Visiting the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery on Campus 🎨

I stumbled upon the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery in my first year. I was leaving a the Hart House Art Committee meeting when I noticed a small gaggle of people filtering out a pair of glass doors in the Hart House. We swapped places, and I found myself inside the gallery. To my surprise, there was no entrance fee.

I revisited this gallery yesterday when I had some time before class. To my surprise, it was open and largely empty during the lunch hour. After logging my contact tracing information, I was able to immerse myself in the current exhibition: 'Alternative Convention: Top Value Television’s Four More Years'. It will be on until October 9, I highly recommend giving the exhibition a visit (on a weekday, as the gallery is closed on weekends). It touches upon 'a landmark work by the 1970s video collective Top Value Television (TVTV)'.

an old television on a display case in the art gallery

As this space allows photography and video-taking (no flash!), I was able to snap a few photos and also a TikTok to take you along. Given the pandemic, I understand that it may be difficult to visit in-person. Luckily, you can check out the exhibition brochure, which features many visual and literary aspects of the exhibitions.

This exhibition encouraged me to reflect on the learnings from my cinema studies course and my current political communications seminar. Seeing the scanlations of notes made by members of a counter-cultural video collective and the press badges with their names inspired a reflection on the democratizing force of the internet. Now, more than ever before, video-making and publishing costs are lower than ever. This lowers the barrier for people like me to share my voice and experience (case in point: the @uoftstudentlife TikTok, to which I contribute)!

a treatise and a cover of a 'radical software' booklet in a glass case titled 1970

The gallery is open to the public and it is free to enter. Find it in the west wing of the Hart House. It's a great place to check out by yourself, or with a friend in your free time. If you do check it out, let me know how you found your experience in the comment section below.

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