We’re so thrilled to welcome jes sachse, our first artist-in-residence as part of our inaugural Parkdale Artist Residency!
jes sachse is at the forefront of a renewal of disability art, justice and culture in Canada. Presently living in Toronto, jes is an artist, writer and performer whose work focuses on disability culture in ways that refuse to reduce or bracket out the messy complexities of difference. Their work & writing has appeared in NOW Magazine, The Peak, CV2 -The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, Mobilizing Metaphor: Art, Culture and Disability Activism in Canada, and the 40th Anniversary Edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.
As part of the residency, we offer the opportunity for our resident artist to work with a mentor who can offer the support and critique they may need. jes has chosen to work with Francisco-Fernando Granados (pictured below in their adorable selfie). His multidisciplinary critical practice spans performance, installation, cultural theory, digital media, public art, curatorial and community-based projects. He has presented work in galleries, museums, theatres, artist-run centres and non-traditional sites including: Mercer Union, Art Gallery of York University; Blackwood Gallery; Gallery TPW; Vancouver Art Gallery; Darling Foundry (Montreal); the Hessel Museum of Art (Bard, NY); Ex Teresa Arte Actual (Mexico City); and Kulturhuset (Stockholm). He completed a Masters of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto in 2012, and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art, Critical and Curatorial Studies Program at OCAD University.
Over the course of the next few weeks, jes will be creating work under the theme of “Resilient Communities,” culminating in an exhibit honouring and celebrating Parkdale’s ongoing histories of resistance and resilience. jes will be inviting into the space: Parkdale Organize (the collective of 150 plus tenants currently resisting the terrible destructive forces of their landlords MetCap) and AIMCO through a multi-building May 1st rent strike; artist and photographer Yuula Benivolski, who will be collabing with jes to offer free and accessible head shots to community artists and cultural producers through a special version of her reoccurring event Face Party; jes’ community consultation co-host and esteemed mentor during the residency, artist Francisco-Fernando Granados; and above all, members of Parkdale and any neighbourhood who might find themselves passing by the bus stop on Lansdowne & Seaforth.
“When I first moved to Parkdale, I knew very little about the neighbourhood. Just eight months into living in Toronto, I found myself quickly needing new housing, and I needed it to be something I could afford on ODSP. My brother and I had lost our College Street apartment while he was living at CAMH. I will never forget walking the stretch of Queen toward Jameson together one of those first afternoons. At a crosswalk, we all of a sudden we found ourselves surrounded by a large and west traveling mass of people. When we asked what the demonstration was, one person replied ‘This is Mad Pride!’
Now five years later, I have come to interact with and love so much of Parkdale and its history, including – as I learned that first July afternoon, that my new neighbourhood was known to have one of the largest mad populations per capita in the world due to its historical close proximity to CAMH, once nicknamed 999 (Queen). The accessible boardwalk of Sunnyside Beach, witness to some very pained seasons of my struggle/survival in the city. The community I’ve shared meals with at PARC. One of the most successful neighbourhoods lobbying against MetCap and Akelius and building closures. Home to Little Tibet. Home to poverty and madness and disability. Home to the outpatient mental health services at St. Joes. Home to Shoppers Drugmart, where the pharmacist knows my name.
I clutched my chest when I saw that The Public wanted to host an artist residency honouring this neighbourhood. My current practice in its many mediums has been meditating heavily on the centralization of art and the displacement of communities. Disability Art was born out of the problematic and academically siloed Disability Studies, and yet even in its institution, it has been where experiences have been made visible (while the artists of art studied are not often remunerated for their labour). While The Museum makes attempts to also employ and program artists on the margins, curatorially rebranding a history of tokenism as ‘inclusion,’ it fails at Inviting In and supporting bodies, unable to treat varied needs beyond a threat to its Security. Efforts to centre community in art praxis, in its ‘doing’, are interpreted demotively by the canon, despite how institutional humanity fails and its sterility steals, creating halls of trauma.
Take the TTC blue seat sideways spot, back and forth, into the mouth of no neighbourhoods, stand in the big large very big large, and then come back home to familiar with tired. Both Torontos. The great divide of in and out. Is Toronto home? Is art home? These and so many questions are what I would like to create a collective poetic reflection on during this residency.”
Meanwhile, check out jes’ current installation To be Frank on display every Wednesday evening at 6pm in Walker Court at the AGO until May 31st, where for one hour a week, their physical intervention seizes the public institution as a stage to ask the question we prefer be asked privately: is this accessible? Find out more about jes’ work here!