CURATED BY MATHEW BROWER
JURIED BY DAVID LISS
The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.
– Mark Twain
Jonathan Swift suggested that every dog has its day and the Aird Gallery is celebrating those days this summer. We have lived with dogs for many thousands of years. Over that time dogs have adapted themselves to our needs and desires and at the same time, they have been changing us – largely for the better. Our deep and complex relationship with dogs, on personal, cultural, and biological levels, has been an important subject for art practice from the beginning.
Matthew Brower is a writer and curator who teaches in the Museum Studies Program at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Developing Animals: Early North American Wildlife Photography and excellent exhibitions.
David Liss is a curator, writer, and artist living in Toronto, Canada. He is currently an Adjunct Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada and was Director and Curator from December 2000 through 2015. Since August 2019 he is also Curator and Programmer for Arsenal, a privately owned network of galleries in Toronto, Montreal, and New York.
Can a garden be gay ?
Can a flower be lesbian ?
Can a tree be LGBTQ2IPA ?
Gay Gardens is inspired by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish scientist, who published Systema Naturae in 1735. The book describes his method of naming and classifying plants based on their sexual organs and sexual actions. Society was shocked and embarrassed by the botanical orgies happening in their back yards. A woman has sex with six different men, in the lily flower’s arrangement of pistils and stamens. The virtuous canna is monogamous with one husband and one wife. Ferns and mosses keep their sex organs hidden and their marriages too. 1
Our jury of gay garden experts, Jowenne Herrera and curator Patrick DeCoste, selected their favorites to be included in our online exhibition/art book which was launched on June 26, 2020.
1Andrea Wulf, The Brother Gardeners, Botany, Empire, and the Birth of an Obsession. (London: Windmill Books, 2009).
In the works that comprise 13 Moons and a Canoe, DeCoste takes up history as something living and breathing, the conceptual weight of his work lightened by its rich materiality. The installation pairs a canoe, retrofitted with a mast and sail, with a circular room of thirteen canvas walls – each painted with a large, colourful moon – strung across poles hewn from forest trees.
This room-within-a-room evokes a pastiche of environmental, cultural, and personal influences. It is, on the one hand, a monument to the Indigenous lunar calendar, an inner sanctum delineated by the thirteen full moons that mark the passing of each year, and, on the other hand, a kind of family portrait for the artist; the twelve walls represent DeCoste and each of his eleven siblings. The modified canoe, reveals the thirteenth moon on its sail, this white moon represents the baby who did not survive, the thirteenth child. The canoe sits outside the tridecagon room; it conjures up the genesis of the Métis people in seventeenth-century Nova Scotia, where DeCoste’s family has its roots. It is a potent symbol of First Contact between Europeans and Indigenous peoples – a hybrid object, deceptively quaint in appearance that literalizes the impact of cultures quickening against and into one another.
This exhibition features a selection of works from Burley’s remarkable photographic series, along with an aerial map, a video and other visualizations of landscape that reflect the artist’s interest in the City of Toronto’s parklands, waterfronts and ravine systems. The City of Toronto commissioned Burley to create this collection of photographs celebrating Toronto’s natural spaces as a way to both examine and promote our twenty-first-century relationship to nature. The exhibition accompanies Burley’s new book, An Enduring Wilderness: Toronto’s Natural Parklands, published by ECW Press, with texts by Toronto writers George Elliott Clarke, Anne Michaels, Michael Mitchell, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, and Alissa York.
Walking Dream by artist Bill Jones debuted at the John B. Aird Gallery on May 08, 2018, and was on view until June 08, 2018. View the catalog by click the button below.
some landings/certains débarquements brings together five bodies of work that are informed by these issues and bracketed by two distinct approaches to the landscape: one that reduces it to an essentially topographic state, and one that portrays the effects of human intervention. The work of Jesse Boles, Robert Burley, L. E. Glazer, Sue Lloyd, and Lisa Murzin might at first glance appear to reflect a detached perspective, when in fact it is decidedly engaged, subtly revealing analytical vantage points.
In Across Boundaries, Diana Yoo brings together photography, video, installation and performance works to better grasp the separations between first and second-generation Korean immigrants, relating that, while many in the first generation may be more concerned with assimilating, the second and third generations are often more interested in reaching an understanding of the circumstances that led to immigrating, and they want to know about what was left behind.
Because the artist’s work explores living between the two cultures of South Korea, her ancestral home, and Canada, where she was born and raised, Yoo’s practice involves traveling back and forth between Canada and South Korea as a means of more deeply understanding who she is and how to best express asymmetrical world relationships through her creation of contemporary art.