Guess What ?!

Guess What?! is a talk series that engages local and international artists’ approach to the sharing of information in both formal and experimental ways.

Artists have been asked to submit material relating to personal theory, practice discourse and visual art making to create an accessible and relatable presentation that will come to life in a studio environment.
We hope that these talks inspire and motivate resident and visiting artists alike in creating a conversation between different practices and ideas. By encouraging alternatives in cross practice, the project will create new initiatives and productive collaborations.

This eclectic collection of talks presents a broad discourse of multi-platform contemporary art practices; reflecting the variety within in the Whitehouse in particular and the contemporary art community in Toronto at large.
The lectures will be documented and uploaded for pubic access. All door proceeds will be used to support the presenter, the Whitehouse studio project and the local community.

Guess What?! 2011 is curated by Xenia Benivolski and Vanessa Rieger.

2011 Program

March 24th
Otino Corsano: “Quick Draw” Artist Interviewer
Otino Corsano is a New Genres artists who conducts “Quick Draw” artist interviews via Facebook’s IM Chat feature. Rather than compartmentalize his writing practice, Corsano sees these documented dialogues as integral to his work as a post-conceptual artist. Challenged by the traditional classifications of art criticism, Corsano will attempt to demonstrate through a live interview how these writings function as performative/collaborative works of art.

April 21st (two lecture night)
Jess Cimo: The Ides of March; Self-preservation and the Art World
This educational lecture hopes to target the politics of art for emerging artists. It will involve everything from how pricing is established, to what to watch out for, along with true stories from the lack-luster offices beyond the viewing room and behind the white walls of the white box. To share the passion as creators and exhibitors is so important, but to live the reality can become taxing and at times complicated. We will compare notes from real life with what people like Thompson is saying in his $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art and Art/Work by Bhandari and Melber. Looking at the stream of commercial galleries and the power cycles that drive buyers and markets, attendees will be welcome to share their personal experiences and comments, as well as to ask questions in a Q&A session that will follow.

Sarah Friend: The Last Great Unregulated Market: Footnotes from the Ground Floor
This lecture would attempt to explain some of the polar economic perspectives that animated the twentieth century and accordingly shaped art history. This would involve a discussion of arts funding under different types of governments, likely covering the ideas of Karl Marx, Adam Smith, and John Keynes. It would introduce the idea of an
artistic practice as an “artistic mode of production,” and use specific artists to illustrate the relationship between art and economic structures. Examples might include but not be limited to Warhol, Koons, Malevich, Banksy, Caleb Larson, and the Yes Men.

My thesis is essentially that all art is political. It underlies every artistic act but is seldom confronted directly, only through symbols. Less theoretically, I will articulate how the art world as an unregulated market impacts the daily working lives of artists. Speculation, inflation, and advertising play important roles in the art market. What is the nature of the artist/dealer relationship, and how important is artistic branding?

April 28th
Matt Mincoff: “Seeing beyond looking through”
Matt Mincoff is an artist/sculptor from Hamilton Ontario and has studied at OCAD (BFA 2007) and RMIT Melbourne (MFA 2010). His practice is an exploration of what is unknown and how can we communicate what should be unexplainable. With this focus on the unknown he has worked with the concepts of the mind, ghosts, identity, invisibility, spirit, relationships and n-dimensional geometry through various approaches to objects, installation, images, sounds and video.

The workshop will discuss various topics that Mincoff has been recently working on through his art practice with slide presentations of his work and relevant media to support the concepts under the title “seeing beyond looking through”.

May 5th
James Gardner: Painting as Evil
The artist is heralded as a valued member of society, a cultural producer that contributes to the visual and conceptual ethos of the community that they inhabit. It has not always been this way. Historically and contemporarily, the artist, and the act of representation can be seen to fulfill a much darker role, and is aligned with the occult, sorcery and the devil himself. Peter Brown, for example, writing on the iconoclastic controversy of Byzantium in the 8th century, illustrates the stance the church took against artists and representation: “The artist, by forming a human image in stone or paint…is competing with God, is attempting to usurp God’s function. By so doing the artist becomes—in a literal sense—God’s adversary.” As David Freedberg reiterates, in his book The Power of Images “whatever [images] are made of, they are not of God, but of the devil. In What Painting Is, James Elkins also aligns the artist and the occult by comparing the painter to the alchemist. Closer to our own era, we see this illustrated in the autobiographical white hooded figure in the paintings of Philip Guston, and even in contemporary media.

This lecture aims to investigate the other side of the cult of the artist and representation in contemporary and historical contexts. The lecture will consider this malevolent reading of representation and the artist in relation to power structures, cultural beliefs, mythologies and fables. It is worth noting, that the lecturer himself, is a painter, and proposes this subject out of the belief that the subject is interesting and will be entertaining to talk about, and does not aim to discredit or shed a negative light the making of images. On the contrary, the lecture aims to highlight the magical potential of the act of representation, magical abilities of images, and the respective cultures attempts to undermine the power of representation by denoting the artist and his pictures as evil.

May 19th
Paul Butler: Artist Talk

June 9th
Roch Smith: Old School: GI Joe teaches us how to play
During the 1970s, short comic books were enclosed with the play-sets that detailed the Adventures of GI Joe – examples include: Shark’s Surprise, Search for the Stolen Idol, Secret Mission to Spy Island. Even at the time, the concepts of scripted play were questioned by many parents and educators as lacking in creativity and imagination. Curiously, these comics promoted lightly veiled right wing views of cold war politics.

It seems quaint to look back to a more “wholesome” time and dismiss what was deemed problematic. I would argue that it is precisely by examining the past that we can better see what the present offers and how marketing and consumer inertia has allowed for ever increasing and rigorous levels of scripted play.

July 11th
Jürgen Dehm: Learning From Each Other: Underground Film and Mainstream Cinema in the 1960s
Even more than avant-garde film in general, 1960s “underground” “art” movies are defined by a radical denial of strategies driven from mainstream cinema, in particular those from Hollywood. Since the beginning, the focal point of art films was not on complex stories or innovative plots, but on trying to explore “film as film” or on working on the physical material of the celluloid strip with techniques similar to traditional painting. In my presentation, I will try to take a closer look at the complex relationships of underground cinema and Hollywood in the 1960s from diverse perspectives: The Underground Superstar, New American Cinema and Avant-garde Aesthetics and “Underground incidents” and the Academy Awards.

July 21st
Fiona Smyth: Zines, Comics and Graphic Novels
Travels through inspirational cartoonists and zinesters who lead me to creating my first graphic novel: The Never Weres.

August 11th
Stacey Sproule & Elizabeth Underhill: The Three Tongues: A Curated Series of Pedagogical Exchanges
will expand on the idea of disseminating knowledge orally. Stacey and Elizabeth will choose three skills to be taught at the inaugural Three Tongues Meeting: both choosing from their beliefs about what are important skills to proliferate.

The event will consist of three invited guests, each teaching one of the “Three Tongues”, to a group of interested participants. The attendees will be sectioned off into three groups and each group will be taught a different skill simultaneously. At the end of the first 20 minute cycle the teachers join their groups and then the groups are divided and paired off giving the students the opportunity to teach each other the skill they just gleaned. When
the second 20 minutes has passed the pairs are then switched once more which completes the cycle and by the end of the last 20 minutes all the participants have had the chance to collect the three new skills and teach at least two of them. As a token to take away from The Three Tongues, and to help with the learning process, each participant will be given a handmade tag – so we can keep track of the groups and to also remember their experiences.

August 28th
Jeremy Schaller: Forming an Eventscape: a collaborative filming workshop
A video workshop based on a painting or drawing format (where everyone sits and paints the same model). In the collaborative filming workshop the model is an improvisational dancer and the participants each have a device that is able to shoot video. In the beginning of the session the participants arrange themselves in a circle around the dancer and start shooting her simultaneously. The dancer claps her hand so there is a slate synch point for all the videos. The dancer then improvises and begins to move. The participants are free to shoot whatever they like of the dancer, the surrounding space or the other participants while exploring the space and evolving situation, but they must shoot continuously. The improvisation last for about 15 minutes, usually signaled by the dancer. The resultant synchronized footage is then digitized and exchanged among the participants for future use. The footage can then be performed in a live cinema performance to music with a tool I developed that allows for the synchronous playback of the footage using layering and time based manipulation to music. The end result you see in the video above which was documented right off the screen.

September 15th
Maggie Flynn: The Pitch: A panel discussion with Brad Tinmouth, Piotr Adas and CN Tower Liquidation
The Pitch will be a panel discussion with artists who make marketing, sales pitches, and financial transaction an integral part of their work. Brad Tinmouth, Piotr Adas and CN Tower Liquidation have been brought together to demonstrate and discuss their practices as they relate to this topic. Points of discussion will include: the buyer-seller relationship, product values, the importance of actual financial transaction, and “the pitch” as performance.

October 21st
Dylan Riebling: Digital Decay
Our transition into a digital age is a mythical one. The translation of all human knowledge, information and data into ones and zeros gives us a sense of stability; of absoluteness. No longer do we have to worry about photographs fading or paper disintegrating. Once we click “save”, we can keep something forever.

The promise is one of eternity. And it is a false promise. The reality is that information has never been more fragile. While a hand-written love letter will survive longer than the person who wrote it, a digital file has a life expectancy of five years. A hundred years from now, people will look back at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century as a digital dark age.

October 28th
Darren O’Donnel: Artist talk.