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21 Jan. 2023

What Are Our Supports? Editorial Statement by Joni Low

Writer
Joni Low

Joni Low is co-editor of the new book What Are Our Supports, an anthology of over 20 local and international contributors that draws attention to what we can do amidst the current conditions of environmental, social and political precarity.

What are our supports during times of precarity, pandemic, and climate crisis?
How do artists make perceptible the immaterial and relational supports that will continue to guide us through precarity – and that are crucial to the survival of communities?

My name is Joni Low, and as curator of the original What Are Our Supports? projects – situated in Cathedral Square Park, Vancouver in 2018 – I’ve always been inspired by artists who work collectively and who sustain spaces for art outside of gallery contexts. When the global COVID pandemic hit in March 2020, I realized that many public discussions around the need for social and self-organized supports – during times of isolation, uncertainty, and rapid change – resonated strongly with what the five artist groups explored in 2018. So, we decided to make a book and invite more artists and writers to join the conversation.

All of the book’s contributors begin with the body as a source of deep knowledge. They attune us to our own embodied support structures – how our senses guide us towards different insights: nature’s patterns, Indigenous ways of being, somatic and spiritual intuitions, tactile care, multi-directional time, pleasure, and ways of perceiving otherwise to what capitalism’s structures present. They also emphasize the foundational supports – land, home-made community, public time, and friendship – that allow us to come together. They show us how integral the act of support is in our world’s fabric, on an intimate scale.

I’m really grateful to know this group of humans. I feel that this book is relevant right now because we are in a transitional time – between a world we recognize isn’t working and towards new possible formations. Emerging from the pandemic, many of these issues are still being worked through, along with exhaustion, burnout, loneliness, and the increased stressors of everyday survival. This collective publication offers ways of embodying the changes we’d like to see by going back to the basics, with incremental gestures that build over time, showing how each moment and exchange in our lives is practicing what it means to be human, and how these connections will help us restore our commons.

The book may be purchased here.


Joni Low is a curator and writer whose practice explores interconnection, intercultural conversations, collaboration and sensory experience. Working in non-profit visual arts organizations for over 15 years, independently she has curated exhibitions at Galerie de L’UQAM, Montréal, Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Charlottetown, and Burnaby Art Gallery, VIVO Media Arts Centre and Or Gallery, Vancouver. Recent curatorial projects include Afterlives: Germaine Koh and Aron Louis Cohen, Charles Campbell’s Actor Boy: Travels in Birdsong, Hank Bull: Connexion and the symposium Underground in the Aether. Low’s essays and criticism are published in catalogues and numerous art periodicals; she is an editorial board member of The Capilano Review. As a SSHRC Doctoral Fellow at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts, her research focuses on artists sensing otherwise towards different ways of knowing, and synaesthetic resonances across art, neuroscience, somatics and the humanities.

  1. What Are Our Supports?
  2. What Are Our Supports?
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