click to view site navigation menu

Roses and Raspberries

I grew up in a small town in the prairies, where not much happened in terms of news, our mayor did not smoke crack and the local covered mostly the weather and news on farming. Typical small town stuff, however tucked in the middle of the paper was the somewhat controversial section “Roses and Raspberries” where residents could write in ANNOYMOUSLY about what they liked happening in town (a “Rose”) and what they disliked (a “Raspberry”). Between all the pleasantries of giving out “roses” to the person that shoveled your driveway, or to the volunteers at the hospital., there was always some major shade thrown in the form a “Raspberry”. I remember when residents wrote in raspberries about local punk kids and their unusual hair, or called out people on laziness, rudeness, or the fact that watermelons were too expensive at the co-op. In honour of my hometown I have made a list of my own Roses and Raspberries about the art world.

Roses to everyone that bundled up and went to the Opening of Xpace’s Winter Programming last night. It was a great turn out which I am sure made the artist in attendance feel great, The work is on view till February 22 for the Main Space and Project Space, and until February 28th for the Window. In the Project Space Sam Cotter and Fraser McCallum’s project “An Expedition” the artists have created a fictional narrative brought to life through their writing, photos, and relics from Leslie Spit. In the Window Space Alison Snowball has installed a chalkboard and over the course of the exhibition will be asking the public questions, tweet #chalkformcensus to interact with this piece (The first question asked is, “What are you talking about?). In the Main Space a group exhibition, “Posts and Pillars”, curated by Jennifer Simaitis and Stefan Hancherow, features exciting work in sculpture, video and silk screening from the five distinct practices of Alexis Boyle, Andrew Buszchak, Emily Davidson, Aryen Hoekstra and Miles Stemp.

Roses to the new Artscape Youngplace on Shaw Street. The old school has been transformed and I am very excited for all the upcoming programming and exhibitions. Artscape Youngplace will no doubt make its mark in the cultural map of Toronto and I am very excited to see how the surrounding community embraces it.

A bush of Raspberries to unpaid internships. While they can offer great learning experiences they are far to common in the art world and are undervaluing artistic labour. I have many debates with people about the value of internships and my negative opinion on them, overall my work is valuable, and therefore I should be paid. It is hard to get your foot in the door, and internships are marketed as the path to a brighter future. I can understand doing an unpaid internship once in a while in school, but only if the emphasis is truly on acquiring new skills, and gaining valued work experience. Unfortunately too often this is not the case. A part of my position here is looking for job postings, and the terrible thing is the sheer number of internships that are replacing entry-level paid positions. Entry-level paid positions that are much needed once you finished your education and have student debt.

Roses and big congrats to BGL the Quebec based collective who were just selected to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale in 2015. BGL work is a perfect example of what should be presented on the world stage of Venice. I have fond memories of going to their exhibition at Parisian Laundry in Montréal and seeing a snowmobile hanging from the ceiling. Their work is unapologetically fun and I am sure no one will be able to predict what they are going to see at the Canadian Pavilion.

Roses to the upcoming Ally Workshop and Discussion hosted at Xpace, which will be held on February 8th from 1-5. Any event that will “explore questions surrounding what it means to be an ally in regards to race, identity, and ability and class” deserves a Rose. Any effort to help foster diversity and community interaction is much needed and the event should be interesting and insightful.

Raspberries to institutions that charge excessive submission fees — I am not talking $10- 20, but larger amounts where clearly the institution is turning a profit on the backs of artist’s ambitions and dreams. I firmly believe that the submission process is dehumanizing enough without having to pay money in order to have an institution even look at your submission. Of course in some instances an outside jury is called in to review those submissions and they also should make a fair wage, however let’s be real, a $50 to $60 dollar submission is excessive, especially if you work your day job for minimum wage to support your practice. If you make minimum wage it would take you almost 5 hours working your job just to pay for the submission. These kinds of practices put the average emerging artist in a tough situation because opportunities that come with a submission fee are sometimes amazing opportunities. For example, applying to a Banff residency costs $60 dollars, so if you are not making a lot of money, you have to make the decision whether or not it is worth that $60 to even take the chance on applying, and that $60 doesn’t even cover the cost of attending the residency if you happen to get accepted. Overall its bad for the entire community because it makes it more difficult for artists without a lot of financial strength to miss out on opportunities, and the strongest artists might not be selected because the field was already narrowed based on finances. What can someone do to stand up against expensive submission fees? Its super tricky, but sometimes it helps to just let your opinion be known and to value the opportunities that are free.

Roses to all the readers of this BLOG

By Humboldt Magnussen