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Fable for Tomorrow: Holding Coburn: Exhibition Activation with Jess Dobkin

Two sculpture molds. One reads: "Twisted Swan Neck" Wendy Coburn, 2010 written in sharpie

Inspired by Wendy Coburn’s life and practice, Jess Dobkin welcomes you to a performance activation exploring what art works are for, how we engage with and take care of them, and what goes into creating them. 

Holding Coburn takes place every Saturday from 2 pm to 4 pm during the run of Fable for Tomorrow. Pre-registration is not required.

Inspired by Wendy Coburn’s life and practice, Jess Dobkin welcomes you to a performance activation exploring what art works are for, how we engage with and take care of them, and what goes into creating them. Behind a gallery wall, Jess has transformed an Onsite storage room into a nursery. Visitors are invited to sit and hold sculpture moulds used by Wendy to cast two of her works, Swan (2001) and Twisted Swan Neck (2010) that appear in the exhibition. A variety of plant seedlings are tended on a baby changing table, where they will mature until the exhibition closes on May 14 and be distributed for planting. A mirror ball mobile spins and 528Hz frequency music sounds for the queer YES. There is also a 24/7 livestream inviting us to watch over the nursery from afar.

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Jess Dobkin has been a working artist, curator, community activist, mentor and teacher for more than 25 years, creating and producing intimate solo theatre performances, large-scale public happenings, socially engaged interventions and performance art workshops and talks. Her practice extends across black boxes and white cubes, art fairs and subway stations, international festivals, and single bathroom stalls. She operated an artist-run newsstand in a vacant subway station kiosk, a soup kitchen for artists, a breast milk tasting bar, and a performance festival hub for kids. Her film and video works are distributed by Vtape and traces of her performance work are held in performance art archives internationally.

Please note: Proof of full vaccination is required for entry to the exhibition. Please bring your Ontario proof of vaccination QR code (printed or displayed on smartphone) and an accompanying piece of government-issued ID.


Fable for Tomorrow: A Survey of Works by Wendy Coburn

Curated by Andrea Fatona and Caroline Seck Langill with video programming by b.h. Yael and Rebecca Garrett

Core exhibition of the CONTACT Photography Festival

Wendy Coburn had significant impact on the Canadian art community as an artist, educator and activist who has exhibited internationally. Fable for Tomorrow presents the first survey of Wendy Coburn’s artwork. The exhibition provides an opportunity to bring together four decades of sculpture, installation, photography and video that reveals her ability to sense the pulse of a deep present while asking us to pay attention to other futures. Coburn’s work explores representations of gender, sexualities, everyday objects, material culture, and human/animal relations. Click here for full exhibition information.

The Estate of Wendy Coburn is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto.

Wendy Coburn’s video works are represented by Vtape; please contact for exhibitions, rentals and purchase.


Onsite Gallery is the flagship professional gallery of OCAD U and an experimental curatorial platform for art, design and new media. Visit our website for upcoming public events. The gallery is located at 199 Richmond St. W, Toronto, ON, M5V 0H4. Telephone: 416-977-6000, ext. 265. Opening hours are: Wednesdays to Fridays from noon to 7 p.m.; Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. Free admission. Proof of vaccination is required for entry.

Onsite Gallery acknowledges that the new gallery construction project is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Canada Cultural Spaces Fund at Canadian Heritage, the City of Toronto through a Section 37 agreement and Aspen Ridge Homes; with gallery furniture by Nienkämper. Onsite Gallery logo by Dean Martin Design.