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Imagining Resistance

Visual Culture and Activism in Canada

Edited by J. Keri Cronin & Kirsty Robertson
Subjects Cultural Studies, Art
Series Cultural Studies Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554582570, 294 pages, April 2011
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554583478, 294 pages, September 2011
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554583119, 294 pages, September 2011

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture and Activism in Canada, edited by J. Keri Cronin and Kirsty Robertson
List of Figures
Imagining Resistance: An Introduction | Kirsty Robertson and J. Keri Cronin
Refus Global
Speaking Pie to Power: Can We Resist the Historic Compromise of Neoliberal Art? | Gregory Sholette
Canadian Artists’ Representation and Copyright
John and Yoko’s Media War for Peace | Louis Kaplan
Carol Condé and Karl Beveridge: A Living Culture Needs a Living Wage
Monumental Interventions: Jeffrey Thomas Seizes Commemorative Space | Claudette Lauzon
General Idea and AIDS
Resistant Performers and Engaged/ing Public(s) | Jessica Wyman “The Named and the Unnamed”: Gendering the Canadian Art Scene
Borders in the City | Ayesha Hameed
Crisis of Representation: Multiculturalism, Minquon Panchyat and “The Lands Within Me”
Bread and Five Ring Circuses: Art, Activism, and the Olympic Games in Vancouver and London | Kirsten Forkert
Aboriginal Representation and the Canadian Art World
APEC at the Museum of Anthropology: The Politics of Site and the Poetics of Sight Bite | Ruth B. Phillips
Culture Jamming
Titanium Motherships of the New Economy: Museums, Neoliberalism, and Resistance | Kirsty Robertson
Behind the Mask/I Am the Other: Solidarity and Struggle in The Fourth World War | David Jefferess
Toward a Conclusion: A Focus on the Visual Culture of Activism | J. Keri Cronin
Contributors' Bios
J. Keri Cronin is an assistant professor in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. She is also a faculty affiliate in Brock’s Social Justice and Equity Studies graduate programand the editor of The Brock Review. She is the author of Manufacturing National Park Nature: Photography, Ecology, and the Wilderness Industry of Jasper National Park (2011).
Kirsten Forkert is a researcher and activist based in London,UK. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her recent writing, dealing with topics such as cultural policy, cultural activism and the politics of education, has been published in Mute, Variant, Chto Delat, and Third Text.
Ayesha Hameed is an FQRSC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her Ph.D.was completed at the Graduate Programme in Social and Political Thought at York University, where her dissertation, “Bricks and Blood: The Dialectical Image of The Black Atlantic in The Colonial Metropolis,” was nominated for the Faculty of Graduate Studies Dissertation Prize. Hameed’s video and performance work focuses on borders in the context of sans-papiers organizing and migrant subjectivity. She has presented her work at the Banff Centre for the Arts, OBORO Gallery Montreal, Montréal Arts Interculturels (MAI), the HTMlles Festival, ISEA and elsewhere. Hameed is a former board member of Fuse magazine, and her writing has been published in journals like Public and Topia as well as in collections such as PLACE: Location and Belonging in New Media Contexts.
David Jefferess teaches English and Cultural Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. He has published articles that provide postcolonial analysis of human rights, humanitarianism, global citizenship, and Western representations of the Global South. His book Postcolonial Resistance: Culture, Liberation, and Transformation was published in 2008, and his current project focuses on the discourse of benevolence and the figure of humanity.
Louis Kaplan is a professor of history and theory of photography and new media in the Graduate Department of Art at the University of Toronto and the chair of the new Department of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. He has published widely in photography studies and on the relationship between contemporary art and media culture. His books include Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: Biographical Writings (1995), American Exposures: Photography and Community in the Twentieth Century (2005), and The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer (2008). With John Paul Ricco, he co-edited the special issue “Regarding Jean-Luc Nancy” for the Journal of Visual Culture in the spring of 2010. His essay on the photoscrolls of Patrick Clancy will be published in a forthcoming issue of History of Photography. Louis Kaplan is currently working on the Verifax photo-collages of Wallace Berman in the 1960s and their relations to both counter-culture and Kabbalah.
Claudette Lauzon is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Art at Cornell University. Her current research project, “Troubled Icons: Trauma, Eyewitness Photography, and Contemporary Art,” examines the ways in which artists appropriate iconic photographs of suffering. Recent publications include “What the Body Remembers: Rebecca Belmore’s Memorial to Missing Women,” in Precarious Visualities: New Perspectives on Identification in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture, edited by Olivier Asselin, Johanne Lamoureux, and Christine Ross (2008).
Ruth Phillips is a Canada Research Chair in Modern Culture at Carleton University. Her new research centres on two book projects, whose working titles are Museum Pieces: Exhibiting Native Art in Canadian Museums, and Transmission and Translation: Visuality and Art in the Great Lakes. She is also establishing a Visual Studies Laboratory with grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Fund that will enable her to work with students, Aboriginal researchers, and colleagues in North America and Europe to develop a data base of Great Lakes and Northeast art and material culture and a virtual archive of Canadian exhibits that address the arts and cultures of indigenous and diasporic communities.
Kirsty Robertson is an assistant professor of contemporary art and museum studies at the University of Western Ontario. Robertson’s research focuses on activism, visual culture and changing economies. She has published widely on the topic and is currently finishing her book Tear Gas Epiphanies: New Economies of Protest, Vision and Culture in Canada. More recently, she has turned her attention to the study of wearable technologies, immersive environments and the potential overlap(s) between textiles and technologies. She considers these issues within the framework of globalization, activism, and burgeoning “creative economies.” Robertson’s work can be found in journals such as The Communication Review, Textile, Fuse magazine, n.paradoxa, and Globalisations and books such as Fluid Screens, Expanded Cinema, Extra/Ordinary: Craft Culture and Contemporary Art, and Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations, Collecive Theorization.
Gregory Sholette is a New York-based artist, writer, and founding member of two artists' collectives: Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D: 1980–1988), and REPOhistory (1989–2000). His recent publications include Dark Matter: art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture (2010); Collectivism after Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination after 1945, co-edited with Blake Stimson (2007); The Interventionists: A Users’ Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life, co-edited with Nato Thompson (2004, 2006, 2008); and a special issue of the journal Third Text co-edited with Gene Ray entitled “Whither Tactical Media.” Sholette is an assistant professor of sculpture at Queens College, the City University of New York (CUNY), a visiting faculty member at Harvard University, and teaches an annual seminar in theory and social practice for the CCC post-graduate research program at Geneva University of Art and Design.
Jessica Wyman is assistant professor in the faculties of Liberal Studies and Art at Ontario College of Art and Design. She has worked with many artistrun centres and publications, is currently a contributing editor to Fuse magazine and sits on the board of directors of the Toronto Arts Council. In 2004, Wyman was honoured with the Emerging Curator Award and a nomination for Best Art Writing by the Untitled Art Awards. In 2009, Wyman was Contemporary Curator-in-Residence at the McIntosh Gallery at the University of Western Ontario. Her writing on contemporary art has been published internationally in magazines and journals, including Springer Kunst, Fuse, Ciel Variable, Open Letter, Women’s Art Magazine, and Performance Research. In 2007, Wyman’s three-volume edited book Pro Forma: visual art/language/text was published by YYZBooks. Her current research considers performative theory and adaptation in contemporary art, with an essay on the topic published in Adaptation Theories, edited by Jillian Saint Jacques (2010).


Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture and Activism in Canada offers two separate but interconnected strategies for reading alternative culture in Canada from the 1940s through to the present: first, a history of radical artistic practice in Canada and, second, a collection of eleven essays that focus on a range of institutions, artists, events, and actions. The history of radical practice is spread through the book in a series of short interventions, ranging from the Refus global to anarchist-inspired art, and from Aboriginal curatorial interventions to culture jamming. In each, the historical record is mined to rewrite and reverse Canadian art history—reworked here to illuminate the series of oppositional artistic endeavours that are often mentioned in discussions of Canadian art but rarely acknowledged as having an alternative history of their own. Alongside, authors consider case studies as diverse as the anti-war work done by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Montreal and Toronto, recent exhibitions of activist art in Canadian institutions, radical films, performance art, protests against the Olympics, interventions into anti-immigrant sentiment in Montreal, and work by Iroquois photographer Jeff Thomas. Taken together, the writings in Imagining Resistance touch on the local, the global, the national, and post-national to imagine a very different landscape of cultural practice in Canada.


A sparkling collection of original essays on the political function of contemporary art, film, and performance in Canada. Through short overviews of important moments in the history of Canadian art activism—from Refus global and the work of General Idea to culture jamming and aboriginal art activism—they have ensured that this volume will be the starting point for discussions of the activist function of art in Canada—and elsewhere—for some time to come. A rich resource for anyone interested in the political possibilities and limits of artistic practice today.

- Imre Szeman, Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies, University of Alberta, 2011 January