About the AGYU
The middle of every narrative represents a moment of uncertainty before an arrival or change. Most artists and curators understand well that this is a productive process—and purgatory. This is because arrival and change are also ruptures. So, what if one used this time-before-the-arrival to shape the change-about-to-happen? “All the way out there?”
Today I rode the newly opened York University subway extension to the front doors of the AGYU! The “how” is such a big part of the arriving. And … we certainly have arrived.
Importantly, ruptures are about difference. Since 2005, our Out There slogan has been a cheeky response to our location. Soon, it became a vision and then, quickly, an operative concept. Extending itself constantly, it became a transformative concept: that is, a concept of difference that in differing from itself constantly evolved and transformed, moving us further “out there” in the process. The institution itself is a “concept” or a project, we decided, and as such is subject as well to transformation, while being an agent of it. With our fall 2017 exhibition Migrating the Margins as a kind of culminating manifesto, we move into 2018 in a dance with uncertainty and change: from Out There to The Beyond, Beyond, perhaps.
It is not by accident that this year is propelled by concepts of movement and migration. Our 2018 programming year is woven together by artists whose work engages real borders, thresholds, and (aesthetic) frontiers to consecrate and liberate our positions and perspectives-in-relation to each other and to the world. In fact, borders and thresholds are concepts necessary to thinking through The Beyond, Beyond. So is migration, survival, and connections to place—be that land or locality. The artists presented in our 2018 program crisscross the Americas: from the USA with Postcommodity to Brazil with Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Búrca, to Mexico with Betsabeé Romero. And, in-between, we conduct research and stage actions that intentionally inhabit the civic spaces that surround the gallery, opening our city to new kinds of possibilities for movement and agency, not to mention diasporic performativity.
There are consequences to every encounter, no less so for the relationship of artists to art institutions. If we have learned anything from the artists we are hosting then it is a kind of circular nomadism: a movement and change full of detours, interludes, and delays; a multiplicity inspired almost entirely by the “toute monde” of the Americas. As Martiniquan poet Éduoard Glissant reminds us: the Americas makes the multiplicities of the world comprehensible. It is these multiplicities we follow this year.
While we cannot move borders, we certainly can try to make them more permeable. We welcome you unconditionally to the new AGYU, knowing full well that with this welcoming comes unexpected consequences. For isn’t hospitality, in fact, also a kind of borderline activity? One never knows what will come next, certainly not in these times of uncertainty. Can uncertain times mean new kinds of arrivals, new sorts of ruptures? As we embark on this new chapter at AGYU, we wonder.
–Emelie Chhangur, Interim Director/Curator