Andrea Cooper: ANNA

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Published on : 2012-02-01 00:00:00



Video and Photo Installation

Andrea Cooper

The Red Head Gallery

401 Richmond, Suite 115, Toronto
February 1 - 28, 2012
Opening: Thursday, February 2nd, 6:00 PM

From the moment of birth, people are sought then unfurled. The second a child is pushed from the womb they become objects of prey.

ANNA is a 12- minute experimental video performed by the artist in an abandoned barn that explores predator-prey relations, and defines the moment when prey becomes predator.

Inspired by women who have gone missing or lost, ANNA, is a haunting performance about hope and addiction. The character creates an allegorical, seductive poem about death and disappearance.

Andrea Cooper is an international media artist with a Masters in Visual Studies from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Concordia.

For more information please contact:

Donia Almassi

The Red Head Gallery

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The Meat Licence Proposal, interview with John O'Shea

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2012-01-31 05:14:50

Image credit: John O'Shea

Because he is interested in the ethics and dilemmas of eating meat, John O'Shea is looking into schemes to achieve a more compassionate meat consumption. Since 2008, the artist has been working on Meat Licence Proposal. Under the law proposal, citizens willing to buy or consume a certain type of meat would need to obtain a licence to do so first. And the only way to acquire the licence is to slaughter the animal yourself.

If you happen to be in The Netherlands right now, head to Stroom in The Hague where O'Shea is showing two works related to The Meat Licence Proposal as part of the Food Forward, an exhibition presenting scenarios for the future of our food based on the work of artists and designers.

The first work in the show features the responses recorded on the streets of Manchester to The Meat Licence Proposal. The audio fragments are presented together with legal documents which support but also sometimes contradict claims that people made in response to the proposal for a new law.

Black Market Pudding. Photo credit: John O'Shea

Black Market Pudding. Photo credit: John O'Shea

Black Market Pudding. Photo credit: John O'Shea

The second piece is Black Market Pudding, a real and ethically conscious food product of a new type. The project involves making the traditional blood sausage but this time using blood from a living pig. Black Market Pudding is also supported by a business plan that would ensure a fair deal for farmer, animal and consumer.

O'Shea is currently working within the Clinical Engineering department of the University of Liverpool in collaboration with Prof. John Hunt on Pigs Bladder Football , a football ball grown from living cells, for Abandon Normal Devices Festival as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Image from the Pigs Bladder Football project

Plenty of reasons to be willing to interview John, then!

Hi John! You have been working on the Meat Licence Proposal since 2008. After 4 years developing and presenting the proposal, do you think you're getting closer to seeing it accepted?

I can positively say that, following several consultations, dinners and public meetings, I think that many of the ethical and legal challenges for implementing a law like the one being proposed have been fleshed out.

The Meat Licence Proposal is a much more developed discourse than when it began as a web dialogue in 2008. Since then, there seems also to have been a steady increase of alternative ideas around meat consumption and production entering the mainstream consciousness in the UK, particularly through television programmes focusing on the origins of meat products and celebrity chefs advocating nose to tail approaches and so on, so I think that the cultural environment is more ripe than ever for this kind of law to work.

However, despite any small successes The Meat Licence Proposal may have had in terms of consciousness raising around apparent discrepancies between the products and processes in our food supply, I really don't think that we are any closer to making the proposed meat licensing law an actuality for the UK. I think that I would have to take responsibility for this lack of progress in terms of actually getting the law accepted, which has mostly been down to a failure on my part to properly understand how our laws are made within our democratic society.

Fortunately, through research with Newcastle University (and the Law School there) I have begun to get a more proper understanding of the actual way in which food producers, supermarkets and other large corporations actually relate to the legal and democratic process of lawmaking around food. As I understand it now, the way things really work is pretty much the opposite to what one might expect: where The Meat Licence Proposal has started from a position of principle (people who are comfortable eating meat should be comfortable with killing animals) and attempted to extrapolate a policy from there, our actual laws and regulations around food, rather than being pro-actively constructed based upon an existing value system, are in fact developed quite subversively, in reaction to particular products and trends which emerge and are successful within the free market.

Photo credit: John O'Shea

Photo credit: John O'Shea

How have ordinary meat-eaters but also lawmakers and politicians reacted to the proposal so far? How much support/opposition has the proposal encountered?

One of the pieces on show within the Food Forward exhibition (entitled "The Meat Licence Proposal, 2012") features a whole series of short audio pieces which are recordings of people on a Manchester High Street giving their opinion and gut-reaction to the law as it is proposed. These views vary wildly but most people seem very apprehensive about the idea that they would have to get involved with animal slaughter in order to consume meat. There is a great deal of skepticism too about how a proposed meat licencing law could work in practice; however, these logistical questions are for the most part already dealt within existing parts of UK and European law and this is what the work attempts to demonstrate, through literally using a video projector to "shed light" on over a hundred different legal statutes.

My practice is, of course, as an artist, and, to begin with I wanted to wait until the proposal had reached a reasonable level of development before approaching "professionals" and "specialists" in government and law. My justification for this quite oblique strategy is that, having been subject to innumerable laws for my whole life, I thought it would be interesting to have a go myself, on my own terms. More recently, I have been in contact with legal scholars at Newcastle University Law School and for them, The Meat Licence Proposal presents and intriguing case, since it does not operate in a way which we might expect laws to behave - it is an object of curiosity.

A few years ago I also had a brief conversation with a high ranking UK government minister about the proposal and their view was, regardless of his own opinion on it, any law which might be seen as unpopular in the short-term presents a difficult case for government (hence the very long consultation period before the inevitable implementation of UK wide bans on smoking in public places.)

Black Market Pudding at Stroom. Photo credit: John O'Shea

Black Market Pudding at Stroom. Photo credit: John O'Shea

What was the inspiration for the proposal?

The Meat Licence Proposal in itself is not a particularly original idea - I had discussed this kind of thing many years previous with friends and it crops up sporadically on internet forums, at dinner parties and down the pub. I think the element which distinguishes this work is my decision to actively work towards making the idea for a law which would control meat into a legal reality. That strategy didn't come from a moment of "inspiration", as such, but like most of my work, actually emerged from a much more sustained period of anxiety around a blatant contradiction (at the time I ate meat pretty much every day, but had never killed an animal) and also the claustrophobic legal infrastructure which appeared to me to be impenetrable. I just wanted to get involved in these two parts of my daily experience and, to begin with, an activist approach seemed most appropriate.

If the proposal is enacted as law one day, how would it be put into effect? Would there be specially designed slaughter houses that anyone can enter to kill a pig and get a license? Would the killing be made following a special ritual? Using special weapons or tools? How would the law affect the distribution of meat?

These questions are very important, and I think that the suggestions you have made are probably not far off the mark. Discussions around the actual logistics of making a workable meat licencing law are still very much at the centre of this public research and development. To take the points you have made specifically: In my opinion slaughterhouses would not require very significant physical changes in how they work - instead changes would be needed at the level of policy.

At the moment you or I would typically not be permitted to enter the majority of slaughterhouses in the UK, even to see what is happening, since these are private enterprises. The right of entry is one of the first things which would have to change and I would see this as being in a similar realm to laws enabling citizens to enter courts of law and witness legal process. I think we should have similar guarantees of transparency around hidden processes in society since, at the end of the day, we are the consumer of these products and should be allowed to witness how they are made if we choose. Regarding taking part in the act of slaughter - again, there are various systems in place which allow subtle, often religious, variations on how the slaughter takes place and I think much could be drawn from existing regulation of special allowances around these methods. An illustrator, Chris Rodenhurst, with whom I have worked on several elements of how the proposal has been presented to date, produced a lovely set of sketches to suggest potential new tools for citizen slaughter. Like anything else, once this engagement with killing is happening on a national scale it will be in the hands of designers and marketers to determine exact specifications for new kinds of execution devices.

Marcus the sheep was reared by pupils of Lydd Primary School. Given the choice to keep him as a pet, or sell it for meat, the children voted by an overwhelming majority for the lamb to be sold for meat. Photo: IMAGES INTERNATIONAL

When i read about your proposal, i thought 'great! the emotional stress of killing an animal might put people off meat' but recalling the sad story of Marcus the sheep, i'm not so sure anymore about how much people can be moved by animals.

In your opinion, how would the law affect the way people see animals and consume meat?

Yes, I remember this Marcus the sheep story being all over the media at the time; for the "animal loving" (and mostly meat eating) British public it seemed to pose a kind of conundrum i.e: "Why has the killing of this particular animal caused such outcry?" I think the answer lies in part with the peculiar cultural and emotional distinctions made, across the world, between animals kept as "pets" and animals kept to be slaughtered for food. I think, even more important, in this case, is the act of giving the animal a (human) name which demands an identification at the level of the individual animal which would not be usual in the context of slaughter, where animals are numbered. "We are going to butcher Marcus..."

The aim of The Meat Licence Proposal is to facilitate a more coherent engagement with both animals and meat. Those people wishing to eat meat would obtain their licence by actively taking part in the slaughter of an individual animal (which would correspond to the type of meat which they would like to eat.) I think that there is a strong likelihood that some people may be put off, but this it important to keep in mind that this is certainly not a pro-vegetarian law and, surprising as it may seem, some people may find that they actually enjoy killing.

Image credit: John O'Shea

Can you tell us about the Black Market Pudding that you're showing at Stroom in The Hague? Will it really be manufactured using blood from a living pig? The description on Stroom's page says "In purchasing and consuming Black Market Pudding we are keeping the animal from slaughter - no animals are harmed!" How would this ensure that the animals won't suffer?

Black Market Pudding is my own culinary invention. It is a subtle variation on the traditional black pudding which is a blood sausage dish of the UK and Ireland made using congealed pigs blood, oats and different herbs and spices. I have devised my own special recipe for what I call Black Market Pudding where, crucially, the key ingredient (pigs blood) is obtained without any animals being slaughtered; this is the unique selling point: No animals are harmed.

I worked with Stroom over several months prior to the Food Forward show to establish a supply-chain in the Netherlands in order to obtain blood from living pigs in a way which is legal, humane and safe. For the show I made several Black Market Puddings in the kitchen at the gallery, using blood from the living pigs and these are presented within a refrigerated deli-counter as "real" proof-of-concept products. An important aspect of this work is that it is not speculative or representational in a way which might be expected within a future oriented show: Black Market Pudding is already "real".

Of course the true reality for Black Market Pudding would be for this delicacy to be for sale on the open market and this is an aim about which I have spoken at length with Karen Vershooren (curator of Food Forward). Over the course of this year I will be attempting to set up a legitimate production and sales operation for Black Market Pudding within Europe and I have made a simple website where people can register their interest. The challenges in bringing Black Market Pudding to market would be quite great I think, especially within the UK (where I am based) because it is difficult to work with animal blood in the food chain since the BSE crisis (where dried pigs blood found within animal feeds was seen to be a contributing factor). If the product were to be sold, it would be necessary that it be subjected to all of the regulations which would face any food innovation for human consumption and perhaps in this instance (where the process is different to the normal order - the animal is not killed) perhaps new laws would have to be developed for this.

I hope that Black Market Pudding can be seen as a continuation of consumer trends towards food products which contain not only their intrinsic value as foodstuffs and sources of energy but also a kind of additional ethical value which is quite difficult to quantify. If we think about the "fair trade" and "free range" labels, people are paying extra to opt out of a system which they believe to be exploitative; with Black Market Pudding I am proposing a similar business model. The name "Black Market" hints at the fact that this product operates outside of the normal order of things and the idea would be that the Black Market Puddings are sold at such a premium that, not only are you buying a delicious product, but also you are buying the animal out of the regular supply chain and ensuring it will not be slaughtered. This business model presents a fair deal for the producer (who is compensated) the animal (which gets to keep its life) and the consumer (who has this unparalleled piece of mind).

There is I suppose one caveat with Black Market Pudding and that is, by going outside of the regular carnivorous foodchain, where humans, as flesh-eaters, would consider themselves to be at the very top - here we are taking blood from an animal which is alive and so our own position in the hierarchy changes - as animals consuming the blood of another living animal we are explicitly "parasites" and so the real question for the market is whether people would be comfortable with that designation.

What are the MLP next steps?

At the very beginning of January 2012 I made a statement on the front page of The Meat Licence Proposal website explaining that there would be a change of strategy. Over the last several years I have focused my energies on a democratic approach, engaging directly with processes of law-making and suggesting that a new law could (and should) be developed in a public and transparent way, by citizens themselves, in a similar way to open-source development models which operate within software culture.

These kinds of initiatives can continue I think but it is my view now that the overall approach needs to be much more market-oriented and, once Black Market Pudding is established, I will be looking to identify more products and strategies which can close the gap between product and process (especially in meat production).

I'll leave you now with an anonymous quote from one of the participants of a 2010 consultation exercize:

"Ultimately, The Meat Licence Proposal must engage and identify with the values of 'the market' where production (killing animals) is about making money, and consumption (eating meat) is about getting what we want."

Thanks John!

The Very First Game of Pigs Bladder Football to Take Place in The 21st Century, a video by Tim Brunsden

Check out The Meat Licence Proposal at the Food Forward exhibition, Stroom, The Hague, NL. The show is curated by Karen Verschooren and remains open through April 1, 2012.

Related story: Solo exhibition of Adel Abdessemed postponed.

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The SNAP! 2012 Live Auction Collection is Now Online

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Published on : 2012-01-31 00:00:00


The SNAP! 2012 Live Auction collection is now online at Come take a look, choose your favourites, and get ready for a great night of art, compassion and fun! There's also still time to submit to the Elevator Digital Photo Competition, so get out your best shots and send them in. The top selections win cash prizes, and the selected works are featured in our prestigious Silent Auction.

You still have time to submit!

The Elevator Digital Photo Competition deadline is being extended until Friday, February 3, 2012. To submit a photo, please go to

SNAP! is also pleased to announce this year's winners of the SNAP!Stars student photography competition. The winners are:

Vanessa Hussey - OCAD

Benjamin Freedman - Ryerson
Ian Bradshaw - Ryerson
Anna Audette - University of Manitoba
Susan Horodyksa - University of Manitoba
Andres Stenberg - NESOP
Amber Wachtl - NESOP
Heath Simpson - NSCAD
Erin Graham - NSCAD
Brady Olson - Emily Carr

SNAP! would like to thank all who participated and congratulate the winners on their exceptional entries. The winners are now online at

Featured photo:

Ian Bradshaw - Ten Individuals 5

Winner of one of ten 2012 SNAP!Stars bursaries

SNAP! webpage:

For more information, please contact Amanda,, or by calling 416-340-9255


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Don McCullin, about the London homeless

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2012-01-30 03:11:09

Don McCullin, Aldermaston, Great Britain, early 1960's

A few months ago, I read there was an exhibition of photographs by Don McCullin at Tate Britain. I thought "That one can wait, it's going to for ages and everybody knows the work of the award-winning war photographer anyway." That was very presumptuous of me. I finally went to see the show and it is now clear that i had underestimated the impact his images would have on me. Especially his portrayal of the homeless living around London from the late 1960s to the '80s.

Don McCullin, East End, London, 1973

Don McCullin, Jean, Whitechapel, London, c 1980

While looking for images online, i discovered that in 1989 McCullin had made a documentary for BBC about the London's homeless, a sharply growing problem attributed to the failure of social policy: changes in the UK social security system, shortage of affordable housing, closing down of long stay hostels.. have thrown young people, the mentally ill, former soldiers, even entire families in the streets.

"I started seeing people sleeping in shop doorways and when I went to Third World countries people would refuse to believe there were poor people in England," McCullin explains in the video below. "But there were many, many untold truths about this country, we had poverty, we had unemployment, we had a class system that wasn't convenient, all kinds of things that people who lived outside of England wouldn't have understood, so when I started walking the streets of London and seeing people sleeping in shop doorways, even I was shocked."

TateShots: Don McCullin

The photos in the exhibition were mostly taken in the East side of London. The area is now attracting a different crowd .

Don McCullin, Homeless Irishman, Spitalfields, London 1969

Also at Tate are spectacular b&w images that shows the toll that industrialization took on the countryside, images of Berlin during the construction of the Wall and the landscapes McCullin is now shooting to try and forget the horrors of the wars he has spent decades to document.

Don McCullin, A lone anti-war protester confronts police in Whitehall during the Cuban Missile Crisis, London, 1962

Don McCullin, Early morning, West Hartlepool, County Durham, U.K., 1963

Don McCullin, Early morning, West Hartlepool, County Durham, 1963

Don McCullin, Slum clearance, Liverpool, Great Britain, late 1960s

Don McCullin, Girl and laundry, Bradford, Great Britain, early 1970s

Don McCullin, US troops, West Berlin, West Germany, 1961

Don McCullin, American soldiers on high alert monitor East German forces in Berlin, Germany, 1961

Don McCullin, Berlin 1961

And if it's McCullin's war photos you're after, then head to the Imperial War Museum for Shaped by War: Photographs by Don McCullin.

The Nikon F camera saved Don McCullin's life, it stopped a bullet while he was covering war in Vietnam

Audio slideshow: 'Shaped by war'.

Don McCullin's work is at Tate Britain through March 4, 2012 and at the Imperial War Museum through April 15, 2012.

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A Nested Situation: mMOCCA at Gendai

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Published on : 2012-01-29 00:00:00


A Nested Situation: mMOCCA at Gendai
January 29th - March 17th, 2012
1265 Bloor Street West
Gendai Workstation
Hours: 11a.m.-6p.m., Tue-Sat

From January 29 through March 17 2012, Gendai Workstation shares its site with the main Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (mMOCCA), a slightly for profit, arms length agency that was founded mostly from wood and old nails in 2011 in the City of Toronto. The mMOCCA is relocating all the time. In each new location the mMOCCA redefines the heart of North America's most dynamic arts community. Its facility is modest in scale, impressive in design, and functions effectively as a nucleus of energies for cultural production and exchange.

This co-habitation of Gendai Workstation and mMOCCA acts as witness to the interplay of each organization's role in respect to their administrative functions and artistic productions. In this sense both organizations mutually override each other's domain in an attempt to (de)mystify the byproducts of this nested situation.

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Toronto, ON., The main Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art is pleased to present its upcoming programming at its temporary location at 1265 Bloor Street West.

  • Silent Auction Exhibition and Fundraiser – March 3rd
  • No Reading After the Internet – March 7th
  • FANDOM; Exhibition Opening – March 15th

Silent Auction Exhibition & Fundraiser
Exhibition Preview: February 28th – March 3rd 2012. 11a.m. – 6p.m.
Silent Auction and Reception: March 3rd, 2012. 7p.m. – 12a.m.

In partnership with the Art History Graduate Students' Association at York University (AHGSA;, the mMOCCA is pleased to present a silent auction fundraiser featuring the work of Abbas Akhavan, Annie Onyi Cheung, Miles Collyer, David Court, Xan Hawes, Stephen Fisher, Lauren Hall, Laurie Kang, Caroline Larsen, Julieta María, Anders Oinonen, Suzy Oliveira, Ryan Park, Kerri Reid, Luke Siemens, Miles Stemp, Josh Thorpe, VSVSVS & Jessica Vallentin.

Funds raised at this event will be directed to support AHGSA's 11th annual symposium: New Growth, Dialogues on the Tree, taking place on March 31st 2012, developed in collaboration with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, on the occasion of the exhibition "The McMichael Tree Project".

No Reading After the Internet
March 7th, 2012. 8p.m.

LIFT and the Gendai Workstation present No Reading After the Internet: excerpts from Bring the Noise, Inside the White Cube and The Emancipated Spectator, selected in conjunction with the main Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art

No Reading is a salon series that aims to provoke theoretical illumination on particular art works and the broader scope in which they exist. No Reading means to offer an engaged pedagogical space where participants can retrace the steps used in constructing understanding, productively challenging individual and collective ways through the realms of language and interpretation. To participate in No Reading is to invoke an exuberant not-knowing, seeking out moments of collective illumination.

Excerpts from Claire Bishop + Boris Groys's Bring the Noise, Brian O'Doherty's Inside the White Cube and Jacques Rancière's The Emancipated Spectator have been chosen by Braden Labonte, Director of the mMOCCA and Yan Wu, Programme Director of the Gendai Workstation, in collaboration with the AHGSA, to be read aloud and discussed by participants at March's No Reading After the Internet.

March 6th – March 17th, 2012
Opening Reception: March 15th, 2012. 7p.m.-12a.m.

The main Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art is pleased to present the exhibition FANDOM, with participating artists Rory Dean, Terrence Houle, and Hanna Hur. Curated by Dory Smith.

For mMOCCA related media and other inquiries, please contact Maria Coates at

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Interview with Jani Leinonen

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2012-01-28 02:47:52

On January 31, 2010 a life-size statue of Ronald Mc Donald was abducted from a McDonald's fast food joint in central Helsinki. The kidnapping took place in broad day light as the video below demonstrates:

How Ronald was kidnapped (more on The Free Ronald's channel

A few days after, the kidnappers, a group of health-food activists called the "Food Liberation Army", uploaded a video message on YouTube threatening to 'decapitate' Ronald if the hamburger corporation failed to answer questions about the quality of its food and its work ethics. The only unequivocal the FLA received was a stern warning that the company "does not negotiate with criminals." So poor Ronald was guillotined. Only that it was only a copy of the stolen figurine that lost its head. The 'original' one remained intact.

Somehow, the Finnish police managed to discover the identity of one of the food activists: artist Jani Leinonen. They raided his home, seized mobile phones and computers, threw him in jail for thirty hours and heroically freed Ronald the "hostage".

It wasn't the first time Leinonen's artworks engaged with food products, satirizing and dismantling their symbols and marketing strategies but this action proved too much for the authorities and the fast food chain. As Leinonen explained in an interview "I thought I was just stealing a store decoration, but I must have done something much worse."

I discovered Jani Leinonen's work at the Venice Biennale back in 2009. The cardboard signs he had bought from beggars across the world were framed and gracing the dining room of the Danish and Nordic Pavilions curated by Elmgreen & Dragset. He had actually bought these signs from people asking for charity and i still remember vividly how uneasy their presence at the swanky art event made me feel.

From the series Anything Helps

Jani Leinonen, Rejected Ideas For Cap'n Crunch Advertisements, 2009

Jani Leinonen, Coulrophobia, 2009. Photo: Johanna Viljakainen

Thanks to the kind help of James Hudson, i got in touch with Jani Leinonen and bombarded him with questions about the beggars signs, his crazy sexed-up versions of cereal boxes for children, experiments with selling contemporary art works by the bulk as if they were vegetables and of course i was curious about the aftermath of the Ronald affair.


Kidnapping of Ronald McDonald was reported on Fox News

What happened after the Ronald affair? I read about the whole ordeal with the police and how the fast food decoration eventually went back to the restaurant. Is the police still looking at you suspiciously? Has McDonald's banned you from its restaurants?
But more more generally, do you think that Food Liberation Army brought the right spotlight on your artistic career? Or looking back, do you think you should have handled things differently?

Fortunately I was not banned from McDonald´s restaurants because I do visit them often. I keep telling myself it´s artistic research but I think I am lying even to myself. We just got the final charges via mail a few weeks ago. I and two other FLA members are charged with forgery and fraud, and the trial will be held in June in Helsinki. The prosecutor claims that the repair form of a fictional statue repair company we left at the table at McDonald´s is a forgery. Even more surprisingly he claims we committed a fraud and tried to profit economically by kidnapping Ronald. I am very happy about the chance to make my case in trial. We are planning to invite the best food specialists and art scholars to witness that our action was art and and served a revolutionary purpose.

Of course, there are many things I would have done differently. Then again, there was no way of knowing that, for example, the police would be doing a six man raid at my home just because we took a plastic store decoration. The project happened mostly in the web and media, and the debates it started and the attention it got there, were beyond all my expectations.

Food Liberation Army: A carpenter crafted the Alvar Aalto style guillotine from traditional Finnish crafts wood birch

How about the Food Liberation Army? Are you planning to do more actions or did the whole army retire?

I created the Food Liberation Army to allow myself to make art both anonymously and without tagging it art immediately. FLA gave people an impression of activism, which I think my art is really close to. My cover was blown when the cops threw me to jail and the press found about it. But before that it was amazing to follow the confusion of people when they had no idea if the kidnapping was the real thing, or a marketing stunt, or art, or what. The most interesting discussions sparkled out of genuine interest in the issues the FLA brought up in the letter of demands. I think FLA will continue its work but I will deny having any part in it.

Jani Leinonen, From the series All bad that happened to others is now happening to us, 2008. Photo: Jami Saariniemi

Jani Leinonen, From the series All bad that happened to others is now happening to us, 2008. Photo: Jami Saariniemi

You seem to be fascinated with branding. Is it a coincidence that many of the brands you target are associated with family and children? Have any of the cereals makers ever reacted to the way you subvert their packaging?

I read a study that the most unhealthy food products are the most dazzling by the appearance, and those are of course kid´s products. The first time I used packages in my art I received a threatening letter from a Finnish company called Raisio. I had painted on their age-old Elovena oat meal packages. There´s a girl in a traditional Finnish national costume in the cover and I had painted her in Niqab, or as a call girl, or a suicide terrorist. Their lawyer wrote in the letter they have a right to claim financial compensations because I have damaged their trademark. They dropped the case after getting a lot of bad publicity which was in those days my only weapon against these giant corporations. That was the first time I realized that these colorful and seemingly innocent images are dangerous.

Liverpool, England, from the series Anything Helps

Anything Helps, 2009. Installation view at the Venice Biennale

I remember seeing the Beggar Signs at the 2009 Venice Biennale. The website of the project says "The incomes from selling the installation and all the donations will be spend on raising the awareness of globally rising class-differences and poverty through thought-provoking actions." What happened after Venice? Did you sell some of those signs and used the money to set up actions? Was Hunger King one of those actions?

I sold the whole thing and the money has been waiting for a good use in a high interest bank account. If I recall correctly, the selling price was around 14 000 euros, and the buyer was one of the richest men in Switzerland. I started buying the signs from beggars already in 2006 without knowing what to do with them. The first two I bought with something like 5 dollars in San Antonio, Texas. The more I bought the worse my conscience got, and I started increasing the purchase price. The last ones I bought with about 40 euros. it was not until 2009 I realized the money I payed and got from the process was so integral that I had to use it to help these people who created the work.

Jani Leinonen, Hunger King,

I read on your blog that the Left Alliance party office had asked you if you'd design a poster for the presidential campaign of their candidate. Is that something you could do? Would you be interested in becoming the Shepard Fairey of Finland? Why or why not?

I did do the poster, and he did not make it to the second round. Perhaps it was my fault. We had 8 presidential candidates this year, from 8 different parties. The only regret I have is that I got the most brilliant idea too late. I will save it for the next elections in six years.

Art Super Market , 2006

I admire your attempts at making and showing art outside of the usual art context: Hunger King, Food Liberation Army and Art Super Market for example. How did the Art's Supermarket work go? Where did you get the idea for it? Which kind of customers did it attract? Why didn't you open it for longer than 3 weeks?

I show art outside its usual context because art has a reputation problem. When people realize a certain object or event is art, their attitude changes. To most people art is this weird, all-allowing, bourgeoise peculiarity. That´s why I spend a lot of time hiding the art from my projects. Hunger King, FLA, Art Supermarket, they were all made they way it took people long to realize they were art. Or perhaps they never did. People react so much stronger when they perceive things as real, as something they cannot put in a box right away.

I also think the job of an artist is to make prototypes, create ideas that change the rules of how people think things are. It´s not our job to take these prototypes to mass production. Art Supermarket was a test of an idea. We opened it just to make a point, not to start a profitable business. I don't have the patience to start doing the real work of running the daily tasks of running a supermarket. I was fun to see it work for 3 weeks, that people did come into a supermarket that sold art like sausages and actually bought works. The place looked so real some people actually came shopping food.

Riiko Sakkinen, Beijing Roast Duck Rights, 2010

Finally, could you tell us about other Finnish artists whose work you admire?

My all time favorite artist happens to be Finnish: Riiko Sakkinen.

Thanks Jani!

Rome, from the series Anything Helps

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Heather Goodchild, Noelle Hamlyn, and Tazeen Qayyum: A Homespun Web

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Published on : 2012-01-28 00:00:00

A Homespun Web installation

January 28 – March 11, 2012

Opening reception and catalogue launch: Thursday, February 9, 7 – 9 pm

Living Arts Centre Gallery
4141 Living Arts Drive
Mississauga, ON L5B 4B8

A Homespun Web features the work of three contemporary artists using traditional craft to provide engaging social and political commentary. Heather Goodchild, Noelle Hamlyn, and Tazeen Qayyum appropriate a variety of time-honoured processes including embroidery, spinning, smocking, rug hooking, and miniature painting in contemplation of the issues facing our increasingly global culture.

The exhibition is an homage to the Arts and Crafts revolutionaries who defied the massive industrialization of Europe and North America in the late 19th century. By repositioning hand-made processes into the present, each artist channels the historical and philosophical roots of their referents to comment on a range of contemporary topics including religion, mass production, regionalism, corruption, and the politics of gender. Patrons will experience works in painting, textiles, sculpture and installation that celebrate the skills of the human hand and its ability to inspire invigorating social debate.

The exhibition catalogue will be launched at the opening reception and will feature an essay by curator Cole Swanson. Admission is free and all are welcome.

The Gallery is located on the second floor of the Living Arts Centre. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm. Visit for information on other exhibitions. The Centre is located at 4141 Living Arts Drive, immediately west of Square One Shopping Centre at Highways 403 & 10.

For more information, contact curator Cole Swanson by phone at 905.306.6161 or by email at


Heather Goodchild, Herd & Time, porcelain and screen print installation, 2012

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Winter 2012 Visual Arts Exhibitions

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Published on : 2012-01-28 00:00:00

Jesse Louttit, Untitled, from the series No Roads, 2011. C-print from 4x5 negative. Image courtesy of the artist.

WINTER 2012 VISUAL ARTS EXHIBITIONS at Harbourfront Centre

Saturday, January 28 – Sunday, April 15, 2012

Opening Reception
Friday, January 27, 2012 @ 6–10pm

Admission is free

York Quay Centre
235 Queens Quay West, Toronto
INFO: 416-973-4000

LOOK out
Lizz Aston
Jesse Bromm
George Cho
Clayton Haigh
Jen Kneulman
Grace Eun Mi Lee
Shuyu Lu
Janet Macpherson
Meredith Robb
Curated by Melanie Egan and Patrick Macaulay

An exhibition by nine artists positioned on the vanguard of contemporary craft practice. From their perspective you can foresee new directions, new modes of thinking and new approaches to making. The works in the exhibition can be viewed through a literal or abstract lens juxtaposing ideas about process, materials, value and scale.

Parallax Scroll
Scott Carruthers

An immersive drawing installation that attempts to create a narrative environment, a physical world within which stories can emerge.

Michelle Bellemare

A party blower, attached to a motion detector, uncurls to express a frantic celebratory salute until it slows down to an abrupt halt as though it has become self-conscious of its lonely expression of exuberance.

No Roads
Jesse Louttit

Inspired by a fascination with isolation, connection and travel in remote places, Jesse Louttit returned to his father's birthplace, Moosonee, to document this historic gateway to the north. Moosonee and Moose Factory are the northernmost point on the Ontario Northlander train route, and are still inaccessible by roads.

Harbourfront Centre's photography gallery has been renovated and this will be the first exhibition to benefit from the new space.

Constructed View
Jamie Campbell
Tara Cooper
Susan Dobson
Astrid Ho
Alex Kisilevich
Anita Matusevics
Tom Ngo
Marie de Sousa
Curated by Patrick Macaulay

From a quick glance to a long gaze, what we see and how we remember it is always in question, as our memory reconstructs things in ways that are not always truthful. The works in this exhibition play with how we see and how we remember.

Karen Konzuk
Curated by Melanie Egan

One of Canada's most exciting jewellery designers, Karen Konzuk's exhaustive experimentation is inspired by minimalism, the urban landscape and industrial design and involves alternative materials including concrete, powder-coated metals and stainless steel. Konzuk will also speak on Saturday, Jan. 28 as part of Harbourfront Centre's Innovators + Ideas lecture series.

rzlbd, Shaft House, 2010, Toronto. Photography: borXu Design.

Saturday, January 28 – Sunday, July 8, 2012

Opening Reception
Friday, January 27, 2012 @ 6–10pm

Admission is free


How much space do we need to live in the city?
When considering the homes we live in, do we desire more or less space?
Is the idea of economy of space something we are conscious of?

With more and more people moving back to the city centre, the expectations of what is necessary in terms of living space has dramatically shifted. Living in the city versus living in the suburbs requires a radical change of perspective and compromise of priorities. In the city, for most people, the large single family home on a spacious lot with all the amenities that go with it is a distant dream. How much space do we really need? And how can these needs be accommodated in a city where space is such a limited commodity? These are the questions we are now facing. It is a dilemma faced by cities around the world. This exhibition seeks a new paradigm for city living.

Architecture firms Altius Architecture Inc., nkA and rzlbd create new installations which explore the idea of what is big enough. Artist Surendra Lawoti presents a photography installation.

Toronto Souvenir
Garett Walker

Saturday, January 28 – Sunday, July 8, 2012
(Fleck Dance Theatre: Entrance with Theatre ticket.)

This photography exhibition encourages a deeper exploration of place and perspective, beyond the visible landscape into the living memories of the city's residents and their landscapes of memory.



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Alexander Irving: Flatmen

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Published on : 2012-01-28 00:00:00

Jan 28 through Mar 3, 2012
Opening Reception Sat Jan 28 from 3 to 6 pm



1520 Queen St. W.Toronto M6R 1A4
416 516 6876
Hours: Wed – Sat 12 to 6pm and by appointment

General Hardware Contemporary is pleased to present Flatmen, recent paintings by Alexander Irving.

Alexander Irving's recent paintings are not flat; or, more precisely, the Flatmen have shown us that "flat" means so much more than what we assumed. The Flatmen are full. Irving's paintings explore the fullness of the flat—the ways in which flatness can be ripe and round, rough and uneven.

The nature of Irving's exploration of the fullness of the flat was clearly expressed in his remarks on the genesis of his paintings. He had started out sketching cardboard—the cardboard packaging from men's shirts, cardboard boxes disassembled post-move. During the painting process, when he began crafting on the canvas these "folding patterns," the human figures first appeared. The resulting Flatmen became figures through which Irving could nurture in his viewers the experiences of wonder that flatness, in its many forms, can provoke.

These experiences of wonder—wonder as both speculation and awe—arise from what Irving called "the irony of painting" and, to borrow another one of his turns of phrase, "looking as doodling." In the genesis of Irving's project, the irony of painting was suggested by a line from the literary works that inspired the title of the show, Anne Carson's "Flatman" poems. In "Flatman, 1st Draft" one of Carson's own Flatmen states, "My ironies move flatly." This line of poetry, inverted, stirred Irving to attend to the irony of the flat. These paintings, as he put it, portray "flat things on a flat surface and yet they suggest a depth, shadow, another dimension."

Excerpts from essay by The Baildon Writers' Co-Op (compiled and arranged by Daniel Scott Tysdal)

Toronto based artist Alexander Irving holds an MFA from York University and a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Irving has exhibited his work since 1986 and has shown at Birch Libralato, Blackwood Gallery and Diaz Contemporary. In 2009 Irving's work was included in Carte Blanche 2: Painting – a survey of new Canadian painting.

Irving has taught at the Ontario College of Art and Design and, at present, holds the post of Lecturer at the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus.

image: Flatmen 7, 2008 - 2010, oil on canvas, 62 x 62 cm

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H.O.R.T.U.S. (Hydro Organism Responsive to Urban Stimuli)

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Published on : 2012-01-27 10:03:50

If you're in London you might want to swing by the Architectural Association School and check out H.O.R.T.U.S. (which stands for Hydro Organism Responsive to Urban Stimuli.) To be honest i'm not sure what to think about this one but it's been a slow week art-wise for me so i'll throw the information in this post in the hope that it will help me make up my mind about the project.

ecoLogicStudio, H.O.R.T.U.S. installation at AA. Photo: Sue Barr

ecoLogicStudio, H.O.R.T.U.S. installation at AA. Photo: Sue Barr

ecoLogicStudio, H.O.R.T.U.S. installation at AA. Photo: Sue Barr

With HORTUS, the architects from ecoLogicStudio are inviting the public to become cyber-gardeners and "invent new protocols of urban biogardening."

There's a bright green carpet on the floor and hundreds of intravenous-style bags are suspended above our heads. The bags are in fact photo-bioreactors and they form a 'greenhouse' that hosts nine different species of algae, from chlorella to algae found in London's canals. Visitors can blow into flexible plastic tubes, fostering the growth of the algae with their carbon dioxide and activating the oxygen production.

The plastic bags carry a QR code. You hold up your smartphone, scan the code and are directed to a page of information about the algae you've just 'fed' with your breath. Large containers are distributed between the algae bags, they host bioluminescent bacteria that automatically fed through a pump with air from the oxygen released.

The greenhouse cohabits with a virtual garden that feeds on visitors' scans and tweets about the exhibition. Their 'interaction' with the algae shape a garden rendered in real time on a screen.

ecoLogicStudio, H.O.R.T.U.S. installation at AA. Photo: Sue Barr

ecoLogicStudio, H.O.R.T.U.S. installation at AA. Photo: Sue Barr

I wasn't much impressed with the QR codes and the virtual garden created by tweets but it turns out that the project is much more than just another demonstration of how 'nature meets buildings meet the virtual.' H.O.R.T.U.S. is one of the manifestations of ecoLogicStudio's exploration into the role that algae might play in our future life: to produce nonpolluting hydrogen-based energy, to filter water or take a more important role in our alimentation.

The architects recently had the opportunity to try and test their idea on a larger scale in Simrishamn in Sweden. The Swedish Municipality is in need of new urban ideas to help boost its economy: the fishing industry is declining and young people are leaving the area.

ecoLogicStudio came up with an Regional Algae Farm plan that involves a series of algae-related urban activities and architectural prototypes.

H.O.R.T.U.S. enables the public to engage directly and simply with ideas and systems that might form a larger part of our life in years to come.

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