Awake Asleep Alive A Dream

Alison Snowball - Awake Asleep Alive A Dream [2014] Black White 8x10
If memory serves, I recall that I first wrote down these words almost four years ago. It was only more recently, though, that I found myself spelling them out in staples – so, I guess they have resonated somehow. It has been fun to see this work appear, this past February, in a special issue of KAPSULA magazine on the theme of “Making Love” and to see it go to a good home for a good cause, just a few days ago, as a print for Xpace’s 10th Anniversary Fundraiser.

Chalk Form Census

Gearing up for upcoming project at Xpace Cultural Centre here in Toronto. Chalk Form Census will run January 30 to February 28, 2014.

Alison Snowball - ChalkFormCensus Title [300dpi]













About Chalk Form Census:
A series of questions is posed, one at a time, on a chalkboard installed in a street level window. Citizens passing by are invited to contemplate or respond to the question, which changes at regular intervals over the month long project timeframe. Extending the reach of the census, the question is simultaneously posted online through social media [#chalkformcensus], thereby also providing a platform for responses.

Feel free to follow along or respond on:
Instagram @chalkformcensus
Facebook Chalk Form Census
Twitter @ChalkFormCensus

Special thanks to Amber Landgraff, Alicia Nauta and Adrienne Crossman at Xpace. Also, thanks to Simon Rabyniuk, for his thoughtful reflections on the work.

Productive Limitations

Was super pleased and in good company presenting my 25 latest paintings, [Red & Blue] from the series Productive Limitations, at the Gladstone Hotel’s //The Annual// Shifting Ground this past October 10-13 here in Toronto. Thanks to curator Katherine Dennis for her work in creating cohesion out of disparity for this group exhibition. Here a few detail shots I took of the work, as well as an install photo by fellow exhibitor, Tom Ridout. Thanks Tom!

Productive Limitations [Red & Blue] 2013 [Detail] - Alison Snowball Productive Limitations [Red & Blue] 2013 [Detail 3] - Alison Snowball Productive Limitations [Red & Blue] 2013 [Detail 2] - Alison Snowball

Snowball - Productive Limitations [Red & Blue] 2013 - ::The Annual:: Installation View - Photo by Tom Ridout
Productive Limitations [Red & Blue]
Acrylic on wood panels

Top: Details
Bottom: Install photo by Tom Ridout

More on Productive Limitations:
Imagined as a modular system, Productive Limitations exploits the same process over and over, such that each panel is constructed following the exact same sequence of steps. Even so, product defies process, as aleatory chance enters the equation and no two panels are exactly alike.

With the basic unit of one square, there exist four possible orientations for the work––simple enough. With just four of these squares, there arise 45,280 possible permutations [ordered combinations] of the work. With twenty-five panels, as the work is shown here installed, the possibilities jump to 3,761,767,332,187,389,431,968,739,190,317,715,670,695,936,000,000 [or 3.76 x 10 to the power of 48].

The audience was invited to move the panels around to explore some of these iterations – allowing them to ‘shift the ground’.

Peace Process












Peace Process [2013]
GPS drawing [using MapMyRun]
10.15km 1:58:49 [dimensions variable ]

As an outsider to Yerevan, a map served as a logical tool for my early orientation in the city. At some point during this way finding, the city streets jumped out at me as the peace symbol.

As it relates to “In and Between the (Re)public”, the act of making the work happens in the public sphere but remains a private affair, with no outward signs that this inscription is taking place.

As a GPS drawing, the work plays with the notion of public surveillance, but defies the surveyors through purposeful activation of the tracking technology.

The product is virtual and disembodied but the process is real and embodied.
The product is imperfect but the process is negotiated rather than dictated.
The product is one of a kind but the process is reproducible and encouraged.

TWEETHIS: An Art History Paper in 361 Tweets

Follow @immaterealities

The project takes an art history paper entitled, “Immaterealities of Dematerialisation in Contemporary Art and Finance,” that I wrote as partial fulfillment of my M.A. and publishes it over Twitter—one tweet a day from start to finish—call it a ‘tweethis’.

The paper was not written with Twitter dissemination in mind—so some idiosyncrasies will almost necessarily arise with the sort of force fit of the text into this new frame. No attempt has been made for each tweet to make sense on its own—some will, some won’t. This point underscores the juxtaposition of the significant and the trivial, the meaningful and the superficial of the opposed intentions of ‘profound’ academia versus ‘shallow’ pop media.

The choice to roll the text out with one tweet a day, until 140 character lots are exhausted, could frustrate the impatient. As the writer, though, I see a clear parallel in the timespans of the publishing process to the preceding research and writing phases of the project.

Strict academics will dislike the format for aspects such as zero pages, words cut in half, and endnotes that will only appear towards the very end of the almost year-long project. Strict Twitterers will bemoan a lack of relevance of these posts to daily events. To these objectors, I would argue that once up in its entirety, the paper has a better chance of being accessed than it might cloistered in the ivory cloud of academic journals—perhaps the trumping feature among these other details. And, more to the latter, there is something poetic about all of the nonsense summing to sense.


This Tweethis was made possible by the support and shelter of the Pop Culture Lab of Kitchener – my very special thanks to Managing Director, Danielle Deveau for facilitating this inaugural artist residency.

Also – a big thanks to my OCAD U team of Andrea Fatona and Dot Tuer for their indefatigable efforts related to the research, writing, and lest I mention, editing, phases of this project.

Abstract of “Immaterealities of Dematerialisation in Contemporary Art and Finance”

This paper is an in-depth examination of two artworks: Crisis in the Credit System (2008) by Melanie Gilligan and Inventory (2007) by Carey Young. These works are positioned as successful critiques of contemporary speculative capitalism. This criticality stems from the works’ ability to engage the institution of the economy as a network, which itself functions through language. With Crisis in the Credit System, art acts out finance. Gilligan’s film takes the familiar signs and symbols of capitalism as its script, yet with narrative exposes the abstraction of this vocabulary. With Inventory, art acts as finance. Young’s work assigns a value to the artist’s body based on a chemical breakdown of the body’s constituent elements, which then becomes the offer price of the artwork. The artist and the work thereby adopt the role of financial products. Through irony, these two works question processes of signification and meaning in financial capitalism.