Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
Proximity and Transmutability of Diasporic Archives: in conversation with Kandis Friesen
Wednesday, July 8, 2020 | Stephanie Wong Ken
My conversation with Montreal-based artist Kandis Friesen was far from routine. In the lead up to our chat, I planned to visit Friesen’s most recent exhibit, Tape 158: New Documents from the Archives at TRUCK Gallery, here in Calgary. But just before this the province went into lockdown and the gallery was closed to the public. Rather than an in-person experience of the show, I had to rely on documentation of the exhibition provided by Friesen: an archive of the archive. While looking and listening to the documentation on my computer, in the comfort of my living room, I was drawn to the intricacy and beauty of Friesen’s show: exploring the ghostly presence of history through video, sound, photography, and installation. As an artist from Canada with Russian Mennonite roots, Friesen’s work looks at the complicated role of the archive, and asks us to consider how identity, nationhood, and historical objects are formed through us, and with us. Her multi-media work seems particularly suited...
“Making Public” : in conversation with Maha Maamoun
Friday, June 19, 2020 | Sarah Nesbitt
This past February, I attended the Berlinale Film Festival for the first time. My partner, Omar Elhamy, had a short film in the competition, and we took the opportunity to make a holiday out of it. I was particularly curious about the Forum Expanded and went with ambitions to write about this unique program. However, for a variety of reasons, including the 300 + minute run-time of films in the exhibition portion, distance between venues, scheduling conflicts, and the looming shadow of other (overdue) writing deadlines, I decided it was good enough to just absorb what I could, and learn for next time, if there ever is a next time. I was, however, taken with one of the Forum’s curators, Maha Maamoun, who I first encountered as the moderator for a screening that included a film by mutual friend, Ahmed Elghoneimy. The program went quite late, and was prolonged by a heckler in the audience who proceeded to offer his “critical” (and therefore important) contribution—a monolog about the deat...
One World Streaming Together
Wednesday, June 10, 2020 | Emily Doucet
Since the early days of the internet, people have shared information and experiences virtually when doing so in person was physically or socially impossible, but the current moment arguably represents something different. I hesitate to be prescriptive about what we should be watching instead, since that should and will look different for each community affected. But all this emphasis on “liveness” and narratives about how we’re going to get out of this have left me yearning for a bit more reflection on how we got here in the first place. Maybe solidarity looks a little bit less like representing the crisis and a little more like telling a story about how things could be different next time.
Haptic suppositions: some ruminations with Brandon Ndife
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 | Luther Konadu
At least for now, the Jersey City artist Brandon Ndife seems to suggest that we take a few steps forward with him towards the future. Or maybe more likely, shuffle across an alternate space/time that mirrors the one we currently occupy. Keeping in touch with history, this hypothetical in-between terrain is murkier, more eerie. It is dystopian like the one we know, and perhaps it is nearing a threshold of something hopeful; but I won’t say it is optimistic. This is where his budding practice in sculpture thrives. It is a place to imagine, think, and speculate alongside felt realities. Even though what we encounter in Ndife’s work is grounded in sculptural thought, it is just as wrapped up in painting, makeup effects, and meticulous preparatory drawing. Over the last six years or so, Ndife has been burrowing progressively through object-making: wandering, feeling out, and retooling. In the show Just Passin’ Thru held at Interstate Projects the bricolage in his work looked...
Concrete solutions for hostile problems: in conversation with Phat Le and Benjamin de Boer
Friday, May 15, 2020 | Cason Sharpe
Phat Le and Benjamin de Boer took different paths to arrive at their current collaborative practice — Le is a student of architecture and de Boer is a poet. Their projects are united by their use of concrete. They embrace the material’s malleability and ubiquity, positioning it as an entry point for civic engagement. In 2016, the pair facilitated a workshop in which participants learned how to cast concrete by pouring rockite into condoms to create moulds in the shape of butt plugs. This tongue-in-cheek approach to materiality and collective action continues in Meditation in Concrete II, Le and de Boer’s latest exhibition, which opened at Alexus Projects’ Grab-a-Slice Gallery this past January. The subject of investigation this time around is hostile architecture, a concept that describes design elements that intentionally impede the use of public amenities. The middle armrests installed on many public benches are an example of this insidious strategy. Their placement prevents people f...
Tracing the affective flow of a new corporeality: in conversation with Tishan Hsu
Tuesday, May 5, 2020 | Mark Pieterson
For the last four decades, American artist Tishan Hsu has made a mark through his focused investigation into the embodiment of technology. His multimedia work exists in a terrain both familiar and unfamiliar, sublime yet accessible. From the early stages of his career in the 1980s, he’s been interested in technology’s impact on affect and its phenomenological implications. Making art was then an opportunity to respond to the accelerated changes of biological and digital infrastructure. “I speculated that the world I would inhabit would be a technological one, for better or for worse. As a result, I wanted to get closer to technology, as a way of understanding it as a potential inspiration for creative production”, Hsu describes. It is this desire to trace the corporeal conditions of the then new normal that has sustained Hsu’s unique visual language. From his choice of materials like tile, alkyd, ceramic, video and sound, he continually demonstrates an awareness of the rhizomatic...
The wetness of it all
Friday, May 1, 2020 | Madeline Rae
I made love to the Earth on ecstasy. I dug my nails into it and held it in my hands. I pressed my pelvis against it and inhaled deeply, like I would the neck of a lover. I cried and pushed into the ground, trying to move inside it and feel it all around me. John Berger wrote, “When in love, the sight of the beloved has a completeness which no words and no embrace can match: a completeness which only the act of making love can temporarily accommodate.” 1 Soaking and pulsating You are Springtime The wind smells different, the earth is defrosting and remembering how to grow. I press one finger into the mud and its tight caress is cold still. I wiggle my finger around until I know the dirt is under my nail and closer to my blood. My mother is my best friend. I thank the universe for her every day. She rocks me in her lap through heartbreak and tells me I am still her baby. While snot runs down my face and my eyes are swollen she calls me beautiful, and I believe her. She laughs out st...
Uncanny Americana: in Conversation with Philip Leonard Ocampo
Friday, April 24, 2020 | Greta Hamilton
The architectural residue of abandoned Pizza Huts, a tote bag full of receipts for Gatorade, Cheetos, NASCAR memorabilia, the giant rotating bucket outside of KFC— these are uncanny images which to some extent are synonymous with American iconography. Though the imagery of the American Dream has shifted into absurdity, there remains an underlying urge to participate in the fantasies of American commercial culture and to produce images of American identity. In the conversation that follows, artist/curator/arts facilitator Philip Leonard Ocampo discusses the paradoxical ways the ideals associated with the American Dream have impacted his family and artistic practice in a Canadian diasporic context. Born to Filipino parents, the Toronto-based Ocampo recently completed his studies at Ontario College of Art and Design and alongside his own studio work, he has since engaged in a number of curatorial projects including The Bald Eagle’s Claw, at Xpace Cultural Centre in the summer of 2019. At...
Private Images, Counter publics: in conversation with Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 | Tatum Dooley
If there’s anything that captures the concept of “spectacle” famously theorized by Guy Debord in his 1967 text “The Society of the Spectacle,” it’s social media, followed closely by sporting events. “The decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing” constitutes the society of the spectacle, wrote Debord, who then aptly declared that commodity has colonized society. It’s a bit obvious for me to say that Instagram represents the manifestation of Debord’s words, but what isn’t obvious is the nuanced way that Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes blends these concepts into her photographs, disorienting the viewer. Advertisements. Instagram grids. A race track. In our conversation, Kriangwiwat Holmes points out that in terms of visual literacy, as a culture we’re best at reading advertisements. She uses the language of advertisements—the colours, composition, and position on a sign—as a framework for her art practice. The result is a dystopian jest, images tha...
Converging in Solidarity: Indigenous-led Gatherings Promote Cultural and Spiritual Safety
Thursday, April 9, 2020 | Adrienne Huard
Indigenous ways of being lie fundamentally in the strength of our people and the land that carries us. Beading falls within our embodied knowledge and celebrating these practices encourages our modes of sovereignty and resilience. Beading can and is often done alone, though the practice also brings our community together in powerful ways. Evenings spent with kin, or lunch time beading groups, like the one I hosted weekly at Concordia University, provide meaningful spaces for intergenerational learning and healing. The act of beading prevails as an Indigenous knowledge system–it integrates modes of map-making, displays our understanding of the land and our bloodlines–while including encoded stories, language and teachings. With hundreds of beaders connecting at a distance through social media, and other means over the last ten years, the need for larger scale beading events has given rise to two in so-called Canada within as many years. 
Successive lives of objects: in conversation with Julie Oh
Friday, April 3, 2020 | Kate Kolberg
Julie Oh relies on instinct; an uncritical trust of feelings elicited on a first encounter. The Saskatoon-based artist collects found objects which are often commonplace and recognizable to many, and then initiates a period of sustained engagement with them. Very little of the object will be physically altered during this time. Instead, Oh looks to isolate an encounter, providing the audience with an obscure and novel perspective. In this new light, it is almost as if the familiarity of Oh’s selected objects is exactly what makes them seemingly so foreign — it is a practice that lowers the partition between these two outwardly opposed conditions of perception. Through this understated gesture, Oh contemplates more far-reaching questions regarding the relevance of context, value, perspective, and engagement. I first encountered Oh’s work through the documented performance accompaniment of the installation lines, a piece she produced in 2018 as part of the RBC Emerging Artist Series at t...
Opinion: Notes on Fluids
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 | Madeline Rae
Document 3. Beside this file is an image I saw on Tumblr. It is an ad for a scent called E’au D’Héroïne, and on the bottom it reads: by Jork Weismann. There's a close-up shot of an opened mouth, a tilted back jaw, with oozy champagne-colored liquid spilling out generously. I was attracted to this image because of its wetness, vulnerability, and sexiness. I became obsessed with the notion of oozing substances in my third year of art school. But the curiosity started at an earlier age. It began with the first nutrients I ever consumed—the milk from my mother’s nipples. That is, how it came to be and how her body could produce it for my consumption. Later in life, there was a different kind of ooz that caught...
'Indigenous Futurism is now': in conversation with Santiago X”
Friday, March 20, 2020 | Jameson Paige
In recent years, the United States has finally started to formally acknowledge its volatile relationship to the original peoples of the land, despite their long protestation and resistance to erasure. In the U.S. and Canadian art worlds, this recognition, though late, has come with a host of reparative institutional tactics, some of which include the performance of printed and spoken stolen-land acknowledgments or dedicated space in exhibition calendars for Indigenous artists. Though these efforts are certainly worthwhile and should continue, it is important to note that they are merely first steps on a path towards the rematriation of land and cultural autonomy for Indigenous folks in the U.S and Canada. Santiago X is an artist based in Chicago whose work contends with the growing pains of making space—physically and intellectually—for...
The Good, the Camp, and the Ugly
Wednesday, March 11, 2020 | Angel Callander
Leigh Bowery, Carmen Miranda, “Love Shack,” Showgirls, Björk’s swan dress at the Oscars, Macy Gray’s outfit emblazoned with the release date of her next album at the 2001 MTV VMAs, reality television, just about everything Lady Gaga has ever done—in a truly nebulous set of relations, references, and time periods, these things all have in common that they are beholden to the legacy of camp. Last year’s Met Gala put camp on our minds again, reviving Susan Sontag’s prominent essay, “Notes on Camp” (1964), and distributing it to celebrity stylists in what was itself a campy gesture of mingling pop culture and intellectualism.    Camp has not really been at the forefront of discourses surrounding cultural production over the past decade; though, in actuality, it has operated heavily in the background....
Structures in the Unconscious: Ming Hon's Exciting Consequences
Tuesday, March 3, 2020 | Mariana Muñoz Gomez
Ming Hon’s production Exciting Consequences is set up to engage with the re-examinations of psychoanalysis, voyeurism, and scopophilia (the desire to “take other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze”)1 that occupied feminist film theory for the last quarter of the 20th century. Thematically, the performance is based on the gaze, sexuality, and self-awareness. Hon includes sex toys and 1980s porn in her re-enactments of accidentally learning about sex as a child, later including internet culture to allude to contemporary access to porn and sexual self-education. These materials are used by Hon to perform a narrative stemming from a childhood in which she finds and looks through her father’s dirty magazines and VHS tapes. As audience members, we are given various voyeuristic opportunities throughout the performance. The stage is set up as a bedroom without walls so we can see the “backstage” of the production including makeup artist (Rachel Lynne Jones), as...
3rd Kamias Triennial: in conversation with the curators/organizers
Friday, February 21, 2020 | Luther Konadu
With beginnings dating back to 2014 , Kamias Triennial (Quezon City, Philippines) has steadily created a formidable alternative to the flashy blockbuster art exhibition event. Though grown out of an independent mentality, it continues to thrive with the retained relations the organizers have fostered over the years with local artists and organizations in the host city. In its third iteration, the Triennial is a picture of what arises out of sustained collaboration and community interdependence within the limits of available resources. Hosted across several venues, this year's offering gathers over twenty different artists and collectives with connections to over ten countries many of which will be in attendance for the Triennial. And in lieu of the added costs of shipping finished works, the participating artists' presence there will be used...
Some aesthetic curiosities and adventures from the 2020 Material Art Fair
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 | Mark Pieterson
In its seventh year, Mexico City’s Material Art Fair has certainly cemented itself as one of the premier global destinations for art. Focused, fresh, dynamic and unpretentious, the fair continues to draw some of the more important and critically curious works that perfectly balances local discourses and practices with currents occurring in Europe and the Americas (note the exception of galleries from the African continent and periphery areas. Whether this is a lack of outreach from fair organizers or interest from prominent galleries on the continent of Africa and other areas of the global south is up to speculation). To say it’s matured since its inauguration in 2013 initially begs the question, for what, how and for whom? Yet, in the context of the art market, many participating galleries and...
Sieving an Unwavering Voice Through Seven Translations: in conversation with Janell Henry
Wednesday, February 5, 2020 | Mariana Muñoz Gomez
2019 was proclaimed the International Year of Indigenous Languages by The United Nations. Initiatives around the world were created to promote the learning and preservation of Indigenous languages, as well as to raise awareness on the language rights of Indigenous people. 2019 also reminded the world that violence towards Indigenous people, their cultures and their land is ongoing. It is significant that an international organization such as the UN could create a platform for the experiences of Indigenous people worldwide this past year, and of course, events around Indigenous languages, cultures, and rights continue to be organized. (To view some events happening in and around Canada about Indigenous languages, see the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre Inc.’s website.) Winnipeg is known for having the largest urban Indigenous population in...
3rd Kamias Triennial
Monday, February 3, 2020 | Public Parking Staff
We are very excited to be bringing you some coverage of the 3rd Kamias Triennial from Quezon City, in the Philippines. Beginning February 7th through 22nd, the third edition of the triennial will unite a breadth of international and local artists in a series of exhibitions, performances, screenings and workshops across multiple venues in the city. Under the title of “Sawsawan: Conversations in the Dirty Kitchen”, this iteration of the triennial as the organizers and curators describe, “foregrounds [an] intention to gather [in a space] where we can engage in messy, complex and nourishing conversation generated by the many voices of our artists and audiences.” Please check back in as our local Quezon City correspondent brings us some highlights occurring throughout the two-week festival. We will also bring you our...
Rhythms of life, grief, and renewal: in the garden with Eve Tagny
Monday, January 27, 2020 | RYAN AD
Through the imperceptible wifi connections linking myself and Eve Tagny, I could feel her love, trials, and vast experience with plant life. Coming together over FaceTime conversations darting between Winnipeg, Montreal, and Johannesburg, from fall to early winter, we spoke at length in varying shades of brown and green. She mentioned her current favourite plants (one is Gunnera, for those wondering), we shared thoughts about the relationship between nature and trauma, and her meditations on the garden as a space of pause remain imprinted on my mind. In Tagny’s practice, natural, living materials act as mediums to disseminate the poignant feelings of trauma that life experience brings to all of us. The conversation, touching topics harrowing to some, and quite personal at times, was altogether warm, inviting, and refreshing—and much...
Opinion: Chinese People Have a Saying for This
Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | Viola Chen
The film is named The Farewell in English. In Chinese, it’s called 别告诉她, which would more accurately translate into English as ‘Don’t Tell Her’. My friend, in positively reviewing the movie, said: “You know an Asian girl who went to art school and then made this movie.” He was absolutely right. Bitchily, I thought, yeah I got that from the commentary that the translated English film title is probably supposed to make. Still, I couldn’t feel as ironic about seeing it as I would have liked to. I watched it twice, once on my laptop alone and stoned in my bedroom, and once in a trendy independent theatre with my mom. This was the Asian movie of the year; “like Crazy Rich Asians,” my mom said loudly in the theatre,...
2019 Flashbacks: Despairs and Delights
Thursday, January 16, 2020 | Katie Connell and Esmé Hogeveen
Dear Katie, Year-end ‘lists’ (I can’t resist the scare quotes!) have always struck me as inherently optimistic. I also find that reflecting on beloved content from the previous year reminds me of all the media I wished I’d engaged with — books left unread, tabs reluctantly closed, screenings missed, and exhibitions that ended before I got my shit together! (TBH, I often find that reading other people’s year-end lists inspires FOMO.)  In the spirit of confronting insecurities, then, I should admit that I’ve been binging Gossip Girl. I’ve been watching the series as I recuperate from surgery. While it’s possible that painkillers are dulling my senses, I also think I might be rekindling a love for teen dramas (kinda exciting!). Speaking of which, have you seen Euphoria? I haven’t, and...
Updating the logic of the monument: in conversation with Susanna Jablonski
Wednesday, December 11, 2019 | Angel Callander
Susanna Jablonski is a Stockholm-based artist working with sculpture, moving image, sound and music to test the boundaries of materials, time, and human experience. She considers the tensions of interpersonal relationships in the collective, as mediated through objects, nature, historical consequences, and human-built systems.  Jablonski is a frequent collaborator of artist and filmmaker Santiago Mostyn. And together with performance artist Cara Tolmie, she organizes an ongoing series of Listening Sets as part of their joint research project “Gender of Sound,” which hosts work by artists that support a practice of close listening with the participation of an audience (encouraging those with all levels of experience or enthusiasm for music). The project gathers these voices in a collaborative effort to find a language for articulating the myriad ways we listen, hear,...
Hot noise and the shape of grief: in conversation with Debby Friday
Monday, November 25, 2019 | Shaya Ishaq
Debby Friday is one of the most dynamic and multi-faceted performers I have been able to engage with. Her performances are electric, aggressive, and arresting but that is only one of a few mediums at her fingertips. A self-described experimentalist, her creative and intellectual palette spans wide, ranging from performance, writing, sound theory, and audio-visuals.We crossed paths years ago in Ottawa through a mutual friend. Although the encounter was brief, it has been wonderful to witness the evolution of her creative practice since then. From the beginning of her DJ days in Montreal to the leap into recording and producing original work - her dedication to herself is clear.  Our conversation took place on an early mid-September afternoon as back-to-school energy was in full swing for both of us. The...
Hanging on a Pendulum: Ayesha Singh's Notes on New Delhi
Wednesday, October 30, 2019 | Noor Bhangu
When I started reading about Ayesha Singh’s work, I was also reflecting on utopia in relation to localized aesthetics and ‘global’ migrations. I had just visited Jonas Meskas’ posthumous exhibition, Let me dream utopias, at Rupert in Vilnius and circled in the exhibition essay: “‘Real utopias,’ Mekas claimed, ‘may only be found within one’s small closed village evoked with the specific mouth muscles of one’s mother’s tongue.’” In our interview, Singh and I never got around to asking each other the name of our ancestral village, but I think (and I hope) we felt the pulse of the ghost muscle linking her art practice with my own critical/ curatorial inquiry. Ghost muscle, to say something of our tongues’ twisted, even if no longer taut, entwinement with the colonizer’s language. We...
Definitions of Class: in conversation with Karen Asher
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 | Emma Mayer
Karen Asher picks me up from my parent’s house in the suburbs. We decide to go to Rae & Jerry’s for our interview. Rae & Jerry’s is a relic of 1960’s postwar Winnipeg, a steakhouse still dimly lit and covered in red velvet and wood panel. It sticks out like a sore thumb on the city's Portage Avenue with its long, covered driveway originally used for valet service. Once the epitome of fine dining, Rae & Jerry’s now sits somewhere in between a high-class experience and a tongue-in-cheek joke.  I’m going to be speaking with Asher about her most recent exhibition, Class, at Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art. In the past, Karen worked primarily with still photography. In her website bio, Asher describes her artwork as an exploration of...
Jerusalem In My Heart // Radwan Ghazi Moumneh
Monday, August 12, 2019 | Luther Konadu
Look up any image of Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and you’d likely see him donning some form of shades. I ready my phone call with Moumneh, I’m curious what he looks like so I search up for his photo online. As the phone rings and he eventually picks up, I thought about sharing my observation with him. I wondered if he had shades on as we spoke. I couldn’t picture him without it. I don’t ask, instead, I’m caught in his voice and in our conversation.  Something he said later in our chat about cracking open a proverbial door for his audiences during performances and allowing them to make up their own experience resonates with the shades’ visual obstruction. With his now ten-plus years project Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH), what...
Inhabiting zones of estrangement
Wednesday, July 10, 2019 | Angel Callander
Andrei Tarkovsky's seminal 1979 film Stalker was produced in the late Brezhnev era of the Soviet Union, and centres on the journey of three men to a forbidden location called the ‘Zone’– the product of an extraterrestrial visitation, purported to manifest the deepest desires of any person to enter it. Every empire has an end, an exhibition at Toronto’s Franz Kaka, juxtaposes the work of Jennifer Carvalho and Jenine Marsh to explore the material sensibilities and conceptual dialogues of their art practices through the lens of the film. Together, Marsh’s sculptures and Carvalho’s paintings summon the themes and visual languages of Stalker; its mysterious ‘Zone’; and its investment in time utilizing what Tarkovsky referred to as the “long take.”  Like the ‘Zone’ of the film, a site of antagonism and...
Spacious utterances: in conversation with Cudelice Brazelton
Thursday, June 27, 2019 | Luther Konadu
Its weeks before the opening of his one-person exhibition at the Frankfurt am Main upstart gallery HUSSLEHOF and I’m in correspondence with Cudelice Brazelton over email. He tells me things are coming together, it’s been a bit confusing but productive nevertheless. This sounds familiar. Brazelton has told me this before. The part about things being confusing. Reading his email, I try picturing him in this setting of confusion. As if I could somehow redirect this momentary fog toward some reassuring clarity. Months prior, in another conversation, Brazelton earnestly reflected on the tonal shifts in his material selection. Where he once seemed fervent to let the viewer into some part of his world, to render bare his vulnerabilities and worries without hesitation or varnish, he describes his current outlook on his...
Easing into states of vulnerability: in conversation with Steven Beckly
Tuesday, June 11, 2019 | Ethan Murphy
I am sitting in Toronto artist Steven Beckly’s light-filled studio surrounded by the work he lives with like I have many times before. Only this time, I get to ask him about them and his broader practice. In May of 2017, I saw an image of two arms linking on a giant billboard in my neighbourhood. It was by Steven as part of the CONTACT photography festival and was immediately invested in his work. A couple of months later, I went to the Toronto Art Book Fair at Artscape Youngplace and met him for the first time. I told him I loved that image and picked up a couple of issues of his unbound zines. He asked if he could photograph me so I left him my contact information. We...