Free Shuttle Bus + Artist Talk: prayers for a word (or a lack that builds the world)

Joshua Vettivelu, (detail) prayers for a word (or a lack that builds the world), beeswax, cinnamon, dimensions variable.

prayers for a word (or a lack that builds the world)

Exhibition: February 4 – March 6, 2022, weekends only, Friday – Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

First Artist Talk: Saturday, March 5, 12:00 – 1.30 pm
Shuttle Bus pickup/drop off time: Departing at 10:30 am to the VAC, returning to Toronto at 2:00 pm.
Shuttle Bus pickup/drop off location: Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON, M5V 2R2
Register for shuttle bus:
Second Artist Talk: Saturday, March 5, 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Join us on an artist-led tour and talk with Joshua Vettivelu as they discuss their exhibition prayers for a word (or a lack that builds the world) on Saturday, March 5, 2022. This final installment of Public Space, curated by Matthew Kyba, features hundreds of castings of the artist’s grandmother’s hands, created using beeswax infused with ‘Ceylon’ cinnamon. In accordance with provincial guidelines, the VAC will host two scheduled artist talks to safely limit the number of visitors to the gallery. A free shuttle bus will depart Toronto at 10:30 am to bring visitors to the first artist talk, scheduled from 12:00 – 1:30 pm. Please note that the gallery will be closed to other visitors during this time. The second artist talk, intended for those not requiring shuttle bus transportation, will be from 2:00 – 4:00 pm.

Vettivelu’s research investigates how the language we use to understand ourselves is informed by the material conditions that surround us. Prayers for a word (a lack that builds the world) connects the material history of the spice trade with the psychic impact of European missionary work to explore how frameworks of redemption and salvation have been used to ensure enthusiastic labour and unfettered access to resources.

The installation is intentionally housed in the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington (VAC), recalling its role as a decommissioned barley mill. The building was constructed in 1905 for the processing of grits and barley, later revitalized into a hub of cultural production by the Town of Newcastle in 1976. Prayers for a word (a lack that builds the world) is the last iteration of the VAC’s collaboration-based exhibition Public Space. In collaboration with Nicolas Fleming and Andreas Buchwaldt, Vettivelu reconfigures the VAC’s architecture into a factory that continually produces and destroys something that is simultaneously material and immaterial, public yet deeply private.

Joshua Vettivelu, (detail) prayers for a word (or a lack that builds the world), beeswax, cinnamon, dimensions variable.


Joshua Vettivelu is an artist, programmer, and educator working within sculpture, video, installation, and performance. Their works explore how larger frameworks of power manifest within interpersonal relationships. Recently, their practice examines the tensions that emerge when personal experiences are mined for art production, and how this allows institutions to posture themselves as self-reflexive.

Recent projects include: A public artwork in PEI, Digitalia, an exhibition at the Gallery of the Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, This Light; a public artwork at Sheridan College’s Learning Commons, and Surface Tension; a 40-tonne sand sculpture in St. John’s, NL exploring the 1986 landing of Tamil migrants and the psychic effects of citizenship. Vettivelu sits on the board of CARFAC National and is the recipient of the 2019 Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Vettivelu is currently the manager of Ryerson University’s Artspace Gallery, a student-led artist-run center, and was the previous Director of Programming at Whippersnapper Gallery, an artist-run centre for emerging artists

Visitor Guidelines
Before visiting the VAC, please read our Visitor Guidelines. Visitors to the VAC,12 years and older, must present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to visit.

The VAC is a partially accessible venue with an accessible washroom. The front entrance can be accessed by a ramp and an outward-opening door (please note that we do not have an automatic door opener). Please note that the Loft Gallery is located on the third floor of the VAC with restricted access by four flights of stairs equipped with a handrail. An elevator is not installed in the building to access the Loft Gallery at this time. Accessible parking is available on site. For any special assistance or queries about the venue, please call or email us. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Visual Arts Centre of Clarington, 143 Simpson Avenue, Bowmanville, Ontario, L1C 2H9
Gallery Hours: Please visit our website
Media contact: Áine Belton, Marketing Coordinator
Email: | Phone: (905)-623-5831 ext. 1
Visit: | Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts