Under Review

The Imposter

Podcast Series

Canadaland ; 29/06/2017

Hailey Mah

Thirty minutes into Episode 34 of The Imposter, guest Sholem Krishtalka drops a nugget of truth which perfectly describes the entire podcast: “Criticism, for me, is always an act of care. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s always an act of care.”

The Imposter does not shy away from critiques of Canadian media, but only because it cares so damn much about art. In a national media climate where high-profile cases of cultural appropriation (and facetious calls for an Appropriation Prize) run free, the Imposter is a welcome antidote. It is a platform for Canadian artists to speak about their own lived experiences which inform their creative practice — along with a healthy dose of weirdness.

Highly listenable, The Imposter is a weekly dispatch of the country’s most exciting creators, run out of the podcast network Canadaland. The show acts as a curator, using equal parts prestige and eccentricity to create wonderfully unpredictable content. Unlike most gatekeepers to the art world, The Imposter casts a wide net. Recent guests have ranged from internationally renowned comics artist Guy Delisle to emerging Anishinaabe electronic musician Ziibiwan. What ties together this eclectic curatorial slate is a charismatic host, Aliya Pabani. She’s astoundingly candid with each interviewee; probing but never pushing in order to get to the heart of each artist’s work.

For example, in the bitingly titled “Why There Are No Period Pieces About Black People in Canada” (Episode 41) the filmmaker Charles Officer is interviewed about everything from his childhood hockey-playing aspirations, to untold stories of Canadian Black excellence. These topics are woven together by Pabani’s conversational dexterity to form a dialogue around narrative truth.

In Episode 34, “Century Egg,” Pabani speaks to the admin of the @CanadianArtWorldHaterz Instagram, who’s biting memes have spawned reactionary accounts and online vitriol. The interview could have easily been a frivolous gag, but instead it becomes the starting point for a vital discussion about the difficulty of making it in this country’s fragmented artistic scene.

This is The Imposter’s signature magic trick: conversations about each guest’s current work often transform into immersive reflections on living an artistic life. There’s an undercurrent of urgency in just about every interview — a common understanding that creating is often a tool for survival and livelihood. The Imposter is a reminder for us all: seek truth in art, even if things get a little weird in the process.