"New Directions In Convincing Yourself To Leave The House"

"New Directions In Lightness"

"New Directions In Derivative Instruments"

Trevor Abes

Trevor Abes is an artist from Toronto with a fondness for writing essays and poetry. He was part of the winning ensemble at the 2015 SLAMtario Spoken Word Festival, and competed in both the National Poetry Slam and the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word as part of the Toronto Poetry Slam team. His work has appeared in Torontoist, (parenthetical), The Northern Appeal, untethered magazine, Spacing Magazine, Descant, The Rusty Toque, The Theatre Reader, Mooney on Theatre, The Toronto Review of Books, Hart House Review, and Sequential: Canadian Comics News & Culture, among others.

“With ‘New Directions In Convincing Yourself To Leave The House,’ I’m engaging with Mel Bochner’s Measurement series (1968 onward). I don’t think the works in this series are very interesting once divorced from their status as pioneering conceptual art, so I’m making a conscious effort here to infuse a similar kind of work with the emotional heft I feel the Bochner series lacks.”

“‘New Directions In Lightness’ is my attempt at opening my mind to Tracey Emin’s My Bed, which I’ve always had a hard time attributing substance to. I do believe that any object has an aesthetic as well as the capacity for infinite connotations, so a dirty bed shouldn’t be any different. The question I’m asking is what, if any, is the minimum amount of elaboration you need to elevate a thing into art — and can I stick to it in a piece from start to finish?”

“‘New Directions In Derivative Instruments’ is based on how Maurizio Cattelan has had an actor stand in for him during shows and media appearances for many years. What stands out to me about this is the arbitrariness of meaning, in this case tied to identity. Stuff is meaningful because we decide it is. Separated from that context of shared agreement, the meaning goes away.”

Tanya Bulova, smoker of cigarettes on her building’s stoop because that’s all she can stomach right now, starts saving a portion of her OAS and CPP for rope.

​She has found herself clinging to certain Toronto spots for inner warmth, many of which are now condos. Honest Ed’s universal grocery store when she needed to get lost, for example; The Drake Hotel for poetry slams for ideas about what to take seriously; Taylor Creek Park for the dogs; Yonge and Dundas Square for a cross-section of the city’s lonely/aimless; the Much Music building on Queen West when it still emitted an aura strong enough to get high schoolers to line up for the Top 10 countdown after class; the sex workers at the “Hooker Harvey’s” to eavesdrop for the education in negotiation skills; Bathurst Station for the beef patties; and so on.

Tanya uses Google Earth to gather measurements of the distances between them and eventually buys enough lengths of rope to connect each location. If she had access to dozens of helicopters, she could lay the sculpture down and have it fit exactly into the road system.

If the work cannot be displayed on pavement as intended, rope between locations should be balled up individually and placed on the floor at scale to the city like a field of bales of hay.

Alternatively, the buyer can choose to have the artist stage unrolling events toward the locations of their choice, but must assume full responsibility in terms of greasing up public officials enough to shut down traffic just so Tanya can have plans.

Margery Mendelssohn, overwhelmed Communications Associate, can only stop pulling her hair out and her right foot from involuntarily tapping by laying out the contents of her cluttered brain.

​She deletes a playlist she’s been adding to since Timberlake went solo, prints the list of songs on one of those reams of paper with perforated tear-away sides, and places it lengthwise across a long table borrowed from her local community centre.

Lined up above in a parallel row are recent editions of email blasts she unsubscribes from — Ontario Science Centre; a macro economic blog back when she thought she’d follow the markets; an art collective’s newsletter for the jobs listings, which they changed to a volunteer section last winter due to an absence of paid positions for creatives.

In the row above the emails are specific memories that have been returning to Margery without clear cause.

A half dozen sharp rocks in half-moon formation pointing toward a smoothly rounded stone: for when a classmate’s mom walked across the recess area and made all the boys in the yard stop their lunches, conversations, and basketball games to stare, all the girls acutely aware of having no eyes on them finally for once.

A cigarette face-down in a bed of petunias: for when her calculus teacher found out she was a smoker at a late-night alumni mass.

A breath of rum in a clear plastic bag tied tight into a balloon: for when she drove home drunk and was stopped at a checkpoint after the toll booth between her home and the club and the soldier who asked her to get out either didn’t smell it or was too lazy to care.

A mannequin’s hand, the top halves of middle and ring fingers dipped in black paint: for her mother’s smoker’s circulation and the onslaught of salads and Nutella-deterrent tactics she’s putting in practice to get better.

Margery transfers the work to the side of the road the night before garbage day and sits back with a coffee the morning of to watch the jumpsuited men disassemble and discard.

Leonard Otter, butcher, falls six stories from a grain silo onto the roof of a busted rescued Chevy and forgets who he is. When he remembers six months later, he decides to be selective about people he can recognize.

He records his histories with acquaintances, friendships, and relations with whom he institutes a fresh start until the moments of their respective new beginnings.

On a separate device, Leonard narrates his justifications for withholding recognition without specifying the people they apply to.

Viewers are invited to match histories with justifications and tape their own justifications for their decisions in a recording booth next to the installation.