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Review: Ecology.Design.Synergy

Posted by art On June - 27 - 2010

Ecology.Design.Synergy: Green Architecture & New Ideas from Germany
Behnisch Architekten + Transsolar KlimaEngineering
June 23 – July 11 @ MaRS Centre Atrium

Text and photos by Tina Chu

Brigitte Shim’s video interview for Ecology.Design.Synergy, perfectly sums up my experience of the exhibit.

As Shim describes it, Ecology.Design.Synergy is an untraditional architecture exhibit because as opposed to focusing on either an architectural or engineering firm, it chooses instead to center on the integrated design processes of Behnisch Arkitekten + Transsolar KlimaEngineering.

The spotlight on Behnisch and Transsolar’s interdisciplinary design strategies is attributed to the larger theme of sustainability presented in the approaches of both practices. In the past, where boundaries have been drawn between disciplines, they have now been dismantled, rendered obsolete in the larger context and challenge of building sustainably. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotiabank CONTACT 2010: Teenage Paparazzo

Posted by art On May - 11 - 2010

Austin Visschedyk, teenage paparazzo.

Teenage Paparazzo
Directed by Adrien Grenier
Co-presented with Hot Docs
Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)
May 8

By Kerry Freek

Forget Lady Gaga. Thirteen-year-old Austin Visschedyk is the fame monster. Not only is he a paparazzo-in-the-making, but the subject of Teenage Paparazzo comes threateningly close to becoming a celebrity himself, and almost certainly as a direct result of receiving this attention from director Adrien Grenier. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotiabank CONTACT 2010: Persuasion of Men

Posted by art On May - 9 - 2010

Brian, by Drasko Bogdanovic (via CONTACT).

Persuasion Of Men
Drasko Bogdanovic
GRASP Erotica Bar (543 Yonge St., Level 4)
Runs May 7–31

By Jessie Davis

In our culture where sex sells most everything and “sexy” is generally portrayed as a smooth, slim, attractive woman, the male body has often been disregarded and even censored. In fact, it is probably the last remaining taboo in mainstream film and television. Drasko Bogdanovic stares down this taboo with his camera lens, creating his series Persuasion of Men (see YouTube preview here, potentially NSFW) to encourage the audience’s curiosity about the male form, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

It’s difficult to move into this gender and preference-neutral territory, however, given that the show itself is housed in a re-purposed former bathhouse on the outskirts of Church and Wellesley Village, with gay porn being shown on the television behind the bar. Add to this the fact Read the rest of this entry »

Scotiabank CONTACT 2010: 99 Cents

Posted by art On May - 8 - 2010

An unintentional voyeur takes in Tanja Tiziana's Fancy Panties.

99 Cents
Show & Tell Gallery (1161 Dundas Street West)

Runs May 7-16

By Kerry Freek

It’s the battle of the blogs! Kidding (mostly). Back in March, blogTO announced a Sony-sponsored contest for aspiring photographers to take part in an official Scotiabank CONTACT photo exhibit. The theme was 99 Cents, that ubiquitous sale suffix. The call encouraged the exploration of the concept’s psychological influence. Cool, yes? Unfortunately, the exhibit’s description sounds better than it looks. The result of reader votes and culls from blogTO’s curatorial team is a rather meh collection of photos on display now at Show & Tell. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Public Realm at Propeller

Posted by art On January - 29 - 2010

Public Realm
Curated by Christopher Hume
Featuring work by Ian Amell, Broken City Lab, Eric Cheung + Sean Martindale, Desire, Rocky Dobey, Tina Edan, Christine Elson, Doug Geldart, Helena Grdadolnik + David Colussi, Josh Hite, Tyler Hodgins, Stuart Keeler, Mark Krawczynski, Marissa Largo + Sean Bennell + Daniel Pierre, Frances Patella, Allison Rowe, Kevin Scanlon, Laura St. Pierre
January 20-31 @ Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts

Review and photographs by Tina Chu
(MONDO does not hold the rights to the original images.)

What first drew me to The Propeller’s latest exhibit was an image of Eric Cheung and Sean Martindale’s Poster Pocket Plants. The last time I’d encountered these plants was around the corner from Bathurst and Harbord. Seeing the works in a new context required a follow-up.

Curated by Christopher Hume, Public Realm turned out to be a noteworthy exhibition of interventions into, meditations on and proposals for public space. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Leona Drive Project

Posted by art On October - 29 - 2009
A detail from Angela Joosse and Shana MacDonald's work on Leona Drive.

A detail from Angela Joosse and Shana MacDonald's work on Leona Drive.

Review and photos by Tina Chu

As a longtime resident of the suburbs, I always feel a sense of hesitation and guilt when revealing my address to those from the city, which is why the Leona Drive Project, with its focus on and situation in the suburbs, piqued my curiosity.

Curated by Janine Marchessault, the Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media and Globalization at York University, and Michael Prokopow, current faculty member at OCAD, the project re-purposes a series of vacant bungalows facing demolition in Willowdale to create a site-specific exhibition that characterizes its own fate — the shift from old suburbia to the new. Read the rest of this entry »

Hysteria 2009: [TBL] Tall Blonde Ladies

Posted by art On October - 27 - 2009

Tall, blonde, ladies. Check.

Tall, blonde, ladies. Check.

Presented in association with FADO Performance Art Centre
Part of Buddies in Bad Times’ Hysteria 2009
Festival runs until October 31 @ Buddies in Bad Times

By Daina Valiulis

Tall Blonde Ladies, composed of Anna Berndtson and Irina Runge from Sweden and Germany, is a collaborative performance project that “inverts female stereotypes through the composition of absurd and unexpected performance gestures, incorporating a range of accoutrement from high-end fashion to sports gear”, according to the show’s press release. “Their works present diametrically opposed concepts; beauty and grace are juxtaposed and diminished through brute action and athleticism, tacitly disrupting and challenging gender-based categorizations.”

Well, that’s a fancy explanation for two tall blonde ladies wearing corsets and cleats, sitting or marching in right angles in the middle of the room. They don’t interact, they don’t change the rhythm and they do this for an hour. Frankly, to tack on this much meaning to something so ridiculous is lazy and obnoxious. Read the rest of this entry »

Hysteria 2009: Staceyann Chin and Gaggle

Posted by art On October - 26 - 2009

Staceyann Chin: girl can yell.

Staceyann Chin: girl's got pipes.

Live: Staceyann Chin


Created and performed by The Humberlights
Directed by Karin Randoja

Both part of Buddies in Bad Times’ Hysteria 2009
Festival runs until October 31 @ Buddies in Bad Times

By Kerry Freek

First up on Friday night of Buddies’ Hysteria Festival was Staceyann Chin. In pre-show research mode, I had my doubts: poetry slams run deep in her bio. However, this poet (and author and performer and activist) is well-deserving of a second look. About halfway through her show, I learned an important lesson: you can’t always judge a girl by her web presence (nor by her involvement in poetry slams).

First, Chin warmed up the audience with a couple of racially and sexuality-driven (yet good-humoured) jokes, doing her best to make the PC contingent squirm in their seats. Then, easing us into her content, she read a few funny stories from her memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, including frightfully embarrassing, juicy stuff from the pages of cologne-scented letters sent to her by a hormonal boy named Randall in her early teen years, and the story of discovering her “cocoabread” and subsequently ending up inside of an outhouse toilet. Read the rest of this entry »

Luminato: Glass Houses and Evil Eyes

Posted by art On June - 12 - 2009


Tony Oursler’s Public Art Installation

Runs for the duration of Luminato in Grange Park and Young Gallery

Review and Photos by Helen Fylactou

Based out of New York, internationally-renowned Tony Oursler has been generating buzz since the 1970s. Abstracting the ways we look at desires, obsessions, technology, and phobias, he creates installation pieces consisting of video, spoken word, and sculpted objects. Needless to say, I was excited to see his work. So my friend and I started our trek to Grange Park, where two of his three installation pieces are currently being exhibited.

The first installation was a glass house. A glass house filled with garbage. Although it was somewhat amusing checking out the encapsulated treasures, I could have just walked around the park looking at the garbage and basically gotten the same feeling of discomfort that the piece tried to evoke. Inside the glass house, flatscreen televisions with moving images of people and a stream-of-consciousness, never-ending conversation played from speakers. The conversation reflected the notion of hoarding, and the installation helped the viewer fulfill some sort of secret desire of voyeurism.

tony-012The next installation piece was located next to the AGO, and was very similar to the first — minus the garbage. It was a glass house with hanging video screen. In lieu of the garbage, Oursler opted to fill this house with neon-coloured sheets of  hanging plastic. The flatscreen television and coloured sheets became the interior bricks of the house and changed the interior space of the 3D installation.  The house was visually pleasing, but didn’t hold my attention for very long.  The soundtrack for this house was reflective of the kind of substance abuse that’s socially accepted, but the longer the audience interacts with the installation, the more liminal the space becomes.

In a surprising twist, the third installation (in the Young Gallery) was strangely beautiful. Tony Oursler is a master at creating anthropomorphic art. By projecting video of an eye, Oursler animates a white sphere placed in the corner of the room. Shifting from right to left, and from blinking to a stare, I found myself in awe of the eye and stuck in a bizarre, ghostly staredown. In the same room, Oursler placed a sculpture of half a house. And in this house was a projection of a blue person frantically almost-pacing around one room. The disembodied voices and the eerie echo of the voice made the room feel like a bad/awesome ’70s horror film, helping to break down the idea and structure and igniting a fear of losing stability.

Worth checking out if you’re interested in video installation art.

newwavesYoung Centre for the Performing Arts presents
The New Waves Festival
Runs June 6-7 and June 12-14 (opening and closing weekends of LuminaTO)

By Daina Valiulis

If you do decide to go to the New Waves Festival, remember to take people with you to keep you company while you wait. And be prepared to explore.

As part of this year’s LuminaTO festivities, this event stands out. This weekend (and next), the two-storey, multiple-stage Young Centre was home to hundreds of emerging and established Canadian artists presenting various works. Each performance is fifteen minutes long and different acts shared various rooms with the schedule posted outside the door. The idea is that the audience feels free to wander, explore, and uncover treasures lurking in all corners of the building.

It was this exploration that was frustrating. Even with the schedules, it was never clear what was playing where (and when), and sometimes people waited in queues outside various rooms for up to twenty minutes. The most unfortunate part is that, in an attempt to maximize your time, you may end up missing what you originally hoped to see. An itinerary may have helped. Even so, I ventured into several excellent and/or intriguing performances.

“Virtuosic Toronto” was a series of dance/music compositions inspired by various workers in Toronto: a jambe drum maker, a tow truck driver, and a chef making noodles were represented on a giant screen, and accompanied by a musician and dancer. The dancer representing the chef pounding the dough slapped the counter with his fluid, powerful movements and was most interesting to watch.

Next, the Tarragon Theatre’s Youth group showcased the second half of a play written by a fourteen-year-old author. While the script about teen relationships was kind of cute, these kids have a lot to learn. However, it was wonderful to see young artists represented and given the opportunity to perform.

Having forfeited seeing the “Bedtime Stories” performance in favor of a piece called “Divination Duets,” I was pleasantly surprised. Inspired by the music of The Tragically Hip’s frontman Gordon Downie, two dancers performed three of eleven prepared dances (chosen by the audience) set to different songs. Even thought I’m not a fan of Downie or The Hip, I still loved this performance. The dancers were light, airy, and unbelievably agile. The most impressive piece of the three was called “Trick Rider,” in which they performed various acrobatics in “trust game” style, balancing on each other. Their movements expressed the sensuality and joy of discovering a lover for the first time. It was truly breathtaking, and a great way to end my New Waves adventure.

While the whole event’s organization could have been better finessed, it was a wonderful representation and celebration of what Toronto has to offer. Meant for all ages and all different artistic tastes, the New Waves Festival is a good place to visit if you have a free day and would like to see as many performances as possible.

OCAD Grad Show: Just Some Thoughts

Posted by art On May - 15 - 2009

Discover OCAD+
94th Annual Graduate Exhibition

By Kerry Freek

Like Matt did last year, I found the prospect of six floors of art daunting. Later, my weary legs and old-woman knees found it worse. However, this year’s OCAD grad show didn’t disappoint.

Ok, well, yes it did. In exploring six floors of student art, you’re bound to have to sift through a ton of crap to get to the good stuff. But the shiny scraps in this magpie’s collection of style, form and media were definitely not fool’s gold. And I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. Amidst all of the (very talented, don’t mistake me) Juxtapoz wannabees, three artists stuck with me, and a few others stayed close, too.

#1: Jesi the Elder’s Satan in the Sonar installation

Sparkles, blow-up killer whales, dollar-store tealights, and religious paraphernalia came together in one mega-threatening exhibit. Surrounded by groupings of altars (of the table and wall-sconce variety), a projector screened a crudely animated mélange that garnered mixed reactions. For instance, when two whales jumped out of the water and crashed into each other, exploding into bits of flesh and floods of blood, the room LOL’d. But when two girls stabbed each other down their throats, blurting guffaws turned to nervous tittering.

#2: Stephen Shaddick’s videos

Clearly, as a 2009 Medal Winner, this Integrated Media student was a show favourite, but he deserved it. Shaddick’s study of time and patience challenged viewers with banal yet infuriating video clips with zero reward (except maybe introspection). One video focused on a pot being brought to boil; another showed repetitious footage of a young man attempting (and failing) to walk across a slippery gate. The best clip, however, was the computer screen restarting ad infinitum. The work prompted laughter (of course), but also caused viewers to become conscious of how they get from one minute to the next, and of how frequently they waste their time and on what.

#3: Chris Kim’s illustrations

Kim’s stylized drawings are characterized by a great command of lines (what patience!), a good sense of humour, and a fair helping of social commentary. Decreased brain activity depicts a family gathered ’round ye olde teevee, except their heads have empty spaces through which the magic box’s light shines. In Lack of true communication, a big mouth blabs over the phone to person standing in front of him/her, but the chatterbox is blinded by the telephone cord that’s wrapped around his/her head. Body shame’s naked body becomes the inside of a closet, hiding behind a rack of clothing attached to its neck-rack. While the messages are somewhat simple, the cheekiness of the images work in Kim’s favour, and the technical achievement (again, those lines) is enough to make anyone stop and take notice.

Honourable Mentions

  • Liam Crockard’s angst-ridden Teenage Workshop installation.
  • Ryan Lake’s beautifully coloured, imaginative illustrations.
  • The person whose name I didn’t catch who did the amazing video-remix-slash-sound-collage of evangelical and sex phone line commercial footage.

This is the final article in a series about this year’s [FAT], Toronto’s Alternative Arts and Fashion Week.

Photo by Arline Malakian

Photo by Arline Malakian

By Helen Fylactou

“Let your inner light shine. We can’t help being beautiful. Beauty is contagious” – Arline Malakian

Arline Malakian has made an indelible impact on the face of photography. While breaking conventions, Malakian creates relationships with her audiences and moves past aesthetics to provokes ideas and feeling. In addition to her photography, Malakian has become a presence in mainstream fashion. She’s looking for a way to empower people by having them explore their inner core.

Appearing on the third day of Toronto Alternative Arts and Fashion Week, Malakian’s Black and Black photo series, inspired by Lucian Matis’ Black Collection, was a “test in photographic technique.” Malakian shot black dresses on black models against a black background; a touch of red appears in each photo, creating tension.  A visually stunning series of photographs, Black on Black shows Malakian’s love for the photographic arts. In Malakian’s words, the series offers “a delicate balance between the darkness, lightness, the silhouette and the garments.”  Malakian’s success in shooting black on black on black in chromatic repetition demonstrates her brilliance.

Duality is an apparent theme that is explored throughout Malakian’s work. She told me, “Our life here is not everything; it’s not the whole story. There is a bigger picture.”  A belief that we must learn to live in a world that is filled with dualities.  A world that can not be described with one word, Malakian adds: “It is the profane and the spiritual, the male and female, the generous and the insecure.”  A striking impression was left by the series, emphasizing the pleasure of photography in addition to fashion.

In both her editorial and commercial photos, Malakian juxtaposes feminine fragility with inner strength.  Creating images that transcend identity, Malakian educates her audiences on looking past the surface.  The models are often captured with a  serene, soft facial expression, but styles in either haute couture hats or larger-than-life dresses contrast the soft with the hard. Malakian wishes for us to “co-create, [so] that the audience would ask about it. That way the art does not stay as art, it becomes an emotion.”  While viewing her collection, I felt both swayed by the emotion and inspired to reflect on the personal meanings that I brought to the viewing.  After seeing her work, I now understand how Malakian’s photos reiterate her personal philosophy that “if we do not respect who we are at the core than we are not really seeing our souls.”

The Toronto-based photographer has captured the hearts and minds of many.  The W Network recently produced a Beauty Quest documentary involving Malakian in the Dove, Real Beauty photo exhibit. Photography and a personal journal helped Malakian transition from photographer to author for her book Be a Woman, a collaboration with Kim MacGregor. The work focuses on Malakian’s personal philosophy of respecting your inner core and allows for beauty to exist in everything.



MONDO is a non-profit, weekly, Toronto-based, online magazine that focuses on arts, culture, and humour. We’re interested in art of all kinds (music, theatre, visual art, film, comics, and video games) and the pop culture that we inhabit.The copyright on all MONDO magazine content belongs to the author. If you would like to pay them for more content, please do. To contact MONDO please email us at