Plastic Heart: Surface All the Way Through

September 8–November 20, 2021 at The University of Toronto Art Centre
Organized by the Synthetic Collective

Link to Exhibition and Related Programming

Works by:

Christina Battle, IAIN BAXTER&, Sara Belontz, Leticia Bernaus, J Blackwell, Amy Brener, Hannah Claus, Sully Corth, Heather Davis and Kirsty Robertson, Aaronel deRoy Gruber, Fred Eversley, Naum Gabo, General Idea, Kelly Jazvac, Woomin Kim, Kiki Kogelnik, Les Levine, Mary Mattingly, Christopher Mendoza, Tegan Moore, Skye Morét, Meagan Musseau, Claes Oldenburg, Meghan Price, Françoise Sullivan, Catherine Telford-Keogh, Lan Tuazon, Marianne Vierø, Joyce Wieland, Nico Willliams, Kelly Wood

Plastic Heart is an experimental exhibition that examines plastic as art material, cultural object, geologic process, petrochemical product, and a synthetic substance fully entangled with the human body. The exhibition includes new commissions, historical and contemporary artworks that relate to plastic as a politically loaded material, and investigations into the paradoxes of plastic conservation in museum collections. The exhibition acknowledges plastics as both lubricants of artistic, gallery, and museum practices and also as ‘wicked problems,’ made even more complex by their use and discard in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plastic Heart mobilizes practices of institutional critique and proposes an alternative method of exhibition development and presentation that addresses ecology and sustainability in content and form. Seeking to stimulate viewers to be active subjects, the exhibition challenges received modes of art-making and viewing that are deeply dependent on fossil fuels. It also features data visualizations of a study conducted by the Synthetic Collective that provides a first-ever snapshot of post-industrial microplastics pollution on the shores of the Great Lakes. This exhibition links scientific and artistic methodologies to show how arts-based approaches to thinking and working can make viable contributions to environmental science and activism.

Watch the exhibition teaser.

Dialogue 1: Plastic, Pollution, and Policy Change

Wednesday, September 15, 6pm–7:30pm EDT
With Mark Fisher, Vanessa Gray, Michelle Murphy, and Chelsea Rochman, with moderator Heather Davis
Watch the recording

Dialogue 2: Plastic Pollution in the Laurentian Great Lakes: Industry and Invisibility

Wednesday, October 6, 6pm–7:30pm EDT
With Ian Arturo, Dr. Sara Belontz, Tegan Moore, Mary Mattingly, and Alice (Xia) Zhu, with moderator Kelly Jazvac
Register

Dialogue 3: The Plastic Conservation Conundrum: Preserving Plastics in Museum Collections and Plastics’ Durability in the Environment

Wednesday, October 13, 6pm–7:30pm EDT
With Courtney Asztalos, Dr. Patricia Corcoran, Roger Griffith, Sherry Phillips, and Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza, with moderator Kelly Jazvac
Register

Dialogue 4: Sustainable Museums

Wednesday, October 27, 2pm–3:30pm EDT
With Suzanne Carte, Maya Ishizawa, and Sarah Sutton, with moderator Kirsty Robertson
Register

Virtual Spotlights

THE COMMUNITY IS NOT A HAPHAZARD COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUALS
Looking Ahead to Plastic Heart: Surface All The Way Through
What is a Wicked Problem? Introducing the Synthetic Collective
Turning the Tables on Research: A Q&A with Kristen Bos of U of T’s Technoscience Research Unit

Exhibition Resources

A DIY Fieldguide for Reducing the Environmental Impact of Art Exhibitions
Press Release
Exhibition Brochure
Large-Format Text

Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge the operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council, with additional project support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Jackman Humanities Institute.

CSC Launch Recording Now Archived

In keeping with the CSC’s efforts to keep a low energy footprint, the video from the launch of the CSC on May 27th was available online for 30 days following the event and has now been saved to our archive.

Please contact us if you require access, it may also be available as an audio file (vastly reducing its size) upon request.

Thank you for watching!

CSC Launch: May 27th, 1-5pm EST

REGISTER HERE: 

https://westernuniversity.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1D4Gd2rHT_uW8uyaZoI1SQ

At the launch event, we will introduce the Centre, including the work of the two inaugural postdocs. A panel will consider Radical Pedagogy and Curation, focusing on the expansive forms of teaching and learning that can take place in museum and exhibition spaces. And we will conclude with a second launch, that of the Synthetic Collective’s catalogue Plastic Heart: A DIY Fieldguide For Reducing the Environmental Impact of Art Exhibitions. 


Schedule 


1-1:45pm

Intro to the CSC by Kirsty Robertson and Kelly Wood with presentations by CSC postdocs Zoë Heyn-Jones and Amanda White 

1:45-2pm

Break

2-3:45pm

Curating and Radical Pedagogy (Christiana Abraham, Christina Battle, Eugenia Kisin, Gabby Moser, Ryan Rice), hosted by Sarah E.K. Smith 

3:45-4pm

Break

4-5pm

Launch of Plastic Heart: A DIY Fieldguide For Reducing the Environmental Impact of Art Exhibitions, Synthetic Collective with artists Christina Battle and Lan Tuazon