Steffanie Ling

  • picks October 16, 2020

    Gabi Dao and geetha thurairajah

    The term soothsayer is derived from late Middle English for a person who speaks truth, but its contemporary use is generally synonymous with a fortune-teller. Given as an exhibition title, in its intransitive-verb form—divorced from a singular, gifted individual—it prompts us to consider measures of divining truths or futures carried out by collective consciousness. “Soothsay” at Unit 17, featuring the work of Gabi Dao and geetha thurairajah, subtly caricatures beliefs that thrive as unofficial discourses.

    Plebeian (all works cited, 2020), a painting by thurairajah, features what the artist calls

  • picks May 16, 2020

    Lynne Cohen

    Lynne Cohen’s online exhibition focuses on photographs the late artist took between 1973 and 2012 that capture spaces devoid of human protagonists but structured by human existence. Cohen often remarked that her images of unoccupied commercial and institutional spaces tend to provoke Foucauldian projections of anxiety and punishment, but that she identified much more with their humor, citing her attraction to Jacques Tati’s films.

    Model Living Room, 1976, illustrates Tati’s levity. The furniture in Cohen’s photographs usually offers some information about the spaces, but here we see no furnishings

  • picks October 10, 2019

    Bambitchell

    In Bambitchell’s “Bugs and Beasts Before the Law,” a single-channel video installation focuses on four historical accounts of animal trials in America, Europe, and colonized countries. The footage culls outdoor shots of forests, parks, construction sites, and judicial-looking spaces, and is punctuated by graphic elements and ornate title cards.

    The first account begins in fourteenth-century Falaise, France. As the camera pans across a room outfitted with a backdrop of what might be a public square and an actual noose, the narrator describes the hanging of a pig who had mauled a child to death.

  • picks March 13, 2019

    Basma Alsharif

    Basma Alsharif’s exhibition in Toronto presents four installations with film and video that weave shades of imperialism into repetitive, quotidian activities. In Girls Only, 2014, a woman seated in an empty stadium performs a rhyming exercise. Her image is montaged with interludes of heroic, cinematic music, to the tune of celebratory nationalism. These themes extend to Trompe l’oeil, 2016, which is set up as a living room, complete with a carpet, divan, sofa chair, and flat-screen television that shows people performing everyday activities. Within the installation are two large-scale prints of