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Babaylans and Encanadores

A Conversation with Paul Pfeiffer, Simon Speiser and Stephanie Comilang


April 8, 11am - 12pm, EDT, Online

In this talk, artists Stephanie Comilang, Simon Speiser, and Paul Pfeiffer come together for a conversation that will touch upon the intersecting themes within their practices, including mythology, folklore, and spiritual iconography. Pfeiffer’s Incarnator series, on view at 72 Perth Avenue as part of the Toronto Biennial of Art from March 26-June 5, examines how mass media has shaped contemporary culture and how icons can be interpreted and dissolved, drawing connections between religious worship and pop celebrity fandom. In the exhibition Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?, on view at Gallery TPW from September 8-November 5, Comilang and Speiser present an AI assistant named Piña that has gained consciousness through an upload of customary Filipina and Ecuadorian worldviews. Taking cues from pre-colonial matriarchal lineages, Piña evokes links between ancestral knowledge and imagined futures. Collectively, the works of both exhibitions question and reflect on the evolution of human belief systems and how the technologies of today—and tomorrow—shape our interpretations of the past.

This program is co-created and co-presented with the Toronto Biennial of Art.

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Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser, Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?, production still, 2020. Courtesy  of the artists. 

Stephanie Comilang is an artist living and working between Toronto and Berlin. Her documentary based works create narratives that look at how our understandings of mobility, capital and labour on a global scale are shaped through various cultural and social factors. Her work has been shown at Transmediale Berlin, Ghost : 2561 Bangkok Video & Performance Triennale, Hamburger Bahnhof, Tai Kwun Hong Kong, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Asia Art Archive in America, New York. She was awarded the 2019 Sobey Art Award, Canada’s most prestigious art prize for artists 40 years and younger.

Simon Speiser is an artist who conjures fictional concepts that merge nature with technology. Placing a variety of media and disciplines in dialogue with one another—ranging from writing, sculpture, and printing to video and VR installations—Speiser’s work expands the possibilities between art and science fiction. He has exhibited at the Frankfurter Kunstverein, MMK Frankfurt, CAC Quito, Oracle Berlin, Croy Nielsen, MMCA Seoul, and Robert Grunenberg Berlin, among others. 

Paul Pfeiffer (born in 1966, Honolulu, USA) is known for his inventive manipulation of digital media. He recasts the visual language of pop spectacle to explore the role of images in shaping individual and collective consciousness. Paul uses a range of found materials and sources to plumb the depths of contemporary culture, assessing its racial, religious and technological dimensions. Paul’s objects and images function diachronically, establishing profound genealogies connecting contemporary culture and its many particularities to the long, seemingly remote histories of art, religion, nationhood and diaspora.

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