Vicki Clough Curates

Musings on art and life.

Reconstructing Resilience — January 2016

Given that it’s been 900 procrastinating days (or, 2 years, 5 months and 17 procrastinating days) since I last wrote for this blog, it’s definitely time to do something about it. In my own defense (to myself), it hasn’t been an idle 21,624 hours. I have been involved in a few projects and more than my fair share of job applications in the interim. I’ve promised myself that I will take the time to share these projects over the coming days and weeks, hopefully building the momentum to start writing regularly again. Without much more ado, in chronological order…

Reconstructing Resilience ([Re]2) was a one day symposium and two week exhibition that melded critical thought with creative action, using four pillars of sustainability; economics, politics, ecology and culture as its guiding framework. I was lucky enough to have had Dr Alia Weston, lead researcher for this project, as one of my MFA thesis supervisors. Alia and I have a similar focus with our work; we want to encourage creative socially responsible solutions to precariousness. Her input into my project was extremely valuable, bringing a practicality that is deeply rooted in research methodologies and having the opportunity to build my portfolio with a project like [Re]2 was golden.

We put out an open call for submissions for both papers and artwork and were mostly blown away by the quality of the responses (I still regret not being able to accept the delightful sounding paper about domestic pets’ ability to encourage resilience in humans). We secured our keynote speaker, Rob Shirkey, and began planning how we were going to model the philosophies we were trying to encourage through our exhibition and curated talks.

Leading by example was important to us. We wanted to show a dedication to sustainability through our actions and this encompassed anything we could realistically achieve, given our tight critical path. Having a workable budget for food allowed us some freedom to find a catering company that represented these philosophies, and LOFT Kitchen came out on top in our search. Similarly, lanyards at conferences are extremely wasteful, so we improvised. grOCAD was commissioned to produce seed paper and a stamp for name tags, while Alia made the lanyards out of braided plastic bags. Unfortunately, getting our booklets printed in this same way, within budget and with a tight turn around simply wasn’t an option, but it would have been nice!

The one day symposium was held on January 15th and culminated with the opening of the 2 week run of the accompanying exhibition. I was honored to act as moderator for the day and despite my dislike of microphones, I had a great time hosting the event. Our speakers brought their “A” games, with thoughtful and thought-provoking topics ranging from climate change and sustainability in the maker movement to urban farming and human rights issues.

An artist friend who I have written about before, Cyril Williams, had submitted to do one of his trademark participatory art projects during a break in the proceedings, and I jumped at the chance of working with him again. Flanked by additional commissioned work by grOCAD, current and former OCAD students and independent artists, the stage was appropriately set for fantastic dialog and the connections that were made throughout the day.

Following on from the success of this event, I was fortunate to be hired on contract as the Impact Collective’s Lab Coordinator, as well as Alia’s Research Assistant in Creative Entrepreneurship, both roles at OCAD University as part of the Impact Economy Research Hub & CEAD’s social change research project, funded by the McConnell Foundation.

During my time in these positions, I launched the website for [Re]2, where you can read about our speakers: Rob Shirkey, Gilad Cohen, Ian Clarke, Tanya Chung Tiam Fook, Singithi Kandage, Soyang Park, Clelia Rodriguez, Sarah Tranum and Lindy Wilkins. I also learned a little coding, so where we have permission, you can listen to audio of each talk. Additionally, you can browse images of the artwork by Anna McIntyre, Cyril Williams, Elyse Portal, grOCAD, Hala Chaui, JAYU, Kelly Kornet, Valerie Carew and learn more about LOFT Kitchen. If you really want to, you can also watch a (somewhat embarrassing) video of my sleep deprived self talking inelequently about the project below.

One thing that will become apparent over the next posts about my recent work, is the appreciation I have for the people I have worked with on these projects. Without exception, I have established the most mutually supportive working and personal relationships with more than a few of my collaborators on every single contract. It’s these relationships that sustain me, creatively and personally and help me become more resilient while I job hunt and swing from one freelance contract to another.

On that note, because there is no public acknowledgement on the [Re]2 site and it’s long overdue, I’d like to thank Alia, Gilad, Erica, Cyril, Tom, Heidi, Terry and Rob.

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This entry was posted on February 20, 2018 by in activism, Art, criticism, Curatorial Practice, Eco-art, Recycled Art.


Vicki Clough

Vicki Clough

Vicki is an independent curator and craftsperson with a focus on socially engaged and participatory art and events. In January 2016 she helped launch Reconstructing Resilience, a research and curatorial project that explored various forms of sustainable practice. As a freelance curator she has worked with the Riverdale Hub, Myseum of Totonto/Art Spin and was the Curatorial Director of Figment Toronto from 2014 to 2017. She has also co-curated exhibitions including JAYU's iAM photography project (2016 & 2017), Move to Stillness, for the Harbourfront Centre's Kick Up Your Heels Festival (2015), The Duel, AGO First Thursdays (2014), and What Are You Made Of? OCAD U Graduate Gallery (2013). She initiated the Toronto based workshop model and website Polymers in Action: Socially Engaged Art and the Environment as part of her studies at OCAD University, where she obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. She publishes on anything that interests her deeply and moves her to the point of lengthy verbal expression.

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