Furnishing Positions 03

Greig de Peuter/
Paige Sarlin
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"

Paige Sarlin image
Paige Sarlin, This poster cannot, 2014

Materiality / Immateriality: Are public spaces physical or virtual?

For Habermas, the public sphere that emerged in the eighteenth century was a space that was both physical—in the streets, coffee houses, and social clubs—and virtual—embedded in media such as newspapers and journals. Today’s media are even less material, as the Internet allows anyone with access to a computer to produce and disseminate her or his ideas on the web. However, this process remains highly contested, and the proliferation of digital information means that every individual statement has less value than it once did. The most recent social movements emerged through and occupied complex hybrids of immaterial and material public spaces.

Artist Project and Text:
Paige Sarlin, This poster cannot, 2014.
Greig de Peuter, "Public Space as Workspace," 2014.

Furnishing Positions is 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.


In the age of Google Maps, HDcctv, and #occupyeverything, it is difficult to neatly disentangle physical and digital dimensions of public space, where the “physical” broadly references the bodies that assemble in public spaces and the (natural or synthetic) material forms that constitute such spaces, and the “digital” signals a mix of computing devices, machine-readable data, and networked communication.
Given that Adrian Blackwell’s installation, Furnishing Positions, is housed in an exhibition titled Falsework, it seems fitting to take what the political economist Karl Polanyi termed a “fictitious” commodity [1]—labour—as the entry point for glimpsing the imbrication of the physical and the digital in public space. To approach public space by way of labour is to immediately confront a paradox. On the one hand, the notion of public space conjures up escape from, or an alternative to, work: lazing on the green, yes, but also, say, striking on the sidewalk beyond the employer’s territory or participating in assemblies of all kinds in which individuals refuse their reduction to labour-power, join forces, and make common claims on the wealth that their collective labour has amassed.

-Excerpted from Greig de Peuter, "Public Space as Workspace."

1. “Labor is only another name for a human activity which goes with life itself, which in its turn is not produced for sale but for entirely different reasons, nor can that activity be detached from the rest of life. [Labor is not] produced for sale. The commodity description […] is entirely fictitious.” Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001 [1944]), 75.

Contributors' Biographies

Greig de Peuter is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. He researches the contested political economy of media and cultural production, with an emphasis on work, labour, and employment. He is currently collaborating with Enda Brophy and Nicole Cohen on a multi-country study of precarious labour politics in creative industries. His most recent book, co-authored with Nick Dyer-Witheford, is Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games (University of Minnesota Press, 2009). His writing has appeared in The Fibreculture Journal, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Journal of Cultural Economy, and several anthologies. His article with Cohen and Brophy, “Interns, Unite! (You Have Nothing to Lose—Literally),” received the 2013 Canadian Association of Journalists/Communication Workers of America—Canada Award for Labour Reporting. He has been active in collectively run autonomous education and curatorial projects, including the Toronto School of Creativity & Inquiry (2005-2010), and, currently, Letters & Handshakes.

Paige Sarlin is an artist, scholar, and political activist. She holds a PhD in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University and an MFA in Film/Video/New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her feature-length documentary film, The Last Slide Projector, premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2007. From 1999 to 2010, she was an active participant in 16Beaver Group in New York City, a platform for the discussion of the intersection of art and politics. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally, and her writings have been published in October, Re-Thinking Marxism, Reviews in Cultural Theory, The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Scapegoat, and Framework: A Journal of Film and Culture. She is at work on a book-length manuscript entitled Interview-Work: The Genealogy of a Media Form. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Study at University at Buffalo, SUNY.


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:


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