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?

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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

Alternatively
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, https://www.inc.com/nick-hobson/ted-lasso-is-reinventing-leadership-proving-that-nice-leaders-can-and-should-finish-first.html.


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

Alternatively
"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

Alternatively
“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.