by Mariya Guzova

You may not know his name, but you have probably seen his face.

Bryan Saunders’ drug induced self portrait series recently took the internet by storm. The bold artistic experiment had Saunders consuming a new drug everyday and drawing himself under the influence.


100 mg Seroquel


Morphine IV (dosage unknown)

Saunders is no stranger to risky, innovative, and avant-garde creativity. He has drawn a self-portrait of himself everyday since 1995. This march marks his 19th anniversary of the practice, having drawn just under 7000 self portraits.

“Every day my brain and central nervous system processes an unyielding amount of phenomena. Any of these phenomena coming in have the ability to change my brain chemistry and how I perceive things in the world around me as well as the physical and mental world inside of me. Through the process of existence my metabolism, health, heart rate, chemistry, thoughts, feelings, behaviors and beliefs etc. are subject to often mild but sometimes drastic changes too. Therefore, to me personally, there is no one correct or standard ‘personal’ way of interpreting the world, so I choose myself as the vessel that captures this because I am the medium by which all of this is processed or filtered through in the first place. But that’s just me,” explains Saunders.

Placing himself as the subject, Bryan has created a vast variety of artistic works.

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Poetry is a literary art form seldom seen as modern, competitive, or alive. But that is exactly what the Toronto Poetry Slam is doing for the poetic community across Canada.

Electric Jon at the 2011 Toronto Poetry Slam.

The Toronto Poetry Slam (TPS) is a twice-monthly spoken word competition held at the Drake Hotel in Toronto. Participants compete to join the TPS team that will go on to compete in international and national poetry competitions.

David Silverberg, managing editor at Digital Journal, founded TPS in 2003. “I always loved spoken word and poetry while I was growing up and I just thought it was lacking and hard to come by in the underground community. So I started the slam to get people on the stage, and talking, and performing for everyone’s enjoyment,” explains David.

Shoolie at the TPS competition.

Each slam has 12 participants, who have three minutes to perform their piece for the judges. At the end, three finalists are chosen to move on to the semi finals. “We’ve had all kinds of people participate. Professional writers who are established and known, and we’ve had your average college kid who likes to write poetry in their free time.”

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Daniel Wurtzel is New York based artist who creates sculptures out of the most unexpected things. His work has evolved from stone and wood into elaborate jello and rubber installations, and now, into beautifully structured air sculptures.


Pas de Deux by Daniel Wurtzel

Using fans and flowing fabrics and materials, Daniel creates shapes and movements that are both magical and enticing to a viewer. “I was inspired to do this suddenly one day. I saw a leaf get picked up by the wind, and watched it as it moved along the air current. As it glided, I was inspired to re-create the phenomenon in my work,” explains Daniel.

Many of the air sculptures utilise an air vortex that sends the material spinning and flowing in a precise and powerful way.

Daniel’s work has been turned into performance pieces and has been seen around the world in installations, fashion shows, and cirque du soleil performances. “I find that these pieces are very exciting and that’s why they’ve been such a hit. They really bring things to life and make people feel more energized, and bring the arts of sculpture and performance together. ”

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The world of arts and entertainment can be a tough terrain for anyone to conquer. The creative world is a competitive environment that can be both intimidating and challenging, especially if you’re coming from a marginalized or disadvantaged background. This is why Gavin Sheppard and Derek Jancar started The Remix Project, an alternative training program that helps level the playing field for talented youth with limited resources who are trying to enter arts and entertainment industries. The Remix Project provides an innovative educational program and state of the art facilities at no cost to their participants in order to propel them towards success in their field. 

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The First Weekend Club is a non-profit organization helping make Canadian film a household name. When you join the club, you get notified when a Canadian film is being released in your city, or a city you’re interested in. This help fill seats for opening weekends, spread the word, and promote Canadian films.


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“Music just feels natural. I need it and I don’t know why. I need it to get things out of my system,” says Sabrina Halde, the lead singer of an emerging indie-pop band called Groenland.  The Montreal natives are bringing with them a wave of intensely emotional orchestral sound, stringing together keys, percussion, guitars, jazzy vocals, and pushing emotion into pop, dance, and indie music. 


Groendland members Jonathan Charette, Gabrielle Gizard-Charest, Sabrian Halde, Jean-Vivier Levesque, Fanny C. Lautin, and Simon Gosselin.  

ZeeBigBang spoke with Sabrina before the band’s performance at the 2013 Osheaga Festival in Montreal, where they shared the stage with big names like Beck, Mumford and Sons, and Tegan and Sara. It wasn’t always like this for them though, explains Halde. “Me and Jean [the band’s programmer and keyboardist] started as an electronic duo, we tried, but it just didn’t work, we didn’t have the skills for it.” After reaching little success, the duo invited their friends to join in. “We invited the drummer and started jamming together and kept inviting our other friends to the band and building a more organic sound.” Jonathan Charette (drums), Simon Gosselin (bass), Gabrielle Gizard-Charest (cello), and Fanny C. Lautin (violin) came together on the project, each adding a new layer to the sound of the band.

All members of Groenland are trained musicians who studied different aspects of music in school. In fact, some of them met at the University of Montreal, and auditioning for her program was one of the breakthrough moments in Halde’s singing career.  “I started singing when I was 8, singing Spice Girls. I was really, really shy, which was the hardest thing to move through for me. I wouldn’t sing in front of anyone, ever, until I decided to do something about it. So I went to school, I had to audition, and it went really well.”

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Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture is the latest exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum. The exhibit, which runs until March 30, 2014, showcases the rich and vibrant history of sneakers from the 19th century through to today.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on the Bata Shoe Museum where zeeBigBang interviews senior curator Elizabeth Semmelhack.

Join zeeBigBang where art and entertainment mean business.

Social media expert and passionate photographer Nini Baseema frequently pumps out inspired and well-researched work, which makes her an important courier for creative content in the online art community. Her inspiration comes from the 4000 plus blogs she follows daily.

zeeBigBang spoke with Baseema on how she became a reliable source for everything art on the web, her pictorial style, and her photographic projects.

"Down with love…" by Nini Baseema

Germany-based, Baseema is known around the web as the girl passionate about the arts and photography. It was only until a few years ago that Baseema “mustered the courage” to start considering herself as an artist.

“I’m still not where I want to be, but I have definitely come a long way since I started,” Baseema explains. “It’s one thing to occasionally shoot a photo and a completely different story to actually become immersed and skilled enough to amaze an audience with your work.”

Mixtape frenzy (above) won Nini the viewers’ choice 2heads self-portrait competition.

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The Great Northern Arts Festival has been celebrating the talent and work of artists in Canada’s north since 1989. Every July, for ten days, artists and art lovers come to the North West Territories to take in the art and meet the artists behind it.


An inuit structure carved from marble. Photo by David Webb.

The festival is run by the Great Northern Arts Society, which works as a platform to help artists living in remote Northern communities.  Due to their location, artists don’t have the same access to markets, supplies, and galleries, as do artists in the south. The Society helps even out the playing field by hosting professional development workshops, seminars, and the annual festival.

“The goal of the festival is to give Northern artists the same exposure and opportunity that southern artists have,” explains Sasha Webb, executive director of the festival.

The festival showcases about 4, 000 pieces, and upwards of 80 visuals artists and 40 performance artists each year. Everyone from painters, like Patricia Baker, sculptors and carvers, such as Jimmy Iqaluq, dancers, and even traditional inuit throat singers can be found at the festival.


Models showing aboriginal fashion at last year’s GNAF. Photo by Estelle Marcoux.

The culminating event is the Northern Fashion show, which shows off some traditional and modern aboriginal and arctic style.

“It [the fashion show] is by far our most attended event,” says Tony Devlin, former executive director and board member at the GNAF. “We have world class designers that wish to put some of their clothing into our fashion show, and we also feature different collections that are out there.”

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zeeBigBang attended the launch of this first ever EQ3’s Generation Art project, an initiative in partnership with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation.

From left to right: Peter Tielmann, President of EQ3; Michaëlle Jean; EQ3 Official Selection Winning Artist Simon Yiu; Toronto Designer Benjamin Kofi; Filmmaker, Philosopher and writer Jean-Daniel Lafond (Photo by Irina Grozavescu)

Co-founded by the 27th Governor General of Canada, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, and her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, the Generation Art Challenge invited youth between the ages of 15 and 30 to submit their original artwork reflecting on the theme: Imagine… A better community.

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