on legal protection for visual artists and their artworks is ridiculous to say the least. In summation, Mass MoCA has in effect not narrowed the legal decision to apply solely to Buchel, but rather guaranteed that all artists are now subject to have their artistic ideas exhibited and shown to the public in any state of completion and at any time by setting the legal and binding precedent that Visual Artists Rights Act does not address the display of unfinished work or the display of materials assembled for use in a work of art."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Phil Spector Mistrial

A mistrial was declared today in the murder case against record producer Phil Spector when the jury reported that it was deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting him for shooting death of b-movie actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. The jury met for over 44 hours over 12 days since September 10th. Other celebrity murder cases in California (OJ Simpson, Robert Blake, as well as the criminal charges brought against Michael Jackson) have all ended in acquittals.

The authorities are now investigating a possible threat to the Judge in the case, made via a post to a "Team Spector" MySpace page, which was signed “xoxo Chelle” – a reference to Spector’s recent wife Rachelle. The post read "I love Phil Spector" and "The Evil Judge should DIE!!!!”

Spector, famous for his wall-of-sound production style for acts as diverse as Yoko Ono, The Ronettes, the Ramones, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles and Tina Turner, is a well-known gun enthusiast. Johnny Ramone called him "a little man with lifts in his shoes, a wig on his head and four guns." He apparently held Dee Dee Ramone captive for several days at gunpoint, trying to get him to play bass to his exact specifications. He shot up the studio when working with John Lennon on his 1975 album “Rock n Roll” and pulled a gun on Leonard Cohen when producing the disastrous “Death of A Ladies Man” LP (the sinlge exception being “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-on” – getting Dylan and Ginsberg to sing back-up for Cohen is pretty fucking brilliant).

Cohen remembers “Phil approached me with a bottle of kosher red wine in one hand and a .45 in the other, put his arm around my shoulder and shoved the revolver into my neck and said, 'Leonard, I love you.' I said, 'I hope you do, Phil.'"

Abandoned Subject Lines: Spector of Death, Wall of Death, PS I Love You

Strange Culture

The recent documentary "Strange Culture" by Lynn Hershman Leeson follows the story of artist and professor Steve Kurtz of the Critical Art Ensemble and his 2004 arrest by the FBI. Kurtz is legally prevented from discussing much of the case, so the film uses animation and actors (including Golden Globe winner Tilda Swinton) to tell the story. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and is hoping to find a distributor.

For those unfamiliar with the story, it goes like this: On the eve of a major exhibit at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Kurtz rolled over in bed to find that his wife Hope was dead. He called 911 and the police and paramedics dispatched to the home discovered petri dishes and other equipment related to his practice with the CAE. They summoned the FBI, who detained Kurtz the next day (on his way to the funeral home) and questioned him for 22 hours, accusing him of bio-terrorist activities. They sealed off the block around his house and dozens of agents from a number of security task forces in hazardous material suits sifted through his work and impounded many of his possessions, including his cat and the body of his wife. His house was condemned as a health risk for over a week.

The petri dishes contained harmless forms of bacteria, and the scientific equipment was for testing genetically altered food. Many of the other materials had been exhibited in museums around the world. A grand jury refused to indict Kurtz "terrorism" charges, but did indict him on federal criminal mail fraud and wire fraud charges, and he faces 20 years in jail for fraudulently obtaining biological microbes. Many consider these trumped up charges a way to save face for the over-zealous Task Force, or that the charges are politically motivated, due to the fact that the Critical Art Ensemble's work often deals with social criticism.

Today 10zenmonkeys published an interview with Kurtz, who is still awaiting trial, about the film, his practice, the case and the Patriot Act.

Information about the film can be found here:

Awards Announced Yesterday

Laurie Anderson has just been named the winner of the 2007 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, which consists of $300,000 and a silver medal. The prize is a legacy from silent screen stars (and sisters) Dorothy and Lillian Gish. Lillian’s will specified that it should be awarded annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” Previous recipients include saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, playwright Arthur Miller, filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, architect Frank Gehry and songwriter Bob Dylan.

Painter/Installation Artist Whitfield Lovell was one of 24 recipients of the $500 000 "genius award" announced yesterday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The award recognizes "creativity, originality and potential". Each recipient will receive $100,000 annually for the next five years, with no strings attached. Composer and saxophonist John Zorn was among the winners announced in 2006, providing much fodder to late night talk show hosts.

Vancouver artist Arabella Campbell was announced the winner of the 9th annual national RBC Painting Competition. She will receive $25 000. Calgary artist Chris Millar and Toronto artist Melanie Authier were named honourable mentions and will each receive $15 000.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Elton John vs Child Pornography Laws

A photograph in the collection of of Sir Elton John has been seized by police from the Baltic Modern, on suspicion it may have breached child pornography laws. The image, which features two young girls one of whom is sitting down with her legs apart, was taken by photographer Nan Goldin for her "Thanksgiving" series. The day before the mini-retrospective (culled from the collection of Elton John, a friend of the artist) was set to open police came and removed the image over fears that it might be breaking the law. It is suspected that an assistant director at the centre alerted the authorities.

The picture is now being examined by lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service.

The offending image does not apear on the Baltic website. Pictured above: Nan Goldin self-portrait, one month after being battered, 1984.

Photographers Sally Mann, Jock Sturges and Robert Mapplethorpe have all faced similar charges. FBI agents raided Sturges' studio in 1990, confiscating his equipment and his work, and alleged he was creating child pornography. That same year an exhibition of Mapplethorpe's photographs resulted in the unsuccessful prosecution of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center and its director Dennis Barrie on charges of "pandering obscenity". In 1996 Congress slashed the budget of the NEA, partly in response to the Mapplethorpe controversy. The budget of approximately $180 million was reduced to 99 million. A slight rebound 8 years later reinstated some of the budget and current levels sit around $120 million. The work of Mann, Sturges and Mapplethorpe remain controversial, though coffee-table books of their work are available at chain bookstores everywhere.

MiNiBaR at Nuit Blanche

Dean Baldwin's MiNiBaR, which debuted at Mercer Union in June as part of the group show "Seducing Down the Door", has been renovated (a new tin roof!) and will set up shop outside of the main courtyard at Hart House for Nuit Blanche this Saturday, September 29th. The bar will be fully stocked with every combination of miniature cocktail possible available.

Below are some pics of the Mercer installation, including the closing party where a mini (2 foot) stage was set up to house a steel drum player, a singer-songwriter, a comedian and a performance artist as a cabaret night.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Film Culture

For their Fall update, Ubuweb has just uploaded over twenty articles from the now defunct "Film Culture" magazine. Founded in 1954 by Lithuanian filmmaker Jonas Mekas and his brother Adolfas, the magazine ran for more than four decades and published almost eighty issues. It also laid the groundwork for the Anthology Film Archives, which opened in 1970 as one of the New York City's first Artist-Run Centres. In addition to experimental cinema, the magazine also published texts on abstract expressionism, Beat literature, Pop Art, Fluxus (George Maciunas was the designer for a number of issues) and other significant art movements.


Ubuweb is ran by artist/poet Kenneth Goldsmith, who will speak about the site at Mercer Union in November 2008, during his front gallery solo exhibition.

Giddy Up!

One of the last things i saw at Venice before flying home. this is an action figure rendered in the artist's own likeness. he is depicted riding an enormous brain. again, modeled after the artist's own. upon seeing this i was struck speechless and i recall standing there reeling from the profundity, unable to put into words what i was seeing and feeling. i remember thinking to myself: "if only i too had the ability harness my own brain power and ride it like a giant mushy Segway, i might be able to find words to describe this piece. "
but months later all i can say is this: i love the heavy handed blunt legibility of the artist/brain rider. i adore the arrogance. like Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, it is an iconic image of a hopeless romantic just doing his thing. and maybe it's the '80s trench coat the brain rider is wearing, but i'm also reminded of that iconic image of the hopeless romantic John Cusack in Say Anything, standing alone blasting the boombox over his head. however, i'd argue this gesture is a bit louder...

The Archbishop of Cologne vs Gerhard Richter

A spokesperson for Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the archbishop of Cologne, has issued an apology of sorts, saying that the Cardinal had not intended to pay tribute to "old ideologies" when he referred to Modern Art as "degenerate" in a (scripted) sermon last week at the Cologne Cathedral. The sermon has been making headlines for its insensitive use of the word, a term which the Nazi's used to persecute artists. North Rhine-Westphalia's culture secretary, Hans-Heinrich Grosse-Brockhoff, called the cardinal's use of the term "appalling" in light of the 1937 Nazi exhibition "Entartete Kunst" (Degenerate Art) which was part of a program to ban artworks. "It shows that he has absolutely no access to art and culture."

Cardinal Meisner has been an outspoken critic of the new stained glass window in the cathedral, designed by German artist Gerhard Richter. The 65 foot tall work was based on Richter's 1974 painting "4096 Colors", replacing the original stained-glass window, which was destroyed in World War II. The work was provided to the church free of charge, with Richter waiving his fee and the cost of materials covered by more than 1000 individual donors.

Christoph Büchel vs Mass MoCA

Last Friday Swiss artist Christoph Büchel lost his legal battle to prevent the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art from exhibiting the incomplete version of his work "Training Ground for Democracy." The Mass MoCa agreed to the ambitious project only to later balk at costs associated with some of the planned installations (including, apparently, more than $100,000 in burned-out airline fuselage). Having invested significantly in the exhibit, the museum fought to present the incomplete project to the public without the consent of the artist. Büchel claimed that to do so would misrepresent his work and violate the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, which provides that an artist has the right to “prevent the use of his or her name as the author of the work of visual art in the event of a distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work.” Federal judge Michael A. Ponsor ruled that the presentation did not violate the act, which is without a provision to prohibit showing an unfinished work of art.

The large scale project sought to mimic and mock US military training method and was reported to have included a recreation of Saddam Hussein's spider-hole. The artist claimed that the museum mismanaged funds and the museum maintain that the artist was difficult to work with and demanded changes that caused the initial budget of $160 000 to almost double.

The artist also argued that the museum did his reputation damage by allowing the public access to the incomplete work earlier in the year, half-covered in tarpaulins. When the original exhibition date got pushed back the museum hastily assembled a show of documentary photographs titled "Made At Mass MoCA", which was widely panned as a self-serving attempt to illustrate the gallery's good relationship with other artists they had worked with, such as Ann Hamilton, Robert Rauschenberg, Franz West and Tim Hawkinson. In the press release for the show, the institution spitefully noted:

"Due to the space constraints imposed by "Training Ground for Democracy", the exhibition "Made at MASS MoCA" is being presented at MASS MoCA's only remaining gallery space."

To get to "Made At Mass MoCA", visitors had to walk thru the half-installed "Training Ground."

One of the most famous legal conflicts between artist and commissioner took place in 1989, when Richard Serra's site-specific work "Tilted Arc" was secretly removed in the middle of the night because its opponents said that it encouraged vagrancy, frightened office workers and disturbed the line of sight in New York's Federal Plaza.

Toronto's Michael Snow famously sued the Toronto Eaton Centre who adorned his "Flight Stop" Geese with red ribbons for the 1981 Christmas season. Snow objected and sought an injunction to have the ribbons removed. He had argued that the ribbons distorted his work, and won. Years later Ted Rogers decided he wanted to move Snow's "Red, Orange and Green" sculpture from the Confederation Life building that he had just purchased. Snow objected and the cable mogul simply had the site-specific piece moved.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nuit Blanche

Last year Mercer Union participated in the inaugural Scotiabank Nuit Blanche by keeping its doors open all night (Michelle Allard and Maider Fortune were exhibiting at the time) and presenting a discreet installation in the tree across the street by internationally renowned DJ and sound artist Tim Hecker.

This year we will once again stay up until 7am, with the Instant Coffee "Nooks" exhibition. (More details on this to follow)

Additionally, we've annexed the vacant space next door where Misha Glouberman (School Learning, Trampoline Hall, etc.) will present "Terrible Noises for Beautiful People", a participatory noise project, as well as a performance of John Zorn's "Cobra."

Contact for more information. Also visit for the schedule of events taking place throughout the city, or, where Andrea Carsons previews some of the highlights of the night.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Performance Bus to the AGYU

The free Performance bus to the Art Gallery of York University for the FASTWÜRMS exhibition DONKY@NINJA@WITCH on September 26th leaves OCAD (100 McCaul St) at 6 sharp, and returns at 9.

Artist Katie Bethune-Leamen (with help from Kelly Jazvac, Elaine Gaito, Jen Hutton & Neil Brochu) is hosting "Moustache Ride", where you can enjoy a "commute buoyed by moustachioed attendants ready to give you the moustache of your dreams while you are regaled by songs about the hirsute, the manly, the brave & the brazen." Not to be missed.

Pierre Arpin joins the Canada Council

Yesterday the Canada Council for the Arts named Pierre Arpin as the new head of Visual Arts. Arpin was born in Ontario, has degrees from he University of Ottawa and the Université de Montréal and has worked at Ottawa's Arts Court Gallery, the Art Gallery of Sudbury, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and, most recently, the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He replaces former department head François Lachappelle, who left last spring, and begins his new role on November 19th.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reminiscing about Documenta, part 2

Gerwald Rockenschaub's Inflatable

i've been thinking a lot about inflatables lately, i don't know why. it might have something to do with the perpetual sense of expectation that they exude... forever "holding their breath" waiting for something to happen. back in the good old days of inflatables, they didn't need to wait long for someone like an Ant Farm collective artist to come along and jump around on or in it. probably sans clothing. nudity seemed to go hand in hand with inflatables in the '60s for some reason. but fast forward 40 years and we are confronted with inflatables that look like this... stoic and uninviting; rebuffing any Documenta visitor that sought to touch it. (if the security guard didn't do so first.) it reads as an elaborate taunt at the Ant Farmers notion that "rigid walls lead to rigid thinking," (which was always a bit of conceptual sleight of hand, but a well-intentioned one.) here is one of their beloved inflatables aspiring to have walls as angular as any drafted by Corbu himself. and like this lady in the pink shirt, there is nothing for us to do but keep walking.

Halloween Party

Mercer Union is hosting a Space-Age Halloween Party on Saturday October 27th. Tin-foil, fun-fur, glam-rock, p-funk, and so on.

Save the date and watch the website for details.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols announced today that they would reunite (for the third time) for a 30th anniversary gig at London's Brixton Academy on November 8. Their sole studio recording, 1977's "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" is being re-released this fall, along with a series of 7 inch single reissues.

This news was overshadowed locally, however, by the story that broke earlier in the week that Bell Canada's new billboard ads in Toronto and Vancouver depict a woman wearing a button that reads "Belsen Was a Gas". Not wanting to link cell phones with the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Bell is currently having the subway billboards removed. The button refers to a song recorded by the Ex Pistols (after Rotten/Lydon left the band in 1978) with Ronnie Biggs on vocals. Now held in Norwich prison for his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, Biggs was then a celebrity fugitive who thwarted capture or extradition for three decades. The song was apparently written by Sid Vicious for his earlier band The Flowers of Romance. The frankly vile but also mostly matter-of-fact lyrics are often construed as anti-Semitic, but were just as likely written for simple shock value.

Bell Canada apologized and said that in sample images they could not read the text of the button.

For sale

Ebay has just removed an item from auction that had received bids up to 14 million dollars: the country of Belgium. Listed by disgruntled citizen Gerrit Six (a schoolteacher and onetime journalist), the ad began "For sale: Belgium, a kingdom in three parts ... free premium: the king and his court (costs not included)." The seller also noted that the country was second hand and came with $300 billion in national debt.

Conceptual novelty items on Ebay are not uncommon, either as artwork, protest or joke (or all three), for example:

John D Freyer sold all of his belongings over Ebay, then traveled the world to visit them in their new homes, then documented it all in this book: www.allmylifeforsale.

Wind and rain from Hurricane Katrina was bottled and offered for sale from a number of residents hit by the storm.

Montrealer Kyle MacDonald traded a red paperclip for a house in Kipling, Saskatchewan. Trade-ups initially included a doorknob, a truck, an afternoon with Alice Cooper, and a bit part in a film. (

Artist Keith Obadike auctioned off his blackness in August 2001 (, complete with a list of benefits and warnings.

Public Art Competition – Taddle Creek Park

Call to Artists for Expression of Interest

The City of Toronto is holding a public art competition for a new permanent artwork at Taddle Creek Park.

The Taddle Creek Revitalization design team and the City of Toronto are seeking to commission an artwork that celebrates and commemorates the original Taddle Creek. Located at the corner of Bedford Street and Lowther Avenue, Taddle Creek Park is a small, well-used community park in the Annex, named in honour of the now buried stream that at one time ran through the core of the city. Taddle Creek was once teeming with fish and vegetation and was used by native people for food and transport as far back as the sixteenth century. Over time, as the city became more settled and new means of transportation were adopted, the stream became polluted, dammed and ultimately buried.

The design team and local community view this as an opportunity to commission an artist working with a water theme (literal or metaphoric) to develop a unique site-specific public artwork that gives this park a focal point with a physical presence through the various seasons.

The art production budget including all fees, materials, technologies, fabrication and applicable taxes for this project is $125,000.

Submission requirements*:
• resume
• 6-8 visuals of recent, relevant work**
• Artist’s statement outlining interest in the project and experience working on projects of similar scope and scale.

* While this call is not restricted to Toronto-based artists, there is no additional budget for travel or transport. Interested artists must be able to attend site meetings during competition and project fabrication phases at their own expense.

**Please submit digital images on CD listing title, date, materials and dimensions for each work. Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for return of submission material, if desired.

The artwork will be selected through a two-stage competition, by an independent Selection Committee convened for this project, which will include practicing arts professionals as well as representatives from the local community.

All expressions of interest submitted through this call will be reviewed by the art consultant and Selection Committee. A short list of 3-5 artists will be paid a fee to develop a project proposal based on a Terms of Reference document provided to the short-listed artists. A public open house exhibition of the short-listed designs and final design selection will take place in December 2007.

Submissions must be received by October 1, 2007, 4 pm.

Submissions should be sent by mail to:

Andrew Davies
@ Centre for Social Innovation
215 Spadina Avenue, Suite 414
Toronto, ON M5T 2C7
Telephone: 647- 284- 4581

Andrew Davies is an independent art consultant hired by the Landscape Architect Janet Rosenberg + Associates and working with the Toronto Culture and City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation to manage the public art commission for the Taddle Creek Park Revitalization Project.

Monday, September 17, 2007


After a summer in residency at the Art Gallery of York University, the FASTWÜRMS exhibition DONKY@NINJA@WITCH is set to open Wednesday, September 26, 6 to 9 pm. The show brings together new works with the re-staging of several of their key, influential Queen Street West storefront exhibitions produced over the last decade, installations that conflated Witch and Queer cultures. Part of the exhibition is a re-mix of elements from Swag & Shag (1995), Unisex: House of Bangs (1999), Blood & Swash, Denim Pox (2002), Pirate Head, Gusset Nation (2004), and Blood Clock (2005). New work includes Pink Donky and Ninja vs. Witch, a HD video production in the low-budget tradition of kung fu films, shot on location in Venice, Italy and Scarlet Hill, Ontario. The exhibition continues until Sunday, December 9 2007.

Take the free Performance Bus by Katie Bethune-Leamen on Wednesday, September 26 to the opening reception, departing from 100 McCaul St. at 6 pm sharp.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The best argument I've heard against downloading music for free... the new Volvo ad featuring Stephen Merritt (of The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, Future Bible Heros, The Gothic Archies, etc.) reduced to singing "The Wheels of the Bus" with new lyrics. We're talking the Cole Porter of the age, one of the greatest (and most prolific - I think only Bob Pollard of GBV releases more) songwriters living, singing "The power tail gate goes up and down, up and down, up and down" while a happy family drives thru the mountain in muted Nick Drake Pink Moon colours.

Merritt occasionally performs live, but is first and foremost a 'recording' artist and the decline in CD sales must be hitting him hard.

New Director of Operations and Outreach at MU

Mercer Union is fockin' thrilled to announce the appointment of Elaine Gaito as Mercer Union’s new Director of Operations and Outreach. Her extensive administrative and outreach background, alongside her enthusiastic dedication artist-run culture make her a most-welcome addition to the MU team.

Last night at Kelly Mark's "Stupid Heaven" exhibition the word was spreading and there were high-fives all 'round.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mercer Poster Project

This summer Mercer Union commissioned a series of four colour posters from artists Adam Chodzcho (London), Janice Kerbel (Don Mills/London), John Lurie (New York City) and Euan Macdonald (Los Angeles/Toronto). They will be posted around the city in the coming weeks. Watch for 'em.


The Ebola virus, commercial hunting, civil unrest and habitat loss due to logging and forest clearance are depleting Western Gorilla populations to a point where it might become impossible for them to recover, according to a report released yesterday by the WCU. Now on the "critically endangered" list and one step way from extinction, the remaining 'great apes' could fit inside two or three football stadiums, says primate specialist Russ Mittermeier.

Pictured above is a sampling of work by my favorite two monkey painters, Koko the Gorilla and Congo the Fluxus Monkey (who is, of course, actually a chimpanzee) and below an image of Koko rockin' out on the keyboards, plus an address where donations can be made.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ikea Hacking

The New York times ran a piece last week (picked up by the Associated Press today) about crafters repurposing Ikea products. The story, here, neglects mention of some of the better known artist projects along these lines, such as Mathieu Mercier's early work or Joe Scanlan's "DIY" (a functional coffin, acquired by the AGO in 1999).

Toronto artists who have worked with readymade Ikea-ware include Shinobu Akimoto and Roula Partheniou (both participants in the Mercer Living auction in 2002).