Shani K Parsons


Shani Khoo Parsons (Canada/US, b.1970, Philadelphia) is an independent curator, exhibition designer, and founding director of Critical Distance Centre for Curators, a not-for-profit project space, publisher, and professional network in Toronto. Since the mid-1990s she has pursued a multidisciplinary, research-based practice within independent and institutional contexts and produced an eclectic body of work ranging from artists books to immersive exhibitions. Curatorial projects include solo/group exhibitions and site-responsive projects featuring local and international artists working in all media, experimental thematic moving image programs, and discursive event series. Research interests include histories/futures of critical arts publishing, cross-cultural dialogue, and new collectivities.


Why did you get involved in this project?

I have been interested in playing with sound and video, and thought it would be a fun, low-pressure opportunity to try something new.

Did the one week turn-around for the work help or hinder your creativity?

Because I am often too busy to think, I find that deadlines help me focus and prioritize. In general I like to work in response to constraints including set timelines as this allows me to cycle through a lot of ideas quickly, fail faster, make certain key decisions, and then magically pull it all together in the nick of time — at least when things go according to plan. 🙂

How did you feel about working on a project where you didn’t know who you were collaborating with?

Exquisite corpse projects are fun because they free you to improvise and play with whatever you’ve been provided with — there is no pressure to guess or respond to the intentions of your collaborators.

Has being involved in the project changed your thoughts on creativity?

I’m interested in collective processes so this was a nice way to experiment for me. I’d like to be able to continue working collaboratively in other ways to see what comes out of different kinds of approaches. I learned a lot about sound and video editing just through participating in this project and trying to work with source material in ways that are totally new for me. I’m looking forward to continuing to try new approaches and ideas in time-based media when I have more time.

If you worked on several videos, what kept you coming back for more and how many did you do?

I was initially asked to provide words, and then expressed an interest in trying my hand at sound. That was fun so I offered to provide the other components for an additional two videos, namely images (footage) and editing, so that I could experience the process of working on all aspects of the project.

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