Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm back!

So I just got back from a month at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT, and I had the best time ever. (I never managed to find out whether or not candles really are made by losers, but I did learn that it is common practice for Vermonters to drive around with dead deer on the hoods of their cars, and to hang dead deer in trees to drain the blood.)

But don't let that scare you off. It is a beautiful place in a valley in the Green Mountains, and there are covered bridges, winding rivers, waterfalls, maple syrup shops, hippies, hunters, and three delicious meals a day served in a room with a view of an adorable mink scampering about on the ice of the frozen river right outside the dining hall. Plus there are great studios and very nice houses to stay in, and 40-50 other artists and writers to bond with. And a ping pong table! And if you go around Christmas like I did you get to see the town of Johnson pull together a live nativity scene starring a 13 year old boy in Carharts as the baby Jesus - amazing.

And they offer partial to full funding - applications are due soon, check the website. I highly recommend it!

But back to reality - evidently while I was away I missed some excitement here in Canada...from what I gather the government was almost overthrown for not dealing with the economic crisis, but Mercer saved the day by offering an art bailout - awesome! I'm sorry I missed that.

I also missed Dave Dyment's opening at MKG 127 on Sunday, which I heard involved some excellent whiskey samples. Thankfully the work can still be viewed, though I suppose I'll have to provide my own whiskey...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christof Migone - Artist Talk

Did you know that tomorrow, Saturday 22 November at 3PM Christof Migone will discuss his exhibition Disco Sec, on view at Mercer Union until 29 November?

If you haven't seen the show yet, now is your chance, and if you have, come see it again with the added bonus of an interesting fellow talking about a very cool project. More details here.

In unrelated news, I'm leaving to go to Vermont tomorrow. (I saw a Simpson's episode once where a trip to Vermont inspired Bart to say "did you know that candles are made by losers?"....and I intend to find out.)

Anyway, I may be posting even less than usual, sorry, but if anyone out there is missing my posts I suggest you just keep watching this video over and over and over again until I'm back. And you could also delve into this fantastic find.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Don't Really Care for Music, Do You?

Red Bull 381 Projects is here to help is wade through this question in a show that opens this Thursday, November 20, from 6:00 to 9pm, at 381 Queen Street West, 2nd Floor

Red Bull 381 Projects presents a major exhibition of four Canadian artists whose work is ingrained in the cultures, lifestyles, thought processes, and at times bizarre and eccentric outgrowths of music enthusiasm: Dave Dyment, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, Alana Riley and Tony Romano.

The exhibition draws its title from Dyment’s video Pop Quiz, which features a stream of questions culled from the artist’s extensive record collection. Cheeky and provocative, the question might initially come across as a jab at the viewer, but in the context of these four artists’ work it reveals layers of meaning that address music’s cultural, emotional and transformative qualities. While viewers might feel compelled to defend their investment in music, careful consideration of the show’s title begs further questions: What does it mean to “care for” music? Can music care for us? Is it possible to care too much? Combined, these works reveal a web of associations ranging from fandom, cult obsession, nostalgia, existential rumination and the archival impulse.

Opening reception: Thursday, November 20, 6-9pm
Special Performance: Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay sings Jimmy Somerville, 6PM

Gallery walkthrough with curator Catherine Dean and artists Dave Dyment and Tony Romano: Saturday, December 6, 3pm

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Exiles

The Exiles - a legendary film that has been near impossible to see for ages - is screening at the Cinematheque this week.

Says the Cinematheque:
'The Exiles is a lacerating portrait of the isolation and hardship endured by the Native American community living in the Bunker Hill area of Los Angeles, a once-prominent neighbourhood reduced, by 1960, to decrepitude and poverty. Told with Flaherty-style lyricism, the film lies at the cusp of both fiction and documentary in its intimate dusk-to-dawn depiction of a group of friends led by a Hualapai man named Homer. As the guys set out for a raucous night on the town, Homer’s solemn, pregnant Apache wife Yvonne is left at home to long for his companionship and a better life. She embarks on a drifting nighttime stroll through the city (recalling Jeanne Moreau’s tenuous ambling in Antonioni’s La Notte, released the same year in Italy), her fragile state imparted through a wounded gaze and confessional narration. Shot in inky black and white with startling realism, The Exiles conveys “a near-heavenly vision of a near-hell” (Manohla Dargis, The New York Times).'

The screening times are as follows, hope to see you there:
November 14, 2008 7:00 PM
November 18, 2008 7:00 PM
November 19, 2008 8:45 PM
Screens at Jackman Hall

More info here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When the New York Times meets The Yes Men

Dave sent me this link to a Huffington Post article on a fake issue of the New York Times that has recently been distributed around the US. Evidently the fake is the work of The Yes Men, the same folks who have posed as spokespeople for The World Trade Organization, McDonald's, Dow Chemical, etc in an ongoing series of public performances/interventions that can be seen in their self-titled documentary of 2003.

It's a bit odd to read the article about this prank on Huffington Post; they report that one of the fake New York Times stories reads "columnist Thomas Friedman has confessed: 'I have no business holding a pen, at least with intent to write'", while over in the "Popular Stories on Huffington Post" section, you can scroll down to Thomas Friedman's article "We Need 'Overwhelming Force' to Green the Economy".

In any case, those of us who can't get our hands on a paper copy can check out most of the same content on their fake New York Times website.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

In a fit of enthusiasm about Kenneth Goldsmith's upcoming show at Mercer - Jan. 9/09 - Feb. 14/09 - I was looking through some old posts on WFMU and came across this video of Hermeto Pascoal and friends playing flutes and bottles in a lagoon. Please watch it. So so so so good.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scott Lyall: Artist Talk

Sadly, I can't go to this, but I think you should.

Scott Lyall
Thursday, 6 November, 7 PM

Toronto-based artist Scott Lyall, whose exhibition ‘The Color Ball’ is currently on view at The Power Plant, discusses his work. Lyall combines drawing, painting, sculpture, and found objects into spare yet complex sculptural environments that arise from an intense period of research and digital image making. The effect is one of improvisation and incompleteness married with calm predetermination. Lyall has recently exhibited at Art Basel, Sutton Lane (London) and the SITE Santa Fe Seventh International Biennial.

$4 Members, $6 Non-Members
The Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre

Sunday, November 2, 2008

City Renewal

Though we're settling into our beautiful new space nicely, we haven't forgotten about our old hood, so it's exciting to hear about a new show about to open on Lisgar Street: A CITY RENEWAL PROJECT:

November 4 - 23, 2008
Opening November 7, 7 - 11 pm

Red Bull 381 Projects is pleased to announce a large-scale, site-specific collaborative installation by fauxreel and Specter. A City Renewal Project blends the wallpapered photography techniques of fauxreel with the graphic and painterly approach of Specter as they recreate a neighborhood full of abandoned storefronts inside a 4000 square foot warehouse at 39 Lisgar Avenue in Toronto. The project focuses on the state of decay within the city, renewing these dilapidated buildings as artistic monuments and documenting their history amidst the gentrified frenzy of urban change.

In addition to the exhibition, Red Bull will be hosting Marc & Sara Schiller of Wooster Collective for a talk at the Red Bull 381 Projects gallery space, 381 Queen Street West, Suite 200, on Saturday November 8, 2008 from 7 - 10 pm. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early to ensure a spot.

For more information or to make an appointment for an advance viewing please contact Elissa McGillivray • elissa@acityrenewalproject.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Augusto Bastos Live!

Tomorrow night - Wednesday, October 29th, at 6:30 pm - Professor Augusto Bastos will be sharing stories from his incredible life in a conversation with Darren O'Donnell at the Power Plant. This talk is the last event in the Born Out of Pleasure special events series that was programmed in conjunction with Harrell Fletcher's collaborative show of the same name. And it's free!

I spent 10 days with Augusto and highly recommend this talk. He is a smart and funny man who has seen and lived through a lot, and has so much to share. (The photo above is of Augusto as a young man with one of his seven children. Video footage of Augusto in a rickshaw we hired to take him to a dinner can be seen here.) Getting to know him was such a highlight of that project for me, and I suspect it will be a special thing for you, too. So come!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Terry Fox

Because I've been a bad blogger, this sad news Dave sent me days ago about the death of Terry Fox is a bit late. But here it is:

TERRY FOX (1943–2008)

The American performance artist Terry Fox has died in Cologne. As Der Standard reports, Fox was a definitive force in the Fluxus movement along with Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik. In the 1960s and '70s, Fox participated in a radical move away from traditional art forms and used his body in performances that polarized audiences. The artist had been living in Cologne since 1996; the city's Museum Ludwig made the announcement of his death.

You can see some of his works here. And the most excellent UbuWeb has his most excellent Children's Tapes here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Good things from Artists Space

Artists Space is a really great contemporary art gallery in New York that has a physical space as well as several different online manifestations. (One of the curators is Joseph del Pesco, who gave an interesting talk at Mercer Union a year ago.)

Artists Space recently launched a few new web-based projects that are all worth checking out. (To do this click on the "Web Cast" section on their web site.) One is called Type Cast, a free font download designed by a different artist every month - this month's font is called "Negative Space" and is by Mungo Thomson.

Another online project is called "YouTube Commentary", where a different artist each month is asked to provide a commentary to the YouTube video of their choosing - currently featured is Cesare Pietroiusti's "The Diva and Few Small Mistakes".

And the third web project they've recently launched is The Artists Space Daily, which they describe as "a free software program that you can download and install on your home computer. Once per day it downloads an image from the internet and places it on the desktop of your computer. This small computer program allows for the distribution of artist “postcards” to curators, collectors, and art viewers around the world. For the first year of the Artists Space Daily, we’ve asked an array of international curators to recommend artists who might benefit from this kind of global dissemination."

I downloaded it and am happy to say it works and is excellent - you should get it, too. (The image above is from today's featured artist, Mushon Zer-Aviv, who was recommended by curator Chen Tamir.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Bay - "Living Artfully" or not so much?

This fall The Bay launched its new autumn campaign "Live Artfully". This campaign involves some lovely watercolour paintings and slogans such as "To Live Artfully is to recognize that art doesn't have to be found in a gallery or museum". Seems pretty harmless...but what if The Bay actually "found" this campaign in a gallery? And what if that gallery, and the artist whose work bears a striking resemblance to The Bay's campaign, have not been acknowledged in any way?

This is where a longtime friend of mine, Biliana Velkova, comes in. Pretty much the whole time I've know Biliana - about 15 years - she's been making art that in one form or another addresses her experience as an immigrant from Bulagaria dealing with North American consumer culture. So in July of 2007 she had a show of lovely watercolour paintings in a North Vancouver shop/gallery called Tartooful, whose tagline is "Live Artfully".

As the posted images illustrate, there are a strange amount of similarities between The Bay's ad campaign, Tartooful, and Biliana's work. (Some clarification may be needed - the top image is from The Bay's recent campaign, and the two below it are from Biliana's 2007 show at Tartooful.) There is, of course, the possibility that this is all just some crazy coincidence, but that possibility seems pretty remote, at least to me.

I find this whole situation interesting on a lot of levels. For me it's not as simple as just immediately hating the big corporation for stealing intellectual property. I actually don't like the term intellectual property at all because I find it really disturbing to apply the ultimate symbol of capitalism - property - to our ideas and creativity. And I also get really excited by the various forms of gifting, sharing, borrowing, and inspiring that can occur in art, science, life in general, etc.

But I think these forms of sharing are best distinguished from plain old exploitation by a system of reciprocity, be it some sort of barter, exchange, gift, or just a simple acknowledgment. And at this point neither Tartooful or Biliana have been acknowledged in any way, so they have sent a letter to the media about this issue, and Biliana has done a few postings on her blog about it.

Hopefully some sort of acknowledgment update will be coming soon....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Let's Look Sophisticated Together at Mercer's New Wave...

So Mercer's New Wave gala opening is this Wednesday night, with a VIP preview reception from 6-8pm, and a dance party starting at 8 and going till late.

There are so so so many reasons why you should come. To begin with, I just saw the new space, and it's really beautiful. Seriously. Come see.

On top of that, Owen Pallett will be playing at 8:30pm (as Beardo). Beautiful sounds in a beautiful space, what more could you ask for?

Oh wait, there's more. To help with the booty shaking we've got DJs Jaime Sin (7th Heaven), Produzentin (Hot Nuts), and Isabelle Noël.

And there will be art installations by Stephanie Comilang, Alison S.M. Kobayashi, and Annie MacDonell - we're so lucky to have such awesome artists showing at our opening event!

Additionally, there will be sitting/drinking/dj-ing environments made by MADE - very exciting.

So clearly this is the place to be this Wednesday evening.

Tickets are available at Soundscapes and Rotate this, and will also be available at the door.

Till then....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Nuit Blanche - Zone C Rules

Okay, so Zone C was all I really checked out, but whatever, it rules. And yes, I am biased in many ways, but I was pretty taken with Dave's curating.

Matthew Suib's Purified By Fire was so good - strangely subtle and also spectacular.

I got to Jon Sasaki's I Promise It Will Always Be This Way pretty early, and was very impressed with the mascots' dancing...one very ambitious mascot even did multiple cartwheels in a row. I'm curious to know when they'll burn out. (Though clearly they lasted longer than me as I'm back home now while they're still out there kicking it.)

And I really loved Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace. I often shy away from art that requires participation, but I got a button, wrote a wish, and hung it on a tree very happily. So nice.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another great find from WFMU...

Recently WFMU posted about Radio Apartment 22, an internet radio station out of Rabat, Morocco:

Established last year and run entirely by three dedicated staffers, the station serves largely as an outlet for international artists, documenting various art events through streaming audio and showcasing selected musical works. Recently, the station provided excellent coverage of South Korea's Gwangju Biennale, including interviews with curators and artists as well as recordings of musical performances. Unique not just in comparison with blander internet radio stations, Radio Apartment 22 also serves an important local function; it is the only fine art oriented media organization in Morocco. The project began in 2002 when Abdellah Karroum founded Apartment 22, one of the first fine art spaces in the area. Initially he found little support from local artists or the government. "There's not really a forum right now in Morocco for speaking about arts and culture in an in depth way, " said Emma Chubb, R22's Programming Coordinator. "They've been building an art museum for years and years but it seems like it will never be finished" Despite this, R22 proudly bears the mark of its locale - the station broadcasts in English, French, Arabic and Berber, among other languages.

Currently streaming on Radio Apartment 22 are interviews with Patrick D. Flores, Hyunjin Kim, and Okwui Enwezor in regards to the Gwangju Biennale, and some pretty great music by Joachim - all definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Born Out of Pleasure

So I just had the huge pleasure of collaborating with Harrell Fletcher and a group of twelve other folk (Augusto Bastos, Thomas Brant, Sean Frey, Hannah Jickling, Alison SM Kobayashi, Helen Reed, Kerri Reid, Swintak, Maiko Tanaka, Amy Wah, and Karen Wielonda) for a ten day project culminating in a show at the Power Plant. One of the twelve collaborators was expert cake maker Karen Wielonda of Frostitution, who inspired us to make sculptural cakes of our experiences during the ten days for the exhibition. (I made cake dentures inspired by an encounter with Manuel Bentes of the Dundas Denture Clinic.)

In addition to the cakes and photos on view, we're also organizing a series of talks and conversations with some of the people we encountered throughout this project. Starting on Wednesday, October 1st, we'll be hosting this mini-lecture series of sorts at the Power Plant; the schedule is as follows:

Naivelt Musical Performance - October 1st, 6:30pm
Youth from Naivelt and Jumblies Theatre: a musical recreation of 1920's Twelfth Children's Work Commune

Holistic Medicine from 1960's to present - October 8th, 6:30pm
Herbalist John Redden from Viriditas Herbal Products in the Junction talks about the history of holistic medicine in Toronto.

Haldeman-Julius Little Blue Book series - October 15th, 6:30pm
Stephen Fowler of the Monkey's Paw Bookshop talks about an early form of the zine from the Pre-Depression era created by an heir of a printing press.

Surviving Accidents - October 22nd, 6:30pm
Francisco Alejandri and Liz Lavandeira - who both work at Torito Tapas Bar in Kensington Market - share essential survival tips and describe past near disasters.

Augusto Bastos Slam Dunks - October 29th, 6:30pmhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif
Darren O'Donnell will be in conversation with Augusto Bastos, guerrilla, revolutionary, accused counter-revolutionary, aviation expert, refugee, torture victim, and basketball star.http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

All of these most excellent events are free to the public and will take place in the Power Plant Reading Room.

Oh and we also started a blog called cakeworthy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Wave Party, October 8th

New Wave, The Mercer Reopening Inaugural Gala
Wednesday 8 October 2008

VIP Preview Reception 6PM–8PM
Dance Party 8PM til late

LIVE Performance by:
Beardo (Owen Pallett)

Jaime Sin (7th Heaven)
Produzentin (Hot Nuts)
Isabelle Noël

Art Installations by:
Stephanie Comilang
Alison S.M. Kobayashi
Annie MacDonell

Environments by MADE Design

$40 ticket / OPEN BAR all night / includes entry to VIP Preview Reception
$10 ticket / CASH BAR / entry 8PM onwards

Rotate This (801 Queen St W / 416.504.8447)
Soundscapes (572 College St / 416.537.1620)

Call Mercer direct at 416.536.1519 or email Elaine Gaito, Director of Public Programs & Development at elaine@mercerunion.org to order both advance $10 and $40 tickets by Visa

Amazing Food Service
Higgins Event Rentals
Sonic Print
Wild Horse Canyon
Hidden Lounge

Mercer Union, A Centre for Contemporary Art
1286 Bloor Street West
(one block E of Lansdowne on the NW corner of Bloor and St. Clarens)
Toronto ON
M6H 1N9
T 416.536.1519

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sarah Robayo Sheridan: Welcome!

Mercer Union is pleased to welcome Sarah Robayo Sheridan as its newly appointed Director of Exhibitions & Publications.

Sarah's recent curatorial projects include Self-Storage (Curatorial Industries, San Francisco, 2008) Trampoline Hall (12 Galaxies, San Francisco, 2008), Steve Reinke in the Company of Some Other Men (ATA, San Francisco, 2008), Learning to Love You More (MU, Eindhoven, 2007) and the presentation of Chris Marker's multi-screen installation The Hollow Men (Prefix ICA, Toronto and Dazibao, Montreal, 2006). She has worked in a number of non-profit arts organizations including Public Access and Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art. She also has held research internships at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. In addition to her record of organizating exhibitions, Sarah also holds publishing experience and has worked as a freelance graphic designer. Her writing has appeared in 02 Magazine, C Magazine, Camerawork, Prefix Photo and YYZine, and she was co-editor of Public 24: Being On Time.

Please stop by New Wave, The Mercer Reopening Inaugural Gala on Wednesday 8 October 2008 to say hello, or in the meantime Sarah can be reached at sarah@mercerunion.org

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chris McCarroll: Uniform Material

My friend Chris has a film in the Toronto International Film Festival this year. I've seen it, I love it, I highly recommend it. So there.

It's called Uniform Material and is the story of a middle-aged man preparing for his first day on a new job. And seriously, it's so so good. And playing Wednesday and Thursday evenings this week. More details for show times etc here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sticky: Kelly Jazvac

This Friday evening, from 8pm to 11pm, Kelly Jazvac's exhibition "Sticky" is opening at YYZ.

Sticky will feature works made from used or flawed printed adhesive vinyl advertisements, such as those seen on subway platforms, buses and billboards. The ads have been collected, cut up, sorted by colour, pattern and texture and re-assembled into new surface sculptures.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Acquainted with the Night

An open call for submissions coming to us through board member and VoCA Canadian art advocate Andrea Carson.

VoCA friend Liz Doyle is working on a documentary based on a Canadian non-fiction GG award nominated book, "Acquainted with the Night" by Christopher Dewdney. The film will explore our relationship with the night over the course of 12 hours- each hour representing a different theme.
They would like to explore the relationship between art and the night.

They are interested in finding out about artists with a unique relationship to the night or the dark: artists who work exclusively at night, artists who are inspired by the night- in general artists with some strong tie with the night hours.

Please email liz_doyle@rogers.com, saying that you heard about it through VoCA.

Thanks and good luck!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And Speaking of Harrell Fletcher...

Dave recently told me that Harrell Fletcher was one of the nominees for the $25 000 Smithsonian American Art Museum Annual Contemporary Artist Award.

This got me thinking about Canada's Sobey Award, and the exhibition of this year's nominees that opens at the ROM tonight.

And this got me thinking about Doris Lessing's super rad and salty response to winning the Nobel Prize this year:

When reporters informed you that you had won the Nobel Prize last October, your first words were "Oh, Christ." Were you at all excited? No, I wasn't. If I may be catty, Sweden doesn't have anything else. There's not a great literary tradition, so they make the most of the Nobel.

The Nobel committee described you as the "epicist of the female experience." Do you agree with that? Well, they had to say something.

But do you agree with it? No. I can just see somebody sitting there thinking, "What the hell are we going to say about this one? She doesn't like being called a feminist so what'll we say?" So they scribbled that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Harrell Fletcher: The Forbidden Zone

The next Kino05 screening will be The Forbidden Zone, this Tuesday evening, the 26th, at Camera Bar on Queen West. The Forbidden Zone is a video produced by Harrell Fletcher through a collaborative project with Chris Johanson, David Jarvey, Elizabeth Meyer and Alexis Van Hurkman.

David Jarvey, who has Downs Syndrome, identifies with a Captain Christopher Pike, a character from a Star Trek episode. Pike has been disabled and wants to go to the forbidden planet, Talos 4, where he can live with the illusion of being "normal" once again. As part of the installation Jarvey and Johanson were shot on a blue screen and imposed onto footage from the actual Star Trek episode.

Harrell Fletcher has worked collaboratively and individually on a variety of socially engaged, interdisciplinary projects for over fifteen years. His work has been shown internationally including at the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Fletcher is a Professor of Art and Social Practice at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. In partnership with I.D.E.A Space at Colorado College, the Art Gallery of Mississauga has commissioned Harrell Fletcher to produce work for an exhibition in Mississauga in November 2009 and in Colorado Springs in 2010. Fletcher will also be doing a collaborative group project at the Power Plant this September.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Felix Gonzalez-Torres + An Art Student + Facebook =

Arend deGruyter-Helfer is a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, and maker of this piece "I Got You Something", 2008 - Facebook gifts arranged in a pile.

(from freewilliamsburg.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

David Berman Has A Lot To Say About A Lot Of Things

This Pitchfork interview with David Berman of the Silver Jews is making me pretty happy today. Favorite quote:

You can go through the whole new Radiohead album and try and tell me what they're saying, and all you'll get over and over again is things are miserable, don't try, things suck. And it's all gray. There's nothing there. Never before has there been a "greatest band in the world" who had so little to say about anything. The music-listening world has become such an aficionados world. People want to react to a poem or a painting, but they're like "I'm not qualified. I'm not educated." But they treat their personal preferences for music as if they weren't anything but this complete monolithic subjectivity, and we talk to each other in that way: "They suck, and they're the worlds greatest band."

Monday, August 18, 2008

This Neck of the Woods/Knock on Woods

From today until August 23rd, Mercer Union is hosting Yvette Poorter's roving residency, Knock on Woods. (More information about the residency and closing reception are here.)

I first heard about this project through an earlier residency project of Yvette Poorter's called This Neck of the Woods, which the website describes as a "Dwelling for Intervals - an independent state, a sculpture, a series of collaborations, an international artist residency, a wilderness, a treehouse, a traveling circus, and a relative site/situation for temporary doing or undoing."

My favorite fun facts from this project's web site involve Poorter's various attempts to strengthen diplomatic ties between This Neck of the Woods, the Canadian Embassy in Rotterdam, and the Royal Family of the Netherlands. (From the website): In October 2006, she wrote to the Royal Palace to invite both the queen and princess to the official closing of This Neck of the Woods. She explained a bit about her family history and invited them to a presentation at Buro Dijkstra. Finally she explained that in December 2006 the land of This Neck of the Woods would officially revert to property of Her Majesty's Kingdom.

She invited the Queen to participate in this closing ceremony but admitted that she understood she was very busy. For this reason Poorter suggested that in lieu of coming in person and as a way to show her support for the project, that she might send me a photo of of herself winking or a piece of official Royal Palace stationary with an exclamation mark in the middle of the page.

The Queen's reply can be viewed here, in Dutch.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Abbas Kiarostami on YouTube

My friend Chris recently sent me some links to very hard to find early Abbas Kiarostami films that are now on YouTube. These were shorts Kiarostami made for the filmmaking department at the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults in Tehran, an organization that he helped found in 1969.

One of the best shorts on YouTube is Do Rahehal Barayeh Yek Mass (Two solutions for one problem). (1975) I'm pretty sure the world would be a much better place if everyone saw this film. Seriously.

Also great is The Bread and Alley, which is from 1970 and is Kiarostami's first film.

I recently read that Juliette Binoche will be in an upcoming Kiarostami film - for some reason this worries me, though I read an okay interview with her that makes me think it could be okay and not an Iranian version of Chocolat....we'll see....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just In Case You Were Wondering What the Canadian Prime Minister Thinks About Holy Fuck

Toronto band Holy Fuck has recently been named by Stephen Harper's press secretary as one example of what drove the Conservative government to their severe arts funding cuts. Apparently the Conservatives see this band, which received funds to help with a 2007 tour, as an example of misplaced arts funding.

According to the CBC, the prime minister's press secretary, Kory Ten-nike, said "the [funding] choices made were inappropriate … because they were ideological in some cases, or the money was going to fringe arts groups that, in many cases, would be at best, unrepresentative, and at worst, offensive."

Evidently being shortlisted for a Polaris prize and nominated for a Juno award has no bearing on a band's "fringe" status.

More info on the band's reaction to this news, as well as their current tour dates, can be found on Pitchfork.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Your Very Own Song...

Boise, Idaho's very own indie-pop band "The Very Most" has a new album out called Congratulations Forever. If you buy it before August 31st, they will write a song just for you. For more details on how to get the album and send them your fantastic song idea, go here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

RIP Isaac Hayes

The sad news about Isaac Hayes can be read here. Thankfully, though, amazing footage of Isaac Hayes can be viewed here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Jen Hutton Opening!

Thursday night at 7pm Jen Hutton's new show will be opening at DeLeon White Gallery as part of LOCATIONS/miniature: New work by Jen Hutton and Mark MacKinnon, at 1139 College Street. Her site-specific installation will invert the logic of the large site-specific monument through her refiguring of an unexplained pink and blue landmass she found in her hometown. While Hutton's installation is anything but miniature, it looks close up at the microscopic level, recreating the sense of intimate place she felt at the original site.

I spent a few hours one afternoon a couple weeks ago helping Jen fold and assemble a few dozen of the thousands of waxed paper crystals that will make up this installation, and my inside scoop is that this show is sure to be both lovely and impressive, and definitely well worth your while.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dave Update!

So Dave left Mercer and this blog a couple months back to do a residency in Scotland, where, among other things (involving lots of scotch), he has been staying in this sweet cottage and posting a blog for his residency host, Glenfiddich. It's a good read. We miss him.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Illegal Emos

Evidently the Russian government is attempting to make emos and goths illegal. According to the Moscow Times, emos are defined as "from 12 to 16 years old and wear black and pink clothing. They have black hair with long bangs that 'cover half the face,' black fingernails, black belts peppered with studs and pins, and ear and eyebrow piercings."

And they may be outlawed because of fears of their link to suicide. For real. More here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monkey's Paw Section Label Project

This Friday night The Monkey's Paw will be having it's first ever art exhibit.

The details:
July 23 - August 10
Reception: Friday, July 25, 5-9 p.m. 1229 Dundas St. West (between Ossington & Dovercourt, directly across from LCBO Store #3) 416.531.2123

Responding visually to the cultural content of an entire bookstore, 13 Toronto artists have created (very small) section labels for all 52 subject categories throughout the Monkey's Paw. Their work will be mounted on our shelves and on view from July 23 to August 10. A public reception will be held at the shop on Friday, July 25, from 5 to 9 p.m.

The artists:

Stephen Appleby-Barr
Katie Bethune-Leamen
Diane Borsato
Shary Boyle
Nicole Collins
Nicholas Di Genova
Kristan Horton
Michael Maranda
Olia Mishchenko
Jenn Murphy
Lauchie Reid
Derek Sullivan
Jacob Whibley

More details here.

You should come.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Brian Eno Update!

For awhile now there have been all kinds of rumors about Brian Eno touring in the fall with David Byrne. Evidently they were wrong. The bastards.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

box update

get ready for a doozy of a box update...
yesterday as i was driving down dufferin st, having run my errands in considerably less time than i had anticipated, it occurred to me that the extra time could be well-spent looking for cardboard boxes. i turned west onto Orfus road, (an eerie street that looks like a former industrial park converted into a strip of outlet stores) and drove to the loading docks in the rear. lo and behold there were green "cardboard only" recycling dumpsters as far as the eye could see. one in particular was filled to the top with beautiful, clean, sturdy, flattened boxes that were the perfect size for moving artist-run-centre things. it was astounding. if we had gone to a custom cardboardist for bespoke boxes, we would have described these to the letter. i was so grateful for my two dozen boxes, i wanted to send a gift basket to whatever weirdo clothing store threw them out. in fact, consider this an open letter: weirdo clothing store; i thank you on behalf of mercer union.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kirk Cameron

A little while ago my fella Chris sent me this link to a video of Kirk Cameron talking to gang members in Los Angeles about God and Jesus and stuff like that.

Then later that same day, Dave Dyment sent me this link to a video of Kirk Cameron learning about how bananas disprove the theory of evolution - evidently it has something to do with bananas being easy for humans to hold and eat and the guy talking not knowing about pomegranates.

Just thought you should know.

Friday, July 11, 2008

mercer tidy up day

with less than three weeks left at our lisgar st location, we have started putting things in boxes ready to move them to bloor and lansdowne. Luckily there is currently a food wholesaler across the street with a lot of empty cardboard boxes for the taking. today i picked up some paper towel and bathroom tissue boxes that are the right size for office binders and folders. i'll keep blogging with regular box updates, please keep checking back.

in the meantime, we're planning a final 'goodbye lisgar st.' party to be held on July 26, from 9pm onward.

Public Collectors and a Collector of Privates

Public Collectors is an extremely rad project organized by Chicago based artist Marc Fischer, who is also known as one-third of Temporary Services, which is also extremely rad.

But back to Public Collectors - the website says "Public Collectors consists of informal agreements where collectors allow the contents of their collection to be published and permit those who are curious to directly experience the objects in person. Participants must be willing to type up an inventory of their collection, provide a means of contact and share their collection with the public. Collectors can be based in any geographic location."

So, for example, if you're going to be in the Chicago area you can email Marc Fischer and make arrangements to go to his home and listen to his record collection or view his collection of adult comics from Mexico. Or you can peruse the website and check out digital collections of Documentation of Music Underground, Before the Internet, Documentation of People Documenting Anti-War Protesters, or Documentation of Face Painting Options in Mexico City, etc.

In other collection news, apparently Napoleon's not-so-well preserved gentleman part is in New Jersey. This video follows Tony Perrottet, author of Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped, as he travels to New Jersey to see the historic object for himself. Evidently it is in the collection of the late New Jersey urologist Dr. John Lattimer, who, according to his daughter, bought the famous privates to "lend dignity" to the profession of urology.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Just In Case You Were Wondering What the Australian Prime Minister Thinks About Art

On May 22nd, an exhibition of Australian photographer Bill Henson's work was shut down and investigated as child pornography. At the time, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd weighed in on the matter claiming he found the pictures "revolting", and added "whatever the artistic view of the merits of that sort of stuff - frankly I don't think there are any - just allow kids to be kids."

Charges against Henson were later dropped, but the issue of how Prime Minister Rudd feels about naked children in art will not go away. For their July issue, the magazine Art Monthly Australia published a 2003 image of a naked six year old on their cover.

The girl is Olympia Nelson, then 6, now 11, and the magazine editor said the article accompanying the photographs was a critique of Henson's work and was in no way pro-Henson. Nevertheless, Kevin Rudd has still found cause to speak out and call the image "disgusting".

For her part, Olympia was recently quoted stating that she didn't believe the photo amounted to abuse and was "really offended" by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's comment that he "can't stand" the image.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Stories, In Pieces: opening Thursday 10th 5-7pm

This Thursday the show Stories, In Pieces opens at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House, U of T, from 5-7pm. (Directions here.)

Curated by Mercer's own Aileen Burns, the exhibition brings together works from Toronto and Vancouver by artists Geoffrey Farmer, Curtis Grahauer & Kara Uzelman, Liz Knox, Myfanwy MacLeod, and Jon Sasaki.

Says the press release:
Stories are told in many ways and for infinitely diverse reasons. They pass history and culture between generations, serve as cautionary tales, inspire innovation and adventure, convey news items, communicate personal experience, or provide a much-needed escape from reality. A number of recent contemporary art exhibitions examine possible reasons for the resurgence of narrative in visual art. Artists are reformulating tales of past events from personal perspectives, in order to reclaim and diversify history. They comment on pertinent global issues like ecology, or create psychedelic, alternate worlds that provide fresh perspectives on, or whimsical escape from, the realities of the contemporary moment. Whatever the goal of a particular story, narratives are constructions that follow familiar patterns, and draw on culturally ingrained expectations.

Artists Geoffrey Farmer, Curtis Grahauer & Kara Uzelman, Liz Knox, Myfanwy MacLeod, and Jon Sasaki, create stories through means specific to visual art. The visual and audio cues of their work call on the viewer to engage in narrative processes. This dynamic form of narration contrasts with more linear, predetermined stories that unfold before a viewer, reader, or listener, while watching a film or reading a book. Through their open and suggestive constructions, these artists’ works allow viewers to draw on their own associations, memories, or archive of stories, to develop narrative readings of the work. The viewer becomes the causal agent, narrator, or protagonist, and contributes to the essential temporal component of storytelling. A dynamic engagement with the various elements of each piece is integral to the formation of a story.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Interview with Professor and Artist Steve Kurtz

On April 21st, charges of bioterrorism against Steve Kurtz of the Critical Art Ensemble were dropped. On June 16, Kurtz discussed his long and sad case with Democracy Now, which can be read, listened to, and/or watched here.

Friday, July 4, 2008

the other night i went to my friend timothy's apartment to watch the fireworks. we live in the same highrise, but his balcony faces toward the CNE, ontario place, and wherever those fireworks were being launched from. Timothy said it was a barge, but i dunno. we were a few kilometers away, i'm not sure how he could know that. there is something kind of eerie about watching fireworks without hearing the music. i always assume these shows are choreographed to accompany songs like "winds of change" or "rock you like a hurricane." they play out in my head, yet the overall effect is still unsettling...like watching a movie with the sound muted. or rather partly muted...one can of course still hear the explosions a few seconds out of synch with the burst of light. that's a second layer of unsettling if you ask me. it reminds me of phoning my grandmother in calgary in the years when long distance was still expensive and crummy. there would be those intolerable seconds between my voice saying something, and the echo i would hear through the earpiece. phones are much faster now and i appreciate it. next time i watch fireworks, i plan to prearrange a phone link between myself and someone standing on the barge. he or she can hold the receiver toward the launcher tubes, and i shall listen on the other end to noises perfectly in synch with the eyecandy i'm taking in a few kilometers away.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

WFMU's Free Music Sampler Vol. 1

New Jersey's excellent WFMU will be launching a Free Music Archive in November - for now they have just presented Selected Sounds from the Free Music Archive Volume 1, which features a track from Mercer friend Brian Joseph Davis and can be downloaded for free here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Help Save the International Cryptozoology Museum

This man - the one in front - needs your help. He is Loren Coleman,the creator of what is described by boingboing.net as "a multi-room cabinet of curiosities filled with artifacts, ephemera, and oddities related to 'hidden animals,' mythical beasts, and creatures unknown to science" called the International Cryptozoology Museum, and he is in trouble with the IRS.

Says Coleman:
"I began with a vision of the museum, after displaying objects and items in a decade of rentals after my divorce, to purchase a house a bit bigger than I needed, to turn over a main floor and extra storage to a cryptozoology and Bigfoot museum where researchers, documentary filmmakers, and visitors could see cryptozoology in three dimensions. It would be the International Cryptozoology Museum, for cryptozoologists, the media, and the public to enjoy....

...To the IRS, the museum verges on being a hobby (as per Code 183), and it needs more income (even if donations) to support itself, on its own. To me, the merging between my interviews, the book sales that come out of the museum appearances, and the visibility of the museum on the net are all interwoven. I’ve never had a great income since I was laid off from adjunct teaching, but combined together, I live at the cryptozoology poverty level with no complaints. But to the IRS, the museum is a separate entity. I understand now, and must comply with that view. I’ve lost my appeal on my “merge” view.

No fighting this any longer, for I stand fully enlightened about how the IRS is viewing Code 183, as it applies to my life’s career. The museum has to make money, or it ceases to exist.

Therefore, my ten year plan for where this museum was going needs to be sped up. It has come time for me to push into play the next phase of where this has to go, for the museum, to be kept alive, I see it has to be moved into a separate facility within one year and get a regular, separate stream of income."

You can find out more about this amazing collection and how you can help save items such as this carving of the "FeeJee Mermaid",


Thursday, June 26, 2008

a passing of the torch

What better way to begin this (or for that matter any) blog entry than with a photo of Dave Dyment, copied from the Nuit Blanche 2008 website, where one can find information about his upcoming "Zone C" curatorial projects.

Dave's contribution to this blog was immeasurable. From its inception, the blog was enriched and at times singlehandedly kept moving forward thanks to Dave's efforts. Whether his subject was elephant photographers, Turner Prize winners or things much closer to home, Dave could be counted on to make intelligent commentary on relevant things. We wish him all the best in all his current and upcoming projects.

I now realize that my subject line is misleading. This is not so much a passing of the torch as a spreading of the flame..
as of now, the 'Mercer Union Staff Blog' is officially the 'Mercer Union Staff AND BOARD blog.'
There are now about a dozen new people that will try to fill Dave's shoes, and bring you regular postings that paint a picture of who Mercer is as community of people with different interests and sensibilities. I only hope there is someone on the board who is qualified to blog about Brian Eno, as those postings would be missed most!