Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Mary Janeway

Mary Janeway (1949-2022) passed away earlier this year. Last Sunday her life mate Charles Rea held a remembrance at their home near Trout Lake.

In the top floor room that is Charlie's studio a picture wall featuring pics of Mary throughout her life. The picture up top includes a number of Mainstreeters -- the "art gang" whose core was formed from students of Charles Tupper High School, and the subject of an exhibition (Mainstreeters: Taking Advantage, 1972-1982) Allison Collins and I curated for grunt gallery and Presentation House Gallery back in 2015.

Mary is at the far-left of the picture, as you are looking at it. Between her and the three people standing at the far-right are the Mainstreeters, sans Kenneth Fletcher.

I had never seen this picture before. Had I seen it, I'm sure Allison and I would have included it in our exhibition. As for the leopard spots, they were a motif deployed by Western Fronter Eric "Doctor Brute" Metcalfe, and the Mainstreeters were known for inhabiting those whose circles they ran in (and around). 

Another artist-run collective the Mainstreeters paid tribute to/burlesqued was Pumps. Among the videos we showed in our exhibition was a fashion show the Mainstreeters mounted after breaking into Pumps and dressing in the clothes of its members.

I was fortunate to know Mary over the past twenty-five years. Her art included jewelry (many of my friends wear her rings), gardens and a range of insights that have served me well in my own art over the years. A generous and curious person whose convictions, though firm at times, were less concluding walls than topic sentence bridges. I will miss her.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Three Crows

I thought I was losing my mind: three crows together on a fence, their beaks opening and closing, adjusting their bodies in ways that suggested a singing group, but no sound. Like the world's quietest pantomime. Something out of a horror movie. This was Friday evening, the day before the weather changed. I took a picture right away, then took a step closer, camera in hand, but one of them flew off. The picture up top was the picture I took, then enlarged. There is no other way to say it: I thought I was losing my mind.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Goodbye, Lenin (2003)

Another film where a lead character stops talking. Yesterday it was Persona's Elizabet Volgner, today it is Goodbye, Lenin's Frau Kerner, who is gobsmacked after her husband's 1978 defection to the west. Not because he left the family for a floozy, as she came to tell her children, but because she was too scared to apply for an exit visa so that she and the children could join him.

This lie, which she reveals to her children before her death at the end of the film, is intended to braid with the lie her son Alex maintained after she came out of a coma nine months after the Wall came down, when East Berlin, where this film is set, was no longer the worker's paradise that Frau Kerner, a school teacher, served "too idealistically," according to her former boss, but a place of hyperbolic transition. Alex's lie is that the DDR is not dissolving but in fact thriving, swelling with West Germans fleeing the pornographic popcorn that is capitalism, and he does everything he can to protect his weak-hearted mother from a reality that could, quite literally, shock her to death. 

Goodbye, Lenin is a film I had heard about for years and had imagined differently. For example, I imagined the mother and son to be older, the mother closer to a wisecracking Ruth Gordon than the limited yet distractingly attractive Katrin Sass. And then there's the question, Are Germans funny? Which of course they are. But when Germans try to be English funny or American funny, something very unfunny happens, and the problem as I see it has less to do with easy laughs than it does with our ability to appreciate the spectrum of the thoughtful (often ironic) proposition that only Germans seem capable of, where all responses are in play, an effect that can sometimes leave me -- speechless.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Persona (1966)

I would love to have a summer to read all that was ever written on Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966). Why it took me so long to see it is based on my belief that I had seen it. The only time it came up in conversation was when someone mentioned it in the context of all-time favourite films, where Persona is never first or second, but usually third or fourth.

The Persona I thought I'd seen was likely pieces of more obscure Bergman films that I hadn't seen all of. Amy was the last person I know who mentioned Persona to me. A couple weeks ago I saw a copy of it amongst the dreck at the East Hastings Street Value Village, and I bought it thinking of her. According to one of the floor staff, there are two guys who wait outside the doors every morning and race to the DVD section to "get all the good stuff." That Persona wasn't considered part of that stuff is partly what's wrong with the world.

If you're reading this far it might be because you've seen the film. I'm hoping you have, because I'm not going to describe it, only speak to the screen grabs I've selected for this post.

The first grab is of Nurse Alma's introduction to her patient, the actor Elisabet Vogler, who was admitted to hospital because, during a stage performance as Elektra (Elektra!), she suddenly, and more or less forever after, stops talking. Nurse Alma is a friendly young woman who, when asked to accompany a convalescent Elisabet to a desolate seaside house by one of the hospital psychiatrists, admits she might not be mentally strong enough to take on Elisabet's care. Eventually she agrees to do so, and more admissions follow. What Persona is, then, becomes in no small part a culmination of admissions -- and their consequences.

Did you notice Nurse Alma's shoes in the grab up top? Take a closer look:

Not a shoe I think of when I think of nursing. But then, what do I know about nursing? In Sweden, no less. And in 1966, when I was four.

There's so much men will never know about women's bodies, and it is for this reason that those who support The Patriarchy, inadvertently or otherwise, must not make decisions on their behalf.

Here is Elisabet's foot, the first time she misses stepping on a piece of Nurse Alma's broken glass:

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Bitch (1979)

My advice to those interested in the writing life is now down to four words: read widely, write daily. An example of wide reading could include Elfriede Jelinek at one end of the shelf, Jackie Collins at the other. 

A couple weeks ago I picked up a never before cracked Jackie Collins paperback published in the relatively debauched year of 1979. The book is called The Bitch.

Collins is at her best with chapters that begin with the names of her characters. In The Bitch, it is not the bitch we first meet (Fontaine Khaled), but the "gentleman" (Nico Constantine) who uses her as a unwitting mule to smuggle a fabulously large and "borrowed" diamond ring into London to sell before his return to Las Vegas, where he can pay off his gambling debt.

I am only on Page 141 of this 253 page cartoon, so I don't know how it turns out. Not that it matters, for as I said, it's portraiture, not plot, that is Jackie Collins's strong suit. Which is not to say (so far) that the Bitch is well drawn, with complexities that lead us to sympathize with her, forgive her bitchiness as a symptom of some childhood injury, and thus love her for what she isn't. My problem is that the Bitch isn't bitchy enough.

Like Nico the Gentleman, Fontaine the Bitch goes through lovers -- young lovers -- like seltzer water. The difference is that Nico (a widower) sets a time limit of four weeks on his love affairs, after which he gives his exes a diamond trinket and a speech that makes it sound like it is the dumped lover who is breaking up with him. For Fontaine (the divorcee), a lover rarely lasts a week, and is assessed entirely on the size of his bank account (we're still in the era of the millionaire) and penis ("eight or nine inches").

Why Nico is considered a gentleman and Fontaine a bitch is the difference between the lies of a confidence man and the honesty of a woman who, though fickle, is at least up front about what she wants. Fontaine's bitch is a mere shadow when compared to the ferocious recklessness of today's bitch. As for Nico, his gentlemanly ways would only leave him vulnerable, serve as an admission of guilt, and he would, like Tennessee Williams's Sebastian Venable, be torn to pieces by an unforgiving mob.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Clark Park

I can't remember when this too-tall-to-be-a-stump stump was a living, breathing birch tree, but it was once, and now it is a marker for itself and the life it once possessed, not to mention a luxury tower for bugs. The picture was taken on yesterday's walk back from the dentist, where Brenda cleaned my teeth, measured the pockets in my gums and noted positive developments in some places (a "9" is once more a "6"), but "you'll have to remember to hold the brush on that area a little longer than usual." 

I have lived where I do long enough to have myriad routes to and from it. Walking somewhere is never the same walk home in reverse, and yesterday was no different, coming back along East 13th, where there's a take-a-book-leave-a-book library near Charles's house. Amazing the books I've found there. Given how smart Charles is, I expect some of these books might have been his.

Yesterday I withdrew two books: Mary Sarton's Journal of a Solitude (1973) and David Foster Wallace's story collection Girl With Curious Hair (1989), the back of which features the author wearing what I always thought was a bandana, but could well be a bandage, or at least a sign for those who paid enough attention to his writing while he was alive to know he struggled with mental health issues.

For Sarton, her mental health required a rotation of social (professional) commitments and solitude, with the latter not necessarily a restful, peaceful place.

I have only read two entries from Sarton so far -- "September 15th" and "September 17th". Here's the first entry:

"For a long time now, every meeting with another human being has been a collision. I feel too much, sense too much, am exhausted by the reverberations after even the simplest conversation. But the deep collision is and has been with my unregenerate, tormenting and tormented self. I have written every poem, every novel, for the same purpose -- to find out what I think, to know where I stand. I am unable to become what I see. I feel like an inadequate machine, a machine that breaks down at crucial moments, grinds to a dreadful halt, "won't go," or, even worse, explodes in an innocent person's face." (12)

Later in the book, after receiving a poem sent to her from a twelve-year-old at the urging of the child's mother:

"The child really does look at things, and I can write something helpful, I think. But it is troubling how many people expect applause, recognition, when they have not even begun to learn an art or a craft. Instant success is the order of the day: 'I want it now!' I wonder if this is not part of our corruption by machines. Machines do things very quickly and outside the rhythms of life, and we are indignant if a car doesn't start at the first try." (15)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Recent Mailings

Kevin Brazil's review of Documenta 15 in yesterday's art-agenda mailing suggests this half-decade's iteration lacks the prescience of Roger Buergel and Ruth Novak's Documenta 12, which ushered in the era of the curatorial artist (prescience, like market forecasting, being curation's gift to a consumer society), and gives us instead contemporary art's so long to its current moment and hello to its TL;DR hour. A highlight of the review is Brazil's description of a board game (my bolds):

The Speculative Collective Board Game, developed by Gudskul and available to play on a table inside the Fridericianum, is a role-playing game in which players “act as members of an art collective” in order to foster “co-operating, sharing resources, problem solving, and decision making.” Players face challenges like a member starting a family and therefore having less time to give to the collective endeavor. The resolution of a conflict improves the collective’s “bonding” and increases its “social capital.” Success is thus measured by metrics resembling the funding structures that bring a collective into being, and the formation of aesthetic subjectivity made equivalent to a training in assessment, evaluation, and impact. This game suggests that Gudskul imagine their audience as consisting of aspiring artist-administrators and that, for the general public, the art collective is a model for improved social relations.

After Brazil's article I found myself reading a mail-out from C Magazine thanking "the publication's first queer editor" in tribute form, the likes of which I associate more with a religious ceremony or a shareholders meeting. For those interested in walking a mile in Jac Renée Bruneau's shoes, consider this:

C Magazine Job Opportunity: Editor

Apply by: 20 July 2022

C Magazine is looking to welcome a new Editor who will lead the editorial program for our print and online platforms, by engaging imaginatively, sensitively, pluralistically, and energetically, and with significant ideas in Canadian and international contemporary art and its contexts.

Salary from: 50K to 55K
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Employee Benefits: Flex-time, Health insurance, Annual increase*
Employment Type: Full-time (4 day week, plus added hours during production)*
*Check Additional Info section for more details

The Editor leads the editorial and educational program at C Magazine, as part of a small, collaboratively managed staff. Overseeing and developing the editorial vision and content for print and online, the Editor produces a regular schedule of critically engaged features, columns, artist projects, talks, programs, and workshops. The Editor works closely with the Reviews Editor to shape and commission content, and with the Executive Director/Publisher to publish the magazine and produce its associated programs, with a commitment to facilitating meaningful, pluralistic, interdisciplinary, historically engaged and imaginative conversations about contemporary art. As a key public representative, the Editor plays an essential role in developing C Magazine’s local and international profile and makes a valuable contribution to the record of Canadian and international contemporary art. The Editor reports to and is responsible to the authority of the Board of Directors of C The Visual Arts Foundation, and is supervised by the Executive Director/Publisher.

Ensuring that C Magazine fulfills its mandate while meeting the standards, policies, strategic objectives, and priorities of the organization, the Editor supervises and is accountable for the following key responsibilities:

Editorial and educational program 

  • Develop the editorial vision, and related public communication 
  • Develop and maintain the editorial structure and plan for C Magazine’s print magazine and online platforms.
  • Be accountable for all editorial content, and oversee the work of the Reviews Editor 
  • Facilitate three consultative Editorial Advisory meetings annually
  • Prepare themed calls for pitches for three annual print issues, and read and evaluate pitches
  • Shape, solicit and commission editorial content; including but not limited to features, columns, and artist projects for three annual print issues, plus online columns 
  • Conduct image research, negotiate permissions, and ensure all contributions are appropriately credited
  • Write the Editorial note, issue description, and press release
  • Write or commission and edit programming-related texts (e.g. introductory or discursive texts)
  • Thoughtfully and consistently complete substantive edits within professional standards 
  • Respond to current art and cultural practices in a timely manner, while building upon community dialogue, and past C Magazine editorial material 
  • Communicate with artists, writers, and creative professionals in all stages of their careers with compassion and professionalism
  • Produce content-related programming (panels, lectures, conversations, workshops, etc.), and educational programs, such as the annual C New Critics Award, and pitch workshops
  • Represent C Magazine publicly and within the professional visual arts sector.

Production and editorial management

  • For print production, collate and release files to the designer, review and signoff on all galleys, coordinate external proofreading, direct and coordinate changes, and sign off on the final proof
  • Maintain the C Magazine Living Style Guide and editorial toolkit
  • Set and ensure that the production schedule is adhered to by all relevant staff
  • Determine contributor fees, in consultation with the Executive Director/Publisher
  • Ensure that all contributors and subjects are properly credited 
  • Review and write relevant website and newsletter content 
  • Adhere to an approved editorial and educational program budget

Related Tasks

  • Carry out general administration duties
  • Write or edit, and approve artistic sections of grants and reports
  • Assist in development and funding opportunities such as project grant applications
  • Participate in the organization’s fundraising activities
  • Contribute to the development of visual identity, and communications strategies
  • Participate in board meetings and educational program committee meetings
  • Assist in developing Strategic Plan goals and objectives
  • Report on editorial deliverables, and Strategic Plan outcomes related to the editorial and educational program
  • Follow, support, and critically engage with the Canadian and international art ecology
  • Support and seek to develop the local, national, and international profile of C Magazine 

Human resource management

  • Manage team members (Reviews Editor, Copyeditor, Proofreader, and any editorial intern) following standards set by the organization in the Employee Handbook
  • Maintain a professional atmosphere as per the Ontario Code of Human Rights
  • Be committed throughout your work to principles of anti-oppression, equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility, and to applying the organization’s accessibility and equity policies


Education and Experience

  • Master’s degree in art history, critical and curatorial studies, or a closely related field in Fine Arts, Humanities, or Social Science; or equivalent education, training, and experience relevant to the role
  • Writing, substantive editing, and copyediting; minimum of three years combined in a professional context related to contemporary art and culture (a combination of academic, magazine-related, journalistic, independent, and/or peer-to-peer are acceptable)
  • Experience providing substantive edits on contemporary art writing for publication in any format; experience commissioning writers is considered a major asset
  • Experience developing careful and productive working relationships with writers, artists, and other art-world peers
  • Knowledge and understanding of anti-oppression and EDI practices, with demonstrable commitment and care to EDI in past work 
  • Well-developed networks within the national and international contemporary art community; knowledge of and active engagement with discourse in multiple disciplines therein
  • Experience overseeing and motivating a team is considered a major asset
  • Experience in non-profit art magazine publishing and/or the artist-run sector is considered an asset 
Skills and Abilities
  • Demonstrable ability to conduct research, conceptualize, evaluate, and execute ideas within an editorial or curatorial framework—creatively, innovatively, receptively, and resourcefully
  • Astute awareness of editorial ethics, journalistic integrity, industry standards, and the politics of language
  • Extremely attentive to detail, with advanced project management, planning, and organizational skills
  • Demonstrable ability to work enthusiastically, respectfully, and sensitively as part of creative collaboration
  • Self-directed with proven ability to prioritize, assign, and execute multiple tasks simultaneously, and meet numerous ongoing deadlines 
  • Knowledge of copyright, image reproduction, the Chicago Manual of Style, and/or Canadian Press Style
  • Training in conflict resolution, anti-racism, or anti-oppression is considered an asset
  • Computer skills for an MS Office, Adobe, Google Apps, Dropbox, and Slack environment
Additional Requirements
  • Available for occasional evenings and weekend commitments, including meetings and attendance at events; online and in Toronto
  • Ability to work effectively in a remote environment
  • Responsible, ethical, and accountable
  • Positive and professional, with an engaged, hands-on, and constructive approach
  • A demonstrable interest in advancing C Magazine’s mandate and vision  


The role is full-time, based on a four-day work week (28 hours per week) plus additional hours (up to 28 hours during each print production period, 3 times per year). Vacation is taken as earned, and increases to three weeks in year two of employment. All employees receive holiday bonus days off between Dec 26 and Jan 1, and an automatic annual increase for inflation on July 1. 
We mainly work remotely (office space is also available), on flex-time, with core team hours. The office of C Magazine is at 401 Richmond Street W, Toronto, and is physically accessible.


Application Deadline: 20 Jul 2022
Interview Dates from: 2 to 12 August 2022
Anticipated Start Date: 12 Sept 2022

Please submit your application as one pdf, emailed to hr@cmagazine.com with the subject: “EDITOR.” The receipt of your application will be acknowledged. Include only the following in your application:

  • Letter of interest (two pages maximum)—include your motivations; your editorial strengths and approach; your EDIA commitments; and your research interests
  • CV (three pages maximum)
  • 2 writing samples (500-2500 words each), and 1 relevant editing sample; among them, one should demonstrate writing, commissioning, or editing with an EDI lense
  • Voluntary self-identification form 
C Magazine is an equal opportunity employer that uses an Affirmative Action Program to actively increase the representation of equity-seeking groups in the art sector, with current priority given to Indigenous Persons; Black Persons; Persons of Colour; deaf, mad, and disabled persons; 2SLGBTQIAP persons. If you identify as a member of one of these groups, you are invited to voluntarily self-identify using the voluntary self-identification form (also available at equity.cmagazine.com). Only those who self-identify can benefit from the C Affirmative Action Procedures. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply and will be assessed on their merits. Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority.

Candidates will be selected for assessment based on their application submissions. Candidate assessment will include an interview, reference checks, and an assigned substantive editing task, and a second interview will include a theme pitch. Please refer to the C Information for Writers at submissions.cmagazine.com and visit archive.cmagazine.com to understand the style and scope of C Magazine.
C Magazine is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment and to providing employment accommodation for those who identify as deaf, mad, and disabled. Please let us know of any accommodation we may provide during the application, interview, or selection process.
We thank all applicants in advance. Only the most qualified will be interviewed.


C Magazine, established in 1984, is a contemporary art and criticism periodical that functions as a forum for significant ideas in art and its contexts. Each issue explores a theme that is singularly engaged with emerging and prevailing perspectives through original art writing, criticism and artists’ projects. Our content focuses on the activities of contemporary art practitioners residing in Canada and Canadian practitioners living abroad—with an emphasis on those from Black, Indigenous, diasporic and other equity-seeking communities—as well as on international practices and dialogues. We are committed to facilitating meaningful, pluralistic, interdisciplinary, historically-engaged and imaginative conversations about art. In addition to publishing three print and digital issues of the magazine each year, we present educational workshops, programs, talks, and other events. We also mentor interns and facilitate two writing awards. 

C Magazine is published online and in print three times each year in April (Spring), August (Autumn), and December (Winter), by C The Visual Arts Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization established to present ideas, advance education and document contemporary visual art and artist culture.

Contact Information
Kate Monro, Executive Director and Publisher
C Magazine