Critical Distance was founded by independent curator and exhibition designer Shani K Parsons in 2011 (under its former name, TYPOLOGY) soon after moving to Toronto from New York.

With degrees in architecture (Temple U, Philadelphia) and design (RISD, Providence) Parsons has pursued a multidisciplinary practice through independent and institutional work in both large and small commercial and noncommercial museum and gallery contexts such as MoMA, American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Chinese in America, and Mixed Greens, a contemporary art gallery in Chelsea.

In Toronto, she became interested in creating a hybrid model for exhibition-making, one which combines aspects of the many galleries and museums she has worked for or admired. Having played multiple roles within the exhibition-making process—as artist, designer, writer, and curator—she brings diverse skills and experiences to bear as founding director of TYPOLOGY/Critical Distance. Established from the very beginning as a not-for-profit project space devoted to curatorial and artistic collaboration and experimentation, the gallery launched with the opening of Artscape Youngplace in late 2013, with an inaugural exhibition featuring Toronto-based artist Lyla Rye. 

From modest beginnings we have strived to achieve programming excellence and a welcoming space for all. To date over 9500 people have visited our exhibitions and related events including talks, screenings, workshops, and more. We have produced and co-produced 20+ exhibitions featuring over 80 local, national, and international curators and artists working in all media, and partnered with organizations including Toronto Art Book Fair, Images Festival, MercerUnion, The Power Plant, and Gallery 44. Providing support for curatorial practice and inquiry while fostering risk-taking and experimentation, CDCC encourages participating curators and artists to consider new approaches to the display and dissemination of art, ideas, and critical discourses on curating, exhibition-making, art, and audience engagement.

Anyone who is interested in participating, building, joining, and supporting a truly dedicated space and centre for the advancement of curatorial practice and inquiry in Toronto, Canada, and beyond is invited to get in touch and get involved.


TYPOLOGY Mission/Vision/Impact
See where we’re coming from

Past Program: TYPOLOGY Exhibitions/Events 2013–2016
A list of all the exhibitions, events, and special programs we produced, along with all the artists, curators, and organizational partners we worked with from November 2013–August 2016

TYPOLOGY on social media 2011–2016
FacebookTumblrPinterest (Twitter and Instagram pages have been transitioned to Critical Distance)

Some background on our motivations for launching a hybrid space in Toronto

TYPOLOGY on typologica: A history of the space in blog form
Project space updates from our time as TYPOLOGY, beginning with our launch post on November 1, 2011

typologica Archive
A handy list of all the posts ever written for the TYPOLOGY blog