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Terms for Groups of Animals (redacted). Organizing device for Act 1 of OPERA-19, curated by Christine Shaw.
Terms for Groups of Animals (redacted). Organizing device for Act 1 of OPERA-19, curated by Christine Shaw.

March 31, 2022, 12:30 pm2:00 pm

Christine Shaw
GROUP PROBLEMS: Learning to Live Together at Scale
Thursday, March 31
ACT Gallery

For whom do group problems exist? How do they appear, how do they persist, how do they spread and intensify, and how do they end? What is the function of the problem in the context of group formation, disintegration, and renewal? How do problems within and between groups inform and transform borders, boundaries, and membership? In this talk, Christine Shaw will describe curatorial research currently underway for GROUP PROBLEMS: Learning to Live Together at Scale. By examining the myriad ways in which group problems take form, this major research project will explore the composition of a heterogeneous series of groups and their respective formation and resolution of problems. Through four major imperatives—Do It Together, Let’s Get In Formation, Remember the Future, and, Pay Attention—the project will attend to the collective aporias of contemporary society as it struggles across various registers to articulate the problems that will in turn shape this epoch of transformation.

As a provocation, the eventualities currently unfolding in relation to COVID-19 offer an especially poignant preliminary consideration. The myriad ways in which COVID-19 has helped to explicate a seemingly infinite list of social, economic, and environmental failures, across innumerable scales, has become increasingly apparent and extremely disconcerting. Enlivening the figuration of the chorus who bears all of it for us, OPERA-19—the first curatorial experiment in GROUP PROBLEMSconsiders how the chorus can propel transformation and planetary-scale mobilization. Across four acts staged in various localities around the world, this opera-as-exhibition will invent new methodologies for co-constituting a work in shared separation and make public the various acts of collaboration, improvisation, and direct intervention that unfold within spaces of enclosure. By making reflections on the limits and obstacles that shape collaboration in times of global crisis part of the overall approach—that is, integrated fully into the project’s methodology and infrastructure—OPERA-19 will create not only an extension of the current cultural discourse on how artists respond to planetary events, it will also encourage novel forms and methodologies for learning to live together at scale.

Christine Shaw is a curator, editor, and educator whose work convenes, enables, and amplifies the transdisciplinary thinking necessary for understanding our current multi-scalar historical moment and co-creating the literacies, skills, and sensibilities required to adapt to the various socio-technical transformations of our contemporary society. She has established an innovative curatorial practice in Canada and is recognized for her experimental exhibition-led inquiries, the commissioning of complex works across all media, and the creation of long-term transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaborations performatively staged within and beyond the gallery and the university. Her commitment to compositional strategies, epistemic disobedience, and social ecologies has been applied to multi-year curatorial inquiries including Take Care, a project series involving over 250 contributors critically engaging the crisis of care (2016–2019) and The Work of Wind: Air, Land, Sea, a curatorial and editorial series on the complex entanglements of ecologies of excess, environmental legacies of colonialism, the financialization of nature, contemporary catastrophism, politics of sustainability, climate justice, and hopeful resilience (2018–2022). Since 2013 she has been the Director/Curator of the Blackwood Gallery at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where she is Associate Professor of Curatorial and Visual Studies. Shaw is a Research Affiliate & Visiting Scholar in the Art, Culture, Technology program at MIT.

Christine Shaw’s curatorial research at MIT is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Part of the Spring 2022 Artistic Research Conversation Series.