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By: Shirley Gross

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Wednesday, 22-Jun-2016 21:32 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Erased Pages from C Magazine

Using various tools, such as a paper shredder, food processor, scissors, band saw, deep fryer, hammer and metal grinder, CN Tower Liquidation works on demand to disintegrate sentimental objects and encase them in cubes made from concrete, plaster or clear-cast resin. Cubes come in three sizes: small (6.35 cm), medium (12.7 cm) and large (25.4 cm). Recent exhibitions include The cheap oil painting reproductions at Art in Bulk in Xiamen, and Gift Shop Gift Shop as part of the Art Gallery of Ontario's Toronto Now series. CN Tower Liquidation consists ofSebastian Butt, Charlie Murray and Xm Hawes.

For the centrefold of this issue, CN Tower Liquidation digitally removed the text and images from pages of the first issue of C Magazine, published in Winter 1983/84, and physically demate-rialized the issue, preserving it in the 12.7 cm resin cube featured on the inside back cover.

Between 2009 and 2012, the collective has cubed the following objects:

Cow figurine

Che Guevara mug

Pink flamingo

Grade Eight Science Award

Chest hair

Rubik's cube

House keys (set of)

Salvador Dali poster

Silver earrings

Nacho chip bag

Plastic lawn chair

E.T. figurine

Ray-Ban sunglasses

I, ooo-piece puzzle

James Dean poster

Silver metallic wristwatch

Plaster Elvis bust

Toronto Blue Jays signed baseball bat

Children's bicycle

Painting of a cat

Evening boots

Toy car

Gummy worms

Canadian flag

Adjustable wrench

Unknown contents

Model glass boat

The band Toronto's Girls' Night Out (vinyl record)

Raffi's Singable Songs for the Very Young (vinyl record)

New Car Smell car freshener



Bride and groom figurine


Clint Eastwood poster

Foam toy plane

Neil Young s Freedom (cassette)

Cherry bomb

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's

Are You Experienced? (cassette)

Wolverine figurine

Plastic baby

The Legend ofZelda (Nintendo game)

Super Nintendo controller

Nintendo controller

Limp Bizkit's Three Dollar Bill Y'all (compact disc)


Red Devil fishing lure

Big O fishing lure

Husky Jerk Minnow fishing lure

Three wood, nine iron and seven iron golf clubs

One wood and pitching wedge golf clubs

Black Blackberry phone

Dried peonies

Wafer cookie

Office toy

Pulp's Different Class (compact disc)

Romance novels (set of)

Red corvette (model car)

Ghost (vhs tape)

Wooden sewing spools

Watermelon Nightgown and collar of a men's shirt

Hedgehog plush toy

Dorothy Lamour (novel)

Dried shiitake mushroom

Plastic strawberry with foliage

Charm bracelet


Daniel Tysdal's Predicting the Next Big Advertising Breakthrou Using a Potentially Dangerous Method (poetry)

Karen Solie's Pigeon (poetry)

Hospital bracelet

Figure skates

Ring with coin

Rubik's cube


Pink Blackberry phone

Lock (for fridge)

Plastic toy dinosaur

Photos from cremation ritual

Glass dolphin

Two Toronto FC ticket stubs

Red money-holder keychain

Cast of teeth from childhood

General Idea's Shut the Fuck Up (vhs tape)

General Idea's Putti

Martin Creed's / Can t Move (compact disc)

Michael Snow's Canadian Art Presents

The Walking Woman (vinyl record)

Josh Thorpe's Dan Graham Pavilions: A Guide

Circle Jerk poster collection

The World's Ugliest Object TBD (Russian toy)

Too Cute = To Cube (ceramic animals)

Cube Cubed (set of) (educational cube)

GeodeMystery (geode rock) 2 oz of Celebration (yellow wrapping string)

The Folio Collection (variety of foil objects)

Tower Tower (model CN Tower & Eiffel Tower)

Too Bad Trophy (small hockey trophy)

Triple Clip (large paper clip, butterfly clip, clothespin)

Ants! (plastic ants)

Surfing Beaver (plastic beaver wind-up toy)

Real Ruins (broken Leaning Tower of Pisa)

Candle Tower (three novelty candles)

Boss Moss (sphagnum)

Mary J. Blige's No More Drama (compact disc)

Forty raffle tickets

Eight worry dolls

Ceramic plate and silver horse pendant

Cancer medication bottle

Tropical coffee coasters

Make-up cases

Mirror (set of two)

Framed photograph of mother

Framed photograph of father

Framed photograph of child

Chagall Russian doll

General Idea's Silver Bullet

AGO Douglas Fir wristwatch

AGO Metallic Blue wristwatch

C Magazine issue no. I

Wednesday, 22-Jun-2016 21:30 Email | Share | | Bookmark
These references to a bygone age

These references to a bygone age of government investment in civic infrastructure register the short-lived speculations of the 21st-century New Deal that ushered in the Obama administration in 2008, a climate of optimism that provided additional stimulus for the Border Bookmobile (itself an allusion to the "soft" infrastructure of social services, such as libraries).

As a historian and a critic of border politics, Rodney is attentive to the role of public works (or lack thereof) in shaping the present condition of economic deprivation in the border cities. Rodney points to a critical lack of understanding of public space in Windsor-Detroit that has placed disenabling restrictions on human mobility while forging new circulation systems for the area's chief commodity: the automobile. In 1909, the first mile of concrete pavement in the United States was laid on Detroit's main drag, Woodward Avenue. Built with funds provided by 1941's Defense Highway Act, Detroit's Davison Freeway--which connects suburban commuters with the automotive plants of the industrial Highland Park area--was the template for later urban expressways. While facilitating Futurist fantasies of carbon-powered speed, these public works also (deliberately) destroyed urban neighbourhoods and reconfigured conceptions of personal and shared space.

Friday, 7-Aug-2015 04:03 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Brassai did not shoot too many photographs of his subjects

As Borja-Villel has explained, Brassai did not shoot too many photographs of his subjects, nor did he capture them unaware. He believed in creating images that reflected an intimate relationship with the sitters, who knew him, who allowed themselves to be portrayed by him, and who agreed to form part of a photographic composition that ennobled them including painting from photographs. The extent to which Brassai succeeded in this intent is obviously debatable--after all, his name and not the nude women's, adorns the photographs. However, the intent in and of itself invites a more developed reading of his work than Chadwick's initial feminist indignation might offer. The homoeroticism implied in each of the early nude photographs, though mapped onto the (highly androgynous) female body, should be read as an assertion of the female subject defined by her own active desire and in part as a celebration of male homoeroticism. It is this quality that reinscribes Brassai's work somewhat outside the terms of Chadwick's criticism.

Moreover, unlike many of the other (male) Surrealists, Brassai's early nudes never bear any overt reference to Sade or his often-oppressive philosophies. In lieu of collage, a violent "cutting" of the female figure--what is sometimes read as a symbolic rape--Brassai found, for example, the phallus already within the image and simply photographed it in such a way that this phallus becomes evident. He refused to impose his own view onto his model's. Brassai played with the photographic subject's gender and sexuality, subverting identity in the manner of passing. His photographs became subversive in that his tinkering with subject gender and sexuality implicitly trifles with the spectator position in a way that many Surrealist images only confirm it. In Brassai's images, if our first impression is one of admiration or objectification, it is always possible that we are being tricked.

And if we identify Brassai's nudes, on the contrary with men's bodies instead of women's, the male heterosexual viewer may be repulsed, amused or awakened to something he had not known about himself. If this is true, then Brassai opens up the possibility of creating an object intended to appeal specifically to a heterosexual female viewer's desire. Or perhaps he had homosexual viewer desire in mind all along. In using a traditional format to elicit viewer desire for a presumed or ambiguous female subject of the photograph, Brassai estranged us from our own sexuality, our own desire, calling its basis into question and revolutionizing our senses: he invites us to view the world more objectively. To unite beings on the basis of desire, regardless of reproductivity, and in a manner that insists these relationships are normal and natural, is not only to undermine the (nuclear) family base of the nation, but it undermines much of Freud's ideas about psychoanalysis--so critical to Surrealist thought--as well. Brassai invites us to become estranged, to become part of the continuum, to find in ourselves, as well as others depaysement.

Friday, 7-Aug-2015 03:59 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Brassai's photographs

Brassai's photographs suggest a certain masculine access, an analogy--through the emphasis on the woman's backside, and a deemphasis of breasts or genitals--to a similar softness and mutability located in the male body. In other words, his nude subjects, particularly the second Nu (Fig. 4), almost need not be female. The emphasis on the models' torsos from the back sides hints at a possible homoerotic tension between the viewer and the photographic object--she could be a he, a possibility disconcertingly redoubled in the discovery in the viewer's actualized desire for the phallus. The male viewer's gaze becomes motivated by homosexual desire. Brassai thus creates the potential for a kind of cloaked (or "passing") homoerotic display that might, under other conditions, have been impossible at the time. In short, traditionally assumed heterosexual male desire for and objectification of the female is transformed by Brassai into a return of the gaze with an excessive, voracious female desire which mutates into an androgynous and even potentially homoerotic desire. In so doing, Brassai disrupts national hierarchies and privileges the marginal on the basis of universal desire and inclusion.

But the clearest example of Brassai intersecting themes of woman, sexuality and nature/nation is the image that forms the frontispiece of one of the later issues of Minotaure, the photograph entitled Ciel Postiche (Fig. 5), translated as "invented sky" or "false heavens." Brassai created this image in France in the midst of a revival of realist landscapes, what Romy Golan describes as the interwar "lieu de memoire." The resurgence of landscape's" ... ultimate goal--the reaffirmation of French cultural supremacy after the ravages of World War I--was inextricably part of the larger history of French nationalism. Thus the return to the verisimilitude of the landscape motif. [Its] mapping of the external world participated in a specific regionalist ideology that linked France's cultural vitality to the strength of its rootedness in the soil." Along with paintings came a series of photographic reports of battlefields, which serve as a reminder that World War I was fought on French soil, and that France received the greater impact of the destruction written into its landscape. Simultaneous with this rise in landscape was that of the classical female nude, "the reincarnation of the French landscape into the imagery of the body." The need to rebuild French lands and populations prompted the image of Marianne to be depicted as a sower, referring to the regenerative power of nature.

Tuesday, 14-Apr-2015 04:35 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Colorado Impressions

When Dan Hays said, "I'm a robot trying to learn how to paint," I felt I knew what he meant. He didn't say, "I am a painter," or "I am an artist who paints." It is as if painting is something that will always be out of reach, not because of the artist's limitations, but because painting can no longer be what it once was. Today perhaps only a robot learning how to paint can communicate the fate of painting in a digital age and what it might be like to paint with that knowledge. Although the art form has had to deal with photography and film and the mass reproduction of images, from Degas to Warhol to Gerhard Richter, Hays' paintings specifically explore how digital production and the mass distribution of images affect the experience of looking at pictures. His sometimes deeply troubling paintings reflect the anomie and isolation of much contemporary life as it appears in, and sometimes unfolds within, the digital realm. At the same time, his works create a space in which to contemplate these sensations and perhaps even experience a form of the sublime.

In Hays' exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery, all the paintings, of varying sizes, were hung in one enormous room upstairs, next to an exhibition dedicated to 50 years of Miffy the Bunny. The juxtaposition is perhaps accidental, but it highlights the context in which Hays makes art. The impact of this exhibition is staggering: the scale of the project and the meticulous and labour-intensive process with which the artist carries it out is humbling. In one sense the installation serves the work well, because it highlights the public activity of viewing paintings. The authority of the museum contrasts with the private, unspectacular way that one views images on a computer screen. This tension between ways of seeing is evoked within the paintings themselves.

Each of Hays' paintings represents hours of dedicated, minutely measured brushwork, to--seemingly--reproduce a low-resolution, pixellated digital image. The pointlessness, not to mention frustration, of the task seems only worthy of a robot, as Hays pointed out. Like Modernists before him (Sol LeWitt comes to mind), Hays has devised strict systems within which to work in order to rein in the heroic painter and transform him into a machine. His paintings claim to be based on images downloaded from the Internet, from the website of another Dan Hays, living in Colorado. Our Dan Hays found him when Googling his own name and asked permission to reproduce his counterpart's photographs of the Colorado landscape. Apparently a correspondence ensued between the two Dans, with blogger Dan Hays supplying painter Dan Hays with photographs of himself as well. This barebones story of the origin of the images intrudes on viewers' perceptions of the paintings, producing a sense of voyeurism, but more importantly of doubt. Doubt in the Dans, doubt in the reality of the places depicted, doubt in the digital image, doubt in the possibility of a nature unconstructed by culture.

The series of paintings--it seems to be a series, but one that may expand indefinitely-is made up mainly of landscapes. There are two key paintings, mirror images of each other, of a man taking his photograph in a mirror. A painting of a grid of miniature landscapes called Colorado Pioneers (2005) along with three smaller paintings, Open Range (2004), Touring Map (2004), and Colorado Counties in Chinese Reds (2006), explore the chromatic and structural possibilities of painting. Transcendental Meditations (Royal Gorge Jellystone Park Camp Resort) (2006) depicts a man in a Yogi Bear costume paddling a rubber dinghy. The image is repeated vertically, smaller and smaller, to infinity--a grey blur at the top edge of the canvas. On one hand, if one takes it completely seriously, this painting suggests an ironic and ultimately bleak idea of the relationship of human beings to nature in contemporary capitalist societies. On the other hand, the playful scenario of the title, with its winks at yogic wisdom, nudges at Pop art and Modernist grids and means the work escapes lugubriousness and joyfully indulges in a painting game.

Colorado Impression 6 (After Dan Hays) (2001) precisely reproduces the texture of a low-resolution JPEG image of a landscape. Another painting, Colorado Impression II (After Dan Hays, Colorado) (2002), plays with digital interference and the consequent distortion and break-up of the image. There is a faint echo of the grandness of American landscape painting of the Hudson River School. But more apparent is the dialogue with Impressionist and post-Impressionist painting, in particular Cezanne's paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire, and Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres (1884). Both Cezanne and Seurat were struggling with how to depict the changes happening to the world they lived in. The factories in the background of Seurat's painting are just part of the landscape, part of the new urban existence of the bathers whom we see in the foreground ... but all is now foreground with Seurat's pointillist method. Cezanne's mountain becomes the means to examine how painting affects what is seen, producing a reality using basic geometric units. Hays absorbs and understands the struggles of his forbears, but his work seems miles away from them: at least a century away. The difference is in the world in which his paintings exist.

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