Aligning pedagogy and gesture produces indeterminacy in the status of and relation between mind and body. Through this pairing, thought takes on material dimension and is shown to consist in the actions and instruments involved in the formulation of knowledge. The body gains abstract significance and its movements become the conceptual schema that represent and propose to understand an order of the world. What arises from the indistinct limits of each term, mind and body, is neither a simple leveling of hierarchical distinctions nor a dissolution of secured boundaries, though these may both occur and suggest a possibility for pedagogical reformation. As the formal and practical possibilities of mind and body become more inclusive, the nominal terms are preserved but only as points of inflection and orientation within an expanse of radical provision and potentiality. This is a spatial problem where the systemic and situational conditions in which learning and teaching occur are questionable. The forces specific material and social structures exert are made evident here, but so is the chance to experiment with different ways of composing, coming to know, and making sense of the world.
I understand material and social structures to be affective spatial parameters. The pressures they exert are disciplinary inasmuch as they coordinate thought, action, and feeling. Seeking extra-disciplinary techniques of knowledge production and qualifying gesture in the affective and social register can thus be taken up as an issue of spatial practice. In this presentation I sketch a methodology of spatial practice by defining the critical spatial capacity of minor constructional operations and communicative gestures. These are compositional tactics that produce spaces of relief, variation, and difference out from engrained patterns of thought and action. Rethinking pedagogy with gesture challenges one of these patterns and quickly expands to include the everyday. What, then, are the lessons of everyday disciplinarity and how do they transform their own conditions of possibility?
Paper presented at the London Conference on Critical Thought, London Metropolitan University, London UK, 2023.
At its core, this project advocates for spaces with profound capacity to receive and support the fullness of lives lived. It implies that, when couched in the economic logic of an urban revitalization strategy, “clean and safe” designate a closure founded on an imaginary ideal -- an unreal estate of absolute normativity and capitalist productivity -- impossible to obtain despite strict enforcement. Dirt and danger move in another way. They are situated, contextual, and open categories meant to prompt a careful consideration of what constitutes violence and how it is enacted in the city.
Emergency Index: an Annual Document of Performance Practice, edited by Zoe Guttenplan, Vol. 9:386–87. Brooklyn, NY: Ugly Duckling Press, 2020.
This text follows a practice-led enquiry into the spatial characteristics of textiles. As a whole, the project combines handwoven fabric, drawing and objects. It poses weaving as a spatial practice and a processual choreography enacting a techno-material modality of worldly conduct.
I begin by considering textiles as signifiers of spatial relations, then move to discuss the motives and formal intentions of a recent body of artwork. Elaborating on the notion of an ontological continuum between material, maker and the spaces engendered by their correspondence, I argue weaving is a sensuous gathering of corporeal flows and their subsequent dispersal as aberrant, orthogonal trajectories.
I conclude by questioning the conditionality of presence as a circumstantial configuration of practice, proximity, and differentiation.
Paper presented the Universities Art Association Conference, Quebec, QC, October 2019.
Underperforming: Crash Pad by Cindy Baker
May 4 – June 16, 2018
dc3 Art Projects, Edmonton AB
"A tactic of underperformance marks more than the simple dichotomy between functional and nonfunctional forms. It opens up the logic of function for reconsideration and illuminates the ideals of success and productivity underlying the ethos of utility. It shows the force objects have to shape and move the body and becomes a way to reclaim and redirect those movements with critical sensitivity toward creating the material and social spaces we inhabit."
Exhibition reviews published in Studio Magazine, Fall/Winter 13, no. 2 (2018).
Eye of the Needle
Curated by Mary-Beth Laviolette
October 7, 2017 - May 13, 2018
The Black Gold Tapestry
By Sandra Sawatzky
October 7, 2017 – May 21, 2018
Glenbow Museum, Calgary AB
"Straightforward descriptions of needlework as long, slow labour often evoke “duration” as a political opposition to mass production and consumption. The rhetorical tone of these arguments tends to obscure the social conditions which distinguish a particular form of labour as possible for some, mandatory for others, or something of both for many. Even so, thinking about stitching in temporal terms offers more than moralizing dogma or a reductive accounting of how much time something took to make. It is also a way to engage with the deeper issues of history through a specific material practice."
Exhibition reviews published in Studio Magazine, Spring/Summer 13, no. 1 (2018).
℅ Modern Fuel
"I’ve always liked letters. They’re slow, so they seem deliberate. But they can also be fragmented and meandering. They take time to write; time to deliver, to read, and to reply. In that time there is doubt, a period of uncertainty and wavering convictions. This uncertainty is contextual and a decentering effect of reciprocal correspondence (communication). In the act, a single voice is situated among many possible and unknown respondents. An uncertain centre is provisional. It is held together, permeable and plastic. An uncertain centre refuses the pedagogical objective (authoritative status) and questions its constituent positions. It facilitates negotiation and the work of holding together. It’s a powerful sociability and visuality."
A letter to Modern Fuel Artist Run Centre published in Syphon 4.0 (2017), an arts and culture periodical published by Modern Fuel.
Aberrant Articulations of Presence: Templates, Formwork and Interiors
Templates and formwork exist for the express purpose of producing multiple instances of a specific form or object. They are secondary to their principal objective yet integral to its realization and reproduction. This paper elaborates on Raymond Williams' notion of the “effective presence” of material and social structures to draw a comparison between each instrument and the built environment. I address their practical utility as underlying structures to argue that templates and formwork constitute interior conditions by delineating boundaries and organizing relations between elements. By way of this spatialization they also prefigure modes of performance and inhabitation. To live within these spaces is to sense the pressures they exert and to enact a particular moment of their design. I further argue that systems of socio-spatial organization are embodied, felt as affective abutments, abrasions, excesses or refusals to fulfil.
Informed by feminist scholars Deborah Fausch and Elizabeth Grosz, I consider these frictions and departures by looking at Larisa Fassler's method of producing scale models of public spaces by measuring the spaces with her body. I then compare Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan's video survey of a post-war suburban landscape called Homogeneity (1988) with Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell's video Her's is a Dank Cave: Crawling Towards a Queer Horizon (2015). I conclude with some thoughts on bodily performance as capacity to articulate spatial presence.
Paper presented at the Universities Art Association Conference, Banff, AB, October 2017.
Spatially Aligned, Spatially Allied: Textiles and the Built Environment
This lecture begins with Gottfried Semper's ideas about the four elements of architecture in order to consider possible opportunities for “alliance” between textiles and architectural design. Drawing examples from craft, interior design, and contemporary art, different kinds of interrelationships between fibre-based practices and buildings are discussed, leading to an argument for craft to be situated within an expanded field of spatial practice.
Guest lecture delivered in Architecture and Design Now at the University of Lethbridge, January 2017.
Knotting as Material and Social Assembly: Building Scaffolding
Knotting as Material and Social Assembly considers the functional application of knots in building systems and their relational attributes as joints or moments of connection. Nineteenth century German architect Gottfried Semper's theory that architectural form derives from four basic material and craft practices provides the initial premise from which to consider knots as architectural elements. Kenneth Frampton's notion of tectonic building practice further situates construction as a cultural activity and leads to an analysis of scaffolding as a persistent concern in contemporary architecture.
The types of knots and techniques involved in the creation of wooden scaffolding are outlined. Utilitarian scaffolding used during the construction or restoration of a building is compared to architecture that employs scaffolding as a spatial or structural model. OS31's 2015 design for a temporary restaurant on the frozen Assiniboine River in Winnipeg, Manitoba is contrasted to other temporary buildings designed as social spaces. The paper concludes by proposing knotting to be a critical craft practice and scaffolding to be a provisional, political, built space.
Paper presented at the Universities Art Association Conference, Halifax, NS, October 2015.