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Art Show Review: Anatomy of a Protest

November 28th, 2014     by deb singh     Comments

Photo: Luciano Castillo

Art Show Review: Anatomy of a Protest Wendy Coburn Justina M. Barnicke Gallery University of Toronto

I recently visited the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House, University of Toronto (7 Hart House Circle) and caught a wicked moment in time/art show/herstorical perspective on a very recent and important protest in Toronto history. The art exhibit, Anatomy of a Protest by Wendy Coburn, stars the recent and gone-global protest, the first Slut Walk ever (held in Toronto in 2011).

Anatomy of a Protest includes photography with LED lighting, protest placards, posters and two special pieces, which include spots that look like rays of sunshine and a video created by Coburn (I don’t want to give it all away). Through her exhibit, Wendy Coburn not only makes art, she describes to us what she sees as a well thought out and planned theatre piece on the streets of Toronto.

The work itself speaks to a specific part of the Slut Walk protest that I myself didn’t think about until seeing this show. Coburn’s work is so compelling that any activist, even those who were onto Coburn’s plot, would be compelled to see the next protest differently and act accordingly - that is to say - as a protester; Wendy Coburn put me on notice.

Through Coburn’s use of panoramic photos of the Slut Walk 2010 itself and photos of the “props” used on the day, she juxtaposes some very simple ideas: the art of the protest and the theatre of life; the truth of survivors of violence and the infiltration of such events like protests; the Toronto protester him/herself and the way media present us when we protest against the violation of our rights.

Coburn also makes sure to make the connections between the protest itself and the lack of police discord with the hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women across the nation.

Wendy Coburn did an outstanding job with this show: its tactile nature (you can take a stack of photos/posters home with you; an image from the documentary), its visual importance through the lit photos and placards as art, and further with the video she uses to connect the dots.

It is truly an outstanding show in its simple connections and poignant pieces.

The show ends December 19th, 2014 so check it out!

Tags: arts, review

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