LANDLINES: An exhibition on your phone
Call (705) 242-3463
Launch: February 10, 2023
Co-presented with Near North Mobile Media Lab as part of Ice Follies 2023
Featuring works by Randy Dunsford, Carrie Lyon, Rachel Garrick, Moneca Sinclaire, Osani Balkaran, and Martin King
Curated by Nadine Arpin and Sonya Ballantyne
Connecting over great distances, Landlines brings together artists across northwestern Ontario and northern Manitoba in an audio exhibition that can be experienced anywhere, anytime via your phone. Deriving from a recognition that reliable Internet needed for daily communication is still not afforded to many northern communities across Canada, curators Nadine Arpin and Sonya Ballantyne consider the potentials for media art existing beyond our contemporary, Internet-grounded construct, towards the trusted, analogue infrastructures of telephone landlines. Utilizing the nostalgic and familiar sounds and navigational system of the telephone, the artworks have newly realized avenues for profound storytelling, created sound experiences, and poetry.
Curatorial Statement by Nadine Arpin:
When the concept of using telephone landlines as a mechanism for creating art was brought to me, I was more than excited. Often when living in rural or isolated communities, one can feel creatively restrained by the lack of access to the equipment and support. The ability to create work with whatever means available is a provocative one, which I knew would pull artists out of their comfort zone and stretch their creative process. I engaged three Anishinaabe creatives who work predominantly in the visual arts, and presented them with the Landline concept. As a mentoring curator, it was important to me that these emerging artists not only explore the concept of an audio-work, but also challenge them to play with the mechanics of the phone tree itself resulting in three unique installation experiences. There is a sensibility about each piece, which has a distinctive voice and speaks from the individual artist’s experience. Randy Dunsford’s Self-Realization is a form of coming of age, spoken word, thought poetry; expressing the wisdom of a young Anishinnabe man who has found strength through appreciating the good in life and accepting that which he can not change. Carrie Lyon’s The Dream uses the keypad like a game toggle to encourage listeners to explore the teaching of the Medicine Wheel through a soundscape generated from her own dreams. Rachel Garrick’s A Possible Future uses a build-your-own-story approach to bring the caller into a fictional crisis, set in a northern First Nation community. Despite working independently, the resulting pieces all shared inherent Indigenous themes of gratitude and connection to both the land and the spirit world.
Curatorial Statement by Sonya Ballantyne:
Landlines came about because of how urban art exhibitions were. I grew up thinking that art was just for rich people. I wanted to make it accessible for everyone to attend this exhibition and I found that a lot of others felt the same way. Thus, Landlines was born. I never considered what I did in my own work as “art”. Art was never an accessible thing to me and even now, it seems to be a young person’s game. However, with Landline, it was my intention to ensure we had age representation (both young and older) and genres that are not traditionally seen as “art” such as rap music. This is my first time as a curator and I am honored that it is for this exhibition. I want to thank Osani and Moneca for contributing their work as well as the other artists under Nadine’s banner who joined us.
Supported by Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival and Digital Justice Lab; Concept and production by José Andrés Mora