Time Out: A Letter from Greenwood UTM
Aug 4, 2020

The first confirmed COVID-19 case in Canada reached public knowledge in late-January.1 A month and a half of staggering numbers later, on March 13, Quebec became the province to declare a public health emergency with other provinces following suit shortly after.2 To date, Quebec has the largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada—59,131.3 On neighbouring soil, the United States of America has the highest number of confirmed cases globally, reaching 4,388,566, with many states already reopening their economies while the numbers continue to grow at an alarming rate.4 Recommendations by the Centres for Disease Control are being thrown away like single-use masks, today’s equivalent to plastic straws. The tension between this seemingly short recorded timeframe of the virus’s spread and the experience of COVID-19 time (the temporal and spatial slippages we are experiencing) have been occupying our minds at Greenwood UTM.

The last few months have generated no shortage of noise on the subject of the pandemic, but Greenwood, the student-led initiative by Blackwood Gallery Work Study students, noted the importance of providing a space for emerging voices grappling with these circumstances. Greenwood has thus collaborated with a number of these emerging voices—student voices—in hopes of broadcasting a unique perspective on the current state of affairs. Taking the form of a digital publication, Time Out engages with these current circumstances through various perspectives on time and place that the current time out from our previous normal makes possible.

To say the quarantine measures have drastically impacted our society is an understatement, but no less important is the opportunity it has provided for all of us to reflect on the tenets and operations of such an organized society, its pillars, and the processes of unlearning required to take down these pillars. All inextricably linked and entangled, these months are littered with feelings of unease and uncertainty. We are still collecting that litter. There are still pillars to collapse, preconceived notions to unlearn, and systems of linkages to be explored; the link between privilege and access to healthcare, between the cost of living and CERB, between quarantine and loneliness, between the “China Virus” and scapegoat racism.5 Numbers, slogans, graphs, diagrams, catchwords—all sorts of information have flooded information outlets for better and for worse. Below we map out 1500 connections between themes and concepts our generous contributors explore, connections which have provided us equal parts insight and disorientation:

As a generation that grew up on screens, we might be susceptible to strange, slippery and blurry relationships with the numbers that populate our digital environment: infection levels, death counts, streaming rates, storage space, bank account balances. To effectively Work From Home, I have purchased a new computer to replace my decade old laptop. 250 GB of storage space used to be plenty, but now many scoff at anything less than 1TB. This past week a house party of 200 was shut down a block over from my house, a mirror image of the crowds spilling out from my city’s hospitals due to overcrowding.
Numbers circle, scroll and fill our heads and feeds throughout the pandemic. In the motion-blur left behind by the afterimages of each day’s numbers, I think of the blending of boundaries that take place in Ashley Snook and Ivanovstoeva’s work. As much as human blends into and pushes up against nonhuman, I think of how learning simultaneously means unlearning, and “normal” is consistently challenged with each passing day.

    Compared to life pre-quarantine, I have been doing more emailing than ever. I stopped checking my health app’s pedometer sometime in April as the drop from tens of thousands to a few hundreds looked a lot like economic graphics, and an inverse of reported cases in the locale. These days I have been wondering if my cursor travel distance combined with my email travel distance can make up for that dip— the dip in distance travelled, the dip in connection. I see Emily Roe and Katy Poirier’s work and I see myself, once more feeling at ease and content in my surroundings; home becoming something different the more time I spend indoors.

    With so much of my day spent at my desk and so little space for thoughts  to breathe, time indoors has replaced the reflection period that my daily commute once occupied. With this shift of presence from physical to digital, much of the (now digital) landscape becomes overwhelmingly slippery. My mind bounces from Esther Kim’s work’s engaging visceral power,to notions of displacement in Liam Mullen’s work, then once more to fantasy and identity in Troy A. Lawrence’s work, then once more to uncertainty and constriction in Lele Lin’s work. For better or worse—mostly for better—emergent, connective qualities are easier than ever to pick up on as everyone moves into literal networked thought.

    So much is unfathomable. Our frequented galleries and collective spaces had few pre-existing safety nets to rely on in response to COVID-19 health and safety regulations. Shifting much of my activity from the physical realm to the digital realm, I had no idea how much I would rely on the espresso machine I purchased secondhand for $50, or how many times over that amount I would spend at furniture stores upgrading the home office from an ironing board to something slightly more substantial. At my new desk, Discord, an instant messaging client, has been filling ⅕ of the void that studio time has left, but one thing I particularly miss is the ability to debilitate my comrades in the studio or at the art opening with my coffee breath. I think of once inhabiting a different space-time, I think of these small but meaningful absences, poignantly reflected in the work of Karina Garcia Casanova, Sabryna Ekstein, Hadia Hassan, and Rachel Chen, each bringing attention to the (dis)connection to our environment.

In processing the rapid changes that occur each day regarding what we must learn and unlearn, what we reflect on and what we add to our task lists, what we strive towards and what we leave behind, Greenwood’s members have compiled a list of resources that influence our direction. We have reached this reading list together while thinking on the theme of interconnectivity as it exists throughout Time Out, and as it ties together contemporary discussions about racism, oppression, social inequality, and capitalism, all topics of discussion highlighted during the pandemic. It is our hope that this small list proves insightful:

  • Sarah Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017).
  • Anne Boyer, A Handbook of Disappointed Fate (Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018).
  • Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy (Chico, CA: AK Press, 2017).
  • David Carter, Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010).
  • Adele Clarke and Donna Haraway (eds.) Making Kin not Population (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018).
  • Darby English, To Describe a Life: Notes from the Intersection of Art and Race Terror (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019).
  • M. Evelina Galang, Lolas’ House (Evanston, Northwestern University Press: Curbstone Books, 2017).
  • The Invisible Committee, To Our Friends (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2015).
  • Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2019).
  • Ibram X. Kendi, How to be an Anti-Racist (New York, Penguin Randomhouse: One World, 2019).
  • Zoe Leonard, I Want a President (1992).
  • OUTREACH Online: Envision. Gallery 44 Digital Exhibition, July 24–October 24, 2020. (Gallery 44)
  • Thomas Piketty, Capital & Ideology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2020).
  • Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2019).
  • Arundhati Roy, “The Pandemic is a Portal” in the Financial Times (online), April 3, 2020.
  • Aeron Bergman and Alejandra Salinas, Telepathy 传心术 (Portland: INCA Press, 2018).
  • Solmaz Sharif, Personal Effects, reprinted online via Poetry Foundation from the collection, Look (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016).  
  • Saul Williams, “Rammellzee at the Battle of the Republic” in US (a.) (New York: Gallery Books/MTV Books, 2015).
  • Ocean Vuong, On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous (London: Penguin Press, 2019).

Land Acknowledgement

Greenwood UTM continues to consider the role that academic institutions play in the continuation of colonial ideologies. As students inside these institutions (in this case, the University of Toronto Mississauga), we have also considered how they can move forward from outdated thinking through acts of reconciliation. Throughout the production of Time Out, we have been fortunate enough to remotely reach students and faculty from various institutions through digital correspondence, traversing several territories. We acknowledge that this publication becomes a digital meeting site, connecting a multitude of territories that have been and continue to be cared for by Indigenous peoples. Each Greenwood member and Time Out contributor resides in, and benefits from traditional lands.

Greenwood recognizes that the many traditional territories upon which work on and in this publication has taken place. Beyond the University of Toronto, on the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River, we wish to acknowledge the following territories which have sustained our contributors’ work: York University in Tkaronto, which has been care-taken by the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Wendat, and the Métis; Concordia University and McGill University in Tiohtiá:ke, widely known as Montreal, under the custodianship of the Kanien’kehà:ka Nation and a site of meeting and exchange for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Huron/Wendat, Abenaki, and Anishinaabeg; Lakehead University on the traditional lands off the Fort William First Nation and the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg Nation; the University of Western Ontario, traditional territory of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Attawandaron peoples; and the University of Windsor, traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, including the Ojibwa, the Odawa and the Potawatomie Nations. Greenwood recognizes that this publication would not be possible without the care for the lands on which our institutions reside. We acknowledge these nations as past, present, and future stewards of these lands and we are committed to upholding them as home to many Indigenous peoples in the spirit of reconciliation.


The members of Greenwood UTM would like to thank all of the contributors for generously sharing their work and trust throughout the production of the digital publication Time Out. We at Greenwood are honoured to reach and represent students of various backgrounds, and it is our hope to amplify and elevate these voices. With full hearts, we thank Esther Kim, Liam Mullen, Emily Roe, Ashley Snook, Lele Lin, Karina Garcia Casanova, Sabryna Ekstein, Troy A. Lawrence, Katy Poirier, Hadia Hassan, IvanovStoeva, and Rachel Chen for their continued cooperation, patience and enthusiasm. We would also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Blackwood Gallery staff for their generous guidance throughout the process of this publication, as Time Out is the most ambitious programming Greenwood has headed since the initiative launched in 2018. Lastly, we extend our thanks to our growing audience for giving us the chance to amplify the voices of these artists, and for giving these emerging voices their generous viewership.

Thank you,

–Greenwood UTM, the Blackwood Gallery Work Study team
Nancy Hamdy, Outreach Assistant
James Legaspi, Curatorial Research Assistant
Camilla Peng, New Media Assistant
Kaitlyn Simpson, New Media Assistant
Jessica Velasco, Curatorial Research Assistant

1 The Canadian Press, “A timeline of events in Canada’s fight against COVID-19,” The Star, TorStar Corporation, June 18, 2020. https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/06/18/a-timeline-of-events-in-canadas-fight-against-covid-19.html.
2 Tyler Dawson, “As the Covid-19 pandemic hit, provinces declared states of emergency. Now many are up for renewal,” National Post, Postmedia Network, April 15, 2020.
3 As of July 30, 2020 19:00 EDT (canada.ca).
4 As of July 31, 2020 4:39 CEST (covid19.who.int).
5 Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump). “We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!”, Twitter, July 20, 2020, 3:43 PM.