Furnishing Positions 01

Abbas Akhavan/
Kanishka Goonewardena
Edited by Adrian Blackwell and Christine Shaw

This publication series is part of the comissioned project Furnishing Positions by Adrian Blackwell and is produced in conjunction with the 2014 exhibition FALSEWORK

Double-sided broadsheet, 18" x 18"

Abbas Akhavan image
Abbas Akhavan, Correspondences, 2008/2014

Affinity / Disagreement: What draws people to public space?

The most fundamental paradox of public space is that people assemble because they have something in common, but at the same time they are only compelled to do so because they disagree with others about something that affects their lives. Contemporary political theorists have argued that disagreement lies at the heart of any political assembly, while others have emphasized the importance of the affinities that draw people together. If both of these claims are true, then public space has to accommodate the complexities of both consensus and dissensus.

Artist Project and Text:
Abbas Akhavan, Correspondences, 2008/2014
Kanishka Goonewardena, "Affinity/Antagonism," 2014

Furnishing Positionsis a serial publication that focuses on the paradoxical nature of public space. Its standard form is an 18”x18” broadsheet, consisting of an artist’s project on one side and a text on the other. It will be published once every two weeks for three months, starting September 15, 2014, with each issue focusing on a specific paradox. As a serial, each issue builds on earlier editions. As each issue is published, it will be hung and made available for free in the Blackwood Gallery, posted to the gallery’s website, postered in public sites, and circulated electronically. As the exhibition progresses these broadsheets will accumulate, generating and animating conversations in the space.

Furnishing Positions (Broadsheet) is part of Adrian Blackwell’s project, Furnishing Positions, commissioned by the Blackwood Gallery and presented in conjunction with the exhibition FALSEWORK, September 15 – December 7, 2014.


Space is political. Though this may seem self-evident, it is still useful to ask what we mean by politics today, especially in a world so recently diagnosed by some as “post-political.” Let’s also recall that this post-political sentiment spans virtually the entire spectrum of influential opinion at the turn of the millennium, from Right to Left. Iconic at one end is Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis, the claim that the world-history of political antagonism finally came to a conclusion with the defeat of communism by capitalism, as liberal democracy proved to be the last and best of all human worlds. [1] A corresponding view is discernible at the other end as well, on the political Left, which found expression in those radical thinkers who revived some old Orwellian motifs (or those of Kafka, Weber, Huxley) to suggest that a certain regime of policing [2] or governmentality [3] has eclipsed what used to be called politics—which for Marx had meant not managing, but changing, the world.

-Excerpted from "Affinity/Antagonism" by Kanishka Goonewardena

1. Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History,” The National Interest (Summer 1989): 3-18; for a comprehensive review of the idea of “the end of history,” see Perry Anderson, “The Ends of History,” in A Zone of Engagement (London: Verso, 1992), 279-375.
2. Jacques Rancière, Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, trans. Julie Rose (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999 [1995]).
3. Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978-1979, ed. Michel Senellart, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave, 2008 [2004]).

Contributors' Biographies

Abbas Akhavan’s practice ranges from site-specific ephemeral installations to drawing, video, and performance. The domestic sphere, as a forked space between hospitality and hostility, has been an ongoing area of research in Akhavan’s work. More recent works have shifted focus, wandering onto spaces just outside the home: the balcony, the garden, the backyard, and other domesticated landscapes. Akhavan is the recipient of the Berliner Kunstpreis (2012) and the Abraaj Group Art Prize (2014).

Kanishka Goonewardena was trained as an architect in Sri Lanka and now teaches critical theory and urban design at the University of Toronto. His writings have focused on the relations between space and ideology, imperialism and colonialism, and Marxist thought. He has been a visiting professor at the Freie Universität (2009) and the Technische Universität Berlin (2013-2014) and is a co-editor of Space, Difference, Everyday Life: Reading Henri Lefebvre (New York: Routledge, 2008).


Publisher: Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga
Artist: Adrian Blackwell
Curator: Christine Shaw
Editors: Adrian Blackwell, Christine Shaw
Designer: Matthew Hoffman
Copy Editor: Jeffrey Malecki
Printer: Captain Printworks
Abbas Akhavan
Adrian Blackwell
Eric Cazdyn
Greig de Peuter
Kanishka Goonewardena
Karen Houle
Mary Lou Lobsinger
Dylan Miner
Paige Sarlin
Scott Sørli
Charles Stankievech
Kika Thorne
cheyanne turions

How To Order

The Furnishing Positions broadsheets are all available for free download. To order free printed copies of any or all of them, please send an email including title(s), number of copies, and your mailing address to: michael.dirisio@utoronto.


Issues in this Series

00, Six Paradoxes, 15/09/2014
01, Affinity / Disagreement, 15/09/2014
02, Representation / Presentation, 29/09/2014
03, Materiality / Immateriality, 14/10/2014
04, People / Things, 27/10/2014
05, Privacy / Publicity, 10/11/2014
06, City / Urbanization, 24/11/2014

Related Projects

Furnishing Positions
Commissioned Project
by Adrian Blackwell
September 15 - December 7, 2014

September 15 - December 7, 2014
curated by Christine Shaw