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'Nuclear Expressionism' by Kid Xanthrax at Oculus Pavilion, Toronto

“The path to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests” - St. Athanasius

Oculus Pavilion, a (now defunct) public washroom on Toronto’s westside found along the Humber River Trail in Etobicoke was architected at the beginning of the (so called) Space Age circa 1959 by the obscure and now long forgotten Alan Crossley. This public shitter – once a site where yuppie Torontonians would break on their morning bike ride to expel their $8.00 lattes – now stands as a relic of anachronism more striking than it’s initial botched futurism; home to squatters, grafittos and junkies. In 2019 the CBC published an article calling on the community to ‘restore’ this historical site, asking locals to sanitize the edifice of the nasty uncouth realities of today: homelessness, drug addiction, urban decay, environmental meltdown, health crisis... in order to preserve the ‘respectful heritage’ of the site. As Park People organization leader Stephanie Mah quotes: “[The Oculus Pavilion] tells a story about its time and about a culture where nothing was too humble to be designed with imagination and scale.” yet strangely enough a year later and $36 000 in restoration grant funds the site looks just as haunted by dead futures as before, just as graffitied, littered, squatted in, shit on. Where’d you go Park People? Are you hiding in your condos while the true inhabitants of the park are forced to reckon with the deadly pandemic winter? Nevertheless Mah was half right: this is a truly hauntological space, a glimpse at an era of techno and aesthetic optimism projecting a future which died long ago now decomposing eaten by the worms infesting it’s neo-liberal hellscape.
Nuclear Expressionism was a non-permissive happening at Oculus Pavilion which took place on October 9 2020 at the dawn of Canada’s second wave of COVID-19. It was curated and presented by Plastique Famille, and featured the adapted artworks of Kid Xanthrax. This happening was no revitalization per se, since revitalization recognizes a standard of vitality in life. No perhaps this could be more accurately described as a devitalization, not in its traditional definition to deprive or to weaken, but rather to deathen, to avail ourselves of the death which has spilled over the place like oil over coral reef. A post-graffiti guerrilla tactic was deployed as visual declamation, situationist memification, as deepfried – no nuked expression! Not out of aesthetic inventiveness or the prerequisite of novel coinages in post post-modernity, but out of dire necessity, out of crude artificial cyborgist naturalism, out of a reaction to the digitization and neoliberalization of all elements of life, out of a fuck it we hate galleries anyway, and now they’re even more stratified and exclusive and santized and is 3pm ok for your personal viewing sir?.... No this is a fucking shitcore, trashcore, oddpunk, neo-Dadaist, potty humor, fan art, low-brow, no-brow, fo-brow, vore, pornopunk fuckwave exhibit–... actually it’s hardly an exhibition at all. And fuck! We can make all the coinages we want because nobody gives a flying fuck anyway. Offended fathers will care more than the art historians, zoomers who find an air bubble in the paste-up and tear at it understand more than any of the critics or art blogs who will deploy and deaden the photos as daily Instagram content, the joggers will still turn their heads slightly then turn away without a second glance. This is the invisibility of our reality. This is the waking dream we stagger through, and it’s not going away. 

Nuclear Expressionism is a simultaneous reclamation-declamation, reterritorialization-deterritorialization creation-destruction, life-death dynamism. As we are terrifyingly aware one of the most radical human innovations ie. nuclear weaponry/power, is also our certain death when used or misused. This deathing or devitalization is the work of the Post-Artist as described by Plastique Famille: Those concerned neither with stratified aestheticism nor with artisanal functionality or the beautifying of utility. The Post-Artist is concerned with all of these and none of them simultaneously, they are those who enliven the space with their own death, exist as paradox within paradox not against it, those who make a UFO shaped public toilet even more invisible than before. Are those Hobos? Nah don’t bother, they’re just artists doing their thing – hey, lets hit this next Starbucks down the way.

Plastique Famille is an artistic entity.
It operates as a platform to create,
develop and launch ideas and projects.
Kid Xanthrax is cryptic internet graffito
and enfant venimeux ascendant, notorious
for their meme-infused imagery, neo body horror,
romanticist digital paintings and apocalyptic
video art. Their body of work is a growing
necronomicon for the Anthropocene epoch.

Curated by Plastique Famille

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