2018 Year in Review

2018 was a remarkable year for Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art. In September, we presented the first annual Prairie Art Book Fair, exhibiting the diverse and accomplished work of Prairie-based art publishers and booksellers, acknowledging the critical relationship between contemporary art and publishing with a focus on the Prairies. We presented four solo exhibitions with Skeena Reece, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Przemek Pyszczek, and as well as worked with BUSH gallery and brought together an international collection of artists for our final exhibition of the year – Days of Reading: beyond this state of affairs. Yet again, we are proud to have activated our intensive four-week youth program, Interpreting [Interrupting] Youth, in partnership with Just TV with the support of Assiniboine Credit Union, while continuing to maintain our expanded Summer Institute into two sessions with the help of RBC and the Johnston Group. These projects have greatly initiated and expanded partnerships, and as always, sought to broaden our community in the city and beyond.


Theaster Gates, Do I Know You, (detail 2017. Part of Days of Reading. Photo by Karen Asher


In January, Plug In ICA was truly pleased to present Sweetgrass and Honey, a solo exhibition by Skeena Reece. Part survey, this exhibition recontextualized some of Reece’s earlier video and photographic projects, within a new body of work that used Plug In ICA as a place of political address to rewrite and acknowledge how we have come to occupy the land we are on. For our Spring exhibition, Polish-born, Canadian-raised artist Przemek Pyszczek created a sculptural installation of colourful hues in the exhibition Białystok. The exhibition marked Pyszczek’s first solo exhibition in Canada – in his home town of Winnipeg. Shit-Baby and the Crumpled Giraffe was a rare sculptural display of Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa’s characteristic penchant towards humour, abjection and performance as he transformed bodily action into object for his first solo exhibition in Winnipeg.  During the summer months, Thumbs That Type and Swipe: The DIS Edutainment Network by DIS, the New York based collective best known for DIS Magazine (2010-2017), presented a program of videos from their website that varied between documentary, instructional video and self-help guide. Our final exhibition of the year, Days of Reading: beyond this state of affairs, featured eleven international artists and was structured around general notions of appropriation, collecting, and indexing. The exhibition was grounded in the everyday, with historical and political narratives interwoven.

In 2018 we offered French tours for every exhibition, and included Spanish tours to expand and make programming more accessible. We continue to develop our evolving Respondent Series, inviting professionals from many fields of study or practice. This year we brought in activists, curators, economists and other artists to respond to our exhibitions. By way of tours, talks, screenings and performances, Plug In ICA evolved the complexity of programming, investing in the diversification of the ongoing public programs.

Notable programs this year include Cora Morgan, advocate for the newly formed Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and First Nations family advocate, a rare and much appreciated live performance by Darryl Nepinak for Good Evening Native America!, an experimental conversation workshop and accidental performance by Ray Fenwick, and performances by Raven Chacon, Laura Ortman & Suzanne Kite for Nuit Blanche.




DIS, Thumbs that Type and Swipe: The DIS Edutainment Network (Installation view), 2018. Photo by Karen Asher


Plug In ICA staff collaborated with Manitoban schools to participate in educational opportunities and tours that highlight the critical importance of contemporary art. Teens from schools across Manitoba examined the displacement and continued disregard of Indigenous people in North America through Skeena Reece’s work, immersed themselves into the fantastical with Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa’s exhibition, and analyzed the use of text with a focus on the material and the notions of historical and political narratives in Days of Reading.


Przemek Pyszczek, Białystok. Installation view during IIY Session IV, 2018. Photo by Crista Ordonez


Respondent Series Talk by Cora Morgan during Sweetgrass and Honey, Skeena Reece, 2018. Photo by Sarah Nesbitt


Over the course of 2018, we continued to engage groups of 4-6 participants between the ages of 16 and 24. Youth develop relationships with Plug In ICA staff, IIY youth mentors and between each other, engaging in activities and dialogue with the exhibiting artists, reflecting together on our exhibitions. The sessions culminated in a collaboratively produced short video that reflected their shared experiences and interpretations of our exhibitions, and contemporary art in general. All videos are available at:


Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Shit Baby and the Crumpled Giraffe (Installation view), 2018. Photo: Karen Asher


For Session I of the 2018 Summer Institute research program, we were pleased to present DIS. Over the duration of the Institute Marco Roso and collaborators facilitated “Thumbs That Type and Swipe: The DIS Edutainment Network”. The session was grounded in discussions that centred on media and the visual arts; offering directed, one-on-one conversations with Roso and guests, as well as group activities that privilege participants and their ongoing work.

BUSH gallery facilitated our Summer Institute Session II with guest faculty Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Peter Morin, and Tania Willard. Enacting a principal of Site/ation, BUSH gallery’s Summer Institute grounded its programming in developing knowledge of and with the land. Working from a position of respect for their status as uninvited guests, Site/ation emphasized respect for local knowledge. Over the course of three weeks, BUSH gallery participants camped, laughed, made, ate, shared and conjured ideas and dreams that fed the ancestors.

For a full overview of the participants, their work, and the events, visit: https://pluginicasummerinstitute.blogspot. ca/

Our Summer Institutes are one of our most important and critical programs and include an intense line-up of daily discussions and formal assignments as well as internal and public critiques and presentations.


Audience during Hannah Black lecture for DIS Edutainment, Summer Institute Session I, July 2018. Photo by Natalie Mark


2018 marked an exciting year for Plug In as it launched two new series of Plug In editions, our new STAGES supplements and Exhibition Notes. In coordination with Fillip publishing Plug In is in the midst of co-producing four STAGES publications. These will include a supplement by STAGES curator and Executive Director, Jenifer Papararo; a visual essay by the collaborative duo grupa o.k.; and a text by curator and theorist, Candice Hopkins; as well as the recently released transcripts of Toril Johannessen’s audio drama in three languages: English, French and Norwegian.

This year also marks the launch of Plug In’s first in a new series titled Exhibition Notes, these documents are proposed as quick compilations, and archival gestures, the Exhibition Notes series intends to capture an exhibition as part of the research process and not its end goal. Because the nature of research is that it unfolds over time, within the ‘quickness’ of the note is the decoding of a more durational moment, of time spent thinking, reading, conversing, experiencing. Exhibition Notes: Entering the Landscape, featured an essay by Sherry Farrell-Racette, extended curatorial essays by Sarah Nesbitt and Jenifer Papararo, an artist insert by A.K. Burns, and over 30 colour images. This special publication marks the first in our Exhibition Notes Series.



Plug In ICA’s Bookshop brought several projects to fruition in 2018. Significantly, we organized and hosted the first Prairie Art Book Fair in September, launched three unique publications brought Plug In Editions and local publications to the New York Art Book Fair, organized book signings and increased our selection of titles in the shop. We strengthened bonds with other organizations, added to our curated library collection and continue to expand our program with publications related to our exhibitions.


Erin Josephson-Laidlaw at our Plug In ICA table for the Prairie Art Book Fair, Sept 2018


Your contributions to our programming cannot be overstated. THANK YOU!



Plug In ICA is pleased to announce STAGES 2019, which began in 2018 with our STAGES Speakers Series with Joar Nango’s artist talk in November and most recently, Raymond Boisjoly’s visit and talk. Both talks were held in off-site locations in keeping with the spirit of STAGES a temporary public exhibition of sculpture and performance engaging the City of Winnipeg.

STAGES 2019 and our Stages Speaker Series is supported by the Winnipeg Foundation and Michael Nesbitt.  We also thank our community partners Alt Hotel for their continued support of STAGES. And would like to thank Leon A Brown for providing us with our latest off-site location.


The success of this year is due in large part to the encouragement of our members, the support of our sponsors and the trust of our donors. Vital contributions for our programming also come from core funding made by the Canada Council, the Manitoba Arts Council, and the Winnipeg Arts Council.

Plug In ICA extends our gratitude to all the exhibitors who joined us for the inaugural Prairie Art Book Fair. The inaugural edition of our Prairie Art Book Fair would not have been possible without the generous support of Paula Mitchell and Arnold Leventhal. Our Summer Institutes were supported in large part to the generosity of Royal Bank Foundation who agreed to support two years of programming, in addition to the strengthening of this support from the Johnston Group who continue to give so much.

Our Director’s Circle offers continued patronage in their support of our program and operations. Our thanks to you.

Detailed installation shot of Shannon Bool’s All Saints Bench, 2018. Photo by Karen Asher


Galvanizers: The Asper Foundation • Daniel Friedman & Rob Dalgliesh • Susan Glass & Arni Thorsteinson • Dave Johnston • Chrysoula & Konstantinos Kotoulas • Michael Nesbitt

Instigators: Tony Mitousis • Aveeve & Samuel McLaughlin

Motivators: Danny Bubis & Jennifer Blumenthal • Kat Kupca • John MacAuley • Paula Mitchell & Arnold Leventhal • James A. Richardson • Wawanesa Insurance • Marlene Stern & Peter Rae Sotirios Kotoulas • Gary Ursell

2019 Gala and ART AUCTION

This was a spectacular success due to the artists who generously donated their work, our key donors, Daniel Friedman & Rob Dalgliesh, CGM Engineering & Tony Mitousis, and our generous sponsors, RBC Royal Bank, Vita Health Fresh Market, Matix Lumber, Stephen N Rosenfield CPA Corp, and The Asper Foundation. The evening was a success, in large part to the unrelenting efforts of our gala committee and co-chairs, Zia Hameed and Silvester Komlodi.

To all of our sponsors, members, artists and visiting public, you helped make this year full of rigorous, provocative and enjoyable programming. We can’t thank you enough!

Using our gala as a jumping of point we have started a Collector’s Circle with the hopes of building a conversation around collecting art. We hope you join!


Khan Lee performance during Plug In ICA Gala 2018. Photo by Emily Christy

In 2018, we welcomed five new board members: Uzoma Asagwawa, Hee-Jung Serenity Joo, Karine Pelletier, Alexander Mickelthwate and Kristin Nelson. Their contributions are difficult to quantify, but their impact is felt. We said farewell to our Assistant Curator, Sarah Nesbitt, for whom we are excited for the opportunities that await her in Montreal. In her place we are fortunate to welcome artist and writer Luther Konadu, as interim Assistant Curator.

Plug In ICA BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Sotirios Kotoulas (President), Samuel McLaughlin (Secretary), Jordon Sodomsky (Treasurer), Uzoma Asagwara, Irene Bindi, Brad German, Zia Hameed, Dr. Hee-Jung Serenity Joo, Dr. Serena Keshsavjee, Silvester Komlodi, Alexander Mickelthwate, Julie Nagam, Kristin Nelson, Karine Pelletier. Daniel Friedman, Emeritus and Financial Advisor; Noam Gonick, Emeritus; Marlene Stern, Emeritus; Meeka Walsh, Emeritus

Plug In ICA STAFF: Chloe Chafe (Gala Coordinator), Angela Forget (Operations Coordinator), Erin Josephson-Laidlaw (Bookstore Manager),Tom Kohut (Grant Writer), Luther Konadu (Assistant Curator, interim), Sarah Nesbitt (Assistant Curator), Jenifer Papararo (Executive Director), Johanna Poortenaar (Gallery Attendant), Theo Sims (Head Preparator). 2018 INTERNS: Sarah Stewart, Natalie Mark, Jennifer Hammond, Emma Dux & Tyler H. Andrade and INTERPRETING YOUTH MENTORS: Gideon Kitsa, Christa Ordonez, Victor Ilunga.

We will leave our year in review here to allow us to re-envision our future and invite new audiences and members into our fold. We thank you for your attention. for being part of Plug In ICA and for making this an unforgettable year. We have big ambitions for 2019 with the largely anticipated STAGES 2019! Stay tuned!