The Let Down Reflex Lise Haller Baggesen & Deirdre M. Donoghue
Cevan Castle
Dillon de Give
Home Affairs with Ozlem Ozkal
Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn
Shani K Parsons
Kerri-Lynn Reeves
Shane Aslan Selzer

Curated by Amber Berson and Juliana Driever

October 16–November 4, 2017


Presented as part of Circuit 2: Care Work, Take Care


Download the Circuit 2 micropublication featuring a curatorial essay for The Let Down Reflex by Amber Berson and Juliana Driever, artist biographies, and full colour illustrations throughout.

Leisure, Conversation with Magic Forms, 2017, colour digital print on paper, 3' x 4'.
Courtesy the artist.
Exhibition Statement

The question of who is welcome in the art world is at the core of The Let Down Reflex, an ongoing project that explores institutional issues of accessibility. The machinations of the art world favour players who either do not have family responsibilities or have the means to assign familial duties to others (whether through paid assistance or the constant unpaid labour of a partner). From the high-commitment and low-pay opportunities that often come with the promise of “exposure” through to the demanding calendar of social events (often during evening hours), the cost of being present in both professional and personal realms as an artist or cultural producer is prohibitive to parents, particularly for those in the emerging and mid-career stages of their work life and for those working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

The Let Down Reflex is not only an exhibition about children in gallery and museum spaces, or about the position of the parent-artist, it is about access in a larger sense, and about the disregard of alternative bodies of knowledge. Creating a space for the maternal–and, more generally, the parental–in cultural institutions is an accessibility issue with which we should all be concerned, regardless of our parental status.


To read the full curatorial essay by Amber Berson and Juliana Driever, download the Circuit 2 micropublication.

Screening and Performances

Love’s Labours
A moving image program curated by Shani K Parsons
Saturday, October 28, 1–3pm
The Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto

Admission is FREE—please reserve tickets at

Curated by Shani K Parsons, Love’s Labours is a 50-minute video program on intersections of motherhood and artistic practice as they relate to issues of care. Including historical film excerpts, experimental film and video, mini-documentary interviews, and spoken word/music, Love’s Labours explores how a number of artists have wrestled with obligations, aspirations, and transformations that the physical, mental, emotional labours of motherhood bring to bear upon their inner worlds and identities as they negotiate the intensities and intimacies of maternal and artistic life in the face of systemic pressures and inequities.
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollens, Riddles of the Sphinx (excerpt), 1977, 6:10 min.  
Lu Heintz, Lead, Follow, 2016, 2:12 min.
Mary Kelly, Post Partum Document, 1973-79, TateShots, 2015, 4:17 min.
Mirha-Soleil Ross, Lullaby, 2001, 4:00 min.
Melissa Mollen Dupuis, Nitanish (To my Daughter), 2015, 3:03 min.
Jules Arita Koostachin, Niso kakastesinowin, 2011, 2:30 min.
Tracey Kershaw, Dropping peas picking up peas, 2011, 0:45 min.
Megan Wynne, My Puppet, 2014, 1:54 min.
Megan Wynne, Floor Birth, 2016, 0:09 min.
Betye and Alison Saar, Similar Differences,1990, 9:30 min.
Alison Saar, Bearing, 2015-16, 6:41 min.
Cara Mumford and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Leaks, 2013, 2:42 min.
Lu Heintz, I love you, 2014, 3:00 min.
Kelly O’Brien, How Does Life Live?, 2017, 3:31 min.


A Day of Affectionate Actions
Saturday, November 4, 1–4pm
1pm: Introduction by Amber Berson and Juliana Driever
1:30pm: HouseHold by LoVid
3pm: By Our Own Admission by Dillon de Give
MiST Theatre, UTM

This event brings together two live performances that highlight the fluidity of family and art. In a new collaboration, LoVid and their children (Rama, Dlisah, and Lo’am) will perform together, using a range of instruments and objects, and Dillon de Give invites parents and caretakers to share the details of their bedtime routines in front of a live audience. Children of all ages welcome.

Public Programs

FREE Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday, October 15, 12–5pm
The tour picks up at Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West) then departs for Blackwood Gallery, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Art Gallery of York University, and Y+ contemporary. To RSVP: email or call 905-828-3789 by Friday, October 13 at 5pm.

Carework as Choreography
Wednesday, October 18, 12–5pm
12–2pm: Feminist Lunchtime Talks with CareForce (Marisa Morán Jahn), Cynthia Cranford, Kwentong Bayan Collective (Althea Balmes and Jo SiMalaya Alcampo), Pinky Paglingayen (Caregivers in Transition)
2–3pm: Exhibition Talk & Tour
3pm: Dance Rally
Blackwood Gallery

The Feminist Lunchtime Talks are presented in partnership with Women and Gender Studies (UTM).

Care, Automated
Workshop with Amelia Abreu, Marc Böhlen, Kelly Fritsch, Ian Roderick, Sarah Sharma
Hosted by letters & Handshakes
Saturday, October 21, 11am–3pm
McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, 39 Queen’s Park Cres. E., Toronto

Workshop presented in partnership with and funded by the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.

Reader-in-Residence Session with Art Metropole
Public reading by Alize Zorlutuna
Wednesday, October 25, 12–1pm
Blackwood Gallery

Installation Photos

For installation photos of The Let Down Reflex, visit Circuit 2: Care Work.


Lise Haller Baggesen studied painting at the AKI in Enschede, the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam and completed her MA in Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited her work internationally, is the author of Mothernism (2014), and the co-organizer of The Mothernists in Rotterdam (2015) and The Mothernists 2: Who Cares for the 21st Century at Astrid Noack’s Atelier and at the Royal Academy for Fine Art, Copenhagen (2017).

Amber Berson is a writer, curator, and PhD student conducting doctoral research at Queen’s University on artist-run culture and feminist, utopian thinking. She most recently curated The Let Down Reflex (with Juliana Driever) and was the 2016 curator-in-residence as part of the France-Quebec Cross-Residencies program at Astérides in Marseille, France. She is the Canadian ambassador for the Art+Feminism Wikipedia project.

Cevan Castle, founder of The Center for Parenting Artists, is an architectural designer, artist, and principal of a firm working in urban landscape and exterior architecture. Castle teaches professional practices in art and design, as well as pre-kindergarten and early childhood education. She holds a Master’s of Architecture from Columbia University (New York) and a BFA from the College for Creative Studies (Detroit).

Deirdre M. Donoghue lives and works in Rotterdam. She is a performance and visual artist, mother, doula, founding director of the international m/other voices foundation for Art, Research and Theory / Dialogue / Community Involvement, PhD candidate at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry, University of Utrecht, and a founding member of ADA: Area for Debate and Art, Rotterdam.

Juliana Driever is a curator and writer focused on collaborative practices, public space, and site-specificity. Recent curatorial work includes The Let Down Reflex (2016, with Amber Berson, EFA Project Space, New York), Socially Acceptable (2015, Residency Unlimited/InCube Arts), Art in Odd Places 2014: FREE (with Dylan Gauthier, New York), and About, With & For (2013, Boston Center for the Arts).

Dillon de Give is an artist and educator working with performance, film, publication and documentary forms. He is a co-founder of the Walk Exchange, a cooperative walking group, and organizes the annual Coyote Itinerancy, a retreat that traces a foot- path between New York City and the wild.

Founded by Arzu Ozkal, Claudia Pederson, and Nanette Yannuzzi, HOME AFFAIRS is an interdisciplinary art collective focusing on creative projects about a range of issues impacting women’s lives. The group has exhibited and performed at diverse venues including Spaces Gallery (Cleveland), EFA Project Space (New York), Project Goleb (Amsterdam), and Art Produce Gallery (San Diego).

Leisure is the Montreal-based conceptual collaborative art practice of Meredith Carruthers and Susannah Wesley. Working together under the name “Leisure” since 2004, they engage with cultural-historical narratives through research, conversation, published texts, curatorial projects, and art production. Leisure exhibits regularly at Erin Stump Projects (Toronto) and has work in the permanent collection of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Montreal).

Letters & Handshakes is a collaboration of Greig de Peuter (Department of Com-munication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University) and Christine Shaw (Blackwood Gallery and Department of Visual Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga).

LoVid is a New York-based artist duo comprised of Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus. LoVid’s work includes immersive installations, sculptural synthesizers, single channel videos, textiles, participatory projects, mobile media cinema, works on paper, and A/V performance. Collaborating since 2001, LoVid has performed and presented works at venues throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn is a research-based artist based in Stockholm. Using a broad range of mediums, her artistic practice investigates issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics, and multiculturalism within the framework of feminist theories. Nguyễn is the 2017 Audain Visual Artist in Residence at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and will participate in the fourth cycle of NTU Center for Contemporary Art Singapore’s Residencies program.

Shani K Parsons is an independent curator, designer, and founding director of Critical Distance Centre for Curators (CDCC) in Toronto. With degrees in architecture (Temple University) and design (Rhode Island School of Design) she has pursued a trans- disciplinary practice within independent and institutional contexts such as the American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Chinese in America, Museum of Modern Art, and Mixed Greens (New York).

Kerri-Lynn Reeves is a Canadian arts labourer working as an artist, writer, educator, curator, and administrator. She holds a BFA from the University of Manitoba and a MFA from Concordia University in Fibres and Material Practices. Her work explores the relationship of the social and the material, especially as it relates to the construction of social space, the marking of physical place, and the activation of embodied site.

Shane Aslan Selzer is an artist, writer, and organizer whose practice develops micro- communities where artists can expand on larger social issues such as exchange, critique, and failure. Selzer is a founding member and Co-Director of Global Crit Clinic, an international peer learning network for artists working to diversify the field by sharing tools for participation.

Alize Zorlutuna works with installation, video, performance, and material culture. Her work investigates themes concerning identity, queer sexuality, settler-colonial relationships to land, culture and history, intimacy with the non-human, and technology. She received her MFA from Simon Frasier University and currently teaches courses in contemporary sculpture, installation, performance, and hybrid media practices at OCADU in Toronto.


The Blackwood Gallery gratefully acknowledges the operating support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the University of Toronto Mississauga.



The Blackwood Gallery is grateful for additional support for Circuit 2: Care Work from the Department of Visual Studies (UTM); McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, Faculty of Information (UTSG); Parkland on the Glen Retirement Living; The Revue Cinema; Streetsville Public Library; Student Housing and Residence Life (UTM); Women and Gender Studies (UTM); Visual Arts Mississauga; University of Toronto Affinity Partners Manulife, TD Insurance, and MBNA.

Funding for additional staff support was made possible through the Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations program, Department of Canadian Heritage. The Canadian Museums Association administers the program on behalf of the Department of Canadian Heritage.