Joshua Schwebel, Hiding, 2007–2010. Performance ephemera (postcards, newsprint, Freedom of Information document, envelopes), dimensions variable. Image courtesy of the artist.


Visibility has come to represent a dominant mode of inclusionary neoliberal politics through which transness is engaged in the mainstream, conflating representation with empowerment. Indiscernible thresholds, escaped veillances considers the invisible, the illegible, and the opaque as productive alternatives to contemporary trans hypervisibility, a circumstance wherein the realm of the representational risks becoming all that is offered to trans people, rather than material support or true sovereignty. This exhibition revels in the ineffable and unindexable qualities of transness, allowing disappearance to take on an unexpected political power, possessing a very different type of agency than visibility.

In his book Poetics of Relation, Édouard Glissant asserts that opacity subverts the extractive dimensions of knowing the other. Taking up this premise, the featured artists test the possibilities of opacity to negotiate presentations of transness, especially in relation to the archive. Responding to institutional and state archives as sites of surveillance and control, this exhibition wrestles with desires for access to a record of trans lives while simultaneously seeking alternatives to the archive’s imposing demands for trans legibility. Rather than approaching visibility as an issue to be resolved, these artists consider the potentials of retreating from view, framing opacity as a protective act, archival illegibility as an escape.

Indiscernible thresholds, escaped veillances is the second of two exhibitions exploring the roles of absence and opacity in rendering trans and queer lives and archives. The first installment of this project, Mnemonic silences, disappearing acts, is on view at the Jackman Humanities Institute until June 21, 2024. 

This exhibition is produced as part of the requirements for the MVS degree in Curatorial Studies at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto.

About the Curator

Presented by

Art Museum


John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design
Jackman Humanities Institute
Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies
Collaboratory for Black Poiēsis

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  • Date: Wed, Jul 10, 2024
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  • Time & Duration: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm (EST) (5h)
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  • Venue:
    Art Museum, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House
    7 Hart House Circle,
    Toronto, ON M5S 3H
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