Gabrielle Moser

  • View of “Sameer Farooq,” 2021. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

    Sameer Farooq

    What will we do with the museum when all the objects it contains have been returned? “A Heap of Random Sweepings,” Sameer Farooq’s first major solo exhibition in Toronto, imagines just such a reparative future. Integrating sound, sculpture, poetry, printmaking, and photography, Farooq and his collaborators have transformed the gallery into a space for contemplation. The show’s proposal is that, once emptied, these sites might be used to reckon with their histories of violent appropriation and colonial accumulation.

    Using museum-display strategies to choreograph visitors’ movements, Farooq’s

  • Aaron Jones, Advantage Over, 2019, collage, 21 1/2 × 14 1/2 ".

    Aaron Jones

    Aaron Jones’s solo exhibition “Closed Fist, Open Palm” was a study in opposing forces, of embodied tension and explosive physical presence. Extending his investigation into how Black subjectivity is constructed—and how it might be undone—in this image-flooded era, the artist presented collages that posed pressing questions about how the effects of capitalism and colonialism on Black people can be charted.

    Intimate in scale, Jones’s collages are culled from print publications one might expect to find in a middle-class North American living room. The artist tears apart and fragments sports periodicals,

  • View of “Native Art Department International,” 2020. From left: Installation, 2020; Untitled (Carl Beam), 2017; Hot Tip Tiger Tail, 2018–20.

    Native Art Department International

    The husband-and-wife team of Jason Lujan and Maria Hupfield—aka Native Art Department International, a collaborative enterprise that, according to the duo, operates as an “emancipation from identity-based artwork”—presented “Bureau of Aesthetics,” a solo exhibition at Mercer Union and NADI’s first in Canada. Barriers, both physical and visual, abound: At the entrance to the exhibition is a large, Judd-like structure built from sheets of fluorescent-pink acrylic wedged between wood beams (Construction, 2019). The rectilinear form literally interrupts viewers’ paths and screws with our sight lines,

  • Stephanie Temma Hier, Wonderful for Other People, 2020, oil on linen, glazed stoneware frame, 20 × 17 × 2 1⁄2".

    Stephanie Temma Hier

    Entanglement, both material and affective, is the operating logic in Stephanie Temma Hier’s ongoing series of sculptural paintings. Photorealistic oil paintings of found imagery—much of it seemingly stock photography—are embedded in three-dimensional ceramic frames ornamented with clay renderings of everyday objects, including bell peppers, overgrown garden snails, and speckled spheres resembling gumballs. Although Hier replicates familiar forms, the way she juxtaposes them produces a mounting sense of unease. At the entrance to the exhibition, Wonderful for Other People (all works 2020) depicted

  • Hajra Waheed, Landscape 1–9, 2019, oil on tin, each 5 × 7".

    Hajra Waheed

    If an exhibition is a letter, to whom is it addressed? The viewer is the obvious answer, but artworks also, of course, direct themselves to others: lovers and children, mentors and colleagues, unknown future audiences who might find within the work a blueprint for radical acts of hope and defiance.

    “Hold Everything Dear,” Hajra Waheed’s current solo show, has at its heart such an epistolary address. Titled after a 2007 collection of John Berger’s essays, the show builds on a 2017 performance in which the artist manipulated a sheet of black cinefoil on a light projector, revealing a constellation

  • View of “One of These Things is Not Like the Other,” 2019.
    picks April 16, 2019

    Pamila Matharu and Sister Co-Resister

    Pamila Matharu and Sister Co-Resister's exhibition uses the archive as a method for locating the self. Encompassing video, sculpture, photography, personal artifacts, and a site-specific installation, “One of These Things is Not Like the Other” is structured by experiences of intergenerational trauma as faced by three different women—the writer Lakshmi Gill, the late modernist painter Amrita Sher-Gil, and Matharu herself—weaving these personal histories into transnational narratives of dispossession and resistance.

    The show opens with a new video by Matharu, stuck between an archive and an

  • View of “Rebecca Belmore,” 2018. From left: Tower, 2018; tarpaulin, 2018.

    Rebecca Belmore

    In a rare self-portrait by Rebecca Belmore, the artist stands at a distance with her back to the camera, unrecognizable in a bright-orange work suit, its fluorescent X demarcating her shoulders against a huge expanse of plastic tarp. Safety vests appear throughout her photographs as uniforms for the artist as worker, but they also serve a signatory function: On land treaties with the British colonial government, indigenous leaders often marked their names with an X. In wearing this sign in the Canadian landscape, Belmore asserts her presence as both resident and author, marker and maker, whose

  • View of “Tau Lewis and Curtis Santiago: Through the people we are looking at ourselves,” 2017.
    picks August 14, 2017

    Tau Lewis and Curtis Santiago

    An admixture of antagonism and vulnerability animates the faces looking out from Curtis Santiago’s paintings and those staring back from Tau Lewis’s sculptures, visages that dare you to care. Entering the gallery, one is immediately confronted by Lewis’s you lose shreds of your truth every time I remember you (all works 2017), a seated male figure with eyes downcast, shoulders hunched forward. He holds the end of a leash tethered to a small creature sitting cross-legged on the floor next to him—tufts of soft fur stretch across its wire and twig skeleton. The rusted chain linking the two connotes

  • Annie MacDonell, untitled, 2016, HD video, color, sound, 8 minutes 30 seconds. From the series “Holding Still // Holding Together,” 2016.
    picks June 09, 2016

    Annie MacDonell

    “When you are two-to-one, then the work becomes easier,” a woman’s voice intones as a pair of hands gingerly places documentary photographs of political protest in front of the camera in one of the untitled videos (all works 2016) that make up Annie MacDonell’s exhibition “Holding Still // Holding Together.” Blending practical instructions from nonviolent civil disobedience training (“Stretch your body out to achieve maximum contact against the ground beneath you”) with meditations on the slippery nature of embodiment (“To be lifted by three men is to feel like an oversize object: a stuffed

  • View of “Karen Kraven,” 2014.
    picks November 24, 2014

    Karen Kraven

    The title of Karen Kraven’s first institutional solo exhibition, “Razzle Dazzle Sis Boom Bah,” signals the Montreal-based artist’s infectious enthusiasm for mimicry, subterfuge, and speculation across a new body of work comprising sculpture, photography, and ceramics. Like a modern-day incantation, the phrase begs to be spoken aloud, evoking the shimmering strands of cheerleaders’ pom-poms and the emphatic sounds of exploding fireworks. Such exuberance is everywhere on display here, including in a series where six elaborately decorated women’s hats made of delicate straw latticing are perched

  • View of “CounterIntelligence,” 2014.
    picks February 20, 2014

    “CounterIntelligence”

    One of the largest works in this group exhibition, Abbas Akhavan’s Study for Blue Shield, 2011, is only visible by aerial surveillance. A piece of the gallery’s drywall has been cut out and painted in a pattern of blue and white diamonds. Located on the roof of the gallery, the shield, which replicates a crest designed by UNESCO to identify and protect sites of cultural heritage during armed conflict, is invisible to viewers but is on display for passing helicopters or drones.

    Akhavan’s gesture—an incisive commentary on the threats posed by, and to, art in a surveillance state—is a fitting

  • Elizabeth Zvonar, Marcel Meets Judy, 2013, ceramic candy dish, 10 x 5”.
    picks June 01, 2013

    Elizabeth Zvonar

    “Banal Baroque,” Elizabeth Zvonar’s current exhibition of sculpture and collage, riffs on themes of bodily and sexual excess, recontextualizing mass-produced objects, magazine advertisements, and mannequin parts to animate the uncanny treatment of the human figure that lies dormant in this source material. While her juxtapositions might recall the psychically charged scenes of Surrealist and Dadaist collage (particularly Hannah Höch), in Zvonar’s work the human body is truncated and interrupted, broken down into a series of useless but fascinating objects for visual consumption.

    Marcel Meets Judy