The Equivalence of Alloyed Gold

Stephanie E Creaghan, Andy Slater, Gillian Dykeman, Chandra Melting Tallow, Ashna Jacob, Aislinn Thomas, Anne Macmillan, Tamyka Bullen, and Dayna Danger

Curated by Megan Gnanasihamany and Morgan Melenka

October 6 – November 26, 2022
Opening Reception: October 6, 7-9pm
Critical Distance Centre for Curators (CDCC), Toronto

Anne Macmillan, Scribble Moon, 2022. Video still. Image courtesy of the artist.

The making of art history is a process of translation. It flattens and unfolds through digital interfaces and methodologies of internet conservation, allowing exhibitions to spread through a temporal daisy chain of image, text, catalog, and critique. This chain of distillation — from material art object or experience to description and flat image—disseminates cultural themes, concepts, and conclusions across artistic landscapes, allowing for particular figures, galleries, and publications to become authoritative texts on contemporary work. Taking the 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario exhibition Anthropocene as its starting point, The Equivalence of Alloyed Gold is a year-long experimental commissioning and exhibition process hosted by Critical Distance Centre for Curators (CDCC) incorporating ideas of communication and sensory translation.

Anthropocene, exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2018-2019, featured Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal, and Nicholas de Pencier’s photographs, films, and digital installations, proposing an environmental reckoning through meditations on the monumental scale of resource extraction and environmental devastation. Alloyed Gold uses a single photographic work from Anthropocene, Carrara Marble Quarries, Cava di Canalgrande #2 by Burtynsky, as the prompt for a daisy chain of interpretation between artists. The project began with curators Megan Gnanasihamany and Morgan Melenka providing Ashna Jacob, the first artist in the chain, with a text description of Burtynsky’s piece, focussing on the formal components, contexts, themes, and relevant histories as identified in the Anthropocene exhibition webpage and without identifying factors such as artist name, title, medium, or context. Jacob was invited to create a new artwork based on this description, reproducing and reinterpreting the work within her own mediums and methods. From there the chain continued: each artist passed a description of their own, newly formed artwork to a “switchboard operator”, another artist who would translate the artwork into a poetic text, again devoid of specifics like name or medium, which was sent to the next visual artist. Using the children’s game of “Telephone” as a formal conceit, Alloyed Gold questions the extent to which the work and themes exhibited in national galleries can represent a collective artistic consciousness while maintaining their own authority.

Stephanie E. Creaghan, Balustrade, 2022. Video still. Image courtesy of the artist.

Alloyed Gold allows the imperfections of communication to pull us in directions we could not otherwise predict. As the so-called anthropocenic age is based in colonization, ableism, ongoing imperialism, and white supremacy, Alloyed Gold is a conceptual tool that seeks to configure a humble sibling to the AGO’s Anthropocene project, sticky with the complexities of power, authority, and culpability. Rooted in forms of visual description, Alloyed Gold provides opportunity to experiment with different forms of access support, building on CDCC’s commitments to accessibility in exhibition-making.

To learn more about the artists, curators, and upcoming programs, please visit our website:

Ashna Jacob, Page from artist book The Soil Remains Soft, 2022. Ink on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

The exhibition was made possible through creative collaboration with Kat Germain.

This program is made possible through the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Critical Distance gratefully acknowledges funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Please note our new location. Critical Distance is located on the ground floor at 401 Richmond Street West, a wheelchair accessible building with a ramp at the Richmond Street doors, and an accessible washroom on every level. The gallery is equipped with automatic doors and access to exhibitions, artworks, publications, and events is prioritized from development through production for all programs. This exhibition will include ASL videos and both visual description and descriptions of sound.

If you have any questions about access, please do not hesitate to contact our Education and Accessibility Programs Director, Emily Cook at

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