RIA Talks in Circles

At Talking in Circles events, we invite people who have strong opinions on specific topics. A short text will be available online to read beforehand.  We set the chairs in a circle, and we talk

Past sessions:

May 9, 2018 RIA talks in Circles about Art and Politics

Text: Chapter 3 “What good is political art in times like these?” from the book

Ben Davis, 9.5 Theses on Art and Class, (Chicago: Haymarket Books 2013)


Talking in Circles: a Discussion with

Karina Bergmans and Jenny McMaster:



Thursday May 18, 2017,  7 PM -9PM 

(please note starting time)

Last October, Karina Bergmans and Jenny McMaster did a performance at Gallery 101, that some of you may have seen: Meet Meat.  To continue the discussion on meat consumption that this event instigated, the artists will bring in the objects that were created specifically for the occasion, and show some slides and a video-clip as a lead-in to this Talking in Circles session.

The artists write:

Meat Meet’s original germ of inspiration was drawn from the traditional ceremonial division of meat in Indo-European societies. The sharing of an animal helped forge communal bonds while it simultaneously forged a class structure. Patterns of unequal distribution can be found in texts ranging from the Vedas of Ancient India to the Greek Hymn to Hermes, to the Feast of Tara as described in the Ulster Cycle. The apportionment of the microcosm of an animal’s body articulated the macrocosm of societal structures. When a community sat down to share a meal, the choices cuts were given to members of the ruling class while the entrails were given to peripheral members of society.


In the twentieth century not much had changed in the economics of meat consumption. Porterhouse and t-bone steaks were still primarily available to the well to do, while people on a tight budget had to be satisfied with ground beef and hot dogs. Today, however, new factors are being taken into account in how we value meat and meat distribution. We understand the prominence of factory farming means the place of meat in our diet comes at the cost of the quality of life of animals as well the depletion of soil and forest. Nevertheless, as with most goods we consume, there is a price attached to respecting the moral implications of a product’s origin. Ethically sourced meats are more expensive even if they are ‘low’ meats like sausage and while vegetarianism is a popular option, it requires careful planning to provide the iron and protein instantly supplied by steak or roast beef.


Bruce Lincoln: “Banquets and Brawls” in Discourse and the Construction of Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1992)

Michael Polan: “The Ethics of Eating Animals.” in The Omnivore’s Dilemma (London: Penguin Press 2006)

Karina Bergmans works in sculpture, installation, performance, public art and public interventions. By converging the themes of communication and the body, she creates cross- disciplinary installations merging art and science. www.karinabergmans.com

Jenny McMaster‘s art encompasses fibres, encaustic painting and performance. Ritual patterns associated with social interaction and the process of mapping them have long been among her strongest interests. http://jennymcmaster.typepad.com/


     Vera Greenwood: Where Old Artwork Goes To Die (2013) Detail of installation/performance, in which the 2005 installation, No Leading Questions, (NLQ) was put to rest.     

Vera Greenwood: Where Old Artwork Goes To Die (2013) Detail of installation/performance, in which the 2005 installation, No Leading Questions, (NLQ) was put to rest.

Where Does Old Artwork Go To Die? October 20, 2015-10-07In conjunction with Vera Greenwood’s exhibition, DEATH – Retrospective In The Dining Room, we will be “Talking in Circles” on what to do with our Obsolete, Redundant, Unsellable, Unwanted, Unloved, In-the-way Artworks.

Vera Greenwood’s story about where her installation No Leading Questions came to die will be hard to beat, but we would love to hear more stories about the death of artworks. Perhaps you have one to tell if you join us for the TiC. Former Ottawa artist Susan Feindel, who now lives in Port Medway, Nova Scotia, sent me her story to share:

Hi  – about dying…

I had an art work from student days ( 1965) in good condition languishing in our shed in Port Medway. I’d kept it for use as a support for other art work because it was painted on Masonite. Finally I hired a truck to dispose of many items. The young lad was paid to drive the junk far inland for municipal disposal but instead dumped it 1/2 km from here in the back of his family property – for infill.

The following day visitors from Halifax asked me if it was possible that I had a painting beside the road about 1/2 km from our house. Good eyes. It was my painting and actually doesn’t look so bad from the car!  

The young guy’s dad owns a little craft shop at the edge of the road. I was amused but this painting is begging for a proper burial.

Lesson learned?


What will our discussion on October 20 be about? I have a couple of suggestions:


We will talk a bit about the practical side of the problem of how to get rid of work. There are plenty of blogs out there full of ideas that might be worth sharing, such as this site:

 Jason Horejs, http://reddotblog.com/collective-wisdom-what-to-do-with-older-unsold-artwork/


But I seriously doubt that there will be one suggestion that you don’t already know. So perhaps we should move on from practical ideas, and dig deeper to discuss root problems: Why do we have so much artwork piling up in our studios in the first place?

Brace yourself if you want answers! I’ve surfed around a bit to find some of the most provocative ones, and suggest that you have a look before you decide you are brave enough to talk this circle. See below!


That said, we might return to the practical side, and see if we can’t think up any innovative ideas to deal with our artglut, and bury our work in style.

In the end, it will be up to the group that shows up what we will talk about.

Hope to see you!



Gregory Scholette: http://www.manifestajournal.org/issues/i-forgot-remember-forget/artists-embrace-your-redundancy-introduction-gregory-sholettes-dark#

 “Artists, Embrace your Redundancy,”

An Introduction to Gregory Sholette’s “Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise”

Gregory Sholette

“As early as 1984 art historian Carol Duncan pinpointed a fundamental, though typically overlooked feature of high culture: that the majority of professionally trained artists make up a vast surplus whose redundancy is the normal condition of the art market.

More than twenty years later, a policy study by the California-based Rand Corporation reinforced and updated these observations describing an even more unsettling picture of the 2005 art world. Its key finding was that although the number of artists had greatly increased over the previous decades, the always-evident hierarchy among artists “appears to have become increasingly stratified, as has their earnings prospects.”

One of the key questions addressed in my book Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise is not only what this glut of creativity consists of, but what function does it have in relation to the art world establishment? Is this less visible, other art world a kind of noise over which the bright articulate signal of success and value is superimposed? Or is there yet a deeper complicity between noise and signal? After all, doesn’t any complex system in which the majority of practitioners are invisible extract some hidden benefit from this so-called surplus?”


Mario Naves: https://mnaves.wordpress.com/about-this-blog/

“When art becomes complicit in tendencies that run contrary to its true purpose–well, who needs it?”


Richard Wright, Turner Prize Winner 2009: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/dec/08/richard-wright

 ‘There’s too much stuff in the world’

“Why has the Sistine Chapel survived? Because we need it. Some things are necessary. But perhaps not as many things as we think.”


Simon Critchley: http://www.brooklynrail.org/2012/08/art/absolutely-too-much

“God, it’s awful isn’t it? And I haven’t even mentioned how this art system is fed by the seemingly endless proliferation of art schools, M.F.A. programs, and the progressive inflation of graduate degrees, where Ph.D.s in fine art are scattered like confetti.”