Feb. 20 2020
Experiments in Criticism: Aliya Pabani

Workshop Series

Unscripting Criticism: How To Say What You Mean
Guided by Aliya Pabani

Presented by C Magazine in association with Vtape

Workshop Dates:
March 21, March 28, April 4 & April 11; 1-4:30pm

The Commons @ 401 Richmond
Bachir-Yerex Presentation Space (Boardroom)
4th floor, 401 Richmond Street West
Toronto, ON M5V 3A8

In Unscripting Criticism: How To Say What You Mean, we will address the dominance of writing in art criticism by exploring a range of tactics for approaching criticism that privilege oral, aural and improvisational modes of meaning-making. Through a series of exercises conducted inside different gallery spaces, we will experiment with spatial configurations and other relational constraints to facilitate various kinds of conversations, encouraging participants to form impressions in dialogue. We will test interview techniques that disrupt conventional interviewer/interviewee dynamics to create space for more oblique entry points, and pursue different strategies for finding one’s voice. Using improvisation, we will develop scripts that contextualize art works in novel, impulsive and unexpected ways. Finally, we will develop an awareness of how the way we move through a space impacts our experience, using the format of an audio tour to practice a more reflective, embodied kind of spectatorship. Each workshop session will include a listening party, where we will listen to and discuss audio pieces that relate to the day’s theme. In this series, we’ll grapple with questions like: How can criticism better capture the informal but purposeful ways we talk about art in bars, bedrooms or online? How can improvisation help strengthen our facilities to respond with honesty, self-possession and style? How might the practice of deep listening change the way we see?

Expressions of interest will be accepted until February 20, 2020. Registration is limited.

This series will involve a fair amount of curiosity, play, and likely some vulnerability, as well as interaction between participants. While we encourage people to challenge themselves, we also urge people to take care of whatever their needs may be. You are welcome to communicate—either in your expression of interest, and/or upon being offered a spot, and/or during the workshop sessions—any questions, concerns, or suggestions around these points.

Those interested are asked to:

- Email an expression of interest (maximum 500 words) to by February 20, 2020.
- Confirm that they will be able to attend all workshop sessions.
- Submit a deposit of $50 on acceptance, to be returned upon completion of the workshop series. Please let us know if you require financial assistance.

Participants will be informed of the status of their application by February 29, 2020.

This workshop series will be guided by principles of anti-oppression to facilitate meaningful engagement from all participants, accounting for how group dynamics around power and privilege can often marginalize women, people of color, queer, trans and gender non-conforming folks, people with disabilities, and those with limited access to the cultural cues and financial resources that come with class privilege.

C Magazine engages in an affirmative action framework to actively increase the representation of equity-seeking groups in the arts sector. We aim to centre BIPOC, LGBTQQIP2SAA, Deaf, Mad and disability-identified communities, and culturally diverse participants. If you identify as a member of one or more of these groups, you are invited to voluntarily self-identify.

Vtape and 401 Richmond are accessible venues. Please let us know of any accommodation we may provide during the application process or for your participation in the workshops. If you have accessibility concerns or special requests, please contact


Aliya Pabani is a Toronto-based artist and audio producer. She was host/producer of Canadaland’s arts and culture podcast, The Imposter, and her audio work has appeared on Falling Tree Productions’ Short Cuts for BBC 4, In the Dark, and NTS Radio. Her predominantly installation and performance-based art has been shown as part of Images Festival, Summerworks, the Toronto Biennial of Art and most recently in Resonant Bodies, an exhibition of sound-based works presented by Constellations, recently released in podcast form. She is co-creator of POC in Audio; an online database of hundreds of people of colour working in audio from around the world.

Angela Shackel [who will be co-facilitating one of four sessions in this series] is an artist and audio producer based in Toronto, ON. Shackel creates audio plays, audio walks, sound installations, and podcasts. She has produced audio works for arts organizations, museums, private galleries, government divisions, colleges and not-for-profits. Her podcast and radio productions have aired on Canadaland’s The Imposter, NTS radio, KCRW and McSweeney’s podcast The Organist. Shackel also has a visual arts practice as part of the collective CCC. Their installation-based works have been shown across Canada and in the UK.

EXPERIMENTS IN CRITICISM is a yearlong education program devised by C Magazine to nurture and promote interdisciplinary critical literacy around contemporary art. Participants in a series of workshops aimed at youth aged 18 to 30, developed with and guided by community leaders, explore unique approaches to art criticism, and a symposium in Spring 2020 offers a forum for presenting forms of experimental criticism. The symposium also coincides with C Magazine’s Spring 2020 issue 145 Criticism, Again. For more information and the EXPERIMENTS IN CRITICISM SYMPOSIUM Call for Proposals, visit:

C Magazine acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Council for the Arts’ Sector Innovation program. We also wish to thank the sites, venues and various organizations that participate in and support the Experiments in Criticism program.