Speaking Difference

After a year of thinking through the idea of speaking difference–how, to what effect, with what considerations and why–the culminating exhibition of my curatorial residency has opened.

The Normal Condition of Any Communication

Ayreen Anastas + Rene Gabri, Neil Beloufa, Keren Cytter, Claire Fontaine and Reza Haeri
23 June-30 July 2011
Gallery TPW (56 Ossington Avenue, Toronto ON)

The Normal Condition of Any Communication takes its title from the words of contemporary French philosopher Jacques Rancière who states that “Distance is not an evil to be abolished, but the normal condition of any communication.” Considering the potential of participating in conversations that extend beyond a person’s particular subject position, the works in this exhibition perform acts of translation between individuals and across cultures. The videos of Neil Beloufa, Keren Cytter and Reza Haeri massage the space between documentary and fiction by way of dismantling a definitive sense of history in order to reconstitute a plurality of accounts. The notebook works of Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri trace a dialogic process between the artists that, without effacing the personal, is staunchly political. A text-based neon sign by the artist collective Claire Fontaine questions the way cultural and geographical identities are formed. Together, these works suggest that it is possible to communicate across differences so long as a multiplicity of meanings is fundamentally maintained.

Special thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and Mercer Union for their support of this exhibition.

Public Discussion: Saturday, June 25, 3-5 pm, at Gallery TPW

In response to The Normal Condition of Any Communication, a panel of artists and thinkers will join curator cheyanne turions in a discussion about what is at stake when artworks attempt acts of translation, be it between one person and another, or between different ways of knowing the world. Mirroring the content of the exhibition’s thesis–that communication across distance is only possible so long as a plurality of meanings is acknowledged–the form of the discussion invites others to respond to the exhibition’s framing and the work itself, complicating and complimenting each in turn.


Gina Badger is the editorial director of FUSE Magazine. An artist and writer, her perennial conceptual concerns are the time and politics of contemporary ecologies. Currently based in Toronto, Badger also works in Montreal with the Artivistic Collective and various locations south of the 49th parallel.

Lucas Freeman is a doctoral candidate in political theory at the University of Toronto, exploring the connections between architecture and urban citizenship. He is also a resident cinephile and has worked and volunteered with several film festivals in Toronto.

Francisco-Fernando Granados is a Guatemalan-born artist and writer currently working in performance, drawing and cultural criticism. A recipient of the Chancellor’s Award and the Governor General’s Silver Medal for academic achievement upon graduating from Emily Carr University in 2010, he is currently working on a Masters of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto.

Nika Khanjani works with film, video and text in the form of experimental hand-processed films, expanded documentary, and video sketches. She is preoccupied with notions of dislocation, psychic landscapes, the effects of distance on relationships, and ways of applying ecriture feminine to image-making.

Kika Thorne recently returned from Berlin where she instigated a bar IST a garden IST a café IST a reading room at the Berlinale: Forum Expanded, which produced an ambience that inserted the dirt and vitality of the urban farm, beergarden and infoshop into a stainless steel corporate silo at Potsdamer Platz. Plastic crates and 3/4 ply housed the books, people, krauter and booze, creating a microclimate out of an invisible artwork.

No Reading After the Internet out-loud reading group: Wednesday, June 29, 7 pm at LIFT (1137 Dupont)

No Reading After the Internet is a free monthly series in which a selected text is read aloud and discussed. Peter Schjeldahl’s “Of Ourselves and of Our Origins: Subjects of Art” has been selected to compliment the exhibition The Normal Condition of Any Communication. Within Schjeldahl’s critique about whether or not it is possible to speak sensibly about what we like about art, he raises an important point about the negative import of identities that demarcate difference. In response, he proposes a non-political pronoun of “we” without “they,” thereby hinting at the nebulous thing that happens in an experience of great art. This utopic proposal of Schjeldahl’s is a place to begin imagining communication across distance from.

Participation in No Reading After the Internet is free and open to everyone, regardless of their familiarity with a text or its author. Texts will be handed out at the salon. No pre-reading or research is required.


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