Monday, January 29, 2007

MAKE A ZINE! at the Toronto Zine Library

Make A Zine!: A Workshop for Beginners
Brought to you by the Toronto Zine Library

Sunday, February 4th at 1pm
292 Brunswick Avenue, south of Bloor.

Please join us for Make a Zine!: A Workshop for Beginners
hosted by the TZL Collective at the Toronto Zine Library. Topics covered will include a short history of zines, what they are and why we make them, as well as the future of zines. Our hands-on workshop will address varieties of approach, genre, construction and distribution. Our collective members will also talk about their personal histories with zines, the library itself, and will provide workshop attendees with a question and answer period, as well as one-on-one feedback and assistance regarding making a zine of their own. All are welcome; the workshop is free of charge.

The Toronto Zine Library
is run by a collective of zine readers, zine makers and librarians who are looking to make zines more accessible in Toronto. We believe that zines are still an important medium of communication, and that they should be cherished, protected, and promoted. Our aim to do this through our public collection of zines, conducting related workshops at our physical library and abroad, and by holding events that promote zines as a method of open communication and free expression.

For more information
, please contact us at
Or consult our new website and online catalogue:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

From Russia With Love

A dear friend of mine- Morag Schonken- recently sent me a review she wrote of my From Russia With Love installation as a part of her mentorship program at MAWA. I've included it here in it's entirety...thanks for the ego boost, Morag!


Tara Bursey
Fly Gallery

October 1st-31st, 2006

A small brown package arrived in my mailbox. I flipped through the catalogue
that I found inside: Anna, 22, Burnaul, Russia; Irina, 21, Nikolaev, Ukraine; Yulia, 20, Frankfurt, Germany. Twenty-five to choose from and this was just the tip of the iceberg. Seventy-two Russian “mail order brides” are featured in Tara Bursey’s latest Installation “From Russia with Love” at Fly Gallery in Toronto.

Bursey once again challenges the depersonalization and objectification of women. By drawing portraits of the women found on mail order bride websites, Bursey is giving a face and voice to these otherwise silent photographs. Activating the women through her drawings allows the viewer to see the human behind the photographs, and not just another object in a catalog.

In fact the parallels between experiencing Bursey’s installation and the process of finding a bride online are worth considering as the similarities are striking. In searching for a bride one navigates the website looking for women that matched desired criteria. The next step in finding a bride is to order a catalog. For a large annual fee a catalog is mailed right to your door. Similarly when I first saw Tara’s show on her website the experience was much like shopping online for a bride. I searched the site taking each woman in, gathering as much information as I could.

Fly Gallery is appropriately a store front window on Queen Street. Bursey has lined the walls with the portraits, and assembled 25 of them into a bookwork also displayed in the window. They are on display for your shopping convenience and for the cost of a few dollars you too can own a copy of the bookwork. (It can also be mailed to you.) Whether buying Bursey’s artist book or subscribing to a commercial wife-finding service, you are acquiring a catalogue which includes pertinent facts and a physical likeness of each woman. Both formats although strikingly similar, portray these women in vastly different lights.

The use of medium to portray women seems to have a big impact on the way the viewer sees them. The photographs online objectify the women. They are objects to be acquired by men and for other women they can bring up a feeling of hostility. However when Bursey transforms them into pen and ink portraits they become real: they could be your best friend, your sister. Hostility is replaced with compassion and curiosity. In this way Bursey continues her “Ongoing investigation of repetition, and it's potential to depersonalize and desensitize within both institutions and domestic realms.” Again she succeeds in giving a personal identity back to these women.

This same transformation is seen in the works of Ghada Amer, who takes playboy photographs of women and transforms them into embroidered patterns repeated over and over again. In Amer’s case, the repetition works to deemphasize the pleasure the image is meant to give the male viewer and instead emphasizes the femininity of the women by the use of embroidery. Both the work of Amer and Bursey challenge ideas surrounding the ideal and idealized female forms.

I have taken Bursey’s bookwork out of its brown package, searched through the pages and put it back in its package numerous times. It strikes me that all these women are younger than I am (26). I wonder how someone can choose a bride this way and hope for a wife and a partner. I’d have a hard time choosing one of these women to be a pen pal. But mail-order wife selection is done everyday and there is a growing market for it. What truly brings these women to place themselves in a catalog?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Weird Flower

I made this last week.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

By Hand: The Use of Craft In Contemporary Art

For Christmas, I recieved a hefty gift certificate from David Mirvish Books in Toronto, with which I purchased By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art. It was a great find, and I would recommend it to anyone who works with or is interested in the use of craft-type techniques (knitting, sewing, bookbinding, hand-printing) within a fine art context. The book is beautifully designed, and features profiles and images of the work of international artists, both established (most notably Kiki Smith) and emerging. The books format- alloting 2-3 pages per artist- makes for a light yet addicting read...I read the entire book in one lazy afternoon.


In a response to the sleek forms and perfect angles of most late twentieth century design objects, many of today's artists and designers are returning to handmade work such as hand lettering, hand drawing, and hand sewing. By Hand features an international collection of the most noteworthy artists and shows their work in detailed photography and insightful texts. From books to pillows to T-shirts to toys, the pieces in this volume define an alternative view of contemporary design. Personal craft is emphasized over perfection and the personality of the artist is put forth as a key element of the finished product. From Kiki Smith's lovingly etched birds to Barb Hunt's knitted land mines to dynamo-ville's one-of-a-kind puppets to Evil Twin's hand-stitched publications, today's art revels in the care and consideration of craft.

Check out for a peek at some of By Hand's images.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bayonettes EP

Last night I went to the Bayonettes EP release show at Rancho Relaxo. I did the cover art for the new record, included above. The concept for the cover stemmed from an Out of Vogue (my DJ night from December 2005-October 2006, now defunct) flyer I did using the same hanging figures stolen from the cover of The Sonics
Boom record. It was a lot of people's favourite Out of Vogue flyer - mine included - so when asked to do the Bayonettes second album cover, I recycled the idea so (way) more people could see the image I originally made for the (very) limited-run poster.

The Bayonettes are a four-piece punk/hardcore band from Toronto in the vein of early California punk bands such as the Avengers, the Flesh Eaters and the Bags. For more information on them, check out their somewhat outdated website,, or the label's website,

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Shapetionary

Here is a really neat project that I stumbled across a few weeks ago on an Instant Coffee mail-out. I am submitting some work for the Shaptionary, and Margaret needs as many helping hands as she can get. This undertaking is gigantic, so if you draw- even just a little bit- contact her and pitch in!

Call For Submissions:

Help Create the Shapetionary!
What is the Shapetionary? It’s a visual index of objects.

It started from looking at the dictionary and wondering why some words are illustrated and others aren’t, then thinking it would be interesting to illustrate the whole dictionary, or all the object nouns...then organize them by shape.

So I extracted all, or most (aprox 9500), of the object nouns, now I am setting out to get them illustrated by as many different people as possible. I am interested in our subjective/collective understandings of objects. So far over 550 people are participating, I estimate that between 1200-1500 drawers are needed.

That’s a brief description. So, if you are interested in illustrating some words, email velvetbicycle and you will receive a list of 6-8 words, along with complete instructions.
All participants will be acknowledged.

Questions and comments can be directed to:

Margaret Flood