“My actions and performances are about experiencing things in an actively engaged manner. They’re about ways of knowing that aren’t solely based on reading texts or seeing. They’re also about the ways we relate – to objects, places, and to each other.”
– Diane Borsato
In this solo exhibition, Diane Borsato shows several recent relational projects and interventions. On the one hand, her work is concerned with being in the city and in nature and, on the other hand, with ways of learning and exchanging knowledge. In The Chinatown Foray, the artist hosted a naturalist expedition in an urban marketplace. In Italian Lessons, she attempted to learn Italian by learning salsa, physics, first aid, and beekeeping by way of Italian instruction. In Terrestrial/Celestial, Borsato coordinated an unconventional exchange of observational practices—from opposite ends of the scale—between amateur mycologists and amateur astronomers. In a new work, Walking Studio, Borsato proposes a different space for research, collection, and reflection with her mobile field study lab. Comprised of a study centre and fully functional sauna, Walking Studio frames and supports artistic practices that are site-responsive, peripatetic, and relational.
This is the first major survey exhibition of Sobey-nominated Canadian artist Diane Borsato and brings together works in a variety of media from photography and video, to relational sculpture. While the works reference the grand history of conceptual, fluxus, and performance art, Borsato’s practice consists of simple gestures and organized events—acting as proposals for alternative ways of knowing objects, places, and each other. Outsmarting the universalizing modernist constraints that reduce human experience and empathy into easily digestible, rational categories, these works open up a space for critical insight. They enable a different way of relating, in humourous and poetic ways, to everyday life, to the realm of “high art,” and to other specialized fields of knowledge production, involving artists and non-artists alike in the process. Diane Borsato’s work proposes a different method of inquiry, one that relies more on touching, tasting, and feeling the world around us – from the terrestrial to the celestial.
The exhibition is accompanied by a major hard-cover monograph on Diane Borsato’s recent works published by the Art Gallery of York University, edited by Stephanie Springgay, and designed by Lisa Kiss Design (Toronto) with text contributions by Emelie Chhangur, Stephanie Springgay, Darren O’Donnell, Scott Watson, and an introduction by Philip Monk. The publication is supported by Diane Borsato and Stephanie Springgay’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant, The Institute of Walking: Research and Creation in Relational and Interventionist Arts Practices.