Canaries is a network of art-adjacent women and gender non-conforming people living and working with auto-immune conditions and other chronic illnesses. The group name references to the phrase “canaries in the coal mine”—shorthand for those whose sensitivities are early indicators of adverse conditions in the environment. Canaries functions as a support group with monthly meetings, a listserv of 200+ members for sharing confidential advice and support on surviving in and outside of medical institutions, and, previously, an art collective.
In late 2015, curator and Canaries member Taraneh Fazeli invited the group to contribute texts and images addressing the question: “How do you take care of yourself during a flare-up of your symptoms?” The resulting publication, Notes for the Waiting Room, was designed to be distributed in the two institutional spaces Canaries members are most familiar with: medical and art institutions. The newspaper was produced closely with Canaries co-founders and artists Jesse Cohen and Carolyn Lazard and edited by Fazeli as part of her ongoing curatorial project “Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism’s Temporal Bullying.” The publication includes contributions by Amy Berkowitz, Danyel Ferrari, Tess Brown-Lavoie, Jesse Cohen, Catherine Czacki, Amalle Dublon, Taraneh Fazeli, Marley Freeman, Zoey A. Hart, Citron Kelly, Carolyn Lazard, Park McArthur, Sophia Peer, Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes, Bonnie Swencionis, Katya Tepper, Brina Thurston, Rebecca Watson Horn, and Constantina Zavitsanos. For the initial exhibition at EFA Project Space in New York, the publication was distributed in an installation reminiscent of a medical waiting room designed by Cohen and Lazard.