In November I begin an artist residency at PWA: People With Aids Foundation here in Toronto (http://www.pwatoronto.org/). The residency has been jointly organized by PWA and Andrew Zealley's Disco Hospital (http://www.andrewzealley.com/)
During the residency, I will collaborate with members of the PWA community to do a site-specific project that focuses on Allen Gardens: the public park that sits adjacent to the PWA building. By researching the park’s history and by spending considerable time wandering about the park and its large Victorian greenhouse, the aim is to create a collaborative work (a seance-performance-comic book-guide book) that emphasizes the social and communal life of the park: how it has served as an important site in the formation of queer counterpublics.
Here is a sample of Toxicity Takes a Holiday: a 25 page comic book that examines the messy caustic politics of lead poisoning. The story focus on an odd public health event in Toronto: an annual blood lead testing street fair, which was held annually in the small working class neighbourhood of South Riverdale in the 1980s.
The story stresses the unruliness of lead: how it has the atomic ability to linger indefinitely. Lead has managed to infiltrate daily urban life so that it enjoys a ubiquitous but tacit presence: it is everywhere but is rarely acknowledged.
Toxicity Takes a Holiday maps some of the specific ways the chemical has infiltrated Toronto's air, soil, and watersheds, so that it has become a constant poisonous companion that people have learned to live with. I am primarily interested in the working contradictions - deployed by government agencies and the refining industry – that allow lead to be both a well-established neurotoxin and an important base used in the manufacturing of countless essential items.
Here is a sample of The Tale of the Sarnia Nose: a 25 page comic book about Chemical Valley, a massive petrochemical industrial corridor in southwestern Ontario.
Chemical Valley is a central hub in the combine flow of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands, the production of petrochemicals, the the production and dissemination of ambient toxins, and the flow of neoliberal capital.
Central to the toxic story of Chemical Valley is the fact that the First Nation Aamjiwnaang is literally surrounded by giant petrochemical plants: exposing the Chippewa community to a constant barrage of airborne and waterborne emissions.
The Tale of the Sarnia Nose traces some of the region's contradictory politics, history, desires, anxieties, and economics that buttresses Chemical Valley and allows for the slow and constant poisoning of Aamjiwnaang. The story attempts to map how this glaring example of an institutionalized colonial violence has become normalized: seen as a matter of fact rather than a matter of concern.