Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hot Potato Pass It On

Dear Friends,

47 is 17 months old!

For our Sweet 16 we celebrated Dennis Lin’s no. 1-60, and for our 17th we’re taking a new direction!

Since the garage doors rolled up in April 2009, 47 has been used as an alternative exhibition space for large-scale sculptural and installation-based works. 47 was initiated not only to challenge artists, allowing it to affect their practices, but also to question the relationships that revolve around art. The accessible space empowers the viewer and provokes clever intellect and emotion.

At 47 art could breathe without pretense and artists could exhibit
without costs. Month to month 47 has changed, successfully evolving with the work. Your support has been paramount throughout this process.

For our 17 month anniversary and onwards 47 will become the home of both Jaclyn Quaresma and Dennis Lin’s studio practices. This change is not something to morn but something to celebrate. We’re not going anywhere. We’ll still be 47 Milky Way, but everyone grows up, and now it’s our turn.

Care to take our place? Hot potato pass it on.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Big News

Today was the last "official" day to see Dennis Lin's No. 1-60 but tomorrow is the de-installation and everyone is welcome to stop by and see how it's done!

This Monday we've got some big news from everyone at 47! It's HUGE and we're really excited about it and can't wait to share it with everyone. If you're hoping for a hint, it's not going to happen you'll have to wait until Monday. Stay tuned!

Enjoy the sun,


Friday, July 23, 2010

Gallery Views

Recently I had some time to take a few shots of the gallery and Dennis' work. Below are some of the highlights.

I hope you enjoy and feel free to stop by and take some photos of your own. Don't forget, Dennis' work is only up for one more week!

For more images CLICK HERE.


Photo Show

The images documenting the Vice Photo Show at the gallery were finally developed. Say what you will, but I like the fact that they're dark, grainy and under exposed. I'll let the images speak for themselves but I think that they pretty accurately captured the vibe that night.


Saturday, July 17, 2010


We love our artists and enjoy supporting all of their endeavours.

If you liked Philippe Blanchard's psychedelic piece Quest for Fire, then you should go see the 10th Annual Emerging Artists Exhibition "Kuntskammer/Wunderkammer" at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre.
Philippe will be presenting a piece called C
ave Rave which looks every bit as trippy as as his contribution to the "Ancestral Visions" show here in May.

July 23 to August 28
Opening Reception: Friday July 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm.
9 Ossington Ave. (Toronto)

I also want to recommend another artwork in this exhibition by Jo SiMalaya Alcampo called Singing Plants Reconstruct Memory. You touch the plants to make them sing! This was the first contemporary artwork that my mother actually liked and engaged with (mostly because my mother is Philipino and loves plants). Still, it's a beautiful, haunting piece.


What's Luke Painter up to?

Luke is one of five Contemporary Artists representing Canada at the 2010 Biennial of the Americas. Here's a little snippet of the "You Are Here" exhibition at Plus Gallery in Denver:

Luke Painter
Andrew Rucklidge
Alex McLeod
Douglas Walker
Brendon Tang (recent finalist for the Sobey Art Award)

Nice one Luke! Way to represent Canada! 47 is always here to cheer you on.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Heat


To officially welcome summer we recently hosted an exhibit with Vice Canada for their annual Photo Show. It was a really great turn out and the crowd didn't get too rowdy, despite the overflow into the ally (sorry neighbours!). The art was well received by visitors and displayed a good mix of emerging Canadian talent. The underlying theme was summer which went hand in hand with the weather. We didn't have a thermometer so I can't say for sure how hot it actually got, but it was one of TO's hottest and despite the setting of the sun the gallery got even warmer as the night went on.

Vice had a little blurb about it on their site, but I can't seem to find it now so who knows what happened to the link. But don't fret, tons of photos were taken and are being developed as I type! So if you missed out, don't worry you'll get to relive it online really soon!

Much Love,


Friday, July 2, 2010

Day After

Hey Canada, Happy 143rd!

I hope it was full of fun and fireworks! Most of today was spent getting used to the social networking tools we use, setting up new ones, and trying to make it as easy as possible to communicate ideas through them.

If you have an older copy of Vice (last issue I think) look for A A Bronson. If not, watch this great conversation with him on Either way, September isn't far and we can't wait!!!

Much Love,


Friday, June 25, 2010

New Seed


I'm Sean, one of the many new faces floating around the gallery. In contrast to all the chaos that is downtown, it's been a fairly quite day. What better way to start a new chapter than to sit and watch Dennis Lin's n° 1-60 sway in the wind? Today's my first day in the gallery and it's the first chance I've had to really interact with, and appreciate the work on a more personal level. So far the experience has been completely welcoming and fresh! I look forward to many more beautiful summer days to come and enjoying the awesome breeze in the ally!

Stop by and check out the installation, or just pop-in and say hi!

Much Love,

-Sean (SLTC)

Monday, June 21, 2010


Hello Everybody,

Here's a little cross promotion for one of our artists.  Philippe Blanchard (who created the trippy animated installation Quest for Fire from last months show Ancestral Visions) is curating a screening of animated films this Saturday at 8pm at Xpace.

If you loved Quest for Fire (and I know you did), go see Shapeshifters.  And don't forget to stop by 47 on your way there.  We're open 'til 7pm.

for more information visit:


Sunday, June 20, 2010

writing and reading about art

have you seen this?

R.M. Vaughan talks about his experience with no. 1-60 in his July 19th Article in the Globe and Mail, if you happened to miss the paper copy take a read online!

- M.A.S.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Perfect Forms

I've heard so many reactions to the current exhibition, no. 1-60. Some people are struck by the mortality evoked by the piece; others its testament to the life of the tree. Formally, it has been compared to a hanging carcass, a dinosaur skeleton and an undersea creature (my first thought was a petrified shish kabob - probably the least eloquent of the lot).

I've always thought of art as existing on a spiritual, metaphysical plane, and we have to lower it from its naturally elevated position in order to understand it. Like one of Plato's perfect forms zipped into a palpable material. Something is always lost in translation, but much more is gained from the diverse ways in which people apprehend the work...

That said, a question has occurred to me: if a completely different piece of art elicited the same types of associations, but was totally different in its materiality, would it be essentially the same piece of art? (...the same 'perfect form' zipped into two different materials?) Or does the art exist primarily in the material itself, thereby nullifying the question?

It's thoughts like this that keep me up at night.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

I like it because...

Today is my first full day minding the gallery from open to close, it is also my first day living with the work of Dennis Lin, n° 1 - 60  which runs till July 30th. 

So far it's been a refreshing experience. This has come, however, not only from the work itself but from the visitors who have come in the gallery and expressed (very honestly) their first impression of the piece. A gentlemen who came in (after being waved in by another passer by) really sticks with me. He approached Lin's massive structure of maple cookies suspended on metal hooks that hangs the entire length of the gallery, and without saying anything to me wandered around, eyes fixed on the work. He lingering here and there to peak between each section of wood. He seemed transfixed so I didn't bother him. Finally he approached the desk and, looking at me with camera around his neck and baseball cap on said, 

"It looks just like an undersea creature! That's why I like it so much! It's like a big monster!"

I smiled and agreed with him, it reminds me of that too and yes, that is one of the many reasons why it is wonderful. He left without reading anything about the artist or piece, excited by what he found one cloudy Sunday afternoon. 

I like that his reaction made me look at the work again, with fresh eyes (even though the morning had only passed by). I'm sure this could be said of any interaction one has with another viewer in a gallery, but these reminders arrive in a timely fashion, so I'm sure I needed it. The surprise and delight this man expressed was contagious. When he left I got up and walked around the piece again, taking it in. I think it's easy to become a little jaded to the magic that can be evoked by the unexpected. It perhaps takes a shared experience with someone else to re-open our eyes and look again, more closely. 

Come in and share what you think about the work sometime soon. 

- M.A.S. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ship o' Fools

I can't wait to see this.

At this moment, there is a thirty-foot salvaged Chinese junk in Trinity Bellwoods park, with a meticulously detailed interior that deals with the theme of aimless wandering. I love it when art goes far enough to actually create an ulterior world, instead of just suggesting it. Reminds me of Luke Painter's model house that was in Gallery 47 last month.

I think the reason I enjoy immersive art is that it makes me feel like a little kid again. When you are young, everything is so much bigger, and nothing has lost its novelty. As an adult, no matter what size something is, as long as the proportions are 'normal' it generally escapes notice. But making a house that is too large to be a doll house and too small to live in, or plunking a ship in the middle of a city park brings back that old toddler feeling all over again.

And that is why art is so very important: it keeps things in perspective.

Ship o' Fools artists: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller


Friday, June 4, 2010

If a tree falls in the forest, I want to hear it..

When I think of the materials I usually live with - white paper, plastic on electronics, faux wood flooring.. I realize now that I never pay attention to any of these. They are reduced so as to avoid giving any indication of themselves. The blurred out frames that I pass through. I think this unconsciously makes people tired; always looking past the place and substance they are currently in.

But now there is a Jurassic-sized dissected maple tree hanging in front of me. Evidence of growth, possession (by termites), deterioration, quiet grandeur in old age: like the phases of a human life. On one side are knobby, pointed growths. Traces of blue and white chalk from the mill. I would like to know how old the tree is, give it a birthday.

(I would like to know how old my faux wooden floor is, now, too. Imagine knowing that information about all the nameless matter you used in a day...).

I'm looking forward to living with this piece for while.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

The third lands at 47

(The third new and fantastic intern that is).

Hey guys!

Megan here, I'm the second Social Media Intern to be starting my journey at 47 and I'm very excited to be here.

My first few hours at the gallery have been coloured with watching Luke Painter and his band of friends carry out (unassembled for the most part) his work from Ancestral Vision. I'm completely impressed. It seems pretty special to begin my time here at the close of this show, beginnings and ends meeting up in the same space, just your average day at 47.

Today was also great because I got the chance to meet and chat with my predecessor, Megan (not a typo, just awesome). Getting a short while with her was very special, I feel that the torch has been passed and I'll do my best to leave a positive mark here.

More to come!

- Megan A. Skyvington

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ambient Intimacy

A Twitter how-to manual introduced me to the term 'ambient intimacy.' It is probably the first time I've considered an internet term to be poetic. It describes the state of being connected from a distance in a very personal way. Not just having an idea of where a person is and what they are doing, but holding lightly on to another's experience. Always touching by underground wires.

I think that is the way art happens, too. Art rarely comes as a direct experience, but like a connection, offered up for you to put in your pocket and walk away with. And then later take it out to look at, and feel connected to something. The big criticism of virtual social life is that real social life suffers. I prefer to circumvent the issue by thinking of the virtual social sphere as an art thing.

Twitter as a performance piece. Who knew?


Vision Quest: Interview with Luke Painter and Philippe Blanchard

What happens when art embarks on a technologically aided vision quest to inquire into its roots and future possibilities?  Well, you get Ancestral Vision – an animated, psychedelic exhibition on display here at 47 throughout the month of May.  Artists Luke Painter and Philippe Blanchard have re-mixed old and new media in their refreshing, lighthearted take on memory and perception.

An oversized model of a Victorian house projects an animated fantasy of modern industrial silos through stained glass eyes in Luke Painter’s piece From Victorian to Modernist to What?! (2010).  With the help of his father, Painter has recreated a 1/5th scale replica of a neighborhood house from his childhood.  Too big to be called miniature, but too small to be a real house, I’m reminded of the forced perspective set of Psycho at Universal Studios.  

A stark contrast to the subdued and surreal effect of Painter’s installation is the bombastic LED lightshow of Philippe Blanchard’s Quest for Fire, (2010).  A triptych of screen-printed Simpson-esque characters is animated, not in the traditional projected image sense, but through a trick of the eye (and colour theory).  Simply ingenious!  

Although the two artists’ paths have meandered through similar artistic avenues and investigations, taking them from printmaking to animation to installation, through Montréal and Toronto, and from Concordia to OCAD, their practices do not coincide, but rather complement each other. I sat down with Luke and Philippe to talk about these intersections and divergences in their work.  With so much in common, I was surprised to find out that the two have only known each other for a couple of years.  They may have known of each other before, but a Craig’s List ad for a silk-screen exposure unit brought the two in contact.  The connection was reinforced when Philippe requested Luke as a thesis advisor for his MFA at OCAD.  And the rest is history, or, Ancestral Vision…

LUKE PAINTER:  I got to know Philippe’s work over the last two years being on Philippe’s master’s committee. I received a Canada Council grant to do this project, and I had been offered to this show…. And I thought ‘Oh! Philippe should do this show with me too’.  I knew there would be some connections.  We didn’t know how those connections would work out, but I just thought it would be interesting.

PHILIPPE BLANCHARD:  Yes.  Luke brought this up, and I thought it would be a great opportunity.  Also, I had been researching this idea of expanding animation into installation components.  That’s the kind of work I’m interested in doing in my practice, but it’s also what Luke is doing in his work.  Where animation and sculpture and installation combine to create these hybrid forms.  That’s something that I’ve been interested in over the past few years.

FARAH YUSUF:  Can you talk about your interests in print media and animation and how that manifests in your work?

PB:  Actually all the imagery in my work is screen-printed.

LP: I think print does come into the work.  It comes into Philippe’s work physically, and it’s always present in my work in a lot of ways.  I’m interested in the multiple, and things that are ornamented, things that look like their woodcuts.  A lot of my drawings look like they’re woodcuts or engraving but are actually drawings.  And, so, the house is all about repetition and the multiple which is a broader idea that actually has to do with printmaking.  So, I never really get away from that.

When I started animation, I just arbitrarily picked it because when I was doing my MFA, I was doing paintings and they were successful because they were getting sold.  My teachers thought that I should try something else because I was doing fine with that, so I thought, “I’ll try animation.”

Animation is really interesting because it’s this problem solving that can go any way.  I never storyboard anything.  I just start making it and then see where it travels, unlike drawing, where I usually have a good idea of where it is going.

But Philippe has worked commercially with animation, so maybe there’s a different relationship.

PB:  I guess my path has been really meandering.  I studied film, but I always drew a lot. After that, I got into web design, and that got me into compositing work. After that I got into digital media a lot more.  Digital media allows you to translate work from one form to another, and it’s pretty open in a way.  I moved to Toronto and started working for a company called Headgear Animation, and started to move away from the digital toward stop-motion, prop building, and directing.

The show is part of my Master’s thesis.  I wanted to get back into printmaking. I missed the immediacy of working with materials. It’s really physically demanding.  And, there’s something about the smell of it too and the tactile quality of the material you’re working with.  Also, you end up working on something for a while, building it in your head, and it only actually happens when you pull the ink off the paper.  It’s like a huge build-up for one moment of surprise.

It’s the opposite of what Luke was talking about with his animation process.

FY:  I guess the artistic process is more open to exploration and experimentation more so than the rigidity of commercial work.

LP:  I like to use the word “hunch.”  You get a hunch about something and then you dive off from there.  I think that’s important.  It’s kind of insane to think about that in our culture now, where everything’s planned out – to take a hunch on some little thing and then work on it.  The process that Philippe has is interesting.  I don’t think that anybody has done this particularly.  But that came from a hunch in the first place.  I’ve heard it described as ‘studio based research.’

FY:  Both works mix the digital with the physical in truly unique ways. Was it a natural evolution, an easy connection?  Philippe, in your piece the animated and static components are reversed.  Usually it’s the image that moves and the light is static, but instead the lights are animated and that in turn animates the static imagery, where each part of the cycle are ever-present and encoded in a single image.   I get the feeling that you are both investigating or researching your media in order to come up with new possibilities.  

PB: I’ve never really verbalized it, but yes, that’s an interesting way to approach the show.

LP:  I think it’s about trying to find the appropriate connection sometimes.  I think it’s a really good question too, because in the end were trying to marry those two worlds - not necessarily humanizing the digital. What happens with new media work is that the focus is on the new interactive qualities, and sometimes it’s really cheesy.  But sometimes you really want to go with something that’s more evocative.

We talked about the “re-mix” and how remixing this new media with some old media could be interesting.

PB: It’s funny; I never used to think about new media in relation to my work.  I guess I thought about it more in the last couple of years.  As soon as I started using lights instead of a projector, technically I was in new media territory.

FY: Philippe, how did you make the leap from projector to lights?

PB: I used to use a video projector with a DVD, but the DVD only had red, green and blue looping on it. 

LP:  It was hilarious!

PB:  …a really boring movie.  But I was never happy with it… so I went on a hunch, and I looked into DJ lighting.  The colours were way more saturated, and the light just filled up my studio.  It was a more embodied spatial experience. So I don’t think this piece does that as much as it did in my studio, which is a much smaller space.  There, it feels like a club – with the lights pumping.  It’s really intense.

But, it just felt like a different way of working.  It opened up different possibilities.  That’s the part of the process that’s kind of interesting.  I made the jump to a new direction by changing a tool.  And we’ll see where that goes.

FY:  Programming the lights?

PB:  Yeah, I learned Max MSP to program the lights, but it’s really simple looping.  It was fun to learn and figure out.

LP:  It’s interesting with work like that.  There’s all this knowledge that you have, like animation, or the moving image, or whatever it is, and some of these technical things. And then there are these shallow dives into these areas, just as you need them, like programming, right? These shallow dives become a sort of composite toolkit.  Some tools are better than others.

PB:  And there’s deciding when you can actually take a shallow dive, or when you need help and call in an expert.  Luke, you actually took a deep dive into stained glass.

LP:  Yes.  It’s a hunch thing as well.  I don’t why I took it.  I just wanted to take a class, and then I made these stained glass sunglasses because, well, that’s just ridiculous.  And when I started making them in the class, the lady turned to me and said, “What are you doing? You know that’s not going to work, right?  They won’t be UV protected.”  And I said, “I know”.  

The stained glass just sort of fit with this project.  But I was also interested in stained glass because it’s a material that integrated media artist don’t tend to use.  You know, it’s decorative, but also, it’s been described as illuminated tapestry.  I’m interested in all the metaphorical properties, and anthropomorphic qualities of stained glass - the Rose Window is supposed to be the eye of God; how it can be used as allegory – it’s an illuminated surface and that has a connection to the screen, of course.  Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but I see all these connections with this traditional material. 

FY:  Is that the ‘ancestral’ part of Ancestral Visions, then, this revisiting of traditional materials and older technologies?

LP:  Yeah, there’s that trend of looking back at certain early technologies that Philippe has been really interested in.  There’s that connection with stained glass in my work, that looking back – making things that are newish, but then also harkening back to the medium, or in terms of content.  There’s an aspect in my work that I guess I can overtly describe as ‘fan fiction,’ taking a pop cultural image that people recognize and then turning it into an artwork.  It comes across in Philippe’s work too, with the knock-off Simpson characters.

FY: Luke, in your animation pieces you use recognizable industrial Toronto architecture, and then there’s the house from your childhood…

LP:  Well both pieces of architecture were from my childhood.  One’s projecting the other.  The house is a large projector.

FY:  I get the impression that the house is dreaming the animation of the malting silos.

LP:  Yes, well there’s something anthropomorphic about this house with eyes, right? It’s like personalizing this house.  And where my piece is probably more literal in terms of the ‘vision’ part of the Ancestral Vision title of the show, Philippe’s is more visceral.  It can actually affect you if you’re there for quite a while.

PB: Yeah, I had to turn it off during my thesis defense because it was overly visceral.  I thought that was kind of successful - in a sort of sadistic way.  I just find it funny because it’s too intense for people to watch for any length of time.


Ancestral Visions is up until May 31st.  So come by 47 this week-end to see it before it's too late!



I'm Farah, the new curatorial intern.  I'll be picking up the torch where Erin left off. (btw: Erin if you're reading this, I hope you're having a great time and seeing some inspiring art in Europe!)

I'm be here on Saturdays, so come by and chat with me about art.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Why, hello there

Hello all,
My name is Curtis. I'm the new intern. Supremely digging the mellow vibe of this place. It reminds me of my old attic, where I would open the ceiling hatch, and birds would fly in and watch me paint.
No birds here, yet.
Looking forward to meeting all of you,

- CM

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pushing Paper, a bit later

I have come to learn that I need to stack up my desires one by one, or risk the lag time between now and what's next. Surely that will catch up with me one day, but right now I've got my money on a one-way ticket.

Almost one week since our show closed, and not any closer to some validating afterthought. To ask our viewers to stay in the present for a moment, maybe that's all I might ask of myself.

Dear Art,
See you in the city of lights.

Friday, April 23, 2010

47 Presents

Opening - Thursday April 22-25 2010
Performance - Monday April 26 2010
Finale - Tuesday April 27-30 2010

47’s Interns, the emerging curator Erin Trezise and artist Megan Blandford-Lewis, explore shadow as a mark-making medium while commenting on their roles as interns, in the three part exhibition In-Turn: Pushing Paper. Investigating memory and the ways in which traces of the self can be left behind, on purpose or unknowingly, Trezise and Blandford-Lewis play with the desire to record one's presence while using light.

“The viewer's participation plays a vital role in the evolution of this process-based exhibition. We want the viewer to consider the layers of 47 - the spatial changes of shows past and the human mark of working within the building. By exploring these layers we encourage viewer engage in the notion that this type of mark-making act is a valid documentation process in recalling each stratum of the space. We will create a process for remembrance, while acknowledging the fleeting nature of memory.

As we paper the walls we provide a base for shadow to become a body-made mark. The audience interaction in the space becomes paramount, and the walls of 47 become impressionable. This visual moment of the shadow represents a memory and provides physical evidence of the viewer, albeit temporary.

During the second stage we will methodically transform the drawing paper into filed documents, creating the final piece of the exhibition, our version of the show catalogue. The 263 files represent the number of days we have been Interns at 47. Their objectivity plays with notion of the intern. As our role in the gallery is somewhat behind the scenes, the undoing of the paper is an important act to be seen.

Remnants of the engaged viewer and our own labour remains within the space memory of the created pages and the sounds and voices which will fill the space in the third and last stage. The shadows of the opening install are remembered, but perhaps more so filed away than recorded within our catalogue.”

This nine day exhibition allows the interns to crawl out from behind the scenes and take their turn in the spotlight.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Don't complain, don't explain

I have been reading about Marina Abramović and her performance based retrospective The Artist is Present, at MoMA. Watch a live feed here of a new original piece she performs now until May 31.

© 2010 Marina Abramović
Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photo by Scott Rudd

And I was reminded of Lernert and Sander's video How To Explain It To My Parents, 90.

Participating artist Arno Coenen.

Not implying that How To Explain It To My Parents, 90 is necessarily a strong comparison to The Artist is Present, but the aesthetic is strikingly similar and the camera plays a strange yet somewhat secondary role in both. As well, both pieces consider the need to define or resolve one's work, in contrast to remaining tight lipped. For myself this is a an ever present question, especially while tackling the double roles of artist/curator (re- me). As artist I want my work to speak volumes, but as curator I am creating a show, maybe needing a narative of sorts. Alligning both desires is the hard part.

Perhaps Abramović's silent perch underscores the simple need for contemplation in a gallery space. Or, that before begging for answers about performance based art, a deliberate internal moment might reveal explanation enough. While her performances are generally silent in nature and unfocused on persona, for this one in particular she readily places herself in the Artist role. She leaves an opening (with the literal seat) for the viewer in order to cultivate a relationship, and uses a normative table setting as the stage.
But it is with the video component, where the live feed creates a second slightly separate layer, that I am intrigued. The documentation process becomes the channel for viewership, so while it is real time, the viewer is often in fact not present at all. The relationship now has three perspectives, artist, viewer and gaze. The silence between all parties allows for attention to be paid on the body and the emotional presence, or lack of, of the artist. Is it narcissistic? Somewhat. But Abramović's haunting stare is unapologetic (and one would imagine strangely exhausting).

But with silence comes questions. And to me the heart of most conceptual art is the need for a discussion to be born of the piece. Statements and explanations become necessary, and people expect to know inspirations and musings. It seems that Lernert and Sander simply exploit the offshoot dialogue of Arno Coenen's original Eurotrash Brewery Project. I see the conversation as something of an aftershock effect from the initial work, and the film series comes across purely documentary in nature. None the less intimate and engaging, Lernert and Sander provide a controlled environment for thoughtful interaction to occur. How To Explain It To My Parents, 90 seems more stagnant though, as the art being discussed has past, and I the viewer have limited access to it other than what is being spoken of. This is the fundamental issue of performance gone past.

As Abramović's retrospective tackles this question she re-stages personal past works with stand-in performers, mirroring her own re-staging of other artist works (Seven Easy Pieces, November 2005). In interviews she states that re-staging is worth the danger of mixing personalities, as without it there are only photographs and film, which are dead. Abramović believes that perhaps the best documentation for her work is just the memory of the audience. It seems that the memories and the experience of the viewer provides enough explanation for her work.

Someone once gave me the advice, don't complain, don't explain. As artist, to explain one's art seems less valuable than to activate one's art, but dialogue does not necessarily need to be excluded. And as viewer, sure, have beef with art you don't understand, but to hold claim on an explanation is another thing altogether.

Dear Marina,
You seem to have caught the ephemeral. I like it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Turn

Most of my Saturdays at 47 begin by schlepping in some chopped wood from the yard. Nestled in the corner gallery office I start a fire in our woodburning stove. Sometimes Dennis, one of 47s directors, will already have it going for me, but today I am alone. Now sitting next to the silent flames and ready to write, my hands are dirty, soot covers my pale pink nails. Not exactly the gallerina image some might imagine. In the same thought, 47 isnt' exactly what you might imagine as a gallery either.

Prompted by our quickly approaching and aptly titled show In Turn, as well as a few tiny jabs from ArtListPro, it seems that my job title at 47 (intern) holds more (or less, as implied by ALP) than orginally thought. While his posts are now a month old, and he has since addressed many of the general qualms I initially had, I am more focused on his dismissive view of various gallery staff. With our intern show just two weeks away and almost a year as a gallery intern under my belt, I am caught between looking forward and backward as I contemplate my role.

Starting last spring in the Distillery and happily moving West to Parkdale, I have spent just about every Saturday since behind a desk at a gallery, and I really couldn't be happier. And yet ALP implies in #7 of his list of Important Life Changes, that he would rather be anything but an intern, and will work hard to avoid such a fate. And again in #5 of his semi recant-posting on 47 (man this guy likes numbered lists) he slags the intern again, dismissing them as viable connections in the gallery staff. I don't take these comments personally, as I have never infact met Chris Healey, so I assume these are generalizations. But while he explains his writing style is 'classic blog writing', the few times he mentions interns I sense little irony or comedy. Why such an attitude against those at the bottom, especially when you place yourself within similar status? Shouldn't the little people try to applaud one another? This is partly why I still feel it relevant to discuss the posts, from one independant blogger to another.
(Sidebar - the fact that 47 allows us to slap their name onto our intern blog seems pretty clear to me that they too support independant writers, and encourage a dialogue between the public and the gallery. Just my two cents.)

So ALP I thought I might try to explain why I am not such a nuisance for you. Aside from building fires, my main task on Saturdays is to man the gallery alone. Which means I must entice and interest each viewer who finds us down the alley and happens upon our stoop. Street traffic being light, for me each visitor is an opportunity to talk some art, or just shoot the breeze. As ALP wallows, he states that he has become 'someone the intern is supposed to deal with' (implying that the unimportant are carted off to the lowly interns). Does ALP not trust that 47s directors, and assumably all galleries, would not employ staff with whom they do not feel best represents their mandate and their artists, and in reality, themselves?

Between the two galleries I have been employed at, my responsibilities have waxed and waned, but in general the overarching principle remains - the effort I put out is the fuel for my progression, and this progression is as personal as it gets, I am not compensated with money, this is my time which I invest. And from effort sometimes comes reward, so alongside people who are rooting for you to succed comes relationships and connections and hey, my own exhibition. 47 offered up this opportunity to us interns months ago, offering too their trust in our capabilities. Internships are meant to end, they are purposed with an in-between nature, and by that end they are the sum total of an individuals evolution. So if I learned anything from ALP's long winded whinging (props to fellow British intern who taught me this slang), it was his final sentence, about growing up and rethinking.

Dear ALP,
Come chat with me about art? We can sit by the fire that I made. Us interns, we are an industrious bunch when we really get our act together.

Monday, March 29, 2010

"so you could almost tell how many people are in the room"

Cage: Well the most important piece is my silent piece, 4'33".
Montague: That's very interesting. Why?
Cage: Because you don't need it in order to hear it.
Montague: Just a minute, let me think about that a moment.
Cage: You have it all the time. And it can change your mind, making it open to things outside it. It is continually changing. It's never the same twice. In fact, and Thoreau knew this, and it's been known traditionally in India, it is the statement that music is continuous. In India they say: "Music is continuous, it is we who turn away." So whenever you feel in need of a little music, all you have to do is to pay close attention to the sounds around you. I always think of my silent piece before I write the next piece.
John Cage at Seventy: An Interview, by Stephen Montague

'According to Cage, it was seeing Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings that finally convinced him he had to move forward with 4′33″. These paintings consist of a uniform layer of white paint on canvases. In the words of Cage, these paintings “were airports for shadows and for dust, but you could also say that they were mirrors of the air.”'
Ben Judson, Image and Sound: Rauschenberg and Cage

Reflecting the flux of that which surrounds, the blank or empty form is dynamic in its simplicity.
Pushing Paper, we will provide the tools, you make your mark.

Monday, March 22, 2010

undoing the days

'Gregor' designed by Patrick Frey

Dear Art,

One month until In Turn. Making things to become undone. Folding, filing, marking, stamping, here it all comes.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Jordan McKenzie

Simply marvelous.
photo courtesy of


A wonderful word from Luanne Martineau to describe her three-dimensional felt assemblages.

"Hanger and Dangler" by Luanne Martineau (courtesy of Vancouver Art Gallery and

"Portrait" 2006, left. "Parasite Buttress" 2005, right by Luanne Martineau (Courtesy Trépanier Baer Gallery and

From visiting her current show at the Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal the other week, this word has stuck with me, re-enforcing that a drawing can take almost any form - not just a 2D pencil on paper. Although not a literal interpretation of the human form, Martineau's drulptures have a bodily shape and fleshy resemblance that's disturbing yet feminine, tactile, and heavily constructed.

Even Martineau's graphite and thread work on Japanese paper takes on a sculptural form. The drawings are unframed and simply tacked to the wall, allowing the paper to curve away from the wall as a draft sweeps by. This also gives you the desire to touch the work, to physically connect with it in that touchy-feely-textile way.

While mulling this over, I was reminded of the work of Annette Messager who shares this very feminine and soft thread to her work, exploring materials in a child-like inquisitive way. In particular, the installation "Inflated-deflated" uses weightless fabric in flesh tones to create these abstract bodily shapes that expand and contract in a mesmerizing and rhythmic breath motion.

Annette Messager with "Inflated-deflated" April 2009, The Hayward, London, UK (Courtesy of


Only 39 days until our first exhibit at 47! Watch out world - the countdown begins!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cognitive Landscape 1

Interior landscapes on my mind, David Bruce's silent video is strangely peaceful in tandem with the sound of the rain today.

Of Many

Just as the ground has begun its spring thaw, Jackie covered 47 with an ice-like layer of white. Cracking gracefully at first, the delicacy of the handmade surface has gone the way of winter itself, slowly retreating. The rather sudden deterioration reveals a map-like surface, continents and islands coming to fruition. Something satisfies me as I crunch over the floor to and from the door to the office.

Of Many runs from March 12th to April 2nd 2010 at 47.

Friday, March 5, 2010

International Intern

Yesterday I played hookey.
I also played the press card. Free sandwiches and hanging out with Robert Gober, a pretty alright Thursday.

A border hop away, and I arrived at the Burchfield Penney in Buffalo NY for the retrospective Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield. Quick lunch with the curator Gober, and then he drew us in from room to room. I fell in line, pen scribbling away, the academic in me collecting his facts. Pleased by the story, but barely even looking. And then, re-thinking what does it mean to be a part of a press preview tour.

So I looked.
Burchfield seemed interested in painting shifting moments of time. Transitons between seasons, hours of the day, weather conditions - the titles of his works reveal these instants. In these transitory times the paintings become kind of moments of decay, inherent for nature, in the normal day by day. The pieces contain a human quality of longing to understand time, without answer. Gober also described Burchfield's interest in displaying multiple moments in a single painting (The Four Seasons 1949-60), and his practise of revisting past paintings. The watercolours become layered, combining panels of paper into single images. He contexualizes himself. Vatrines, journal quotes, doodles, they all work to build a history, but the works themselves propel his life along.

Shuffling through the show, we are reminded that entire architectural features were inspired by Burchfield's life. The circular rooms a particular desire, as marked by his writings, for a round gallery space to display his paintings. Embedded into one of the ceilings is an orion constellation (Burchfield's favourite) created by gallery lights. Displaying the stars during the day, shifting between night and day, this was my favourite, and not even part of the exhibition.

And then back to Toronto we go. On the bus and wondering, critic or viewer, academia or asthetics. Journalist I ain't, but 47 Representative is something. It is interesting, the private side of the press world, to be guided and explained to. A free art trip is a free art trip, and to see behind the curating curtain was good enough for me.

Dear Art,
Thanks for the swag bag.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Aging Art pt 2

Just an afterthought and a small indulgence, my fav Commute Home.

Aging Art

Found street side and promptly carted home on my bicycle handlebars last summer, three large rusted metal rings now hang on my white bedroom walls. Not an artist, and too broke to buy anything, I just like the crumbling burnt texture of the rust.

My Mother who knows of, and perhaps fueled, my love of all things old and beat up, passed along this article A Rough Idea from the National Post. She wonders to me, is this what all the young people are into these days?

Ferranti-Ballen talks with artist Casey McGlynn about the 'urban decay design trend', running somewhat parallel with the vintage style, with similar appeal just less kitsch. To appreciate the objects for their form and prior use value, to retain their patina and admire their wear - it's all about context. The asthetic is be found by placing the industrial next to the everyday.

I immediately think of 47. The ultimate example of salvaged design with minimal restoration, yet hidden under layers of graffiti, 47 remains true both to its industrial beginnings and its Parkdale persona. The space never apologies for itself, it simply becomes part of every exhibit which sets up home. In fact one of our recent artists Leigh-Ann Pahapill took it upon herself to uncover 47's physical past by buffing the concrete floor, revealing a site of multiple meanings.

Found in the Homes section, this article seems relevant for the design trends of today but objet trouvé sure ain't groundbreaking. The context has changed since Mutt's Fountain , and clearly we are still interested in allowing objects to be more than their initial forms. There seems to be something quite substantial in holding onto a piece of tangible history without a new application or twist. But maybe that's just the romantic in me, less interested in making new. Like Ferranti-Ballen says, people put a premium on the story, and isn't that what most objects are for us, a way to connect ourselves to a time.

Dear Art,
Rust and romance, who knew

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

lines and spaces

Dear Art,

While reading about Monica Gryzmala, (an installation artist that creates energetic drawings in gallery spaces using different types of tape) I came across a phrase used by Paul Klee:

“a line is a point taken for a walk.” How beautiful!

Here are two photographs of Gryzmala’s work.

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

E.T: N.B. At the end of her installation, the work is taken down and therefore only exists in photographs and in the memory of the viewer. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

roses are red, violets are blue

Dear Art,

Today is family day. Yesterday was Valentines day. As I sat at a still and quiet 47, fluffy thoughts of love, affection and family were far from my mind. Facing Dennis Lin's no. 1-60, it was death I was thinking about, not love. As I day dream of an evening filled with cards, roses, and a home cooked dinner, staring at me is a dead tree. However much this installation wows me, and however much I enjoy it, I can not escape the feeling of being in a space that resembles a slaughterhouse – slabs of maple hanging like a fresh kill in a fading winter light.

With this in my rather morbid mind, I think back to the news of Alexander McQueen's death this week. For me, his ability to blur that fine and delicate line between art and fashion has been a powerful influence in my own struggle to successfully blend these two passions. As a part of his 1999 spring/summer collection, McQueen combined movement and mark-making with the human body, all of which are major interests of my own.

Being at 47, feeling an increasing eerie sense of death creep through my abattoir, I found time and peace within the space. Yesterday was Valentines day and yes, there was no tacky love themed show this weekend here at 47 (yet I'm sure if you wanted that you wouldn't have far to go in this city). So rather than conforming to another hallmark holiday, I instead opted to take a moment to reflect and rediscover what it is that makes me love art.

Dear Art,

I love you

Happy (belated) Valentines

Megan x

For a better look at McQueen's Spring/Summer Collection 1999, please click on the link below (about 37 seconds in).
Thank you youtube :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

If a tree falls in the gallery

Last Friday afternoon as final prep occurred for n° 1-60 I was given the task of dusting each of the sixty wooden slices. While the roar of the vacuum consumed the space I spent a good hour contemplating each knot.

Later overhead at the opening, a woman states that she saw this installation as a process of renewal, transitioning from old to new and apparently giving the tree new life. For some seeing Tree as Art Object immediately lends itself to such 'green' ideas, an obvious reminder of how sacred nature should be considered. But as lively as the party got, I personally was unable to shake the darker shadows out of my perspective. Under the dim the piece as a whole evoked a skeletal, even bodily feel. As light shone through each slab, rib-like shadows appeared on the wall and a spine fell to the floor. Tree Memorial, was my take, life and death of the Maple.
There is no hint of recycling or re-purposing. Dennis presents it as it is, both polishing and disconnecting the original form. The tree itself provides its own natural documentation – the rings, which Dennis gives the viewer privy to through his meticulous cataloguing. The tree becomes a presence in the room, its felled position forcing you to imagine its past height and stature.

A week later the early evening light seeps into the gallery, lifting my initial somber view of the piece. n° 1-60 now hangs silently at the end of the day. As voices echo outside down Milkyway, passerbys having no idea that a few feet away a massive Maple rests.

Photo courtesy of Derek Flack