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C Magazine

C Magazine Spring 2017

C Magazine, established in 1984, is an essential platform for critical debate about contemporary art. With an emphasis on Canadian practitioners and international contexts, each thematic issue engages with emergent perspectives through original art writing, criticism and artists’ projects. C is committed to facilitating meaningful, pluralistic, interdisciplinary, historically-engaged and imaginative conversations about art.

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C The Visual Arts Foundation
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3 Issues

in this issue

4 min

For some people the day comes when they have to declare the great Yes or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes ready within him; and saying it, he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction. He who refuses does not repent. Asked again, he’d still say no. Yet that no–the right no– drags him down all his life. —C.P. Cavafy, “Che Fece ... Il Gran Refiuto” Or, as the friend who sent me this poem said, on the subject of refusal, “but, as a woman, I would say the right no lifts you up all your life” – a sentiment to be extended to anyone who has found themselves facing untenable conditions. This issue is about that no – the right no – and how…

9 min
when we are welcomed into the fold, where do we keep what is left behind?

This idea of refusal has been writhing around in my head since the first time I was tricked into being curated into a show “about diaspora” – a reductive curatorial framework that has plagued South Asian artists since the birth of ’90s identity politics. I was uncomfortable with the lazy curation and exploitative artist fee but, being fresh out of undergrad, I felt compelled to “take an opportunity.” I largely regret the time, resources and energy I put into my participation in that show, but ultimately it was a nice line on my CV that helped legitimize my efforts to continue being an artist. A year later, in 2014, the collective HOWDOYOUSAY-YAMINAFRICAN? publicly withdrew their participation from the Whitney Biennial. The next year, the entire first-year MFA cohort at the University…

22 min
wood land school: a brief report

Over a weekend this past March, a cadre of artists, art historians, critics and curators from across Canada and the US converged at the Or Gallery in Vancouver to consider current “directions in Indigenous contemporary art” from a range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. The occasion was a symposium entitled Wood Land School: Critical Anthology organized by artist Duane Linklater, in conjunction with the Or and Simon Fraser University Galleries, in anticipation of a print volume of the same name to be released later this year. Like earlier symposia at artist-run centres in Vancouver that became books, Vancouver Anthology (1991) and Vancouver Art and Economies (2007), Wood Land School’s proceedings engaged exhibition histories and artistic strategies, and critiqued both material and discursive institutions. While there was no explicitly stated theme…

15 min
lutz bacher: glitter and resign

“I keep forgetting what writing is supposed to be anyway.” — Jane Bowles, writing to Paul Bowles Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams opens with an essay about the author’s stint as a medical actor, a position that entails re-enacting symptoms for aspiring doctors to diagnose. At one point, Jamison is provided the moniker “Stephanie Phillips,” a patient suffering from inexplicable seizures, towards which she seems largely indifferent. “The hardest part about playing Stephanie Phillips,” Jamison wrote, “was nailing her affect – la belle indifférence, […]” The term, coined by psychoanalyst Pierre Janet in 1929, describes a nonchalance in patients suffering from latent mental conditions, who, unable to access or acknowledge their own anxieties, instead develop physical symptoms as surrogates. Jamison writes about this as “outsourcing emotional content […] as an empathy…

15 min
art after property

“Property” is not a term commonly invoked in art, an odd rhetorical absence given the prevalence of appropriation, practices that exploit the fictive quality of authorship via the readymade and ephemeral strategies supplanting objects of art for administrative paperwork. Among artist activists, calls abound for greater control over their works once transferred or sold, yet these desires are rarely named property rights. Where the term “property” does appear, it is often with suspicion or antagonism, leaving the articulation of artists’ interests conflicted, and other desired forms of “ownership” underexplored. Property theory does little better in its account of art. In legal writing, artworks and artistic labour are referenced as examples of unresolvable paradoxes under common law. Art can be revered as a public good, and yet can also run wild…

14 min
killjoy in conversation with stacey ho

Since August 2015, the Killjoy collective has organized events in Vancouver for Black, Indigenous, mixed-background folks and people of colour who are also queer, trans, two-spirit and intersex (common abbreviations are QT2IPOC, BIPOC and QTIBIPOC). They started out by throwing BIPOC-exclusive dance parties, then later organized a three-part speaker series, with events culminating into a one-week festival of workshops and social gatherings held August 8–14, 2016. Killjoy Fest aim-ed to “create a festival that both celebrates difference and empowers the queer community to actively address the harm perpetuated by racism and colonization.” Events included workshops on anti-pinkwashing, sexual health, art and writing and how to have open dialogues with deaf community members. There was a femme meet-up and a free picnic brunch. Founded by listen chen, Ayesh Kanani and Alexis…