The exhibition Aporia (Notes to a Medium) considers how history, mythology and wishful thinking entwine across media and through mediums. In this moment where faith in media, government and institutions is further collapsing, where binarization is on the rise, where expressions of doubt are tactical, this exhibition includes artists’ works that contend with systems of belief and perception to trouble truth’s material (and immaterial) forms.
This reading room offers resources relating to the themes and artist present in this exhibition.
Zach Blas, “Queer Darkness,” in Depletion Design: A Glossary of Network Ecologies, eds. Carolin Wiedemann and Soenke Zehle (Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2012): 127-32, https://networkcultures.org/_uploads/tod/TOD%238_DEPLETION_DESIGN.pdf.
Artist and writer Zach Blas considers the idea of invisibility as a site of refusal and resistance to cybernetic capitalism, for example in the realm of biometric facial recognition. Blas proposes invisibility, darkness and refusal as a way for queer bodies to avoid state-sanctioned violence, situating this idea of darkness as emerging from rebellious acts and movements across time such as antisocial feminism and rage as decolonial practice. The invisibility forced on marginalized groups becomes an opportunity for protest and a way to fight complicity and dangerous knowability.
Jacques Derrida, Aporias, trans. Thomas Dutoit (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993).
Philosopher Jacques Derrida’s consideration of aporia – the impassable within language, philosophical texts and experience – approaches limits of truth and the transcendence of borders. In relation to the exhibition, Derrida’s ideas that “no context can determine meaning to the point of exhaustiveness” propose that an unstable multiplicity is productive in considering that we don’t have all the answers or know where to go.
Naomi Klein, Doppelganger (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023).
Writer and social activist Naomi Klein’s book is an examination of a shifting reality in politics and culture that warps and doubles like a digital hall of mirrors. Including AI, wellness and education, Klein exposes the rhetoric of critique and liberation that no longer distinguishes left from right, truth from falsehood. Like aporia, this impasse does not offer an easy way forward but does cast a long shadow onto the online world and demands a reconnection with people and materials face to face.
Amy Sillman, Amy Sillman Faux Pas: Selected Writings and Drawings, eds. Charlotte Houette, François Lancien-Guilberteau, Benjamin Thorel, with foreword by Lynne Tillman (Paris: After 8 Books, 2020).
Amy Sillman, “Amy Sillman’s Philosophy of Doubt,” Interview by Tausif Noor, Frieze, Issue 217, March 2, 2021, https://www.frieze.com/article/amy-sillmans-philosophy-of-doubt.
Artist Amy Sillman approaches not knowing in her visual work and writing. Noor draws out the ongoing threads of Sillman’s practices of painting, drawing and writing around uncertainty. He reflects on Sillman’s influences, from feminist movements and queer theory to her teaching modes, her processes and how important language is to how she writes about and contextualizes art toward the ideas of unknowability. These texts tease out doubt and instability as important to Sillman’s practice and drive to create.
Hito Steyerl, “Mean Images,” New Left Review, 140/141, March/June 2023, https://newleftreview.org/issues/ii140/articles/hito-steyerl-mean-images.
Artist and writer Hito Steyerl expands from her earlier writing on the poor image to this new framing of mean images (with multiple meanings of the term mean including average and stingy) as a way to understand the evolving problems of AI-based technology in relation to truth. Steyerl highlights how machine learning models can simultaneously exist as an important resource for documenting differences but also act as a location for exploiting unnamed workers’ and everyday people’s ideas of reality. Steyerl provides perspective on how these technologies function to onboard users to a technological infrastructure and speculates on the future of images as they move from representational to statistical.
Jalal Toufic, Forthcoming (Berlin: Sternberg, 2014).
Artist and writer Jalal Toufic’s series of essays mesh critical thinking and experimental writing to reveal an interconnected world that is accepting of its own particularities. Looking and thinking in the context of war change how images are made and read, changes their indexicality. Using notions such as counterfeiting as an unstable structure around which philosophical propositions, speculations and musings meet, Toufic’s writing covers a range of art forms, genres and eras.
Colleen Brown, If You Lie Down in a Field, She Will Find You There (Saskatchewan: Radiant Press, 2023).
Colleen Brown recounts her mother’s life severed from the media’s sensationalization of her death. Through her own words, interviews with her siblings and their writings, her book creates a portrait of a woman living in ways only those who have witnessed you can. Brown writes a memoir that she describes as a “desire to recover Doris’ life, which has been obscured by the spectacle of her death.” She writes this through the alternative space and voice of family history and this book sits in relation to her works in the exhibition Aporia (Notes on a Medium).
Chelsea Rozansky, “Azza El Siddique Summons Life Beyond Death,” Momus, April 19, 2023, https://momus.ca/azza-el-siddique-summons-life-beyond-death/.
This article contextualizes the impermanence of Azza El Siddique‘s work as a reflection of the ways we might allow art to exist outside the constraints of museums. How we could eschew the importance placed on conservation and instead centre the importance art holds for the communities it originates from or reflects. The ephemeral nature of the work is an ecological one, a site for new life and worlds. El Siddique’s connection with decay and death is presented as a way for holding the inconsistent nature of life and considering its impermanence as capable of shaping the unknown and moving through.
Dani Gal, “From the desk of Dani Gal,” Artis, October 2020, https://artis.art/research_and_perspectives/from_the_desk_ofdani_gal#.
In this interview with Dani Gal on his practice and work, the artist reveals his interest in the role of the witness in challenging or upholding nationalist interests. Gal relates this to his ongoing practice around decontextualizing reality, which he examines in his work Failed to Bind (2013). He is critical of ideas of reality and truth and the possibility of recontextualizing what has already been witnessed and known.
Katie Kozak, Lucien Durey, Kiel Torres and Jenn Jackson, Endless Summer (North Vancouver: Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art, 2023), https://smithfoundation.co/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/EndlessSummer_ExhibitionBooklet.pdf.
Endless Summer (2023) was an exhibition at the Gordon Smith Gallery in North Vancouver. This booklet documents the show while providing a glimpse into Katie Kozak and Lucien Durey‘s collaboration and processes, personal reflections and the words of collaborators and witnesses. Its contents reveal the uncertainty explored in the processes of their work, which is connected to the uncertainty of nature and life.
James Yood, “Mark Lewis,” Artforum 39, no. 9, May 2001, https://www.artforum.com/events/mark-lewis-3-207607/.
Writing about earlier works by Mark Lewis, Yood sets the stage for From Third Beach in Aporia (Notes to a Medium). Like his later films, Lewis is interested in how “real life and reel life glide into and apart from each other, neither as stable and grounded as they are commonly perceived to be, with Lewis’s exquisite construction and scrupulous technique a tender autopsy of their frailties and pretensions.”
Angel Callander, “How to Fulfill a Wish,” Cooper Cole, https://coopercolegallery.com/exhibition/2023-jenine-marsh-how-to-fulfill-a-wish.
Reflecting on the social conditions surrounding wishing and utopia, this article examines Jenine Marsh‘s work as situated within themes of “exchange, social engineering, public space, and sculptural intervention” as a way to understand her ongoing practice and body of work. Acting as an introductory text to Marsh’s 2023 solo show at Cooper Cole in Toronto, the author speaks to the artist’s material exploration and her evolving interest in an anti-capitalist hope for a future that just might be.
Boris Groys, “Ritualizing Life: Videos of Jalal Toufic,” Art Journal 66, no. 2 (2007): 83-84, https://doi.org/10.1080/00043249.2007.10791256.
Framing ritual within the mechanical/digital confines of film, Groys reflects on Jalal Toufic’s work as a site of ritual where the revered becomes the everyday and ritual emerges as unsituated and undefined. In Groys’s analysis, Toufic’s films reveal the seams of the medium of film that endear people to it and that which welcomes them to witness. The relationship Groys creates between death and film as a religious and authentic experience gives keen insight into Toufic as an artist interested in ritual and the confines of so-called reality.
Emma Healey, “Elizabeth Zvonar: THE CHALLENGE OF ABSTRACTION,” C : International Contemporary Art, no. 127 (Autumn 2015): 60, https://www.proquest.com/magazines/elizabeth-zvonar-challenge-abstraction/docview/1722627704/se-2.
Healey unpacks the nature of Elizabeth Zvonar’s work as a site for understanding the myriad ways that the body exists and how visually reconfiguring it creates new language rooted in feminist discourse, for bodies to exist as a site of awkward, ever-changing possibility. The visual language created gives space for understanding what is present in us, our future possibilities and configurations. Healey emphasizes Zvonar’s work’s playful and abstract nature as “deeply intuitive,” its flexibility echoing the metaphysical world Zvonar acknowledges as part of her practice.
Aporia (Notes to a Medium) considers how history, mythology and wishful thinking entwine across media and through mediums. Artists include Colleen Brown, Azza El Siddique, Dani Gal, Katie Kozak and Lucien Durey, Mark Lewis, Jenine Marsh, Jalal Toufic and Elizabeth Zvonar.[more]
Elizabeth Zvonar's Gattamelata (2020) is part of the exhibition Aporia (Notes to a Medium) at the Belkin, which considers how history, mythology and wishful thinking entwine across media and through mediums; more of Elizabeth Zvonar's work can be seen here.[more]
As part of the exhibition Aporia (Notes to a Medium), the Belkin's Outdoor Screen will show Mark Lewis's From Third Beach 1 (2010) daily from 9 am to 9 pm.[more]
As part of the exhibition, Aporia (Notes to a Medium) join us for an online talk with exhibiting artists Katie Kozak and Lucien Durey.[more]
As part of the exhibition Aporia (Notes to a Medium), exhibiting artists Colleen Brown and Elizabeth Zvonar are in conversation with artist and writer Jamie Hilder.[more]
Please join us for this reading group in conjunction with Aporia (Notes to a Medium). The selected texts by Hito Steyerl and Zach Blas contend with ideas of doubt in technology - particularly in AI - and its ever-evolving interventions in our lives as tools of censorship and surveillance.[more]
Join us for a talk by interdisciplinary artist Zach Blas, with a conversation to follow with Jayne Wilkinson.[more]
In conjunction with Aporia (Notes to a Medium) join us for an outdoor screening of exhibiting artist Jalal Toufic's film Variations on Guilt and Innocence in 39 Steps.[more]
Join us for a concert by the UBC Contemporary Players in a program that celebrates the Belkin’s current exhibition Aporia (Notes to a Medium). Directed by Paolo Bortolussi and coach Joanne S. Na, this UBC School of Music graduate and undergraduate student ensemble will breathe life into the gallery during an afternoon program.[more]