Situational Inverse: Overturning Traditions

What do you want to say to current leaders in your life? What do you wish past leaders knew? What do you think future leaders should know?

Building on discourses sparked by the 2021 Dissolution of Parliament by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Greenwood team thought a lot about the ways that we collectively engage with forms of power. Whether we are interacting with figures of authority, our peers, or our juniors, how does power inform these exchanges? Throughout the curatorial process, the goal of Situational Inverse: Overturning Traditions transformed from an exploration to being a conversational catalyst for themes of power, positionality and leadership.

Calling upon the poem I want a president (1992) by Zoe Leonard as inspiration, Greenwood employs alternative means of understanding power to theorize possible ways we can engage with power differently. The ways in which Leonard subverts traditional ideas of political figures became foundational pillars for the curatorial process. Through gestures of knowledge sharing (and acknowledging the power involved when sharing knowledge), Greenwood begins to diversify the collective understanding of what it means to lack power, to have power, and ways it occupies space within our lives.

This publication showcases the work of nine contributors: Blaire Mackenzie, Dania Sabri, Masha Le Do, Sofia Sue-Wah Sing, Sofia Suleman, Tooba Ijaz, Tyler Young and collaborative duo Chi Liu and Josephine Tianyi. With each contribution based on relevant themes, Situational Inverse: Overturning Traditions asks; how can power fluctuate? How do we collectively engage with power in the present? How can we change this treatment in the future?

Click here to open the PDF.

Situational Inverse: Overturning Traditions is a free publication supported by The Blackwood at the University of Toronto Mississauga. A PDF copy is available to view through Greenwood’s website, with limited printed copies available in archives held by The Blackwood in Mississauga and Hauser & Wirth in New York.

Definition Dissolution 

Key terms and alternative ways of understanding them

Leadership, noun, /ˈlēdərˌSHip/
1. the office or position of a leader
2. capacity to lead
3. the act or an instance of leading
4. leaders

A movement or action by leaders who “are willing to be vulnerable, are OK with being ‘the bad guy,’ see the value in self-care, and focus on others’ intentions, not their actions alone.” —Nick Hobson, “Ted Lasso is Reinventing Leadership and Proving that Nice Leaders can (and should) Finish First,” Inc., November 3, 2021,

Positionality, noun, /puh-zish-uh-NAL-i-tee/
The social and political context that creates your identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status

"Positionality is the notion that personal values, views, and location in time and space influence how one understands the world. In this context, gender, race, class, and other aspects of identities are indicators of social and spatial positions and are not fixed, given qualities. Positions act on the knowledge a person has about things, both material and abstract. Consequently, knowledge is the product of a specific position that reflects particular places and spaces.” —Luis Sánchez, “Positionality.” In Encyclopedia of Geography, ed. Barney Warf (Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Inc., 2010), 258, SAGE Reference.

Power, noun, /'pou(e)r/
1. legal or official authority, capacity, or right
2. possession of control, authority, or influence over others
3. a controlling group
4. physical might
5. political control or influence

“Power is—at least some of the time… a factor in a social situation because of human beings’ expectations of what might happen to them. Power can be a significant factor in social relationships even when it exists as a set of complex anticipated reactions to the assumed actions of remote social agents… power manifests itself as a complex social presence that exists in an intricate network of overlapping and contradictory relations.”—Thomas E. Wartenberg, Rethinking Power (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), xviii-xix.

Water Activism and Community


Greenwood, with the support of The Blackwood, hosted a community consultation event on

Thursday, July 29, 2021, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM EDT 
In this presentation and discussion, Dr. Robert Case, Associate Professor in Social Development Studies at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo discussed his practice of water activism, environmentalism, and community organizing. Dr. Case’s work was presented as part of the consultation and development of lyfeboat prototype, the development of a fully-functional boat for community use led by artist sean procyk and the Blackwood.  

lyfeboat prototype is a project rooted in architectural intervention, adaptive reuse, and public engagement. Slated for launch by the Blackwood in 2022, it will serve as a gathering place for community education, a work of experimental architecture, and a self-sufficient floating sculpture.

Interested institutions, groups, and individuals were invited to discuss their ideas for how lyfeboat prototype can be used in their community.

Dr. Robert Case is an Associate Professor in Social Development Studies at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and a volunteer on the board of directors of a local citizens' group called the Wellington Water Watchers. He teaches in the areas of social policy, social ecology, and community organization, and his focuses on community organization and social action, with a particular focus on community organization in the context of opposition to groundwater bottling in communities around North America.

sean procyk is an unsettler artist and playground designer. his practice focuses on creating immersive public engagements through site-specific installation, architecture and community workshops. Each project responds to its regional context, with a particular focus on the relationships that exist between landscape, community and ecology. procyk’s work explores processes of ecological succession, land-based disturbance, human alienation and collective action. he works primarily with found, reclaimed and natural materials. procyk’s works have been exhibited at Hamilton Artists Inc., Latitude 53, Stride Contemporary Art Gallery, Elemental Festival, Convergence Conference on Art and Technology in Banff, and Nuit Blanche Toronto.

Survival and Growth

This Pride month, Greenwood is highlighting past contributions to Blackwood's programming that amplify awareness for and encourage dialogue about issues relevant to the LGBTQ+ community. The Greenwood team recognizes that Pride is not just about celebration, but also about continuing to create spaces where underrepresented voices and communities are amplified. The spotlight series has organized the following artists and publications thematically according to the specific ways in which they enable us to think about care, social justice, decolonization, identity, and the future. We are sharing artistic works, articles, and projects hosted by the Blackwood that engage with these themes, including works by Thirza Cuthand, Hazel Meyer, Anthea Black, and more. We encourage you to look further into the work of contributors highlighted in this spotlight series on our instagram page

The title for this series, Survival and Growth, comes from Sister Outsider, a collection of essays and speeches by Audre Lorde.

(Dis)Placed: A Virtual Artist Spotlight and Talk Series
January 15 - February 11 2021

The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is home to many diasporic communities. Approximately half of the region’s current population was born outside of Canada—making the region a natural place for meaningful discussions on the complexities of movement, language, and community belonging. What does it mean to be Canadian, when Canada has become a crossroad for such a rich diversity of peoples? Are traditional definitions of “home” meant to be challenged, reconciled, stretched, or embraced in our current geopolitical context? In 2021, Greenwood engages with contemporary discourses in Ontario’s diasporic experience. (Dis)placed: A Virtual Artist Spotlight and Talk Series considers the fallout of westernization and the effects of displacement, cultural belonging, and visibility on our local communities. 

Greenwood’s forthcoming programming series takes the form of two artist talks hosted in tandem with a collection of four virtual artist spotlights. (Dis)Placed showcases the diverse and intergenerational interpretation of diaspora by artists and arts activists in the Greater Toronto Area. In response to a year of unprecedented events, Greenwood— an initiative led by Blackwood Gallery Work-Study students— considers the importance of providing a space for emerging voices to grapple with cultural movement and belonging complexities. (Dis)Placed invites emerging and mid-career artists to unpack these present-day experiences, activating various perspectives on space, belonging, and place in our communities. 

We at Greenwod recognize (Dis)Placed as an opportunity to examine, learn, and unlearn traditional definitions of diaspora in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. For this reason, we have complied a list of resources that influenced our direction – a collection of works that process themes of cultural belonging, identity, assimilation, and intergenerational doubt in North America. It is our hope that this small sampling proves insightful, tying together traditional and contemporary discourses on the subject:

  • Dionne Brand, What We All Long For (Toronto: Penguin Random House Canada, 2005). 
  • Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur, Theorizing Diaspora: A Reader (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003).
  • Judith M. Brown, Global South Asians: Introducing the Modern Diaspora (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). 
  • Roger Brubaker, “Revisiting ‘The ‘Diaspora’ Diaspora,’” Ethnic and Racial Studies 40, no. 9 (2017), 1556–1561.
  • James Clifford, “Diasporas,” Cultural Anthropology 9, no. 3 (Aug. 1994), 302-338.
  • Robin Cohen and Caroline Fischer, Routledge Handbook of Diaspora Studies (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018). 
  • Sneja Gunew, “Serial Accommodations,” Canadian Literature no. 196 (2008), 6-16.
  • Media Farzin, “The Imaginary Elsewhere: How Not to Think about Diasporic Art,” Bidoun, originally published in Summe 2012.
  • Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory, [Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, (1925) 1992].
  • Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” in Jonathan Rutherford (ed.) Identity: Community, Culture, Difference (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990), 222-237.
  • Smaro Kamboureli, Scandalous Bodies: Diasporic Literature in English Canada (Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2009).
  • Jacques Khalip, Anonymous Life: Romanticism and Dispossession (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009).
  • Saloni Mathur, The Migrant’s Time: Rethinking Art History and Diaspora (Williamstown: The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2011).
  • Linda Nochlin, “Art and the Conditions of Exile: Men/Women, Emigration/Expatriation,” Poetics Today 17, no. 3 (Autumn 1996), 317-337.
  • Kobena Mercer, Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers (Boston: MIT Press, 2008).
  • Edward W. Said, Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002). 
  • Tahseen Shams, Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020).
  • University of Toronto’s Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies, Between, Across, and Through, Podcast, October 1, 2019 – ongoing.


The members of Greenwood would like to thank all of our contributors for generously sharing their work and trust with us throughout the production of (Dis)Placed. With full hearts, we thank Shaheer Zazai, Idil Djafer, Florence Yee, and Abedar Kamgari for their continued cooperation, patience, and enthusiasm. We are honoured to reach and represent artists with such a rich diversity of backgrounds. We would also like to extend our sincere thanks to the Blackwood Gallery staff for their generous guidance throughout this series' production. Our final thanks are to Greenwood's growing digital audience. It is through your viewership that we are able to continue elevating emerging student and mid-career voices from our local community. We cannot thank you enough for your generous support.

With gratitude, 
–Greenwood, the Fall 2020 - Winter 2021 Blackwood Work Study Team

Muskoka Dittmar-Mccallum, New Media Assistant
Nancy Hamdy, Outreach Assistant
Megan Kammerer, Collections Assistant  
Nicholas Markowski, Outreach Assistant
Jessica Velasco, Collections Assistant
Anila Wahid, New Media Assistant