As its title suggests, this online and site-specific program presents several projects by artists whose work references diverse definitions, experiences and enactments of movements. Bringing together a range of practices, MOVEMENTS reflects on both the intimate scale of the body as it shifts through time and space, within transient gestures and encounters, and organized actions that provoke vital, unsettling change.
MOVEMENTS is made possible with support from Partners in Art
Shannon Garden-Smith, Upright is fine, but downright is where I am (detail), accordion-fold book containing 30 double-sided archival prints; bound in a flocked clamshell box, 9" x 12", 2021, Edition of 7 © 2021 Shannon Garden-Smith
Shannon Garden-Smith (she/her) is an artist living and working between Tkaronto/Toronto and Stratford, Canada. She completed an MFA at the University of Guelph (‘17) and a BA at the University of Toronto (‘12). Working primarily in sculpture and installation, Garden-Smith’s recent projects focus on the surfaces within and on which contemporary life unfolds, training a sensitivity to the ground beneath us. Through a slow, repetitive process that re-visibilizes how the day-to-day architectures of our lives become invisibilized/naturalized through repeated exposure, Garden-Smith practices in an exuberant material poetics of lack and excess.
Benjamin de Boer (b. 1995, Attawandaron, ON) is a writer, researcher, and bookseller living in Tkaronto. They received their Honours BA in Philosophy and Archaeology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Benjamin can be found studying the melancholy poetics of our earth lyric and exploring their openness to improvisation within a practice of group enunciation. Favouring sympedagogic situations, Benjamin currently co-directs Hearth, an arts space founded alongside Rowan Lynch, Sameen Mahboubi, and Philip Leonard Ocampo.
Camille Rojas (b. 1993 Toronto; lives and works in Toronto) is a multidisciplinary artist working with film, photography and dance. Her work uses movement as the primary vehicle to dissect ideas and emotions. She received her BFA in Photography Studies at Ryerson University (2017) and has recently exhibited her work at Gallery 44, Gallery TPW, Critical Distance Centre for Curators, Nuit Blanche and Erin Stump Projects
Alvin Luong (梁超洪) creates artworks based on stories of human migration, land, and dialogues from the diasporic working class communities that he lives and works with. The artist is currently focused on migration and economic corridors between the South China Sea and the West. In 2019, the artist exhibited at Boers-Li Gallery (Beijing), pursued research at HB Station Contemporary Art Research Center (Guangzhou), lectured at YiZhong Art Lab (Shunde), screened at CACHE (Beijing), screened at Alice Yard (Port of Spain), and lectured at Gudskul (Jakarta). In 2021, the artist will exhibit at Modern Fuel (Kingston, CA), The New Gallery (Calgary), and VAC Clarington (CA); and lecture at The Factory (HCMC).
Sophia Oppel (b. 1995) is an arts practitioner and researcher born and based in Tkaronto. Oppel’s work examines interfaces and infrastructures as sites of power, and their influences on embodied experience. Oppel received her BFA from OCAD University and is currently a co-director of Bunker 2 Gallery, and a Master of Visual Studies candidate at the University of Toronto. Oppel has exhibited locally and internationally.
Sofia Mesa (b.1995) is an artist working with film, making pictures and sculptures. She is excited by life inside and around her. She sees her art practice as a vessel for those expressions. She works with a variety of collaborators or on her own. Past exhibitions include Wildfire at The Loon, Field Walkers at Ma Ma, Guardians at Allan Gardens conservatory for Contact Photography and 304 Albany at 304 Albany.
Kablusiak is an Inuvialuk artist based in Mohkinstsis and holds a BFA from the Alberta University of the Arts. They are represented by Jarvis Hall Gallery, and their work has been acquired by public and private collections across so-called Canada. Awards include the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize (2017), short-list nominee for the Sobey Art Awards (2019), and the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Arts Award (2020). The lighthearted nature of their practice extends gestures of empathy and solidarity; these interests invite reconsideration of the perceptions of contemporary Indigeneity.
Zinnia Naqvi is an interdisciplinary artist based in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal and Tkaronto/Toronto. Her work examines issues of colonialism, cultural translation, language, and gender through the use of photography, video, writing, and archival material. Recent works have included archival and re- staged images, experimental documentary films, video installations, graphic design, and elaborate still-lives. Her works often invite the viewer to question her process and working methods. Naqvi’s work has been shown across Canada and internationally. She received an honorable mention at the 2017 Karachi Biennale in Pakistan and was an Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of EMILIA- AMALIA Working Group. She is a recipient of the 2019 New Generation Photography Award organized by the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada in partnership with Scotiabank. She earned a BFA in Photography Studies from Ryerson University and an MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University.
Upright is fine, but downright is where I am
Gallery TPW is pleased to present the launch of Shannon Garden-Smith’s new limited edition book, Upright is fine, but downright is where I am. The artist’s book continues her ongoing project documenting shoe treads printed in sidewalk concrete and road paint. Bound in a flocked clamshell box, the book is structured as an accordion fold-out that holds 30 double-sided prints, or 60 unique images. For each image that is immediately visible within the book, a second image remains latent on its reverse. However—tucked into slits on each accordion-fold page—the double sided prints are designed to be removed from the book structure, inviting countless re-arrangements.
Imaging traces of touch that result from movement through the city, Garden-Smith’s photo series refocuses the way we look at the cities’ most pedestrian concrete surfaces, which are comprised primarily of sand. The project lingers on sand—a material we connect deeply with time and the infinite—just as we find ourselves inconceivably but demonstrably on the brink of exhausting this resource.
The artist would like to thank Kate Murdoch for creating the flocked clamshell boxes and Dimitri Levanoff at Image foundry for printing the publication. Books are $700 each.
For full details on how to purchase one, please send an email to: info @ gallerytpw.ca.
In Conversation: Shannon Garden-Smith and Stephanie Springgay
Thursday, June 17, 6pm
Online Zoom Webinar
Join us for a conversation between artist Shannon Garden-Smith and scholar Stephanie Springgay, who will discuss their respective practices centred around walking. As part of an ongoing series, this event coincides with the release of Garden-Smith’s new limited edition book, Upright is fine, but downright is where I am. This project is a continuation of the artist’s photograph and video work, The Hourglass, which is part of Gallery TPW’s 2020 project MOVEMENTS.
Shannon Garden-Smith, Upright is fine, but downright is where I am (detail), accordion-fold book containing 30 double-sided archival prints; bound in a flocked clamshell box, 9" x 12", 2021, Edition of 7 © 2021 Shannon Garden-Smith
Dispatches from Phong Phú
Alvin Luong shares three dispatches from Phong Phú, a former commune which was an active community and resistance site against the French and American occupations of Vietnam. The commune produced anti-imperialist agitprop, trained guerrillas to fight the Americans in Saigon, and was also a battlefield during the war against the Americans. The land now sits in a limbo state of being semi-developed with its marshy fields punctuated by a few recently built houses, open sewer holes, and gravel roads. The partially developed condition of the land is a result of a real estate scam. The land becomes engulfed by nearby rivers when the Moon is close to the Earth and land floods every monsoon season, signalling its soon-to-be underwater future due to Climate Change. The dispatches presented here are part of a work-in-progress project by Luong called Hole Story, a fictional narrative about the past, present, and future of the former Phong Phú commune.
See videos below.
Piliutiyara (saltwater taffy)
Kablusiak's contribution to MOVEMENTS is presented on the billboard at Artscape Youngplace in partnership with Critical Distance Centre for Curators.
In the photo series Piliutiyara (2019), Kablusiak deconstructs the sexualization of Indigenous women and femmes by making viewers hyper-aware of the settler colonial gaze. The artist faces the viewer with unselfconscious power and authority. In these works the viewer will look at the artist and see them in a way that they control. These works force the viewer not only to confront Kablusiak but to face the tropes and conventions in which Inuit women and femmes have been depicted by settlers throughout the European colonization of North America.
- Lindsey Sharman, Sobey Art Award 2019 catalogue
Reflections on Transparency
Benjamin de Boer and Sophia Oppel
TPW is delighted to present a new commission by Benjamin de Boer and Sophia Oppel.
Reflections on Transparency is an examination of the transparent barriers that have become ubiquitous in sites of retail in light of COVID-19. Born of an interest in hostile architecture, public space and landscapes that elicit particular behaviours, this investigation meditates on the intersections between the politics of hygiene and disaster capitalism.
The work can be experienced through our Instagram page.
The Border Guards Were Friendly
Zinnia Naqvi’s second contribution to MOVEMENTS is presented on the billboard at Artscape Youngplace in partnership with Critical Distance Centre for Curators.
The Border Guards Were Friendly is part of a larger body of work that brings together the artist’s family photos with assemblages of books, games, and VHS tapes. Documenting a 1988 holiday across various tourist sites in Ontario, the images were taken as a reconnaissance mission of sorts, marking the family’s decision to immigrate to Canada from Karachi, Pakistan.
The mixture of personal snapshots—featuring places like the CN Tower and Cullen Gardens & Miniature Village—with Zinnia’s deliberate object choices makes visible the tensions between Canada’s mythmaking of multiculturalism and the nation’s persistent legacies of colonialism and injustice. In this particular image, Naqvi extends the project to consider the realities and failings of Canadian citizenship. Referencing surveillance culture and systems of public scrutiny, this work is an apt reminder that violent systems of policing are intrinsic to the maintenance of citizenship within a nation state. Who does—and who does not—have the right to move and subsist freely?
A Manifesto, A Strategy
As someone who has worked in artist-run culture in various capacities, I am fascinated by the vast contrast in the way people are valued when entering an institution as an artist or as a staff member. The artist is generally brought in as an external expert, tasked with changing the face of the institution on a temporary basis. They are often given autonomy, but with the understanding that it is for a very short time only. The worker, however, is tasked with understanding their place within the established system or hierarchy, and doing only what is asked of them. There is usually little room for independent thought, let alone action. The lack of trust, independence, and respect that I have felt while working as a staff member in various arts institutions, is ultimately what made me decide that it was not a viable career path for me in the long term, and instead I decided to focus on my art practice.
But what to do also, when as an artist you are brought into an institution with money and power, but you also recognize that they are using your work to engage with the community on a superficial level but do not understand or acknowledge your politics?
Do you simply refuse? Or do you try to use that platform to highlight your predicament?
The following is a piece I wrote to myself while trying to navigate a particularly challenging engagement with a regional gallery. I hope to offer it up as insight into what goes through a young artist’s head when they realize that an institution is tokenizing them, but feel trapped, because really no institution in its current form is exempt from this kind of behaviour. Some are simply more covert about hiding it than others.
A Manifesto, A Strategy  1) The white curator working in a predominantly South Asian suburb, wants you to bring more traffic into the gallery by somehow featuring brown bodies on the side of her building. You are concerned about what putting these bodies on display for the public means for you. Why have you been tasked with this responsibility? You consider asking people from the community to participate in your project. But it immediately becomes clear that this would merely be extending the gallery’s exploitation of you to a community of people you don’t know. The conclusion is that making work about yourself and your family is the simplest and most ethical way to deal with the situation. 2) You are concerned about constantly using your family’s archived experience in work. You are worried this makes you seem obsessed with your own migration story and history. You have worked hard to move away from this and try new things, but people keep responding to your older work which prominently displays your family’s stories and bodies. You are worried these projects seem too nostalgic. People keep responding to the nostalgia. The white curator has asked you to make work that is more like what you made before. You think about an honest way to do this. 3) You realize that trying new things and constantly reinventing yourself in every new project is bad for your personal economy. People respond well to repetition—they like knowing what you have done and what you will do. There is no shame in having an aesthetic and working a certain way. In fact, it is profitable. It is actually a recipe for success, even though for some reason, you always feel guilty about doing similar things. 4) Rather than constantly repeating yourself and doing what you have done before, you decide to search for a strategy to subvert the gaze. You realize using your family archive is really akin to using any public archive, like that of a library or museum. The difference is that you have unlimited access to it and a sense of ownership over it. You feel entitled to this archive because you know who is in it and who took the photos, even if you yourself are not in them. You are not worried that a relative might someday find themselves on the side of a building, because you know who they are. Your migration story is no more unique than someone else’s story, other than the fact that you have access to it. White artists use found footage and archives all the time, and they don’t feel bad about it. You should not feel bad about using your own. 5) Now, how to subvert this gaze? How to give the white curator what she wants so that she will happily pay you, while also working to critically subvert her ignorant premise? This is the hard part. So far the way to do this seems to be by using theory and symbolism and metaphors. Making visual puns. You thought composing still lives that are political in content and yet visually playful and intriguing might be the best way to do this. Humour is always a successful strategy to being critical while making it palatable for the white curator and audience.  This project began as a site-specific installation for a regional gallery in Ontario. Working with this gallery was one of the worst experiences I have had in the art world. While I did my best to maintain distance between the experience from the work itself, the outcome of the project was undeniably influenced by it. I started writing this manifesto when I was first approached by the gallery, and I have completed it as a reminder to myself going forward. A Manifesto, A Strategy is part of a larger collection of essays available for purchase here. Half of the proceeds from the first two weeks of sales will be donated to the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.
THE HOURGLASS CAN BE VIEWED HERE
Shannon Garden-Smith’s The Hourglass is a web-based photo project excerpted from her ongoing series documenting found instances of shoe treads imprinted in sidewalk concrete and road paint. The work consists of 60 photos with each image fading into the next for a duration of 60 seconds. One complete cycle lasts an hour and repeats on infinite loop.
The Hourglass offers itself exactly as its name indicates, as an hourglass—an online time piece in which images replace minutes/grains of sand. Unlike its physical namesake, this hourglass asks to be witnessed in order to work. Its trickle of images will pause when you click to another tab, resuming only when you return, such that your travels online might stretch an hour into hours, distending the clock.
Imaging traces of touch that result from movement through the city, The Hourglass trains our looking at the ground, lingering on photos of our cities’ most pedestrian concrete surfaces, which are comprised primarily of sand. The project looks closely and slowly at this sand—a material we connect deeply with time and the infinite—as we find ourselves inconceivably but demonstrably on the brink of exhausting this resource.
 Ludacer, Rob. “The World Is Running out of Sand – and There’s a Black Market for It Now.” Business Insider, 11 June 2018, www.businessinsider.com/world-running-out-sand-resources-concrete-2018-6.
Prologue In March and April, but then also May, June, July and August, nearly every conversation I’ve had begins with a quip about the slipperiness of time. What is time? What is time ha ha? The question is posed rhetorically, but perhaps gets closest to answering itself in the questioning. In this time, some of us, somewhat released or wholly prevented from the infinite loop of spinning time into gold (aka wage labour), have redirected it to labour in ways truly transformative. So, there is this enlivening new possibility of amorphous time, but there is also the formless time of illness unfolding within the unyielding bounds of late capitalism. In a passage about her experience of time while gravely ill a few years earlier, American poet Anne Boyer might also be writing about the right now being experienced by many: “I’m sick in the inelastic present imperfect— the tense in which you have to pay the rent for all of eternity…. My time in the time of illness has been unmeasurable or ir-measured or a-measured. Yet despite how this time can no longer steadily or predictably submit itself to clocks and calendars, for survival’s sake I still have had to try to measure it.”  From somewhere within this moment, I offer this time piece—its structural logic tied to the clock, so that you might use it as a strange technology to tell time, if you wanted or if you needed. An online infinite loop of 60 images, fading from one to the next so that each image plays for 60 seconds, it’s a kind of hourglass, but where the grains of sand are photos of shoe prints caught in surfaces made mostly of sand—sidewalk concrete. In collecting these images, I think about something Dionne Brand wrote recently: “Time in the city is usually taken up running around positioning oneself around [a] narrative of ‘the normal,’”  an idea that “those in power keep invoking…as in ‘when we get back to normal.’ ” Brand continues, “But, I and many other people hate that normal. Who would one have to be to sit in that normal restfully, to mourn it, or to desire its continuance?”  In part, these prints evidence such a ‘normal,’ tracing one, bipedal version of running around the city. They don’t exhaustively catalogue or foreclose the possibilities of movement, and I desire intensely that they resist a return to the run around. Epilogue The passage of time Is flicking dimly up on the screen I can’t see the lines I used to think I could read between Perhaps my brains have turned to sand Brian Eno, “Golden Hours” (1975) “Sand is basically always a metaphor. It’s a metaphor for time. It’s a metaphor for infinity and unquantifiability,” opines poet Ariana Reines in an interview about her 2019 book, A Sand Book. She continues, “And, that’s weird because it means, in some ways, it’s like the background of an idea that we can’t really get clear on…. It’s like the negative space of reality. Something happening to us right now, something happening to us all the time somehow becomes the foreground.” A few minutes earlier Reines relayed how two thirds of the earth’s land mass is desertifying. Desertification wiped out the ancient civilization of Sumer, she tells, and it’s a cataclysmic situation today according to many climate scientists.  The notion that so much land is becoming desert would seem at odds with Business Insider’s report that “the world is running out of sand.”  Scholar of architectural history and theory Mark Jarzombek offers some insight, writing in e-flux last year, “Architecture today is addicted to four basic products: steel, concrete, glass, and plastic. Each is a figure in the hyper-industrial world in which we live. We are living in the golden age of the Quadrivium Industrial Complex.”  Of these four products, sand is the primary component of two, concrete and glass (now the cheapest surface for cladding buildings). But, desert sand is unfit for these production purposes—it’s particles too round. Only the sand borne of thousands and thousands and thousands of years of rain pelting mountain rock, only the sand found at the bottom of river beds and oceans is usable in this golden age.  … During the winter I shared a physical iteration of this collection of shoe print images with Amish Morrell. He wondered if I’d heard of the 11 000-year-old footprints found in a layer of blue clay near Hanlan’s Point in Toronto? The ancient prints were discovered by crews constructing a waterworks tunnel in 1908 and promptly obliterated—covered over with concrete because of pressure to complete the job speedily.  … I started taking the photos several months after returning to Toronto, not knowing why. The shift back to the city was difficult. My body and brain fell back into well-worn routines of exhaustion, and awash in the blue-light of work emails, I felt unmoored, my capacity for thought stymied. I was being worked and working myself into the ground, but I’d started a job which had me sharing an office with Anthropologist Emily Hertzman whose presence and conversation was deeply vitalizing. She wondered if I lived high up in an apartment building? Her partner was ill at ease living in high-rises. He and generations of his ancestors had lived in a house that kept them rooted to the earth. … During that time, I would run, inevitably late, to a bus each morning, then a subway car then another to do my job until sundown before heading to a studio space nestled deeply downtown with a prominently displayed development proposal placard that threatened eviction at any moment. Somehow, within this untenable routine, I became attuned to the ground. The chance imprints of my fellow city perambulators preserved in sidewalk concrete or road paint appeared in the minutes between my work. Sometimes I walked past a print hundreds of times, invisible until the light was just right when it would suddenly materialize, arresting me in a moment of prosaic sublimity. There’s a particular kind and time of day that’s best for print sighting. While a sun high in the sky will work, diffuse amber light at the end of the day is best; a slice of time photographers call golden hour. It’s also the name of one of my favourite Brian Eno songs, “Golden Hours,” which appears on an album that isn’t fully “ambient,” but feels on the cusp of it. Eno extended the concept of ambient from Erik Satie’s “furniture music”—music that doesn’t exactly need to be listened to. A background happening all the time, it “mingle[s] with the sound of the knives and forks at dinner.”  … To be clear, my moments of print-spotting rapture are ever so momentary. It’s mildly dangerous to stop abruptly on a busy city sidewalk or in the middle of an intersection to catch them, especially now. I’ve learned to keep moving until it’s safe to double back, and even then I need to take the picture quickly. I won’t get to consider it carefully until later. Then, as last winter began to wane, my print-seeking intensified; we lost the studio. With sand-brain intuition, I kept accumulating these indexes of touch cast under the shifting countenances of the sun. I wondered what they had to do with the ground really, with geological time; they seemed to share a specious likeness with the archeological. Like trace fossils, they preserve the movement of certain bodies, but they seemed counterfeit, somehow, in their relative contemporaneity. The concrete surfaces too fast. “I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour,”  writes Rebecca Solnit. Only now, on these newly decelerated walks has the temporal alchemy beneath me, the conundrum of timescales, the exquisiteness of sand that is everywhere—its non-metaphorical infinitude profaned—become thinkable. *The epilogue was originally written to accompany a digital photo series for The Tulip. —  Brand clarifies this notion on ‘normal’: “Was the violence against women normal? Was the anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism normal? Was white supremacy normal? Was the homelessness growing on the streets normal? Were homophobia and transphobia normal? Were pervasive surveillance and policing of Black and Indigenous and people of colour normal? Yes, I suppose all of that was normal.”  Brand, Dionne. “Dionne Brand: On narrative, reckoning and the calculus of living and dying,” The Toronto Star, July 4, 2020. https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/books/2020/07/04/dionne-brand-on-narrative-reckoning-and-the-calculus-of-living-and-dying.html.  Boyer, Anne. A Handbook of Disappointed Fate. Brooklyn, Ugly Ducking Presse, 2018.  Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 22 Aug. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r13mN0xGHzk&t=3s. Accessed 1 May 2020.  Ludacer, Rob. “The World Is Running out of Sand – and There’s a Black Market for It Now.” Business Insider, 11 June 2018, www.businessinsider.com/world-running-out-sand-resources-concrete-2018-6.  Jarzombek, Mark. “The Quadrivium Industrial Complex.” e-Flux, 2019, www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/296508/the-quadrivium-industrial-complex  Ludacer, Rob. “The World Is Running out of Sand – and There’s a Black Market for It Now.” Business Insider, 11 June 2018, www.businessinsider.com/world-running-out-sand-resources-concrete-2018-6.  Scrivener, Leslie. “The Enigma of Lake Ontario’s 11,000-Year-Old Footprints.” The Toronto Star, 23 Nov. 2008, https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2008/11/23/the_enigma_of_lake_ontarios_11000yearold_footprints.html.  Radcliffe, Mark. Crossroads: In Search of the Moments That Changed Music. Canongate Books, 2019, https://books.google.ca/books?id=WvCLDwAAQBAJ&printsec=copyright#v=onepage&q&f=false.  Solnit, Rebecca. Wanderlust: A History of Walking. New York, Granta Books, 2014.