Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid Circuit 3, Take Care
November 20–December 9, 2017

Featuring project descriptions, a curatorial essay for The Sustenance Rite by Lauren Fournier, artist biographies, and full colour illustrations throughout.

This micropublication was produced on the occasion of Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid, Circuit 3/5 of Take Care, November 20–December 9, 2017.

Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid

The Sustenance Rite
Circo Zero

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Reclaiming self-care and enacting new practices of mutual aid are not separate tasks but reciprocally constituting responses to the crisis of care. Rather than abandon self-care to upmarket consumerism or dismiss it as a supplement to hyper-productivity, Take Care’s third circuit, Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid, retains a commitment to a resistant concept of self-care. It is a survival strategy of bodies, desires, and forms of community which forces of domination continually work to erase, deny, or marginalize. [1] In confronting systemic oppressions, exceeding the bounds of the individual, and centring marginalized collective ways of knowing, self-care blurs with mutual aid. “Mutual contest” (competition for limited and shared resources) coexists with a countervailing law of “mutual aid” (reciprocal exchange of resources and co-operative services for mutual benefit), which is vital to the “maintenance of life.” [2] Redressing needs that a prevailing order fails to meet, mutual aid is anchored in affective bonds, manifest in practices of co-operation, formalized in institutions, sustained by beliefs and customs, and rooted in the recognition that mutual support is necessary to adapt to and survive adverse material conditions. If the crisis of care atomizes and strains caring capacities, the persistence of mutual aid not only fills care gaps but also affirms an excess of caring capacity and infrastructure-making, tangible and intangible, for an aesthetics of living, carefully, in common. [3] Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid opens space for autonomous determinations of care, defiantly performs the precarization of labour and life, rehearses temporary communities of support, and hosts rituals of communication between artist and audience through which the gallery is refigured as a site of mutual aid.

Letters & Handshakes

[1] Sara Ahmed, “Selfcare as Warfare,” feministkilljoys (August 25, 2014):
[2] Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (Mineola, NY: Dover, 1902), xiii.
[3] “This way of thinking infrastructure-making as the convergence scene of various value abstractions, material protocols for metabolizing resources, and socially distributed experience taps into David Harvey’s view that the disturbance capital makes in creating dominant class interest infrastructures can also foster countermovements in new infrastructures for life and sociality, despite and in response to the neglect and destructiveness of the state and capital toward the very contexts of life and lives that they’re exploiting.” Lauren Berlant, “The commons: Infrastructures for troubling times,” in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space vol. 34, no. 3 (2016): 403.


Laura Larry Arrington is a dance-artist working in hybrids of idea and practice . Her work in dance (time/space/body/whole) pivots around a desire to orient towards the capacities in us all that can glimpse unseen and unutterable horizons. Her body is her life and her life is her work.

Anthea Black is a Canadian artist, writer, and cultural worker based in San Francisco and Toronto. Her work addresses feminist and queer history, collaboration, materiality, and labour. She has exhibited and published in Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, France, and Norway. She is the co-editor of HANDBOOK: Supporting Queer and Trans Students in Art and Design Education with Shamina Chherawala, and Craft on Demand: The New Politics of the Handmade with Nicole Burisch. Black is an Assistant Professor of Printmedia at the California College of the Arts. 

Thirza Cuthand was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and grew up in Saskatoon. Since 1995 she has been making short experimental narrative videos and films about sexuality, madness, youth, love, and race, which have screened in festivals and galleries across the United States, Canada, Germany, and Brazil. She completed her BFA in Film and Video at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and her MA in Media Production at Ryerson University. She is of Plains Cree and Scots descent, a member of Little Pine First Nation, and currently resides in Toronto.

Erika DeFreitas is a Scarborough-based multidisciplinary conceptual artist. Placing an emphasis on process, gesture, and documentation, her work explores the influence of language, loss, and culture on the formation of identity, with the use of textile-based works and performative actions. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and the United States. Longlisted for the 2017 Sobey Art Award, a recipient of the Toronto Friends of Visual Arts’ 2016 Finalist Artist Prize and the 2016 John Hartman Award, DeFreitas holds a Master of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto.

Jorge De Hoyos is an American dancer and choreographer from Southern California based in Berlin since 2012.  He studied Cultural Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and was active for five years in the dance/queer/etc. performance community in San Francisco. He has presented his work and performed in collaborative projects in both Berlin and San Francisco.

Ruairí Donovan has been making dances since 2008. He splits his time between Oileán Chléire, a remote Gaeltacht Island off the south coast of Ireland, and Amsterdam. His work has been presented internationally to critical acclaim at venues including SummerWorks Toronto, CounterPulse San Francisco, New York Live Arts, Project Arts Centre Dublin, Chapter Cardiff, HAU Berlin, TanzHaus Zurich, and Zodiak Helsinki. A language activist and a choreographer, he is making ritual objects for a tribe which doesn't exist.

Empress Jupiter is a two-spirit shamanatrix storyteller, performance artist, wordsmith, stylist, and fashion influence. Born in Houston, Jupiter now lives in Miss West Oakland. Jupiter has performed in a wide range of venues, with the mission to support queer and trans people in their self-esteem through fashion, ritual, and performance. Jupiter is the originator of Cunty Calisthenics, a communal improvised workout, and is the curator of the Miss Androgyny Pageant.

Lauren Fournier is a writer, artist, curator, and researcher. She is a doctoral candidate at York University, where she is completing a SSHRC-funded cross-disciplinary study of auto-theory as a contemporary mode of feminist practice. Her prior work as a front-line mental health and harm-reduction worker informs her research. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and in Berlin, Athens, and Houston, and her writing has appeared in numerous arts and academic publications.

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Mercy Lilian Gichuki received her MPH from the University of Waterloo and a BA in Women and Gender Studies from UTM. Mercy works as a Public Education and Community Collaborator at Interim Place. For the past 10 years, Mercy has worked in public health, working with women living with HIV, survivors of gender-based and sexual violence, newcomers, refugees, and non-status women. Mercy works from an anti-oppressive, integrated feminist lens with a deep understanding of the many intersections that women face.

Keith Hennessy is a performer, choreographer, teacher, writer, and activist. Born in Sudbury, he lives in San Francisco and tours internationally. Ideas and practices inspired by anarchism, critical whiteness, punk, and queer-feminism motivate and mobilize Hennessy’s creative and activist projects. Hennessy directs Circo Zero, and was a member of the collaborative performance companies Contraband with Sara Shelton Mann, CORE, and Cahin-caha, cirque bâtard.

Jesse Hewit is a three-way cross between a diabolical valedictorian fratboy at a therapy intake session, a fussy-but-useful little baby bear who can make a fierce sandwich, and a really old and mostly unremarkable leather shoe. His work, curations, collaborations, and teachings have happened in various parts of the US and Europe, and he currently serves his local community as curator of Aggregate Space Gallery's Friction/Function series (Oakland), and as Program Manager for the ODC Theater (San Francisco). 

Jassem Hindi was born in Saudi Arabia and studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, Paris. As a performer and sound-maker, his work extends internationally , involving mostly politically engaged work and the study of strange objects. As a musician, he is using mainly broken machines and lo-fi field recordings, in the spirit of experimental music. He collaborates widely in writing, performing, and sound-making, and teaches various workshops about sound, performance, and theory.

Shaista Latif is a Queer Afghan-Canadian artist, writer, and facilitator. Her works have been actively presented in Canada by festivals and platforms like Ontario Scene, SummerWorks, Halifax Queer Acts, and Why Not Theatre’s RISER Project. Latif’s work centers on exploring the politics of inclusion and advocating for spaces and processes that support agency and care. She is currently artist-in-residence at STO Union and was named a 2016 Siminovitch Protégé. Her play Graceful Rebellions will be published in 2017.

Emily Leap was inspired by her work with Turbulence to enter into her own personal economics experiment. With one year left before graduation, she’s accumulated $150,000 in student loans. And counting. But soon she will be a doctor. Or merely an acupuncturist. Or a doctor of Chinese medicine. Or just in debt. Or fall back into work as an aging trapeze artist.

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

Allyson Mitchell is a maximalist artist working in sculpture, performance, installation, and film. Her practice melds feminism and pop culture to investigate contemporary ideas about sexuality, autobiography, and the body. Her works have been exhibited in galleries and festivals across Canada, the US, and Europe. She is based in Toronto, where she is an Associate Professor in the School of Women's Studies at York University. She runs FAG Feminist Art Gallery with Deirdre Logue.

Lisa Myers is an independent curator and artist with a keen interest in interdisciplinary collaboration. Her curatorial practice considers values placed on time, sound, and knowledge. Myers has an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial practice from OCAD University. Her writing has been published in many exhibition publications including Senses and Society, Public, C Magazine, and FUSE Magazine. Myers is a member of Beausoleil First Nation based in Toronto and Port Severn, Ontario, and an Assistant Lecturer in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.

Petrina Ng is a visual artist and cultural worker based in Toronto. Her multi-form feminist practice connects intimacy, discomfort, and absurdity. Previous projects have been shown in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Ng received a BA from the University of Toronto and an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art (London). She is the Exhibition Coordinator at the Blackwood Gallery.

Julie Phelps engages the hybrid strategies of producer, artist, and community activist to generate new knowledge for a world that is more complicated and less capitalistic. Phelps is the Artistic Director of CounterPulse in San Francisco, a performing arts venue and community hub. When not at work, Phelps is (literally) a mover and shaker in the field of contemporary dance, touring nationally and internationally as a speaker and dance artist.

Radiodress is an artist, Priestess, and Prison Chaplain. In hir creative practice, s/he uses live and recorded ritual, singing, yelling, talking, and listening to consider bodies as sites of knowledge, and communication as a political practice. Exploring the relationship between collective voice and the empathic act of listening, hir work engages with consensual ceremony as a site of vulnerability, and an entry point to sensation and emotion-based transformation. Radiodress’s projects have been performed widely in North America, Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East. 

Zoë Schneider is a sculptor, curator, and arts administrator who transforms found and fabricated materials into artworks that investigate corporeality within social systems. Schneider’s works explore various phenomenon and experience, invoking responses ranging from quiet contemplation to interactive engagement. Schneider is currently completing an MFA at the University of Saskatchewan.  

Multiple Dora and Gemini Award-nominated Brian Solomon is of Anishnaabe and Irish descent, from the Northern Ontario community Shebahonaning-Killarney. Solomon is a graduate of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, and has an MA in Performance from the Laban Center (UK). He has presented his multidisciplinary works and performed for a multitude of companies and creators in Canada, the US, and Europe. He has taught for many arts institutions and companies, including H.F.S. Ernst Busch, Berlin.

Kara Stone is an artist and scholar interested in the affective and gendered experiences of mental illness, wellness, and healing as it relates to art production, video games, and traditional crafting. Her artwork has been featured in The Atlantic, Wired, and Vice. She is a member of the Different Games Collective. She holds an MA from York University in Communication and Culture and is pursuing a PhD in Film and Digital Media with a designated emphasis in Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz.

Gabriel Todd is a dance- and music-based performing artist, choreographer, and sound designer living in Denver, Colorado. He received a BFA in Performance from Naropa University and an MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has performed and collaborated musically across the US and abroad with various artists. He is currently working on a collection of songs, texts, and dances called organ donor.

Kaitlin Tremblay is a writer and narrative designer, living in Toronto. She is the author of the book Ain't No Place for a Hero (ECW Press, 2017), about subversive storytelling, and the lead writer of the narrative-driven and death-positive video game A Mortician's Tale (Laundry Bear, 2017). Kaitlin’s work explores mental illness, queerness, feminism, and community in video games.

Evan Tyler is an artist, musician, occasional curator, and a writer of fiction living and working in Canada. Tyler has exhibited and curated both nationally and internationally. From 2010-2014 he ran gallerywest on Toronto’s Queen Street West. His artwork focuses on voice and performance, blending the fictional and autobiographical. Tyler is a graduate of Masters of Visual Studies (MVS) in the studio program at the University of Toronto, with a collaborative graduate specialization from the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.

Justice Walz is an interdisciplinary, Toronto-based artist. She is currently completing her BFA in Ryerson University's RTA New Media program. Her work spans a variety of media including installation, illustration, clay, and digital art. At age 11 she was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis—a condition that causes her chronic pain and fatigue. Today, Walz uses art to confront past traumas and has embraced her voice as a queer, mad-identifying, intersectional feminist—these themes resonate loudly in her work.

Jessica Lynn Whitbread is an activist and artist who has worked in the HIV movement since her diagnosis in 2002. She works in social practice and community art, engaging a diversity of audiences in critical dialogue. Her primary interests are bodies, sexuality, and desire, and her work explores how gender, sero-status, and criminalization impact the navigation of sexual relationships. In 2014 Jessica published her first book, Tea Time: Mapping Informal Networks of Women Living with HIV, a photo collection of her Tea Time community arts practice.

Alley Wilde is an arts and culture worker based in San Francisco. They create dance-based solo shows, perform drag as Hella Degenerate, and co-founded the queer performance collective Yum Yum Club. As an administrator, they work with Keith Hennessy/Circo Zero and Jess Curtis/Gravity doing grant writing, production management, marketing, and bookkeeping.

Ravyn Wngz is an African, Bermudian, Mohawk, 2Spirit, queer, and transcendent individual. Ravyn aims to challenge mainstream arts and dance spaces, sharing her stories while continuing to create opportunities for marginalized LGBTTIQQ2S people with a focus on African/Black communities. Ravyn is a co-founder of ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company and the artistic director of Outrageous Victorious Africans Collective. Ravyn is part of the Black Lives Matter Toronto steering committee, a group committed to eradicating anti-Black racism, supporting Black healing, and liberating Black communities.


Curatorial text: Lauren Fournier

Image credit: Circo Zero, Turbulence (performance still), 2010–12. Photo: David Visnjic. 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.



The Blackwood Gallery is grateful for additional support for Circuit 3: Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid from the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology (UTM); Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts; University of Toronto Affinity Partners Manulife, TD Insurance, and MBNA; USArtists International, a program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Women and Gender Studies (UTM).

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.


The Blackwood Gallery and Letters & Handshakes are indebted to mutual aid and knowledge-sharing. Brandy Leary, Supriya Nayak, Danny Russell, Danielle St-Amour, Joan Simalchik, and Alley Wilde helped make Circuit 3 happen.

Related Projects

Circuit 3: Infrastructures and Aesthetics of Mutual Aid
November 20–December 9, 2017
Take Care