tES, 2016. Photo credit: Ashley Bedet

there, the eyes are Sunlight on a broken column

May 1 – 31, 2016


Rested among moments when speech facilitates access beyond verbal communication, There, the eyes are Sunlight on a broken column {tES} is an experimental procession of essays, each building upon the previous towards a “transitional habitat” (Winnicott) where the essay, and through its continuous polyphonic transformations, shifts from being a noun to a verb, and then later to an architectural surface that projects itself within itself, as it expands, and slips on its own materiality to absorb spaces and thoughts from outside the page. Framing these three-dimensional “jumps” into the physical world, is the larger question of whether an essay, like a magical substance, has the potential to penetrate, invisibly, voices, objects and their environments, to affect, disturb and change the course of yet unknown futures.

— when an essay has left the page, and while unsure of where to go and what to do, he decides to wander and to think… and to watch the world unfold as if this world itself, is another kind of essay; like an invisible and yet habitable sculpture / a three-part story, individually choreographed by the-not-so-unrelated thoughts of those who read it:

Part one // a spatial choreography for moving paths, uncertain stories & invisible objects: Comprised of eleven interchangeable parts carefully composed through compiled notes, photographs, and scores that act as extensions for the bibliographical sculpture of the same title that Bogdan Cheta had staged at Stride Gallery, as part of an earlier permutation from The New Gallery’s Art Writing Residency, part one presents an interactive textual-assemblage that explores how private sites for pleasure in public spaces expand their invisible and coded architecture(s) to mimic the identities of those who use them, and then places these pathways in contact with other textual phenomenologies and abstract linguistic systems which connect the essay — or rather the context for its materiality, to borrow from W.J.T. Mitchel, to other temporary, queer surfaces from everyday-life.

Tangentially arranged, the publication’s layout and content are mixed with, and inspired by selections and meeting-points from three seminal essays – Félix González-Torres’ The Goldfield (1996), Roland Barthes’ S/Z (1970) and Au Palace Ce Soir (1978). Further, connections to and between these works are referenced, explored, and appropriated in a variety of textual, photographic or performative contributions produced by Cheta and his invited collaborators — Jeanne Randolph, Jacob Wren, Jenna Swift, Alexander M. Steinitz, Zoë Kreye & Catherine Grau, Tomas Jonsson, Miruna Dragan, and a growing ensemble of imaginary companions and characters from, and in dialogue with literature, history and everyday adventure.

* To mark the beginning of part one, printed issues of tES will be distributed along a new Gay History Walk that will take place on Saturday, May 7 at 10 AM, and will feature readings by Cheta throughout locations mapped by the walk. This is a FREE event, and is open to anyone interested.

About the Gay History Walk:

The Calgary Gay History Project researches and records the stories of the city’s queer past. Kevin Allen, Research Lead, will take the public on a 90-minute stroll through the Beltline, as part of Jane’s Walks 2016. We will travel to significant historical gathering spots for the gay community in this inner city neighbourhood, including Calgary’s first gay bar, from 1968, Club Carousel.


blue star

tES thinking sculptures video, in collaboration with Noel Bégin, 2016

Part two // thinking sculpture(s): As a complementary object that is both visible and invisible, and which orbits around, without making any direct contact with part one — part two is an online accumulation of calm, short texts and fugitive thoughts that will focus on things and rituals from daily life, and will feature intermittent, literary interventions by Jeanne Randolph in Winnipeg. Meant to act as experimental and experiential takes on art writing, selections from these textual-moving-still-lifes, will eventually be recited by different performers as the program series reaches its end. To subscribe, contribute and follow the movements of these textual sculptures, please register by clicking below:


Tomas Jonnsson, #528 (30 ave NE, Calgary), 2014. Photo: Shane Butler

Part three // radio performance: in collaboration with the Knox United Church in Calgary, Cheta has arranged live readings of excerpts from tES alongside unrehearsed and intentionally unresolved stages from Handel’s organ concertos – overtures that were themselves originally composed as “invisible” transitions to live reading events in public places. In this context, Knox United is a reoccurring setting featured in his essays, that continues to shift from being an architectural structure to a living character. A follow-up interview about the project will air later, in November on CJSW’s “Writer’s Block”.

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tES insert poster, 2016. Photo credit: Ashley Bedet


Jeanne Randolph is one of Canada’s foremost cultural theorists, having been writing, publishing and lecturing for over thirty years. She is the author of four books, all published by YYZ Books, Toronto: Psychoanalysis and Synchronized Swimming (1993); Symbolization and Its Discontents (1997), Why Stoics Box (2003), and recently The Ethics of Luxury (2008). She is also the author of countless published articles in Canada and the United States, and has contributed texts to numerous monographs and exhibition catalogues for artists including Fastwurms, Vera Frenkel, Robin Collyer, Elizabeth MacKenzie, Bernie Miller and Ian Carr-Harris. Her pivotal essay “The Amenable Object,” (1983) remains required reading in many university art courses.

Her writing is marked by an innovative approach to her chosen subject, a deeply ethical philosophical meandering that blends cultural theory and art criticism with personal history and a poetics of the imagination. A practicing psychoanalyst, Dr. Randolph is also known as engaging lecturer and performance artist whose unique vocal soliloquies–ranging from cat curating to architecture to boxing to Barbie Dolls to Wittgenstein–have been delivered in universities and galleries across Canada, as well as England, Australia and Spain. Randolph is the first and only writer in Canada to develop an Object Relations psychoanalytic theory as a medium for cultural criticism.


Shifting off, and with the page, and through subtle and in-between textual incisions which implicate the essay as both an action and an experimental setting that captures and decontextualizes many cultural objects, Cheta’s work starts with an attempt at constructing, and then staging relationships and possible points of contact between forms of criticism, their transition to physical agency and the social gestures their actions enable. By taking a sideways look at what is possible in criticism today — a moment in history when the critical impulses regarding art writing are at risk of being institutionalized by competing, and often homogenizing market and political influences, his aim is to suggest alternatives through which art writing rehabilitates the idea and social function of criticism today. From this perspective, Bogdan is interested in instances when art writing can take up physical space in the world – both, and simultaneously as a crafted object (or an arrangements of objects) and a social relation that is, or rather becomes capable of affecting change in the contexts that it contemplates on. Moving beyond the anthropomorphic, and while borrowing liberally from history and literature, recent installations of his work have mixed settings for sculptural performances with expanding constellations of essays that combine intimate, autobiographical narratives with theoretical observations to mediate on current events, or to propose hopeful fictions. Cheta immigrated from Romania to Canada in the early 2000’s, and his work has been presented in local, national and international settings. This Fall, he will begin his residency in ACAD’s experimental MFA program in Craft Media.


Bogdan Cheta / May 1 – May 31

Can’t find it anywhere?
You can download free PDFs below!

Episode III – Bogdan Cheta

With the kind support of:

The New Gallery, RBC Foundation, Rozsa Foundation, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Canada Council for the Arts, Calgary Arts Development, the City of Calgary, Knox United Church, Equinox Vigil, Calgary Gay History Project and CJSW.