Exit Strategies Panel Discussion: A Letters & Handshakes Event


Image courtesy of LettersandHandshakes.org 

Exit Strategies – Celebrating the launch of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies (28) “Out of the Ruins, the University to Come,” edited by Bob Hanke and Alison Hearn

Irfan Ali (The Academy of the Impossible) | Maria Alejandrina Coates, Rodrigo Hernandez-Gomez, and Arlan Londoño (Decolonial Aesthetics from the Americas) | Nick Dyer-Witheford (University of Western Ontario) | Sandra Jeppesen (Lakehead University) | Justin Langlois (Broken City Lab) | Maiko Tanaka (The Grand Domestic Revolution)

Sat. April 20, 2013
Onsite [at] OCAD U
230 Richmond St. West
Toronto, ON

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/120010221527156/

Accumulation by student debt. Precarization of education workers. Dependence on corporate donations. Emphasis on research commercialization. Intensification of academic managerialism… Neoliberal transformations of the university coincide with growing interest in co-research, free schools, and education-oriented art practice. Bringing together individuals working within and across educational, activist, and artistic fields, Exit Strategies assesses some of the fault lines in universities today—but also links that conversation to a counter-current of experimentation in research, pedagogy, and institution formation occurring at the margins of the university system.

As sites of knowledge production become increasingly enclosed, what new practices of education are unfolding simultaneously in neighbourhoods, in homes, and in classrooms?

How is pedagogical possibility enabled and constrained by the setting in which we teach, learn, and research?

Refusing to romanticize a ‘lost’ university or idealize ‘alternative’ practices, here exit strategies are about evicting neoliberal imperatives from educational institutions; affirming commitments to radical pedagogy, basic research, and critical inquiry that continue to animate the university; constructing autonomous education projects and pursuing disruptive pedagogies that strive to forefront non-capitalist sociality and anti-oppression; amplifying transversal relays across diverse sites for action-oriented research; and sharing insights between those voicing a critique of the university from within and those inventing new institutions and pedagogies from without.


Irfan Ali is a writer, educator, and the operations manager of the Academy of the Impossible. The Academy is an open source social enterprise in west-end Toronto that opened in December 2011. Ali works primarily with Impossible Arts, the organization’s arts wing, coordinating and leading writing and art programs for Toronto youth and adults. In just over one year the Academy has become a hub for workshops, events, and groups that focus on innovative educational techniques. Impossible Arts runs four main programs: Toronto Street Writers (a writing group), Sound Poets’ Circle (a hip hop and spoken word workshop), Impossible Words (a literary salon), and Fright Film Academy (a film workshop). Ali’s background is in commerce and education and he has previously worked with organizations such as the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Pathways to Education – Regent Park, and the Christie-Ossington Neighbourhood Centre.

Maria Alejandrina Coates, Rodrigo Hernandez-Gomez, and Arlan Londoño are the organizers of Decolonial Aesthetics from the Americas, a multidisciplinary and collaborative symposium for artists and scholars of the Americas and the Caribbean, featuring performances, artist presentations, workshops, online components, and papers. In collaboration with FUSE Magazine, a special issue, to be published in September 2013, will serve as a reader for this event.

Nick Dyer-Witheford is Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at University of Western Ontario. He is author of Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-Technology Capitalism (University of Illinois, 1999), and co-author, with Stephen Kline and Greig de Peuter, of Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing (McGill-Queen’s, 2003), and with Greig de Peuter of Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009). He is currently working on a manuscript provisionally titled The Global Worker and the Digital Front.

Sandra Jeppesen is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies, and the creator of the new Media Studies for Social Change program in the Interdisciplinary Studies Department at Lakehead University in Orillia. With Holly Nazar, she contributed the essay “Beyond Academic Freedom: Canadian Neoliberal Universities in the Global Context” to TOPIA (28).

Justin Langlois is the co-founder and research director of Broken City Lab, and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Windsor. In the fall, he will join the Faculty of Culture and Community at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

Maiko Tanaka collaborates on curatorial projects at the intersections of art, pedagogy, and collective action. Since 2010 she’s been working on The Grand Domestic Revolution with Casco (Utrecht) where she co-curated projects with ASK!, a collective of art workers in affinity with domestic workers, Our Autonomous Life?, a cooperatively produced sitcom on the Dutch squatting movement, and Read-in, a nomadic reading group that goes door to door searching for hosts for their reading sessions. During her residency at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery she organized Extra-curricular, an international conference presenting lectures, workshops and architectures that mobilize radical pedagogical art practices. Currently Maiko writes a column for FUSE on the political economies of public programming and serves as a board member of Gendai.


Letters & Handshakes gratefully recognizes support from the Cultural Studies Program, Wilfrid Laurier University | Onsite [at] OCAD U | TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies

CUTMR Panel: Evolution – Design Conversations in a Collaborative City


Justin heads to Toronto this weekend to participate in Evolution — Design Conversations in a Collaborative City on Sunday, January 27 at 1pm in the Gladstone Ballroom at the Gladstone Hotel. We were there earlier this year for Nuit Blanche, it’s going to be fun to return! Here’s the overview from the curators:

In celebration of Come Up To My Room‘s 10th year, we are asking some big questions about design in Toronto, exploring how far we have come and where we are going.

This panel discussion brings together a diverse group of designers, theorists, critics and writers, this panel will offer a unique look at the intersection between art, design, urban planning and architecture that can and should inform the basis for a collaborative city.

Andrea Carson Barker – Editor & Founder, View on Canadian Art
Christina Zeidler – President, Gladstone Hotel & founding co-curator of CUTMR
Justin A. Langlois – Founder, Broken City Lab
Pamila Matharu – Visual Artist, Arts Educator, and Cultural Producer & founding co-curator of CUTMR
Zahra Ebrahim – Principal & Founder, archiTEXT

Come Up To My Room (CUTMR) is the Gladstone Hotel’s annual alternative design event. CUTMR invites artists and designers to show us what goes on inside their heads. Coming together in dialogue and collaboration, participants are limited only by their imaginations, making CUTMR one of the most exciting shows in Toronto.

As this is an important anniversary for this ever-expanding show, the tenth installment will emphasize the idea that formed the basis for the very first CUTMR — occupying and altering a space in a dramatic, conceptual, or experimental way.

Founding curators Christina Zeidler and Pamila Matharu return this year and are joined by Noa Bronstein and David Dick-Agnew.


No Rights/No Wrongs: Nuit Blanche 2012

On September 29th 2012, we were lucky enough to be invited to Toronto for Nuit Blanche! Our installation site was on the face of the Gladstone Hotel right on Queen Street West. It was an amazing night.

It was the first time that we did a projection on a building so textured. This definitely allowed for some challenges in terms of how the text would look on a building surface that wasn’t flat and the result was pretty interesting.

Text in transition.

The combination of statements make up our “No Rights/No Wrongs” projection series. The texts are based off of back and forth conversations about opposing sides to an argument or statement, as well as some that are left for the viewer to fill in themselves.

Fill in the blank.

The projector and computer were set up inside my car.

The projector was set up just below my dash, and the projection shot right through the windshield, onto the Gladstone Hotel.


Joshua talking to some onlookers.

We’d like to say thank you to everyone at the Gladstone and in particular, Noa Bronstein,  for having us be a part of a great night!



The Weekend Here and Around the Province

It’s a busy weekend all over the place with an opening and a new project, culture days, and some great events hosted by dear friends of ours here in Windsor. Here’s the breakdown of what you might want to check out this weekend:

We’re back to North Bay for our opening of Surviving North Bay at White Water Gallery. After concluding our research micro-residency this past summer we returned to Windsor to brainstorm ways to address the concerns that residents of North Bay brought up about the city. The result: a series of survival kits designed to help North Bay face whatever the future the city has in store. Each red plastic kit contains useful and unique items to artfully solve local problems, and can be found on display in the Gallery for the next six weeks. There will be an opening reception on Friday at 7 pm.

In Toronto at Nuit Blanche on Saturday, we’ll be at the Gladstone for a new projection-based work – No Rights / No Wrongs, which will aim to highlight and articulate a series of indecisive statements on ideas of civic responsibility, community development, and political participation through large-scale projections on the side of the Gladstone.


Artcite Members and Friends!
Join Us this FRIDAY NIGHT, all Night @ THE LOOP
September 28, 2012 – 156 Chatham St. West (upper), Windsor, ON N9A 4M3

SHIRK  –  a DJ Night benefit for Artcite with DJs Sthephen Pender, Martin (Zonk) Deck, Matthew Hawtin and special guests

This Friday, 28 September, in the midst of Windsor’s Culture Days events, the Loop on Chatham Street is hosting a fundraiser for Artcite,
an event that kicks off our 30th anniversary celebrations. There will be three or four dj-s, including Martin ‘Zonk’ Deck, Matthew Hawtin, and Stephen Pender, plus a surpise guest or two.

The suggested donation is $4 at the door, which is deposited straight into Artcite’s coffers, and garners you a night of dub, techno, soul, Detroit funk, all good things.

Please spread the word, and support local artist-run culture.
Newest info here or on the Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/350784671680498

Art and Ecology Sidewalk Parade

12:00 – 3:00 on Saturday, September 29, 2012
parade route begins @ ACWR 1942 Wyandotte Street E. Windsor, ON

The Art and Ecology Sidewalk parade is a performance artwork lead by Dr. Jennifer Willet of the School for Arts and Creative Innovation. The parade will draw community members into discussion about art and ecology in the Windsor Area with all participants collaborating in the production of a whimsical spectacle involving music and rhythm (10 block walk in total). The event will commence at the Arts Council of Windsor & Region (ACWR) and conclude the Canada South Science City on Marion Street in Windsor, ON.

Join them – rain or shine
for more info about bioart research and other initiatives at uwindsor: www.incubatorartlab.com

CARTographyTO hacks Astral info pillars

Via BlogTO

Several months in the making, CARTographyTO formed through word of mouth when the first Astral Media pillars were sunk into the sidewalk in Toronto: concerned citizens, artists and others with a creative streak came together with the desire to reclaim the lost public space in their neighbourhoods.

A spokesperson for cARTographyTO stated, “These structures are billboards masquerading as sources of useful public information. When you look at the pillars, it’s hard to find the maps, and this goes against the City’s own public space guidelines. How could City Hall allow this to happen? Beyond mere visual pollution, these pillars are a safety hazard. And Astral’s influence on our city is a public insult and embarrassment – more power has been given to those who already have the loudest voices, to the detriment of all who use these spaces.”

Love that this happened.

Border Town Design Jam

photo courtesy of http://dividedcities.com/

One of our dear friends (and Homework presenter), Tim Maly, from the great city of Toronto is hosting an event continuing off of the work he did with the Border Town Design Studio last year.

Here’s the details, if you’re in the area (and here’s more detailed information):


From Friday March 2, 2012 to Saturday March 3, teams of clever people will get together to solve a User Experience problem relating to border towns. Would you like to be one of them?

Border Town Design Jam (#btdj)
Using border towns as a point of entry, we’ll approach political geography as a design problem. This design jam will take place over 1 day (and a half), from March 2 to 3, 2012. Tickets are now available on Eventbrite. This event is presented in collaboration with ThingTank Lab.

Interested in seeing and hearing the results of this jam? We’re opening up our final show and tell to the general public – get your free tickets to attend here!


The topic and design challenge will be revealed at the kickoff party on Friday March 2, 2012, 6PM. However, here’s a hint:  ”Everyone must pass”

About Design Jams
Design Jams are one-or-two-day design sessions, during which people team up to solve engaging User Experience (UX) challenges. Learn more about Design Jams. 

Who should attend Design Jams
Anyone really – Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) & Design Students, Interaction Designers, UX Researchers, Information Architects, UI Designers, Web Designers, Graphic Designers, Hardware Hackers, Policy Nerds, Developers + more… The day aims to improve collaboration skills and help attendees learn and practice various UX techniques including but not limited to Research, Brainstorming, Sketching, Wireframing and Prototyping.

What happens at a Design Jam?
Attendees sign up in advance. Upon arrival they assign themselves to teams based on the skills they could contribute and what they’d like to learn. Teams are then presented a design challenge that they tackle by doing research, sketching, guerrilla testing and other UX techniques. They are encouraged to share their process and ideas halfway through enabling them to get feedback from other teams as well as other mentors in attendance during the day. The day concludes with final presentations to the entire group. Outcomes could take the form of sketches, storyboards, a video or even a prototype – whatever communicates the idea best.

What happens to the ideas we come up with?
All output materials will be shared on the Border Town and ThingTank Lab websites, and teams will be asked to compose a blog post about their design process and ideas.

To facilitate the free exchange of ideas, all outputs, visualizations and other contributions made during the day must be contributed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. This basically means anyone can use ideas generated at the Design Jam, as long as they credit the original authors.


Feel free to contact any of the following with questions and queries.

From Border Town design studio (@dividedcities)
Emily Horne @birdlord & Tim Maly @doingitwrong

From ThingTank Lab (@thingtankTO)
Marie-Eve Belanger @wrongposture

The Free Paper project

I received an email from JP King a couple weeks ago about a project he did at the fantastic, Whippersnapper Gallery in Toronto. You can read the details about the project at http://www.freepaper.ca/

Here’s an overview of the Free Paper project, as it unfolded last summer:

The paper, developed over the past three weeks has been a labour of love as King has opened the doors to the gallery (though more appropriately thought of as an office) to the public and asked for their collaboration in the creation of a community newspaper.

With a specific interest in our relationship to the objects we purchase, consume, own, love, dispose of, waste and want, King developed a thematic basis to the exhibition that focused on the means by which we value these relationships. How do our relationships with our disposable or hoard-worthy objects compliment our understanding of work, labour and even our connections to the people that surround us. As one of his questions posted on the front window of Whippersnapper Gallery suggestively asks, “Do you get along better with people or objects?”. Similarly, King provided a survey that posed similar questions to potential takers; “What do you purchase that makes you feel guilty?” or ”What is the best thing your parents taught you?”.

Complimented by reading groups of selected texts, public discussions and poetry & fiction writing workshops, the paper has accepted 45 submissions of writing & art. Free Paper is an insight into the creative energies of those around us while asking participants to examine the way in which we mediate our lives – either through money, objects, people and work – and most often all four of these themes.

The FREE CITY PAPER POP-UP OFFICE is a research-center-cum-newspaper-office, with a nomadic residency as a reporting tool of the project. Participants are invited to come by Whippersnapper gallery to engage in open conversation, assist in research, partake in the residency, collaborate on visual materials, and read from the library.

There is a survey to be taken in the office, poster-questions on the windows and throughout the neighborhood, a series of scheduled events, like reading groups, writing workshops, and public conversations!

In thinking about publications, a project space, and pop-up activities, it seemed like a good reference point. Also, the idea of pushing around a person actively typing on a typewriter is hilarious.

Toronto renames laneways after residents: maybe there’s an idea in there?

Photo from the December 26, 2011 edition of the Globe & Mail

I saw this and it made me think of our discussion last week on a new project somehow (un)officially demarcating important people in Windsor.

From the article, discussing one particular laneway named after a local family who own a nearby bakery:

The laneway is one of three in the Harbord Village that recently got a name memorializing community members. The local residents association has been working on a project for the past two years to name all 26 laneways in its neighbourhood, nestled between the Annex and Kensington Market. Currently, the names are being reviewed by city staff (to avoid any duplication) and will likely come before council in February or March.

You can read the article in full on the Globe’s website.

It made me think about how we might consider scaling up or scaling out the project we had discussed — maybe we should try to name all the alleyways in the city?