Department of Art, University of Toronto

Master of Visual Studies - Curatorial Studies

Graduating Exhibitions

1. Home

2. Presentation

3. Pan-Americas 

4. Natural History

5. Status Update

6. Bios/Links

The University of Toronto announces the graduate exhibitions by the first cohort of the Master of Visual Studies – Curatorial Studies students. The curated exhibitions take place at three art galleries of the University of Toronto: University of Toronto Art Centre (UTAC), Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (JMB) and the Doris McCarthy Gallery (DMG).


Curated by Arlan Londoño

With works by Pablo Helguera, Eugenio Salas, and Beehive Collective

Pan-Americas examines the political, economic, colonialist, and post-colonial ideas behind the dream of integration between North and South America through three contemporary art projects. The participating artists are trying to create a new form of connection and communication between people from North and South America. The School of Panamerican Unrest by Pablo Helguera is the result of a road trip taken along the Panamerican highway to gather information on connection and interaction from the people he encountered. The work presents information gathered about issues pertaining to local concerns around culture and society through unusual formats, ranging from experimental symposia, recordings, audio-guides, publications and nomadic museums. 

Toronto-based artist Eugenio Salas’s intervention “Tunnel,” uses the tactics of human smugglers to create encounters with cultural communities or socio-cultural subjects. In Tunnel, he presents the smuggler’s work environment as a metaphor. Ultimately, Tunnel confronts audiences with themselves and with the space, prompting improvisation and random encounters.

Beehive Collective’s graphic projects The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and Plan Colombia create dialogue between people from Latin and North American cultures, with a strong political orientation. A collective of artists, they try to reconnect lost tracks of communication. Their projects consist of banners, graphic images and brochures created as a result of the collective’s engagement with Latin Americans. 


Curated by Jennifer Rudder

With works by: Mircea Cantor, Trevor Gould, Joshua Jensen-Nagle, Crystal Mowry and Volker Seding

NATURAL HISTORY presents works of contemporary art that revisit the history of the development of museums and zoos, and the anthropological display of humans. Inspired by the theatrical scope of the dioramas and monumental animal displays such as those at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, each artwork in NATURAL HISTORY evokes a moment in the complex history of the captivity, collection and display of wild animals and indigenous people.

Trevor Gould makes moving artworks on the history of colonial pillage of animals while referencing the work and practice of other artists and curators such as J. L. Agasse and Carl Akeley. Through layers of photographic manipulation, Joshua Jensen-Nagle succeeds in finding the ‘life’ in a taxidermy polar bear, capturing one of the world’s largest beasts at a time when the species is threatened by extinction. Crystal Mowry’s critical examination of one life implicated in the vicious racism at the base of the anthropological display is crucial to our understanding of that past. Volker Seding’s rigorous photographic documentation haunts the exhibition with the abjection that was until recently, the zoo. Mircea Cantor’s video confronts us with the separation over time of human from mammal and presents us with the possibility of imagining a renewed coexistence.

As human habitation spreads into land formerly inhabited by wildlife, and as changing weather patterns force wild animals into our midst in suburb and city, what is the future of the animal?  When will we look at the display of stuffed animals and animals in enclosures with the horror, empathy and regret that we now bring to photos of caged indigenous people?



Status Update 
Curated by Shauna Thompson

With works by:  Annie Onyi Cheung, Melanie Lowe, Robert Lendrum and Matthew Williamson, Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins, and Cheryl Sourkes 

Within the last five years, online social networking and communication technologies have undergone a period of explosive growth.  In light of the development of Web 2.0, communication, how we represent ourselves, and our sense of subjectivity have been profoundly modified. In response to these paradigmatic shifts, the artists included in Status Update investigate how and why we interface with technology, and what promises, failures, and desires might be at stake as we invest ourselves in these mediated and mediating relationships.

Melanie Lowe's You Saw Me? (2008) and Cheryl Sourkes’ BRB (Be Right Back) (2010), both invoke the gaze of the implied Other — the presence we imagine lurks behind the screen and lens — under which we offer ourselves, and its role in narcissistic identity formation and postmodern vulnerability. Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins’ Presence Meter (2003) confronts viewers with the physical and symbiotic relationship to a technological body and the essential pleasurable affirmation in being recognized. Annie Onyi Cheung’s Skype-based performance project NOW.LIMINAL (2008) and Robert Lendrum and Matthew Williamson’s new media and performance-based work Avatar 2.0 (2010), generate interactive spaces for techno-social experimentation and observation. As each of these artists turn a questioning eye on our relationships to the technological trappings of the everyday, they uncover the basic and persistent human desires to escape isolation and to reach for a validating sense of connection.