Critical Distance is pleased to participate in hosting Taboo Health’s interactive exhibition DIYing Free, a project by artist Justin Tyler Tate as part of the 2019 edition of DesignTO Festival. Tate’s open source cardboard coffin sits before rows of chairs within the gallery, welcoming visitor use. In this speculative piece, we ask: can we promote a process of death which uses design, technology, and recycled materials for a more ecological practice of grieving? We can’t avoid dying but we can be more ecologically conscious at the end of life – we can D-I-Y.
DIYing Free composes one part of the event series Dying taking place at Artscape Youngplace and OCAD University January 14th – February 2nd 2019. This public series explores death through the lens of design and art across three locations with varied programming including public talks, activities and multiple exhibitions.
We encourage visitors to Artscape Youngplace to explore the 2nd floor hallway gallery, which for the duration of DesignTO has become host to a number of artworks, including those in the group exhibition Until the Last Breath curated by Maria Cheung and Anna Polistuk. Featuring work by artists Lucien Durey, Corbett Fogue, Bryn Ludlow, Karen Oikonen, Robin Pacific, Katrina Pruss, Kate Sellen, Debbie Woo, and Helen Zajkowski, the installations touch on themes of caregiving, mourning, memory, perception of time, family, and grief. One such work, titled DNR (No Code) by Corbett Fogue is composed of mylar balloons and ribbon forms that will metaphorically deflate over the course of the event. In the words of the artist, the piece allows for a “reconciliation” with their father’s status as a Do Not Revive patient.
In proximity to Fogue’s sculpture, visitors can engage with the interactive project Constellations, designed by Karen Oikonen and Kate Hales Wilkes. This piece encourages a participant to map intimate experiences in proximity to death by winding string through the labelled wall installation. By following the strands of thread left behind, it becomes possible to read narratives that have created a marker for the ways in which experiences with death both converge and diverge along countless lines.
In their separate ways, these works are bound by a gentle concern with becoming more comfortable with the uncomfortable, and prompt us to reflect on what truly matters at the end of life.