WORKS


Doris McCarthy Gallery

Audio of introduction



Video still of Katherine Araniello with angry facial expression and the caption "Sport is the only way forward"

Katherine Araniello

Superhuman Part 2, 2012
Video, 02:56 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

Superhuman Part 2 (also known as Paralympian Programmed and Delivered) satires the terminology that genuine Paralympians use to self-promote their elite status as disabled athletes.

The 2012 Paralympics in London was a deluge of positive imagery of disability. There is a generic trait amongst Paralympians to use repetitive, uplifting language coupled with heroic triumph over adversity stories in relation to their physical impairment. Katherine Araniello’s film is a response to the Olympic frenzy and plays on the accentuated positivity of disability. The artist sees this as a continued representation of disability that remains focused on the medical diagnosis of an individual.

Audio transcription



Two figures embracing on a black background

Ingrid Bachmann

The Gift, 2014
Six-channel video and sound installation
Courtesy of the artist

The Gift is a multi-channel video installation that explores, through movement, the experiences of heart transplant recipients. In watching the interviews with transplant recipients, the artist was struck by the compelling gestures of the patients, gestures which were often at odds with their words. As the experience of transplantation is a very private one, transplant recipients physically look no different than anyone else, in spite of having undergone a very intense and often traumatic experience. With transplantation, the notion of the dyad is re-occurring—the relationship between the donor and the recipient; the healthy and the unhealthy heart; the body’s need for a new heart and that same body’s immune system’s rejection of it. The artist worked with two dancers to explore these ideas, as she wanted to make work that was intensely physical yet not material.

Audio transcription

A series of sculptural tongues displayed on a wall with wires connected to them

Pinocchio’s Dilemma, 2007
Cast resin, 8 servo motors, 2 Arduino microcontrollers, metal, Plexiglas, plastic
Courtesy of the artist

Pinocchio’s Dilemma explores the uneasy relationship between the telling of stories and the telling of lies. The artist is interested in the stories we tell, as individuals and as cultures, and the intersection between lies and stories, fact and fiction. Components include a growing nose, and a series of wagging, jewel-like tongues as variations on the literal (yet exaggerated) embodiment of various flesh-like appendages on our bodies.

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Mowry Baden

Untitled (Seat Belt, Three Points), 1970
Nylon, metal
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist

Man walking in gallery wearing a seat belt that's anchored to the floorThis three-pronged series of Seatbelt sculptures, shown at each of the three gallery locations in The Flesh of the World, reflects Mowry Baden’s interest in movement and its impact on perception. The Seatbelt sculptures require that viewers interact with, and physically operate them, demonstrating a performative and collaborative approach with the audience. Of this work, Baden says, “Like so much of my art, it attempts to downplay vision… you can know that the path you’re traveling is not a pure circle, but only after you’ve made multiple journeys. The seatbelt here, with three points of attachment, is the subtlest of them all. You can walk around for ten minutes before the geometry begins to click in… the needle swings over to the non-visual senses gradually. The viewer gradually discovers where the sensory challenge is. And the experience is complex. Personally, I can’t exhaust it. Even today, I can’t wear it out. I began to realize this is a completely different territory for exploration.”

Interview with Mowry Baden, It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles, 1969–1973, eds. Rebecca McGrew and Glen Phillips (Los Angeles: Pomona College Museum of Art, 2011).

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Louise Bourgeois

Topiary, The Art of Improving Nature, 1998
Drypoint and aquatint etchings on paper, suite of nine prints
99.7 x 70.5 cm each
Collection of the Easton Foundation

In this suite of etchings, trees and plants appear with anthropomorphic characteristics, as the artist often considered trees as symbolic of human bodies, in their ability to grow, transform, and change shape. Whilst the form and shape of the trees are organic, the crutches appear contrasting in their geometric regularity. Some of the trees appear with amputated limbs and stumps, which stem from Bourgeois’ exposure to sculptures of war veterans during her time working as a young guide in the Louvre, in Paris. Bourgeois’ sister, Henriette, also had a condition that stiffened her leg and which required use of a cane for walking, and the artist was thus influenced by this mode of being and moving. The colours in the etchings are also symbolic of various affective registers, where the artist considered blue as conveying peace and meditation, while red is a translation of aggression. The red and blue in these drawings stand out dramatically against the pale grey and white backgrounds. The art of topiary itself involves clipping and training plants into ornamental forms, and Bourgeois’ clever reference to “improvement” within the context of trees as metaphors for human bodies suggests that we live in a world in which our bodies are never quite perfect or complete according to narrow standards of perfection. Perhaps improvement comes in the form of mutilation and amputation, leaving the crutch and the prosthesis as an ambiguous tool that both supports and damages one’s sense of self-identity, self-defence, and survival.

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Bufano_Home

Lisa Bufano and Jason Tschantré

Home is Not Home, 2011
Video, 21:54 minutes
Courtesy of the artists

Originally from Boston, Lisa Bufano was an interdisciplinary artist and a performer. Following the amputation of both her feet and her fingers at the age of 21, Bufano found innovative ways to incorporate her body into video, animation, dance, and performance work. She often used fantastical prosthetics and props in her work, most notably her orange Queen Anne table legs. Bufano explored themes related to alternative locomotion, physical difference, sexuality, and animation, often through collaboration with other artists. One of her most extended collaborations was with video artist, Jason Tschantré. From 2006 to 2010, she toured with AXIS Dance Company, performing works choreographed by Victoria Marks, Joe Goode, and Kate Weare. Lisa had performed for audiences in Brazil, France, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Canada, and in venues across the United States. Bufano passed away in 2013, at the age of 40.

Home is Not Home is a movement/video collaboration created by Bufano and Tschantré for L’art+toi, in Bethune, France in 2011. Bufano had been on a theatre residency at the Hippodrome in Douai, France from November 7–14, 2011, and this performance took place on November 14.

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Two hands twisting and pulling on the front of a shirt that the person is wearing

Arseli Dokumaci

“Taskscape” in its Making: Disabled ways of living OTHERWISE, 2013
Video, 11:04 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

As we go about our everyday lives, we are continuously LABOURING. We sit, stand and wheel; we bend, throw, hold, reach, lift, grasp and let go; we dress and undress; we move around; we cook, eat, chew and defecate; we talk, listen and sign; we make love; we breathe… Anthropologist Tim Ingold calls this ceaseless LABOUR of the everyday as “taskscape”, saying: “the taskscape is to labour what the landscape is to land” (2000: 158) [1]

Taskscape involves a collective endeavor, even when performed in the absence of others. Taskscape is of the here and now with its “retensions from the past and protentions for the future” (157). Taskscape makes the MATTER of everyday life. And yet taskscape is perhaps the most trivialized of all that MATTERS.

This video is an account of taskscapes given by a group of individuals living with mobility-related chronic pain and impairments. Adopting the critical lens of, what I call, DISABILITY AS A METHOD, I invite us to listen to what disabled people have to say about the following questions: What does it take to be immersed in a taskscape? What is the BODILY COST of everyday labour? Which embodiments does a taskscape TAKE-FOR-GRANTED? But most importantly, how is a taskscape transformed and REMADE through disabled ways of moving, sensing and living OTHERWISE?

1. Ingold, Tim (2000) The Perception of the Environment. London: Routledge.

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A figure walking across a lawn covered in a bright green stretchy blanket

Sara Hendren

Unknown Armature: Body socks, 2012
Wearable material
Courtesy of the artist

For several months in 2012, Sara Hendren began researching and testing some body sock prototypes, as part of a series of prosthetic research initiatives she called Unknown Armature. These are wearable therapeutic tools for people with sensory processing disorders. These disorders might involve a hypersensitivity to stimuli—perceiving ordinary noises as shrill or piercing, or ordinary touches as aggressive attacks, or hyposensitivity—under-aware of sensations like cold, or indifferent to physical pain. The sock is a kind of envelope over the wearer’s experience: She can see through the stretchy fabric, but she cannot be seen, and she can be enclosed while also exploring the world. The sock invites the wearer to push hard against its strong Lycra, engaging its powerful resistance as an exercise, or a dance, or to engage an enemy proxy. It provides strong feedback and invisibility, an interior/exterior mediator for animated action.

These prosthetics are in fairly common use, especially for young people with autism spectrum conditions, and if you try one on, it is compelling. Hendren has thus re-positioned a body sock into a public prosthetic for people with or without the formal conditions that call for it.

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View of a sculpural object attached to the back of a man's head

Darrin Martin

Noise Print Sculptures for BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids), 2008–2010
Six digital prints on Arches paper, four sculptures
Courtesy of the artist

Darrin Martin engages the synesthetic qualities of perception by exploring tactile, audible, and visual phenomena with sculpture, video, and print-based installations. Contrasting current and archaic technologies, Martin constructs sound and image through performative and mechanical systems in order to analyze mediated experiences through complex physical forms.

In Noise Print Sculptures, the artist attempted to make practical windscreens for his bone-anchored hearing aid implants, and mini sculptures ensued. These prototypes became documented, and resulted in the modelling of the idea in the form of a series of accompanying digital prints.

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Video still of a blurry image of a man facing the camera

Disembody Electric, 2015
Video, 28:16 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

In this video, we see the ghostly bust form of a man’s body spinning around and around against a floating black background. As the man’s body spins, the form and shape of his head, chest, and forearms is occasionally zapped into misrecognition as though it has encountered lightning. The sounds of experimental, electronic beats accompany the zapping actions as if causing the man to spasm. The artist created the exaggerated and dramatic manipulations of the man’s form by sending a 3D scan of the image through a wobbulator. He then tweaked the stability of the image by manipulating electronic frequencies through oscillators.

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Two men looking through sculptural binoculars with paper attached to the front of the lens

The Divide, 2015
Two-channel video installation, 14:07 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

This work explores methods of description through a pair of identical twins who attempt to narrate sets of stereoscopic images produced over a century ago. While the images themselves oscillate, causing a three-dimensional effect for the viewing audience, the work captures the slippage that occurs during any mode of translation as the describers interject their own imaginations and experiences onto their readings.

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A man standing on a street speaking into a blow horn

Carmen Papalia

White Cane, Amplified, 2015
Video, 16:47 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

In this video, non-visual learner Carmen Papalia continues his experimentation with subversively transforming the shape and functions of the blind man’s white cane, which the artist finds limiting within a broader field of semiotics and aesthetics.

In 2013, Papalia decided to abandon his white cane, and replace it with a Los Angeles high school marching band, which developed a sequence of repetitive sounds that would effectively act as a guide for the artist as he traversed the unfamiliar streets. As Papalia walked, the marching band would follow, watch his movements, and bellow on the trumpet or blow on the horn to indicate when he was about to cross a street, step over a sidewalk or turn a corner.

Similarly, in White Cane, Amplified, the artist relies on sound instead of touch to navigate a busy urban street in Vancouver, but this time, the artist does the job solo, by using a megaphone. The work then takes on a collaborative and performative function when he calls out to passers-by and introduces himself as blind, and asks them to please help him cross the street. Here, the artist takes control over the cane, for rather than letting the cane speak for itself as a visual and symbolic device, instead, Papalia acquires agency by aurally positioning and announcing himself within the urban landscape, becoming vulnerable and resolute all at once. Through works such as this, the artist asks us to consider how the non-visual experience may serve as a productive means of collectively experiencing place.

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Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Audio of introduction



Ariel view of a man walking in circles wearing a seat belt attached to the floor

Mowry Baden

Untitled (Seat Belt with Pole and Two Straps), 1969–1970
Nylon, metal
Dimensions variable
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery; Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund

This three-pronged series of Seatbelt sculptures shown at each of the three gallery locations in The Flesh of the World, reflects Mowry Baden’s interest in movement and its impact on perception. The Seatbelt sculptures require that viewers interact with, and physically operate them, demonstrating a performative and collaborative approach with the audience. Of this work, Baden says, “Like so much of my art, it attempts to downplay vision… you can know that the path you’re traveling is not a pure circle, but only after you’ve made multiple journeys. The seatbelt here, with three points of attachment, is the subtlest of them all. You can walk around for ten minutes before the geometry begins to click in… the needle swings over to the non-visual senses gradually. The viewer gradually discovers where the sensory challenge is. And the experience is complex. Personally, I can’t exhaust it. Even today, I can’t wear it out. I began to realize this is a completely different territory for exploration.”

Interview with Mowry Baden, It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles, 1969–1973, eds. Rebecca McGrew and Glen Phillips (Los Angeles: Pomona College Museum of Art, 2011).

Audio transcription



Image of Raphaelle de Groot sitting in a chair, leaning over. She is covered in various items like ropes and pieces of cardboard and craft supplies

Raphaëlle de Groot

The Wait – Experimenting Expectation, 2015
Durational performance with audience participation, collection of materials, found objects and accessories; video documentation
Courtesy of the artist

Montreal artist Raphaëlle de Groot’s work evolves from heterogeneous, contextual research, situations of encounter, and responses to experience. In this new installation, de Groot staged a performance at the opening reception in addition to her performances in the two days following the reception. Here, the artist set up various interactive encounters with audience members. Within her engagements with other bodies, de Groot was able to collectively produce signs, marks, and accounts through note-taking, during a process of undertaking various physical and situational constraints—obstructed vision, restrictive wear, covering up the face. The artist always strives to work outside the purview of vision, in “un-mastery,” such as to instill a state of dispossession, of loss: loss of one’s bearings, loss of control, loss of self-image, so that there is an ultimate reorganization of existing materials, and one can observe traces of things that share the quality of usually being overlooked.

Photo by Jessie Lau | jessielau.com
Video by Owen Lyons | smallpropeller.com

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Black and white close up of the artist's eye

Lindsay Fisher

How to paint your nails perfectly, 2014
Video installation, 3:09 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

Peepshow, 2014
Video installation, 0:09 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

Two sets of hands paint their nails, following vague and cripped voices reciting instructions that fill the gallery’s soundscape. In a second video of three looping images, a hand grazes pubic hair, the same hand caresses a knob of skin, and, in the middle, an eye frantically shifts from one image to the other. In the way that this unfamiliar knob of skin references a clitoris, and for the way it is being touched, this ambiguous bit of flesh is easily identified as a site of pleasure as much as it might be a site of reservation.

In these works, bodies of difference perform acts traditionally associated with being desirable, and through them, difference is not transformed into normalcy (nor is normalcy transformed into difference)—these works compel us into difference.

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Blurry image of spinning movement with man's head at the end of two legs

Martin Kersels

Whirling Patty, 1999
Whirling Mara, 1999
Whirling Mr. Keedy, 1999
Whirling Melinda, 1999
Cibachrome, edition of 10
86.4 x 124.5 cm each
Courtesy of Redling Fine Arts, Los Angeles

In Martin Kersels’ Whirling photo series, the artist grabbed friends by their ankles in an outdoor space, and spun them around continuously in a circle. Meanwhile, the spinning friends were armed with an auto-focused, motor-driven Nikon camera, and snapped pictures of Kersels in his performative whirling actions. Lisa Lyons describes the images as follows: “Resembling images taken from a carousel, the resulting shots show Kersels in a cinematic maelstrom of blurred streaks of color. If the Whirling photos are filmic, they are also mythic, suggesting that the artist is not simply endowed with Herculean strength, but is actually the power at the center of the universe, a titanic force that makes the world turn, the axis around which everything and everybody revolves.”

Lisa Lyons, Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000).

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Tim Lee

Untitled (Studio Roll, 1970), 2009
Single-channel video installation, 59 seconds
Courtesy of Lisson Gallery

This video draws on Dan Graham’s seminal double projection Roll (1970), and emerged from the artist’s interest in how one person’s stable perspective might be another person’s warped one. The one-minute video explores the way the audience will encounter various points of view, which may involve off balanced and disorienting modes as a means of experiencing space. Tim Lee suggests that, through optical experimentation, there is more than one way to look and experience the world.

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Image of artist bent backwards in a visual effect that contorts his body

Untitled (James Osterberg, 1970), 2006
C-Print
182.9 x 213.4 cm
Collection of Guy Knowles

In this large, glossy photograph, the artist Tim Lee depicts himself doing an impossible back bend, reminiscent of the way the body might move in the high jump in track and field events. Through photographic manipulation, the artist’s body looks as though it is completing a feat beyond the capacities of even the most accomplished and trained athlete. Yet, it is not athletic talent that the artist is invoking here—rather it may be more related to the musical stage. Lee gives us a clue in the title of the piece: James Osterberg is the rock star who goes by the name Iggy Pop. Having invented the stage dive, Osterberg has become known for his outrageous and unpredictable stage antics, including rolling around in broken glass, exposing himself, and vomiting on stage. Lee’s bizarre and twisted form pays homage to Osterberg’s idiosyncratic athleticism, but the photograph, which has its own stage presence, also allows us to stretch the contours of our imagination of what is physically possible through technology.

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Alexa Wright

After Image, 1997
Six digitally manipulated C-type prints
75 x 56 cm each
Courtesy of the artist

Portrait of man sitting at table with his arm missing and a separate hand resting on the tableDuring a collaboration between the neurologist John Kew and the neuropsychologist Professor Peter Halligan, to research and visualise phantom limbs, artist Alexa Wright interviewed and photographed eight people with amputated limbs. She then made a series of photographs of each person interviewed. People were photographed in their own homes. A “straight” portrait is included in each series to “normalize” the more bizarre images of phantoms. The work aims to question the notion of the “normal” body, and to investigate the relationship between identity and the body in order to challenge public attitudes regarding physical differences and disabilities. Since their creation in 1997, images from the After Image series have been shown in a wide range of art and science contexts, both nationally and internationally.

Texts, derived from the interviews, in which each person describes the history of their phantom limb experience, are available here.

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Skin, 2000
Four C-type prints
50 x 60 cm each
With text panels
Courtesy of the artist

Pair of arms with dark brown and pink spots on flower pattern fabricSkin was made in collaboration with Professor Irene Leigh, Consultant Dermatologist at London Hospital, and people with disabling skin conditions. Images of conditions such as vitiligo and psoriasis are set against ornate or brightly coloured fabrics. These are accompanied by extensive texts in which the subjects narrate their experiences. The images are modelled on medical photographs, but the backgrounds bring a different set of connotations to the unusual or “monstrous” appearance of the skin. The texts also work to humanise the images, and to moderate any negative reactions on the part of the viewer.

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University of Toronto Art Centre

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Man standing on a concrete block wearing a seat belt that is attached to the floor

Mowry Baden

Untitled (Seat Belt with Concrete Block), 1969–1970
Nylon, metal, concrete
Dimensions variable
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery; Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund

This three-pronged series of Seatbelt sculptures shown at each of the three gallery locations in The Flesh of the World, reflects Mowry Baden’s interest in movement and its impact on perception. The Seatbelt sculptures require that viewers interact with, and physically operate them, demonstrating a performative and collaborative approach with the audience. Of this work, Baden says, “Like so much of my art, it attempts to downplay vision… you can know that the path you’re traveling is not a pure circle, but only after you’ve made multiple journeys. The seatbelt here, with three points of attachment, is the subtlest of them all. You can walk around for ten minutes before the geometry begins to click in… the needle swings over to the non-visual senses gradually. The viewer gradually discovers where the sensory challenge is. And the experience is complex. Personally, I can’t exhaust it. Even today, I can’t wear it out. I began to realize this is a completely different territory for exploration.”

Interview with Mowry Baden, It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles, 1969–1973, eds. Rebecca McGrew and Glen Phillips (Los Angeles: Pomona College Museum of Art, 2011).

Audio transcription



Two men standing and staring at eachother face to face

Helen Dowling

Breaker, 2008
Video installation, 03:01 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

In the video, Breaker, two men dance in a studio. The man with cerebral palsy is Helen Dowling’s older brother, John. The other man is a local break dancer. The artist asked them to attempt to copy each other’s physicality through a series of movements or exercises. Essentially, John copied the break dancing, and the break dancer copied the forms of cerebral palsy. The artist wanted the resulting footage to blur the lines of what choreography and form should, and can be copied, learned, and taught, and to question the normalization of dance and gesture. Mimicking another person also carries references to both flattery and cruel behaviour, which John has had to endure all too frequently. Dowling wanted to turn the act of copying someone who has cerebral palsy into an act that is challenging, and something that, within this video, is admired instead of evoking scorn or, sometimes even more harmful, pity.

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Series of white sculptural instruments that resemble stools sitting upside down on the floor

Erin Gee

Swarming Emotional Pianos, 2012–ongoing
Aluminium tubes, servo motors, custom mallets, Arduino-based electronics, iCreate platforms
Approximately 68.6 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm each
Custom biosensors that collect heartrate and signal amplitude, respiration amplitude and rate, and galvanic skin response (sweat)
Biodata collection software and affective data responsive algorithmic music software built in Max/MSP
Courtesy of the artist

This is a cybernetic musical performance work that bridges robotics and emotion to create biologically harmonic, chamber music. Swarming Emotional Pianos features a set of mobile robots that each house a bell instrument and lighting components. The music that these robots play is determined through physiological responses of a human subject to emotional states, which is reflective of affective computing research. These physiological markers include breathing, heart rate, sweat glands, and blood pressure. The goal of this work is to illuminate and explore the complex relationships between body and mind in human emotions.

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Ann Hamilton

body object series #5 sagebrush, 1986
Black and white photograph, rosewood frame
Image: 12.7 x 12.7 cm; sheet: 25.4 x 20.3 cm
Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Museum purchase, 1990.13

Black and white image of figure in a black dress with a bushel of dried sticks as a headAmerican artist Ann Hamilton’s body object series #5 sagebrush (1986), is a small, black and white photograph that has an iconic place in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s permanent collection. The artist has long drawn on her direct experiences with bodily sensations to inform her art making. The “body object series” began in 1984, when the artist wore objects assembled in her studio where she was in pursuit of a position. Working with photographer Bob McMurtry, this began the practice of taking inanimate objects from installations, and, in joining them to the body, changing their function and psychological relation.

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Photograph of three wheelchair basketball players dribbling a basketball in the gallery, with visitors watching them while sitting on an orange stage

Wendy Jacob

Waves and Signs (Basketball), 2015
Wood, transducers, sound, video projection
Courtesy of the artist

Waves and Signs (Basketball) is an installation consisting of a wooden platform engineered to carry vibration, performers, and a video projection.

Concealed behind the wooden platform are four large, electro-mechanical transducers and two power amps. The transducers are firmly attached to supporting studs and carry vibrational signals through the platform’s surface. During the opening, the floor will be activated by live performers. At all other times, it will be activated by video feed. The performers are two basketball players who dribble and pass a basketball between them. A microphone captures the vibrations of the ball as it comes in contact with the floor. The sounds/vibrations are carried to the floor. By standing on it, visitors can “hear” the ball in play through their bodies.

In the video, the basketball players are members of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin Falcons (Cambridge, Massachusetts). During the opening, the performance will feature members of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues Basketball Team and the Senior Men’s National Team, Wheelchair Basketball Canada.

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Martin Kersels

Twist, 1993
Gear motor, motor speed control, bridge rectifier, wood, metal, rubber bands, prosthetic leg, sock, and shoe
Dimensions variable
Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Museum purchase, International and Contemporary Collectors Funds, 2001.10

A wall mounted projector like object with a sculptural leg suspended from it's lens and ending with a bootMartin Kersels began his career as a performance artist, and eventually decided to make works of art that would translate the concerns of performance – movement, timing, sound, staging, and the audience’s empathy – into three-dimensional objects. Twist consists of a prosthetic leg attached to a motor via a tangled rope made of more than 10,000 rubber bands. The leg wears a sock and one of Kersels’ own slip-on shoes. As the motor twists, the rubber bands coil tightly until the leg breaks free of the wall and starts to theatrically flail wildly. The flesh-like rubber bands, the poignant details of the worn shoe and sock, and the spasmodic, neurological jerking of the leg lend the work a disarming physicality.

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Video still of a man dressed in a pajamas with a bandana covering his eyes and a female drummer playing drums

XXXXXXXXO, 2013
Video, 05:21 minutes
Courtesy of Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris

Martin Kersels often plays with what is maladapted, off, and decidedly out of shape. The artist’s playfulness often emerges from his own body—in a nod to his physique, Kersels once called a solo show “Heavyweight Champion”—and deeply informs two of his career interests, sound and physical comedy. XXXXXXXXO begins with a figure buried in a purple turtleneck and oversized pyjamas, thrash-dancing in a drab, linoleum-lined hallway to live drums. In the end, the artist dons the same snowflake fleece pants and the same turtleneck (now a belly shirt), and does the same, navigating the gyrating terrain between funny and pathetic, humour and pathos.

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A woman in a suit crawling on a city sidewalk

Noëmi Lakmaier

One Morning in May, 2012
Video, 48:10 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

In the documentation of the living intervention/performance, One Morning in May (2012), by Hydar Dewachi, on the 28th of May 2012, Noëmi Lakmaier set out crawling along the ground from Toynbee Studios in Tower Hamlets towards the City of London, hoping to reach one of London’s most iconic buildings, the “Gherkin.” This normally easy one mile stroll was a slow and exhausting test of endurance, as she did it on her hands and knees. Smartly dressed in business attire she dragged her body through the everyday street life of London, her clothes getting increasingly dirty and torn. After seven hours she crossed the border from the Borough of Tower Hamlets to the City of London.

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In Progress, 2010
Two-channel video installation, 19:45 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

Femininity, disability, and the expectations and stereotypes associated with both are explored through filming Noëmi Lakmaier’s face as she performs ambiguous yet seemingly private tasks in this split-screen, two-channel video installation. Over the course of 20 minutes, we are only privy to the expressions and emotions shared on the artist’s face. The image of the face on the left screen shows the artist’s head vigorously bobbing up and down. The expression on her face is contorted: her eyes are closed, occasionally fluttering open, and her brow is creased. On the right screen, the artist meets our gaze with a face expressing deep sadness, as tears occasionally trickle down her cheeks. Sometimes, she looks down as if in despair or shame, and glances back up at us with eyes that also bear anger and resentment. The narrative behind each facial expression is of course unclear, and we are left wondering if there is a connection between the two.

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Close up image of a man pinching his chin to create a fold of skin

Bruce Nauman

Pinchneck, 1968
Video: 2:08 minutes
Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix

In this seminal video, Bruce Nauman uses his neck as an object and tool in which to experiment with the manipulation of his flesh into atypical shapes and forms. The process that is taking place during this performance replaces the desire for any end result. Despite the awkwardness and pain that Nauman’s actions are likely to emit during these movements, the artist is seeking to test the limits of his neck and body, and accentuate how the corpus may actually be more pliable and malleable than we realize.

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Black and white image of an abstract hand made up of black dots

Catherine Richards

Spectral Bodies, 1991
Video, 5:30 minutes
Courtesy of Vtape, Toronto

This seminal piece considers the simulation and subjectivity in video-recording technology through narratives about inhabiting our bodies (proprioception) and losing this sense. A spectral hand and arm, as spectral dots and skeletal lines, float in a virtual environment driven by the data glove. Physiological experiments performed by the artist, creating body illusions with “subjects,” suggest that our imaginary bodies can be destabilized. Working with a scientist, Catherine Richards combined body illusions of impossible arm and hand transformations with VR technology.

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Two female attendants wrapping a person in a copper shroud, while they lie on a glass table in a white room

 

Shroud Chrysalis I, 2000
Glass table, copper taffeta, two female attendants
Dimensions variable
Collection of The Ottawa Art Gallery; Purchased with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance program, Glen Bloom and OAG’s Endowment Fund, 2004

This performance-based work is an interactive, new media installation comprised of an entirely white room, including flooring. The space is brightly lit. A glass table (30 centimetres high) is situated in the middle of the room. The only other material is copper taffeta; an electro-magnetic shielding fabric. In its unperformative state, the fabric is left folded in the centre of the glass table. Spectators are invited to be wrapped. The act of wrapping and unwrapping is performed by two female attendants. When wrapped, the spectator is “unplugged”: aware of his or her surroundings, capable of seeing and hearing through the fabric, and on display for the better part of 20 minutes.

Participate in Catherine Richards’ Shroud Chrysalis I
Appointments are available to participate in Shroud Chrysalis I. Openings are available each Tuesday at 12:30 and 1:00 in the University of Toronto Art Centre, until August 25th. Each appointment will last approximately 30 minutes.

If you are interested in an appointment please email jmb.utac.info@utoronto.ca and include the following information:
– Your preferred date/time (Please note: available times are 12:30 and 1:00)
– Your name and phone contact information

You will receive a confirmation email with your scheduled time.
Please note: late arrival will result in a reduced participation time.

Photo by Jessie Lau | jessielau.com

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Digitally manipulated image of a man's face stretched so that the sides of his head are seen as well

Stelarc

Stretched Skin, 2009
C-Print
120 x 180 cm
Courtesy of the artist

This large photograph is a digital portrait of Stelarc’s face, flattened from three to two dimensions, and floating as if an object orbiting in space, where the contours, gap, and holes in the surface of his skin might be akin to the moon, an asteroid or other foreign matter. The work is exhibited horizontally behind a glass sheet, 40 centimetres off the floor, and illuminated by lights above. Stelarc has always pushed the limits of his body through extreme performances, and here, through the use of sophisticated technology, the artist has been able to manipulate his face to the furthest regions of pulled flesh, beyond what is physically impossible to achieve in real life.

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Ear on Arm Surgery, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, 2006
Video, 05:41 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

This brief video provides a snapshot into Stelarc’s infamous surgery—which he considers as a performance—in which, after many years, the artist finally managed to find a surgeon who would be willing to insert an ear into his left arm. The video showcases the initial part of the surgery, where a scaffold in the shape of an ear is inserted into a large slit down the middle of Stelarc’s left arm. Stelarc created the ear using some of his stem cells, which were then seeded into a biodegradable polymer frame in the shape of a human ear. The first surgery took place in 2006, and the artist has since had to undertake numerous further surgeries on his arm owing to infections and other ailments. The larger plan is that eventually the ear will be connected to a Bluetooth system, and will retain the capacity to hear. There will also be a receiver implanted into the artist’s mouth, so that when he opens it, the person next to him will hear the voice of someone else who is telephoning him.

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Ear on Arm Suspension, 2012
Video, 02:36 minutes
Courtesy of Fineeyeproductions, Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne

During this grueling performance, 16 stainless steel hooks were inserted into the body of legendary Australian artist Stelarc, as he lay on an Ear On Arm sculpture, which replicates the artist’s own embodiment. After the cables were connected, his body was winched up approximately 50 centimetres above the sculpture. His body spun one way and then the other for approximately 15 minutes. When it stopped spinning, and positioned in the correct orientation, his body was then lowered down. The installation was left in place for the duration of the exhibition with an edited video and an image authenticating the performance. Stelarc says, ”The event was both a looping back to a previous performance strategy, and simultaneously, a looking forward to the Ear On Arm project, exposing the physicality of both.” The performance occurred on March 8, 2012, as part of the SUSPENSIONS exhibition, March 7–31, 2012, at Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne.

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Video still of the artist hanging on a gallery wall

Aaron Williamson

Artist Hung on Gallery Wall, 2008
Video, 01:03 minutes
Courtesy of the artist

This short, slow-motion film documents a performance of the artist substituting dead wall-art with his own living person, by flinging himself, daredevil-style, to hang on the gallery wall. Using a spring-ramp to get him up onto the wall, the artist dressed up in daredevil stuntman’s protective clothing to break his fall. Tearing up the ramp at full sprint, Williamson took the plunge, sprang full-stretch for more than two metres, and spread himself to smack against the gallery wall with full force.

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A woman in a gallery looking at a series of vests hanging on the wall with wires hanging off of them

Alexa Wright

Heart of the Matter, 2014
Sculpture and audio installation
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist

This installation explores the impact that heart transplant can have on a recipient’s sense of self as a bounded and unique individual. In the installation, monologues compiled from the individual experiences of heart transplant recipients are juxtaposed with personal narratives of intimate relationships, in which a parallel leaking of boundaries occurs in the interdependent affiliation of self and other. The stories, which emerge from a series of simple felt jackets hanging on the walls, are activated as viewers approach. As more viewers approach, the eight individual stories are overlaid to form a cacophony of interconnected testimonies about the effects of a physical or emotional change of heart—it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the two.

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Video still of a man on his knees painting with his hands on the floor

Artur Zmijewski

Blindly, 2010
Single-channel video installation, 18:42 minutes
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann

The video project, Blindly (2010), was made with blind people at a painting workshop run by artist Artur Zmijewski in 2010. Here, the artist continues to explore his interest in examining our faculty of perception and the right to expression. Two women and four men, some born blind, others who became blind, were invited to paint, under Zmijewski’s guidance, a landscape, an insect, and their home or their own image. They interact with the medium of painting, with colour; they describe what they are doing, the kind of image they are painting, and talk about their reality, explaining how they came to be blind. Blindly ponders the connections made by the senses in the processes of recognition—seeing, being seen—and, like all of Zmijewski’s work, considers our human condition.

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