Door to Door
(2nd edition)
Alexander Irving and Micah Lexier

September 26 - October 2, 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.
Artists' Biographies & Project Descriptions
Alexander Irving – Symposia (2011)

Symposia consists of a series of plaques that feature quotations from sources as varied as Milton Berle, Susan Sontag and Malcolm X. These offerings have been affixed to the exterior of buildings in Mississauga and Toronto and in areas of high traffic. They are on display to ponder, consider, discuss and amuse.

1. "Time is not a line but a series of now points" - Taisen Deshimaru, at
Oscar Peterson Hall (lobby), UTM, Mississauga, click here for map

2. "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything" - Malcolm X, at
Visual Arts Mississauga, 4170 Riverwood Park Lane, Mississauga, click here for map

3. "It's never too late to be who you might have been" - George Eliot, at
Erin Meadows Library, 2800 Erin Centre Blvd., Mississauga, click here for map

4. "Conflict cannot survive without your participation" - Wayne Dyer, at
Paintball Nation, 6200 Ordan Drive, Mississauga, click here for map

5. "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door" - Milton Berle, at
Blackwood Gallery (offices in CCT Building), UTM, Mississauga, click here for map

6. "Force always attracts men of low morality" - Albert Einstein, at
Clint Roenisch Gallery, 944 Queen Street West, Toronto, click here for map

7. "Lying is the most simple form of self defense" - Susan Sontag, at
UTSC, 1265 Military Trail, Toronto, click here for map

8. "Design is people" - Jane Jacobs, at (tba), Toronto

9. "Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question" - Albert Camus, at
General Hardware Contemporary, 1520 Queen Street West, Toronto, click here for map

10. "A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving" - Lao Tzu, at
Howard Park Institute, 2088 Dundas Street West, Toronto, click here for map

11. "You can observe a lot by just watching" - Yogi Berra, at
457 Bathurst Street, Toronto, click here for map

Alexander Irving was born in 1962 in Ottawa, Ontario. He received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1987 and his Masters of fine Art from York University in 2000. He has been exhibiting his work since 1986 and currently works out of Toronto. Irving has taught at the Ontario College of Art and Design and, at present, holds the post of Lecturer at the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus. Recent exhibitions include, Janus- for Anne Carson at Queen Specific, Carte Blanche 2: Painting at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Art School – Dismissed, Shaw School, Door to Door, Blackwood Gallery, and Flat Men at General Hardware Contemporary. Alexander Irving’s work is represented by General Hardware Contemporary in Toronto.

Micah Lexier – Double-Sided Page for The Mississauga News (2011)

While looking through the newspaper, you notice a full page that seems to just be a bunch of random markings. When you turn the page, you see that the next page, which is the back of that first page, also consists of similar markings. But if you hold this page up to the light, these seemingly random markings will be revealed to be portions of individual letters that create words and sentences that constitute a self-explanatory text. In order to work, the markings on either side of the page must be properly aligned; if the markings are not properly aligned, then each page will just be a jumble. Take a look at any denomination of paper money and you will notice that near the middle of the bill there are a couple of strange looking marks. If you turn the bill over you will see that there is another set of similar looking marks. Now hold the bill up to the light: you will see that those marks join up to create a couple of numerals that equal that bill's denomination. Micah Lexier's Double-Sided Page for The Mississauga News extends that idea to a full page text. The piece will appear in the Friday September 30, 2011 issue.

Micah Lexier is an artist, a collector and a curator. He has a deep interest in measurement, numbers and the kinds of casual marks we make in our day-to-day lives. He has had over 90 solo exhibitions, participated in over 150 group exhibitions and produced a dozen permanent public commissions. In 2010 the Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design published I’m Thinking of A Number, a 30-year survey of Lexier’s ephemera, multiples, book works and projects for magazines. Lexier’s work is in numerous private and public collections, including The British Museum (London, England), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Sydney, Australia), The National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) and The Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto). Micah Lexier is represented in Calgary by TrepanierBaer, in Toronto by Birch Libralato, and in Berlin by the Gitte Weise Galerie. More information can be found at

Project Images

Generously supported by the following:

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