Canadian Architect


Tools for Conviviality at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto

June 15, 2012
by Canadian Architect

The Power Plant’s Summer 2012 season opens on June 29, 2012 with a group exhibition of work united by the idea of art as tools. Tools for Conviviality features artists from Toronto, Vancouver, Paris, and Vienna, some emerging and some more established, who create and engage tools to comment on how we live in this world. Participating artists include: Abbas Akhavan, Raymond Boisjoly, Geoffrey Farmer, Claire Fontaine, Kyla Mallett, Swintak/Don Miller, ReeceTerris, Oscar Tuazon, Ulla von Brandenburg, and Franz West.

This exhibition features works that are interactive as well as mechanisms towards self-help, political shifts, ritual devices, defence, and critique. Referencing the 1973 text by philosopher Ivan Illich of the same name, which sought to dismantle the specialization of industrial knowledge by elites, Tools for Conviviality seeks to develop a politic of having more individual influence in the world. The tools that most interested Illich, and are reflected in the exhibition, have links to self-organization, Wiki models, democratic space, and forms of communal activity.

Curated by Melanie O’Brian, this exhibition is on view from June 30 through August 26, 2012, and opening party is set for Friday, June 29 from 8:00pm to 11:00pm, free to the public. Many of the artists will be in attendance, so please join in on the gallery’s lakefront terrace as the Power Plant continues to celebrate its 25th anniversary year.

Works by Abbas Akhavan and Claire Fontaine include homemade armaments, while Franz West’s interactive Adaptives connect viewers with their individual visual and tactile experience of objects. Geoffrey Farmer presents a project based around a half-formed figure that will be added to and changed by children over the course of the exhibition, and Ulla von Brandenburg’s engagement with stage and props results in a film installation (seen only once before) that approaches the power of ritual as a tool. Kyla Mallett’s appropriated constellation-like diagrams are pulled from a self-improvement manual, Oscar Tuazon’s sculptural work brings an industrial aesthetic to playful utopian architecture, and Reece Terris identifies a professional and personal custom of thanks and consolation. Raymond Boisjoly’s new exterior text-based work considers The Power Plant’s location within aboriginal histories and Western vernaculars, and Swintak/Don Miller’s new work grafts a piece of an experimental rural project onto the gallery.

Also on view at the Power Plant is Dissenting Histories: 25 Years of The Power Plant, which continues to August 26, 2012 with a new artist project by Dave Dyment. Curated by Melanie O’Brian, Dissenting Histories is an ongoing project designed to activate and put into dialogue the gallery’s rich histories. Installed in a space designed by Markus Miessen, a German architect and writer who has considered institutional histories and has contributed to our thinking about participation in public space and design, the archive exhibition considers our history within local and international contexts, as well as within present spatial and theoretical concerns. As a space for staging events around the Power Plant’s history, including the From the Archives series of presentations and lively conversations between curators and artists vital to the Power Plant’s

history, they are also presenting print materials, videos, slides, and an online archive of ephemera. Toronto-based artist Dave Dyment is mining the archives and responding to the project with a new series of works. Working with audio, video, photography, and the production of artists’ books, multiples and editions, Dyment’s witty practice mines popular culture, vernacular photography and music.

As a way of marking its past achievements and looking forward to its future successes, the Power Plant continues the all year, all free program. Due to the generous support of the Hal Jackman Foundation, gallery is free to everyone, dropping admission fees for the entire year.

For more information, please visit

tools for conviviality
tools for conviviality

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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