Furnishing Positions 04

Karen Houle/
Kika Thorne
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"

Kika Thorne image
Kika Thorne, The participant, 2011,
Photograph and missing video files Periphery of the G8 Designated Protest Zone,
Huntsville, Ontario, 2010

People / Things: Are public spaces only for humans?

A public is always thought of as a group of people, but public spaces are non-human, and they include not simply inanimate materials with their specific histories, but also many non-human forms of life. Bruno Latour has argued that this split between people and things is the foundational ruse of modernity, and is responsible for many of our current social and environmental problems. What would happen if we included non-human actors in our understanding of politics, and in our public spaces? 

Artist Project and Text:
Karen Houle, "Shadow Participants in the Jus Publicum Europaeum," 2014.
Kika Thorne, The participant, 2011, Photograph and missing video files, Periphery of the G8 Designated Protest Zone Huntsville, Ontario.

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.



  1. A statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

  2. Any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature. [2]

Stagger-start Boeing 747s
Westward over the Japan Sea
To China, Russia, & then the European Union–

Jet contrails knit a nest above the shipping channel.
Aluminum wing-shadow passes over a thousand Lego-sized container ships.
Propellers. Froth: I am nursing a child in the air with body temperature human milk.
Thin cold rivets keep us from fall-through-empty sky.
Weightlessness, calming down: absurd…

…but in reality expresses a possible truth.

As do those whale-shaped shadows below the boats below. 
Glimpsed. Momentarily visible masses: Following or leading or chasing or
being chased out of contested waters?

Whales in-and-of themselves vs. steamships (oil or wood)?
Sea Shepard vs. blood-red blubber chews? (bait or fertilizer[3])?
Dutch East India Co. (Hirado Station, 1609) + Hiroshima (1945) +
Fukushima (2011) and-or: Indonesia vs. Occupied Japan, and then the West =

Bones of mammals occupy every wet, dry or empty square inch


-Excerpted from "Shadow Participants in the Jus Publicum Europaeum" by Karen Houle

1. “European Public Law.” Editors’ translation.
2. Dictionary.com, s.v. “paradox,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/paradox.
3. “Sturgeon,” Upper French River Cottagers Association, http://ufrca.com/index.php?page=sturgeon.

Contributors' Biographies

Karen Houle is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph, and adjunct graduate faculty in the School of Fine Art and Music. Her areas of specialization are political theory, ethics, environmental philosophy and feminist thought. She co-edited (with Jim Vernon)  Hegel and Deleuze: Together Again for the First Time (Northwestern, 2013). Her monograph, Responsibility, Complexity and Abortion: Toward a New Image of Ethical Thought (Lexington Books, 2013) came out at the end of last year. She is the translator of a book on improvisation (forthcoming, PS Guelph, September 2014) called Lê Quan Ninh: Abécédaire d'une expérience. She has published numerous academic and non-academic articles on topics ranging from animal tracking to Foucault, from watershed ecology to Derrida, from canoe flotillas to Irigaray, from rape to Steve Reich. She is also the author of two books of poetry: Ballast (House of Anansi, 2001) and During (Gaspereau, 2008). In the Fall 2014 she will be the inaugural Eastern Comma Writer-in-Residence at North House, rare.

Kika Thorne, artist, filmmaker, and curator, was a co-founder of she/TV; participated in and documented the sculptural protests of the Toronto-based October, February and April Groups; helped found the Anarchist Free Space & Free School in Toronto's Kensington Market; and in her role as curator for VIVO Media Arts Centre helped instigate SAFE ASSEMBLY, a fourteen-day collective program and gathering to express dissent against the effects of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Thorne has exhibited extensively, including projects at e-flux, Kino Arsenal, and Forum Expanded, Berlin; Murray Guy, New York; The Apartment, Access, Contemporary Art Gallery and Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; and Pleasure Dome and the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto. Her room-sized tensile sculptures were the focus of The WILDcraft, a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Windsor. She received her MFA from the University of Victoria, and she is currently working towards a PhD in Studio Practice at York University, Toronto.


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