Reframing Gender

Rooted in historical exhibitions, Reframing Gender starts where other shows leave off. Instead of ignoring the Other, Jason Cyrus brings the experiences of BIPOC and trans* individuals experience with clothing to the forefront.

This small exhibition explores what fashion means to us culturally and historically, and how we represent our identity through clothing.

The clothes themselves explore difference between ‘masc’ and ‘femme’ clothing ideals of the twentieth century, as well as traditional marriage outfits. The clothing primarily comes from York University’s Theatre Department and the curator and his friends. While not intended to create a complete model of fashion of any period, the clothes instead are used to be physical manifestations of popular clothing tropes, which are discredited in four videos that are playing in the gallery.

Cyrus aims to bring the words of the interviewees to life by placing quotes from their interview on the walls in lieu of didactic information. While these quotes are relevant to the exhibit as a whole, those without a deep understanding of fashion and contemporary discourses surrounding gender could be confused.

Aside from those grievances, Cyrus makes a very personal exhibition come alive. The curator is everywhere in the exhibition, from the inclusion of his own garments, to his hand painted walls, Reframing Gender touches the hearts of many of us who see our clothing as a direct representation of our identities.

Review: Andy Goldsworthy’s Walking Wall

What does the simple act of stacking and re-stacking thousands of stones, five times to be exact, have to do with contemporary ecological art making?

Well, ask Andy Goldsworthy—a British born sculptor with a knack for ephemeral natural compositions. Typically, Goldsworthy works in nature and with organic materials to enhance the beauty of the landscape. The cyclical nature of his projects reinforce natural ideas such as death, decay, and the passing of seasons. He works with natural objects to create visual poems commenting frivolity of nature.

Since March, Goldsworthy has been working on a major project on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Titled Walking Wall, Goldsworthy’s newest project transforms before the viewer’s eyes in five separate stages that takes place over eight months. Simple in nature, the installation is only comprised of stones stacked atop one another to form a wall.

In March 2019, construction of the wall began on the east side of the campus and inched forward every few months. The wall wasn’t constantly in motion. Instead for ten or so days in March, May, July, September, and November workers edged the work along. After the initial construction was finished in March, workers then removed rocks from the back end of the installation and placed them at the front to make it seem as if the installation was literally walking around the grounds. During the periods of movements, crowds flocked to the installation site to observe and ask questions. The sensuous act of watching someone construct a physical entity with nothing more than their hands was an entrancing act.

Left in the wall’s wake is a trail of dead grass, crushed by the weight of itself. These footsteps traipse over the small rolling hills of the institution, reminding us all of our intertwining histories with the land and our similarities with each other.

In a time of decisive discourse surrounding walls and borders in the United States, Goldsworthy definitively connects the act of building a wall with nature rather than as a man-made divide. As polarities continue to rise throughout the country, works like Goldsworthy’s attempt to remind us all that we’re apart of something bigger––bigger than our families or our citizenship. But apart of a global support system that relies on camaraderie between humans and the ecosystems in which they live so that both may flourish.

Review: Infinity Mirrors at the AGO

Installed over a year ago, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors is still captivating visitors to the Art Gallery of Toronto as a permanent installation on the second floor of the gallery.

After the huge success of the Infinity Mirrors Exhibition the AGO decided that it was necessary to include some of the exhibition in its permanent collection. The AGO crowdfunded over C$650,000 from almost 5,000 donors to purchase Infinity Mirrors for their collection.

Access to the installation is limited––visitors must sign up for a time slot on an iPad near the entrance on the first floor. There is usually a gallery attendant there to help you choose your time slot. Once it’s your entrance time make your way to the queue on the second floor, where you’ll check your bags and prepare for what is to come (I took a few deep breaths and wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans).

The gallery attendant will instruct you on the procedures while you’re waiting to get inside. You can spend up to one minute in the room. Don’t touch anything. Get your selfie camera ready.

The door opens and your sixty seconds begin.

Your first thought will likely be, ‘wow this room is small.’ But don’t linger on that fact. Make the most of your time inside of the installation.

The tiny hexagonal shaped room is filled wall to ceiling with huge mirrors and hundreds of orbs suspended from the ceiling and sitting on the ground. Each shiny surface reflects off of the next and you’ll quickly be entranced by the countless reflections in the mirrors.

Centrally located is a column covered in mirrors to reflect the outer perimeter of the room.

Kusama has installed less than twenty rooms like Infinity Mirrors globally, so having one in Toronto is incredible.

Mentioning any of Kusama’s works is basically impossible without referring to ‘selfies,’ ‘social media,’ or ‘millennials.’ To some, it may seem as if her installations are catered to what many refer to the so called narcissist tendencies of millennials.

However, I see no problems whatsoever with art being a site for tourism (shout out to The Lightning Field and other art works in the American West that often function as tourist sites). We should be celebrating the fact that so many young people are visiting museums. More visitors to museums means that they get more funding from donors and the government. That means better care for the permanent collection and more funding for one of a kind traveling exhibitions.

Even better, Infinity Mirrors is free to all ticketed members to the AGO. Those under the age of 25 can enter the AGO for free, and those who are older can pay a flat fee of C$35 per year to visit the gallery.