Gabrielle Moser has written an interesting post on some issues with community art projects that were brought to mind with Darren O'Donnell & Mammallian Diving Reflex's The Duel in The 'Dale: Parkdale Public School v. Queen West. She indicates that the humour behind using these kids in adult roles might have something sinister behind it.

I'd say that his humour in working/using kids isn't sinister. I know because mine is. I laugh when they fall over. Other than that I don't want to be around them most of the time. That may be why his work exerts a hold on me. I love the controlled anarchy that comes with the illusion of power swapping that he's created.

(Did I just make an argument for that position? I feel tricked.)

- L.M. 6-15-2008 6:13 pm

"I know because mine is. I laugh when they fall over. Other than that I don't want to be around them most of the time."

This made me laugh out loud.

I don't know if "sinister" was the right word when I used it. I think "patronizing" is more accurate of what I was thinking. But your observation about the controlled anarchy that the MDR projects imply by reversing who has the power (from adults to kids) is totally bang-on. I love that about them too - that's why I'm engaged by them and want so badly to be convinced that my pessimism is unfounded in this case.
- Gabby (guest) 6-16-2008 3:48 am

If you can't patronize children, who can you patronize? They're tailor made for it. The child-adult relationship is a minefield of ambivilence and power struggles. (that is if you pay attention to them)

Is it the child exploitation you're worried about? Johanna Householder once pointed out the noble tradition of performance artists exploiting their children.
- L.M. 6-16-2008 4:12 am

It's not child exploitation I'm worried about (I totally understand that, logistically, the kids and their parents ultimately make the decision to participate) so much as the projects being considered collaborative. I'm not entirely convinced that the projects allow the kids to do what they wanna do - to express their experiences the way they want to express them. But I'm starting to understand that may not be O'Donnell's aim in the first place.
- Gabby (guest) 6-16-2008 4:20 am

That's an interesting concern. (but I always thought that children spent way too much time expressing themselves exactly the way they wanted to) I guess that it would never occur to me that it would be an artist's aim (since I am also allergic to art that is helpful). You are right though, some artists can and do position their work as a sort of community service with lofty ideals about the healing powers of creativity and self expression. I'd never accuse O'Donnell of that.

Though I would argue that true collaboration rarely happens when there is such a power imbalance, and that's true among adult collaborations too. Ultimately it is a directorial project, in that Mammalian Diving Reflex cooks up potentially disturbing and hilarious situations that are inhabited by enthusiastic and willing participants. I also mean to say that successful collaborations bring people together, people who's qualities and lack of qualities seemingly compliment each other. Then something obscure happens in the mix so that the whole thing could potentially blow up in everyone's faces with recriminations and tears. (I suppose I'm just projecting now), and the upside is that it can also turn into some glorious monster that no one could have predicted.

- L.M. 6-16-2008 4:44 am

b/t/w thinking about the child-adult dynamic, in a way that just isn't about me not being pestered, brings to mind the late Neil Postman and his wonderful book The Disappearance of Childhood where he, at one point, proposed that it was actually adulthood that was disappearing.
- L.M. 6-16-2008 4:47 am

Really interesting discussion. I've put some thoughts down, cross-posting this comment here and on Gabby's blog...

While Darren O'Donnell talks a lot about fun and feeling good and opening up social flow, I do think there are important provocative elements to his work.

There's a couple of challenges implied in this project. One is the challenge to arsters to acknowledge the largley tacit (as Gabby pointed out) social boundaries in their neighbourhoods. While it's organised in the spirit of fun, and probably will be really fun, the challenge is a real one. O'Donnell says he doesn't want people to feel guilty, and that's a challenge too. It's like saying, "get over yourselves, fellow artsters, there's a wide world out here and we're a part of it."

Another provocation is the notion that kids can do the art content just as good if not better than grown up artists. This is a prod at the art system, and the institutionalisation of art experience. Again, it's in the spirit of fun, but the challenge is a real one. As artsters, we rely on the hierarchies of the artworld, and use them to navigate our careers, so it's not surprising that throwing them into question would induce some resistance.

O'Donnell situates himself as an arster peer, which is a good strategy, but there is still an element of being prodded to do something good for you. Like a mother making her kid go outside and play instead of moping around in the house. And, even if the kid knows it will be fun once she gets outside, there's a inevitable aspect of resentment. And also a valid questioning, who are you to tell me what to do? Darren O'Donnell is not the boss of me.

But O'Donnell isn't twisting anybody's arm. Participate if you want, stay away if you want. And if you participate there are no expectations, you can think what you want as well. He's careful not to suggest that there is some take home lesson we're all supposed to "get," leaving those aspects to the critics!

So when I find myself uncomfortable, I've got to start with my basic resistance to the provocations that are inherent in the work. And I mostly find the challenges interesting and worth the bother. But where I have difficulty is when I start thinking that these provocations are all just part of a Brechtian theatrical exercise. That the main motivation behind the work is to find a contemporary way to break down the fourth wall, and that all of the emotional aspects, the resistance, the fun, the socialising, are just devices to make a theoretical high art moment happen. I really don't want to be an unwitting actor in someone else's play.

O'Donnell shows us that he is himself immersed in the moment and grooving on the content. If I take him at face value, then I assuage this last fear. But I'm enough of a control freak that it still niggles at me. Then again, maybe it doesn't matter. It is what it is, no harm is gonna come to anyone, and I should just get over myself.
- sally mckay 6-16-2008 5:22 pm

For those readers unacquainted with the work we are discussing here, few clips of sweetness:

Ballroom Dancing D.J.'d by kids (an all nighter) from nuit blanche 2006

Haircuts by Children slide show

Come over to the dark side, Darren O'Donnell, Root Canals by Children!
- L.M. 6-16-2008 9:51 pm

Hey I'm glad you guys are talking about this... unsure whether to post here or on Gabby's blog, maybe will copy later.

I've been thinking recently too about projects, MDR's and others, that involve children in something explicitly along the lines of contemporary art making. The other project that comes to mind is Micah Lexier's recent collabo with Colm Toibin and schoolkids on a publication. Toibin wrote an original story for the school, the kids each handwrote one word in the story, and Lexier coordinated the connection.

In both cases, I, like Gabby, feel some misgivings. Maybe that's partly the point, as Sally has pointed out.

To be frank, some of my misgivings might be related to the fact that I don't get along with Darren O'Donnell personally. But I do find his works often engaging and seductive in their openness. What might generate the misgiving, then, all that said, is the question of whether that openness is manipulative or not. I think it is, but then maybe it is manipulation for good or useful result... isn't that what most artists do? There's also an ego thing happening, but that's common to the rest of artmaking (and admittedly writing) as well. "Bask in the reflected glory of me and my good ideas" whether those ideas involve other people's interactions or not, etc.

In the Lexier instance, I have fewer personal misgivings but I really don't know how satisfying it is to be a mass font-producer as these kids were, for some big-name author. Sure, it gets them recognition and better understanding of the conceptual art process, but there's not as much expression. Lexier has played beautifully on the expressiveness of handwriting in past works, like at the Sheppard TTC station. But for some reason it doesn't seem as poignant or effective here.

Overall, it's a thorny issue and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss it. And yes, bring the root canals!
- leah sandals (guest) 6-18-2008 9:49 pm

Hi Leah, thanks for joining in. I haven't seen that documentary My Kid Could Paint That yet, but I bet it ties in to this conversation. I think the use of kids highlights a structural issue in most relational art works, which is the predatory aspect of the artist / people-who-aren't-the-artist relationship. By predatory I don't mean anything more sinister than hungering for meaning, finding it in other people and using it. I don't think it's heinous (just part of the postmodern condition), but I do share your and Gabby's misgivings, and I kind of wonder where it ends.

I really liked what O'Donnell had to say at Gabriel Moser, however, about responsibility: "I've been involved with sort of anarchist conferences that were designed to be self-organizing and often it feels like the organizers are abdicating their responsibility."

I've been in on that kind of thing too, you know, where somebody is clapping their hands and singing out "Okay people, be creative! You can make this into anything you want!" (euuuugh...I just sent a shiver down my own spine)

Anyhow, I think it's important, if you are the leader, to acknowledge it and take on the role. One example of this would be Guillermo Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra. Ego-a-mundo and an enormously generous spirit.

- sally mckay 6-18-2008 10:52 pm

Hey Sally,

Yeah... yucky image you drew there!

I do appreciate that ego is actually a good thing (and necessary, so much so) in leading others. I know, like, I think, what do you want, Sandals, a world of shrinking wallflowers b/c then *you'd* be more comfortable? That's not going to help anybody. So... it's a struggle thing between my misgivings and what I know is interesting and helpful at the same time.

I do think there's a fine line sometimes between generosity of spirit and "let me fix the world because I can't fix myself." I do think that comes up in the scary scenario you described and maybe that's how I feel about MDR sometimes. Maybe also about myself, admittedly.

Oh, all the connections. It's a-mind-and-ego-blowin!

- leah sandals (guest) 6-18-2008 11:29 pm

I've never met Darren O'Donnell, so, as with everyone I've never met, we are getting along great so far.

We've discussed a public audience participatory element in art before on these threads. (not just in terms of community art). I've mentioned before that I had a problem when the participation involves gratuitous grunt work for the fabrication. (I think that it was Peter Schjeldahl who had once complained that it was a tactic to get an artist's audience on-side) That said, being a kid who gets to give adults haircuts and gets paid for it too, sounds like a good time to me.

Closer to home, too close for Sal, is some of Joe McKay's work like The Colour Game and Sunset Solitaire. Joe uses a gaming structure brilliantly and it provides his audience with the potential rewards you can get when you are the artist making something.

(please note, no money or prizes of any kind are meant when I use the word rewards.)

- L.M. 6-18-2008 11:42 pm

Then on the flip side, there's projects like L.M.'s video LM vs. Leni R in which she videotaped other artists wrestling at a Mercer Union fundraiser. By invoking Leni Riefenstahl she makes the predatory aspect explicit. Or Artur Zmijewski's video Them where bringing diverse political and religious groups of people together results in genuine, unresolvable conflict. I love both these projects. It's not the dark side that bugs me but the itchy feeling of something being tucked under the rug.

- sally mckay 6-18-2008 11:44 pm

While doing dishes, I think I've had a breakthrough... one that LM alludes to in her latest post.

What I've been struggling with is this: while I think MDR has great generosity of spirit in artmaking, DO does not have great generosity of spirit in person.

And this is fine. This is life. If I had never met him in person I'd be able to enjoy that generosity in the art much more fully.

It also occurred to me: This is why I did not pursue writing formally (in print or whatev) about the work. The thought came up: should I pitch this? Review this? Write about the work itself?

And of course in that context I thought: No, I don't like the guy, I'm totally biased. So I shouldn't write about it. It was clear.

I guess in this context of blog commentary things (like my thinking) got more fuzzy. I thought it would be useful/entertaining/OK to engage those more personal feelings. But I think I'm just confusing things in the end, both for myself and others.

Thanks for bearing with me tho! - sandals

- leah sandals (guest) 6-18-2008 11:58 pm

In response to Leah's earlier points, I'd have to propose that it's a condition of art that it be contrived and formalized (and manipulative perhaps, but not always.) (Gleefully manipulative works for me: the humour of the trickster that knows that you know that they know that someone's putting something on)
- L.M. 6-19-2008 12:00 am

Ha Ha. Leah! So many artists are assholes, except where it counts.
- L.M. 6-19-2008 12:01 am

LM, I'm glad you brought up Joe's work because it highlights something else. In Joester's projects, the audience gets to play a game...there's a structure around the engagement that is pretty clear and his games (unlike a lot of artists' game referential projects) are actually really fun and work as games. But there's still just him and the audience. In the case of the other pieces mentioned here there are three are groups of people, the artist, the participants/content-providers, and the audience. That gets more fraught.

- sally mckay 6-19-2008 12:02 am

[Gawd, this is my last cross-post, I swear!!! Posted this just now on Gabby's blog]

OK, now that I've read it all, one more thing...

Personal feelings aside, I do agree with Gabby that in a power dynamic between children and adults, the adults always always always have the upper hand.

This is why it is problematic (and selfish in a bad way, I'd posit) to engage children in artworks such as this that promote a particular organization or artist, even indirectly.

If MDR was really all concerned with empowering kids (poor or otherwise) it would address the needs and wants of the children themselves, maybe even individually. Food, love, care, nurturance, space, validation... whatever falls under this category of need.

As it stands (and again this might be getting too personal) but it's very possible in these "performance art" situations that the children are made to act out the adult-in-power's ideas of what an empowered childhood looks like.

Children are, after all (even though they are, of course, individuals in their own right) subceptible to the subconscious wants and needs of the adults around them. Adults are susceptible to those needs too, but at least they have enough autonomy on a basic level to take responsibility for themselves.

This further raises the issue of why MDR didn't engage the adults of colour in the Parkdale community, but rather the children. Would the adults perhaps not have been as open to accepting the kind of onstage, performance-art-related "power and autonomy" MDR was offering?

OK I think that's it for now. Forgive me should I post again!
- leah sandals (guest) 6-19-2008 12:24 am

In so much of what is being discussed here, it seems that many people have a problem with the term collaboration in respect to children. True, for much art, it can serve as a term of convenience (and sometimes an empty endearment). I don't know if there is room in the MDR projects for them to critique this, and I'm not sure MDR should be bearing all the burden of these questions.
- L.M. 6-19-2008 12:29 am

rob fish net

Regarding Art-Projects involving children, we could remind ourselves of the Great Lakes Fish Net Project at Harbourfront. (image by Rob).

(posted by VB via SM)
- sally mckay 6-19-2008 1:56 am

true, this does call into question all projects involving children. even ones with stuffed fish. methinks the kidlets would've rather been doing something else, rilly.

but i think that's a good thing to question, and i'm sticking to it! i know others think about it too, of course, and it's complex but... i guess i'm stuck to my ol' sticking points. (i feel like saying that i should be out on a prairie somewhere, at a salt lick.)

- leah sandals (guest) 6-19-2008 2:11 am

I think I wrote my last comment at the same time that Leah was writing the one above it, because I'm now starting to get what bugs her in some ways.

However I pause at this statement:

"This further raises the issue of why MDR didn't engage the adults of colour in the Parkdale community, but rather the children. Would the adults perhaps not have been as open to accepting the kind of onstage, performance-art-related "power and autonomy" MDR was offering?"
I don't think that sort of switcharoo scenario is a fair tool for appraising what MDR does. (and how did skin colour get in there?) We definitely differ in opinion over what kids might enjoy. I would have loved the fish project when I was a kidlet, because I loved making things. (And beware of the something else that kids might prefer. The disney store at the mall?)
- L.M. 6-19-2008 2:39 am

And don't feel you have to stop commenting Leah. (In fact I'm amazed that we have stayed on topic here. Doesn't happen much on these threads when I'm around.)
- L.M. 6-19-2008 2:47 am

Hey LM,

Yeah... the reason I mentioned adults of colour is that MDR said the artsters he wanted to connect to other communities were "predominantly white" and the kids "massively diverse", with many pics from the events featuring the "of colour" youngsters.

Peut-etre c'est mes propres fautes politiques... but I wanted to spit it out.

Aw.... you should make a stuffed fish. For all the kitties video screening on your blog, @ least! : )
- leah sandals who has not stopp (guest) 6-19-2008 3:09 am

Thanks for clearing that up, I had missed that mission statement about diversity.

(I sure like blog kitties more than I like real kitties. And somedays I prefer pictures of my dog on this blog to the real thing too)
- L.M. 6-19-2008 3:19 am

As a parent, and an artist - i think it's great when kids are part of the "art culture" going on when so often they are treated with disdain at openings or other adult centred places. i know there's no sign saying no children at art openings but if you have one you know how pissy people get if your kid goes under the cheese table and starts to pop out unexpectedly. or how invisible one becomes when accompanied by one. there are alot of programs that are officially sanctioned by the school boards that happen in children centred places -where the kids are being directed and where it benefits the career of artists involved. it's interesting when kids perforate the social spaces not previously available to them, how uncomfortable people get. it's a nice reversal really. and hell - why not have a little optimism thrown in there - apparently if you have enough humans you can lift a 5 ton weight with just your fingers.

p.s L.M. eats mini pita grape sandwiches and talks to my kid like he's a human. i've seen S.M. do it too.
- myfanwy (guest) 6-19-2008 12:38 pm

I was on a plane somewhere over Manitoba when this thing got its second wind, so I'm just catching up now. I'm really glad Leah joined in and articulated (much more eloquently and clearly) a lot of what I've been trying to wrap my head around for a while now.

I think I'm really caught up on the power dynamic that I see implicit in the involvement of kids in an adult-designed spectacle. That word hasn't come up yet, but it accurately describes an aspect to this that totally irks me - the temporary nature of the power reversals and child performances and the fact that an audience, separate from the participants, is so central to the MDR projects. Maybe that says more about me than it does MDR. I really liked what Sally said about the difference between the MDR pieces and the recent Lexier project about the structure and the use of audiences: "In the case of the other pieces mentioned here there are three are groups of people, the artist, the participants/content-providers, and the audience.

That gets more fraught." I think that's a fundamental difference between the Harbourfront fish project, for instance, and the MDR projects. When the audience is invited to directly participate in a project or with an artist, there seems to be more of an even playing-field. But when there are participant-performers and then a separate audience watching these performers, there's an added layer of spectacle and objectification (for me at least). It reminds me of something Martha Rosler said about not photographing people in her Bowery series: that representing marginalized people "rarely serv[es] the purpose which (presumably) its makers intended – namely, to gather public support, to generate outrage, and to mobilize people for change. Rather, I argued, documentary photography may inadvertently support the viewers’ sense of superiority or social paranoia. Especially in the case of homelessness, the viewers and the people pictured are never the same people. The images merely reproduce the situation of ‘us looking at them’.”

Why is it that with the MDR projects, we are watching the Parkdale kids in a spectacle? Why, if O'Donnell wants to interrogate the role of the artster and the separation of these two communities, is there not more of an equal amount of active "looking" or watching one another going on? (I guess, in some ways, the Parkdale kids get to watch the spectacle of the artsters stumble drunkenly through their neighbourhood, which reverses the "us looking at them" to a degree).

But I also liked when Leah said "it's very possible in these "performance art" situations that the children are made to act out the adult-in-power's ideas of what an empowered childhood looks like." And this is the "something" that rubs me the wrong way in all collaborative, community-oriented performance works: when the people (artist, community organization, museum, gallery) in control of setting the parameters of the project are the ones who constitute what the "community" they are involving looks like and who is a member of it, often excluding tensions or discrepancies in how the actual community operates in order to communicate their notion of how they think this community operates in larger society or discourse. I think self-actualized or self-selected community groups in participatory art manages to side-step this issue, to a degree. Miwon Kwon talks about this alot, very articulately, and is my homegirl on the topic.

Zmijewski's Them is also a great counterpoint, because it hinges on the messiness of community formation and how there are sometimes unresolvable conflicts and internal contradictions within and between community groups.

And, finally, I also think I'm maybe being a little hard on MDR and am cautious about making them and O'Donnell the straw man for everything that is wrong with participatory community art. I don't think he's trying to resolve all of these potentially unresolvable issues with the MDR projects, or trying to fundamentally change participatory art practices. Maybe it also has to do with a difference in approaching these things with a theatre background as well? It seemed like, in much of O'Donnell's commentary, that he is trying to position himself as a kind of "director" in these performances moreso than as an artist.
- Gabby (guest) 6-19-2008 12:53 pm

apparently i wasn't finished babbling.

just to bring it back to the idea of whether its collaborative - there are so many different models of collaboration out there, and even when adults are collaborating power related issues enter into the playing field. (race, gender, economic status, knowledge base, education, 238439 other things)

when i'm working on say, building a robot with my kid - i share my own knowledge with him, and he's able to make decisions based on the parameters that are needed for the robot to function. he also shares his own wisdom and design desires and i consider them, and offer suggestions choices that will still allow the work to function. so i imagine it's working within a specified algorhythm - but if it remains an open data set determined by the creator all sorts of interesting things can happen and i think it can still be collaborative even when there are structures to adhere to. i see this process as collaborative although some might think it's teacher/student.

i also think since children hardly play in alleways or parks or anywhere outside by themselves anymore - (which is a whole other weird phenomena) that it's great to have these kinds of discussions while they are increasingly entering other spaces.
- myfanwy (guest) 6-19-2008 12:59 pm

p.s. apparently my spell checker isn't collaborating with me? gah.
- myfanwy (guest) 6-19-2008 1:46 pm

Please check out the entirety of the Parkdale project, there are a lot of individual projects and events that cover some many of the concerns brought up here. There's stuff that's pure participation, stuff that doesn't involve audience, some that barely involves art and is just about hanging out together, stuff that involves giving the opportunity for the kids to be a spectacle and strut their stuff. You should have seen Dana Liu kick it at the Gladstone with her 2 solo violin pieces (she's level 2 suzuki). Parents are involved, too; her mom was superproud.

Many of these posts just focus on the ones that have got all the press.

I can get you guys the catalogue/brochure thing we made, it has them all.

and sorry, Leah. But I think I'm more of an idiot than an asshole. In any case, I like you.

- Darren (guest) 6-19-2008 3:44 pm

last sentence wasn't clear.
I do apologize for often being an idiot and occasionally an asshole. I can be quite a jerk.
- darren (guest) 6-19-2008 3:48 pm

It's great to hear from a parent, Myfanwy! Personally I think any art opening I've ever been to would be greatly improved if there were kids popping out from under the cheese table and scaring folks.

It's been a good discussion about relational issues, but I'm agreeing with LM and Gabby that we can't put all these questions on MDR's doorstep.

Good reminder, Darren, that we should see the actual art.

As I was going to sleep last night I was thinking how glad I am that there are all these smart women talking about Canadian art together online, here, at Gabby's blog, at Simpleposie and at VoCA. Cheers!
- sally mckay 6-19-2008 4:40 pm


Leah didn't call Darren an asshole (though I should let it stand, since I love sissy fights.) That was me stating that so many artists are assholes.
- L.M. 6-19-2008 5:44 pm

And for the record, I've tried to ignore Myfanwy's son, but he keeps on sidling up to me to hold my hand.
- L.M. 6-19-2008 6:12 pm

There are a lot of things going on in MDRs work, some of it even contradictory.

Leah, my first intention is to have a good time, make some friends and make something interesting happen. It's in pursuit of "interesting" that I engage with stuff like power dynamics and equity and stuff like that. Any attempts to 'change the world' are grounded in the very selfish and, to my mind, clean intention to change MY world, to make MY world feel differently. I do this stuff first and foremost because it's fun for me. But, on the other hand, I think that the work that MDR is doing worth doing and I am hoping that others are inspired to work in similar ways.

And I disagree with you that adults "always always always" have the upper hand. During these projects, we are totally dependent on the participation of the students who are usually free to walk away anytime they want. There is a great onus on us to provide something that they want to engage with and to work with them in a way that keeps them coming back. They have the very large power to withhold their participation and we have bored the occassional kid and they simply walked away. I NEED their participation much more than they need me. Without me, they hang out at home and enjoy life, without them, I hang out at home and feel like a failure.

And I'm confused as to why it's selfish for MDR or myself or Natalie De Vito to be promoted for this work we're doing. What's wrong with acknowledging that people are doing good work with children? Why wouldn't you want to promote that all the more?

As for empowering children. We never make that claim. We just say Haircuts by Children is ABOUT children's rights, not the manifestation of children's rights. It's a performance, never anything more than that. Would you criticize a novel about these issues for not addressing actually individual children? We're just artists making work about the world around us, why is it so selfish to discuss an issue without having all the answers and means to solve it? And why shouldn't we benefit from doing this kind of work?

And we're not even representing empowered children, as such, we're letting kids do something they love doing, asking adults to trust them and generating an atypical social dynamic that suggests or performs other ways of being. So many of the things you are attributing to our work and knocking down are simply things we don't claim or, for that matter, want to do.

We didn't engage with 'adults of colour' in the neighborhood because none of them are students and Parkdale Public School, where we were doing our residency. But we do engage with the kids parents, they attend our events and get involved in our stuff. The description of the diversity of the kids vs. the whiteness of the artists is a demographic fact. That we are working with these two populations is because we find them both fascinating. We didn't approach any adults to do the project because that's simply not the project. Working with the school evolved from the initial idea of Haircuts by Children - it went well, we wanted to expand it.

But, having said that, I do work with adults and adults of colour in other projects and many are happy to participate. But, even if I didn't, who cares? We're working with those kids because we live there and they're kids because Haircuts by Adults just wouldn't have the same ring.
and check The Scars of Pakistan on the home page.

- anonymous (guest) 6-19-2008 8:52 pm

oops, that was me, Darren.
meow, hisssssss!!!
- darren (guest) 6-19-2008 8:53 pm

Thank you Darren, and when you organize Sobey Award jurying by children, I am so fucking going to win that one.


- L.M. 6-19-2008 9:32 pm

Interesting... was just at a meeting about a possible Toronto version of the Children's Choice Awards and your comment makes me think that the awards needs to be substantial enough to make a real difference to the winner's lives. That would be cool!

Now if you win it there will be accusations of jury tampering. Among the usual accusations.... : )

- anonymous (guest) 6-19-2008 10:46 pm

The critics and the other competitors can eat shit and die because I am unstoppable.

- L.M. 6-19-2008 11:03 pm

I actually would love to see MDR let some kids curate a show at Mercer or somewhere else in the city. I think that would be amazing (and potentially full of L.M. gifs).
- Gabby (guest) 6-19-2008 11:09 pm


I am Master of Puppets. (and yeah, I'm talking to you Bill Burns) That show will be up at Mercer for ever and ever.
- L.M. 6-19-2008 11:32 pm

"and sorry, Leah. But I think I'm more of an idiot than an asshole. In any case, I like you"
urgh. slime. I'd stick with your opinion, Leah.
- guest (guest) 6-20-2008 1:08 am

Hi guest. This has been a pretty good thoughtful thread, complete with glitter dogs and puppeteer kitties, and some people have really put themselves on the line for the sake of the discussion. I'm not liking the anonymous jibe.
- sally mckay 6-20-2008 2:36 am

yo, guest, I've always liked Leah and do believe that I can be somewhat of an idiot. Why is that so slimy? Anonymity has it's own particular grease, no?
- Darren (guest) 6-20-2008 5:14 am

The one thing I can't get out of my mind is Leah's absurd and Manichean suggestion that adults always always always have the upper hand. It pisses me off because it's so patronizing to kids and so characteristic of an easy political position that is willfully blind to nuance in the service of demonizing whoever happens to have tripped her hair-trigger sensitivities.

So in a spirit of fun and learning I hearby publicly challenge Leah to take a few of MDR's young collaborators on a field trip to the Science Centre. We'll fund the expedition, including transportation, entry fees and lunch. If Leah survives an encounter with 9-year-old Tashi and is still convinced she's got the upper hand, I'll eat this blog and the computer it's written on.
- darren (guest) 6-21-2008 1:37 pm



Eating the blog should be enough of a challenge, lay off our computers.
- L.M. 6-21-2008 4:59 pm

well, I was actually thinking of my computer because, it seems to be written there every time I obsessively check this blog.

- darren (guest) 6-21-2008 10:50 pm

I hope it didn't feel like too much of a public flailing. It can't be easy to stage a large event while, at the same time, answering questions/defending what you're doing on this site & Gabby's.
- L.M. 6-21-2008 11:00 pm

- anonymous (guest) 6-22-2008 1:25 am

i SAID "i
- what the hell. it edited out t (guest) 6-22-2008 1:25 am

ha. ok seriously i'm trying to write "i heart darryl o'donnell"
and it is getting rid of the less than character and everything after it. sorry for the multiple posts of missing letters.
- what the hell. (guest) 6-22-2008 1:27 am

it has been super-stressful. There's been some actual slander on another blog (legal action was threatened and it was removed) and other annoying stuff that I don't want to get into here. I don't know if it's worth it and I'm starting to think about wrapping up this work with kids. I'm too much of a target and the effects of the stress on my physical health are piling up. I could ignore this kind of stuff, but I'm not comfortable with the misconceptions and mischaracterizations. And it's quite disturbing to hear people you like publicly saying they feel your spirit is less than generous.

- darren (guest) 6-22-2008 1:29 am

It's not just the kids, it's the nature of this peculiar and fast platform.

The painter Barbara Lea was run through the gauntlet on this site last year. It was uncomfortable because I had problems with the work, but I really respect and admire her personally. (more so after reading her responses)

- L.M. 6-22-2008 2:13 am

And isn't it more disturbing when people you can't stand love you and your work?

- L.M. 6-22-2008 2:16 am

The brilliant Diane Borsato weighs in. (scroll down)
- L.M. 6-22-2008 4:03 pm

Following up on L.M.'s comment, I also wanted to say how much I appreciated Darren's ongoing responses and openness to this debate. The discussion has made me re-think the MDR projects in a new way and I've been really grateful that so many interesting and articulate people have shared their views, both here and on my blog.
- Gabby (guest) 6-22-2008 5:27 pm

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- Otheclili (guest) 1-30-2011 4:19 pm

That's a keeper.
- L.M. 1-30-2011 4:58 pm

ah, memory lane.
- darren (guest) 5-29-2011 11:10 pm

just working on a book about working with children and came back here to refresh my mind. lots to say. but not here/now. later. hope you're all well.
- darren (guest) 5-29-2011 11:16 pm

It was fun to re-read this thread too. All is well.
- L.M. 5-30-2011 1:37 am

ditto. Good luck with the book!
- sally mckay 5-30-2011 3:20 pm

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