Week 3

Summary of Work in Week 3:

  1. Look at the artworks and videos below

2. Read the article from Canadian Art.

3. Make a banner, hang it, and put a photo and description on the blog. (details below)


LOOK AT: Artists who use text in their work including: Micah Lexier, Lenka Clayton, Laurel Woodcock and Hiba Abdullah.

Micah Lexier:

“Ampersand” is a collaborative installation on the walls of Toronto subway stop Sheppard & Leslie. In this project, Micah Lexier, asked locals to write the name of the station onto the tiles, which he later had installed.
Two Equal Texts sets up the same situation, as each author invokes or points to the other in “his” text. Though one text preceded the other, neither is primary. Lexier emphasizes their equivalence so that resolution to the binary tensions of the work may not be found in the piece itself. It is instead left to the reader, who is positioned within a series of mediating states: between the right- and left-hand columns of the work’s design, between its visual and the verbal tactics and amidst its inquiry into the original and the derivative. From Lined & Unlined. https://linedandunlined.com/archive/at-least-you-can-read-it/
Micah Lexier, Notes-To-Self. 2007, Silkscreen ink on acrylic on canvas.
Laurel Woodcock, wish you were here, 2003
wish you were here (2003), a series of aerial-banner letters, references the popular postcard message. Woodcock draws our attention to ubiquitous phrases and words whose definition we take at face value, and we are happy to find that in a contemporary context, old phrases can be given new life. With her characteristic wit, the artist reveals that nothing is static.”

Image: https://canadianart.ca/news/news-brief-remembering-laurel-woodcock/
Laurel Woodcock, on a clear day, 2010
“Language is more than inspiration for Woodcock: it is raw material, awaiting manipulation and reinterpretation. Rather than invent new phrases or author original prose and poetry, Woodcock explores the ability of common language to become layered with multiple and unexpected meanings; when presented in new contexts, familiar words, symbols and sayings acquire new significance while retaining reference to their primary definitions.
Woodcock treats words as ready-made or found objects, often lifting phrases from songs and screenplays. on a clear day (2010), four sky-blue aluminum panels originally produced for the Toronto Now space at the Art Gallery of Ontario, borrows its title phrase from two films:Gaby Dellal’s On a Clear Day (2005) and Vincente Minnelli’s On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970).”

image and text: https://canadianart.ca/reviews/laurel-woodcock/

Hiba Abdullah: Watch the whole interview below – Hiba makes text works and social practice works – she is also former Guelph grad. She discusses several of her projects pictured below:


2. Read this article from Canadian Art about the word “Interesting”

3. MAKE:

Using the article from Canadian Art above – isolate a few words, or a prhase, or a sentence to make a banner. Each letter should be on a separate piece of paper, and the letters should be strung onto a string or support of some kind. Use any colour, materials, and size of banner, but be ambitious and thoughtful – consider where you intend to hang the banner.

Take your words out of the context of the article, and put them into a new context in your home or neighbourhood. See how the chosen words, the look of your letters, and the scale of your banner affect meaning. See how putting your banner in different contexts expand/inform the meaning in surprising and evocative ways.

Make a banner, hang it up, and document it. Post a photo with a short description on our blog.

Here is a generic “banner” as an example:

Here is one with individual letters, made by a former student:

As always be safe and respectful to yourself and others, and follow public health guidelines. Be creative within the restrictions of the moment.

Week 2: Using Text as Art

  1. LOOK AT: Artists who use text in their work including: Yoko Ono, Jenny Holzer, John Baldessari, Barbara Krueger, Geurilla Girls, and Shelly Niro. And more contemporary examples including: Nadia Myre, Joi T. Arcand, Jon Rubin, Eleanor King, Micah Lexier, Lenka Clayton, Alisha Wormsley and Germaine Koh.

John Balderssari:

  • I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, 1971
  • Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, 1966-1968

Lenka Clayton:

  • Fruit and Other Things, 2018

Germaine Koh:

–        Dear Mercer, 2006
Yoko Ono:
–        Grapefruit, 1964
–        Billboards since 1960s, e.g. Fly, 1996; War is Over, 2008
Jenny Holzer, 
–        Truisms, since 1980
–        Survival Series, 1986
Barbara Kruger, 
–        Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989
–        BELIEF+DOUBT, since 2012
Guerrilla Girls, 
–        Guerrilla Girls Definition Of A Hypocrite, 1990
Shelley Niro,
–        The Shirt (detail), 2003
Joi T. Arcand, 
–        Northern Pawn, South Vietnam, 2009
–        Amber Motors, 2009
Nadia Myre, 
–        Indian Act, 2002
Eleanor King, 
–        No Justice No Peace, 2015
Jon Rubin:
–        The Last Billboard, 2010-2018
  • WRITE: Select TWO artworks from above to write about. Compare and contrast the different ways the artists use media (materials, platform, format) to express their message. How is the medium relevant to the message in each case? How are viewers expected to relate to the text in each case? (Write approx. 250 words).

Shelley Niro, The Shirt (detail), 2003

The first work that I chose was The Shirt (2003) by Shelley Niro. This is a photograph-based artwork from the lens of First Nations people criticizing European colonialism in America and consequences in the present day by parodying tourist souvenir tee-shirts and photographs . An Aboriginal woman is in the center of the work facing the camera, wearing a bandana with the American flag graphic, and wearing the tee-shirt with the texts. An American landscape is in the background of the work, adhering to the takeover and destruction of the land of Aboriginals. Rather than stating where the one or multiple people were visited, it states the impact of colonialism, in this case violence, annihilation, massacring, and that the next generations of the ancestors do not get as much as what the white European backgrounds get. No post-production effects were applied to this image and the materials used in this work already effectively communicate the issues.

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989

Untitled (Your body is a battleground) by Barbara Kruger is the second work that I chose to write about. This is another photograph medium like many of her other works as it features an appropriated close-up of a woman’s face portraying feminism. However, unlike Shelley Niro’s The Shirt featuring a landscape in the background, this work only features pure black and white images with a regular and inverted half, allowing the focus on the woman’s face and texts. This work is also larger than The Shirt as it was created to emulate a poster for the April 9, 1989 Women’s March in Washington for supporting legal abortion, birth control and women’s rights. It also differed from The Shirt as effects were applied to image after it was taken. The key titles within this work are in bold white on red background and hence the march, the small title says “support legal abortion birth control and women’s rights”, while the largest and central title is “Your Body is a Battleground.” Kruger states that pictures and words both work together for rallying and there is a combination of photographs and assertive texts that challenge the viewers.

Tory’s Book Stacks

The Establishment Man
how DO you become a witch?
The Mother In Law

For my book stacks, I wanted to play around with themes and narratives.

I think the first stack combines themes of toxic masculinity with American culture. I was inspired by Trump’s attitude and tone when speaking to the American people.

The second stack was simply the combination of spooky creatures (witches and vampires). The witch book is actually about practicing Wicca, while the vampire book is a fictional novel. I wanted to combine the real spiritual practice with the horrors people think of when they hear “witch”. I also think its formed a fun answer to the question presented in the witch book.

The final stack was intended to be funny. I Think many of us know a mother in law who gives someone anxiety. I liked the phrasing of “my age of anxiety” after “THE MOTHER IN LAW”. It seems like she IS the age of anxiety.


Book Stacks

Katchadorian specifically with their work on the series ‘Sorted Books’, gives new perspective and meaning to books, without any kind of description with the content inside them. Additionally, the series tells a story with multiple books, making the viewer almost no longer consider their individual contents anymore. Dymants work with his piece ‘One Billion Years’ used a similar approach, where the meaning of the work was not found in each individual book, but in the collection as a whole. Although the concept of both these works is very similar, as well as the execution being very similar, they give off completely different conclusions to each piece. Katchadorian uses the titles to write very short, poetic stories, that are worded in a somewhat choppy way, but still make sense, and flow nicely. Whereas Dymants tells a continuous, less poetic story over the past as well as the future, using book titles which are seemingly unrelated, but somehow connected and relevant, and keep track of time.

I took an approach similar to that of Katchadorian’s book stacks, making the title of the books create somewhat of a narrative between the books. To create this, I took all of the books I could find in my house and laid them out on the floor so I could see all of the titles. My library consisted of books I have used for classes over the past three years, as well as books I moved out of my childhood home with because I have an emotional connection to them, as well as books that I use for personal reference.

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Stars, Planets, and Galaxies, Nightmares in the sky, Weirdos From Another Planet. It’s a Magical World.
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A Room with a View: The Golden Hour, Sun, Wind, and Light.
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The Politics of Hunger, The Neverending Story. We are all Completely Beside Ourselves.

Week 2

SUMMARY OF WORK IN WEEK 2: (See details below)

  1. LOOK AT: Text as Art images, text and videos

2. WRITE: See reflection questions on text as art at the end.

  1. LOOK AT: Artists who use text in their work including: Yoko Ono, Jenny Holzer, John Baldessari, Barbara Krueger, Geurilla Girls, and Shelly Niro. And more contemporary examples including: Nadia Myre, Joi T. Arcand, Jon Rubin, Eleanor King, Micah Lexier, Lenka Clayton, Alisha Wormsley and Germaine Koh.

John Baldessari:

John Baldessari
I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art

In 1971, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, invited John Baldessari to exhibit his work. However, the college did not have the funds for Baldessari to travel to Halifax, so the artist proposed that the art students in Halifax act as his surrogates. The students were instructed by Baldessari to write “I will not make any more boring art” on the gallery walls for the duration of the exhibition (April 1-10, 1971). By enlisting the art students to slavishly write the phrase over and over, Baldessari poked fun at the entire system of art education, which he felt encouraged students to imitate rather than experiment and innovate. The artist also sent along a handwritten page of the phrase, from which the students produced prints. After the work’s completion, Baldessari committed his own version of the piece to videotape. The subversive, graffiti-like action of drawing directly on the gallery walls reflected the artist’s dissatisfaction with the limitations of traditional painting in the early 1970s. His interest in language-based performative actions that could be realized by others was a hallmark of early conceptual art.  (From Whitney.org)

From the exhibition Pure Beauty, works from the late 60’s.
John Baldessari, Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, 1966-1968

By 1966, Baldessari was using photographs and text, or simply text, on canvas.[2] His early major works were canvas paintings that were empty but for painted statements derived from contemporary art theory. An early attempt of Baldessari’s included the hand-painted phrase “Suppose it is true after all? WHAT THEN?” (1967) on a heavily worked painted surface. However, this proved personally disappointing because the form and method conflicted with the objective use of language that he preferred to employ. Baldessari decided the solution was to remove his own hand from the construction of the image and to employ a commercial, lifeless style so that the text would impact the viewer without distractions. The words were then physically lettered by sign painters, in an unornamented black font. The first of this series presented the ironic statement “A TWO-DIMENSIONAL SURFACE WITHOUT ANY ARTICULATION IS A DEAD EXPERIENCE” (1967).”
text: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Baldessari
image: https://imageobjecttext.com/tag/john-baldessari/
Lenka Clayton, Fruit and Other Things, 2018
Fruit and Other Things
Collaboration with Jon Rubin / Carnegie International 57th Edition 2018, Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh

Full Project Website

“From 1896 to 1931 the Carnegie International selected artworks for its exhibitions from an international competition. The museum kept meticulous records, not only of all the works accepted, but of those rejected as well. Only the title, artist’s names, and the year of each work were recorded, no images exist. Over this 35 year span, 10,632 artworks were rejected from the exhibitions. For the duration of the 57th Carnegie International, each of the 10,632 rejected titles were made into individual hand-lettered text paintings. Each text painting was exhibited for a day, and then given away to visitors.”

Text and image: https://www.fruitandotherthings.com/home
Germaine Koh, Dear Mercer, 2006
“A form letter in various formats, used as my participation in fundraising events.
unlimited series”

text and image: http://germainekoh.com/ma/projects_detail.cfm?pg=projects&projectID=19
YOKO ONO, Grapefruit, 1964
Conversation Piece, an event score from Grapefruit, 1964.

“Ono’s event scores were intended to replace a physical work of art with written instructions or suggestions for acts that the person experiencing them could create. Pulse Piece, for example, suggests, “Listen to each other’s pulse by putting your ear on the other’s stomach. 1963 Winter.” The activities usually highlight a simple day-to-day activity. Often considered a Fluxus work, Grapefruit has become a monument of conceptual art. The title comes from the way Ono felt about herself: a hybrid between American and Japanese identities, the way a grapefruit is a hybrid between a lemon and an orange.”

Text and Image:

Yoko Ono, FLY (1996), billboard installed in Richmond Virginia. Photo by Stephen Salpukas. Courtesy of Yoko Ono.
Composite of Yoko Ono’s billboards since the 1960’s.

Yoko Ono WAR IS OVER!, 2008-2009 IMAGINE PEACE in 24 languages Holiday Billboards Times Square, New York, NY Photo by: Karla Merrifield © Yoko Ono

Jenny Holzer, Truisms, 1980-
Image: http://gallery.98bowery.com/wp-content/uploads/Jen-Holzer-Truisms.jpg

Holzer’s Truisms have become part of the public domain, displayed in storefronts, on outdoor walls and billboards, and in digital displays in museums, galleries, and other public places, such as Times Square in New York. Multitudes of people have seen them, read them, laughed at them, and been provoked by them. That is precisely the artist’s goal.

The Photostat, Truisms, seen here presents eighty-six of Holzer’s ongoing series of maxims. Variously insightful, aggressive, or comic, they express multiple viewpoints that the artist hopes will arouse a wide range of responses. A small selection of Truisms includes: “A lot of professionals are crackpots”; “Abuse of power comes as no surprise”; “Bad intentions can yield good results”; and “Categorizing fear is calming.”

Holzer began creating these works in 1977, when she was a student in an independent study program. She hand-typed numerous “one liners,” or Truisms, which she has likened, partly in jest, to a “Jenny Holzer’s Reader’s Digest version of Western and Eastern thought.” She typeset the sentences in alphabetical order and printed them inexpensively, using commercial printing processes. She then distributed the sheets at random and pasted them up as posters around the city. Her Truisms eventually adorned a variety of formats, including T-shirts and baseball caps. (From MOMA.org)

Jenny Holzer, Survival Series, 1986

In the Survival Series, Holzer explores other methods of presentation. Survival Series (1983–1985), which warned about the dangers of everyday living, were blazoned on enormous electronic signboards in public spaces.

From https://walkerart.org/collections/artists/jenny-holzer

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989
“Much of Kruger’s work pairs found photographs with pithy and assertive text that challenges the viewer. Her method includes developing her ideas on a computer, later transferring the results (often billboard-sized) into images.[5] Examples of her instantly recognizable slogans read “I shop therefore I am,” and “Your body is a battleground,” appearing in her trademark white letters against a red background. Much of her text calls attention to ideas such as feminismconsumerism, and individual autonomy and desire, frequently appropriating images from mainstream magazines and using her bold phrases to frame them in a new context.
Kruger has said that “I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are and who we aren’t.”[15] A larger category that threads through her work is the appropriation and alteration of existing images. In describing her use of appropriation, Kruger states:
Pictures and words seem to become the rallying points for certain assumptions. There are assumptions of truth and falsity and I guess the narratives of falsity are called fictions. I replicate certain words and watch them stray from or coincide with the notions of fact and fiction.[16]

Image and Text: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Kruger#/media/File:Untitled_(Your_body_is_a_battleground).jpg
Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am), 1987
Image: https://www.widewalls.ch/consumerist-culture-art-10-artworks/
Part of an initiative to bring art to new sites within and around the building, this installation by Barbara Kruger fills the Lower Level lobby and extends into the newly relocated Museum bookstore. Famous for her incisive photomontages, Kruger has focused increasingly over the past two decades on creating environments that surround the viewer with language. The entire space—walls, floor, escalator sides—is wrapped in text-printed vinyl, immersing visitors in a spectacular hall of voices, where words either crafted by the artist or borrowed from the popular lexicon address conflicting perceptions of democracy, power, and belief.

At a moment when ideological certitude and purity seem especially valued, Kruger says she’s “interested in introducing doubt.” Large areas of the installation are devoted to open-ended questions (“WHO IS BEYOND THE LAW? WHO IS FREE TO CHOOSE? WHO SPEAKS? WHO IS SILENT?”), while the section occupying the bookstore explores themes of desire and consumption. At once addressing the individual, the museum, and, symbolically, the country, Kruger’s penetrating examination of the public sphere transforms one of the Hirshhorn’s key public spaces.

Text + Image: https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/barbara-kruger-beliefdoubt/
Guerrilla Girls, Guerrilla Girls Definition Of A Hypocrite, 1990
“The anonymous collective Guerilla Girls fits into a rich tradition of protest artists who employ words for explicitly political ends. In particular, the group uses language to reconsider gender discrimination and violence. “What do these men have in common?” one of their 1995 posters asks. Below the bold black wording, photographs of O.J. Simpson and minimalist artist Carl Andre
 appear. The answer to their provocation? The state accused both men of murdering women (Simpson: his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson; Andre: his wife Ana Mendieta). Both enjoyed acquittals and avoided jail time. The Guerilla Girls discuss the prevalence of domestic violence beneath the pictures. They also include a tagline at the bottom: “A public service message from Guerilla Girls conscience of the art world.”
Another famous work, Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into the Met Museum? (1989), critiques the lack of art by female practitioners in major institutions. Across the Guerilla Girls’s oeuvre, wry ideology becomes an art form. Their messaging—and its situation within the institutions it critiques—supersedes all other aesthetic concerns.”

Image and Text: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-13-artists-highlight-power
Recent project by the Geurilla Girls at MOMA, 2020 See their website for ongoing activities


Pluralism, Deborah Roberts, 2016

Roberts identifies dozens of Black names that Microsoft Word identifies as misspelled. Series of prints.

Shelley Niro, The Shirt (detail), 2003
Shelley Niro, The Shirt (detail), 2003.____ Uploaded by: Whyte, Murray

“In “The Shirt” – a video that debuted at the 2003 Venice Biennale – Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) artist and director Shelley Niro parodies the archetypal tourist tee-shirt from the point of view of First Nations Peoples as an exploration into the lasting effects of European colonialism in North America. Facing the camera directly and poised against the landscape of “America”, an Aboriginal woman with biker-like accessories bears a sequential series of statements on her tee-shirt that together comprise a discourse on colonialism. The darkly ironic and yet brutally truthful messages of “The Shirt” draw attention to the history of invasion that indigenous peoples have experienced in North America. By presenting the tee-shirts as souvenirs and memories of these impositions, Niro’s work suggests that the consequences of colonialism are still active today. The Shirt is an ironic and humorous take on colonialism enacted through text on T-shirts worn by an Aboriginal woman (artist Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie). Directly facing the camera with the landscape of “America” as a backdrop, the woman poses in shirts that bear a sequential series of statements that together comprise a discourse on North America’s troubled past.”

Image: https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/visualarts/2017/05/21/shelley-niro-the-way-of-the-subtle-warrior.html
Joi T. Arcand, Northern Pawn, South Vietnam, 2009
Joi T. Arcand is a photo-based artist and industrial sculptor from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and she knows that words, that letter forms, shapes and glyphs, “change the visual landscape,” that they are how we go about practicing new ways of looking. Words are emotional architectures, and Arcand calls hers “Future Earth.”

Here on Future Earth is a series of photographs that Arcand produced in 2010. In a phone interview, Arcand explained to me that this is where her photo-based practice and her interest in textuality synched. Arcand wants us to think about these photographs as documents of “an alternative present,” of a future that is within arm’s reach.

For this series, Arcand manipulated signs and replaced their slogans and names with Cree syllabics. By doing this, Arcand images something of a present beside itself and therefore loops us into a new mode of perception, one that enables us to attune to the rogue possibilities bubbling up in the thick ordinariness of everyday life. Arcand wanted to see things “where they weren’t.”

Hers is not a utopian elsewhere we need to map out via an ethos of discovery. Rather, Arcand straddles the threshold of radical hope. She asks us to orient ourselves to the world as if we were out to document or to think back on a future past. That is, Arcand rendered these photographs with a pink hue and a thick, round border, tapping into what she calls “the signifiers of nostalgia.” Importantly, these signifiers are inextricably bound to the charisma of words, to the emotional life of the syllabics. The syllabics are what enunciate; they potentiate a performance of world-making that does not belong to the mise-en-scene of settlement.”

Text and Image: https://canadianart.ca/features/optics-language-joi-t-arcand-looks-words/
Joi T. Arcand, Amber Motors, 2009
Image: https://canadianart.ca/features/optics-language-joi-t-arcand-looks-words/

Nadia Myre, Indian Act, 2002
“Indian Act speaks of the realities of colonization – the effects of contact, and its often-broken and untranslated contracts. The piece consists of all 56 pages of the Federal Government’s Indian Act mounted on stroud cloth and sewn over with red and white glass beads. Each word is replaced with white beads sewn into the document; the red beads replace the negative space.
Between 1999 and 2002, Nadia Myre enlisted over 230 friends, colleagues and strangers to help her bead over the Indian Act. With the help of Rhonda Meier, they organized workshops and presentations at Concordia University, and hosted weekly beading bees at Oboro Gallery, where it was presented as part of the exhibition, Cont[r]act, in 2002.”

Text and image: http://www.nadiamyre.net/#/indian-act/

Eleanor King, No Justice No Peace, 2015
Latex Paint on Wall, 80FT x 12FT
The Peekskill Project, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art

Jon Rubin, The Last Billboard, 2010-2018
Above Text by Alisha Wormsley

“Founded in 2010, The Last Billboard was a 36 foot long rooftop billboard located on the corner of Highland and Baum in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Each month a different artist was invited to use the billboard. The custom designed billboard consisted of a rail system with wooden letters that were changed by hand.

The Last Billboard ended operations in April, 2018 after artist Alisha Wormsley’s text was removed from the billboard by the property’s landlord under pressure from area developers. “

Image and text: https://www.thelastbillboard.com/about
Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Are We There Yet? (and other questions of proximity,destination, and relative comfort), 2017
Kameelah Janan Rasheed, A QUESTION IS A SENTENCE DESIGNED TO ELICIT A RESPONSE. TODAY, WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE SLOPPY FUTURE HOLDS (detail), 2018. Installed and on view at the Brooklyn Museum

2. WRITE: Select TWO artworks from above to write about. Compare and contrast the different ways the artists use media (materials, platform, format) to express their message. How is the medium relevant to the message in each case? How are viewers expected to relate to the text in each case? (Write approx. 250 words).

Madeline’s Work

Week 1 Notes

Katchadourian prefers to have minimal prior knowledge on the collection she will be sorting, and lets the collection speak for itself and its owner. She sorts through titles looking for ones that are eye catching or repetitive. She often prints out copies of selected titles and sort and organize them in her studio prior to the real library. This was seen in her project “Once Upon a Time in Delaware/ In Quest of the Perfect Book”. Completed in 2010 as part of the sorted book project the books were part of a 2000 piece collection consisting of books chosen based solely off their book cover created within the 1918 to 1920. The titles chosen created a portrait of the innovative, adventurous, romantic mindset of America at the time. Katchadourin and Dyment use similar methods when creating their works. They both aim to create a new narrative between the book titles, independent from their content. The stacks are a representation of the collection as a whole. This can be seen in Dyments work “One billion years (Past and Future). The books independently cover a short period of time or are a moment representing a period of time, but collectively show time a billion years in the past an future.

My books are a selection from an old bookshelf in my basement. The bookshelf is used by my entire family, but the majority of its contents belong to my Mom and I. Initially I sorted through the bookshelf looking for titles that might work together and took a smaller selection upstairs to try different combinations. Like Katchadourian I wanted to convey a story between the chosen titles. For the last stack of books, I took into consideration how the first title is blurry, hoping to add a deeper level to the story. The final works display a love of crime and political novels, which is something my mom and I bond over.

Week 2 Writing

The works I have chosen to compare are Shelley Niro’s “The Shirt (detail)”, 2003, and Nadia More’s “Indian Act”, 2002. The artists are both indigenous women who aim to highlight the dark realities of colonialism. The sentiments behind their artworks are similar but the their ideas are presented in vastly different mediums. 

Shelly Niro’s “The Shirt (detail)” is a series of images of an indigenous artist standing in front of a picturesque American landscape wearing a tee-shirt stating “my ancestors were annihilated, exterminated, murdered and massacred … And all’s I get is this shirt”.  The shirt was inexpensive and labelled an “archetypal tourist tee-shirt”. Overall the artwork demonstrates how indigenous lives were sacrificed for trivial objects and consumerist greed. 

On the other hand, Nadia More’s “Indian Act” has similar sentiment but a much more time consuming medium. Nadia and over 230 volunteers stitched over the Federal Governments Indian Act, replacing words with white beads and spaces with red beads. The overall effect leaves the fewer unable to read the words, just like reading an untranslated contract.  

The message behind both artworks come across strongly and are highly impactful. 

When reading the article “Dirty Words” the sentence “Desire is thwarted by a series of logistical and moral obligations” really caught my eye. It hit home for me in many ways and I found it to be relatable in many aspects of my life. I hung my banner above a bed and had the bed frame peeking into the photo. In this context its representing a loss of love or passion in a relationship. However, I think the banner would hang well in many locations, whether it be in front of unfinished schoolwork, unfinished home renovations, or a list of good intentions. 

We all have things we desire to do or things we desire to happen, and it is hard when you realize not everything you desire is actually going to work out. Even in regards to making the banner, my original idea was to paint every letter by hand. This ended up being highly time-consuming and logistically I had to change to large Sharpie. Eventually, I let the dark letters fade out to visually represent the lessening of desire. 

Week 4 – Moving Portraits

I was able to take these videos behind the scenes at one of Fashion Art Toronto’s virtual runways. It was interesting to see how people interact and work with one another within the new limitations imposed due to the pandemic.  

“Just being away from other people and everything I have been able to focus on myself I have become so much more confident and self-aware” – Lauren (Model, Right)

“Ya no my anxiety has been through the roof I feel trapped with it. This is the first time I’ve been out in the open and stuff” – Michaela (Model, Left)

I asked the hair and makeup team how the pandemic has affected their work.

“(Its) affected us in a way where we can’t work from home with this kind of job and it’s been really hard, and learning how to be virtual, and having to be tech-savvy when we’re people who work with our hands I have found it has been very challenging. Just being the person in contact and being the person who works with somebody and not being at home, ya I am very happy to be back at work” – Antonella (Hair Stylist, Centre) 

“Likewise very excited to be back to work, and it is quite different how we are doing touchups without touching the person. So yeah everything is a new adventure now.” – Bindi (Makeup Artist, Left)

“It definitely forces us to become better artists with steadier hands” – Stephanie (Makeup Artist, Right)

Adad Hannah Questions

What kind of people does he observe? 

  • A wide range of individuals. Healthcare workers, painters, families, skateboarders, friends, protesters. 

How are they different from one another? 

  • Occupation, high vs low anxiety levels, physical appearance, age demographics, group size, ways of life. 

How do the portraits change over time? 

  • he admittedly started of scared and nervous but became bolder with every portrait. For example he started asking individuals to take photos in their homes. 

How do the portraits witness important moments of the pandemic? 

  • These portraits show that while we are collectively trying to maintain distance from one another we are still connected. We are able to see ourselves within the portraits as we are all feeling alone. 
  • The portraits are also capturing an important political moment through documentation of peaceful protesters. 

Week 6

Week 7

I will be discussing “Suck Teeth Compositions (After Rashaad Newsom) and “Be nice to me” by Pipillotti Rist and Michele Pearson Clarke 

In “Suck Teeth Compositions” or “Shade Compositions” the artist used video to create a compilation of different individuals of colour “sucking their teeth”. It created a pattern of sound that is the same yet different due to each individuals flair. The piece was also shown in gallery on a mass scale that dwarfs the viewer. I think having the experience in gallery on massive walls was an amazing choice and made the piece much more successful than watching through a computer screen. The artist probably didn’t have to explain much to the performers as sucking teeth is very common in African American cultures. It is often used to show displeasure or annoyance. The artist probably just instructed the performers to do their best version of sucking teeth.  

In “Be nice to me” the artist also used video but instead of having multiple people shown throughout the video it is only one performer. This piece has been reperformed, but I think that recording it and displaying it on video is highly successful. The video is disgusting, but in a way that makes you want to re-watch it moment by moment.  The artist probably asked the performer to rub her face against the glass in a highly disorderly way, aiming to disrupt the beautiful face of makeup seen at the beginning of the video. 

Zoom Artwork

For my zoom assignment I partnered with Nathan to do a socially distanced hangout. In the video we are showing what we have been doing throughout the lockdown to stay entertained. Like sitting in the same room with a family member or roommate before the pandemic, it is comforting to have someone online with you while you are doing things you enjoy.  

Week 8

Breaking Bread

Bread is a staple in my everyday diet. Whether it be toast, bagels, English muffins or more. I have very fond memories surrounding the perfect slice of bread. Bread is also a staple in my household and extended family’s diet and traditions. If I think of my family members, I can produce many memories and stories involving bread.  

The first story that comes to mind is that when my father was in university, he would have a tomato sandwich every day. Since hearing this story I began making them myself, as a university student truly relate to the bliss of this sandwich. It is simple and cheap, only contains tomatoes, mayonnaise, and bread.  

As a family we often go to the restaurant Swiss Chalet. We have been going there for years and years and it was often a way to get together with my grandmother and great aunt before the passed away. Every meal that comes from them comes with bread rolls and we always share them as a family. Every time I eat this bread, I have memories of my grandmother and great aunt, and it is an emotional experience. 

A nice memory involving bread is dipping fluffy white bread into butternut squash soup directly off the stove with my boyfriend on a chilly day. It was a very comforting and bonding moment, and the experience will be tough to beat. 

I find it remarkably interesting that bread can be attached to such emotional and beautiful memories, and without it I might not have them.  

I think baking bread has gained popularity during the pandemic because of how comforting it is. 2020 has been an extremely stressful year willed with unknowns, and bread is consistent. I also think it gained popularity because at the beginning of the pandemic people were not prepared with sufficient food stocks and began panic buying. This left grocery store shelves empty and people started to realize they needed to become more self-sufficient. 

While there were many interesting things discussed in the podcast “the rise and fall of bread: a simple staple with a complete legacy,” but I will discuss two topics; comfort and civility. The podcast discussed how breaking bread increases comfort when meeting new people and promotes civility. According to the podcast, when we meet someone for the first time, we are looking for commonalities between us. If both individuals are eating bread, then they are moving their hands in the same way. Subconsciously this tells us that we are like this other individual in at least one way, increasing our comfort levels. The podcast also discusses that if individuals are in an argument, often when sharing a meal or sharing bread individuals will become more civil so they do not waste the bread.  

Week 9

Food Art Inspiration

One artist that inspired my artwork isDean, Baldwin. I was specifically inspired by Baldwin’s artworks “Explaining Richard Serra Sculpture” and “Attempt at an Inventory.” In class, we discussed these works, and I enjoyed the playful way Baldwin used common everyday foods. It demonstrated that contemporary art does not necessarily need to be sophisticated to be impactful.  

I was also inspired by Janine Antoni’s artwork from her “Lick and Lather” Series. I was so intrigued with how she used her teeth and tongue to create sculptures, with every bite mark and lick being unique to her these works are truly one of a kind.  

I took a little bit of inspiration from both artists by using food that is common to me and using my mouth and hands to create my final images.  

Week 10 Food Art

“Particularities” 2020

Everyone has a unique relationship with food. Some people do not like different foods touching on their plate, or they do not like the crust on their bread. There are even individuals who are fussy eaters and stick to a select few foods that they find comforting. The snacks depicted in the images above are snacks that have been prevalent throughout my life. Whenever I eat them, I always follow a routine. It has turned into a type of ritual, a moment to enjoy for myself. These photos are a look into my personal relationship with food.  

I believe this artwork has the potential to grow into a series of works and could be expanded to involve more people and video work. For example, I think it would be interesting to film 50 people and ask them to eat the same item and see what the most common method is and what are the outliers. Additionally, I could interview individuals and have them bring foods that they have a unique relationship with and documents their process when eating the food.  

My Artwork evolved from my second idea to incorporate my personal experiences.

Additional food art image I thought it looked like a face/skull or mask.

Chocolate Cake

Contemporary Art and the Pandemic


An ongoing collection of works that speak to the historical moment – made in the past, or made today.

Marc Fisher, 2020. Printed card mailed to subscribers

Maggie Groat:

Intervals project for Mercer Union: https://www.mercerunion.org/intervals-maggie-groat/

Lou Sheppard – Murmurations


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: A Crack in the Hourglass, An Ongoing COVID-19 Memorial

October 29, 2021–June 26, 2022

Use the Participate button to learn more and submit a photograph and dedication for your loved one via the project website.Participate Tickets

Note: This exhibition is available in four languages. View the exhibition description in SpanishRussian, or Simplified Chinese.

How can we memorialize and visualize the extraordinary loss of life caused by COVID-19, even as it continues to rage throughout the world? Media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (born Mexico City, 1967) responds with A Crack in the Hourglass, a transitory “anti-monument” for the time of the pandemic and the ways it has halted public rituals of mourning. In this participatory artwork, a modified robotic plotter deposits grains of hourglass sand onto a black surface to recreate the images of those lost due to COVID-19. After each portrait is completed, the surface tilts and the same sand is recycled into the next portrait, echoing the collective and ongoing nature of the pandemic.

Those seeking a way to mourn loved ones lost during the pandemic are invited to participate in this ongoing project. Submit a photograph of the deceased at www.acrackinthehourglass.net, accompanied by a personalized dedication. The resulting memorials will be available, via livestream and in archive form, on the project’s website. In our galleries, the robotic plotter and physical representations of the memorials serve as a space to collectively mourn, reflect, and connect, and to honor victims of COVID-19 in New York City—an area with one of the highest number of pandemic-related deaths in the United States—and worldwide.

For questions about the project, email us at covid19.memorial@brooklynmuseum.org.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (born Mexico City, 1967). Documentation of memorial for Manuel Felguérez Barra in A Crack in the Hourglass, 2020–ongoing. Sand, glass, robotic platform, cameras, computers, OpenFrameworks software, lights, anodized aluminum base, 3-D–printed polymer head, electronic circuit, tubes, funnels, plastic valves, website. Courtesy of Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo. © Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

Tender, by Jill Magid

In Creative Time’s most widespread public art commission to date, Jill Magid intercedes in our national economy, responding to issues of value in the throes of COVID-19 with her first major U.S. public art project, entitled Tender. Magid disseminates 120,000 2020-issued pennies, the edges of which she engraved with the appropriated phrase, “THE BODY WAS ALREADY SO FRAGILE.” The text evokes both the human body and the body politic—and underscores their interconnection during the coronavirus pandemic. Via a white cash-in-transit truck, these altered coins enter our national economy through purchases at bodegas across all five boroughs of New York City. The number of pennies echoes the $1200 stimulus checks that were issued by the U.S. Treasury as part of The CARES Act, which provided financial relief to individual citizens during the coronavirus. As a voice from the public, the engraved phrase etched onto the edges serves as the antithesis to the propaganda stamped onto the coins’ faces.

Magid utilizes pennies—whose newly minted copper surfaces are antimicrobial—as a dispersed monument that will spread discretely across the country, beginning in New York, to explore the contradictions between the dissemination of currency and COVID-19. With an average circulation of 40 years, this project will exist as long as the pennies are in use, and as rumor. In this way, Magid reimagines public art as not a static entity, but rather as a phenomenon that circulates freely among the population; each transaction builds social relations in networks of exchange and interconnectivity.

As the U.S. government uses metaphors of American power fighting the virus as a war waged against an “invisible enemy,” the project speaks to human vulnerability and the effects of the virus on both a personal and national scale. In this time of global political and social uncertainty, during which COVID-19 denies us all intimacy and direct exchange, Tender offers an opportunity to take pause and reflect on the permeability of borders, value, and intimacy. From: https://creativetime.org/tender-jill-magid/?fbclid=IwAR261NjomRpMvOG8do2LXsu_8-Umh20J45MuVCgu0ojC_J5p35Ma8RQ5G1Q

Crowd Shyness, 2020

Germaine Koh, 2020

Crowd Shyness
In crown shyness, trees grow with distinct space between their crowns, to avoid spreading pests, to avoid damaging their own fragile tips, and to leave room for their peers. They make small individual sacrifices for collective health. These natural processes are analogous to societies making adaptations rooted in mutual care: “crowd shyness” as a form of conscious citizenship.

Guided by a vision of collective care, Germaine Koh has been working alongside the Belkin staff to workshop a comprehensive approach to public interaction. This includes communication, tools and protocols for re-opening the gallery during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also ongoing workplace procedures that emphasize teamwork and acknowledge both the essential work done by visitor services staff and the fraught character of the gallery threshold. It is a framework for the team to look widely at topics such as exhibition staging, the gallery’s location on traditional Musqueam territory, and how the gallery can open itself, represent and be responsible to a diverse public.

The Belkin invited Vancouver-based artist Germaine Koh to consider new pandemic protocols facing the gallery and to develop creative approaches to addressing them. We welcome experimentation within the public realm and learning from and with others in the development of new solutions. This project involves ongoing consultation with Belkin staff and communities (curators, programmers, building operations, health and safety) to address quotidian procedures for visitors, as well as exhibition specific interventions for exhibitions. Together we will explore this opportunity for the prototyping and testing of concepts, as well as fine tuning and adaptation in further iterations.</br
~from https://belkin.ubc.ca/germaine-koh-crowd-shyness/

Orian Barki and Meriem Bennani, 2 Lizards: Episode 1, 2020

2 Lizards: Episode 1, 2020

Artforum is pleased to host this Instagram video by Orian Barki and Meriem Bennani, made while self-isolating because of COVID-19.

Beautiful moment of communion through sound waves in Brooklyn despite social distancing—the virus’s protective membrane is very sensitive to soap and heat but also bass. These two lizards are lucky they work from home and can afford to stay inside. This is the first collaboration between Yani and me; we made it over the weekend to take a break from editing and animating for work. —Meriem Bennani

This is what it feels like to live
presently in a historical moment.

2 Lizards is an artistic time capsule that fuses genre—part documentary, part fiction—using cartoon animals to represent the artists’ community. The resulting absurdity and realness channel humor and sincere emotion to explore the societal fissures that formed around the pandemic, and its intersection with systemic racism. Each episode explores a specific quarantine mood: dreamlike detachment, anxiety, impassioned protest. Melodrama is notably absent. Instead we see cool emotions and “affect management.” Daydreaming, scrolling, and distraction abound. In addition to physical confinement, there is an emotional confinement that manifests as out-of-sync-ness: the lizards move with a particular cadence, slightly slower than everything else. This, the videos seem to say, is what it feels like to live presently in a historical moment.” From MOMA

2 Lizards joins a rich history of diaristic video art, including Gregg Bordowitz’s episodic Portraits of People Living with HIV or George Kuchar’s performative video diaries. Like Bordowitz’s and Kuchar’s footage of the mundane, 2 Lizards focuses not on the crisis as an event but on its daily effects. (It isn’t until episode four, when the lizards visit a friend, a healthcare worker, that we hear stories about the coronavirus tragedies.) As an event, contagion is invisible, but the ripple effects are evident. This is reminiscent of cultural theorist Lauren Berlant’s term “crisis ordinariness,” whereby “crisis is not exceptional…but a process embedded in the ordinary that unfolds in stories about navigating what’s overwhelming.”[1]

2 Lizards

2 Lizards

This series speaks to the changing methods of image consumption that aim increasingly toward smaller, more portable screens and user-generated content that seeks to comfort through humor. Like memes, the lizards are an opiate for our precise moment of extreme social disruption. Much of the value in these videos is their format (the Instagram video), as they inextricably tie the work to the platform and its users. 2 Lizards is a feedback loop: it reflects the Internet by incorporating new modes of image technologies related to the constant stream of pictures, which are then distributed back into the world through those very feeds. During lockdown, in the context of isolation, social media became a place where many of us channeled our pent-up communal and emotional need to connect. It is where we received information about the world and began to watch a new one unfold.

2 Lizards – from the New York Times

Adad Hannah:
Social Distancing Portraits 2020

See the videos below on his Instagram page:


  1. Record a video portrait in the style of Adad Hannah – choose one subject you know, and one stranger to record. Try to invite people from different walks of life, who hold different kinds of jobs, are different ages, etc. Our collective portrait should be diverse in all kinds of ways. Consider who will be an interesting subject – with an important experience to record.
  2. Ask your subject to be still, in the middle of something they are doing in the world (outdoors), to pose for a video portrait.
  3. Ask them to be still for a few breaths, and then answer the question: WHAT IS PENT UP FOR YOU RIGHT NOW? WHAT IS PENT UP?
  4. Ask them to answer the question in one word, or a few sentences – and then to be still again for a few breaths afterward.
  5. Look closely at Adad Hannah’s videos – notice the framing, the vertical proportions, the way he poses subjects inside the frame. Follow all the health restrictions and do not go too close to anyone. Use a tripod or a stabilizing device to have a clean, steady shot. Have your subject stand in the shade, or somewhere the light is not too contrasting. You may need to record your subject a few times, or ask a few people – in order to get your two short videos. Each clip should be around 20 seconds.
  6. In class we will use your clips to practice video editing, and compile our trimmed, polished clips into a class collaboration – a VIDEO PANDEMIC PORTRAIT we are making together.

Week 1

Welcome back to school everyone, I’m very happy to have a way to come together to learn about contemporary experimental art practices. During the pandemic, we will engage in weekly exercises, demos, readings and videos to learn some of the historic, theoretical, and technical aspects of working in experimental media forms.

Our virtual course will emphasize ideas, research, regular exercises and practices, as opposed to more developed and resolved artworks.

Students will perform and create studio exercises at home and in the world – within strict adherence to public health guidelines at all times – using materials and situations at hand. Together we will practice being resourceful and creative within the limits of any given situation. We will explore how to be an artist now – using aspects of performance, snapshot photography, video, audio, and artist multiples – in this unique and challenging historical moment.

Every week we will have Tuesday class meetings – and then you will do the week’s homework (things to read, write and create) posted under Weekly Assignments.

All work is due for the following Tuesday class. If you are finished your work many of you will have an opportunity to share and get feedback. You will need approximately 4-6 hours to complete your work for this course every week in addition to class meeting time.

Schedule your work and you will be able to keep up with your assignments!

All your notes, images and videos must be on the class BLOG – under your name. ONLY edit your own page – do not edit anything else on the blog. I will periodically read and evaluate your work on the BLOG and we will occasionally look at examples of works by students together in our class HUDDLE.

See course information, and evaluation for details.


Summary of Week 1 work:

  1. Watch lecture materials
  2. Notes on Katchadourian and other artists’ works
  3. Do Book Stacks exercise and post all work to blog under your name

LOOK AT: Nina Katchadourian’s Book Stacks projects

“The Sorted Books project began in 1993, and it has has taken place on many different sites over the years, ranging form private homes to specialized book collections. The process is the same in every case: I sort through a collection of books, pull particular titles, and eventually group the books into clusters so that the titles can be read in sequence. The final results are shown either as photographs of the book clusters or as the actual stacks themselves, often shown on the shelves of the library they came from. Taken as a whole, the clusters are a cross-section of that library’s holdings that reflect that particular library’s focus, idiosyncrasies, and inconsistencies. They sometimes also function as a portrait of the particular book owner. The Sorted Books project is an ongoing project which I add to almost each year, and there there are hundreds of images in the ongoing archive to date.”

Pictured above: What is Art?
C-prints, each 12.5 x 19 inches, 1996/2008
The series Sorting Shark from the Sorted Books project
Pictured above: A Day at the Beach
C-prints, each 12.5 x 19 inches, 2001

Read Katchadourian’s descriptions of the unique libraries she worked in to make the series Sorted Books.

The series Kansas Cut-Up from the Sorted Books project
Pictured above: Only Yesterday
C-prints, each 12.5 x 19 inches, 2014

Dave Dyment:

A collection of books pertaining to the past and future, arranged chronologically from One Billion Years Ago to The Next Billion Years.

Ryan Park:

Ryan Park, 2009, Untitled


Nina Katchadourian discusses a new Sorted Books project in William S Burroughs’ library. You will also be making three stack images, using your own or someone else’s personal library, to result in any surprising new meanings.

WRITE: What are some of the strategies Katchadourin, Dyment and Park used to select and order books in their final works? What were their decisions based on, and how do the final compositions expand the meaning of each individual book, or come together to have a new and surprising meaning about the library, the family, about language and books, or about anything else? Select two pieces to discuss.

MAKE: Make 3 of your own Sorted Books stack. Choose a personal library (or some other special library) you have access to now – it could be the books you have in your bedroom, the books at your parents house, the books at work, all the books of all your roommates etc. Create a composition, with as many books you need, and photograph it. It doesn’t have to be a “portrait” of the person whose library it is – look for concise messages, play with words and concepts, experiment with different titles in relation to one another in different ways. Include the images, a short description of your library, and your process of creating the compositions on your blog page.

Black Lives Matter: SCHOLAR STRIKE and more…

Black Lives Matter SCHOLAR STRIKE and more…

Hello Experimental Students,

I hope you are all safe and well, and I am looking forward to welcoming you back to school at our first official virtual class which will be TUESDAY Sept.  next week. Every week we will have synchronous – real time class HUDDLEs, on Tuesdays from 2:30 – 3:30, mark your calendars! See Course Link for links and details. 

But before that – I would like to you tune in to a very special program this week Wed Sept. 9 and Thurs. Sept. 10th called Scholar Strike. 

From the website:

Scholar Strike is a labour action/teach-in/social justice advocacy happening. Scholar Strike originated in the U.S from a tweet by Dr. Anthea Butler who, inspired by the striking WNBA and NBA players, put out a call for a similar labour action from academics.   The Canadian action is aligned with the one in the U.S., in its call for racial justice, an end to anti-Black police violence and it adds a specific focus on anti-Indigenous, colonial violence. 

Here is the full program of live discussions and lectures: https://scholarstrikecanada.ca/quick-program-overview/

I strongly encourage you to tune in, to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement, and think about ways we can personally, and collectively acknowledge and eliminate racism, inequality and injustice in our society.  

Listening to activists, artists, and other racialized authours like Ibram X. Kendi – have given me a lot to think about, especially about how we all have work to do to address our own racist biases, and to challenge racist ideas, and to actively work against racist policies and inequality in all aspects of public and personal life. 

From How to Be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi

I strongly recommend you take the time to listen to this incredible podcast from CBC radio’s Out in the Open – Ibram X. Kendi’s conversation with Pia Chattopadhyay: 


Have a listen to this and other crucial teach-ins this week – and see you all on Tuesday, Diane

More info coming soon, see you Tuesday!