Other Life-formings January 13-March 7, 2020

Featuring project descriptions, an exhibition text by Alison Cooley, artist biographies, and full colour illustrations throughout.

This micropublication was produced on the occasion of Other Life-formings, January 13-March 7, 2020.

Other Life-formings

Parastoo Anoushahpour
Zach Blas & Jemima Wyman
Laurie Kang
Alex McLeod
Pedro Neves Marques
Linda Sanchez
Amanda Strong

Curated by Alison Cooley

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Exhibition Statement

Other Life-formings

One of the greatest capacities of the medium of animation is its magic—the apparent bringing-to-life of a world of static objects, uncertain companions, and unruly agencies. Things move, they do, they feel the propulsion of awakened urgencies. This “magic,” in fact a technology of representation which cascades still images in order to undo the perceived stillness of the image, also illuminates a fundamental relationship between people and things. Animation activates non-human agency as observed by a spectator, a participant, a co-performer recognizing the coming-to-life of an object, an animal, a photographic or digital entity. It opens space for the sentience and sign-making capacities of other-than-human beings, invites non-human languages, unsettles anthropocentric logics. It “models the possibility of possibility.”[1] In visualizing the liveliness of the non-human, animation complicates relationships with nature, technology, and the notion of time (still moments unfrozen, progress undone).

Animation, it turns out, opens opportunities to ask questions about the constituent elements of life: who or what gets coded as living? By what schema do we grant liveliness, agency, animacy to non-humans? Through whose technologies do we come to see life, and to identify with it? By what means might we refuse or refute ethnographic fascinations with animism, instead attuning ourselves to expanded frameworks for liveliness? Other Life-formings interrogates the conditions of coming-to-life along four lines of inquiry: capacities for movement, language, forming, and empathy. Across stop-motion animation, digital modelling, photo-sensitive interspecies collaboration, kinetic sculpture, and video installation, the exhibition tracks the precarious empathies enlivened by animation.

1. Esther Leslie, “Animation and History” in Animating Film Theory, ed. Karen Beckman (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 25-35.


Parastoo Anoushahpour is a Toronto-based artist with a moving image practice working predominantly with video, film and installation. Her recent solo and collaborative work has been shown at Punto de Vista Film Festival; Sharjah Film Platform; Viennale; Projections (New York Film Festival); Wavelengths (Toronto International Film Festival); Images Festival, Toronto; International Film Festival Rotterdam; Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen; Media City Film Festival, Windsor/Detroit; Experimenta, Bangalore; ZK/U Centre for Art & Urbanistics, Berlin; and Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, Toronto.

Montreal-based artist Daniel Barrow works in video, film, printmaking and drawing, but is best known for his use of antiquated technologies, his “registered projection” installations, and his narrative performances using overhead projection. Barrow describes his performance method as a process of “creating and adapting comic narratives to manual forms of animation by projecting, layering, and manipulating drawings on overhead projectors.” Barrow has exhibited widely in Canada and abroad. He has performed at The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; MoMa PS1, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen; TBA festival, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; and the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival. Barrow was the winner of the 2010 Sobey Art Award and the 2013 Glenfiddich Artist in Residence Prize.

Zach Blas is an artist, filmmaker, writer, and lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has exhibited, lectured, and held screenings internationally, recently at the Walker Art Center, 2018 Gwangju Biennale, Matadero Madrid, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 68th Berlin International Film Festival, Art in General, Gasworks, and e-flux. His practice has been supported by a Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields, the Arts Council England, and Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst. Blas is a 2018–2020 UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellow.

Laurie Kang is an artist living in Toronto. Her work has been exhibited at Interstate Projects and Topless, New York; The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Cooper Cole, 8-11, The Loon, Gallery TPW, Franz Kaka, and Carl Louie, Toronto; Remai Modern, Saskatoon; Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran and L’inconnue, Montreal; Raster Gallery, Warsaw; Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Poland; and Camera Austria, Graz. She has been artist-in-residence at Rupert, Vilnius; Tag Team, Bergen; The Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, Alberta; and Interstate Projects, Brooklyn. She holds an MFA from the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College and is represented by Franz Kaka in Toronto.

Pedro Neves Marques is a visual artist, filmmaker, and writer. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, he lives in New York City. Among others, he has exhibited or screened his work at Gasworks, Tate Modern, and Serpentine Galleries Cinema, London; Pérez Art Museum of Miami; e-flux, SculptureCenter, and Anthology Film Archives, New York; Jeu de Paume and Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Castello di Rivoli, V-A-C Foundation and PAV, Italy; Sursock Art Museum, Beirut; Times Guangdong Museum, Guangzhou; Fondación Botín, Spain; and Museu Coleção Berardo and MAAT, Lisbon; as well as in Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Winterthur Short Film Festival, Indie Lisboa, and DocLisbon. As a writer, he edited The Forest and the School: Where to Sit at the Dinner Table? (2015), an anthology on Brazilian Antropofagia and anthropology; authored two short-story collections, including Morrer na América (2017); and has contributed to many books and magazines. Together with artist Mariana Silva he is the founder of inhabitants, an online channel for exploratory video and documentary reporting.

Alex McLeod is a Toronto-based visual artist who creates work about interconnection, life’s cycles, and empathy through the computer as medium. Prints, animations, and sculptures function as gateways into alternative dimensions, oscillating between the real and the imagined. McLeod holds a BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design, and a Master of Digital Media from the Yeates School of Graduate Studies at Ryerson University, Toronto. He has exhibited extensively at the provincial, national, and international levels. His work is held in private and public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto.

Linda Sanchez studied at the École Supérieure d’Art d’Annecy and is a member of Le laboratoire des intuitions (The Intuition Laboratory) at that same institution, which supports the development of experimental approaches. In addition to numerous solo and group exhibitions (including Otium #3 at the Institut d’art contemporain Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes in 2018), her artistic investigations have given rise to lectures (for example with the anthropologist Tim Ingold in 2014), residencies, and collaborations with scientists. Since 2016, she has also participated in the Laboratoire espace cerveau at the IAC Villeurbane/Rhône-Alpes. In 2017, Sanchez was awarded the Prix Découverte by the Amis du Palais de Tokyo and the Révélations Emerige grant. In 2019, with Flora Moscovici, she presented the project dérobées, which arose from a residency at the Villa Arson in Nice.

Amanda Strong is an Indigenous (Michif) interdisciplinary artist with a focus on filmmaking, stop-motion animations, and media art. She is currently based on unceded Coast Salish territories also known as Vancouver, BC. Strong is the owner, director, and producer of Spotted Fawn Productions (SFP). Under her direction, SFP uses a multi-layered approach and unconventional methods, centered on collaboration in all aspects of their work. Strong received a BAA in Interpretative Illustration and a Diploma in Applied Photography from the Sheridan Institute. With a cross-disciplinary focus, common themes in her work are reclamation of Indigenous histories, lineage, language, and culture. Strong’s work is fiercely process-driven and takes form in various mediums such as: virtual reality, stop-motion, 2D/3D animation, gallery/museum installations, published books, and community-activated projects. Strong and her team at Spotted Fawn Productions are currently working on the research and development of bringing these works into more interactive spaces.

Jemima Wyman is an artist based in Los Angeles. Her most recent work focuses on patterns and masking used by marginalized groups to gain power. Wyman’s recent exhibitions were held at Sullivan+Strumpf, Australia (2019 & 2017); Commonwealth and Council, USA (2018 & 2015); HeK (House of Electronic Arts Basel), Austria (2019); Museum of Australian Democracy (2019); Wellington City Gallery, New Zealand (2018); and ZKM, Germany (2018). Wyman’s artwork has been included in the Sydney (2010), Liverpool (2012) and Gwangju (2018) Biennials. Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Frieze, ArtforumCamera Obscura, LA Weekly, Eyeline, Art Collector, and Artlink


Cover image credit: Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman, im here to learn so :)))))) (video still), 2017. Courtesy the artist.

Design: Matthew Hoffman

Printing: Thistle Printing

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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.


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Other Life-formings
January 13-March 7, 2020