The Pandemic is a Portal


The Pandemic is a Portal

JUN 22 - JUL 31, 2020


Simranpreet Anand, Anna Banana, Vanessa Brown / Francey Russell,

Lacie Burning, Margaret Dragu / Justine A. Chambers / Kage, Lucien

Durey, Jessica Evans, Elisa Ferrari, Sharona Franklin, Michelle Helene

Mackenzie, Megan Hepburn, S F Ho, Julian Yi-Zhong Hou, Hazel Meyer,

Cindy Mochizuki, Cecily Nicholson, Carmen Papalia / Heather Kai Smith,

Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross, Jayce Salloum, and Nicole Kelly Westman

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Sharona Franklin 6

Tellurian Dinner

Cindy Mochizuki 10

雪 / Snow

Lacie Burning 12


Jayce Salloum 14

beyond now / this time

Margaret Dragu / 20

Justine A. Chambers / Kage

NEW NORMAL: an embodied novel,

chapter 4, the bed is a portal

Simranpreet Anand 22

A whole new world ✿.。.:* ☆:*:.

(Don’T уᵒu DaŘє clOsE youя є ʸes) .::.☆.:。.✿

Elisa Ferrari 40

In Increments of 13

Megan Hepburn 42

Uncertain Yield

Nicole Kelly Westman 44

oversharing obscure sentimentalities

Michelle Helene Mackenzie 46

In Violet Air

S F Ho 48

Water / fire

Lucien Durey 56

Blue Feather with Skittles:

Kramer / Sleazeball

Hazel Meyer 60

The Weight of Inheritance —

cruising Joyce’s house

Carmen Papalia / Heather Kai Smith

Score for a Temporary,

Collectively-Held Space

Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross

Napping Against Capitalism

Jessica Evans

Pig Pen and Chalet Style

Julian Yi-Zhong Hou

Ketamine Clear





Cecily Nicholson 62

a voice that will clamour

Anna Banana 64

Invitation to “The Pandemic is a Portal”

Vanessa Brown / Francey Russell 66

Carry me over this threshold

The Pandemic is a Portal

JUN 22 – JUL 31, 2020


The Pandemic is a Portal was convened in the wake of Covid-19, recognizing that in this time of shared

crisis, it was necessary to renounce a return to normalcy — which was already a catastrophe for so many —

and to move towards an Otherwise world, one rooted in care.

Located in Vancouver and Burnaby, SFU Galleries occupies the unceded territories of xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh,

Səl̓ílwətaɬ and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm Nations. Most of the artists whose work was presented as part of this

exhibition, occupy these same territories. The condition of this land as unceded means that there are no

treaties between the Indigenous nations who have made their lives here for thousands of years and the settler

colonial state that calls itself Canada. And it means that the presence of these cities and their infrastructures,

including institutions like Simon Fraser University, are part of an ongoing settler colonial project that

frames our perceptions of history, as well as our understandings of relations in the present.

Acknowledging that our artistic, academic and development activities unfold on colonized Indigenous territories

recognizes this state of occupation as an ongoing socio-political reality. It is also an expression of a

commitment to support art’s capacity to unsettle these conditions and introduce new questions into our lived


In sharing news of the galleries’ closures in mid-March, we reiterated our commitment to gathering publics in

ways that engage with our social and political environments as historical inheritances, contemporary realities

and speculative futures. We also expressed a desire to use these distanced times to critically interrogate how

we form community, who we form it with and how we can do better.

Drawing from the thinking of Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal was an experimental, online exhibition

that considered what is changing about our social and political realities, and what futures our responses

move us toward:

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew.

This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose

to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks

and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with

little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it. [1]

If we accept Roy’s proposition, that the pandemic is a portal, then how can our responses to this time prepare

the ground for forms of community to come — forms that are more just and more unsettled than the

forms of community we’ve left behind? We asked artists and writers to respond to these questions from within

the experience of pandemic illness, which is distinct for all.


And yet, the world in which this exhibition was presented was characterized not just by pandemic illness,

but by a civil rights movement. In the time between inviting the artists and presenting their work, D’Andre

Campbell, Eishia Hudson, Jason Collins, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore, Rodney Levi, and Ejaz

Ahmed Choudry were, or are assumed to have been, murdered by police in Canada. Breonna Taylor, George

Floyd, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Sean Monterrosa and Rayshard Brooks were, or are assumed to have

been, murdered by police in the US. Every one of these people were Black, Indigenous or a person of colour.

And these lists are incomplete. And the loss of these lives, and so many more, have coalesced a revolution.

Building upon years and years of activism around prison abolition, it seems as though it is sudden that calls

to defund the police have taken root. But the groundwork has long been in preparation. Linked to that, and

building upon the activism in the Black Lives Matter movement, we are seeing, we hope, finally, a dismantling

of the political and cultural pillars of white supremacy. Weeks before the printing of this publication,

Vancouver City Council passed a motion calling for “a plan, timeline and budget to deprioritize policing as a

response to mental health, sex work, homelessness, and substance use” and to redirect funds to community-led

safety initiatives. This motion marks another step toward re-imagining the ways we form and support our


However, these calls for justice are not only about breaking down the carceral state; they are about recognizing

the carcinogenic connective tissue of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism and all

their ugly cousins. These calls for justice are about how those insidious paradigms of pure distinction reach

everywhere in society, even into the academic and cultural spaces that frame this exhibition.

Galleries are not neutral spaces. Neither are universities. They are imaginative, discursive and economic

systems of power with political consequences that are being called upon to disrupt current configurations of

power and inequity.

And so, although we want to acknowledge that the world has changed since the invitation was offered to the

artists to be part of The Pandemic is a Portal, it also hasn’t really changed that much, and it certainly

hasn’t changed enough. That change, the Otherwise world, the one rooted in care, is our work to do. Now.

And we say YES.

With thanks to all the artists who responded to this call with generosity and vision; to Gina Badger for

the care she offered to language; to Stephanie Bokenfohr, Cheryl Green, Carmen Papalia and SFU’s

Centre for Accessible Learning who helped us build cursory infrastructures of access; and to Ashon

Crawley and Jacob Wren who invigorated the central ideas of the exhibition through public forms of

thinking. And again, especially, thanks to Ashon Crawley for articulating a vision of the Otherwise

around which revolutionary energies can coalesce.

—Karina Irvine, Christopher Lacroix and cheyanne turions

[1] Arundhati Roy, “The pandemic is a portal,” Financial Times, Apr 3, 2020:

8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca (accessed May 8, 2020).


Sharona Franklin: Tellurian Dinner

To be tellurian is to be terrestrial, and in being so, to be a thread in a network of relations that reaches to

every crevice of the earth. Tellurian Dinner (2020) was a site-specific installation that reflect on nonlinear

systems of healing. Proposing that interconnectivity, community and symbiosis are core to algorithms

of care, Franklin’s installation observed and venerated connections that are first and foremost of the earth.

In the dramaturgy of the project, the promise of Tellurian Dinner as a shared experience of gathering was

withheld. What other forms might communion take, whom else might we hold in common, and how can each

individual body and sentience serve another? Composed of salvaged botanicals, pharmaceutical elements and

construction-site remnants, melded together with animal-derived gelatin, the dinner settings were left to decompose

over the span of the exhibition, marking a temporality in relation to both human consumption and

biological processes.

Tellurian Dinner was installed in the windows of Audain Gallery. Respecting DTES Response guidelines to

refrain from visiting the Downtown Eastside, this project was intended to be experienced primarily by those

who make their lives in the neighbourhood. Others are invited to experience the project through photographic

documentation or verbal description, which are available on the SFU Galleries website.

Images: Sharona Franklin, Tellurian Dinner (posters), 2020. Courtesy the artist.

Sharona Franklin is a multidisciplinary disabled artist, writer and activist who has been based in

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Her work explores radical therapies, cybernetic craft, bio-ritualism,

ecology, pharmacological, and social interdependence. Franklin’s practice coalesces discourses of disability,

gender, class, and bio-citizenship into new kinds of mythologies. Through ontological study that utilizes

natural, salvaged, biodegradable, and digital media, her work invites viewers to experiment with the links

between knowledge production and healing methodologies.





Cindy Mochizuki: 雪 / Snow

雪 / Snow (2019) is part of a larger installation project, Cave to Dream (2019), which uses portals as a

metaphor for exploring story and ritual. 雪 / Snow takes place on the last day of a calendar year, following

a family as they carefully put together a meal to greet the Namahage demon. In Japanese folklore from the

Akita-ken regions, the Namahage demon is said to show up at homes to measure how family members have

spent the past year of their life. The demon deciphers who has been bad or good, while also ensuring that

family structures are working and sound. In order to confuse the demon, sake and delicious food is presented

to trick them and send them off on their way — making clear for a new beginning.

Cinematography: Milena Salazar

Sound Design: Antoine Bédard

Editing: Candelario Andrade

Production Assistant: Cherry Wen Wen Lu

Script Advisor: Hiromi Goto

Costume Design: Leah Weinstein

Sound Engineer: Alex Shamku

Site Assistant: Yuko Federau

Camera Assistant: Joella Cabalu

Percussionist: Kage

Performers: Julia Aoki, Saya de Couto-Hoffman, June Fukumura, Manami Hara, Donna Soares, Oomi Sugawara,

Junko Takashima Lexi Vajda, and Sophia Wolfe.

This film was produced with funding assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts and the BC Arts Council.

Images: Cindy Mochizuki, 雪 / Snow (video stills), 2019, 13:39min. Courtesy the artist.

Cindy Mochizuki creates multi-media installations, audio fictions, performances, animations, drawings,

and community-engaged projects. She has exhibited, performed and screened her work in Canada, the United

States, Australia, and across Asia. Recent exhibitions include Burrard Arts Foundation (Vancouver), Richmond

Art Gallery, Frye Art Museum (Seattle), The New Gallery (Calgary), and the City of Yonago Museum. Her

artistic practice moves through and works with historical memory, family archives and processes of storytelling.

In 2015, she received the Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award in New Media and Film.



Lacie Burning: -attat

Leaning into the nights as we have done for hundreds of years. Wool blankets keep us warm for the incoming

cold. We look to the stars in the sky; they are our ancestors watching over us. We watch them and they watch

us. It is for these moments of being witnessed and bearing witness that we are afforded an experience of

the serene.

Image: Lacie Burning, -attat, 2020, photograph. Courtesy the artist.

Lacie Burning is a Mohawk multidisciplinary artist from the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve. Their

work focuses on politics of Indigeneity and identity from a Haudenosaunee perspective through photography,

performance and sculpture. They hold a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design with a focus

on photography and Indigenous art. In 2019, they won the Renée Van Halm + Pietro Widmer Graduation

Award for Visual Arts, were first runner-up for the 2020 Philip B. Lind Prize and longlisted for the New

Generation Photography Award for 2020.



Jayce Salloum: beyond now


this time

I return back into a cacophony of available noises and grey concrete skies

it is a ghoul town with snow capped mountains

the jungle has melted part of me into the clay soil and salt wind blown air

the airplane has transported my body but left my soul + more carbon

.. memories of flight

I am apart + still a contradiction of all sorts

.. slingshoting will eventually bring more of my pieces back to near contiguity

to reform into one slightly less fragmented corporeal entity

like a discombobulated soul within a quiet world..

small gaps remain, uncertainty will do the rest

to remain a thinking questioning subject..

what will we have learned from this close distant experiencing

an experiment altered – a little more ‘conscious’ - ‘living’

nature’s natural reaction to our stupidity ever close to us more now than ever apart

will anything remain


hopeful and learned


boom and bust mentalities, reap the harvest and accept the fallow.

breaking my indeterminate ennui.

ramblings and rants out into the void



.. to move from entrenchment to expansion explosion to make an impact into the social

in ways only the virus could open up

making noise at the same time, the least common denominator of those that can afford balconies and

windows they hear themselves and know that they are alive

that they count at least up to 7pm

our elders

elderly dies

our values revealed


Essentially workers yet the afterwards cleaning up out

for minimum wage treated essentially fucked

Systems laid bare, the emperors continue their naked lies

seemingly locked into place, but about to be broken

an immoral compass

racism inbred in the fabric of the constructed nation

a pandemic of inequality

seeking trust


striving to complete the narrative

falling fake

where failure reigns

caged h umans stasis souls

(being storied beings)

pack the banks padding their vaults at the expense of all the unsightedness

quarantined minds separate as norm

falling conspiracy

to break the cluster fuck of the mind

what words we learn are now for our control

and for later the same

a pattern of existence or death

abundance of caution



novo corona virus

risk assessment

self quarantine


a common vocabulary

the words become us


to the commons R E V O L T

Where is the GENERAL S T R I K E



our screen eyes

I’d rather not

scream eyed

war to war

what no war

the evil of banality

persists parsing passing knowledge

insidious > imbricated in the architecture

is it willful ignorance

surviving in the now

an occupation nation

a willingly unprepared world

yet prepared for war forlorn worn not for being well

as if living underground

if wishes were dishes for hope is everlasting



laying bare the cruelty inherent in our very structure

“ response to the crisis in the every day a daily crisis

The plague is not new, it is the old NORMAL,

the normal is never what it should be

the ‘new’ normal reveals the ‘old’ racism

the new is old again

survive in the now


plan for the future

the status –quo

got white supremacy y’all?

- when we can live in a changed world where everyone is more aware of the counter-effects of our

encroachment on nature and the havoc we wreak

coming back in a vengeance


I decide I must film in Oppenheimer park and ask: What does this pandemic mean to you?

How does it most affect you?

What meaningful changes would you like to see

come out of this?

can we learn from . . . warmth, carries us far

“Things are fine for us housed folks, looking out on the street the poor souls there are waiting in line

for meals and shelter and that’s where it is really f'd up. Another layer of crisis to survive with layers

of other disabilities.”

Why does a virus have to appear

to reveal how connected we all are

We are all on life support

the tools. ready

the silence is deafening

( = complicity)

nature surpasses us

a stretch of t ime still for moment these fragile things delicate wings..

remind me

why are w e h e r e

and after this what


we m ust resis t

u p to us

in what ever forms necessary

where are we going to be


beyond now


untitled part 9: this time

Out of the mouths of rural boys, finding the incomparable Mulla Nasrudin in Afghanistan. After my first

year of art school in San Francisco in 1978, I quit, and headed to the Banff School of Fine Arts to do a

year-long residency program. The instructor, Hu Hohn, got me hooked on Sufi stories such as “The Exploits

and Subtleties of the incomparable Mulla Nasrudin.” Mulla Nasrudin is a Sufi wise-fool, trickster-like figure.

These books were chock full of funny little contemplative mediation stories. I would read these riding the bus

at night and such, to get me through trying days. Later, in 2008, I’m in the central highlands of Afghanistan,

in Bamiyan, where the colossal Buddha statutes were destroyed by the Taliban. A stark, arid, severe, beautiful

landscape, people scrapping by, subsistence farming, much like my grandparents did in Syria. I’m filming

scruffy little country boys in a new school built by Western troops. The boys are speaking Hazaragi (a Farsi

dialect), via my translator, but never having the time to translate responses. At the end of each session, we ask

them to tell a joke or a song, something other than the conversation we’ve tried to record. Six months later,

when I’m back home and the rough transcript translations have been sent to me from Quetta, I discover, lo

and behold, then and there were the very same Sufi stories — thirty years later — being told by these scruffy

little country boys at Laisa-e-Aali Zukoor boys school, Bamiyan, Hazarajat, Afghanistan. These days I’ve

been working with my Afghan collaborator, Khadim Ali; he’s based in Sydney currently. We’re trying to work

through the time zones, which goes hand in hand with the other displacements of the overarching pandemic

time and space. Many thanks to the impeccable Khadim Ali, and to the translator and eternal wunderkind

Muzafar Sanji; to Mohammad Zia, our stalwart driver and safe-keeper who deftly transported us over unspeakable

rutted goat trails aka roads; and to all who shared with us a mat to rest or sleep on, stories, food, curious

minds, and warm hearts.

— Jayce Salloum

Featuring: Ahmed Jan, Mehdi Khan Agha, Hussain Ali

Project commissioner: Haema Sivanesan

Images: Jayce Salloum, untitled part 9: this time (video stills), 2020, video, 6:13min, top two images of Faiz Muhammad; lower

two images of Ahmed Jan. Courtesy the artist.

Jayce Salloum’s projects are rooted in an intimate engagement with place(s) and the people that inhabit

them. A grandson of Syrian immigrants from the Beqaa Valley (Lebanon), he was raised on Sylix (Okanagan)

territory. After 22 years in San Francisco, Banff, Toronto, San Diego, Beirut, and New York, he has been

based on the unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səíl̓wətaʔł territories for the past 23 years. Salloum

has exhibited widely, from the smallest unnamed storefronts in his downtown eastside neighbourhood to

institutions such as the Musée du Louvre (Paris), Centre Pompidou (Paris), National Gallery of Canada

(Ottawa), Havana Biennial, Sharjah Biennial, and the Sydney Biennale.



Margaret Dragu / Justine A. Chambers / Kage:

NEW NORMAL: an embodied novel

Chapter 4, the bed is a portal

An old woman and a young woman are in separate apartments. Although they are montaged together, their

bodies could easily be one floor, one city or an ocean apart. The women repeatedly try to use their beds as

portals, as places of potential rupture or as transformative platforms. Both women want to go someplace else.

Perhaps they long to be someone else. Each woman enacts the same choreographic directives, which they

understand to be a map or kind of application form to enter the imagined portals. In poetic and direct ways,

NEW NORMAL: an embodied novel, chapter 4, the bed is a portal takes up the thinking of Arundhati

Roy, as well as Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (2017).

In their work together, Margaret Dragu, Justine A. Chambers and Kage explore social architectures and the

politics of urban mobility through gesture, choreography, text, chanting, video, music, and sound scores.

Images: Margaret Dragu / Justine A. Chambers / Kage, NEW NORMAL: an embodied novel, chapter 4, the bed is a portal (video

stills), 2020, 9:37min. Courtesy the artists.

Margaret Dragu works in video, installation, digital and analogue publication, and performance. Spanning

relational, durational, interventionist, and community-based practices, she has shown in Canada, the US and

Europe. Dragu is celebrating her 49 th year as a working artist. Her favourite art-making material is still the

body despite, or because of, her bionic status as a grateful owner of two recent hip replacements. She was

the recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts in 2012, Éminence Grise (2012) for

7a*11d, and the first artist in FADO’s publication series Canadian Performance Art Legends (2000).

Justine A. Chambers is a dance artist living and working on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the

xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations. Her movement-based practice considers how choreography

can be an empathic practice rooted in collaborative creation, close observation and the body as a cumulative

embodied archive. Privileging what is felt over what is seen, she works with dances that are already there —

the social choreographies present in the everyday. She is Max Tyler-Hite’s mother.

Kage has spent decades playing Taiko and collaborating with artists interested in pushing the boundaries

of convention. With this pandemic comes concern and stress around the well-being of family and loved ones,

and limited drumming outlets, prompting new ideas around collaboration. She is steeped in, thriving and

surviving the present.



Simranpreet Anand: A whole new world ✿.。.:* ☆:*:.

(Don’T уᵒu DaŘє clOsE youя є ʸes) .::.☆.:。.✿

This series of found Photoshopped images mines public selfies by Instagram users who are recommended to

the artist, highlighting the phenomenon of the so-called Instagram Face, which refers to make-up trends and

cosmetic procedures and that play to the racial biases of the platform’s users and algorithms. A 2019 New

Yorker article described these biases as “an overly tan skin tone, a South Asian influence with the brows and

eye shape, an African-American influence with the lips, a Caucasian influence with the nose, a cheek structure

that is predominantly Native American and Middle Eastern.” [1] In each portrait of the series, a black overlay

leaves only the eyes of the subject visible, mapping the formulaic nature of these images, which are rooted in a

distinctly digital performance of gendered beauty and self-exoticization.

[1] “The Age of Instagram Face,” Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, December 12, 2019,

(accessed June 8, 2020).

Images: Simranpreet Anand, A whole new world ✿.。.:* ☆:*:. (Don’T уᵒu DaŘє clOsE youя єʸes) .::.☆.:。.✿, 2020, found

Instagram images and Photoshop. Courtesy the artist.

Simranpreet Anand is an artist, curator and cultural worker creating and working on the unceded territories

of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Peoples (Vancouver). Raised in a diasporic Punjabi

community as the daughter of immigrant parents, Anand’s childhood was filled with cross-cultural tension

that cultivated her interests in the relationships between culture, familial history and subjective experience.

Her work confronts systemic racism and parallel settler colonial structures through their relationships to misunderstanding,

failure, humour, boundaries, and language. She is committed to a socially-engaged practice, and

has worked with documenta 14, the Surrey Art Gallery, the Vancouver Art Gallery, Rungh, and SFU Galleries.


Carmen Papalia / Heather Kai Smith:

Score for a Temporary, Collectively-Held Space

Score for a Temporary, Collectively-Held Space (2020) is a sharable set of instructions for an edition of play

parachutes by Carmen Papalia and Heather Kai Smith. The score is an invitation to practice collectivism in the

service of Open Access, a concept that Papalia proposed in the form of a manifesto in 2015, which became his

working definition for a culture that orients itself around the changing needs in a community. Like Open Access,

the piece establishes a prefigurative space where Papalia and his collaborators can model new standards and

practices in the area of accessibility.

Images: Carmen Papalia and Heather Kai Smith, Score for a Temporary, Collectively-Held Space, 2020, performance score. Courtesy

the artists.

Carmen Papalia uses organizing strategies and improvisation to address his access to public space, art

institutions and visual culture. His work, which ranges from collaborative performance to public intervention,

responds to systemic barriers and biases that enforce ableist concepts of normalcy, which are rooted in the

Western medical tradition. As a convener, he establishes welcoming spaces where those from historically marginalized

groups realize their desires for participation through processes rooted in activism, performance and

institutional critique. Papalia’s work has been featured at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York),

Tate Liverpool, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Gallery Gachet (Vancouver), among others.

Heather Kai Smith holds an MFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Her practice explores the

potential embedded within archival images of protest, collectivity and intentional communities, activated

through drawing. Smith is an active educator, attending international residencies and exhibiting her work

within a variety of institutional and non-conventional spaces. Recent exhibitions include the following: Walter

Phillips Gallery (Banff), studio e gallery (Seattle) and The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (Vancouver).

She is currently teaching in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago.





Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross: Napping Against Capitalism


Things used to be simple. Before, before any of this happened, we used to doze off sweetly in little piles all

over at lunch hour, and think, half-dreaming, “There’s a clogged drain over there, at the far end of the pond,

and the moment someone gets around to unclogging it, I haven’t the slightest idea how I’ll make ends meet!”

We were resolved, at least, in our collective response to uncertainty.

“It must be lonely over there at the far end of the pond,” we thought glibly, upon waking. “It must be very

cold…” We sipped dryly from the water glasses left over on our desks from the day before, the floating lint

and mischievous hairs collecting around the corners of our mouths.

We tried to ready ourselves for the inevitable by picturing ourselves being sucked towards the dirty base

of the drain, submitting to the downward current. We tried to picture ourselves swirling around inside the

pipes, slowing our breathing like the daredevil Houdini in order to conserve our energy for what may just

prove an impossible escape. (Each time, our imaginings were more heroic and farfetched than the last: we

always escaped just in time.)

In those days, we went to sleep without anyone telling us to. We fell asleep instantly out of genuine exhaustion

from the sheer force of a day, from all those things both in and out of our control. We went to sleep

without the idea of protest.


They gather us together around a circle of pillows. Tell us to lie down on our stomachs and picture the future

flush with alternatives. Around us: melted-down credit cards poured into the moulds of equity-sharing divinities;

half-eaten bowls of rice sprinkled with the ashes of colonial fifty-dollar bills; power suits torn to rags and

used to mop up the messes of our weeping.

We originally came here, most of us, because we either had time but no jobs and were hungry, or had jobs

but no time and were unhappy. All of us, disillusioned. All of us, following a recent break with belief. Though

unpaid like all the others, this internship at least presented a different kind of opportunity. A chance to join

a cause. To be part of something bigger.

A man in blue coveralls raises his hand and asks whether we’ll still have weekends where we’re going.

“Shhhhh!” the collective hisses.

“But will we still be paid time-and-a-half for holidays?” he wants to know.

There will be no need to distinguish between weekdays and weekends, the glowing drain at the bottom of

the pond replies. We let out a sigh of relief, returning our cheeks diligently to the imprints in our pillows.



In my ideal world, my bed is full of magazines and my head is full of sleep. I want nothing more than to

spend week after week in the comfort of my sheets; to sleep deeply and without disturbance; to grow up on

the education of dreams.

But now my mother is calling me, my father banging on the wall. Now, a child is crying. Now a child is needing

to be fed.

I rummage around inside the cavity of my dreaming brain for crackers or a milk bottle as the crying gets

louder and louder and the cavity fills up with garbage.

I visualize the kinds of people that other people told me I could be when I grew up — all of them are in uniform.

Light blue scrubs or dark blue polo shirts, pointy sailors’ hats and hair nets, coveralls with pockets and

loops… Pyjama-like, but not quite pyjamas.

As usual, I don the uniform that is clean and pays the most. Then I run for the bus and miss it.


The leaders encourage us, in our off-time, to continue the cause. So all night long we build maze-like barricades

in the street, obstructing the evening flow of consumers to restaurants, theatres, nightclubs, and airports with

the heaps of our tidily rolled sleeping bags, cushioning charging vehicles and obscuring their sense of direction.

Taxi drivers look confused as they are sent bouncing back in the direction from which they came. They’ve already

been driving for days, and now this. Will they still be paid for the trip?

We gather up our sleeping bags and hurry back to the pond in our striped satin uniforms and slippers in the

early hours of the morning, excited about the progress we have made but increasingly unsure about whose

side we are on. The shift-worker? The sleeper? The activist? The capitalist?

The clogged drain shudders but does not let up.


The water in the pond is the colour of bird shit: green with streaks of white, or white with streaks of green,

and when I think of all the things that could be trapped in it, my head screams with fear.

Ming wants to take drugs and dive to the bottom of the pond to investigate, but I’m frightened and quite

possibly still dreaming so I refuse. Eli is sleeping soundly with the others, and I’m afraid of leaving him behind.

They tell us that the punishment for refusing to sleep from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, is a litre of pond water

down the throat. Likewise, if you are found to be donning any other uniform but the satin one you are given.

The leaders in our group, it turns out, have already drunk their share of pond water — mostly during their

time as CEOs and COOs and CFOs of powerful multinational corporations. We try to ask them what led

them to join the revolution, but they are evasive. Instead, they show us the callouses on the insides of their

cheeks as a warning, making sure to do this right before bedtime.

“Drink gunk in your dream-life and you’ll never have to drink it in real life,” they tell us confidently. This,

they say, is what gives them their edge.



I used to deliver pizzas, first by bike, and then by car. I used to lift elderly people on and off toilet seats, and

children on and off slides. I worked for a while in a warehouse putting CDs into CD sleeves, and then at another

warehouse putting boxes of shoes on shelves. I worked as a waiter at a karaoke bar, and then just long

enough as a dishwasher for a wedding caterer to develop eczema up to my elbows. The last place I worked

was at a customer service call centre, answering questions about vitamin supplements. All of them I quit

with less zeal than the last.

I used to lie down on the floor beneath my call centre cubicle, curled up on a bed of carpet so tight and grey

I developed psychosomatic asthma. When my coworkers would trip over my legs and ask what I was doing,

I’d tell them I was taking a quick power nap, and that I would be twice as productive in 20 minutes when I

awoke. “Trust me,” I assured them. “The science says—”


Repeat after us:

I’ve been asleep for years, and it is a privilege!

I haven’t the slightest idea how to make ends meet!


I am brought up like a horse, and receive just enough to enable me to work: [1]

Flat black shoes for gripping the earth.

Oatmeal for energy and water for high-functioning organs.

A sliver of sunlight for skin.

A single bed the height of a trough.

An expensive phone with which to call my lover.

An expensive phone with which to call my mother.

A dark, secluded place to shit.


In one recurring dream, I can be found scouring the shelves of some labyrinthine library looking for clues as

to the sleep habits of Karl Marx. I want to know about the man’s personal relationship to work and sleep

and leisure. I want to get a sense of the consistency of his days.

Did he sleep well, or hardly at all? Did he stay up all day doing his important work, then continue at it diligently

into the night? Or did he in fact sleep lazily until noon and rise foggy-headed, writing his treatises in

short inspired bursts and only when he felt like it?


Each time, the biographies are so thick, and my own dreamscape so impossibly psychedelic, that I am forced

to leave without having found the answers.


They summon us just after 9pm and ask us to gather round the grassy side of the pond. Tonight, the moon

is full and bright and is asking to be read to, they tell us.

Samantha goes first, reading from a second-hand textbook on neoliberalism. She reads from a random page

in the chapter called “The New Modern Economics” then rips it from the book and throws it into the reeds.

“Fuck the gig economy!” she yells shrilly. “Fuck deregulation! Fuck lezee fair! Fuck supply and demand!”

The crowd roars up in whistles and hoots.

Next comes Eva in her robotic tone, reading a long list of dental ailments that pain her but that she cannot

afford to fix. “Abscess in 3, 13, 16. Gingivitis on 4, 29, 7, 9. Periodontitis, cracked crown, withering alveolar

bone…” Her descriptions rattle across the cold surface of the pond. When she’s done, she rips the list clean in

half and sets the two halves floating along the water’s edge. The paper floats, then eventually sinks, while the

rest of us stand around solemnly, bowing our heads in reverence.

Marc details the going price for canvas and tubes of oil paint and all the other things preventing him from

being an artist. “The only thing left,” he says, “is to make art about the very condition that prevents true art

from blossoming. It’s the only remaining relevant thing…” You’re the lucky one among us, some of us think

but don’t say. He’s right about the only remaining relevant thing.


When it gets to be my turn, I realize that I have not prepared — I haven’t brought anything to read. I look

up at the moon for inspiration, and, luckily for me, the moon growls back.

Only so long as you are working. And you are healthy. And you are normal… [2]

I get down on my hands and knees and claw at the dirt, beginning in a melodramatic whisper and crescendoing

into a screech:

“Only so long as I am working — and not unemployed — am I worthy!”

“Only so long as I am healthy — and not sickly — am I sound!”

I throw pond water down my throat and smear my face with mud, just to show myself most desperate and


“Only so long as I am normal — and not sleeping, not eating, not loving, not making—”

“Only so long as I am not making a fuss—”

“Only so long as I don’t blame the system, but only blame myself—”

“Only so long as I’m okay with working hard and doing more with less—”

“Only so long as I am not lying at the bottom of the ladder, but not exactly climbing the ladder either—”


I rip off my clothes as the group screams in ecstasy. I dive into the pond and the group follows after me, all

of us swishing around ravenously in the twisted reeds. I gather the dirty pond water in my mouth and rise up

like a wild yeast, my arms outstretched, before releasing the water slowly over the shelf of my lips, my head

swirling with the adrenaline of lifelong betrayal.


I dream that I am running away from the library of failed research on Marx and out into an empty street.

Nobody around. It is raining gently, and the wet satin sticks to my thighs. My feet pad limply at the pavement,

my slippers becoming ever more waterlogged as I go.

I’m groggy from sleep, but alert on another plane. My fingertips extend in all directions and become the pinpricked

flesh of the city, busy cataloguing its phantom limbs. This public lamp post, this public street sign,

this public toilet, this public garbage bin. That private lobby, that private car park, that private elevator,

that private topiary hedge. To whom do you belong?

O haunted skyscraper that could house ten thousand but prefers to house no one!

O silver skyline! O vacant public square!

In the city that is clogged with ambition, that is blue with sleep and collared with workers, the sun is rising

and it is raining gently.


Lately sleeping has become increasingly tiring. I emerge from my sleep-shift with a bad headache and the

limpness of an over-napped body. My stomach sags from the spine, the doughy muscles in my legs having

reverse-engineered into those of an infant just learning to walk. We adhere to a strict sleep regimen. Eight

hours a day — no more, no less — lest one should become overtired and unable to perform.

“Perform, but in what way?” we ask our leaders, yawning.

“Shhhhh!” the executives reply in unison.

Even sleeping now feels like working! Even napping feels like gig-ing!

Karla points to the new convertible they have parked on the street, cleverly covered up with reeds, and asks

them what convertibles have to do with the revolution.

“Shhhhh!” the executives reply once more, this time indignant.

Bobby, increasingly suspicious, decides to press further.

“What is it that you get up to all day anyways, while we’re so busy sleeping?” The clogged drain gurgles,

releasing tiny bubbles to the surface. “How do we know, for instance, that you’re really sleeping when we’re

sleeping, and that you’re not secretly running a double shift?”

The rest of us voice our support, but the executives remain evasive.

Little by little, unrest brews by the pond.



I awake one night and find myself alone, the others having left me behind for the barricades. Somewhere by

my body, a friendly animal is breathing; I find myself drifting pleasantly in and out of sleep with its breath

as a metronome.

I dream about the stress of a working day.

I dream about the stress of precarious pay.

I dream that I have been relegated forever to the night shift.

I dream about reading a magazine in bed on a Saturday.

I dream about drinking coffee in convertibles with reclining seats.

I dream about what it would be like to change the world through a series of small but repetitive turns.

I dream about collective action, and organizing, and possibility.

I dream about buying property so that I can lie down on it.

I dream about receiving an unadvertised honorarium at the end of my internship.

I dream about going to bed at exactly the same time as everybody else — what feels like practically an erotic

fantasy, these days — until I wake up sweating and even more alone than I began.


There’s a story in these parts about the people who are sleeping. That we sleep all day because we are privileged.

That we are anxious and entitled. Oh, and that we are making a moot point. Perhaps all are true. But

to our detractors, we ask you this: Would you really prefer to do nothing? Would you really prefer that we

take what little we are given and say, “Okay Capitalism, I have seen your gaping maw, and I want no trouble

with you”? [3]

The revolution may be imperfect, but we remain foolishly committed. We fail, we fall back, we regroup, we

adapt. We try again. We will repeat this for as long as the clogged drain holds.

As it so happens, the latest advice is not to take long sleeps at all, but rather to take short naps, and to

space them out over the course of the day. One must be careful, it turns out, not to lie down too long.


[1] Paraphrased from Karl Marx, “Wages of Labour,” The Economic And Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, trans. Martin Milligan

(Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1959), accessed via “Political Economy regards the proletarian… the same as any

horse, [he] must get as much as will enable him to work. It does not consider him when he is not working, as a human being.”

[2] Inspired by “An American Poem,” by Eileen Myles: “And my art can’t / be supported until it is / gigantic, bigger than / everyone

else’s, confirming / the audience’s feeling that they are / alone. That they alone / are good, deserved / to buy the tickets / to see

this Art. / Are working, / are healthy, should / survive, and are / normal.” From Not Me (New York: Semiotext(e), 1991), 13.

[3] From an interview with George Saunders: “Having felt that abyss, I basically said, ‘O.K., capitalism, I have seen your gaping

maw, and I want no trouble with you’ ... I saw the peculiar way America creeps up on you if you don’t have anything ... It’s never

rude. It’s just, Yes, you do have to work 14 hours. And yes, you do have to ride the bus home. You’re now the father of two and

you will work in that cubicle or you will be dishonored ... It was all laid out in front of me, and suddenly absurdism wasn’t an

intellectual abstraction, it was actually realism. You could see the way that wealth was begetting wealth, wealth was begetting

comfort—and that the cumulative effect of an absence of wealth was the erosion of grace.” From Joel Lovell, “George Saunders

Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year,” The New York Times Magazine, January 3, 2013.

Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross is a writer based in Vancouver, the unceded, ancestral territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm,

Skwxwú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaɬ peoples. Her fiction, poetry, essays, and art criticism have appeared in

BOMB, Mousse, Fence, C Magazine, Kijiji, and elsewhere, and her chapbooks include Mayonnaise (2016)

and Drawings on Yellow Paper (2016). She publishes books by emerging artists and writers under the small

press Blank Cheque, and is currently at work on a novel and a collection of short stories.


Jessica Evans: Pig Pen and Chalet Style

The drawings Pig Pen (2020) and Chalet Style (2020) are concerned with how time and invention come

together in domesticated settings. Reflecting on how the conditions of the pandemic have rapidly rearranged

the experience of time, these works chart how fantasy can be used as a mechanism to give form to unexamined

fears and desires. The drawing process involved in making these works became its own kind of fantastical

timekeeping, requiring the artist’s imagination to cooperate with the physical limits of a beginning and

end, rather than circling indefinitely.

In Pig Pen, containment is made explicit in the image of the animals’ cycles of regeneration confined within

larger, intensified human systems.

Chalet Style looks at the cuckoo clock as a highly systematized object that is layered with elaborate pastoral

artifice, creating a house that contains an endless cycle of minutes and hours.

Images: Jessica Evans, Pig Pen and Chalet Style, 2020, pencil crayon on paper, each 42 x 38 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Jessica Evans is an artist from Winnipeg, Manitoba who works primarily with video and sculpture. Her

practice is focused on questions of perception and psychoanalytic theory. Evans was a cofounder of the Negative

Space artist collective and gallery in Winnipeg. She holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia

and her work has been exhibited in Canada and the United States. Her writing has been featured in

publications such as C Magazine, The Capilano Review and SCAN by CoLab. She is based in Vancouver.




Julian Yi-Zhong Hou

POSTER: Ketamine Clear


Julian Yi-Zhong Hou was born in Edmonton, AB, Treaty 6 territory, and currently lives in Vancouver,

on the land of the Coast Salish peoples — the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Stó:lō, Səl̓ílwətaʔ / Selilwitulh and

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Nations. His expanded practice interweaves contemporary psychedelia, magic traditions and

conceptual / sacred geometry. He is currently completing a vinyl record titled Grass Drama, which is accompanied

by a series of pattern prints as well as a performance, the first exhibition of which will take place at

the Contemporary Art Gallery and Malaspina Printmakers (Vancouver) this summer.


Elisa Ferrari: In Increments of 13

In Increments of 13 (2020) combines aural research about popular medicine, healing devotions and

extracanonical rituals practised and transmitted orally until the 1980s in Val Trompia, Italy. According to

Italian anthropologist Franca Romano, in her book Guaritrici, veggenti, esorcisti (1987), the pandemic of

bubonic plague in 1630 in northern Italy, alongside the Counter-Reformation, created a socio-political rupture

that led to the assimilation and progressive erasure of forms of magic and rural rites of the popular classes.

In Increments of 13 is a sound library that engages with Romano’s text through sound interventions, field

recordings, sound synthesis, and glossolalia to consider how voice, intonations, accents, and spells have been

used to create vibratory models of solidarity and collective care.

The sound library of In Increments of 13 can be accessed online at

Listening with headphones is recommended.

I am nothing of you

annunciata (02:08)

the glittering farmyard (00:42)

with fingers lit like candles (03:00)

glossolalia & dendroforia

a circumference is (02:05)

a demon is (01:19)

a hole is (00:40)

a voice in a time of the night is (02:44)

a voice in the ears is (03:09)

to mend patches with patches

between (03:03)

the bedroom and the living room (02:55)

sound is indeed the organizing principle of a crisis

at noon (00:26)

the field is the page (04:42)

thirteen (08:47)

Images: Elisa Ferrari, In Increments of 13 (production stills), 2020. Courtesy the artist.

Elisa Ferrari works with text, images and sound. To consider acts and implications of retrieval, she produces

projects that manifest as installations, workshops, artist books, and performances. Recently, her work has

been presented at the Oscillation Festival (Brussels), Kamias Triennial (Quezon City), Nanaimo Art Gallery

and Western Front (Vancouver). She is one of the hosts of Soundscape on Co-op Radio in Vancouver, unceded

Coast Salish Territories.



Megan Hepburn: Uncertain Yield

Uncertain Yield (2020) records the extraction of a pomade of Genet [1973], a substance that allows a bank

cable of appropriate volume to run back and forth smoothly, without hitch. There is oil, and then there is oil.

When sanitized, Genista infesta [2008] yields uncertain taxonomic hybrids and cultivars of opposing cytokinetic

temperament. When reduced, a drying oil such as Genista lucida [2020] will render an olpē, a balm of

iron and copper.

Has the oily financial collar come undone? What about the tulips? How to bend something fragile? How to

learn to swim, finally, in liquid heavier than water?

See also: Rosa alba, Populus balsamifera.

Image: Megan Hepburn, Cracher Dans La Soupe Parfum Passport: The Salve (advertisement), 2020. Courtesy the artist.

Megan Hepburn’s practice is based in painting and perfumery. Her work explores the intelligence of bodies

and the translation of diverse forms of knowledge between media. She holds an MFA specializing in painting

from Concordia University. She is the 2010 recipient of the Joseph Plaskett Award in painting. Her work has

been exhibited across Canada and in Europe. In 2018, she started the natural perfume line Cracher Dans La

Soupe Parfum, which she runs out of her Vancouver studio. Recent exhibitions include Material Elements at

Elissa Cristall Gallery (Vancouver) and Passing Through Smoke at CSA Space (Vancouver).














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Nicole Kelly Westman: oversharing obscure sentimentalities

Reflecting on the ways that social media can act as a repository for personal revelations, oversharing obscure

sentimentalities (2020) is a photographic series displaying the artist’s modest collection of keepsakes. For the

making of the images, sunlight and Rosco film gels collaborate in the concealment of access to the intimacies

that make the objects significant to their owner. Retaining a barrier of mystery to preserve the elusiveness of

the objects documented allows the value of the collection to be casually interpreted. These arranged personal

treasures have traversed many living arrangements, humidities, makeshift storage facilities, and communities

to now occupy a space as a placeholder for the people affiliated with these legacies.

Image: Nicole Kelly Westman, oversharing obscure sentimentalities, 2020, photography. Courtesy the artist.

Nicole Kelly Westman is a visual artist of Métis and Icelandic descent that recognizes with indebted

gratitude the artists that have come before her and strenuously forged space, the curators that place care

at the fore of their labour, the communities that foster confidence in her practice, and the institutions that

implement policies prefacing relations of trust. As an artist, she enjoys practices of listening, watching,

hosting, poeticizing, foraging, and sharing. Westman was previously the Director of Stride Art Gallery in

Calgary / Mohkínstsis and is now the Education and Learning Programmer of 221A in the unceded territories

of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaʔ / Selilwitulh Nations / Vancouver.



Michelle Helene Mackenzie: In Violet Air

In Violet Air (2020) is an audiovisual meditation on virtuality, dissociation, the generative possibilities of

zones of crisis, and alienation. In a search for mystery and collective ritual in an unreal city, Mackenzie and

her quadruped companion moved through newly strange landscapes, drawing from the traditions of Hildegard

Westerkamp’s soundwalks, Janet Cardiff’s audiowalks and Pauline Oliveros’s solo meditations, yielding their

own speculative, synthesized, multi-dimensional traverse. In Violet Air was shot with an LG cell phone

and recorded with a Zoom recorder, modular synth and digital instruments during phase one of Vancouver’s

Covid-19 pandemic response.

Images: Michelle Helene Mackenzie, In Violet Air (video stills), 2020, sound work with video, 8:04min. Cameraperson: Dylan Godwin.

Courtesy the artist.

Michelle Helene Mackenzie is a writer, musician and artist born in Vancouver, the unceded traditional

territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations. Mackenzie has studied at Simon Fraser

University and Duke University, and will begin a PhD at the University of California, San Diego in autumn

2020. Mackenzie’s works have been presented with 221A (Vancouver), Albertinum (Dresden), Capilano Review’s

Small Caps (Vancouver), Cultch’s Soft Cedar (Vancouver), Deep Blue (Vancouver), Esker Foundation

(Calgary), Hand (New York), Kadist Gallery (San Francisco), Operating System (Brooklyn), Polygon Gallery

(North Vancouver), Vancouver Art Gallery, and Western Front (Vancouver).



S F Ho: Water / fire


Water is Money

My grandmother Helen had a favourite saying: 水 為 財 or “water is money,” a popular idiom in Cantonese

that everyone knows. Allegedly borrowing from the slang of the triads, water often symbolizes money in the

Cantonese colloquial. Get rich and it is said that you “pile up water” ( 叠 水 dap sui); to “catch water” ( 撲 水

pok sui) is to get money; a refund is known as “returning water” ( 回 水 wui sui); stealing money is to “rip off

water” ( 掠 水 lut sui); making extra money is known as “replenishing water” ( 補 水 bo sui).

Hong Kong is a port city born out of a colonial drug war. Consequently its culture, including its language, is

deeply rooted in the spunky ingenuity of capital. However, for my grandmother, “water is money” had a very

particular meaning. To my memory (and I should note that I am the only person in my family who remembers

this anecdote) her story is something like this:

It is nearing the end of World War II. My grandmother has lost a child due to medical shortages and lost

her father to Japanese bombs. People are eating weeds and maybe even human flesh to survive. In the midst

of this destruction, a British or American soldier walks into her home and asks for something to drink. She

charges him a ridiculous price for a glass of pineapple juice that she happens to have lying around. The next

day, he comes back with his friends.

My grandmother learns how to make tea and coffee for the soldiers. From this first engagement she starts a

small coffeeshop and then a restaurant, which becomes her life’s work for the next thirty years. For her, water

was a magical substance, totally free, and yet if you add a little something to it you can 撲 水 , get money.

And from this, you and your family can survive.

I am interested in this abstraction where my grandmother says “water is money,” but she really means something

else. To address this, I turn to Samuel Delany’s sword and sorcery series Return to Nevèrÿon (1979

– 1987), which is set within the social transition from a barter to a market economy. In one of the novellas,

an elder named Venn creates a lesson for the children of Ulvayn out of mirrors and a scrap of paper. She has

been teaching the children how to draw symbols that can stand in for things in the real world. Venn gives

Norema a scrap of paper with some symbols on it: a three-horned beetle, three horned lizards and two crested

parrots. Using red symbolizes that it happened before noon. From this Norema infers an actual experience

of seeing a three-horned beetle, three horned lizards and two crested parrots in the morning. Drawing from

her own lived experience, Norema guesses that “probably you were at the estuary, on the far bank; because

the parrots never come over on this side. And it was probably yesterday morning, because it was raining the

night before last and the lizards usually come out in the mornings after rain.” [1]


The boys of Ulvayn’s coastline wear mirrors on their bellies, and Venn asks Norema to look at these symbols

as they appear reflected in the mirror-belly of one of Norema’s friends. The reflection looks similar but distorted,

with some meaning shifted, and the referents to place and experience lost. When the image is reflected

in yet another mirror, instead of making the symbols legible again, she notices something entirely different

written on the back of the paper: “The great star clears the horizon two cups of water after the eighth

hour.” [2]

This mirror game alludes to a multitude of subtle semiotic shifts in representation and abstraction that Venn

demonstrates to the children. Stories reflect experience. Sex is reflected in gender, which in turn is reflected

in a drag ceremony practiced in the mountains. However, of all these lessons, the situation that Venn spends

the most time with is the reflection that happens through money.

Now money, when it moves into a new tribe, very quickly creates an image of the food, craft, and

work there: it gathers around them, holds to them, stays away from the places where none are to

be found, and clots near the positions where much wealth occurs. Yet, like a mirror image, it is

reversed just as surely as the writing of a piece of paper is reversed when you read its reflection

on a boy’s belly. For both in time and space, where money is, food, work, and craft are not: where

money is, food, work, and craft either will shortly be, or in the recent past were. But the actual

place where the coin sits, fills a place where wealth may just have passed from, or may soon pass

into, but where it cannot be now — by the whole purpose of money as an exchange object. [3]

If we compare the reflections of the mirror game to the empty spaces created by money, the three-horned

beetle, three horned lizards and two crested parrots in red correspond to how objects and gestures perform in

a space without money, what Venn describes as “a time when things carried about with them and bore their

own powers — baskets, heaps of fruit, piles of clams, the smell of cooking eel, a goose egg, a pot, or even a

cast of a fishing line or a chop with a stone axe at a tree.” [4]

Continuing the passage, the distorted reflection of the three-horned beetle, three horned lizards and two

crested parrots reveals a world of bizarre equivalency that Venn asks the children to interrogate. She wonders

at how money can stand in for different kinds of labour and objects all at once: “One simply cannot measure

weight, coldness, the passage of time, and the brightness of fire all on the same scale.” [5]

As to the mysterious passage written on the back of the paper, Venn imagines a model of money without being

money, where people’s personal money is tallied on a sheet of paper while the money itself is collected in

a central money house and used for larger works that are in the interests of the community. The boys imagine

that with this new kind of money, people would have to trust each other more than when simply trading

goods, so much so that this trust becomes a new value in the tribe, a value familiar in our present narrative

of trust funds and trust companies. If a lot of people pledge a little bit of money on paper, the boys imagine

that they can build boats that fly from land to land by digging with their wings and tunnelling under the

floor of the sea. They envision creating a single giant turnip garden that can replace the many little turnip

gardens cared for by individual women in their village. [6]

In finding our relationship to water, I think we are playing a game different from Venn’s mirror game. Delany

has pertinent ideas about what lies outside of these games, but we will take our own route.

Water is Wet?

In the I Ching, water is called the Abysmal, as its energy trickles downward to the deepest chasms of the

earth. In the water cycle, water held in the earth’s deepest reservoirs is called fossil water because it typically

stays in the ground for about ten thousand years. However, human extraction has shortened the residence

time of this water, which in turn has intensified the water cycle. The trigram for water is an energetic yang

line held between two broken yin lines, reminiscent of the soul wrapped within materiality. Water is dangerous,

but also hints at how one should behave when faced with difficulty (evoking the Bruce Lee / Yellow


Umbrella counsel to “be water”). It asks that you accept the world as fluid and that everything around you

must change, a fundamental notion in what is, after all, “The Book of Changes.” In the face of change, to act

like water is to be steadfast and consistent in all situations: “it flows on and on, and merely fills up all the

places through which it flows; it does not shrink from any dangerous spot nor from any plunge, and nothing

can make it lose its own essential nature. It remains true to itself under all conditions. Thus likewise, if one is

sincere when confronted with difficulties, the heart can penetrate the meaning of the situation.” [7]

In Chinese medicine, there are five elements that are described in relation to one another. In relation to water,

metal generates water and water generates wood. Earth controls water and water controls fire. Diagnostically,

water correlates to the sound of moaning, the emotion of fear and the smell of rot. It also correlates to

winter, storage and to the kidneys where 氣 (qi or hay) originates. 氣 itself is an expression of the energetic

meeting of heaven and earth, which is in a constant state of flux. Humans live best when they follow this

energy as it fluctuates — for instance, with the seasons. 氣 manifests simultaneously on the physical and

spiritual level. When it condenses, energy transforms and accumulates into physical shape.

Thinking of some other qualities of water, I want to go back to my grandmother’s idea of adding a little bit

of something to water as a means of survival. For her, this meant coffee beans or tea leaves, and in herbal

medicine we call this an infusion. You can put energy into water by boiling it to speed up the process of infusion,

or you can make a cold infusion which preserves the chemical constituents of more delicate herbs. You

can also leave an infusion out in the sun, using solar energy to help extract and dissolve medicine into water.

Traditional Chinese Medicine often uses a decoction method to make medicine. Tougher roots and stems are

slowly boiled over a low flame, reducing the amount of liquid to a concentrated solution. Of course, this capacity

to dissolve also makes water vulnerable. It becomes a solvent not only of the organic compounds in tea

and coffee, but of methylmercury, arsenic, pesticides, and chromium oxide. The concept of solvency in financial

terms has implications analogous, again, to the Cantonese 水 為 財 idiom. Recalling Venn’s lessons, essence

is abstracted into liquid assets.

Water is hardly a neutral substance, though people tend to forget this due to its ubiquity. Water’s talent

as a solvent, its high boiling point and strong surface tension can be attributed to hydrogen bonding,

which is also important in determining the structure of protein and DNA. As with the I Ching’s complex

interplay of yin and yang, it is an asymmetrical balancing act. The covalent bonds that hydrogen forms

with oxygen in a water molecule tilt the balance of electrons in each atom so that the tips of the hydrogen

atoms carry a positive charge and the butt of the oxygen atom carries a negative charge. This allows water

to pull apart other polarized molecules and ionic compounds.

We experience water as fluid, but for many substances, water is also sticky. It breaks apart ionic bonds and

tugs at other polar molecules as well as itself, while stable molecules with no charge are squeezed together. This

pressing energy, called the hydrophobic effect, is important in the formation of cell membranes. The hydrogen

bonds in water also push water molecules apart when it cools and solidifies, leading to less density as it

forms into ice. If water were to sink when frozen, the plants and animals that inhabit bodies of water would be

crushed by the weight of ice when it freezes. Instead, by freezing from the top down, water insulates those same

entities from the cold. So, through the phrase “Water is Life,” we can also get a feel for how the unique relationships

that polarized hydrogen bonding engenders contribute to making this life a possibility.

Water is Money is Life

In Cathy Busby and Charlene Vickers’s 2017 collaborative installation Intertribal Lifelines, brightly coloured

blankets covered with bold text conceal and bandage the Surrey Art Gallery’s exhibition space — calling

out to water protectors while spelling out water pollution disasters and threats. Blankets can be used for

ceremony, honouring, shelter, protection, rest, and care. Historically, as carriers of smallpox in the settler

colonial project, they also act as symbols of biological warfare. The blankets in Intertribal Lifelines call out

the Mount Polley gold and copper mine where a tailings pond leaked into salmon-bearing waters. They name

the Rio Doce, where the collapse of a dam owned by the Samarco mining company destroyed nearby com-


munities while releasing iron ore tailings into the Doce River and eventually into the Atlantic. The blankets

name mercury poisoning in Minamata Japan, as well as the mercury poisoning of the Wabigoon River, which

brought Minamata disease to the Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations. Many of the tactics of

this installation stem from an earlier collaboration, Hands Across the Sky, a 2016 performance at VIVO

Media Arts that incorporated sound, gesture and, of particular note, a collection of bright orange cones,

redolent of traffic cones used in construction, which were used to speak as well as to listen.

Cathy Busby and Charlene Vickers, Intertribal Lifelines. Installation view at Surrey Art

Gallery, 2017. Photo: Surrey Art Gallery. Courtesy the artists.

For me, the cones immediately recall Rebecca Belmore’s Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking

to Their Mother (1991), created in response to the 1990 Mohawk resistance to the invasion of their sacred

burial grounds at Kahnesatake. Made of wood veneer, moose hide and leather, Belmore’s massive megaphone

gave people a platform to speak back to the land. In a 1992 documentary by Marjorie Beaucage, we see land

protectors at the Wiggins Bay Blockade on Treaty 10 territory use Belmore’s piece to speak to the clear-cut

land in their Cree language. In another gesture called Singing to Their Mother (2014), Belmore brought the

megaphone to Lake Ontario, highlighting particularly the activism of Anishinaabe water-walkers. Initiated in

2003 and led by grandmothers such as Josephine Mandamin, water walkers have been journeying along the

Great Lakes and beyond as a means to care for water and address issues such as the decades-old drinking

water advisories in place on reserves across Canada. The importance of listening to, caring for and healing

water is again highlighted in a more recent work by Belmore, where the cone is again reversed into a shape

for listening. Wave Sound (2017) directs attention towards bodies of water in Banff National Park, Pukaskwa

National Park, Georgian Bay Islands National Park, and Gros Morne National Park by amplifying the voice

of water and the acoustic ecology of each specific site. Inextricable from the environmental soundscape of water,

listeners might also hear the interconnected sounds of rustling leaves, birdsong or wind when they engage

with these outdoor sculptures.

I want to share a recording of water from a place near Hope, BC, called Othello Tunnels, a set of faulty railroad

tunnels designed in the early 1900s by an engineer of European descent who loved Shakespeare. [8] Today

the tunnels form a scenic trail enjoyed by nature lovers. Though there are didactics at the site about the

engineer and his love of Shakespeare, there are no signs about the workers who died while dynamiting these

tunnels out of stone. While recording the water, I burned incense for these workers, many of whom did not

have proper funeral rites. Turning around, I noticed a man taking pictures of me with a fancy digital camera.


That day, the tunnels were flooded with heavy rain. I thought of the rain draining into the earth and entering

the water table. Typically, in the water cycle, this reservoir would stay in the ground for maybe 100 or

200 years. However, literally just down the road, the Nestle Waters Plant was actively draining and bottling

the Kawkawa Lake aquifer without consent from the Sto:lo Nation, and they continue to do so today.

If all water is connected and animate, does it remember the cycles that it has been through, the bodies it has

moved through and the material that has dissolved in it over billions of years? Water, sap, blood, medicine,

milk, oceans, sewage, and rain; the connections that run through and between us are tangible and irreplaceable.

They stand in stark opposition to concepts of financial liquidity that only point toward further abstractions,

separations and false equivalencies. I began by talking about my grandmother Helen. However, for me

it is not only necessary to acknowledge blood relations, but also remember networks of queer kinship and

genealogy and especially the genius, resilience and experience of trans women of colour that make possible my

existence. When I think of grandmothers, I think of Tourmaline’s film Atlantic is a Sea of Bones (2017),

which takes its name from a poem by Lucille Clifton. The poem ends with the momentous lines, “maternal

armies pace the atlantic floor. / i call my name into the roar of surf and something awful answers.” [9] Recalling

for me the complexities of Delany’s mirror game, Atlantic is a Sea of Bones reflects change and continuity

across generations as embodied by the intergenerational mirroring of Egyptt LaBeija, an elder of the New

York ball scene, and artist Fatima Jamal. In distinct contrast to the lush cinematography and sparkling attire

seen in the majority of this short film, there is a scene shot with a phone camera where LaBeija in ordinary

street clothes looks down towards the West Side Piers where she once lived and out towards the Hudson

River, which in turn empties into the Atlantic. Turning away from this view, LaBeija wipes tears, salty and

watery, from her eyes and then looks directly into the camera. It feels like she is speaking to us when she

says, “The memories. People should never forget where they came from.” [10]

I would like to express my gratitude to some of the water systems that have sustained me as I wrote this

piece, a practice that I learned from poet, teacher, and water protector Rita Wong. First, stal’əw which is

otherwise known as the Fraser River; the Tagus River that drains into the Atlantic Ocean; also the Capilano,

Seymour and Coquitlam watersheds; and finally the Pacific Ocean that touches the two distant places that I

sometimes call home. [11]

A version of this text was originally presented as a talk at Hangar in Lisbon Portugal, on the invitation of

Valentina Desideri, Denise Ferreira da Silva and Kadist.

[1] Samuel Delany, Tales of Nevèrÿon (New York: Bantam, 1979), 65.

[2] Ibid, 67.

[3] Ibid, 72.

[4] Ibid, 82.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 84.

[7] Hellmut Wilhelm, ed., Cary F. Baynes trans., The I Ching or Book of Changes (Princeton: Princeton University

Press, 1977), 115.

[8] “Othello,” s f ho (website), 2019, 5:05min,

[9] Lucille Clifton, “Atlantic is a Sea of Bones,” The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965 – 2010 (Rochester: BOA Editions,

2012), 268.

[10] Tourmaline, Atlantic is a Sea of Bones, commissioned by Visual AIDS for Day With(out) Art 2017, ALTERNATE

ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS, curated by Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett, December 1, 2017, 7min,

[11] Rita Wong, “What Would Restitution and Regeneration Look Like from the Point of View of Water?” Cultivating

Canada: Reconciliation through the Lens of Cultural Diversity (Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2011), 81 – 90.



Someone told me that this place was a peat bog, though it doesn’t seem like one. The ground is firm, not

moist. There is no moss to be seen. The area is crowded with blueberry bushes — escapees from nearby

farms. There are tall shore pines sticking out of the bush, and the ground is covered in pink and purple

heather, and labrador tea. I am on the traditional territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, at a berry picking spot

that is common knowledge in the queer community. I think of this as a queer place in opposition to its designation

by the Canadian state as Department of Defense land.

Faggoty, hard, soft, sticky, berry-infused sex has happened on this land. The berries seem to be infused with

the spicy taste of labrador tea, the soft colours of heather. Some might ask for permission before harvesting

from this territory, some might gather in ways that are mindful of how their actions affect the ecological relationships

that exist in this place. Many do not think about this, and initially I didn’t either. In some ways

this text is a reflection of my ongoing learning process.

2017 and 2018 are years of intense wildfire in the Pacific Northwest. Mornings are suffused with an eerie sunset

light due to the smoke that blocks out the sky, as if the day is perpetually ending instead of just begun.

Smoke covers the ocean in a disconcerting fog. It envelops us so that we can’t tell where we are or which way

we should go. There also is a massive fire at the bog, sparked by a human encampment. It is especially hard

to put out as it spreads underground into the dry peat. The burning pockets form dangerous pits that collapse

beneath your step.

Just before the fire, I happen to pick a small container of berries from the bog. The berries sit in my freezer

for maybe too long a time until I get sick and am too weak to do much. I decide to make jam out of the

berries and labrador tea from this place that I think is lost. The process requires all my energy. I sterilize jars

and dig out the berries, hoping that they’re still okay. Since labrador tea can be intense in large quantities, I

bind the leaves into small bundles so that they can infuse into the concoction without getting too mixed in.

By the end I am too tired to screw the caps on the jars. Working at this slower, concentrated pace makes me

sit with the smell and the feel of the plants. It makes me want to return to the bog.

I can’t remember large portions of the time that I was in treatment. Visiting this special place, I remember a

feeling like being radioactive and lying on the ground and the ground likewise radiating into me. The earthhot

body-feel pulses hot all over, sun bright, sky blue. Sometimes I go alone, sometimes with a friend. These

visits blur, but in them I feel growth and shifts in the season. The blueberry bushes are burnt into skeletal

stands of charcoal. The branches scratch pictures onto Ari’s sky-blue jean jacket and my aquamarine silk

shirt as we brush past them. New growth is already shooting up from the centre of these black tentacular

creatures. True to its name, fireweed pops up everywhere, as it does after disturbances like fire. There are

two kinds of fireweed here. I watch them grow from sprouts to tall flowers as the weeks, then months, pass.

In Chinese cosmology, the elements are not solid and fixed as they are in the Platonic model, but instead are

forces of change that influence one another. Fire, sometimes called the Clinging, moves upward and corresponds

to the heart / mind. It is fed by wood and returns to earth as ashes. In the I Ching, I see the trigram

for fire as two bolts of energy that cling to, or are fed by, the nurturing energy of the earth. Within the hexagram

for Grace, the fire trigram’s central yielding line is described as an ornament to be “used sparingly and

only in little things,” which “comes between the strong lines and makes them beautiful.” [1] In this framework,


fire is delicate and energetic. It is not a destructive force, though not necessarily a generative one either. It is

connected to and dependent on earth, plants, people, water, metal, and air. It only becomes dangerous when

it is out of balance. As in many other regions, within the specific context of the Pacific Northwest, raging

wildfires actually reflect extreme fire suppression tactics in contemporary forest management strategies. Before

colonization, small wildfires or controlled burns set by Indigenous land stewards cleared out the accumulation

of dry brush, preventing larger fires that could damage trees or homes. The success of this technology

reflects generational experience of living in relation with this land.

Leaping beyond his limitations as an individual at the instant of his death, a certain party rendered

manifest a gold chrysanthemum flower 675,000 kilometers square, surrounded and surmounted

by, yes, a purple aurora, high enough in the sky to cover entirely the islands of Japan. Because the

other, attacking army opened fire on their truck first, the soldiers nearby the boy were immediately

massacred and he alone survived. A certain party had requested this of the gods on high, for it was

essential that someone, someone chosen, witness the gold chrysanthemum obliterate the heavens

with its luster at the instant of his death. And, in truth, the boy did behold the appearance high in

the sky, not blocking the light as would a cloud but even managing to increase the glittering radiance

of the sun in the blue, midsummer sky, of a shining gold chrysanthemum against a background

of purple light. And when the light from that flower irradiated his Happy Days they were instantly

transformed into an unbreaking, eternal construction built of light. [2]

In Ōe Kenzaburō’s scathing satire of war and fascism, presented as a parody of an atomic explosion, I hear

echoes of Japan’s imperialist impulse and the suicidal, nationalist drive of the writer Mishima. This immense

and deeply unstable fire exemplifies the logic of violence and modernity carried out to its extreme conclusion.

As frightening as this vision may be, in this passage I also recognize Ōe’s longing to give in to the seductive

totality of violence, something that seems pertinent with the present resurgence of right-wing fundamentalism

here and around the globe. When the world has gone so totally wrong that the god you’ve been taught

to call an emperor is revealed to be as frail as your own self, when society around you has been reduced to

horror, the finality of an atom bomb or of death by suicide may seem like an alluring solution. But, as much

as some would want to have such power, even after an atom bomb, the world refuses to literally end. Technically,

it is not an ending but a transformation that happens in the ashes of this irradiated light. From horror

so profound that it seems like nothing can come after, I feel a collective push to resist by preserving and

imagining the most generous forms of continuity.

Even though the wreckage had been described to her, and though she was still in pain, the sight

horrified and amazed her, and there was something she noticed about it that particularly gave her

the creeps. Over everything — up through the wreckage of the city, in gutters, along the riverbanks,

tangled among tiles and tin roofing, climbing on charred tree trucks — was a blanket of fresh, vivid,

lush, optimistic green; the verdancy rose even from the foundations of ruined houses. Weeds already

hid the ashes, and wild flowers were in bloom among the city’s bones. The bomb had not only left

the underground organs of the plants intact; it had stimulated them. Everywhere were bluets and

Spanish bayonets, goosefoot, morning glories and day lilies, the hairy-fruited bean, purslane and

clotbur and sesame and panic grass and feverfew. Especially in a circle at the centre, sickle senna

grew in extraordinary regeneration, not only standing among the charred remains of the same plant

but pushing up in new places, among bricks and through cracks in the asphalt. It actually seemed as

if a load of sickle-senna seed had been dropped along with the bomb. [3]

There was no room for the moss before the blaze due to the overgrowth of domestic blueberry bushes. Now

that the bushes have been cleared by fire, a tiny world emerges. One kind of moss is a purple-centred drippy

umbrella palm tree with spaghetti for leaves. Another growth is lichen-y brown, with a six-sided snowflake-like

pattern etched upon its flat head. Little orange mushrooms intercept this forest in miniature. Delicate

tendrils with knobs at the end emerge through the carpet. Finally, tufts of vivid green sphagnum poke

their way through. Through my own minor process of disintegration, I am keeping low to the ground, I am

moving small and slow. My skin is tickled by the earth that is thick with life. I am just beginning to recognize

the multitudes that ground this place.


Sphagnum moss is comprised of living, photosynthesizing cells connected to a long trail of dead cells that can

be hundreds if not thousands of years old. The dead cells provide structure and carry water up to the living

cells. The dead cells also expand as they fill with water, pushing out air to create an anaerobic environment

that slows their decomposition. In this relationship, the dead support the living. They are distinct but not

separate. I think about these ancestors. This entire ecosystem is a pocket of life left over from the last ice

age. As I walk through the bog or lie in the moss, a massive network of sphagnum supports my weight. As I

feel the moss softly yield underneath my feet, I think about the work of the dead that is activated through

our movements and bodies. Death carries connotations of finality within this language, but in practice it

points to a process that is, again, always changing. I think about how I may remain connected to the fabric

of the world as I take part in this humbling process and let go of the ways in which I cannot not be present.

Perhaps fire doesn’t only have the power to transform but may spark a perpetual cycle that can bring out

the past. [4]

It’s the night of the new moon. I lay out all the most beautiful food in the house and make a meal to share

with my grandfather. As I light incense, I realize that it’s been many years since I’ve been in his presence.

I think about sitting with him as a child when he was full of laughter and music, and I feel his joyful spirit

running through me. I think about sitting with him in the hospital when he was speechless and distressed.

It feels good to sit with him again. I am tremendously tired, and I’ve needed this company and connection.

I stare at the three sticks of incense and see the interweaving of spirit, practice and community. It’s funny

how fitting it feels to be compelled to continue such ancestral practices even as, through distance, death or

sheer difference, I become more removed from my blood relatives. I think about the stories of hungry ghosts,

perpetually empty and dissatisfied, and hope that this particular gesture can speak to such hunger.

I fold and burn a bundle of joss paper out in the backyard and remember doing this with my grandfather, for

his mother, when he was alive. Watching the paper curl into ash, my mind wanders and dwells yet again on

dying. I breathe in the incense and breathe into the uncertainty of this long year of sickness, accepting the

fear of the unknown only to have it return so that I must embrace it again. The scent of sweet, carcinogenic

smoke is a reminder of all the things that could kill me right now, but for the moment this inevitable threat

also smells like home. I kowtow three times. My body is loaded with the weight of drugs, sickness and crazy

fucking thoughts, but my heart is wide open. The last tiny ember disappears into smoke.

[1] Hellmut Wilhelm, ed., Cary F. Baynes trans., The I Ching or Book of Changes (Princeton: Princeton

University Press, 1977), 90.

[2] Ōe Kenzaburō, Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness (London: Marion Boyars, 1978), 100.

[3] John Hersey, Hiroshima (New York: Bantam, 1946), 89.

[4] Much of the thinking in this paragraph around sphagnum and ancestry is in conversation with Robin Wall

Kimmerer’s essay “The Red Sneaker,” in her book Gathering Moss (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2003).

S F Ho is an artist who is 90% chill, 10% not, living on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ peoples. They’re into community building, books and being

sort of boring. They recently finished writing George the Parasite (2020), a short novella about aliens,

love and boundaries.


Lucien Durey: Blue Feather with Skittles: Kramer

Blue Feather with Skittles (2020) is a series of sound works created in May of 2020 for various sites in Queen

Elizabeth Park, Vancouver. The project combines field recordings, foley techniques and song to contemplate the

park’s bronze sculptures, its ambling public and the birds within the Bloedel Floral Conservatory.

Following are the lyrics of Blue Feather with Skittles: Kramer and a transcription of the dialogue in Blue

Feather with Skittles: Sleazeball. The audio can be accessed at

Lucien Durey is an artist, writer and singer based in Vancouver. His mixed media and performance-based

practice engages with found objects, photographs, sounds, and place. Recent exhibitions include Crocodile

Tears, Unit 17 (Vancouver); Motion & Motive, Susan Hobbs Gallery (Toronto); TWO ROOMS, Monte Clark

Gallery (Vancouver); Phenomenal Hosts, Neutral Ground (Regina); and Paraphernalia, Burrard Arts Foundation

(Vancouver). He holds an MFA from Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts.


Blue Feather with Skittles: Sleazeball

(Ambient sounds throughout, layered and choppy. Adults and children

talking in various languages, laughter, bees buzzing, birds singing, ducks

quacking, ice cream truck music, wind in trees, vehicle sounds, camera

shutters, footsteps, and so on. Two sets of dialogue layer and overlap.)

(Tenor voice) So, he’s looking... Oh! Oh, look at his, how his hand has

(Tenor voice) So, he’s looking... Oh! Oh, look at his, how his hand has

that like, polished part where, obviously someone tried to break their,

that like, polished part where, obviously someone tried to break,

saw off the finger. He’s wearing a watch, on his... left hand (laughs)

saw off the finger. He’s wearing a watch, on his... left hand (laughs)

...that took me a while... and a wedding ring on that same side

...that took me a while... and a wedding ring on that same side

His sleeve hol... is turned up so it holds a little bit of water?

His sleeve hol... is turned up so it holds a little bit of water?

The Kodak Instamatic

The Kodak Instamatic

What do you think about that?

What do you think about that?

There’s nothing particularly about it

There’s nothing particularly about it

(Baritone voice) It’s the Instamatic X-35 Yeah, by Kodak Uh huh

(Alto voice) It’s the Instamatic X-35 Yeah, by Kodak Uh huh

Corduroy blazer Thin corduroy, flat Thin corduroy, yeah

Corduroy blazer Thin corduroy, flat Thin corduroy, yeah

He’s, what? 5’10”, 5’8”, 5’11”? 5’10” 5’10”

He’s, what? 5’10”, 5’8”, 5’11”? 5’10” 5’10”

This photo was taken at... five minutes to three (laughs) Really?

This photo was taken at... five minutes to three (laughs) Really?

Oh, yeah! That’s funny And his jacket has...

Oh, yeah! That’s funny And his jacket has...

5 minutes to three, yeah, five minutes to three ...four buttons

5 minutes to three, yeah, five minutes to three ...four buttons

Interestingly he’s taken off his glasses to take the photo, so he mus...

Interestingly he’s taken off his glasses to take the photo, so he mus...

Where’s his glasses? In his pocket Oh yeah So he must be, uh, far sighted

Where’s his glasses? In his pocket Oh yeah So he must be, far sighted

(laughs) I mean near sighted Yeah... near sighted

(laughs) I mean near sighted Yeah... near sighted

He’s got a button-down-shirt. He’s clearly got a, a weave, like kinda

He’s got a button-down-shirt. He’s clearly got a weave, like kinda

woolen, made with linen... tie, with a square knot

woolen, made linen... tie, with a square knot

He’s wearing a... cardigan? A wool cardigan?

He’s wearing a... cardigan? A wool cardigan?

Mhm Well, it could be cotton Or acrylic

Mhm Well, it could be cotton Or acrylic

His shoes, he has a square toe, leather shoe

His shoes, he has a square toe, leather shoe


Straight hair, str... cut... Sideburns, too What do you call that haircut?

Straight hair, str... cut... Sideburns, too What do you call that haircut?

It’s like, it’s so, of a time Parted in the middle Parted in the middle

It’s like, it’s so, of a time Parted in the middle Parted in the middle

Smooth, smooth and long Smooth and long Sweeping Sweeping Tidy Tidy, yeah

Sweeping sideways back towards the... Yeah Sweeping sideways back

Just the collar of the jacket Four buttons

Just the collar of the jacket Four buttons

God, that little polished area’s kinda beautiful on his hand, though

God, that little polished area’s kinda beautiful on his hand, though

Don’ t you think? Mhm How it’s so shiny, compared to everything else?

Don’ t you think? Mhm How it’s so shiny, compared to everything else?

It’s... almost like his human skin is coming through his... gold Mhm

It’s... almost like his human skin is coming through his... gold Mhm

Should we describe the People Other people too? Yeah

Should we describe the other people too?

Is he actually looking at them? And he’s saying: “Move over!”

Is he actually looking at them? And he’s saying: “Move over!”

“Move that way”

“Move that way”

Comb in the purse. Cowboy boots. Cowboy boots, a sw...

Comb in the purse. Cowboy boots. Cowboy boots, a sw...

She’s wearing cowboy boots, a sw-sweater, a weird... ruffly, neck...

They’re wearing cowboy boots, a sw-sweater, a weird... ruffly, neck...

...(laughs) thing Mhm Rosette earrings

...(laughs) thing Mhm Rosette earrings

They have giant pupils, they’re clearly on drugs

She has giant pupils, she’s clearly on drugs

(gasps) Come back here! What? Look at him groping her ass!

(gasps) Come back here! What? Someone cut off his hand!

(gasps) Oh yeah, why would they do that?

That’s, that’s a bit of a reach, isn’t it?

That’s a bit, uh Do you think they sold the metal? Risqué

Alright I thought your first one was very good, though, very natural

sounding, so I’d keep that clip Uh huh Well, that couldn’t be worth very

much And she’s taking his hand away! Awful Maybe they just wanted a hand

(laughs) Oh, oh thank you!



Let’s see if the time’s the same on the cl... watch... can’t tell

Let’s see if the time’s the same on the cl... watch... can’t tell

It’s not, because, you can kinda tell Hm, you can imply, but

It’s not, because, you can kinda tell You can imply, but

Hers says more like two Theirs says more like more like two

We have to do that again because there’s too much pause between “but” and

“theirs” Okay No, look at the... Maybe not, maybe you cou... Oh, here

Look, you can Well, we can look at her watch ...arrive your own thought and

it wouldn’t matter, but I shouldn’t cut off so easily

It’s definitely a different time I dunno

It’s definitely a different time I dunno


I don’t think it’s made out that... well

I don’t think it’s made out that... well

But these two have clearly been on the, to the same place together

These two have clearly been in the same place together

Six flags, Great adventure, Jackson, New Jersey Mm Rainbow

Six flags, Great adventure, Jackson, New Jersey Mm Rainbow

Don’t, careful, people might have been touching that. Zipper. Hm

Don’t, careful, people might have been touching that. Zipper. Hmhm

So, he’s got a collarless, leather jacket?

So, he’s got a collarless, leather jacket?

That’s, is that a Members Only jacket? What’s that? It’s that style of

That’s, is that a Members Only jacket? What’s that? It’s that style of

leather jacket, I think Oh. Anyway, she’s a got a below the...

leather jacket, I think Oh. Anyway, they’ve a got a below the...

Below the... knee Below the knee She’s got a pleated Knee

Below the knee skirt They’ve got a pleated, below the knee skirt

He’s got lacy, laces Sneakers. Tennis sneakers of the d-day

He’s got lacy, laces Sneakers? Yeah Tennis sneakers of the day

With some sort of pants

With some sort of pants

Hm, and she’s got, what are those, look at the, those little tassels

And she’s got, what are those, look at the, those little tassels

Loafers? Loafers, with some... Penny loafers? Penny loafers I dunno

Loafers? Loafers, with some... Penny loafers? Penny loafers I dunno

Ew, the hand is disturbing me

Ew, the hand is disturbing me

Well, that’s interesting What? His ring... matches her ring

Well, that’s interesting What? His ring... matches her ring

Huh So, he’s cheating So, they’re a married couple? Well, unless...

He’s creeping Are they the same people? Unless we’re reading too much in

Or, we’re reading too much in I don’t think so I don’t think so I think

it’s a bit creepy Oh, I’m, I’m just, I wanna start from the beginning Yeah

Okay? But I’m just saying that was good Okay The la...the laugh was very

natural Oh, thank you! Well, it’s not creepy if it’s, that they’re together

Okay And look at her ring. Her ring, her ring matches his ring Yeah

And look at their ring. Their ring matches his ring Yeah

Yeah, and they have sweaters

And they have sweaters

But maybe, maybe, maybe those rings used to have more detail

Maybe, I, maybe, maybe those rings used to have more detail

But everyone’s rubbed their hand over top so they’re smooth now

But everyone’s rubbed their hand over top so they’re smooth now

How courteous of you to give him the benefit of the doubt

Or maybe they just liked the same rings I think he’s a sleazeball

I think we should google it and see what anyone else thinks

I think we should google it and see what anyone else thinks

Have that hand cut off

How that hand got cut off?

Yeah, gross

Yeah, gross


Hazel Meyer: The Weight of Inheritance —

cruising Joyce’s house

The Weight of Inheritance looks to the legacy of Canadian artist and experimental filmmaker Joyce Wieland

to work across questions of non-biological inheritance, dispossession, care, and desire. In The Weight of

Inheritance — cruising Joyce’s house (2020), Meyer enters what was once Wieland’s Queen Street East

house in Toronto via a realtor’s interactive web tour to locate, mourn and radicalize the objects inside.

Thank you to Cait McKinney, Jane Rowland and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Images: Hazel Meyer, The Weight of Inheritance — cruising Joyce’s house, 2020, video stills, 25:31min. Courtesy the artist.

Closed captions available.

Hazel Meyer works with installation, performance and text to investigate the relationships between sexuality,

feminism and material culture. Her work aims to recover the queer aesthetics, politics and bodies that

are often effaced within histories of infrastructure, athletics and illness. Often using scaffolding, banners and

hand-painted serif-fonts, alongside a commitment to movement and intimacy, Meyer asks how it is possible

to enliven and re-centre the importance of desire, queerness and sweat in contemporary political moments.

She presently lives in Vancouver, the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh and

Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations.



Cecily Nicholson: a voice that will clamour

a voice that will clamour (2020) drafts poetry correspondence to extend from a so-called prison farm run by

former inmates, to its missing labourers. Carceral architecture precludes humane distancing. To stem outbreaks

of Covid-19 prisoners have been held in solitary conditions, refused visits, access to elders, chaplaincy,

and necessary programs. Waivers promised for the telephone system are not fully realized. Alterable factors

and responsibilities for diminished mental health and deaths in custody are abundant.

From cultivated and ponded poetics four clefs incline in mutual will-o’-the-wisps and noise tremors, lifting

19ʺ TVs and manual typewriters. Soil and irrigation the infrastructure rows.

Image: Cecily Nicholson, correspondence 1, 2020, photocollage. Courtesy the artist.

Cecily Nicholson coordinates public and school programs with the Surrey Art Gallery and is part of the joint

effort prison abolitionist group. She is the author of Triage (2011) and From the Poplars (2014), which won

the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Her most recent book, Wayside Sang (2017), won the Governor General’s

Literary Award for poetry.


bass wraps around


We’ve not met

Folx been gathering this Pen Pack [material cost] may this

What electronic equipment would you like (see personal effects list)?

Only if available. No Wi-Fi or Bluetooth items.

In a list I’d wish you to it

Gone solitary moments undesired could this electronic

19ʺ TV (720p HD LED TV / highest temporal resolution possible)

with some feet of coaxial cable to situate anywhere a room allows it

May improve be approved to connect outside

to play Nintendo (up to 10 games)

May you get to listen to a stereo, to a Discman (CD player), with headphones

For all a 4-outlet power bar PlayStation1 (up to 10 games) for the people

need the air to move, with one 5.5ʺ plastic fan

Rechargeable batteries and a battery charger for the people

Reading Lamp with 2 extra light bulbs, please (and I read this, cried)

Reading lamp light the typewriter is manual and electric what will it say?

An alarm clock newest of new items, may you have some new things

Under one or more of the following personal identifiers:

a. a serial number

b. inmate’s name

c. an engraved locator number

d. a bar code,


counter, transpose


been these few quiet aches in the key bone

of the shoulder girdle serving to link

the scapula and sternum

on the same stave transpose


as the heirloom tomatoes gone wild

the leaders strung up, new leaders woven in

leaders taking away from the plant lopped off

in the big beef corner of the market

tomatoes pulling ten feet topple the structures

yeah I’m bent at the hips, the slipping back

the rural youth in skill-less joyless grinds

I remember. but this is my reallocated labour

my mutual aide, my gratitude given the respite

the fresh takes on abolition

the best insight into agricultural complexes

my gratitude resting, rested reading

bathing, swimming, running... well-earned


Anna Banana: Invitation to “The Pandemic is a Portal”

With Invitation to “The Pandemic is a Portal” (2020), Anna Banana solicited responses from her extensive

mail art network, asking them to consider how we form communities in response to the myriad

upheavals caused by the pandemic. The call received responses from 50 artists in her network, listed below.

These responses can be viewed on the SFU Galleries Instagram account, @sfugalleries.

Image: Anna Banana, Invitation to “The Pandemic is a Portal,” 2020. Courtesy the artist.

Anna Banana’s pioneering practice, active since the early 1970s, includes performance, mail art and small

press publishing. Banana founded the publications Banana Rag (1971 – 2016), Vile Magazine (1974 –

1982) and Artistamp News (1991 – 1996). Her work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern

Art (New York), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,

among many others. Banana owns and operates Banana Productions, where she is Top Banana. She lives in

Roberts Creek.

Participating Artists:

Angela Caporaso, Italy

Bill Friesen, Canada

C. Merhl Bennett, USA

C.T. Chew, USA

Circulaire132 / RF Côté, Canada

D.C. Spaulding, USA

Dale Roberts, Canada

Domenico Ferrara Foria, Italy

E Varney, Canada

EVER ARTS / johan, Netherlands

Francine Desjardins, Canada

Frederick Cummings, Canada

Giovanni and Renata Stra DA DA, Italy

Gordon M. Friesen, Canada

H.R. Fricker, Switzerland

Harley Spiller, USA

Heather Conn, Canada

Helena Handbasket, USA

Henning Mittendorf, Germany

Honoria Starbuck, PhD, USA

i. gh. Private World, USA

Irene Dogmatic, USA

Jas W Felter, Canada

Johanna Drucker, Canada

Karen Wood, USA

Kathleen McHugh, USA

Kiyomitsu Saito, USA


Little Shiva, Croatia

Lois Klassen, Canada

Luc Fierens, Belgium

Lucia Sapienza, Italy

Marci Katz, Canada

Martín La Roche, Netherlands

Marzolla Filippo, Italy

Mike Dickau, USA

Mikel Untzilla, Spain

Paul B. Ohannesian, Canada

Rafael Gonzalez, Spain

Robert Kinnard, Canada

Rod Summers/VEC, Netherlands

Rolf Soesman, Netherlands

RoseAnn Janzen, Canada

Ryosuke Cohen, Japan

Sabela Baña, Spain


Stephen A Caravello, USA

Susan Gold, Canada

Tohei Mano, Japan

Vittore Baroni, Italy



Vanessa Brown / Francey Russell

carry me over this threshold

Carry me over this threshold

Vanessa Brown + Francey Russell

Even on a Tuesday morning, while next door a house with no outside is being raised in heavy

weather, it has not been diminished. The whole thing is there.

If you fold a hole in half with your hands, as if in a position of prayer, the hole remains just as

deep as the original wish.

A friend could not eat, could not even look at strawberries because of her trypophobia. But

those aren’t holes in the strawberries. What are those? A cluster of eyes?

If they are not holes, then what kind of fear is the fear of the body of a strawberry?

There is the other side of a plane of glass, a piece of paper, a mountain; and maybe: of grief,

of melancholia. Is there another side of a hole?

Perhaps a hole with no limit is a portal.

A portal with no end is a hole.

A hole is a space with a definite edge, and it is holes all the way in.


I always imagined black holes were shaped like basketball hoops and you could get sucked in

and caught in the net. But no, a black hole is a spherical thing. As in, you can travel all the way

around it. Did you know that?

And deep inside (who knows how far) is the singularity — the original star that died. All sucked

in on itself. Just knocking around in there, in all that emptiness.

Is your grief shaped like a hoop with a net or a singularity knocking around in

its own emptiness?

To care for a hole, give it a limit.

We live in a house, where everything is moving slowly. The space is filled with rambunctious

energy, the edges bound to an uncertain course. Sitting here feels like sitting somewhere else.

This room is no different from that.

Limn it.


I’m not afraid of fruit, but tulips: once they’ve lost their pursed composure,

once they’ve unraveled and their fat petals are hanging out like tongues or arms,

slack, already lolling and collapsing at the end of their bright lives, bending at the stem, falling

to earth.

I once ate a part of a painting. I won’t say whose, but it was an expensive painting. I was

ordered to clean it, to remove the detritus and dust sunken into the strokes.

A piece fell off. A very small piece. The painting almost looked no different without it.

I ate that piece.


In the East River in March I saw the foundational legs of a building-to-be,

mammoth trunks plunging down

through the surface

through the water

through the bank

and the bed.

We’re still building, I marveled. That barreling terrifying wild-eyed certainty that the future will

unfold like the past, that there always will and should be more, all the way down and all the

way up.

A portal with no end is a hole.

A present with no future is a pause.

A pause is a possibility, and —

Written in early May 2020, Carry me over this threshold is a collaborative poem that explores shared

voices, spontaneity and ideas of space. Building — as both an activity and structure — is approached

as an anchor in a moment characterized by widespread uncertainty and the suspension of daily life. As a

text built over the course of many threads, Carry me over this threshold engages the perfunctory nature

of email correspondence as a literary form that can facilitate exchanges that are unexpectedly expansive,

curious and dreamlike.

Vanessa Brown is an artist who works in sculpture and installation. Her primary medium is steel, and

she is interested in challenging its historical associations with industry, war and monument building by

focusing its subtler qualities, such as pliability, versatility and slightness. The imagery in her work is

drawn from various sources including landscapes, crafts, aspects of recurring dreams, feminized labour,

gestures of comfort, and ideas of escape. She has exhibited in Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, the United

States, and Mexico.

Francey Russell is a professor at Barnard College and Columbia University. She works on issues in ethics,

social philosophy and aesthetics. She works mostly with the ideas of Kant and Freud, but also with

those of Nietzsche and Cavell. She is writing a book on the concept of self-opacity and its significance for

philosophical accounts of agency and moral psychology, and is working on a project on the concept of

genre in film. She also writes art and film criticism.

Francey and Vanessa met when they were 5 years old, once wore complimentary crushed velvet dresses to

a dance when they were 12, and shortly after learned how to perform all of the songs from Live Through

This, by Hole. They believe in the ethos of friendship as forms of learning and building.


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