Curator, This is Uncomfortable

Co-curated with Arpi Kovacs, Gallery TPW, Toronto, ON, June 24-July 31, 2010. 

This is uncomfortable brought together video works that explore the nuances of awkwardness in intimate interactions between artist and subject. Taking cues from relational aesthetics, specifically in the staging of social encounters between people, the works capture and re-structure the resulting consequences. This re-structuring is not an attempt to trivialize the sincerity of the encounters, but rather an attempt to undermine the perceived utopian community that relationality aims to foster. The videos in this exhibition picture the artist’s attempts to relate and connect to their subject(s) in a way that foregrounds, rather than obscures, the social discomfort and power dynamics inherent in these interactions. Such choreographies are as equally concerned with grand narratives and dramatic consequences as they are with self-reflection and moments of the quotidian. Explicitly including themselves in the frame or soundtrack of their videos, Robert Lendrum (Toronto), Elizabeth Milton and Sheila Poznikoff (Vancouver), Kika Nicolela (Brazil), Melissa Pauw (Toronto), and Joshua and Zachary Sandler (New York) draw attention to their own participation and mediation in establishing relations with others. Together, the finished works present opportunities for social and alienating encounters between subjects and viewers in the gallery space, raising questions about the roles and responsibilities of artist and viewer alike.

Public Programming:

Let’s make this uncomfortable: panel discussion
Saturday, June 26, 2010, 4–6 pm, Gallery TPW

Featuring Jon Davies, Sharon Sliwinski, Kika Nicolela, Matthew Ryan Smith

What are the roles and responsibilities of the artist in inciting and managing social interactions between strangers? Can experiences of social interaction be translated to viewers through the medium of video? In response to the exhibition This is uncomfortable, a panel of discussants addressed these questions and more as we explored ideas of discomfort, vulnerability and the emotional consequences of social interactions gone awry in lens-based practices.