PUBLIC ART EXHIBITION: Place SettingsJune 18, 2021 - August 15, 2021
Place Settings: Part I
Morris Lum, Karen Tam in collaboration with Tea Base, and Reel Asian
June 18 – August 15, 2021
Place Settings: Part II
More information coming soon
Curated by Noa Bronstein
Curatorial Assistance by Petrina Ng
Place Settings is a large-scale, durational project that considers how food functions to connect and disrupt. Focusing specifically on the intersections of food, public space, and architecture, Place Settings points to formal and informal structures that offer forms of nourishment, be they physical, emotional, social, or political.
Tending to concerns ranging from food sovereignty to community building, Place Settings brings together a series of critically and socio-politically engaged projects integrated into various public sites across Toronto. At the core of this project is the idea that the means by which food is produced, distributed, and consumed directly relates to wider issues of social injustice, unchecked corporate interests, climate change, and the overwhelming depletion of natural resources on a global scale. At the same time, the ways that individuals and communities make purposeful decisions about how to cultivate and share food reveals moments and movements of self-determination, reciprocity, and interdependence.
Place Settings addresses these wide-ranging concerns through installations and programs, engaging with systems of food distribution and consumption through their spatial forms. Each of the artists within this project reflects on how relationships to food are often informed by public or shared space. The architectures of food become sites of negotiation, and each artist’s work creates an opportunity to interrogate the infrastructures that produce and circulate what we eat.
Like food itself, this project is inseparable from the wider ecology in which it is produced. Place Settings finds itself situated within a spectrum of food-focused arts programming in Toronto and beyond; recognizing the shared questions and urgencies of these varying programs remains central to this project. Many people have helped bring food and art together and this project identifies itself as being in dialogue and conceptual collaboration with these ongoing efforts.
The multiple points of engagement realized through Place Settings are intended to speculate on the potentials of public sharing and social transformation at the centre of food-focused arts programming. Through artistic practice and critical inquiry, this project is a sustained exploration of the possibilities that might emerge when we resist the idea that food is purely transactional and instead consider the complex entanglements of space and sustenance.
In keeping with an ethos of sharing what’s on our plate, a portion of the project budget has been donated to Black Creek Community Farm.
Place Settings: Part I
Remembering the Forestview
Location: Billboard at Spadina Ave. and Sullivan St.
Dates: June 14 – July 25, 2021
Morris Lum’s billboard project features the interior of the Forestview Chinese Restaurant (2011), which closed in 2014. Operating as a memorial of sorts, Lum’s image signals Chinatown’s changing landscape as it shifts and adapts to external gentrifying forces. Turning this space inside out and displaying it so publicly also speaks to Lum’s ongoing interest in acknowledging sites that feed us socially and nutritionally.
KAREN TAM in partnership with Tea Base
Seeds for the Future, Seeds for Now
Locations: Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St. and 222 Spadina Ave.
Dates: June 18, 2021 – ongoing
Karen Tam’s project includes a billboard image at Artscape Youngplace coupled with a planter box in which she has grown from seed to various Chinese vegetables and herbs. The billboard brings together images of Tam’s grandmother on her thriving balcony garden, various drawings by Tam of the veggies grown here and a drawn reinterpretation of a certificate of horticultural merit awarded to Tam’s grandmother in 2008 for her community plot. The project’s second location includes a garden of herbs and vegetables grown and cared for by Tea Base using Tam’s seeds. Structures like planter boxes and balcony gardens outpace their humble forms, more immediately connecting us to fresh food and to a sense of community when shared. These specific planters and their collaborative tending offer a further reflection on the importance of access to culturally specific foods, locally grown produce and the networks of care that often develop around these unassuming structures.
REEL ASIAN x PLACE SETTINGS
Routes and Rituals
Online for free via VUCAVU
Dates: July 14-18, 2021
Reel Asian’s contribution to Place Settings features video-based works by artists Nelson Wu, Farrah Miranda, and Basil AlZeri presented on VUCAVU’s online platform for free. We approach food through bodied, material sites that reflect our relationships to one another, the land, and ourselves. These works expand beyond food as the act of consumption, contemplating varying pathways food is brought into existence, whether through kitchen utensils from a beloved store, repetition and stillness in sites of food preparation, or collective movement as resistance. Beyond the content, the respective formats of each video-based work further interrogate and negotiate the complexity and fluidity of food relationships. Viewable alongside the works are in-depth artists talks that share further insight on the process, themes, and reflections of the project.
List of Presented Works:
Tuesday, Nelson Wu
Speaking Fruit, Farrah Miranda
a recipe for a bleeding heart, Basil AlZeri
All videos are available to watch for FREE.
***Viewers will need to setup a free VUCAVU account to access Tuesday and a recipe for a bleeding heart. For instructions on how to sign up, click here.***
About the Curator(s)
Noa Bronstein is a curator and writer based in Toronto. Her practice is most often focused on considering issues around place and space-making and thinking through how artists disrupt and subvert systems including those registering across social, political and economic structures.Find out more
About the Artists
Morris Lum is a Trinidadian born photographer/artist whose work explores the hybrid nature of the Chinese-Canadian community through photography, form and documentary practices.Find out more
Karen Tam is a Montréal artist whose research focuses on the constructions and imaginations of ‘ethnic’ spaces through installations in which she recreates Chinese restaurants, karaoke lounges, opium dens, curio shops and other sites of cultural encounters. She has exhibited her work and participated in residencies in North America, Europe, and China, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the He Xiangning Art Museum. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths (University of London) and a MFA in Sculpture from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is represented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau.Find out more
Tea Base is a curious community arts space tucked away in Tkaronto/Toronto’s Chinatown Centre Mall. They aim to make accessible space for intergenerational activists and artists who support social justice movements in and around Chinatown. Tea Base is a space that develops solidarity across marginalized groups through relationships, joy, and collaboration.Find out more
Nelson Wu is a Chinese Canadian artist who creates pixel art and illustration. Graduating from OCAD University, he is currently working in the video game and entertainment industry.Find out more
Born in the Gulf to parents who were migrant workers, Farrah Miranda’s lived experience has confronted her with the way people, places, objects and experiences are bordered. This inspires aspects of Miranda’s artistic practice in which she questions how borders are enacted through processes of categorization, securitization, censorship and control.Find out more