Student Spotlight: Edward Bacal

Hometown: Toronto
Research Interests: Modern and contemporary art and visual culture. Specifically, abstract and conceptual art from 1960 to the present; minimalism and post-minimalism; critical theory; continental philosophy; the intersections of aesthetics, politics, and ethics; and the socio-political management of life, death, and embodiment.

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1. What do you do outside of class/academic work?
I like to do all sorts of music stuff, obsess over smooshed-face dogs (french and english bulldogs, boston terriers, pugs), ride my bike, hang out in cafes and parks, draw and design things, travel, visit galleries, something I won’t bother mentioning, watch movies and shows, spend time with my brother and sister-in-law, and various other stuff.

2. How did you get started with this activity?
As an introverted and socially awkward teenager, I spent my days and nights escaping into the worlds of electronic/experimental music, skateboarding, modern art, and to a lesser extent cinema (smooshed face dogs came later). These things have fundamentally shaped who I am and, as an introverted and socially awkward adult, continue to.

3. What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your CV/resume alone?
I’ve been collecting music since I was 14. As of January 2017, I own more than 2500 records and CDs. Around 95% of music I listen to comes from things I have physical copies of (and yes, I still use a Discman).

4. What’s next for you?
Hoping for a job! Especially the rare catch of a tenure-track research position in a preferred city. I hope it works out because I’ve been fantasizing about potential next-research-projects. Most notably, this includes something I’ve been calling “Perverse Polymorphology,” (in short, a theory of aesthetic experience that exists outside of perceiving bodies) and a project that charts the politicization of minimalist aesthetics.

5. What is your favourite thing about Toronto?
It seems like most great things here are constantly threatened by a tide of gentrification, conservative attitudes and governance, and yuppie-ism (in sum, a toxic blend of money and mediocrity) but I love that this remains a heterogenous city full of interesting people and resources that can support the things I love (see question 1).

6. You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?
I don’t understand this question but it would be fun to discuss less glamorous aspects of my personality, as an exercise in being open about myself* I am an anxious and moody person, although I’m relatively content most of the time (with the help of medication). That said, social anxiety has made me lonely and bitter, and contributed to a sense of insecurity and a lack of personal fulfilment (I think the sublimated frustration of a total lack of romantic and sexual fulfilment has been responsible for driving a lot of my academic success). I also regret that doing a PhD has not been nearly as intellectually rewarding as I had hoped. So… some sort of burgundy, then?

* I hope to encourage this kind of openness among my peers in the department. That said, my mom urged me to edit this, as it may not impress well on prospective employers. It’s a fair point, which is why I removed my last name from the url (whether sensibly or cravenly). That said, if are you are reading this and are an employer that would be reluctant to hire someone for talking about mental health, shame on you!

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