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C Magazine

C Magazine Summer 2018

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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.

Months ago, at our editorial advisory meeting, the idea for an issue on the theme of “games” came up in conversation and it spurred, among the group at the table, more enthusiasm than I could have predicted. As we talked, games seemed to hold under one word many of the issues and themes we’d been circling around – ideas of fantasy, futurity, participation, community and play. Games offered themselves as both finely tuned structures and as platforms for the destruction of existing structures. Dozens of projects, texts and artists’ names were put forth and in that two-hour conversation came the realization (for me, at least) of the ways in which an issue on games could move between communities, real and imagined worlds, pasts and futures. Several of the texts in the…

7 min.
a bongard problem

This text adopts the form of a Bongard problem, which is a kind of puzzle with two sides. In Bongard problems, the viewer is meant to decipher the singular difference between two sets of geometric forms. They have been used as a way to illustrate meta-rational functioning, or the ability, cognitively, to move between systems and apprehend complex intersectional patterns instead of lapsing into either fundamentalism or nihilism. They have also been used as a primary training device in AI. My interest in Bongard problems emerged from my ongoing relationship to ideas of secular spirituality, meditation, Marxist-feminist discourse, non-hierarchical pedagogy and embodied abstraction. In this context, in this contemporary art magazine, my only instruction to you, Dear Reader, is aspirational. Consider a wild imaginary in which the practices of artistic production,…

14 min.
portnoy’s game

Strangergames If we agree on a broad definition of games as rule-bound, goal-directed activities that involve choice, then we can conclude that their ends and means are two key elements. What is at play when games are the proposed format of an artwork labelled as performance art? And how can we define its means and ends in the context of art production and reception, and of the agency of the viewing subject, i.e. the participant? What follows is an art historical account of Michael Portnoy’s supposed infiltration of the art world when he allegedly landed from the worlds of dance and experimental comedy in 2000 with Strangergames, his “choreographed salon” at New York’s MoMA PS1. His performances here established an explicit engagement with games and systems of play as their distinct organizational…

11 min.
unsettling settlers an interview with golboo amani

Few people question the socio-political biases embedded in the games they play. And yet, because games are part of our popular media culture, they reflect and codify societal norms, often reinforcing problematic views in the guise of inconsequential play. Golboo Amani is a multi-disciplinary artist who situates part of her social-pedagogy practice on the ready-made site of a board game. Her work Unsettling Settlers: Intervention directly challenges the colonial narrative of the popular board game Settlers of Catan by leveraging the game’s capacity to disseminate ideas about trade, capital and colonization experientially through simulations of various economic and political strategies (resource extraction, territory takeover, construction, theft, warfare). Amani’s “intervention pack” for the game includes new pieces, cards and rules that allow players to work through strategies of allyship through peer-produced…

24 min.
“phallus in wonderland” 1 : role plays with joyce wieland

After gently pouring tea into each of our cups, Phyllis Lambert pushes a plate of delicate accompaniments arranged for our meeting in my direction. A shortbread cookie seems mess-free, so I take a few bites even though it is fairly small in size. I don’t have time to nibble, I tell myself, and put down the last bite of the sweet. Sitting in the conference room on the top floor of the Shaughnessy House at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, I reach into my tote bag to pull out a copy of the exhibition catalogue for Passion Over Reason: Tom Thomson & Joyce Wieland recently presented at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Inspecting the exhibition’s didactic panels during my visit, I had discovered that many works in Passion Over Reason were…

2 min.
artist project generations of play

For years I’ve had a fascination with two specific types of dolls, the Barbie and the corn-husk doll. While the popular 11-and-a-half-inch fashion doll needs little explanation, the corn-husk doll may require a word or two. Once a toy for Iroquois children (and, certainly many other Indigenous nations, as I’ve seen examples of them from the Navajos and the Aztecs), these little human-shaped figures assembled with dried corn husks are nowadays usually not made as playthings, but as decorative figurines. While the oldest examples had either no clothes, or wore garments made from corn husk too, as time progressed, the dolls’ outfits began to mimic real human beings’ clothing in shape and material. Today, the most sought-after Iroquois corn-husk dolls are dressed in highly detailed miniature traditional regalia, adorned with tiny,…