We begin in a place of in-between, of undoing. To be otherwise, to alter, to transform, shift, change. To grow. To be gradual, processual. To cloister, hermit, seal, cocoon, digest. The chrysalis before its wings, sword in sheath, helmet and armour. The middle. A mobius strip, the ocean, a hole, a burial, a grain of rice, a braid, the life raft. To transition is to cross, to go beyond.
Silverfish began in 2020 as a publication and workshop series, aiming to offer an alternative mode of collaboration for artists and writers. As arts workers, we noticed an absence of opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration animated by community, intimacy, and the felt inspiration of gathering. We developed a workshop series informed by peer-based skill sharing, pairing artists and writers to respond to a theme and to create new works for publication. It becomes difficult now, within this emphasis on process, to cohesively collect some thoughts that might summarize months of collaborative work, and risk reducing the past few months to one culminating sliver of the beautiful, slow, and transformative process of producing this second issue.
Transition, the theme of our second issue, emerged through our editorial committee’s conversations about the shared, shifting conditions of the last two years. We noticed in ourselves a transposition inwards, the altered state of our external lives inspiring a necessary confrontation of ourselves. Our bodies, genders, our family dynamics, our relationships, and our working conditions, were all strained and under examination. Taking notice of the inequities, tensions, and wonders present inspired in us a resonant collectivity that asked us to consider how to enact and sustain community resilience. This shift offered us the space to reconsider our role as artists, curators, and writers, in our responses to the overlapping crises of our moment.
The artists and writers featured in this issue explore transition within this context of change and upheaval. Two writers were paired with two artists, and over the course of eight weeks of workshops, the pairs developed relationships of collaboration, mentorship, and friendship. What emerged through our conversations was a sense of interstitiality, that is, being somewhere in between together.
The transition of the body in both life and death propelled the work of this cohort. Be it because of the ubiquity of loss, a lack of recourse through rituals of shared grief, the inability to feel proximity to one another, or the knowledge that ours is a moment of massive cultural, social, and geological transition—there was a looming sense of impermanence and trepidation that coloured the work of participants. In this issue, four writers and artists explore personal, bodily, historical, and ancestral transitions. The following pages hold texts by Anna Daliza and Irum, and artist projects by Saysah Hassen and Lina Wu.
bodies & bellies
Irum and Lina explored the body as a site of continual transition. Irum’s prose-poem “on the swallow, and her belly” moves through modes of consumption, framing the belly as a place wherein transition occurs persistently. Irum considers diets, intimacy, swallowing, and the shapeshifting that happens within the belly throughout the course of a day, a year, through pregnancy, injury, and as a body matures with age. Their text speaks to a cultural fixation with bodily change, often concentrated around a fear of the belly, which Irum reclaims in the name of possibility, love, and metamorphosis.
In Lina’s work Hood, a coat of armour is woven through graphite strokes. The armour acts as a carapace within which softness resides and bodily transformation can occur. Employing the visual languages of biological diagrams and teen magazine quizzes, Lina collages tracings of print ephemera and borrowed textual excerpts. She asks us to consider what delineates the inside from the outside. This knight in shining armour spins a story of teenage longing and safeguards its continually shifting intimacies and interiorities. Together, Lina’s and Irum’s works consider the duality of soft innards and hard exteriors. They draw into question our cellular nature, the osmosis that occurs between us and the world, through our bellies, our skin, our desires.
grief & ancestors
Anna and Saysah look to grief and ancestral lineages as forms of historical, spiritual, and speculative transitions. Anna’s short story “Mothered” moves through familiar components of a classic teenage coming-of-age story, shaped by the difficulty and grief of being faced with the loss of a parent. Anna’s story chronicles a shifting mother-child relationship, in which the child witnesses immense transitions: from health to illness, child to adult, from receiving care to providing it.
Saysah’s work deals with embodied, generational grief, framing loss as a site of futurity. In Untitled_222_444, Saysah enacts a sculptural performance where they braid rice grains into the hair of two sculptures, reiterating a historic practice that sought to enable the survival of enslaved African people and their cultures. Saysah casts a broad net of visual and conceptual references in this work, ranging from Black beauty supply stores to Caribbean paper-mache puppet-making, all while summoning traditions of Black futurity. They approach this history through a lens of love and responsibility, taking a devastating, violent, and often fatal transition, and speculating on the potential for ancestral and generational resilience. Saysah’s and Anna’s works consider personal and ancestral histories alongside each other, using tools like autofiction and reenactment to explore grief.
These works encompass the myriad entry points of transition we sought to explore, resonating deeply with this moment characterized by change, transformation, and liminality. The four works in the following pages were each made in conversation with each other, as the artists and writers defined their individual and collective relationships to transition through shared practice, dialogue, and knowledges.
We feel privileged to have witnessed this process, and are once again awestruck by the insights gathered during the Silverfish workshop series. As facilitators, we were so moved by what this cohort offered. We can only plan so much; we can only hope that the readings we choose and the activities we facilitate will be well received. At every turn this cohort reimagined what we offered them, and returned with riveting poems, drawings, performances, writings, and movements that left us in awe. As curators, writers, and artists ourselves, we aspire to be as thoughtful, affective, and hilarious as this cohort. The work featured throughout this publication is a testament to the enthralling and untiring practices of these emerging artists and writers. We hope you enjoy reading, looking, and thinking with this work as much as we have.
In solidarity, friendship, and love, we are all limbs in this body of the bug!
M Hamilton, Dallas Fellini, Sameen Mahboubi, B Wijshijer
Editors, Tkaronto 2022
Lina Wu and Irum
Lina Wu (BDes OCAD U) conjures images and stories that meld adolescence, gender, fantasy, and figuration. Her work can be found at linawu.com or @linaw_u.
Irum is a desi poet and settler living loving laboring in tkaronto/toronto. Their writing explores the self and desire, the state and the ancient, and the romantics of the everyday, which is to say, they walk around a lot and then write about it.
Anna Daliza and Saysah Yoroonatii
Anna Daliza is an emerging writer and artist living in Toronto. Born in Southwestern Ontario to a Lebanese mother and an Anglo-Canadian father, she describes her cultural upbringing as a marriage between oil and water. With the continuous devastation in Lebanon, and increasing violence against trans women globally, Anna must reconcile with the suffering of her people. Her writing honours the resilience of her immigrant mother, baba and tayta, focusing on hope and beauty, even when informed by despair.
Saysah Yoroonatii is a multidisciplinary mover, and maker rooted in the Black Radical Tradition and community-building. They live and create on the stolen land of Turtle Island on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, Wendake-Nionwentsïo, and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Saysah stands in solidarity with land defenders and water protectors and Black freedom fighters. For them, movement is an experimental reclamation of both personal and community nurturing through an embodied somatic exploration of freedom-teachings and ancestral knowledge. Their work is a disruptive practice rooted in love-ethic and grounded in multisensorial mediums including dance, soundscaping, and collaging.
Dallas Fellini, M Hamilton, Sameen Mahboubi, B Wijshijer
Dallas Fellini is an emerging curator, writer, and artist living and working in Tkaronto. Their practice is invested in the dissolution of boundaries between different art forms and arts communities, trans and queer histories and futures, community practice, and the intersections of art and popular culture.
M Hamilton is a writer and community arts organizer working remotely from unceded Ligwilda’xw Kwakwaka’wakw territory. They are a writer of essays, poems, and emails, with recent work on communes, public bathing, and fermentation. They have held curatorial research positions at rural artist-run centers across so-called BC, and are currently the Literary Arts Coordinator at Oxygen Art Centre. Their writing has appeared in C Magazine, Maclean’s Magazine, and Grain Magazine, among numerous publications, zines, and exhibition statements.Sameen Mahboubi resides on the land of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Mahboubi is one of four co-founders and directors of Hearth, a DIY space in Tkaronto, is part of the editorial committee of Silverfish Magazine and sits on the SAVAC and Art Metropole board of directors. Mahboubi is interested in ecology, geography and urbanism and the relationships we all share with public space.
B Wijshijer is an arts practitioner currently based in Tkaronto, Canada. Interested in magic, love and transcendence within late capitalism, their work jests within the contrast of unity, bliss and the commodity. They are a committee member at Silverfish Magazine.
Alex Lepianka is an occasional writer and commentator based in Berlin, Germany.
Rowan Lynch lives and works in Tkaronto. They are a graduate of OCADU’s Criticism and Curatorial Studies program and one of four founding co-directors of Hearth, a space founded in 2019. Their work incorporates found imagery and memory synthesized through drawing and text, and organizing events and exhibitions.