Over the past few decades multiple modes of creative and critical writing have proliferated in art worlds. A range of approaches – from ficto-criticism, speculative fiction, performative writing, site-writing, poetic innovations, new mediations and alternative forms of criticism – have made political, philosophical and academic space for art writing. Dylan Thomas notes, ‘A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.’ His phrase ‘never the same’ evokes the articulation of mutable writing approaches which refuse to accept art discourses and production as business-as-usual. 

Never the Same: what (else) can art writing do? asks, what are the places for, and political implications of, de-instrumentalized forms of writing?  In an age of austerity, neocolonialism, neoliberal uses of creativity, art marketing, grant writing and practice based PhD work, how can writing by and for artists and their work enact resistance to such forces? What are the language forms (re)emerging in the present?  How might art writing be considered as an ethical practice towards an understanding/in defense of artistic knowledge? How do (re)emergent modes of artistic writing enact agonisms and solidarities in relation to art audiences? Never the Same will address how and for whom these new modes of art writing matter through multiple symposium sessions guided by the following four areas of investigation:

Performing and Materialising Art Writing

As writing calls and responds in proximity to bodies both present and absent, what performativities of language embody speaking subjects? By examining spaces between gastromancy (where literally, the gut speaks) and modes of ventriloquism, narrative and performative dynamics of identity and voice emerge. Theories of new materialism consider the agencies of extra-semiotic forces in artistic production. How might art writing’s material embodiments enliven boundaries between discourse and production?

Making Space, Place and Time Through Art Writing

What real and fictional spaces and places can art writing conjure? How do inscription, gesture and language formulate and reveal cultural knowledge and difference?  How does language gesture across and within difference, and how might we consider geographies, histories and futurities in this context? How do modes of site-writing occupy and form these discursive spaces? What new iterations of art writing use and transform digital media spaces? What spacings and rhythms of art writing resist forces of chrononormativity (Freeman, 2010)?

Art Writing and Knowledge Production

The introduction of artistic knowledge into educational institutions has presented frictions to epistemic certainties. How have art institutions grappled with this, and what new agencies of art writing do such frictions generate? How might other fields of knowledge benefit from art writing’s speculative, performative and material conditions? What kinds of (un)productivities or productive refusals might art writing contribute to the precarious economies of artistic and institutional labour?  How does failure function as a form of resistance? What alternative forms might be brought to address these conditions?

New Modes of Publishing and Distribution

How have new modes of publishing and distribution – online and print – transformed relations between artists, writers and readers? How do such modes of publishing and distribution work to assemble or activate different kinds of readers and communities? Through what structures of exchange does art criticism thrive? How do different serial formats or rhythms of distribution perform new critical perspectives or ecologies? What are the unanticipated afterlives and futures of digital critical art forums?

further details

extratextual, curated by Lisa Baldissera and Joanne Bristol

An international exhibition of contemporary art informed by modes of writing.

Contemporary Calgary
117 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, Canada
September 1, 2017 to January 21, 2018
Reception: September 15, 6:00 – 10:00 PM



For further information or any questions regarding Never the Same, please contact:

For media/press inquiries, please contact:
Alison Andersen, Executive Assistant & Special Events Manager

For all ticketing inquiries, please contact:
Arts Commons Box Office
Centre Court, 225 8 Avenue SE

VENUES (view map)

Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons
234 9 Ave SE, Calgary, AB

Contemporary Calgary
117 8th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB

Royal Canadian Legion #1 Branch
116 7th Avenue SE, Calgary, AB


Fairmont Palliser
133 9 Ave SW, Calgary, AB
403-262-1234 (Reservation code: CONT0917_001)


Vision Travel: Lesley Anne Harpe
256, 414 3 Street SW, Calgary, AB



Contemporary Calgary is located on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta. The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.

Never the Same was made possible by the generous support of our funders: Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Arts Development, the City of Calgary, and Calgary Foundation.

Thank you to our generous media sponsor Canadian Art and partners CJSW, Alberta College of Art + Design, TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary and Shelf Life Books.