TORONTO: Susan Hobbs Gallery: Gareth Long

Stupidity is in the air. The rise of fake news, click-bait headlines, alternative facts and a stream of recent books and articles remind us that we are stupid and getting stupider. Often, this rise in stupidity’s currency is described as a turning away from intellectualism. And yet, what happens when we consider the position of stupidity as resting outside knowledge? When we embrace uncertainty, failure, and indecision, stupidity becomes a site of learning where we can move from the illegible, the nonsensical, the seemingly foolish to understanding and making sense. Square Peg Round Hole folds together the questions ‘how is stupidity taught’ and ‘how can it be learned’ to situate stupidity as a generative means of production and, possibly, an act of refusal against economic and political pressures. As an example, many of Gareth Long’s recent sculptural works perform as a kind of losers’ game or stupid-learning tool. Here, the tool is both stupid and allows for stupidity to be learned. Their functionality is exceeded by futile acts that allow for moments of tranquility, play, and a leap away from higher reason. This is illustrated again with an animated video that repeatedly tries to stick a square peg into a round hole, responding to how stupid we are relative to our own bodies—a unifying type of senselessness. Additionally, the exhibition includes artwork by Jaimie Aitken, Grace Esford, Nora Downer, and Claudia Rick—Long’s former students from a course that extended his research on stupidity into the classroom. As Genese Grill writes, “to see new is initially to see like a child, an innocent, or a fool. It is to stutter, stammer, stumble.” Therefore, if stupidity offers alternative models of thought, why leave it to the idiots?