2-day Workshop w/Maha Maamoun: And What Did The Animal Say?

In partnership with South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC) and Gallery 44, we are thrilled to bring Cairo-based artist Maha Maamoun to Toronto for a free 2-day intensive workshop culminating in an artist talk as part of SAVAC’s Views on the 4th in conjunction with We Look At Animals Because.

In Mathieu Kassovitz’s film La Haine, Vinz and Sayid walk through the clashes between police and residents in their suburb, and Vinz becomes sure he has seen a cow crossing the street. It is not clear if he is the only one who saw it, if it’s even real, a symbol of the collapse of the urban order, or possibly an omen of his imminent death.

Why look at animals? Do we use animals as symbols or proxies for other subjects? Is our interest in them driven by a desire to reach beyond the confines of our bodies, subjectivities, knowledge and practice? How are these interests or desires finally translated in our work? In this workshop, animals will be our starting point to explore the personal, the cultural and the political. By engaging with the work of a selection of contemporary writers, artists, film-makers and others who use or reflect on the use of animals in their work, this discussion-based workshop aims to explore different modes and languages of observation and how they are translated into images and texts.

— This is a rare opportunity to participate in a small group setting with international artist Maha Maamoun.
— Workshop is FREE but space is limited.
— If interested, email toleen@savac.net with a 150-word statement of intent and a link to examples of your work.
— Workshop takes place over two full days, Saturday and Sunday, March 3 and 4.
— Confirmed participants will receive detailed program information by the end of the week.
— Participants will be encouraged to bring an example of recent animal-related news items.
— Workshop location is The Commons on the 4th floor of the 401 Richmond building.

About the Artist
Maha Maamoun has exhibited her work internationally in biennials and exhibitions at such venues as the Sharjah Art Foundation, New Museum, Berlinale 64, Tate Modern, 9th Gwangju Biennale, Witte de With, MoMA NY, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Haus der Kunst. She is a co-founder of the independent publishing platform Kayfa-ta and a founding board member of the Contemporary Image Collective (CiC), an independent non-profit space for art and culture in Cairo.

Special thanks to Gallery 44 for partnering with us on this event. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the Toronto Arts Council for this exhibition and related events.

image: Maha Maamoun, Dear Animal (film still), 25:30 mins, 2016

Artist Talk: Alex Sheriff

Alex Sheriff, Undiscovered Man-made Islands (detail), 2016-17

Critical Distance and South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC) present a free artist talk with Los Angeles-based Canadian artist and filmmaker, Alex Sheriff.

Focusing on the arbitrary division between human and natural history, Sheriff will discuss contested forms of living in the Anthropocene. He will reveal his concept of “droopy history,” born of science, pseudoscience and mythology, which he uses to navigate the space of this imagined division.

Alex Sheriff received his BFA in Drawing and Painting from OCADU before moving to New York where he received his MFA in Fine Art. He now lives in Los Angeles and works in painting, drawing, sculpture and film. www.alexsheriff.com

Two works on paper from Sheriff’s recent exhibition at Praxis Gallery (NY) are included in our current exhibition, “We Look At Animals Because,” produced in partnership with SAVAC, and curated by Toleen Touq and Nahed Mansour. A selection of sculptures is on display as well. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 5PM
Suite 107, Artscape Youngplace – 180 Shaw Street

Admission to both talk and gallery are free. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome. Building and gallery are both fully accessible.

Film Screening: TASKAFA, Stories of the Street

Andrea Luka Zimmerman, TASKAFA: Stories of the Street (still), 2013

Critical Distance and South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC) invite you to a free film screening of TASKAFA: Stories of the Street, directed by UK-based artist, activist, and filmmaker Andrea Luka Zimmerman, as part of “We Look At Animals Because.”

Structured around readings by renowned critic and essayist John Berger, TASKAFA (2013, 66 mins) offers a brilliantly incisive meditation on urban space and city life by investigating the complex history of Istanbul’s street dogs. Despite several major attempts by Istanbul’s rulers, politicians and planners over the last 400 years to erase them, the city’s street dogs have persisted thanks to an enduring alliance with civilian communities that recognize and defend their right to co-exist.

TASKAFA gathers the voices of diverse Istanbul residents, shopkeepers, and street based workers, all of whom display a striking commitment to the well-being and future of the city’s canine population. Interwoven to this narrative are readings by Berger from his novel “King,” a story of hope, dreams, love and resistance, told from the perspective of a dog belonging to a community facing disappearance, even erasure.

Andrea Luka Zimmerman is an artist, cultural activist and filmmaker. She is the first director to be shortlisted for both the Grierson and Jarman Awards, and in 2017 Zimmerman received the Artangel Open Award for her feature drama Cycle, produced in collaboration with Adrian Jackson. Currently she teaches at Central St. Martins in London, where she also studied for her PhD. www.fugitiveimages.org.uk

Sunday, February 25 at 5PM
Small World Theatre – Suite 101, Artscape Youngplace – 180 Shaw Street

Admission to both screening and gallery are free. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome. Building and gallery are both fully accessible.

CDCC+SAVAC Present: We Look At Animals Because, curated by Toleen Touq and Nahed Mansour

January 25–March 25, 2018

Featuring Quratulain Butt, Khaled Hourani, Maha Maamoun, Smriti Mehra, Huma Mulji, Ed Panar, Alex Sheriff, and Andrea Luka Zimmerman | Curated by Toleen Touq and Nahed Mansour

In partnership with South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC), Critical Distance is pleased to present We Look At Animals Because, an exhibition that gazes on animality. Through the lens of spectatorship, the show explores the shifting ways in which animals are regarded, represented and accorded meaning in post-industrial landscapes. Exhibiting photographs, video, works on paper, and sculpture, the featured artists reveal the nuanced, complicated and unexpected paradoxes that mark our relationships with cosmopolitan animals.

Continue reading

The view from here | Season’s greetings from CDCC

Gazing out our third floor window at Artscape Youngplace, we’re reflecting on another whirlwind year and sending heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated, attended, and supported Critical Distance in 2017. We had such a wonderful run of exhibitions, art book fairs, and related events, all made possible by the curators, artists, and organizations we collaborated with, our board and team members working behind the scenes and on the ground/in the gallery to make it all happen, and the art book/edition buyers, funders, contributors, and audiences who help make everything seem both possible and worthwhile.

Continue reading

Interview with Yan Wu

Shanghai-born, Toronto-based curator Yan Wu has worked with Canadian arts institutions including Gendai Gallery, Art Metropole, and Blackwood Gallery, co-curated the Canada Pavilion with Janine Marchessault at the 5th Bi-city Urbanism/Architecture Bienalle in Shenzhen, China in 2013, and was Assistant Curator of the 2015 Shanghai Urban Space Art Season. As a translator, she completed the Chinese translation of Rosalind Krauss’s Passages in Modern Sculpture with James Carl, published in 2016.

Continue reading

CDCC at the 2017 Edition Art Book Fair

Critical Distance at the Edition Art Book Fair
October 26–30, 2017

Featuring Half Letter Press and works by Marc Fischer/Public Collectors and Temporary Services, Magali Duzant, Graphic History Collective with Paul Buhle, Project 40 Collective, Mark Mulroney, Brandon Dalmer & Erin Ornstein, Maggie Groat, and Tings Chak; plus selected publications from Independent Curators International and Cura Magazine; and selected catalogues and editions produced by Typology Projects and Critical Distance Centre for Curators

Continue reading

CDCC Call for Board Members — apply by Nov 8th!

Critical Distance Centre for Curators, a not-for-profit initiative and space devoted to the support and advancement of curatorial practice and inquiry in Toronto, is seeking enthusiastic, self-motivated and collaborative individuals to join the organization’s active Board of Directors. Serving as a Board member provides an exciting opportunity to help shape the future of the organization and contribute to important decision-making processes regarding programming, operations, fundraising, communications and governance. Working closely with CDCC’s Director, Board members will consider short and long-term strategic planning for the organization. Serving as a CDCC Board member provides an opportunity to help grow this emerging organization and contribute to creating equitable practices that will sustainably expand the gallery’s multi-faceted programming.  

Continue reading

Interview with Catherine Heard, Creator of Magic Gumball Machine of Fate, by Mirae Lee

Anyone who has ever come by our space would probably have paused mid-walk in front of the gumball machine standing beside our door. Sparking a nostalgia of childhood enjoyment, or a collectible’s desire, the red gumball machine is inevitably a curiosity-inducing creature. But unlike the typical sweet tooth’s favourites or mini figurines and toys, the Magic Gumball Machine of Fate is filled with plastic balls of $2 surprises, including pieces of the Berlin Wall and cereal box butterflies.

Continue reading

Critical Kombucha and Dirty Soap: Fermenting Feminism Reading Group

Can a Kombucha Workshop be Intersectional? Can a Feminist Live off the Grid? And Other
Fermenting Feminism Questions

Please join us for a tour, curatorial talk, and reading group facilitated by Fermenting Feminism curator Lauren Fournier

Saturday, November 4th from 3-5 pm
Refreshments will be served

Fermenting Feminism is a group exhibition at Critical Distance featuring work by Sharlene Bamboat, Hazel Meyer, Leila Nadir and Cary Peppermint, Sarah Nasby, Kayla Polan, Walter Scott, and Agustine Zegers. Together with exhibition curator Lauren Fournier, workshop participants will discuss of some of the themes related to the Fermenting Feminism project, including what it means to “ferment feminism” today and the politics, aesthetics, and ethics of incorporating fermentation practices into feminist life. Following a brief curatorial tour and talk, the group will come together to discuss some of the key problems raised by Fermenting Feminism that the three readings — one academic article and two shorter texts — flesh out from Black, POC, and trans feminist frameworks, including issues of exit and escape, community, and vibrant life.

The workshop is free but limited to 15 participants — please RSVP to info (at) criticaldistance (dot) ca to reserve your spot. Workshop location will be in a third floor studio at Artscape Youngplace adjacent to Critical Distance, all spaces are accessible. PDFs of the readings will be pre-circulated beforehand to those who are attending.

Continue reading