Current / Upcoming

Public Displays of Affection

September 28–ongoing

Critical Distance is excited to announce Public Displays of Affection (PDA), a new ongoing programming initiative exploring creative possibilities in accessible arts publishing. PDA will work within disability arts communities and beyond, building on Kelly Fritsch’s notion that “to crip is to open up with desire to the ways that disability disrupts.” Over the next several months, PDA will produce a collective learning opportunity that considers the pleasures, desires, and disruptions of making arts publishing initiatives more accessible.

Continuing from our Fall 2019 exhibition Access is Love and Love is Complicated (co-curated by Emily Cook and Sean Lee), we will host conversations, workshops, and case studies on topics such as audio description, plain language, digital platforms, ASL translation, access intimacy and others. Just as the title of Access is Love, and Love is Complicated directly cited disability activist Mia Mingus’ writing on understanding accessibility as an act of love, PDA will continue the conversation, asking: How can crip desire push at the boundaries of how we design, write, and distribute exhibition catalogues and other arts publications? How can we welcome new forms of affection? 

 

Public Displays of Affection will run throughout late 2020 and early 2021. 
Click on the event title for full details and to register:

Monday, September 28 | 5:30pm
Panel Discussion: Crip Culture and Digital Experiments
with Jessa Agilo, Aimi Hamraie, and Yo-Yo Lin
Led by Lindsay Fisher, Creative Users Projects (First up — see details below!)

Sunday, October 4 | 2pm
Case Study: A distinct aggregation / A dynamic equivalent / A generous ethic of invention
Conversation with Aislinn Thomas, Shannon Finnegan, and Ramya Amuthan

Sunday, October 18 | 2pm
Alt-Text Time
Led by Aislinn Thomas, Shannon Finnegan, Bojana Coklyat, and Ramya Amuthan

Thursday, November 12 | 2pm
Workshop: Plain Language in Arts Writing
Led by Victoria Anne Warner and Tamyka Bullen

The first four events mentioned above will be held online via Zoom. All PDA sessions coordinated and led by Emily Cook, Sean Lee, and Daniella Sanader, in partnership with Creative Users Projects


Monday, September 28 | 5:30pm

Panel Discussion: Crip Culture and Digital Experiments
A Panel Discussion with Jessa Agilo, Aimi Hamraie, and Yo-Yo Lin, led by Lindsay Fisher, Creative Users Projects

Click HERE to register.

This event will take place over Zoom. Please register via Eventbrite (link above) to receive the Zoom link closer to the event date.

 

Artists, activists, and others in disability communities have been adapting online tools and platforms for work and play since well before the pandemic forced able-bodied people online. What creative solutions and experiments in the digital sphere have been happening within disability communities? What have we learned so far from the efforts to come together and adapt tools that were not designed with disability in mind? Join us as we discuss the particular joys and challenges of creative access in an online world, with reflections from Jessa Agilo, Aimi Hamraie, and Yo-Yo Lin. This conversation is moderated by Lindsay Fisher, Founder and Director of Creative Users Projects. 

This discussion will set the stage for Public Displays of Affection (PDA): an expanded series of events on creative possibilities in accessible arts publishing, hosted by Critical Distance. PDA will work within disability arts communities and beyond, building on Kelly Fritsch’s notion that “to crip is to open up with desire to the ways that disability disrupts.” Over the next several months, PDA will produce a collective learning opportunity that considers the pleasures, desires, and disruptions of making arts publishing initiatives more accessible.


Sunday, October 4 | 2pm

Case Study: A distinct aggregation / A dynamic equivalent / A generous ethic of invention
Conversation with Aislinn Thomas, Shannon Finnegan, and Ramya Amuthan

Click HERE to register.

This event will take place over Zoom. Please register via Eventbrite (link above) to receive the Zoom link closer to the event date.

 

In August 2019, artists Aislinn Thomas and Shannon Finnegan published a broadsheet and accessible PDF for A distinct aggregation / A dynamic equivalent / A generous ethic of invention: Six writers respond to six sculptures through the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre. Also presented as a series of sound works, the project invited writers and poets across Canada to produce creative audio descriptions for a range of public sculptures installed throughout the Banff Centre.

For this case study session, Thomas and Finnegan will be in discussion, reflecting on the project and the challenges and opportunities of creative audio description in both accessible publishing and gallery/museum practices. They will be joined by Ramya Amuthan, host and producer at Accessible Media Inc, for further reflection.


Sunday, October 18 | 2pm

Alt-Text Time
Led by Bojana Coklyat, Shannon Finnegan, and Aislinn Thomas, with Ramya Amuthan

Click HERE to register.

This event will take place over Zoom. Please register via Eventbrite (link above) to receive the Zoom link closer to the event date.

 

Alt-text and image description are important access measures, especially for blind and low vision communities and others who use screen readers. Alt-text is a written description of an image posted online. It provides access to the image for those who can’t see it. It is not visually displayed on a website or app, so if you aren’t a web developer or a screen reader user, you mostly interact with alt-text by writing it and adding it to your images through designated form fields during the image upload process. Yet so many images are posted and circulated online without accompanying alt-text, leaving many people out of what could be a shared experience.

Bojana Coklyat, Shannon Finnegan, and Aislinn Thomas will lead a group work session to dig into our collective backlog of alt-text writing for websites or social media. We can share what we’re working on, ask questions, and learn from each other in a more intimate way. Together, we’ll collaborate on making the internet a more engaging, fun, and welcoming place. In the spirit of a community quilting bee, we’ll come together to work individually and collectively toward a shared goal.

If you are brand new to writing alt-text, we recommend reading Section 2 of Bojana and Shannon’s workbook Alt-Text as Poetry in preparation for this event. It includes some basic information about alt-text and how to write it, and / or watching one of Bojana and Shannon’s Alt-text as Poetry workshops.


Thursday, November 12 | 2-5pm

Plain Language in Arts Writing
Workshop led by Victoria Anne Warner and Tamyka Bullen

Click HERE to register.

This event will take place over Zoom. Please register via Eventbrite (link above) to receive the Zoom link closer to the event date.

 

Much has been said about the art world’s reliance on obscure or difficult language. But language complexity also opens up questions of access. This workshop explores the role of plain language in arts writing. Working with plain language creates an opportunity to widen the reach of your writing to include folks whose first language is not English (which includes ASL speakers) and folks with learning disabilities, processing disabilities, and Neurodiverse brains. How can we—as artists, arts writers, and arts publishers—make better use of plain language? What challenges does plain language produce? How can plain language best convey complex thought?

Join Victoria Anne Warner of Tangled Art + Disability and artist/performer Tamyka Bullen in this participatory workshop, introducing plain language strategies for arts writing of all kinds.

Workshop readings and requirements to be announced shortly.

Billboard image by artist Zinnia Naqvi, showing a stack of books titled "The Image of Confederation, Language and Ethic Relations in Canada, and The Dream of Nation." There's a toy police car on top of the stack, and blue and red legos are sprawled across the table. On the wall is a poster of a made up landscape of a suburban neighbourhood with families going on about their day, a policeman and car at post on the side.

Billboard on Shaw: Zinnia Naqvi | The Border Guards Were Friendly

August 20, 2020

Billboard on Shaw presented by Gallery TPW in partnership with Critical Distance, featuring The Border Guards Were Friendly by Zinnia Naqvi, 2020.

This billboard is presented in the context of Gallery TPW’s ongoing project MOVEMENTS, an online and site-specific program that reflects on both the intimate scale of the body as it shifts through time and space, and organized actions that provoke vital, unsettling change.

The Border Guards Were Friendly is part of a larger body of work that brings together the artist’s family photos with assemblages of books, games, and VHS tapes. Documenting a 1988 holiday across various tourist sites in Ontario, the images were taken as a reconnaissance mission of sorts, marking the family’s decision to immigrate to Canada from Karachi, Pakistan. The mixture of personal snapshots—featuring places like the CN Tower and the Cullen Gardens & Miniature Village—with Naqvi’s deliberate object choices makes visible the tensions between Canada’s mythmaking of multiculturalism and the nation’s persistent legacies of colonialism and injustice. In this particular image, Naqvi extends the project to consider the realities and failings of Canadian citizenship. Referencing surveillance culture and systems of public scrutiny, this work is an apt reminder that violent systems of policing are intrinsic to the maintenance of citizenship within a nation state. Who does—and who does not—have the right to move and subsist freely?

 

About the Artist

Zinnia Naqvi an interdisciplinary artist based in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal and Tkaronto/Toronto. Her work examines issues of colonialism, cultural translation, language, and gender through the use of photography, video, writing, and archival material. Recent works have included archival and re- staged images, experimental documentary films, video installations, graphic design, and elaborate still-lives. Her works often invite the viewer to question her process and working methods.

Naqvi’s work has been shown across Canada and internationally. She received an honorable mention at the 2017 Karachi Biennale in Pakistan and was an Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of EMILIA- AMALIA Working Group. She is a recipient of the 2019 New Generation Photography Award organized by the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada in partnership with Scotiabank. She earned a BFA in Photography Studies from Ryerson University and an MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University.