Gabrielle Moser

  • Swapnaa Tamhane, with Salemamad Khatri and Mukesh Prajapati, Tent: A Space for the Ceremony of Close Readings, 2018, natural dyes on cotton, cotton tassels, acrylic lantern, sound, 96 × 87 × 87".

    Swapnaa Tamhane

    “Do hands have a chance?” This audio recording, emanating from an intricate hexagonal tent, greeted viewers at the entrance to Swapnaa Tamhane’s solo exhibition “Mobile Palace.” The statement, which reverberated throughout the show, is both a promise and a warning. Tamhane speaks this line—the title of a 1986 essay by Indian artist K. G. Subramanyan (1924–2016)—along with other excerpts from the text, a meditation on the possibilities of artisanal labor in the wake of India’s independence from Britain and increased mechanization. The question seems simple, but across three immersive textile

  • View of “Evidence,” 2022.
    picks July 20, 2022


    Children’s art has been a frequent source of inspiration for the avant-garde, but is rarely accorded the proper importance because it is seen as a form of unbridled, naïve creativity, plagued by a sentimentality for a lost state of innocence that never existed in the first place. “Evidence,” a group exhibition curated by Amy Zion, attempts to upend these assumptions, treating children’s mark-making practices as part of a shared historical and cultural record.

    Using only the pictures created by kids at a residential school in northern Ontario, the documentary Christmas at Moose Factory, 1971, by

  • View of “Sandra Brewster: By Way of Communion,” 2022.
    picks March 18, 2022

    Sandra Brewster

    Across two site-specific works, Sandra Brewster’s exhibition “By Way of Communion” employs an intimacy with materials to convey the insistent yet fragile relationship to place that is produced by diaspora.

    Inhabiting the Power Plant’s clerestory—a narrow passage capped by a soaring skylight—is DENSE, 2021–22, a large-scale and painterly photographic work installed across the hallway-like space’s two facing walls. As its title suggests, the piece collapses several landscapes into one another. On one wall, a continuous horizon line in black, gray, and rust marks the outline of the Essequibo River

  • Esmaa Mohamoud, Double Dribble, 2021, powder-coated steel, zinc plated jack-chain, vinyl, 50 x 32 x 167'.
    picks August 23, 2021

    Esmaa Mohamoud

    In basketball, a double dribble, an illegal move, is an act of gutsiness and desperation. With nowhere left to go, the player continues, at the cost of stopping the forward momentum of the game. Esmaa Mohamoud’s latest public artwork, Double Dribble, 2021, evokes just such a scene of impossible play, transforming a public walkway into a rainbow-hued basketball court that eschews all forms of straightforward, rule-bound competition. Everyone is allowed to participate.

    Shiny vinyl base lines in bright green, sky blue, black, and neon pink traverse multiple planes, creating a fragmented, Escherlike

  • 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

  • Tim Whiten, Who-Man/Amen (detail), 2015-16, handcrafted crystal clear glass, mixed media, human, 18 1/2 x 66 1/2 x 26 1/2".
    picks January 29, 2019

    Tim Whiten

    An altar, a prayer book, a reliquary, a miniature temple, and two crosses are arranged around a casket at the center of Tim Whiten’s solo exhibition “Suspend.” Glowing eerily in the natural light, the crystalline glass of the casket, Who-Man/Amen, 2015-16, protects a wrapped skeleton, whose toes are visible through oval windows along the top of the sculpture. The surrounding works might be read as props for a funerary rite, objects of devotion, or tools for warding off evil spirits. This ambiguity between threat and protector, decay and renewal, sets the stage for the show’s dramatic take on

  • 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