Door to Door
(1st edition)
Camilla Singh and Germaine Koh & Gordon Hicks

May 30 - June 5, 2011

Curated by Christof Migone

A new series pairing up artists for week-long interventions throughout Mississauga. The starting premise for this itinerant series is to temporally and spatially splinter and dislocate the gallery in order to present work that delivers itself to you. In other words, if you cannot come to the gallery, the gallery will come to you.

Exhibition Statement

To Door, A Verb
Do not knock.(1)

Theodor Adorno

Following two editions of The Projects: Port Credit (the off-site exhibitions in Port Credit, Mississauga in the summers of 2009 and 2010), Door to Door is the Blackwood Gallery’s new series of off-site interventions set to include Mississauga as a whole. Door to Door will consist of ten invited artists creating works to be delivered door to door. Door to Door brings the off-site thrust of the Blackwood's summer programming to its logical extreme: if you cannot come to the gallery, the gallery will come to you. Inspired in part by Lucy Lippard's famous curatorial projects 557,087 and 995,000 whose numbered titles corresponded to the population of the city where the project was being presented (respectively Seattle in 1969 and Vancouver in 1970). Here, the impossible goal is to reach every resident of Mississauga, population 704,000 (according to the highway sign). Needless to say, the goal will not be reached but completion is not the principal purpose, rather it is the staging of one-to-one encounters and exchanges.

The curatorial premise of Door to Door is unabashedly utopic, it engages frontally with the implicit article of faith that art can act as a force of engagement, a conversation trigger, a tool for creative reflection. There is no naive presumption that reception will always be positive, or that we will be welcomed. There is no fetishization of the encounter. As the title suggests, The Projects: Port Credit placed an accent on the proposal or propositional stage of a work (what might or could happen). In other words, the focus was on change, plans for change. Door to Door shifts the question to one of exchange. In his classic ethnographic study, The Gift, Marcel Mauss summarized the practice of gift exchange as one containing "three obligations: to give, to receive, to reciprocate."(2) The set of rules in our case will of course be less rigid and regulated. With this particular frame, the economy that is applied requires no reciprocity, nor even reception. It is the gesture of giving that is exhibited, the rest is beyond our control.

Myriad questions arise as soon as the tangible aspects of realization are considered: if someone answers the door once knocked, is the art shown, heard, given, or performed? Or is the art to be left at the unknocked door. If so, how many objects at each door, or how many objects total? How are the doors selected? What if the gift is refused? These questions are largely alien in a traditional exhibition. The givens of an exhibition have vanished; this is outreach, literally, a reaching out. The choice of dispersal activity becomes integral to the artwork. Questions for the participating artists become: Delivery by car, on foot, by mail? How are the addresses selected? How many and for how long? Is it. a day long dérive or a week of 7am wake up calls? Is an object given or just shown? Is a performance presented? Is it in an upscale neighborhood or a strip mall? Everyone who’s last name starts with P or every blue door? Are you presenting yourself as a Jehovah’s Witness, an encyclopedia peddler or, blatantly and transparently, a contemporary artist? Or is the doorbell rung and you run?

Arising from this adventure are a multitude of ethical and legal questions. We acknowledge them not as hindrances, but as fascinating encapsulations of the societal conditions which regulate exchange. The aim is not to endanger but to astonish, albeit in an intimate manner. It may be the case that deliveries will need to be pre-arranged, but even if the element of surprise or furtiveness has to be removed this roaming exhibition still stands as a unique context through which to produce work and engage with an audience. With Door to Door we are heeding part of Brian O'Doherty's call in the very last sentence of his "The Gallery as a Gesture" essay: "Or the gallery itself could be removed and relocated to another place."(3) Here the gesture is even more radical, it is not longer off-site, but site-less. Or, it could be said that it invokes the gallery site every time that the artist shows up at the door and knocks on the door or rings the bell. A radical curatorial premise perhaps, though, however oddly, one that is simultaneously quaint, even neighborly. An exhibition home delivery service. A cumulation of instant sites. An exhibition of moments. We are dislocating the gallery through a spatial and temporal splintering process. It is here and there, and there, and there, ... Mapping projects by artists do abound. As well, the street is often sought as a venue for it is perceived as a context where the public is at its most random and least contrived. Door to Door belongs to both of these lineages, but investigates the specificity of where public space meets private domicile. The audience is no longer the passersby but the resident, the occupant, the one who answers the door.

Door to Door, an exhibition which knocks on your door and delivers itself to you.

- Christof Migone, Director/Curator, Blackwood Gallery

(1) Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott. London: Verso, 1974, 40 [entry 19]. The entry is titled Do not knock and it proceeds as follows: Do not knock. -Technology is making gestures precise and brutal, and with them men. It expels from movements all hesitation, deliberation, civility. It subjects them to the implacable, as it were, ahistorical demands of objects. Thus the ability is lost, for example, to close a door quietly and discreetly, yet firmly. Those of cars and refrigerators have to be slammed, others have the tendency to snap shut by themselves, imposing on those entering the bad manners of not looking behind them, not shielding the interior of the house which receives them. The new human type cannot be properly understood without awareness of what he is continuously exposed to from the -world of things about him, even in his most secret innervations. What does it mean for the subject that there are no more casement windows to open, but only sliding frames to shove, no gentle latches but turnable handles, no forecourt, no doorstep before the street, no wall around the garden? And which driver is not tempted, merely by the power of his engine, to wipe out the vermin of the street, pedestrians, children and cyclists? The movements machines demand of their users already have the violent, hard-hitting, unresting jerkiness of Fascist maltreatment. Not least to blame for the withering of experience is the fact that things, under the law of pure functionality, assume a forn that limits contact with them to mere operation, and tolerates no surplus, either in freedom of conduct or in autonomy of things, which would survive as the core of experience, because it is not consumed by the moment of action.

(2) Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The form and reason for exchange in archaic societies, trans. W.D. Halls. New York: W.W. Norton, 1990, 39.

(3) Brian O'Doherty, Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, 107.
Project Descriptions and Artists' Bios
Camilla Singh – Encouragement (2011)

A silent cheerleader delivering encouragement to people at work. Live performances throughout the week, various locations in Clarkson and Port Credit.

Encouragement is a sentiment being conveyed to a combined audience of suspecting and unsuspecting strangers.  It is repetitive and non-ceremonial, and specifically, it is a live two and a half minute long ode to energy, enthusiasm and heightened physicality taking place in people’s workplaces, in the middle of their workday.  It is a dance performance by a deadpan cheerleader delivering encouragement to people at work.

Camilla Singh is a multi-disciplinary artist and independent curator working in Toronto.  She currently teaches at OCADU, organizes the I do my own stunts lecture series for the Toronto School of Art, and is designing uniforms for curators using the Art Gallery of York University’s studio blog as a platform for her research. Singh was the Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) from 2002 to 2009.  Her curatorial projects often feature live areas hosting performances, concerts and sites of change within the gallery exhibition space. As curator of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche in 2007, Singh presented Supernatural City, consisting of ten major outdoor contemporary art installations. Singh is an active member and co-founder of the New Remote art collective, a group of artists from Canada, the Netherlands and Serbia, who travel the world by invitation to produce spontaneous collaborative site-specific installations. 

Gordon Hicks and Germaine Koh - There|Here (2011)

Two doors, connected through the internet, move in unison. One door in atrium of the CCT Building, one door in hallway of the Student Center (both at the University of Toronto Mississauga).

There|Here connects two doors over the internet to create a wordless communication system using touch, pressure, movement and position. The connection is two-way and simultaneous so that moving either door causes the other to move in unison. Each door acts as both controller and controlled – there is no user interface in the conventional sense, simply the doors themselves. Constructed from hacked door operator mechanisms, custom microcontrollers and a real-time internet data stream, the system provides the sensation hereof a physical event happening there.

Gordon Hicks is a Toronto-based artist and engineer whose work engages science and technology to question how we know the world. Melding the conceptual and poetic while working at both cutting and trailing edges of technology, his sculptures, installations and kinetic works examine how things come into being. He often works collaboratively. There/Here was developed together with Germaine Koh at the 2009 Banff Centre Polymath Breakthrough residency. His work has exhibited at Nuit Blanche (Toronto), Agnes Etherington Centre (Kingston), Harbourfront York Quay Gallery (Toronto) Art School {dismissed} (Toronto) and most recently at the Art Gallery of Surrey.

Germaine Koh is a Canadian visual artist based in Vancouver. Her conceptually-generated work is concerned with the significance of everyday actions, familiar objects and common places. Her exhibition history includes the BALTIC Centre (Newcastle), De Appel (Amsterdam), Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Para/Site Art Space (Hong Kong), Frankfurter Kunstverein, Bloomberg SPACE (London), The Power Plant (Toronto), Seoul Museum of Art, Artspace (Sydney), The British Museum (London), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Plug In ICA (Winnipeg), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), and the Liverpool, Sydney and Montréal biennials. Koh was a finalist for the 2004 Sobey Art Award and recipient of the 2010 VIVA Award for Vancouver. Formerly an Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada, she is also an independent curator and partner in the independent record label weewerk. Koh is represented by Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver.

Project Images

Generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

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