the distance between nowhere and now here Emma Waltraud Howes
Stine Marie Jacobsen

April 20 - May 22, 2016

Curated by Charlotte Lalou Rousseau


Presented by the Blackwood Gallery and the Masters of Visual Studies (MVS) Curatorial Studies Program at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with the Images Festival and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Click here to visit the exhibition's website.

Stine Marie Jacobsen, Mann beißt Hund, 2015, HD Video, 83 minutes.
Image courtesy of the artist.
Special Events

Opening Reception
with lecture by Professor Martin Revermann at 7pm

Wednesday, April 20, 5–8pm
A FREE shuttle bus will depart from Mercer Union (1286 Bloor Street W.) at 5:30pm and return to Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street) for 8:30pm.
Curator will be in attendance.

Lecture by Professor Martin Revermann: Distance, translation, performance
Wednesday, April 20, 7–8pm in Rm 130, Kaneff Centre
Translation is usually seen as a bridge of sorts, a connector that links a source text (and with it, a source culture) to a target text and target culture. In this talk, Revermann will explore how translation also, and at the same time, does the exact opposite by creating distance, thereby making space for artifacts to live and breathe lives of their own. Performance will emerge as a chief catalyst to bring about this kind of ‘distance in translation’. Case studies will be drawn from ancient Greek material culture (theatre-related vase paintings) and 20th century theatre (especially Beckett).

Martin Revermann is Professor in Classics and Theatre Studies at the University of Toronto. His research interests lie in the area of ancient Greek drama (production, reception, iconography, sociology), Brecht, theatre theory and the history of playgoing. He is the author of Comic Business. Theatricality, Dramatic Technique and Performance Contexts of Aristophanic Comedy (Oxford [Oxford University Press] 2006). He has also edited A Cultural History of Theatre (vol. 1: Antiquity) (London [Bloomsbury/Methuen Drama], forthcoming in 2017), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Comedy (Cambridge [Cambridge University Press] 2014), (with I. Gildenhard) Beyond the Fifth Century: Interactions with Greek Tragedy from the Fourth Century BCE to the Middle Ages (Berlin/New York [de Gruyter] 2010) and (with P. Wilson) Performance, Iconography, Reception. Studies in Honour of Oliver Taplin (Oxford [Oxford University Press] 2008). In addition, he is the author of articles on Greek comedy and tragedy, Brecht, Homer, theatre-related vase paintings and theatre theory.

Screening and Q&A Performance
Saturday, April 30, 3–5pm
Room 222, Innis College, University of Toronto
2 Sussex Avenue
The screening of Stine Marie Jacobsen's feature length film, Mann beißt Hund (2015) will be followed by discussion. FREE, all welcome. Seating is limited, please arrive on time.

Curator's tour and Artist talk performance
Sunday, May 1, 1:15pm
The curator will give a tour of the exhibition and translate Emma Waltraud Howes’ artist talk.

presented in conjunction with:
FREE Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday, May 1, 12–5pm
The tour starts at Koffler Centre of the Arts at Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street) at 12pm and then departs for Blackwood Gallery, Art Gallery of York University, and Doris McCarthy Gallery, returning to Shaw Street at 5pm. Seating is limited. Please RSVP by Friday, April 29 to or 416.736.2100 ext 44021.

More information about special events is available here.

Exhibition Statement

Bringing together works by Berlin-based artists Emma Waltraud Howes and Stine Marie Jacobsen, the distance between nowhere and now here addresses implications of distance, casualties of dislocation, and other consequences of disembodiment. The exhibition is an occasion to reflect on manifestations of presence and negotiations of absence, and everything in-between: between nowhere and now here, translation is fundamental.

If translation is a movement, a linear geometrical displacement that supposedly leaves its object unchanged, it is also a performance, an interpretation of an original work. Based on Samuel Beckett's short play Not I (1972), Howes' installation Stage Directions for a Mouth (2014) allies video, sculpture and text. The reconfiguration of dislocated elements dissects choreographies of speech, disjoints acts of language, and probes the agency of performance. Jacobsen's Mann beißt Hund (2015) is a remake of the Belgian film C’est arrivé près de chez vous (translated as Man Bites Dog, 1992) devoid of human presence. Presented along with the map of the shooting locations and a review of the original film, the work foregrounds articulations of structural, symbolic, and physical violence. the distance between nowhere and now here takes its cue from these methodologies and unfolds in absentia. At times literally standing in for the artists, often conjugating works to local contexts, the curator’s translation – be it concerted or violent – is always critical.

A reader usually encounters a translation in ignorance of the original. It is, for all intents and purposes, the raison d’être of translation: to make a work accessible to those who cannot grasp it otherwise. How does one know a translation to be ‘faithful’? Usually, one does not. Usually, the translator cannot accomplish such a task except at the expense of either form or content. Loyalty to one means the other has to be altered in the process, and in both cases meaning is affected. Faithfulness to the author is faithlessness to the reader, and vice versa. But the messiness of language (and art) never lends itself so simply to this binary. Experiencing a translation is a gesture of trust as much as accepting an apology. Declaring a translation a translation is a speech act, and believing it is a leap of faith. There are so many ways this can go wrong.

In Beckett’s play Not I, a bodiless mouth delivers a barely intelligible flow of words, floating eight feet above an otherwise pitch-black stage. Howes’ Stage Directions for a Mouth echoes the unsettling stream of consciousness at once unleashed and disavowed by Mouth in Not I. The installation proposes alternatives to language as means of agency – when utterance is silenced, lost, impossible or just not enough. The artist’s reflection arises from occurrences of speech repression and consequent protest strategies, such as the casseroles demonstrations in Québec in 2012 (1), themselves citing the Latin American cacerolazo tradition. The reconstitution of the work in Toronto, the reconfiguration of the installation into the gallery space, and its recontextualization in this exhibition called for abundant forms of communication, making up for various physical gaps. The metal mouths that emerged from these exchanges attempt to shape absences, compensate lacks, embrace misunderstandings, and speak for themselves, while no prompter is there to whisper cues.

Jacobsen conceptualized Mann beiβt Hund in Belgium in 2013, concurrently with protests against poorly written legislations of public space and their abusive misuse by government officers. Belgian citizens saw C’est arrivé près de chez vous – a mockumentary following a serial killer’s daily routine – as an illustration of the dangerous slippage from individual discretionary power to collective social disaster. In its initial iteration, Mann beiβt Hund included workshops about law writing with teenagers, developed in collaboration with a local lawyer. Displacing the piece into a North-American context, some translation was unavoidable: we asked two Toronto lawyers to write a film review, namely a reading of the original film through the lens of the local legal context, specifically drawing analogies with issues of immigration detention in Canada (2).

Translation involves shifts in meaning. The attention to curatorial translation, when working closely (from a distance) with both artists, revealed its potential. The process has been generative and resulted in the production of new elements adapting the projects to current contexts, whether discursive, material, intimate, or political. These new works act as collaborative neologisms of some sort, where author and translator meet, and render visible the distance between nowhere and now here.


1. Concerts of pots and pans were performed on residential balconies every night at 8pm in support of the student strike. The casseroles rattlers often spontaneously gathered in the street to initiate non-violent rallies.

2. The film review is available online here.

Artist Biographies

Emma Waltraud Howes is influenced by the 'Theatre of the Absurd'. Guided by observations on contemporary gestures, her projects manifest as choreographed reconfigurations of the body informed by a background in dance and visual arts. She frames these elements towards a reconciliation of mind-body dualisms through performance and interdisciplinary installations.Recent independent and collaborative projects include: How far is here, MAGO B, Eidsvoll Verk, Norway (2015); Botanical Drift: Walking Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens, London (2014); and Ankyloglossia (n. tongue-tie), Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2014). She currently bases her practice in Berlin.

Stine Marie Jacobsen is a conceptual artist working to decode individual and collective violence through participatory means. Focusing on language, gender and psychology, she uses film as a starting point to create performative experiments and platforms for new ways of looking at ethics, identity, fear and trust. Born in 1977 in Sønderborg, Denmark, Jacobsen lives and works in Berlin and Copenhagen. She studied at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles and the Royal Danish Art Academy in Copenhagen (MFA, 2009) and has exhibited widely, particularly in Denmark and the USA. She recently presented her first major solo exhibition in Denmark at Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art.

Installation Photos

This exhibition was produced as part of the requirements for the MVS degree in Curatorial Studies at the University of Toronto and supported by the Department of Visual Studies (UTM) through the Graduate Expansion Fund.

Presented in collaboration with the Images Festival, April 14–23, 2016, and with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, May 1–31, 2016. For more information visit and

The Blackwood Gallery is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.