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MELD
WITH
SOMETHI
NG
April 7th - May 1st, 2016
Ryerson Artspace at the Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen Street West, Toronto

BEAUTIFUL FAILURE: AND OTHER
THINGS ARTISTS DO BEST
By Shauna Jean Doherty
“Under certain circumstances failing,
losing, forgetting, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing may
in fact offer more creative, more cooperative, more surprising ways of
being in the world” (The Queer Art
Of Failure, 2).
Failure is, despite the dominant opinion, an incredibly productive thing.
As a practice it allows for rejection of
idealized expectation. As a strategy it
helps in the resistance of normative
constructs. Failure aids in the discovery of an otherwise unpermitted
reality. And while most endeavour
to avoid it, failure is indeed a tool
(whether political or social) that can
be wielded to breakdown dominant
forms of power while resulting in certain “unexpected pleasures” (4) along
the way.
The works and artists featured in
Meld With Something are in many
ways unconventional, pushing against
accepted notions of beauty, physical
fitness, coordination, hygiene and
even at points, soundness of mind.
Together they boldly explore yet undiscovered terrain risking their social
standing in the process.

In Contemporary Glacial Theory And
The “Beingness” of Nature (2015),
Erin Whittier documents her (failed)
attempts to embody natural phenomena,
characteristic of the sublime Canadian
landscape. Assembled within an artist
book, the pages illustrate Whittier’s
journey as she struggles to become, in
one instance, a glacier, by lying ever so
flat – ever so still. Through this doomed
performance Whittier comes to understand that though she will never be a
100, 000 year old piece of ice she can
still certainly try and through this futile
gesture she can discover not what it is
to be nature but what it is to be human.
Whittier animates her thwarted efforts
in the 5 minute video Glacial Actions
Performances - Contemporary Glacial
Theory and the Beingness of Nature
(2015). Composed as a series of episodes, divided by swift blackouts, Whittier takes on the role of an amateur Earth
scientist. She can be seen in an assuming
beige jumpsuit scraping her body across
a rock formation, collecting dry brush
from her surrounding environment, attempting to move an enormous boulder,
redistributing a collection of rocks, and
watering the land. This series of ineffectual endeavours earnestly illustrates
the age of the anthropocene, the current

geological era which is defined by
humans’ impacts on the environment.
Whittier’s attempts to connect to the
land, while remaining frustratingly
apart from it, seems to acknowledge
an almost unimaginable Earthly period when the human species did not
dominate.
And hey, who could blame Whittier
for her impulse to occupy a different
body? A different geological period?
A different molecular composition?

a public pool as an adult you’ll agree
that the experience is rife with humiliation. Semi-nude bodies on moist tiled
floors – stray hairs everywhere – this is
the very locus of human frailty. Kha’s
protagonist boldly demonstrates an act
of bodily fitness, his pectoral muscles
exercising a display of titillation of
Greek Godlike proportions. Kha does
his best to ignore the alluring demonstration but it’s impossible not be affected. He immediately considers his
own soft body in relation to his scene

Tommy Kha, Kiss Off, 2012, Colour Video, Sound, 1 minute 23 seconds
We’ve all been there which is why
Same Difference: (Excerpt: Turning
Lights) (2012) evokes such a feeling
of torturous relatability. In this video
work we see Tommy Kha, the video’s creator, embroiled in somewhat
of a physical standoff. Kha, a portly
poolgoer finds himself sitting beside
a gloriously fit man. For any of you
who have had the indignity of visiting

partner’s – intensified by extreme closeups of the two actors’ chests and their
extreme contrast. This short video work
tells an all too familiar story of longing
and inadequacy.
Things don’t get much better for Kha
in his next video piece Kiss Off (2012).
Two identically dressed men sit on a
couch – seemingly deep in the throws

of a relationship – so close they even
share the same closet. Kha attempts
to share a kiss with his significant
other. Devastatingly, he is firmly rejected. Bereft of seemingly accepted
social cues, Kha remains undeterred,
thrusting himself from all angles to
try to make contact. In an awkward
exchange of wills Kha clambers on
his unwilling mate, at times losing his
footing but never his dedication. His
efforts ultimately end in failure.
Christopher Lacroix & afallenhorse
enacts a similarly irreverent dance of
defeat in his performance, You used
to be hear now you’re gone (2016).
Within the gallery space Lacroix executes a queered sequence of choreography accompanied by a soundtrack
of Gertrude Stein inspired spoken
word poetry. Setting precision and
grace aside, Lacroix explores the
space and his body animating the
complex dimensions of homonormativity and privilege. At a certain
point he stops the recital outright –
vigorously adhering a fabric waxing
strip to his shoulder. A man with too
little hair is a humiliated man. A man
with too much must attend to this excess – preferably in private. Hair is
important – and so too is its amount
and location. Lacroix generously displays the fruits of his self-care in a
wall-mounted vitrine in the gallery,
victoriously assigning the wax strip
a title, common. This piece serves as
both a relic of his performance and as
a token of an unrealizable quest for

a body which meets ideal social expectations.
While Lacroix brings to the fore that
which is better left unsaid artist Rebecca
Zynomirski sticks to the script of polite
company. With a disarming silliness
Zynomirski examines the complexity
of human relationships and a perpetual
failure to communicate by embracing
her obsession with meteorological conditions. Weather – a fascinating topic for
children – becomes a signifier of adult
pleasantries, surface exchange, and an
inability to enter into conversations of
substance, opting instead for the safe
and mundane. By embodying a weather system (a cumulonimbus cloud if my
elementary school education serves)
Zynomirski herself becomes a figure
of banality – which, within the conditions of the gallery becomes the central
point of interest. Works by Whittier
and Zynomirski remind us of a crucial
component of art making – that creation
always occupies a space between intention and realization. For these two artists their experimentation between these
two domains becomes more significant
than arriving at their intended destination. To approximate a cloud is better
than never trying to become one at all.
Failure is all around us – whether as a
consequence of occupying the human
form and encountering others - casually, intimately, creatively – the possibility (threat) surrounds us constantly. It
is a condition enacted not only by the
artists in this exhibition; the audience

too is invited to engage in beautiful
defeat. This is facilitated specifically by Christopher Lacroix’s series
of bespoke concrete casts which
frame a Mad Libs list themed “Tour
Of Hollywood”. The artist has taken
it upon himself to fill in the blanks
with words typically avoided, turning the quirky children’s word game
into a much more insidious exercise.
Whiteness and fag (and their variations) are the words chosen to fill the
Mad Libs blanks. This act of writing
draws attention to stereotypes and
constructs which characterize con-

to bring home one of Lacroix’ objects –
that is if they can physically execute the
task. Weighing over 50lbs each One or
the other or both or neither (2016) literally burdens the viewer with the weight
of social discourse and draws attention
to the advantages that might assist in
the successful transference of Lacroix’s
concrete slab (physical strength, endurance, a car).
If Western culture demands success
(especially within a capitalist society,
where gains are financial and losses
are the symptom of catastrophe) then a

Christopher Lacroix & afallenhorse, common, 2016, Nair wax strip, human
shoulder hair, 3 x 6.5 inches
temporary media. Lacroix’s mobilization of whiteness and queerness
acknowledges certain privileges that
are often afforded silence, highlighting the way in which language assists
in the perpetuation of the status quo.
Visitors to the gallery are encouraged

celebration of failure is itself a radical
position, a negation of progress. And
though the practice of resistive failure
can appear to be amusing, irreverent,
or childish, it is a very serious position
which undercuts dominant modes of
power and ideology. Failure in many

ways is intrinsic to artistic experimentation, as Samuel Beckett said,
“To be an artist is to fail as no other
dare fail.’ In Meld With Something
the artists falter with absolute confi-

dence, achieving the very basis of art’s
aims – to present alternatives within a
rigid world, to consider different ways
of being, to reject orthodoxy, and to pursue a better way (to fail).

References:
Beckett, Samuel. Proust & Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit. London: John
Calder, 1965.
Feuvre, Lisa Le. Failure: Documents Of Contemporary Art. Cambridge, MA:
MIT, 2010.
Halberstam, Judith. The Queer Art Of Failure. Durham: Duke UP, 2011.

AT AN ODD HOUR
By Sayantan Mukhopadhyay

Erin Whittier, Carrying Away Sediment, Inkjet Print, 2015
Time is a prison. The relentless circumambulation of a clock is scripted,
fashioned to domesticate us and tame
a raw instinct for anarchy. Time studiously clocks our successes, measured
in the progression from education
to employment, from marriage to
child-rearing. It is in this disciplinary
function that time ensures the slick
economies we worked to create are
safeguarded for the future by our
progeny. This cycle of growth and
regeneration leads both upwards and
nowhere at all.

chord. It is a drumbeat falling out of step
with the pulse. Queerness radicalizes
time ruled by heterosexuality’s bullish
zeal: time led by bourgeois aspirations
displaced by one marching on irreverently, with no particular hopes inscribed
into its future. In its reproductive insufficiencies, queer time denies our insistence on producing children, and in
one sweep, refutes the necessity to own
homes, pay taxes, carry on with lives
governed by the edicts of a system that
renders our bodies invisible. Queer time
is an orientation towards deliverance.

Queer time has an aberrant rhythm. Erin Whittier’s Contemporary Glacial
It is a note played outside of a major Theory And The “Beingness” of Nature

(2015) is a preindustrial time that
does not act on us through neoliberal market transactions; its progress
not counted in births and deaths. Her
work engages a primordial temporality dictated by tectonic motion
and geologic pace. Whittier tells us
of rocks’ change, which is at once
infinitesimal in scale and sublime in
scope. Just as rocks do not move with
the technological speed to which we
have become accustomed, the book
proceeds cautiously as it recounts a
story that charts one hundred millennia, frustrating a thirst for twenty-first
century intrigue. It is a resolute repudiation of our need to establish order
in an age of information.
In the videos presented, the artist
situates herself in these scenes of
transmutation, camouflaged as rock
in an effort to collapse the borders
between human and natural process.
In her interaction with lithic environments, she releases herself from
urban demands while returning to a
state uncolored by the human drive
to proliferate, to buy, to sell. In her
blissful oneness with nature, the artist
is queered and at once, she is freed.
Christopher Lacroix & afallenhorse
takes performance as the birth of a
similar emancipatory moment. His
practice is inflected by the deep anxiety that rampant homonormativite
discourse is blindly resuscitating oppressive social mandates. In One or
the other or both or neither (2016)

Lacroix takes a template from a Madlibs
game to expose the sordid two-dimensionalization of gay identities and the
concomitant whitewashing of our media
culture. This work shows how robust
queerness can be flattened out into trite
epithets. To be a “fag” is to erase complex states of being; to violently deny
the ontology of the queer male. Made of
concrete, it is weighty in both its material presence and in its indictment of a
community that is constantly trying to
assimilate.
Lacroix’s performance is an ephemeral
counterpart to the sheer physicality of
this piece. In You used to be hear now
you’re gone, the artist dances to a spoken word poem laced with slurs. The
contortions of the body sinuously react
to the metrical recital, liberating itself
from the words’ charged import. “Come
on, faggots, come on…” repeats as the
body coils and shakes, rocking with
spastic gesture as if to free itself from
the attendant words’ propulsion and asserting the impossibility of containment.
The only trace left behind of this performance is a Nair wax strip covered in
hair from the artist’s shoulder: a quiet
monument to motion that had once electrified the air. This piece, evocatively
titled common, is material distillation of
queer time.
As Lacroix’s pulsating dance suggests,
there is battle written into our search for
freedom. This is a rite of passage that
asserts itself in the face of the system’s
chokehold. Tommy Kha addresses this

dialectic struggle in a video work that
interrogates racial politics in queer
male circles — a game of exclusion
that is a spectral presence in a society
mired by facile talk of acceptance.
In Kiss Off (2012), the artist forces
himself onto a man wearing an identical set of clothes while they are both
seated on a couch. Their clothing only
serves to highlight their difference:
Kha’s body of colour fighting to press
up against the white man next to him.
The white man holds him back despite Kha’s unwavering commitment,
a metaphor for the one-sided desire
that permeates gay cultures purporting openness while practicing intense
racial preference. The physical exertion required to equalize this playing field is the fight towards a queer
horizon, a space beyond where the
possibilities constricted by normative
standards are finally unbound.
Ultimate sublimation occurs in the
work of Rebecca Zynomirski, whose
photographs contend with the female
body’s location within contemporary
culture. Her current series shows
the artist dressed as different clouds
while she assumes graceless postures,
highlighted against a vibrant blue sky.
Like Whittier, Zynomirski seeks to
unchain the body from stricture, finding recourse in nature’s infinitude.
The formation of a cloud — a process that involves water passing from
liquid into gas — is one of heavenly
ascendence. By mapping this change
onto her own female body, weighed

down by history’s misdoings, Zynomirski frees herself into the natural realm
where she is disembodied, transient, and
vaporous. In doing so, she leaves behind
the earthly construct of clock time, her
meteorological avatar serving as her respite.
The works in this exhibition lurch on the
uneasy precipice between delimitation
and freedom, time enacted in radical
ways to create imagined utopias. While
none of the works represent a definitive
arrival in a future paradise, they employ
a language of transition that is manifested in representations of struggle. Queering the notion of time is a way towards
liberation, challenging presumptions that
have long rendered us hopeless. It allows us to fathom meaningful change
and to have faith in the potential for alternative realities.
In their yearning for a novel relationship
to space-time, the works in this exhibition look to the body as a fulcrum for
revolution. The implications for this are
far-reaching, affecting intimate connections to gender, sex, and desire — all of
which are entangled in late capitalism’s
strict formulations of being. This is how
time is politicized. And it is by dancing
in time’s shadows, embracing landscape
and the sky that meets it, that we see its
ability to unfold into something wholly
exciting. We stand at the brink, feverishly tapping our feet to its syncopations, as
we anticipate a new mode of existence.

Rebecca Zynomirski, Stratus Cloud, vinyl image on painted wall, 2015

References:
Edelman, Lee. No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Durham: Duke
UP, 2004.
Halberstam, Judith. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: New York UP, 2005.
Muñoz, José Esteban. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity.
New York: New York UP, 2009.

TOMMY KHA

Tommy Kha (b. 1988, Memphis, Tennessee) received his BFA in Photography
from Memphis College of Art and his MFA from Yale University School of
Art. His work has been published in Slate, the Huffington Post, Blouin ArtInfo, BUTT Magazine, and Miranda July’s “We Think Alone” and exhibited at
Georgia Scherman Projects, Aperture, Signal Gallery, ALLGOLD at MoMA PS1
Printshop, Johalla Projects, Yongkang Lu Art, and Kunstverein Wolfsburg.
He was an artist-in-residence through the Center for Photography at Woodstock,
and a resident at Light Work. Recently, Aint-Bad Editions published a monograph of Kha’s work, A Real Imitation.
He currently lives and works in New York City and Memphis.

CHRISTOPHER LACROIX & AFALLENHORSE

Christopher Lacroix & afallenhorse (b. 1986, Edmonton) has a diploma in Theatre Production from MacEwan University (2006), a BFA in Photography from
Ryerson University (2012) and is an MFA Candidate in Visual Arts at the University of British Columbia. He has exhibited at Artspace Contemporary Art Projects (Peterborough), window (Winnipeg), and Georgia Scherman Projects (Toronto), and has performed at YTB Gallery, VideoFag, and OCADU (Toronto).

ERIN WHITTIER

Erin Whittier is an emerging artist currently based in Toronto, Canada. Currently
finishing her degree at Ryerson University, she is studying and practicing photography and lens-based art. Recently, she has returned from an academic exchange at the Auckland University of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand in
the Visual Arts program. Her practice relies heavily on going out and experiencing the landscape, thriving in situations of displacement from comfortable and
routine living, as a process to develop a rounded understanding and appreciation
of place. She has participated in a number of exhibitions in the Toronto art scene,
as well as abroad.

REBECCA ZYNOMIRSKI

Rebecca Zynomirski is a multi-media artist working and studying in Toronto.
She attends Ryerson University and is very close to completing her BFA in Photography.
Rebecca is interested in deconstructing the familiar and the mundane through the
creation of narratives, inventions and characters. Combing irony and sentimentality she examines the representation of the female body, human relationships
and the struggle to belong within contemporary North American culture.

SHAUNA JEAN DOHERTY
Shauna Jean Doherty holds a MFA in Art Criticism and Curatorial Practice from
OCAD University, Toronto, and a Bachelor of Arts in Semiotic Theory from the
University of Toronto. With a foundation in the science of signs and deconstruction and an ongoing interest in the social history of technology, Doherty incorporates these themes into both her curatorial projects and writing practice. She
has curated exhibitions and events independently in Toronto, Calgary, Halifax,
and Vancouver, at venues which include Vtape, Xpace Cultural Centre, Centre
for Art Tapes, EMMEDIA, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Currently, she is Outreach and Distribution Manager for Video Out at VIVO Media Arts Centre I
Vancouver.

SAYATAN MUKHOPADHYAY
Sayantan Mukhopadhyay is a PhD student in the department of Art History at
the University of California, Los Angeles. His current research interests include
modern and contemporary art from South Asia and the Middle East, cosmopolitanism, the history of exhibition-making, and theories of display.
Sayantan has worked for Bidoun Magazine and Aicon Gallery in New York, later
going on to serve as the Assistant Director of GALLERYSKE in New Delhi. Prior to his move to Los Angeles, he worked in private arts education in Shanghai,
China, alongside his role as contributing arts writer at City Weekend Asia.
Sayantan holds a BA in Comparative Literature and Art History from Williams
College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

LIST OF ARTWORKS
Tommy Kha
Same Difference (Excerpt: Turning Lights), 2012
Colour video, sound
1 minute, 29 seconds
Kiss Off, 2012
Colour video, sound
1 minute, 23 seconds
Christopher Lacroix & afallenhorse
You used to be hear now you’re gone, 2016
Choreography by Alyssa Martin
Live performance
Approximately 4 minutes
One or the other or both or neither, 2016
Silkscreen, sharpie, concrete
15.5 x 19.5 x 2.25 inches each
common, 2016
Nair wax strip, human shoulder hair
3 x 6.5 inches
Erin Whittier
Contemporary Glacial Theory And The “Beingness” of Nature, 2015
Artist book
160 pages
Glacial Actions Performances, 2015
Colour video, sound
5 minutes
Rebecca Zynomirski
You are the Weatherman, I am the Weather, 2015
Vinyl image on painted wall
Scale variable

Ryerson Artspace Staff: 2015/16
Gallery Director:
Robyn Cumming
Communications Coordinator:
Camille Rojas
Exhibition Coordinator:
Jeffrey Chiu
Web and Media Content Coordinator:
Raven Lam
Outreach/Education Coordinator:
Jesse Marcelo Sarkis
Fundraising Coordinator:
Dana Salama


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