Art in Toronto has faced some challenges lately, in the form of a vague call for self-definition. Various variables have played a role in this strange sense of urgency to encapsulate art activity in Toronto. I don't have a handle on it, but here are the influencing factors as I see them:

1) Instant Coffee's diaspora. This collective made a big impact promoting a local, relational, art-as-social interaction party/exhibiton vibe in this town. Now that one of the most prominent founding members, Jenifer Papararo, has morphed her career, both geographically and conceptually, to take up the role of Curator at Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, the immersive momentum of the group has dissipated in TO. If art's not a big party...then what is it?

2) RM Vaughan's infamous calling-out of Vancouver photo-conceptualists in Canadian Art. This topic causes an allergic avoidance response in many Canadians, me included, and I can't actually bring myself to dissect it all here. There has been some heated and informative debate on the topic over at Simpleposie. Browse the links, you'll find it. The upshot, however, is a kind of frisson of regional competition. Q: What's Vancouver got that we ain't got? A: Art stars.

3) uTOpia 1 and 2. These Coach House Press publications focussed some hyperbolic-yet-often-insightful attention on the downtown TO culture that generates art in Toronto. Links were made between development on Queen St. West, commercial galleries, psycho-geography, graffiti, public art, the latent multi-cultural kinetic force of the suburbs, urban planning policy (including Superbuild funding for recent big architectural initiatives) and the eerie manic energy that is being generated by the two mere-blocks-apart downtown art hotels, the Gladstone and the Drake.

4) The fact that the Toronto Alternative Art Fair International became, over a very short space of time, functionally indistinguishable from the official, trade-show, we're a World-Class City sales event called the Toronto International Art Fair.

5) The emergence and closure of a mutitude of indpendent art ventures that blurred the boundaries between institutional curation, entrpreneurial commerial galleries and the venerable tradition of DIY Candian artist-run culture such as: MOCCA, Diaz, Jessica Bradley Art Projects, the closure of Zsa-Zsa, the move of both InterAccess and TPW to store-front spaces at Ossington and Queen, Le Gallery, and many more (I've left a lot out). 6) "We Can Do This Now." This Power Plant exhibition was a timely disaster that claimed to represent current art activity in Toronto, but utterly failed to encapsulate any of the above.

In light of all this kerfuffle, I really enjoyed the big videos currently on display at PREFIX Institute of Contemporary Art. 25sec.-Toronto, by Berlin artists Angelika Middendorf and Andreas Schimanski, featuring various personages in the Toronto art scene, shot against a slick white-screen background, pontificating on their hopes for art in Toronto to a grand total of 25 seconds each. From what I could tell from conversation at the opening, the display drew a predictable response of suspicion, shame, sour grapes and chagrin from the audience. People who were included in the line-up were gosh-shucksing all over the place, while those who weren't nit-picked the choices. I personally noted a marked lack of attention to the blogosphere, particularly the omission of Jennifer McMackon who's incisive Q&A blog, Simpleposie, does a lot to instigate art talk in Toronto these days. But that's not a big surprise, Canadian art-types have always been slow to grasp the potentials of the internet. Nor is it really important to the project.

This display made no pretense to be totally comprehensive. Instead, a range of participants were showcased, from some of the most established gallerists, curators and artists to some of the most newbie. Everyone looked vulnerable; as Tanya Read of Fly Gallery and Mr. Nobody fame pointed out, the unforgiving white light enhanced everyone's wrinkles, pouches and flaws. As video and performance artist Andy Paterson pointed out, everyone looked "wider" than they really are. Despite the tight 25-second timeline, the camera lingered long enough for embarrassed smiles, fidgets and the inevitable Candian that's-just-just-my-2-cents-worth shrug. The end result was a picture of good-vibe enthusiasm; a committed pile of folks making culture happen here. I loved it, and it made me feel happy that I live and work in this town.

- sally mckay 6-24-2007 11:07 pm

post deleted at the request of the author.
- mnobody (guest) 6-25-2007 12:16 am

i wonder if the secret is keep working, and find communities outside spec geography, keep out of the politics?
- anthony (guest) 6-25-2007 7:16 am

that sounds like three secrets. I bet there are even more.
- sally mckay 6-25-2007 3:51 pm

the secret to the universe is wombats.
- anthony (guest) 6-25-2007 4:01 pm

Meaty post Sally.


1) Instant Coffee's diaspora. This collective made a big impact promoting a local, relational, art-as-social interaction party/exhibiton vibe in this town. Now that one of the most prominent founding members, Jenifer Papararo, has morphed her career, both geographically and conceptually, to take up the role of Curator at Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, the immersive momentum of the group has dissipated in TO. If art's not a big party...then what is it?

Somehow I think what has been interesting about Instant Coffee - especially when the trailer was around and before that, The Money House - was the fact that big parties with large numbers participating and attending were held in spaces with the actual capacity to fit about ten people. So the frisson was all about the spillage and exchange of
art crowds through a tiny conduit. It was incredibly democratic in that way and energizing too. And it wasn't about artist fees - it was about the social possibility to make and show and see art in a short time and small space. In the parking lot for god sake. It strikes me a tough act to emulate when larger institutions take it on it never feels genuine. Inevitably there are too many protocols to follow (real and imagined). Even now within the artist run system...


2) RM Vaughan's infamous calling-out of Vancouver photo-conceptualists in Canadian Art. This topic causes an allergic avoidance response in many Canadians, me included, and I can't actually bring myself to dissect it all here. There has been some heated and informative debate on the topic over at Simpleposie. Browse the links, you'll find it. The upshot, however, is a kind of frisson of regional competition. Q: What's Vancouver got that we ain't got? A: Art stars.

This question is interesting - part of me wants to respond with another question which is don't Torontonian's have some claim to Lum and Wall, Mark Lewis, Rodney Graham etc as their ART Stars too?As Canadian ART Stars? They showed in Toronto all through the eighties, many with Ydessa Hendeles. Their work surely provoked and inspired as many here as out west. If Toronto doesn't have ART Stars we have only ourselves to blame for not seeing J. Massey, Fastwurms, S. Alexander, Kim Adams, Noel Harding and so on and so forth in that rarified light. No artist has the same career or gets the same accolades. I'm not making equivalencies. But GG Awards to get awarded every year. And maybe if we celebrated each other more that light wouldn't seem so rare - artists in Toronto were once galvanized and together enough to fight for professional fees and experimental space to show their works - it doesn't take anywhere near as much effort to say YEAH! Ed Burtynsky is from Toronto or Atom Egoyan lives in my town. It is weird how a city can take so much pride in a hockey team that never wins (I count myself as a diehard Leaf fan) but take so much less pride in the accomplishments of its artists.

- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-25-2007 6:06 pm

It’s interesting in this brief overview of what amounts to Toronto’s art history over the past ten years you gave into (perhaps false) modesty and didn’t mention Lola. As for Instant Coffee – it’s also interesting to see such high praise three years after Jenifer’s move, given that Lola gave it no attention whatsoever during the time I was a part of it.

I’ll also give props to Jennifer M for this: “If Toronto doesn't have ART Stars we have only ourselves to blame for not seeing J. Massey, Fastwurms, S. Alexander, Kim Adams, Noel Harding and so on and so forth in that rarified light.” We should be celebrating our own more … but maybe Toronto’s recent interest in relational aesthetics speaks to our desire to overcome predictable celebritizing. Having art stars isn’t the answer, especially when it results in a sycophantic fanbase. My take on Richard’s heresy was that he called the Vancouver school as he saw it and insulted such a fanbase.

It’s also should be pointed out that the art scene here is fragmented into various interest groups of form – the video artists vs. the painters vs. the installation etc … while there’s inevitable cross-contact due to our limited number within the population, there’s also the sense that we’re all serving different audiences. I also have the vague impression that private collecting is what supports the arts here, rather than the type of institutional support which would give the city’s artists more prominence. During this energetic period in the city’s culture, the AGO has been busy renovating, and thus it fell to the non-collecting Power Plant to mount its lame show.

- Timothy C (guest) 6-25-2007 9:03 pm

Thanks for your comments, J.! I agree with the bulk of what you say but I have a few things to add.

I completely agree that the non-institutional aspect of Instant Coffee has been really liberating. I did find the pressure to act-social-as-art kind of forced. But that probably says more about me than it says about the project. For instance, there is no way in hell I will join a make-out party, in private, in public, as a personal exploration, nor as a relational art experience. I also found the crowded one-night art party scene intensley competitive in a way I didn't enjoy, competitive like a high-school dance, where the cool kids had the confidence to get their art up front and centre, while those of us who are less well endowed with suave moves hung back in the shadows. It was somewhat painful, but maybe that's not a bad thing if you see it all as big social/art experiment. At least it was true to life!

I think there is a big upside to our non-celebration of our art stars which is that we the little art strugglers don't see such big gaps between them and us. People like Fastwurms, for instance, have been so generous intergenerationally in encouraging and collaborating with younger artists that we tend to see them as peers rather than idols. I have deep deep respect and gratitude for this kind of practice and agree that we should take all opportunities to laud those we admire, but part of what I appreciate the most about Toronto is the collegial warmth I've often experienced among artists of many stripes.
- sally mckay 6-25-2007 9:09 pm

Hi Timothy...thanks for bringing up Lola. Feels like ancient history to me now. I also sense some bitterness in your comment, sorry if we offended. I do remember that we covered Money House quite a bit, and there was no intention to dismiss IC. I always had the impression that our two projects were working in concert.
- sally mckay 6-25-2007 9:15 pm

I have an Instant Coffee T-shirt that says "I will always remember how rude and arrogant you were," culled from a comment box at the IC Disco Trailer show at AGO. Rumour has it that members of IC were convinced I wrote it. I didn't. It's possible I might have written something equally unpleasant, but if I did I don't remember. I've always thought this perceived animosity was pretty funny, and I like wearing the shirt.
- sally mckay 6-25-2007 9:21 pm

Yeah, the makeout party went nowhere for me either but that's only the little picture.

All this stuff is happening in cycles - Jin Han Ko was practically a part of Brown Spot which came conquered and disintegrated too. You could have been in that great show they did, Limousine. You could have eaten Taco Bell together. You could have kidnapped their work from Mercer Union as Greg Hefford and Lee Goreas once did, leaving a ransom note in its place and meeting for drinks at an appointed time to sort it all out. Some projects are just more successful than others. I have more difficulty with the sloganeering posters I see kicking around - but that is boiling down to taste. I think the important thing is that the arrival of Brown Spot in Toronto coincided with the demise of the organized collectives - which is directly attributable to rising real estate prices and granting slowdowns.

As regards intergenerational encouragement - I think if you lived and worked in Vancouver you would say the same things. Lum and Wall and Wallace are all teachers and I'm sure there've been all kinds of collaboration and friendships formed too. If the school that emerged in their wake seems less diverse than our swampy scene, I think it has more to do with a smaller less diverse population in general. Toronto is twice and a bit the population of Vancouver and its factions are a little more unruly to pinpoint as a result.

- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-25-2007 9:41 pm

lola was incredibly exciting, new, and liberating for a queer kid lonely on the praries, i dont think people realised made the kind of writing and art making i want as possible.
- anthony (guest) 6-25-2007 9:57 pm

Tim, you'll have to take a number and get in line. I was never reviewed or mentioned in LOLA and I have devoted the past few years to making sure that Sally never forgets this egregious, scurrilous, and vicious insult.

As a matter of fact I saw her at a BBQ last night and I casually mentioned that her stomach will be roasted inside a goat in the pit of hell. (to be fair, she was quite nice about it when I said that, but it could be that she thinks I am retarded, but I say, she is the retarded one, because I offered her a piece of cheesecake and I said it is made of death and hell, and she took it anyway)

- L.M. 6-25-2007 10:02 pm

You are vociferous, LM.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-25-2007 10:07 pm

J., Free Parking Gallery belongs on that list with Brown Spot, of course. They were a real inspiration to Lola, eventhough we were a magazine, not a gallery or a collective. But now I'm starting to feel nostalgic, and that's not what I set out to do...I think there are more current and recent factors than these fond histories.

Anthony...aaaaaw! thanks for saying that.

L.M., I was eating a sausage with cheddar cheese inside. Mmmmm....I was oblivious to all concerns except deliciousness and pending heart failure. After that I ate the cheesecake and then I ate some asparagus to do pennance. So yes, my stomach was definitely going through something!
- sally mckay 6-25-2007 10:16 pm

Sorry - didn't mean to conflate Brown Spot with Free Parking. I meant to extend it through to IC.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-25-2007 10:19 pm

Re the shirt and your supposed authorship: we now know that the S of that comment was Justin Waddell’s girlfriend Sandra, but I can vouche for the fact you were a suspect. I was told there was some tension between you and Jinhan and that also accounted for the lack of coverage IC got in Lola. Which is not to accuse you of being unprofessional, but merely human. We accepted and understood it on that basis – but I may be slightly exaggerating the memory. Yes, we did look forward to each new issue of Lola and yes, there was a sense of disappointment when we saw that there was no shotgun for an IC event, and I figured at least something unfair was happening because how could the events be as successful as they evidently were and not have one person submit a shotgun? Being documented by Lola was important to me at least, but I’m not sure the others cared that much.

Any perceived bitterness is merely a left-over residue from those days, when my active participation in the scene made me far more bitter than I ever expected to be in life. The Money House stuff was before my time and it was perceived to be a different project entirely.

As for your comments about IC being too-cool, too confident to make the shy people feel comfortable – I totally understand that statement and as the clique meter on the collective rose, my sense of wanting to leave it rose also. And regarding what you said about Fastwurms, showing intergenerational generosity – I agree wholeheartedly, especially about seeing them as peers rather than idols. I think I can say that in any community I find myself apart of, I want to be amidst peers rather than a hierarchy, and this gets to what I mentioned before about avoiding sychophants, and clarifies what I was getting it at by mentioning the interest in relational aesthetics – Darren’s work especially which emphasizes seeing each other as peers rather than unequals. Art stars probably aren’t a healthy cultural phenomenon and we’re probably better off for it – perhaps it could be said that we should learn to see the issues of the Toronto scene as advantages and not disadvantages.
- anonymous (guest) 6-25-2007 10:23 pm

I like a good shot of history - especially as our experiences of the same one all seem a little different. I feel like there definitely is a kind of artworld amnesia out there. Its hard to do on a blog but even to talk about Toronto's recent interest in relational aesthetics is kind of a conceit - since there's a bigger history here in the house of McLuhan...
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-25-2007 10:34 pm

Point well taken about the desirability of peers rather than idols, but I would include a genuine desire to see many of my brilliant peers receive greater recognition and opportunity.
- L.M. 6-25-2007 10:34 pm

I concure.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-25-2007 10:39 pm

I concure too. Also about the importance of history, although again, I'm wary of nostalgia and the crankiness of age that produces an "I was there and nobody cares" syndrome.

Thanks for the nice frank post, Timothy. Regarding this: "I figured at least something unfair was happening because how could the events be as successful as they evidently were and not have one person submit a shotgun?" thing I can aboslutely assure you is that no shotguns were ever ever rejected at Lola because of the shows or events they reviewed. There were plenty of shows we didn't particularly like by artists we didn't particularly like covered in the magazine. We wanted it all. If there was any (unconscious) dismissal of IC going on it would have been located simply in our neglect to actively solicit material. Usually when we did feel motivated to solicit shotguns it was because we had the feeling that something important was going unrecognised, and IC seemed to be ubiquitous enough at the time not to require that from us.
- sally mckay 6-25-2007 10:52 pm

It is probably predictable that I should say this since he and I are great friends but I miss the energy of John Massier here. He championed a lot of artists and I do recall the day Lola got its name - it was because he brought everyone to the table.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-25-2007 11:24 pm

The more I think about it Sally, the more various the variables really are!
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-25-2007 11:52 pm

John is a rockstar. I miss his energy too, although Buffalo really isn't that far away.
- sally mckay 6-26-2007 12:31 am

concure - lord help me today and yo all to concur
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-26-2007 1:01 am

1. I liked Lola magazine a lot, most of all for its embrace of writers and positions that were totally antithetical to each other.

2. Instant Coffee is a flavor I've never really gotten the taste of. Make-out party? Vibrating bed? Thanks anyway. I am continually amazed by the number of otherwise awake and alert critics and curators who seem to have a real love affair with this tedious relational-aesthetics-as-visual-art stuff. News flash: there is a hip collective of art-making scenesters JUST LIKE Instant Coffee in every major Western country. It's a "period style"!

3. re: Tim C.'s claim, "My take on Richard’s heresy was that he called the Vancouver school as he saw it and insulted such a fanbase." Uh, no. Richard's heresy was that he offered only his windy opinion, without much in the way of facts or supporting evidence. He assumed, I think, that he didn't have to actually mount an argument, filling in all the thinking that led him to his judgement. No one in Vancouver objected to a negative review of Intertidal, only to a badly written and even more poorly argued one.
- CJB (guest) 6-26-2007 1:27 am

Hi CJB. Thanks for posting! For those of you who are interested, CJB and I have already pretty thoroughly had it out about the aforementioned "heresy" on Simpleposie. I'm not super inclined to go back into it all again...except I will note that I was pleased to see that Antwerp Diary won an honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards.

Regarding the relational stuff, I dig it! It's a genre like any other, with high points and low points. A Couple of High Points: Kristin Lucas' Simulcast and Harrel Fletcher's Lawn Sculptures. Low Point: Nicholas Bourriaud.
- sally mckay 6-26-2007 2:01 am

I was telling someone the other day that iam now in a rock band and he said 'oh, so your into relational aesthetics are you?' gee wiz, i guess i can be a rock star and and art star at the same time!
- mnobody (guest) 6-26-2007 2:49 am

Oh, duh, the example right under my nose is the show this post is supposedly reviewing: 25sec.-Toronto.
- sally mckay 6-26-2007 3:31 am

Hey, SMcK!

re: relational aesthetics as "a genre like any other." Hmm, yeah. I guess I disagree with the assumption, common and foregrounded among many practicioners of the genre, that the work is somehow more open and free than, say, painting, sculpture, or photography. This (to me) forced emphasis on freedom, generosity, and community seems coercive, hence unfree. So I have gained a reed mat, a taco, my name engraved on a grain of rice, some brief lip-locking with a stranger, etc. But at the cost of feeling vaguely co-opted by the structure that provides the freebie.

I like Santiago Sierra's work a lot. I guess he might technically be classified as practicing relational aesthetics.
- CJB (guest) 6-26-2007 4:20 am

Like most art, I think it's a good idea to separate the work from the creed. I agree that the relational chit-chat can get pretty sanctimonious, but when those lauded elements actually are functionally in play, rather than just added on as a new kind of 'decorative' gesture, it can be pretty great. I like Santiago Sierra a lot too.
- sally mckay 6-26-2007 5:24 am

Charles Reeve, formerly of Art Papers, now Curator of the Gallery at OCAD made some comments that were pretty damning of things relational in the recent issue of ArtLies. He, among others was asked to respond to the question " Does the 'cult of personality' diminish our ability to think critically?" His entire answer is germane so I'll just put the link down here for you and quote this bit that relates to CJB's remarks:


"The straight line, Lyotard proposes, has been lost in a cloud, a diffuse cluster of options (good, bad, indifferent) that obscure our vision rather than illuminate our path. On this conception, events and possibilities drift through ever-shifting arrays rather than aligning chronologically. This strikes me as being as true in the art world as anywhere else, if not more so. For example, if we consider how performance art has changed since the early ’70s, we might decide that the “cult of personality” rules the art world, complete with publicity assaults, audience-pleasing spectaculars and profit-producing merchandise. Vito Acconci and Valie Export, who presented themselves as no one’s idea of a dreamboat in their landmark performances of the late ’60s and early ’70s, are far from Vanessa Beecroft’s fashion models and Navy SEALs (a point highlighted by the “Fresh Acconci” videos that Mike Kelley made with Paul McCarthy a decade ago). The art stars of the ’80s are back, or perhaps they never left."
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-26-2007 3:50 pm

I sort of bristle when institutional curators employ the Royal WE. (suspecting that they are really speaking only to other curators) But I come from the pov of someone who's been generating group shows among artists for years. I don't recall anyone mentioning that the next Persona Volare show would be so great if only we could slip in some work by Rodney Graham.
- L.M. 6-26-2007 6:52 pm

What are you talking about LM?
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-26-2007 6:55 pm

The cult of personality is generated by institutional curatorial career needs. (and collectors who need to perpetuate the value of their investments)
- L.M. 6-26-2007 7:03 pm

Do you see Reeve's remarks as disingenuous?
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-26-2007 7:10 pm

No, not totally, as this last paragraph points out, he's aware of the bind he's in:

"So my sense that capitalism is inadequate for lauding artists I like presents the same difficulty as deciding that English won’t cut it. I can decide not to speak capitalism just as I can choose not to speak English. In my present context, however, both choices mean that I won’t be heard. So I must make my decision with that limitation in mind."

But this is a professional quandary, and so it's self perpetuating among himself and his colleagues.
- L.M. 6-26-2007 7:33 pm

I also think that a lot of the paid arts professionals in various institutions should start asking themselves, is this curating or is this shipping & receiving?
- L.M. 6-26-2007 7:35 pm

Laconic LM: I also think that a lot of the paid arts professionals in various institutions should start asking themselves, is this curating or is this shipping & receiving?

CJB: ROTFLMAO! D'accord! Sally, any chance of emoticons on this thing?
- CJB (guest) 6-26-2007 8:14 pm

No way dude, gotta revisit your ascii skillz.
- sally mckay 6-26-2007 8:41 pm

"Is this curating or is this shipping & receiving?"

That's a good definition of a universal problem.
I've often felt like what happens in the New York galleries (or any gallery businesses, not just here) is a power thing determined by what you can afford to ship and insure.
For some nouveau riche the ability to crate and ship expensive objects is a way to announce "I'm in the game." Until they either bludgeon their way to more prominence or run out of money. (The latter being a demonstration of newfound power through excessive generosity, a la potlatch.)

This is pathological, but curators inherit these problems when they try to get "A" list objects for their spaces. Intentionally or inadvertently they internalize the values of dealers and then, like Reeve, whine about it to keep their non-profit bona fides.
- tom moody 6-26-2007 9:02 pm

Having said that, I do believe that there is "A" list art and one should find ways--begging, borrowing, stealing, conning artists with promises of greatness--to get it in your shows. And if you should be lucky enough to score, or unlucky enough not to--just don't talk about it.
- tom moody 6-26-2007 9:07 pm

I'm surprised that AA Bronson's name has not come up in the Toronto art stars conversation. From the states, at least in New Media circles, he's probably Toronto's best known artist.
(Even if he lives in NYC now, he seem inexorably linked with Toronto.)

I shared the makeout room queasiness but I actually really like the piece in retrospect. It made the "high school cool crowd vibe" content instead of behind the scenes subtext. Deciding not to make out does not mean you did not participate, the art moment in that piece lay in the decision to kiss or not, not in the kissing itself.
I like how the kissing room implicated me in the erra we are in. I would think "if this were the 60's I'd probably be in there kissing some stranger". Rare that a piece so succinctly implicates you in the more conservative times that we are in.
This use of coolness as a tool reminds me of Art Club 2000, another group that made some very memorable clever work.
art club image
- joester 6-26-2007 9:25 pm

Tom's comment brings to mind an incredible missed opportunity perhaps from a total lack of imagination on the part of the Art gallery of Ontario several years ago.

A Cindy Sherman Exhibition was shipped and received by the AGO, and it would have been the perfect time to curate a simultaneous show of the American born Suzy Lake (who has lived in Canada ever since the 70's as she was the first woman to get refugee status as a resistor during Viet Nam war). I mention this because her practise predates Cindy Sherman's and is acknowledged by Sherman as a major influence on her work, plus the gallery & the media made mention of this influence often enough.

In other words, I want a context for the "A" list. Makes it all more interesting.

joester, I would have loved to be among the great art in the 60's but I recoil at all the hugging during that cultural period.
- L.M. 6-26-2007 9:48 pm

I too like LM's comment about 'shipping & recieving'; it reminds me that the AGO's current show of stuff from the V&A is obviously a rented package show, since the highlight is a Da Vinci notebook which was here in 1998 as part of a show of stuff from the V&A at the ROM. The ROM show included objects from the 1990s (a pair of shoes Naomi Campbell fell down in) whereas this one at the AGO is limited to the curatorial context of the mediavel. It's nice to see Da Vinci notebooks are being rented as fill in the lead up to their shut-down/reboot in the autumn.

I'm also remided of what Allysa Firth-Eagland's boyfriend told me in February, (and since this conversation began as a way of questioning what's going in the Toronto scene) here paraphrased: orginally from Finland, he was disapointed by the art scene in Toronto, and said that in Europe one show can cascade into others (shipping&rc) whereas it seemed here everyone had to constantly start from scratch and re-invent their aesthetic moustraps. Artists have a hard time building any sort of momentum and people instead seemed focused on the bright flash of stardom - the economics of the blockbuster weekend opening figures translated into the art world ... make a big impression that you can coast on, and try and try again when it doesn't work (rather than a slow build up fostered from development).
- Timothy C (guest) 6-26-2007 9:49 pm

It's the regional galleries that are originating and cataloguing the touring shows, (with smaller budgets than the blimped out Toronto institutions, its fucking admirable)
- L.M. 6-26-2007 9:52 pm

I really understood the gist of Reeves remarks to implicate both the bloated shipping and receiving and (while we're at it RENOVATING, RENOVATING, RENOVATING!) gallery/museum at the same time as the language of relational aesthetics and even their happenings and parties themselves as having become too easily appropriated by corporate and governmental agendas.I thought his comments, despite the use of your despised ROYAL WE really did point out a conundrum the comments in this thread have almost all touched on so far.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-26-2007 10:44 pm

Anyway, let me be the first to say I do think it would be great if Persona Volare did something with Rodney Graham. How come I didn't think of that before?
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-26-2007 11:16 pm

Sorry, I'm dashing in and out here today cause my attention is overloaded elsewhere. J., I can't see where in Reeve's piece he is addressing a relational aesthetic.
- sally mckay 6-26-2007 11:31 pm

"Which is to say, on one hand, the whiff of Guy Debord’s chiliasm haunting the injunctions that art and its institutions be spectacular never has seemed so apt: the more expensive your museum, the more ravelike your exhibition, the better. Thus, roars of approval greeted a recent all-night art fair in Toronto, so unimaginative that its organizers could do no better for a name than steal the title Nuit Blanche from a similar event in Paris, so juvenile that they could describe it no more compellingly than as a “contemporary art thing.”
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-26-2007 11:35 pm

Seems to me he's talking pretty specifically about spectacle there. Very sorry, gotta run off again...will be back later.
- sally mckay 6-26-2007 11:38 pm

Doesn't that speak to your remarks about the Instant Coffee Diaspora?
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-26-2007 11:39 pm

Rodney will have to pay his P.V. dues with a good potato salad at our next BBQ, and he'll also have help Rebecca and Lyla with the grant writing.


(I'll need an inventory of his power tools to see if there is anything I want to borrow)
- L.M. 6-27-2007 1:13 am

Should work LM.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 3:56 am

I agree that the AGO really missed the boat with the Cindy Sherman show and its obvious connection to Suzy Lake... however I never got to the AGO as the ad in Lola was all messed up. I guess sally was taking names.
- bunnie (guest) 6-27-2007 9:10 am

Bunnie! augh! The first time you pop up on this blog in years and it's just to torment me. LOL. Yes, the AGO took out a full page ad in Lola. That was astonishing enough, but even more newsworthy is the fact that, while doing the layout for the magazine, I somehow deleted the 3-inch high words "CINDY SHERMAN" from the ad, which none of us noticed, and then we published it with a nice big blank space. Hey, it had her picture, what more do you want? Humility, humility, humility.

That bit of drama was nearly surpassed a few years later, when, through a weird layout mishap, I accidentally added the text "excuse me while I kiss this guy" to someone's ad. It was placeholder text for an earlier design idea, white on white, that was sitting invisibly on the page before the ad was placed, that then fit in so perfectly with the design that I assumed it was part of the ad, completely forgetting that I'd put it there myself weeks earlier. Riotous good times. Humility, humility, humility. Thanks so much to Bunnie for reminding me.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 6:00 pm

J., yes I see what you are getting at now. But I think there's a difference between party-as-art and party-as-outreach. Also, getting away from IC, so much of relational art has nothing to do with parties, and is actually quite anti-spectacle, so I didn't make the connection. I'd say IC is anti-spectacle too. The whole aesthetic is much more like a basement rec-room than a rave.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 6:04 pm

But I think there's a difference between party-as-art and party-as-outreach!!!!!
- J@simplsposie (guest) 6-27-2007 6:09 pm

Timothy, I finally erased your dupe.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 6:12 pm

J., I don't understand what you mean by all those exclamation points.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 6:13 pm

I'm just thinking about art as a party - something like Warhol's Factory and flipping it over to think about it as outreach - and suddenly Valerie Solanas seems like a civil servant. Hence, !!!!!

- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 6:24 pm

Oh, that's funny!

Do you put Nuit Blanche in an art-as-party/party-as-art category? I didn't see it that way, myself, although certainly some of the artists' projects within the festival had other relational aspects to them.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 6:32 pm

What I think about Nuit Blanche is that it may have contributed to the quote unquote demise of TAAFI. Maybe that is as it should be/ maybe not...but I do wonder about it. It is a cliche to say it but corporations and our civic government have tapped into the artworld's ongoing quest for alternativity and appropriated it's language creating a milieu that is supersaturated with reach out and touch me art festivals. Whatever their individual merits in the end - it is not all bad but I feel wary of it. 'Cause meanwhile LM says shipping and receiving and renovating goes on much as usual, pretty much uninterrupted.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 6:57 pm

I really don't get that connection that you are making between Nuit Blanche and TAAFI's end.
- L.M. 6-27-2007 7:02 pm

TAAFI was great compared to the concurrent TIAF. But coming on the heels of Nuit Blanche as it did last year it seemed lackluster. Was it that way because it sucked? Old hat? Or could it be possible that the milieu is getting too saturated?
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 7:14 pm

Nuit Blanche was not a trade show. TAAFI is a good trade show, but a trade show nonetheless.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 7:29 pm

I don't think there is any connection between the two events. Most of the venders at TAAFI that had purchased booths in TIAF as well, chose only to rent at TIAF the second and third year. Money walked in that case. (and as I recall, the petting zoo at the Royal Winter Fair held more appeal to me, but that was love talking, ...or, perhaps food pellets being traded for love)

I saw no comparison between Nuit Blanche and TAAFI.
- L.M. 6-27-2007 7:30 pm

Nuit Blanche was not a trade show. TAAFI is a good trade show, but a trade show nonetheless.

Well, we disagree and that is fine with me. I can live with that. I think all art is for trade. Art that doesn't circulate's got problems.


pellets being traded for love

before being led to slaughter...
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 7:43 pm

from the farm to the fork.
- L.M. 6-27-2007 7:46 pm

from the belly to the toity
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 7:48 pm

you said 'toity'! LOL. I think this thread is winding its way down....down...
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 7:53 pm

Guilty. I did say toity.
But I hope the thread's not over because I was just about to upgrade the fire colour.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 7:59 pm

do it! do it!
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 8:02 pm

'All art is trade' works for me, and who will I pay with my precious attention.

- L.M. 6-27-2007 8:06 pm

I don't think it's trade in itself. But I do think it is always FOR trade and it can obviously be exchanged for lots of things - gold, your precious attention - what have you. I didn't so much make a connection between TAAFI and Nuit Blanch as I suggested Nuit Blanch had most likely supplanted TAAFI as an art viewing "alternative".

ok now i will update
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 8:16 pm

For once, I wasn't being facetious. Attention has great value.

(but damn it I wanted the upgraded fire colour)

- L.M. 6-27-2007 8:26 pm

you two are almost starting to sound like a couple of commie relational aestheticians! (yet again, I concur)
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 8:34 pm

I relate this last bit to what CJB said earlier:

re: relational aesthetics as "a genre like any other." Hmm, yeah. I guess I disagree with the assumption, common and foregrounded among many practicioners of the genre, that the work is somehow more open and free than, say, painting, sculpture, or photography. This (to me) forced emphasis on freedom, generosity, and community seems coercive, hence unfree. So I have gained a reed mat, a taco, my name engraved on a grain of rice, some brief lip-locking with a stranger, etc. But at the cost of feeling vaguely co-opted by the structure that provides the freebie.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 8:44 pm

Some artists voiced complaints about participating in some IC events. Their work was more than vaguely co-opted in that case. It's a fair observation to make and the tensions between individual artists and the IC umbrella shadowing them is understandable. (remember, IC did exercise choice in who participated as artists)
- L.M. 6-27-2007 9:00 pm

And how about Nuit Blanche?
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 9:05 pm

With Nuit Blanche, time will tell. (Luminato ran out of time real fast for me) I also saw Nuit Blanche as a more Civic exercise than a relentlessly commercial enterprise. (at least Scotia Bank made themselves useful with the water vending, if L'Oreal had offered to touch up my roots, I may have felt kinder towards them)

This perspective may come from the fact that Jessica Rose was working for the city on the Nuit Blanche project, so I was hearing great anecdotes about the individual project planning.

(my favourite being about Darren O'Donnell's "Ballroom Dancing", where every second kid's play list included a 50 Cent song about pimps)

- L.M. 6-27-2007 9:21 pm

I think its a bit apples and oranges. Am I wrong? Nuit Blanche was never conceived of as an art project in and of itself. It's just a big art festival, like many others.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 9:22 pm

It's a bit like apples and oranges...
It's a genre like any other...
It's just a big art festival, like many others...

Sally, you're nailing it!

- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 9:30 pm

hm. I'm confused. Feels like I'm just stating the obvious...still not sure what the issue is here.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 9:33 pm

back to CJB's comment, there are many occasions when generosity is followed by a surprise invoice, so he has a good point about the ultimate coerciveness of formalised gregarity.

Sally and I had an email conversation about this subject not too long ago. I had to say that I personally fear the occasions where an intellectual understanding and commitment to a sense of community can slip into ideology (maybe because it doesn't come naturally to some people, so the steps are memorized and adherence is demanded)

So maybe I'm not ready to offer a commie aesthetic makeover, (avec colour matching from L'Oreal, Paris) (I suppose that's more 70's Euro communism)

- L.M. 6-27-2007 9:35 pm

The form of a vague call for self-definition.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 9:37 pm

You type so fast LM.

My comment was addressing Sally's last one.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 9:41 pm

Well, coercion sucks, I'll have to agree on that point. But I'm not convinced that it's more prevalent in art practices that are about social dynamics than it is in practices that are about objects.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 9:43 pm

geez. We're all posting at the same time.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 9:43 pm

Oh right, J., ..the original post! I'd forgotten all about it.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 9:48 pm

That would mean staying on topic. Doesn't happen much here and we don't mind.
- L.M. 6-27-2007 9:56 pm

Today's posts are about a launch for the WADE catalogue. WADE, curated by Sandra Rechico and Christie Pearson, is a great example of curation that's committed to community. And here I would draw more connection to Nuit Blanche, than I would with Instant Coffee. Why? Hmmm...I guess because WADE is not about the curators. It's about the participants, and the dynamics that emerge from the experience of encountering art in wading pools. The curators let go of the concept once the structure is in place, and it becomes whatever it becomes. No coercion. This kind of thing can work really badly if its over determined, and the participants feel like there is something they are supposed to be thinking/doing/feeling in relation to the art. But that can happen when you visit the MOMA too.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 10:01 pm

THAT is a good thing. How are VP's negotiations with RG going?
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 10:01 pm

More simultaneous posting sorry. That was for LM's previous.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 10:05 pm

I love the website Learning to Love You More. Again, here I have a feeling that public participation is light and fun and actually desirable, not forced and arch and serving someone else's concept. I admit, it's a fine line!

I think Rodney Graham should only be allowed to show with Persona Volare if he promises to make some giant superfluous structure to display his art. Or maybe he could just come up with a nice tautological narrative construct for the whole show.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 10:08 pm

I think if PV wants to be "generous intergenerationally in encouraging and collaborating" and RG is really on their radar, they should call him up.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 10:19 pm

does that count as collaborating?
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 10:20 pm

I suppose they COULD collaborate unbeknownst to each other. Maybe they have been all these years already.
- J@simpleposie (guest) 6-27-2007 10:24 pm

this has been fun but now I gotta go play outside for awhile. later gators.
- sally mckay 6-27-2007 10:30 pm

OK, but for those who stay inside a lot:

- L.M. 6-27-2007 10:35 pm

- joester 6-27-2007 11:23 pm

Joester, you are a gamer through and through.
- sally mckay 6-28-2007 6:25 pm

INSTANT COFFEE were politically suspect because they discriminated against TEA, the thoughtful beverage for those who can actually think. An endangered species, I believe.
- anonymous (guest) 6-28-2007 11:51 pm

that is funny. "Earl Grey, hot."

The relational discussion continues, with more focus, as usual, over at simpleposie.
- sally mckay 6-29-2007 4:20 am

Now that Sally went over to simpleposie to get pissy over Jerry Saltz , I will now employ a GIF based metering system to measure the contention for that link.


We'll start with this one for the 'alert' level.

And god help us all if I have to use this one:


- L.M. 6-29-2007 7:19 am

oh my golly there's some serious bed time LOLling going on over here.
- sally mckay 6-29-2007 7:54 am

Spammers are loving this one too much, so I'm closing the thread. But don't fret, we'll come up with another subject for a sissy fight real soon.
- L.M. 7-03-2007 7:13 am