A veteran photojournalist on the arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.
Left-right: American literary icon John Irving, CanLit heroine Miriam Toews and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative journalist/author Chris Hedge are part of the line-up for the 37th International Festival of Authors starting October 20 to 30.
International Festival of Authors 2016 Preview
It’s the luck of the Irish and the luck of the draw(ings) that will dominate the thirty-seventh edition of the literary fall classic that is the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) down at Harbourfront Centre October 20 to 30, that gives a heavy focus on Irish literature, graphic novelists and non-fiction authors part of the Artsport exhibits, along with celebrations surrounding Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary and the future of literature in a temporary virtual reality installation exhibit as well as family events, readings, workshops and roundtable talks.
Preliminary events to warm-up IFOA is the October 6th Festival launch featuring literary icon John Irving sitting down in conversation with debut novelist Nathan Hill and the currently running autumn exhibit in the Bill Boyle Artsport Gallery (235 Queen’s Quay West) with Stories We Tell by local and international cartoonists and illustrators featuring Nina Bunjevac, Michael DeForge, Nick Drnaso, Jon McNaught, Chris Oliveros and Seth, where they’re also part of the roundtable event Five Artists, Five Ways: The Modern Graphic Novel on October 22.
Continuing on the note of gallery pieces, German portrait photographer Heike Steinweg will have The Last Line, which focuses on world-renown authors meditating on the last lines of their books; that will be featured for the duration of the festival in and around the Artsport. Authors featured in the exhibition include Jonathan Safran Foer, Nathan Englander, Nicole Krauss, Lê Thi Diem Thúy, Jonathan Lethem, Aris Fioretos, Marie NDiaye, Ben Marcus, Janne Teller, Assaf Gavron, Ilija Trojanow and Ingo Schulze, among others. Steinweg will also be discussing the work with Sarah Knelman on October 21; and virtual reality finally comes to IFOA with the installation Slave to Mortal Rage making its Canadian premiere in the Artsport Main Loft, which will run for just three exclusive days October 25 to 27. Created by CiRCA69, a British transmedia artist described by Cineuropa Magazine as “one of the most notable names in Europe to be dealing with VR;” as one can walk around and explore the world of Slave to Mortal Rage around you, interact with it, feel the wind upon your face and uncover a story in which you are the central character.
The annual PEN Canada charity event Resistance in Times of Turmoil on October 22 has writer/filmmaker David Bezmozgis in conversation with bestselling non-fiction author Adam Hochschild who will discuss about the lessons learnt from writers and activists battling fascism, racism and other forms of injustice in his latest book, Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 at the Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queen’s Quay West).
Rounding up the many men and women of letters attending will be American authors Jay McInerney, Peter Geye and Jim Lynch, Spanish author Marcos Giralt Torrente, Danish authors Lotte Hammer Jacobsen and Josefine Klougart, German author Christopher Kloeble, Italian screenwriter and novelist Francesca Melandri, New Zealand author Ben Sanders and Australian author Charlotte Wood and Icelandic novelist Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir to compliment our homegrown talent including John Metcalf, Donna Morrissey, André Alexis, Kevin Patterson, Yann Martel, Alexandra Risen, Charlotte Gray, Jane Urquhart, Nathan Whitlock, Alissa York, Linwood Barclay and Margaret Atwood; among the 100 participants from 16 countries coming to the fest, including debut novelists Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Amy Jones, Molly Prentiss, Eric Beck Rubin and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan.
IFOA will host the Toronto Public Library’s seventh annual Book Bash for the first time at IFOA on the first weekend of the festival on October 22, where families are invited for a free, fun-filled afternoon of storytelling, music, writing and illustrating workshops and demos, tech fun, puppet and magic shows, theatre and author signings to promote and encourage children’s literacy and the joy of reading, that will involve some of this country’s most renowned children’s authors, illustrators, storytellers and musicians like Kingdom of Birds, the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, Elise Gravel, Rukhsana Khan, Thao Lam, JonArno Lawson, Ruth Ohi, Kenneth Oppel, Sydney Smith, Joel A Sutherland and more (click here for schedule).
Writers & Company host Eleanor Wachtel not only brings another live recording of the long-running CBC Radio literary programme at IFOA on October 29 with European authors Christopher Kloeble and Francesca Melandri, she’ll also be in the spotlight of her experiences of hosting the show promoting her own book, The Best of Writers & Company, in a sit-down with the award-winning poet, biographer and anthologist Rosemary Sullivan on October 27.
Four centuries after his death, there’s a reason why William Shakespeare is called the Immortal Bard as the fest with the global Shakespeare Lives programme puts on three events on his death anniversary this year starting with an all-day spoken word workshop Shakespeare Lives in Poetry for October 21 with international poet and facilitator, Deanna Rodger to work with local emerging spoken word poets, culminating in a performance by the participants; October 22 has Lunatics, Lovers and Poets of a live reading of a Shakespeare- and Cervantes-inspired short stories anthology by renown authors Beatriz Hausner, C.C. Humphreys, Hisham Matar and Marcos Giralt Torrente and the Graphic Sonnet Exchange on October 23 where Shakespeare’s mysterious Sonnet 21 will get a graphic novel interpretation by contemporary artists Jonathan McNaught from England and Toronto-based John Martz, plus all audience members will receive a copy of the graphic novel itself.
The @IFOA series has returning favourite The Koffler Centre of the Arts returns this year with one of Toronto’s most celebrated playwrights Ravi Jain in conversation with acclaimed author Olive Senior. Bound by their shared passion for cultural identity and lineage, they will discuss the complications (and joys) of navigating multiple cultures inside and outside of the family, and the relationships between mothers, daughters, and sons on October 23; CBC Radio’s Carol Off hosting short-listed writers nominated for this year’s 80th Governor General’s Literary Award for English Language Fiction October 24 and Ireland gets fêted with two @IFOA events: Poetry Ireland’s and its Rising Generation poets Julie Morrisy and Ciarán O’Rourke on October 27 and them joining again on October 29 with authors Emma Donoghue and Paul B. Muldoon.
More recently, the fest has announced this year’s Harbourfront Festival Prize winner with its $10,000 purse going to acclaimed author Miriam Toews, best known for her works A Complicated Kindness and All of My Puny Sorrows; as IFOA Artistic Director Geoffrey E. Taylor explained their choice: “Miriam Toews has contributed so much to Canada’s literary tradition through her own work, but also through the tireless (and often unsung) support she provides others. She is an advocate for the mentally ill, she is a stalwart support to young writers, often providing a place at her home for writers to stay,” he said. “She makes it to book launches —not just for the big publishing houses but also for small independent presses. At home she is truly part of the writing community. She takes that commitment and translates it abroad: she travels the world taking part in writers' retreats, book fairs, readings, and other appearances — and in doing so becomes an ambassador for Canadian writing and culture.”
“I'm thrilled to be chosen as this year's recipient of the Harbourfront Festival Prize!” Toews stated in her reaction to the award. “I saw the list of writers who’ve previously received this prize and it is truly an honour to be counted amongst those titans, people like Alice Munro, Nicole Brossard, Helen Humphreys and Margaret Atwood. I’m so grateful to the committee and the festival. Thank you!”
Other events include two four-hour The Writer’s Toolkit workshops with bestselling author Brian Francis on executive Saturdays, starting with Improving Your Writing (October 22) co-hosting with Simon & Schuster Vice President, Editorial Director Nita Pronovost, and Publishing 101 with Adria Iwasutiak (October 29) giving insider tips on getting published and what the current trends in the industry is like; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist/writer Chris Hedges will present this year’s keynote address for the Humber College’s School of Liberal Arts and Sciences conference on October 28 study on truth and lives with The Price of Truth in Journalism in a Post-Fact World and the new Stranger Than Fiction series on October 30 with “A Disappearance in Damascus” with journalist Deborah Campbell travels undercover to Damascus, reporting on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria in the aftermath of the Iraq War; “Root Therapy, Re-imagining the Family Tree” with Alexandra Risen’s memoir Unearthed celebrating family bonds and perseverance between nature, gardens and people and how soil is the new Prozac; “Moving Beyond the Human Era” as Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy explores ecological issues through the lens of the mysterious Area X and “Ireland’s Violent Revolution” where Catriona Crowe will talk about the Irish decade of revolutionary centenaries, from the 1913 Lockout, World War I, the 1916 Rising, Civil War and independence and how a small country dealt with its violent beginnings as a state.
Tickets now on sale; some events are FREE. For information, call 416-973-4000 or visit ifoa.org or humber.ca/liberalarts-ifoa/( Price of Truth in Journalism in a Post-Fact World lecture; open to the public)
Clockwise from left: Marta Chudolinska explores her Polish heritage and history with her diorama Babcia series; Ginette Lapalme subverts punk-pop art with “Three Books”; a details of Keith Jones’ Morons and Ethan Rilly’s Pope Hats #3 are part of the “Funnies” showcase section of Harbourfront Centre’s fall exhibit Stories We Tell, now running until December 22.
Stories We Tell: Visual Arts Exhibitions Fall 2016
Venue: Bill Boyle Artsport, 235 Queen’s Quay West
Dates/Times: Through December 22; Tuesday-Sunday 12-6 p.m. (Thursdays 12-8 p.m.), Mondays closed except for civic holidays.
Admission/Information: FREE; call 416-973-5379 or harbourfrontcentre.com
The graphic novel – some love the name, others not – has not only transcended into the literary world as being legit for the last two decades, it has found another medium of expression: the art gallery. For Harbourfront’s fall exhibit collection of Stories We Tell, several artists take the medium into two- and three-dimensional works of varying disciplines in showing how versatile it can be other than being the usual dialogue and story within a panel medium.
Its major showcase corridor entitled Funnies (and be no sheer coincidence, kind of looks like a series of comic strip panels) plays on the comic section of newsprint dailies that usual appeal to children, but adults also saw some subversive stuff when the art form was a essential part of 20th-century journalism, but has slowly gotten smaller in the last decade, yet these artists have put it to good usage.
Marta Chudolinska’s “Babcia” series describes her native Poland’s history and her late grandmother as a colourful collage of paper and ink with a central sculpture piece chandelier pająki (spider) and wycinanki (paper cutouts) to give it a little fun with folk art; a quirky techno soundtrack with distorted cat sounds accompanies “Endless Wipe by Loose Scrunchie a.k.a. Seth Scriver” with a quartet of revamped popular album covers by Seth Scriver as he airbrushes the likes of Fergi to look like a Ferengi from the Star Trek universe and Gordon Lightfoot is a scary-looking Brad Pitt dead ringer, is a neatly subversive satire on capitalist culture.
A digital print on paper sample of “Wendy – Art Girl on the Go!” as created by Walter Scott is a parody on the art world and of the titular art curator’s life of detailed chances at life, love and her career as a whole; while Meags Fitzgerald’s textile background with fibre arts nicely reinvents Greek mythology and Aesop’s Fables with symbolism for “Newborn” using ink, embroidery thread and cotton. Several things go on with the multimedia sculpture contribution from Ginette Lapalme as punk-pop art, but two of them “Nice Day” and “Three Books” take on a whimsical cuteness disguised with rebellious intentions.
Detail from his forthcoming publication “Morons,” Keith Jones has two antihero rebels without a clue riding on an endless road to nowhere in a Keith Haring style of drawing with a richness for colour. Ethan Rilly plays it straight with plain ink on Bristol board of various subjects from his Pope Hats series consisting of a darkly humorous nature, ranging from as despondent time traveller looking for a childhood memory (“Portal Rock”), a academic seemingly looks like to be given walking papers (“Pope Hats #3”) and two strips about a stray cat (“Dead Cat”) and a satire on paranoia and Google Streetview (“Streetview”). Too bad about contributor Amy Lockhart, who doesn’t show much for originality, other than a childhood sketchbook, a couple of portraits and a pair of red ceramic high heels supposedly a comment on human rights (?) she had done when she was seven, kind of leaves one at a loss.
In the Artsport Gallery the series’ second group exhibit Five Ways, as curated by Canadian cartoonist legend Seth, allows five cartoonists to stretch their imaginations and canvases starting with the standards of finished and original artworks of Nick Drnaso’s “Pudding” from his Beverly comic book series where a one teen girl Tina and her friend Wes meet up with her childhood BFF Charlotte at a party at her place in some faraway town before they head off to college, deal with the isolationism and separate lives they now take doesn’t go so well within its clean linear lines and captivating story on changing relationships, loosely based on the cartoonist’s experience at a birthday party.
Retelling the Artemis and Siproites story in the adult graphic novel work-in-progress “Bezimena” by Nina Bunjevac, where Siproites was turned into a woman after raping one of Artemis’ virgin cohorts in revenge; has a creepy noir feel in the pantomime panels of a home invasion and voyeurism running rampant and crosshatching method working here, plus her doll-making pieces nearby “The Runaways” as two homeless girls look very realistic.
Clockwise from left: Nina Bunjevac’s eerily-realistic “The Runaways” dolls; detail from “The Envelope Manufacturer” by Chris Oliveros and excerpt from “Dockwood”(lower right) and lithographic print “Bricks”(lower left), both by Jon McNaught.
Now semi-retired from his duties running the CanCon comics publishing house Drawn & Quarterly he founded a quarter-century ago, Chris Oliveros turns his hand at the medium with his upcoming “The Envelope Manufacturer” about the ups and downs of a small independent business owner taking a overly drastic measure to keep his failed business venture alive is a interesting, if oddly mirroring in its subject; British cartoonist Jon McNaught uses a vibrant three-colour screen prints for his graphic novella “Dockwood,” a near-pantomime tale based on a summer job he had at a Hampshire seniors’ home as a kitchen porter makes his morning tea rounds to the residents, holds of seniors allowing their twilight years to slip quietly into a monotonous routine, plus lithograph prints “Flagstones” of reflective rain puddles on a street maintain a similar style and a black/white story “The Dunes” inked on drafting film have high frosted sheen to them.
Surrealist cartoonist Michael DeForge’s works dominate the space from his collection of past illustrative works, trading cards and self-published ‘zines, six untitled ink sketches and two oversized mascot heads border on between cuteness and fierce and “Canadian Royalty,” a curious satire of a re-imagined Canada having a homegrown royalty lineage mired with real Canadian history, all have that boggling Dalí-esque state of mind.
Clockwise from left: Sketches, one of two felt mascot heads and a sample series of trading cards by Ottawa surrealist cartoonist Michael DeForge in Stories We Tell ’s main exhibit “Five Ways.”
Near the Artist Studios is the hidden Object Diaries with sculptor Jing Huang and textile artisan Sam Pedicelli in separate showcases. Pedicelli use of velvet, denim, fabric, porcelain and acrylic paint into her fantastical creatures and figures that could properly fit well in a Tim Burton film (“Mer-person”; “Party Animals 2”; “Together”; “Personal Space”) and Huang has her sextet “Dislocation” anthropomorphic series (“Swine”; “Fawn”) with earthenware figurine casts atop drawn sketch pages feel simple, if workable undercurrent running.
Clockwise from left: Sam Pedicelli goes all Tim Burton with her fantasitically eccentric “Party Animals 2” sculpture; “Swine” from Jing Huang’s “Dislocation” series by Chris Oliveros and two plates from Aberrant Tales series by Lindsay Montgomery, “The Company of Wolves Charger” (lower right) and “Hellmouth Charger” (lower left).
Stories We Tell ’s only solo exhibit belongs to ceramist Lindsay Montgomery with her Aberrant Tales. Here she turns the illustrative scripts from medieval times into modern themes on religion, feminism, birth and death painted with maiolica glaze on press-moulded earthenware, going from the bizarre to macabre with pieces entitled “Lioness Charger,” “Hellmouth Charger,” and “The Company of Wolves Charger,” among others. Yet these works provoke and challenge these nuances of the fairytales we grew up on by switching it all around on us to be more subjective on the representation of women in art into something creative and original, if not get a bit more of a chuckle from it for its intelligence.
Nina Bunjevac, Michael DeForge, Nick Drnaso, Jon McNaught, Chris Oliveros and Seth will be part of IFOA 2016’s roundtable event Five Artists, Five Ways: The Modern Graphic Novel on October 22. For tickets/information, call 416-973-4000 or visit ifoa.org.
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