Place Settings: Routes and Rituals


Reel Asian is excited to partner with Critical Distance Centre for Curators on their durational project Place Settings with a selection of video-based works presented on VUCAVU’s online platform for free from July 14-18, 2021.

Routes and Rituals features video-based works by artists Nelson Wu, Farrah Miranda, and Basil AlZeri. We approach food through bodied, material sites that reflect our relationships to one another, the land, and ourselves. These works expand beyond food as the act of consumption, contemplating varying pathways food is brought into existence, whether through kitchen utensils from a beloved store, repetition and stillness in sites of food preparation, or collective movement as resistance. Beyond the content, the respective formats of each video-based work further interrogate and negotiate the complexity and fluidity of food relationships.

Viewable alongside the works are in-depth artists talks that share further insight on the process, themes, and reflections of the project.

Audio descriptions in English will be made available for all works and artist-talks.

Tuesday, Nelson Wu

Tuesday by Nelson Wu is a commissioned short film for Routes and Rituals that features Tap Phong, the iconic restaurant supply store located in Toronto’s Spadina Chinatown.

Speaking Fruit, Farrah Miranda

An accompaniment to the expansive project named Speaking Fruit by Farrah Miranda, this short virtual reality film allows the viewer to witness the dance of migrant grape growers working on a vineyard in the Niagara region and listen to their music. The dance reflects their relationship to the land and each other.

a recipe for a bleeding heart, Basil AlZeri

Basil AlZeri's a recipe for a bleeding heart exercises a series of failed attempts handling the Yarrow plant. The work combines video and text drawings. It suggests that a recipe that solely extracts will never attain the essence.

key image for a recipe for a bleeding heart

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Presenting Partner

Co-presented by

Audio descriptions by


Nelson Wu
Artist, Tuesday

Nelson Wu is a Chinese Canadian artist who creates pixel art and illustration. Graduating from OCAD University, he is currently working in the video game and entertainment industry. He has produced a variety of illustrations, pixel art, and animations. He is inspired by his experiences in Asia; a sense of nostalgia and surrealism are often themes present in the work.

Farrah Miranda
Artist, Speaking Fruit

Born in the Gulf to parents who were migrant workers, Farrah Miranda’s lived experience has confronted her with the way people, places, objects and experiences are bordered. This inspires aspects of Miranda’s artistic practice in which she questions how borders are enacted through processes of categorization, securitization, censorship and control.

Moving between the gallery and the public sphere, Miranda creates situations that actively engage the viewer. With mediums that range from manipulated found objects to performance, installation and new media, she experiments with the pedagogical possibilities of art in undoing colonial borders, citizenships and illegalities.

Basil AlZeri
Artist, a recipe for a bleeding heart

Basil AlZeri is a cross-disciplinary visual artist living and working between Toronto and Waterloo region, Canada. AlZeri’s practice involves the intersection of art, education, and food, taking multiple forms, such as performance, drawing, video, and ephemeral installation. His ongoing research and practice examine the politics and significance of work in our lives. Issues he addresses include professionalization, careerism, emotional/immaterial/unrecognized labour, and the co-optation of relational practices by socially engaged art. AlZeri’s work has been exhibited in Amman, Dubai, Halifax, Mexico City, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, Regina, Rome, Santiago, Tartu and Toronto.

Place Settings

Place Settings: Part I
Morris Lum, Karen Tam in collaboration with Tea Base, and Reel Asian
June 18 – August 15, 2021

Place Settings: Part II will launch Spring 2022 with projects by jes sachse, Reza Nik, Farrah Miranda and Suzanne Morrissette with Alia Weston, Lisa Myers, and Ayumi Goto

Curated by Noa Bronstein
Curatorial Assistance by Petrina Ng

Place Settings is a large-scale, durational project that considers how food functions to connect and disrupt. Focusing specifically on the intersections of food, public space, and architecture, Place Settings points to formal and informal structures that offer forms of nourishment, be they physical, emotional, social, or political.

Tending to concerns ranging from food sovereignty to community building, Place Settings brings together a series of critically and socio-politically engaged projects integrated into various public sites across Toronto. At the core of this project is the idea that the means by which food is produced, distributed, and consumed directly relates to wider issues of social injustice, unchecked corporate interests, climate change, and the overwhelming depletion of natural resources on a global scale. At the same time, the ways that individuals and communities make purposeful decisions about how to cultivate and share food reveals moments and movements of self-determination, reciprocity, and interdependence.

Place Settings addresses these wide-ranging concerns through installations and programs, engaging with systems of food distribution and consumption through their spatial forms. Each of the artists within this project reflects on how relationships to food are often informed by public or shared space. The architectures of food become sites of negotiation, and each artist’s work creates an opportunity to interrogate the infrastructures that produce and circulate what we eat.

Like food itself, this project is inseparable from the wider ecology in which it is produced. Place Settings finds itself situated within a spectrum of food-focused arts programming in Toronto and beyond; recognizing the shared questions and urgencies of these varying programs remains central to this project. Many people have helped bring food and art together and this project identifies itself as being in dialogue and conceptual collaboration with these ongoing efforts.

The multiple points of engagement realized through Place Settings are intended to speculate on the potentials of public sharing and social transformation at the centre of food-focused arts programming. Through artistic practice and critical inquiry, this project is a sustained exploration of the possibilities that might emerge when we resist the idea that food is purely transactional and instead consider the complex entanglements of space and sustenance.

In keeping with an ethos of sharing what’s on our plate, a portion of the project budget has been donated to Black Creek Community Farm.

This program is made possible through the generous support of the Toronto Arts Council, City of Toronto, and ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021-22.

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