Archive:Billboard on Shaw: Quratulain Butt | EgoJanuary 25–March 25, 2018

Winter 2018 Billboard on Shaw, "Ego" by Quratulain Butt, from We Look at Animals Because, curated by Nahed Mansour and Toleen Touq, Critical Distance Centre for Curators, 2018. Installation documentation by Toni Hafkenscheid.

Billboard on Shaw: Quratulain Butt | Ego

January 25–March 25, 2018

In partnership with South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC), Critical Distance is pleased to present the Winter 2018 Billboard on Shaw, featuring work by Quratulain Butt curated by Toleen Touq and Nahed Mansour as part of the exhibition We Look At Animals Because.

Growing up with roosters as pets, this motif appears frequently in Butt’s paintings. Originally created using delicate watercolor strokes in the Gadrang (opaque) miniature painting technique, the artist presents figures of brawling roosters as stand-ins for human conflict. Butt also draws, perhaps comically, on the pressures of conformity that come with family and tradition. For this exhibition, an enlarged and digitized version of the original Ego painting was commissioned from the artist for the eight-foot square billboard structure.

In addition to this work by Quratulain ButtWe Look At Animals Because features photographs, works on paper, sculpture, and videos by Khaled Hourani, Maha Maamoun, Huma Mulji, Ed Panar, Alex Sheriff, and Andrea Luka Zimmerman, on view in the CDCC gallery (Suite 302 on the 3rd floor of Artscape Youngplace) and other locations within the building through March 25, 2018.

Exhibition on view at Critical Distance:
180 Shaw Street, Suite 302 at Artscape Youngplace, M6J 2W5
Admission is always free; building and gallery are fully accessible. 

New gallery hours:
Thursday–Sunday from 12–5 pm

Also on view beyond the gallery:
Hallway Video by Smriti Mehra (stay tuned for more information on screenings)

Join us for an opening reception with the curators:
Thursday, January 25th from 6–9 pm
Refreshments will be served and all are welcome.

About the Curators

Nahed Mansour is a Toronto-based curator and multidisciplinary artist working primarily in video, installation, and performance, She is currently the Constituent Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada. Previously she held the position of Artistic Director at SAVAC, as well as Director of Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts, Toronto.

Toleen Touq is a curator and writer who has recently moved to Toronto from Amman, Jordan. She is co-founder of annual residency Spring Sessions, a program that brings together artists, scholars and cultural practitioners in a collaborative and experiential learning environment for 100 days each spring. She also initiated The River Has Two Banks, a multidisciplinary platform that addresses the historical, political and mobility commonalities between Jordan and Palestine. Her writings have been published with Ibraaz, A Prior, Manifesta Journal, and others.

About the Artist

Quratulain Butt was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and trained as a miniature painter and sculptor at the National College of the Arts in Lahore, and the Hunerkada Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Islamabad. Quratulain’s work shares concerns with social hierarchy, war conflict, hypocrisy and hope. Since 2013 she has been based in Canada.

Critical Distance and South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC) are grateful for the support of the Toronto Arts Council in making this exhibition possible.

image: Quratulain Butt, Ego, 2018, on view at 180 Shaw Street in Toronto’s West Queen West neighbourhood through March, 25, 2018.


Please join us for the following exhibiton-related events. Click below for more info.

Artist Talk: Maha Maamoun : Sun, Mar 4, 2018 | 5-6 PM

Critical Distance and South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC) are pleased to bring Cairo-based artist Maha Maamoun to Toronto for an artist talk as part of SAVAC’s Views on the 4th, a series that invites racialized artists, curators and arts administrators to share their views on the politics behind their research and practice. The talk is also part of “We Look At Animals Because” exhibition currently on view at Critical Distance until March 25th.

Maha will present a broad view of her work, primarily based in video and photography, and unpack her interest in the circulation and function of images in vernacular culture, reframing these as tools for critical insights and analysis.

Maha Maamoun has exhibited her work internationally in biennials and exhibitions at such venues as the Sharjah Art Foundation, New Museum, Berlinale 64, Tate Modern, 9th Gwangju Biennale, Witte de With, MoMA NY, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Haus der Kunst. She is a co-founder of the independent publishing platform Kayfa-ta and a founding board member of the Contemporary Image Collective (CiC), an independent non-profit space for art and culture in Cairo.

Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 5PM
The Commons – Suite 440, 401 Richmond

Admission to this event is free. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome. Building is fully accessible.

Maha Maamoun will also lead a multi-day workshop co-presented by Critical Distance, South Asian Visual Arts Centre, and Gallery 44 at the 401 Richmond building; details to be announced soon.

Film Screening: Taskafa, Stories of the Street : Sun, Feb 25, 2018 | 5-6:30 PM

Critical Distance and South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC) invite you to a free film screening of TASKAFA: Stories of the Street, directed by UK-based artist, activist, and filmmaker Andrea Luka Zimmerman, as part of “We Look At Animals Because.”

Structured around readings by renowned critic and essayist John Berger, TASKAFA (2013, 66 mins) offers a brilliantly incisive meditation on urban space and city life by investigating the complex history of Istanbul’s street dogs. Despite several major attempts by Istanbul’s rulers, politicians and planners over the last 400 years to erase them, the city’s street dogs have persisted thanks to an enduring alliance with civilian communities that recognize and defend their right to co-exist.

TASKAFA gathers the voices of diverse Istanbul residents, shopkeepers, and street based workers, all of whom display a striking commitment to the well-being and future of the city’s canine population. Interwoven to this narrative are readings by Berger from his novel “King,” a story of hope, dreams, love and resistance, told from the perspective of a dog belonging to a community facing disappearance, even erasure.

Andrea Luka Zimmerman is an artist, cultural activist and filmmaker. She is the first director to be shortlisted for both the Grierson and Jarman Awards, and in 2017 Zimmerman received the Artangel Open Award for her feature drama Cycle, produced in collaboration with Adrian Jackson. Currently she teaches at Central St. Martins in London, where she also studied for her PhD.

Sunday, February 25 at 5PM
Small World Theatre – Suite 101, Artscape Youngplace – 180 Shaw Street

Admission to both screening and gallery are free. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome. Building and gallery are both fully accessible.

image: Andrea Luka Zimmerman, TASKAFA: Stories of the Street (still), 2013

Artist Talk: Alex Sheriff : Sun, Feb 11, 2018 | 5-6 PM

Critical Distance and South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC) present a free artist talk with Los Angeles-based Canadian artist and filmmaker, Alex Sheriff.

Focusing on the arbitrary division between human and natural history, Sheriff will discuss contested forms of living in the Anthropocene. He will reveal his concept of “droopy history,” born of science, pseudoscience and mythology, which he uses to navigate the space of this imagined division.

Alex Sheriff received his BFA in Drawing and Painting from OCADU before moving to New York where he received his MFA in Fine Art. He now lives in Los Angeles and works in painting, drawing, sculpture and film.

Two works on paper from Sheriff’s recent exhibition at Praxis Gallery (NY) are included in our current exhibition, “We Look At Animals Because,” produced in partnership with SAVAC, and curated by Toleen Touq and Nahed Mansour. A selection of sculptures is on display as well. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 5PM
Suite 107, Artscape Youngplace – 180 Shaw Street

Admission to both talk and gallery are free. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome. Building and gallery are both fully accessible.

image: Alex Sheriff, Undiscovered Man-made Islands (detail), 2016-17