Fall 2017 Newsletter
Out There: The Better Way
Migrating The Margins
Erika DeFreitas, Anique Jordan, Tau Lewis, Rajni Perera, and Nep Sidhu
with public art projects by
Farrah Miranda, Otherness, and Sister Co-Resister
15 September – 3 December 2017
Opening Reception: Friday September 15, 6–9 pm
The suburbs strike back!
Everyone knows that Toronto is the most mixed city in the world, but can we imagine what Torontonians, and Canadians, think mixed means? When we imagine what mixed means we think back to Canada’s experiment with immigration and to the enshrinement of concomitant values of harmonization ensured by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 and the Multiculturalism Act of 1988. In the Act, the government pledged not only to “recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance, and share their cultural heritage” but also to “promote the full and equitable participation of individuals and communities of all origins in the continuing evolution and shaping of all aspects of Canadian society and assist them in the elimination of any barrier to that participation.”
If the future of Canada was imagined in this inspired experiment, Toronto was the result. But if the bureaucrats back then imagined multiculturalism, they got mixed, which is not the same thing at all. “Continuing evolution and shaping” has turned out to be unpredictable and it is the children of these immigrant cultures who are now deciding what our common future looks like. If multiculturalism was meant to guarantee the rights of culture in the belief that cultures in Canada would exist harmoniously side-by-side in mutual respect, diversity is thought differently now. Diversity is not a case of maintaining separate but equal identities. Diversity is a matter of this mixing.
As part of a growing movement of revaluing place, the AGYU presents Migrating the Margins. Migrating the Margins looks to the future of Toronto art. The exhibition looks at the new conditions of artistic production in Toronto reflective of the vast changes in the city’s culture as a result of decades of immigration and life in the suburbs. The future is now and it is being defined and imagined differently in Toronto by a new generation of artists operating through principles of cultural mixing. We might not be totally there yet, but the artists of this exhibition are on the cusp in their examination or questioning of a new politics of identity and belonging. No overarching theme or point of view defines this project. Rather, this exhibition weaves together various lines of contemporary cultural inquiry, including: immigrant memory; dialogue with place origins through alliances with and allegiance to mothers; traces of Afro-Caribbean and Indian diasporas; the perseverance of Black life and the recovery of forgotten Black histories in Toronto; paeans to working class immigrant life in the suburbs and their burgeoning aesthetics; spirituality and sacrifice…
A mutation has occurred in Canada whereby we no longer need to look to the past to legitimate our history, as happens traditionally in national cultures. Let’s look to the future to validate our activities! This means (and here is the polemical part) that the idea of the Western project as exemplified in the historical continuity of avant-gardes, with its implicit concomitant privilege given to downtown art communities, has lost its authority. Migrating the margins to the centre does not mean moving them “there.” It means realizing that the margins, or the suburbs, are now the centre.
Migrating the Margins looks at how a new generation of Toronto artists is imagining this place, and picturing its future, by realizing the conditions of the future that exist now—due to the unique situation of Toronto’s demographics. This imagination is the altogether different and unexpected product of the multicultural dream: a cultural synthesis unique to Toronto—now the mixing of cultures and not just their (un)equal representation.
Migrating the Margins coincides with the opening of the Spadina subway extension where the AGYU will welcome the downtown to its future.
Welcome to the suburbs!
Migrating the Margins is curated by Philip Monk and Emelie Chhangur. Thank you to the Ladies Who Launch for their contribution to the making of new work. A book documenting the exhibition and past work by the artists will be co-published by the AGYU and Black Dog Publishing, London. The publication is generously supported by the Royal Bank of Canada and through a Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Project Support Award, received at the TFVA Tribute Night, 9 May 2017.
Scarborough-based multi-disciplinary, conceptual artist Erika DeFreitas explores the influence of language, loss, and culture on the formation of identity through public interventions, textile-based works, and performative actions that are photographed, placing an emphasis on process, gesture, and documentation. DeFreitas has shown nationally and internationally, including Project Row Houses and Museum of African American Culture, Houston, the Art Gallery of Mississauga, and Platform Centre for Photographic + Digital Arts, Winnipeg. In 2016, DeFreitas was a Toronto Friends of Visual Arts Award finalist as well as the 2016 Recipient of the John Hartman Award. She was a 2017 nominee for the Sobey Award and part of a residency at Alice Yard, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Anique Jordan’s trans-disciplinary practice employs photography, performance, poetry, and installation to draw attention to the Afro-Caribbean body as a site of political resistance and futuristic imagining. As an artist, educator, activist, and social-entrepreneur, Jordan is interested in how arts-based methodologies can expose approaches of community and self-survival to create community-led and self-sustaining models of local development. Most recently she represented Canada at the 1st World Afro-Descendant Youth Summit in Costa Rica, was artist-in-residence at The Watah School (2014), and exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2016). She is the Executive Director of the Whippersnapper Gallery and in 2017 was a recipient of the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award.
Jamaican-Canadian artist Tau Lewis’ self-taught practice in sculpture and installation uses recycled, personal, plant-based, and synthetic materials to simulate living things and to explore the political boundaries of nature, identity, and authenticity. Her most recent solo exhibitions in Toronto at The Pendulum Project (2016) and 8-11 (2017) explored black beauty, identity politics, and the African diaspora while interrogating the appropriation of urban black bodies and landscapes. Her work is gaining international attention with recent exhibitions at RAGGA NYC and the New Museum, New York, and Night Gallery, Los Angeles, USA. She is represented in Toronto by COOPER COLE.
Rajni Perara’s art practice in painting, installation, and curating explores issues of hybridity, sacrilege, irreverence, the indexical sciences, ethnography, gender, sexuality, popular culture, deities, monsters, and dream worlds. A graduate of OCADU, where she won the Medal for Drawing and Painting in 2011, Perara has shown locally and internationally, most recently in the Colombo Art Biennial in Sri Lanka (2016), her native country. In 2014 she participated in the Fusion of Art and Culture Residency in Istanbul.
Nep Sidhu’s art practice in painting, textiles, and sculpture explores the way in which memory, social landscape, and stylistic interpretation can give way to myth, identity, and truth. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, most recently in a solo exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery in British Columbia (2016) and at the Aichi Triennial in Japan (2016). Sidhu’s current collaborations with the Black Constellation Collective and Shabazz Palaces examine identity, ritual, and adornment in the worlds of fashion and music. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Artist Award. Along with his family, Sidhu has formed Sher-E-Punjab Academy, an institution of boxing and learning for the village youth of Chakar, Punjab.
Established in 2013, Sister Co-Resister is an intergenerational/intersectional, 10-member feminist art collective, focused on collaborative art-making and trans-disciplinary exchange between immigrant and suburban artists of colour. Sister Co-Resister employs critical pedagogy, social practice, and intersectionality to produce a range of event- and object-based works, including zines, installations, performances, and skill-sharing sessions. Sister Co-Resister has produced special projects commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Big on Bloor, Xpace, Younger than Beyonce, and at Gallery 44.
Farrah-Marie Miranda is an artist, writer, and conscious dreamer whose practice emerges from over a decade of work within migrant justice movements. In 2013, she founded and co-directed Mass Arrival, a critically acclaimed public intervention and installation that disrupted discourses of illegality surrounding migrant boat arrivals to Canada. Reviews of Farrah-Marie’s work have been featured in Canadian Theatre Review, Canadian Art Magazine, Toronto Star, the Torontoist, FUSE Magazine, THIS Magazine, and the anthology Wildfire: Art as Activism. She researches the pedagogical possibilities of performance in unmaking colonial borders. She is a recipient of a 2017 SSHRC grant.
Otherness is a collaboration between Toronto-based graphic designer Marilyn Fernandes and visual artist Pamila Matharu. Often working in an interdisciplinary practice at the intersections of art, design, and pedagogical strategies, they create installations, small-run publishing/ephemera, and socially-engaged projects through their contentious lens of personal and political. Marilyn Fernandes is a graduate of the School of Design, George Brown College (2003) and OISE, University of Toronto (2011) and Pamila Matharu is graduate of York University (BA, BEd, 2002).
Get On The Last-Ever Performance Bus!
“Dearly beloved we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…”
Whoa. That was like 14 years that just passed.
Do you remember? The inaugural Performance Bus, GIRL AIRLINES, hosted by Mariko Tamaki, took place on December 3, 2003 to the opening of What it Feels Like for a Girl—the first exhibition of AGYU’s then new Director, Philip Monk!
Now, 14 years later we retire this chapter of AGYU’s “Out There” programming with a REQUIEM FOR COMMUTERS (a.k.a. a funeral and mega-mass). Presiding over the service is the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area’s leading Holy Pope of Truth and Bonerkill collective member Kiera Boult. Except Bonerkill doesn’t use that name anymore—so we are going to have a funeral to retire it, too: a super-funeral! But don’t cry just yet—both funerals are also celebrations. Ride The Performance Bus one last time and raise a fist to the opening of the York University Subway and Bonerkill’s new name: Sister Co-Resister. Toronto: we’re not so Out There anymore!
(P.S. We encourage riders to dress in their Sunday best and remember: the bigger the hair the closer to God as we celebrate the END.)
The free Performance Bus makes its final departure from OCADU (100 McCaul Street) at 6 pm sharp of Friday, September 15, en route to the exhibition opening of Migrating the Margins.
Kiera Boult is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design with a BFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practices. Boult is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice is rooted in parody, humour, and satire as a form of institutional critique.
Conceived by Toronto artist and activist Farrah-Marie Miranda, Speaking Fruit is a mobile roadside fruit stand and design studio that feeds the movement for migrant farmworker rights.
Beginning with a single question posed to migrant farmworkers in Southern Ontario, this project asks: “If the fruits you grow and pick could speak from dinner tables, refrigerators, and grocery aisles, what would you want them to say?” Organizers have gathered dozens of written and audio responses to this question from migrant agricultural workers across Southern Ontario and mobilized an incredible array of artists, partners, activists, and allies around these messages, turning them into direct action and creative expression. An actual refurbished food truck—with colourful produce, a virtual screen, and lively soundscape—this hybrid sculpture / organizing hub convenes workshops, events, and film-screenings that aim to share strategies and build alliances between movements for racial justice, food justice, and labour justice all the while distributing to the public these messages through specially designed produce packaging.
From September to December 2017, as part of Migrating the Margins, Speaking Fruit is stationed on YorkU’s campus (Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building), on the terrace outside the front doors of the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) and adjacent to the Native Plant Garden. Performing as an experiential learning hub and co-curricular platform for Lisa Myers’new course, “Food, Land and Culture,” Speaking Fruit hosts workshops, artist talks, and lectures. In partnership with Regenesis, and Jane-Finch based organizations the Afri-Can Food Basketand Promoting Economic Action and Community Health (PEACH), Speaking Fruit engages YUM (York University Farmers’ Market) with the aim of establishing long lasting connections between the Black Creek Community Farm and YUM.
During Migrating the Margins, we take Speaking Fruit on the road to:
Sept 16: Black Creek Community Farm
Sept 21–23: Food Justice Festival in Hamilton
Sept 28: Canadian Student Leadership Conference + Guest Lecture in Waterloo
Sept 30: Nuit Blanche
Oct 7: Hemi GSI Convergence
Sister Co-Resister: A Walking Salon
Sunday, September 17th, 1:00pm, AGYU
Can walking be political?
Co-Resisting is a counter-hegemonic strategy to actively engage in liberation and solidarity consciousness building for the future forward. Come prepared to actively talk, hike, and share with us! This discursive walking salon is focused on walking side-by-side with Indigenous, 2-spirit, and trans lives. As an act of Indigenous sovereignty (land, culture, and people) that also migrates the physical margins of York’s campus, this ambulatory salon centres the points of view of Indigenous social thinkers: Nettie Lambert, Shane Camastro (Titiesg Wîcinímintôwak Bluejays Dancing Together Collective), Janet Csontos, and Lisa Myers. Together we work through concepts of belonging, what it means to deconstruct the proprietary understanding of land, and find ways to question Canada’s immigrant paradigm and treaty partnership identity. Our salon culminates in a collective activity staged at Stong House: the actual margins of York (!) and Lisa Myers’ new studio. Come join us!
Otherness: Taking a page… : A Commission for AGYU Vitrines
A montage of text, found images, and narrative taken from a discarded social science textbook entitled The People We Are: Canada’s Multicultural Society (Gage, 1980), Taking a page…questions the Canadian immigrant paradigm by offering up a historiographical lesson on notions of belongingness. Education has always been used as a primary tool of colonial storytelling and “taking a page” from this book begins a process of re-imagining: how might the content of this book, presented anew, disrupt the immigrant-settlers’ positionality of “the perfect stranger” (Dr. Susan D. Dion). Now, for instance, an image of Free Farms for Million (ca. 1893), which promised free farm land for classed and skilled European labour to cultivate Canada’s natural resources, might well be called “miseducation.”
Suburban Hospitality: A Weekend of Performative Discourse
Saturday and Sunday, 16–17 September 2017
Art Gallery of York University (AGYU)
As an extension of the opening of Migrating the Margins, AGYU plays host for a weekend of food, movement, and conversations. Anchored by Farrah Miranda’s Speaking Fruit and Sister Co-Resister’s Walking Salon. The weekend’s activities migrate between the gallery, Black Creek Community Farm, and Stong Farmhouse to activate the histories and geographies of the Keele Campus. Speaking Fruit is a mobile, roadside fruit stand and design studio that feeds the movement for migrant farmworker rights. Sister Co-Resister’s Walking Salon works through concepts of belonging, proprietary understandings of land, and Canada’s immigrant paradigm and treaty partnership identity. Artists and academics Syrus Marcus Ware and Gloria Swain, from the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES), guide our collective investigations through performance and discursive workshops.
This performance-research-walking-symposium is action based. Come prepared to move and be moved!
Saturday, September 16
1:00 pm Meet at the AGYU (Accolade East Building)
Emelie Chhangur: Migrating the Margins curatorial tour
1:30 pm Amy Desjarlais: Opening remarks
York University’s knowledge keeper, Amy Desjarlais begins the afternoon of discussions and workshops
1:45 pm Farrah Miranda: Speaking Fruit
Held on the land at Black Creek Community Farm, Speaking Fruit brings migrant farmworkers and Indigenous food producers together with artists and community organizers. Eating, drumming and dancing, we consider what comes out of the soil and how. Experimenting with music, dance and growing practices, we till the soil of the future.
Resident members of the Black Creek Food Justice Network and Neighbour to Neighbour Centre (N2N) in Hamilton discuss the social and political realities and intersections of food security and access in their neighbourhoods.
Adrianne Lickers, coordinator of Our Sustenance, a community greenhouse project located on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in Ontario, talks about the connections between food, land and community and the ways that linking them can change lives. Produce harvested by migrant farmworkers in Southern Ontario and corn from the greenhouses of Our Sustenance fuels the celebratory soups and stews served during the day.
Evelyn Encalada Grez, organizer and co-founder of Justice for Migrant Workers, leads a participatory discussion on re-envisioning and humanizing our food system. She connects our discussions to current victories and examples of farmworker movements in the USA to expand our capacity to re-envision ethical food justice for all.
Gabriel Allahdua from Justice for Migrant Farmworkers and the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change discuss their efforts to build solidarity with migrant farmworkers and to share their understandings of the land and their relation to it.
Music and dance performances by Ruben Esguerra, Heryka Miranda, and Moyo and Kuda.
5:00 pm Closing remarks
Sunday, September 17
1:00 pm Meet at AGYU
Otherness: Taking a page… artist tour AGYU Vitrines
1:15 pm Sister Co-Resister: A Walking Salon
See exhibition text for description. Be prepared for a 2-hour hike. Bring water bottle, weather-appropriate clothing, closed toe shoes with socks, and sunscreen.
3:15 pm Gloria Swain: Rememory
The front porch of York University’s Stong House becomes a stage for Gloria Swain to tell the story of colonialization, slavery, and oppression against Black women’s bodies. Rememory is a dance and spoken word piece addressing ancestral pain and generational trauma. Uttering and scribing the names of unacknowledged Black women (cis and trans) and calling upon the local history of slavery, past and present, Swain honours all who have lost their lives to violence, who are unknown, and not spoken of.
3:30 pm Regent Park Catering Collective: Lunch Break
Regent Park Catering Collective members provide sustenance after a long walk. The collective shares a passion for cooking, creativity, and learning together to foster personal and community development.
4:00 pm Syrus Marcus Ware: Long Table Discussion
Ware hosts a Long Table, an experimental performance-installation-discussion format used to facilitate dialogue around the relational context of a word or concept, allowing the group to unpack ideas together via the multitude of lenses present.
5:00 pm Closing remarks
Suburban Hospitality is co-presented with FES and programmed by Suzanne Carte, Emelie Chhangur, Lisa Myers, and Honor Ford-Smith. Artist, Researcher, Desmond Miller is providing written documentation of the symposium to be made available on the AGYU website.
We would like to thank the generous contributions of Black Creek Community Farm, Black Creek Food Justice Network, PEACH (Promoting Education and Community Health), Justice for Migrant Workers, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Real Food Real Jobs, OPIRG York, University of Waterloo Social Development Studies, York University Faculty of Environmental Studies, Our Sustenance, and Neighbour to Neighbour Centre.
Suburban Hospitality is sponsored by Canada 150 @ York.
Curating in the Suburbs
October 20, 2017, 4:30–5:45 pm, The Underground, York University
Curated and moderated by Emelie Chhangur, On the Edge of Curating: Toward new practices afield is a panel about curating that asks: How is “being on the edge” off-centredcurating? Presented as part of the City Institute’s Global Symposium Beyond Suburbia, On the Edge of Curating… looks at the specificities of curating in suburbia. What special circumstances does the suburban locale offer curating at the level of practice and, more importantly, how does this locale’s social and civic particularities challenge curating’s conventions or concerns?
Less concerned with highlighting projects and exhibitions that are about the suburbs, panelists Jordan Strom (Surrey Art Gallery, BC), Janine Marchessault (York University, PUBLIC), Randell Adjei (RISE, Scarborough), Émilie Renard (La Galerie, centre d’art contemporain, Noisy-le-Sec, France), and Emelie Chhangur (AGYU) position the performativity of the suburban context and their own embedded role in its milieu as having a constitutive effect on their working methodologies and on the future geographies of traditionally defined art centres. Dynamo suburban curators, Christine Shaw, Director/Curator at Blackwood Gallery, and Alissa Firth-Eagland, Curator of Humber Galleries, participate as respondents and to foster a dialogue between this group of curators for the future.
For more information on the symposium visit http://suburbs.info.yorku.ca/aftersuburbia/
Nine years ago the sounds of Parkdale filled the hallway outside the AGYU as the very first iteration of Audio Out. The listening post has shifted over the years, from that lonely outpost, then migrating into the lobby at times … and now?
Now it has furniture! Or, rather, it is furniture. A custom-built bench (thanks to the fine work of Grayson Richards) with in-built tech. The bench is modelled on a conversation bench, but the conversations will be decidedly unidirectional. Headphones will deliver the next year’s rendition of Audio Out, a program specially curated for us by Darren Copeland of New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA).
Unlike most of the previous programs, the artists chosen here work primarily in sound art. These are not dabblers in the medium, they are part of the forefront, and we’re glad to have them visit our lobby.
This fall, there are two presentations.
The first is a tour of the city of Kolkota by Debashis Sinha, but the view is from the cosmopolitan version of Toronto. Within the sounds of any city there is a distinct choreography of the mundane (the trajectory of deliveries, parks giving way to market stalls and streets), but underlying these quotidian sounds we hear dreams passing through; a hum wavering on the edge of legibility. The presentation of the radiophonic The City takes place from September 15 to October 22.
Debashis Sinha’s creative output spans a broad range of genres and media, from solo audiovisual performance projects on the concert stage to the interior spaces between two headphones. Driven by a deep commitment to the primacy of sound, Sinha has developed his creative voice by weaving together his own experience as a second generation south Asian Canadian, his training with master drummers from various world music traditions, a love of electronic and electroacoustic music and technology, and a desire to transcend the traditional expectations of how these streams might intersect and interact.
The second work, from October 23 to December 3, is a radiophonic piece offered by Parisa Sabet. Entitled Visiting Grandpa, it takes us on a sonic tour through Sabet’s memory of her grandfather, and in particular is inspired by the distressing news that his grave, along with many other Baha’i graves in Shiraz, Iran, had been destroyed by the Iranian revolutionary guard.
Parisa Sabet is an Iranian-Canadian composer based in Toronto. Her work covers a broad variety of acoustic and electro-acoustic music. Sabet’s compositions have a unique and lyrical quality that stems from blending elements of Eastern and Western’s musical languages. She brings a vast range of color to her compositions by incorporating varied timbral and instrumental effects. Sabet’s repertory consists of pieces written for solo, duo, film music, and small and large ensembles.
Active as a sound artist since 1985, Darren Copeland is the founding Artistic Director of New Adventures in Sound Art. Copeland’s sound art practice focuses on multichannel spatialization for live performance, fixed media composition, soundscape, radio art, and sound installation. He studied electroacoustic composition under Barry Truax at Simon Fraser University and Dr. Jonty Harrison at University of Birmingham. As Artistic Director of New Adventures in Sound Art, Copeland curates performances, installations, and broadcast content that covers the entire spectrum of sound art.
New Adventures in Sound Art (NAISA) is a non-profit organization based in South River, Ontario, aimed at fostering awareness and understanding of electroacoustic and experimental sound art locally, nationally, and internationally. NAISA is committed to the exploration of new sound technologies in conjunction with the creation of cultural events and artifacts.
Free Contemporary Art Bus Tours
Sunday October 15, 12–5pm
The tour picks up at Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West) then departs for Blackwood Gallery, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Art Gallery of York University, and Y+ contemporary. To RSVP: email email@example.com or call 905-828-3789 by Friday, October 13, at 5pm.
Sunday, October 22, 12–5pm
The tour starts at Koffler Centre of the Arts at Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street) and then departs for the Art Gallery of York University, Varley Art Gallery and Doris McCarthy Gallery. To RSVP: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-736-2100 ext 44021 by Friday, October 20, at 5pm.
AGYU’s Hybrid Outdoor Opera: An Epic Performance in the making
Over a five-day period in June, AGYU hosted a unique multidisciplinary residency for eleven women artists of colour. Bringing together a powerhouse cast including Motion (playwright and spoken word poet), DJ L’Oqenz, Esie Mensah (dancer), Aisha Bentham (actor), Kamilah Apong (singer), Jasmyn Fyffe (dancer), Britta Badour (spoken word poet), Sashoya Shoya Oya (storyteller), Sydanie Nichol (rapper), Zeinab Aidid (spoken word poet), and Sandra Brewster (visual artist), this exploratory residency served as an arts incubator to collectively envision and craft AGYU’ s upcoming hybrid outdoor opera. Taking place in York University’s new subway and on the University’s Commons in June 2018, this epic, genre-defying performance is a meditation on the empowering bonds of Black sisterhood, and a manifestation of Afro-Diasporic performativity, poetics, and aesthetics.
Throughout the month of July, as part of the Arts in the Parks program, AGYU presented Art on My Mind, a series of ten outdoor arts workshops for Jane–Finch youth in Oakdale Park. Facilitated by Motion, DJ L’Oqenz, Esie Mensah, Aisha Bentham, Kamilah Apong, Jasmyn Fyffe, Britta Badour, Whitney French, Sashoya Shoya Oya and Renée Ashanta Henry, the workshops enabled Oakdale Community Centre Day Campers and neighbourhood youth to discover and channel their creativity through djing, writing, dance, spoken word poetry, storytelling, singing, and songwriting. Art on My Mind featured two live performance events that showcased some of the best and brightest established and up-and-coming rappers, spoken word poets, dancers, storytellers, and singers, many of whom grew up in the Jane–Finch community.
The Art Gallery of York University would like to thank the Toronto Arts Council—Arts in the Parks program, the Toronto Arts Foundation, and the Oakdale Community Centre for supporting this program.
Over 2017, Director Philip Monk brought his forty-year writing and editing experience to mentor a group of young writers. Through the new program Reply All, run by Scarborough artist-run centre Y+ Contemporary, Philip worked with Marina Fathalla, Genevieve Flavelle, Lauren Lavery, Desmond Miller, and Olivia Wallace from proposal through editing to final copy and publication. Publications are available at Y+ Contemporary. The program was supported by the Ontario Arts Council, the Doris McCarthy Gallery, and the Office of the Vice-President and Principal, University of Toronto Scarborough.
How does the saying go? If you want the rainbow, you have to tolerate the rain?
We weathered the storm and from it birthed a beautiful rainbow—a BIG GAY rainbow!
AGYU, together with York Federation of Students (YFS), Trans Bi Lesbian Gay Asexual at York (TBLGAY), The Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion at York (REI), and the SexGen York Committee, exuberantly celebrated the future of LGBTQ2+* communities at the annual Pride Toronto festival. Uniting and empowering people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions, AGYU@Pride raised the rainbow flag in solidarity with queer communities and their accomplices.
Thank you Lido Pimienta, for creating the BRIGHTEST neon banners EVER for our float in Toronto’s Pride Parade and DJ Craig Dominic, who mixed a popping playlist that kept us jumping down Yonge Street. Approaching Pride with splendor and love, Lido reminded us to take in all of life’s sublime beauty and joy. Borrowing from the principles of the original rainbow flag, our float’s brilliant banners were affirmations of sex, love, healing, sun, nature, art, serenity, and spirit. This Pride we marched to say, We Are Nature.
Launching this fall, Foundation is a new experimental student engagement series assembled to build infrastructure for future connections and collaborations between artists and student leaders on Keele campus. Foundation is literally that: a modular mobile unit that serves as a physical and philosophical platform allowing students to take up space on campus and “soapbox” their concerns in public. Artist audience members are invited to respond to the issues presented and break out into conversations about constructing meaningful campaigns of resistance and resilience. The deep listening and discussion sessions mix student activism with artistic strategies to gain insight, share space, and cultivate strong community ties. In solidarity—we’re out there together.
Meera Margaret Singh’s Creative Campaigning investigative-performance WAVE is activated in October with dance and movement workshops for women (all individuals who identify as women including gender non-binary, trans, and 2-spirited) led by YorkU dance professor and choreographer Terrill Maguire.
WAVE is a unique platform for students to address in an open and safe environment the restrictions, oppressions, and regulations over one’s body. These issues and controls include (but are not limited to): reproductive rights, trauma, health, transition, pregnancy, labour/birth, infertility, and illness. Participants learn about harnessing energy, learning non-verbal ways of communicating through dance, transforming experience into self-expression, working collaboratively, and using movement to gain strength and agency within one’s body.
The AGYU’s Waging Culture has become a go-to source for stats on the socio-economic status of artists in Canada, especially in light of continued changes at Statistics Canada, which will make tracing artists through the Census and Labour Force surveys harder than ever. This year marks ten years from the benchmark year for Waging Culture, and so we are already deep in preparation for the third survey, which will be rolled out next summer.
In light of this milestone, we are hoping to corral the necessary resources to get a real economist to take a look at our numbers, and churn out a more substantial investigation into the various motivators at work in the sector. We’ve been working up a theory of there being two distinct art scenes at play in Canada simultaneously, and this round of the survey should lead to a clearer exposition of the theory. It may also—or at least we’re hoping—have a few unexpected surprises! If you’re a professional artist who resides in Canada, please keep your eyes (and your inbox) open for potential invites to participate. Waging Culture is an ongoing research project of the AGYU, led by Assistant Curator Michael Maranda.
More information: http://www.theagyuisoutthere.org/wagingculture
Research & Residencies
Nothing Is True, Everything Is Alive: Caecilia Tripp
Paris-based artist Caecilia Tripp visits Toronto on a research residency from 14 September – 2 October. Tripp is here to collaborate with curator Emelie Chhangur on a participatory project in 2018–19 for AGYU’s new public sphere performance series The Commons. Known for working in collaboration with individuals and groups and for performatively exploring the “poetics of relation,” Tripp uses forms of “re-enactment” and “rehearsal” to explore concepts of freedom, utopia, and civil disobedience at the crossroads of globalization and post-colonial cultural hybridity. Dedicated to keeping alive a (process of) “making history,” Tripp’s work mobilizes the collective social imaginary to give shape to the invention of new traditions and the production of mixed-cultural aesthetics. After producing everything from a street opera in NYC (The Making of Americans) to a radio drama in Amsterdam (Harlem/Surinam/Haarlem: geography destiny), as well as forging collaborations with diverse cultural luminaries like Edouard Glissant, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Rick Owens, and DJ Spooky, Tripp turns her attention to Toronto—perhaps the living, breathing embodiment of Glissant’s ideals, at the very least an incredibly fertile grounding for this artist’s peripatetic practice.
Caecilia Tripp’s works has been shown in galleries, museums, and public streets internationally: PS1/MOMA New York; Museum of Modern Art, Paris; Center of Contemporary Arts, New Orleans; Clark House Initiative, Mumbai; Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum, New York; Le CREDAC, Ivry-sur-Seine, France; and has been featured in Biennials: 7th Gwangju Biennale 2008 Dakar Biennale, Prospect Biennale 1; and shown at Film Festivals: MOSTRA 61 Film Festival, Venice; Zebra Poetry Film Award, Berlin; Real Life Film Festival, Ghana; Athens Film Festival, Greece; among others.
Vernacular Tradition As A Mode Of Cultural Resistance: Betsabeé Romero
This past May we hosted Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero, known internationally for her large-scale public works and unconventional approaches to trace-making that explore themes ranging from the megalopolis of Mexico City to pollution, border culture, migration, and movement in contemporary life. Enacting anti-modern gestures (through collective handmade labour techniques) that operate against the mechanization of industrial processes to decolonize materials, such as rubber or chewing gum, Romero is interested in how the global incorporation of influences can be a form of cultural dialogue in the aftermath of colonialism, particularly in the Americas. During her time in Toronto, she participated in AMPD’s Summer Institute, gave a talk in the home of Jorge Lozano as part of the CONVERSALON Series, hosted intimate dinners with locals at her Air BnB, and visited the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (what would an AGYU artist residency be without that?!). Romero will return in summer 2018 as L.L. Odette Artist-in-Residence and work closely with AGYU Curator Emelie Chhangur to develop an exhibition of commissioned work at AGYU that fall. A publication will be released in 2019.
*The L.L. Odette Artist-in-Residency Program is an intensive, hands-on production residency that provides upper level students with the opportunity to work with a professional artist to produce elements of the artist’s work and reflects York’s commitment to experiential learning.
AGYU’s New(!) Visting Curators Series: Jordan Strom
Looking for new ways to conduct research and initiate new dialogues and collaborations across this enormous country called Canada, AGYU has started a Visiting Curator Series. Building on our collaboration and co-commissioning project with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and visit from its Director/Curator Ryan Doherty this past April (who crisscrossed the GTA visiting over 15 artists!), we bring (fellow suburban) Surrey Art Gallery Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Jordan Strom. The suburbs and the suburban condition have been recurring themes in a number of Jordan’s past curated group exhibitions, including Views from the Southbank: Art South of the Fraser (2015), Figuring Ground (2013), Beyond Vague Terrain: The City and the Serial Image (2012), Sitely Premises (2011), Checking in with your hotspots (2010), and Infra-structural Image (2006). His work addresses the multicultural dynamism of the contemporary “Edge City,” a concept he has theorized in exhibitions such as Nep Sidhu: Shadows in the Major Seventh (2016), Finding Correspondences: Art and Translation (2013), Ruptures in Arrival: Art in the Wake of the Komagata Maru.
Our Visiting Curator Series is intended to support the local arts ecology and build AGYU’s suburban networks. A reception will be hosted with artists from Scarborough at Y+ Contemporary during Strom’s visit on Saturday, 21 October.
Upcoming Exhibition: Postcommodity
Known for large-scale, performative, and installation-based works that hyper-perform national limits, the US-based collective Postcommodity (Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist) visually exaggerate borders and systems of control in order to emphasize their real and psychological presence. Our winter exhibition, curated by AGYU Assistant Curator Suzanne Carte, presents two recent works by the collective that focus on border construction, permutation, and movement in dialogue with concerns regarding borders, broken treaties, and reconciliation in this place called Canada.
Their acclaimed video, A Very Long Line is a four-channel immersive video installation that demonstrates the “fence” bordering Arizona and Mexico and draws viewers into the overwhelming cleave that cuts through Indigenous land. But whereas A Very Long Line depicts the full run of the physical margin, Coyotaje focuses on the micro-politics of “the cleave,” revealing the relationship between Federal patrols and migrants on the border. Mimicking sonic deceptions and tactical maneuvers employed by the American Department of Homeland Security, the work takes viewers on an ambulatory journey that culminates in the confrontation with the legendary creature chupacabra.
AGYU at Art Toronto
The AGYU is pleased once again to participate as a Cultural Partner in the 2017 Art Toronto Art Fair, 27–30 October, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. While there, drop into our booth at Edition. www.arttoronto.ca
Hey, have you seen the new Marlon Griffith book? It’s called Symbols of Endurance, and includes some great essays by Chanzo Greenidge, Gabriel Levine, Claire Tancons, and, of course, Emelie Chhangur. The book covers the artist’s massively ambitious Toronto project, Ring of Fire, with a good grounding in his previous procession-based work from all over the world. This Japanese-based, Trinidadian artist is one of the most interesting processional artists at work today, and this is the first book that looks intensively at his work. Co-published with Black Dog, we couldn’t have done this book without the artist, the writers, and, especially, the generous support of the Partners in Art (PIA)!
Marlon Griffith: Symbols of Endurance, $29.95 in our bookshop, and around the world.
The book on The Sophie La Rosière Project, Iris Häussler’s almost decade-long endeavor, is nearing completion. We’re just waiting the overseas shipment of books. Can’t wait to see it, as we’re sure you too are looking forward to it. Writers include Philip Monk, Rui Mateus Amaral, Gérard Audinet, Iris Häussler, Yan Pélissier, and Catherine Sicot.
Meanwhile, we occasionally find ourselves going out to check a small grove of trees planted close to the gallery. These are the saplings that played a central role in Public Studio’s What We Lose in Metrics exhibition, and they’re a good barometer on the progress we’re seeing in the production of the accompanying publication. Essays are being written, edited, and prepped for design; images are being compiled, balanced, cropped, annotated; fonts chosen, grids aligned. All the while, the saplings are sucking up water from the ground, and light from the sun.
The AGYU has started a pilot project publishing our own artist books that are not tied to exhibitions, but conceived as autonomous projects on their own. We’re using digital printing technologies to see what that can let us do, pursuing projects that might not make sense at the print-run numbers that offset requires. One main advantage of this is the speed at which we can turn around books. We’re going to launch the very first one, by Erika DeFreitas, at our exhibition opening on September 15! And then, the second, by Peter Hobbs, is slated for release at Edition, the Toronto Art Book Fair that happens in conjunction with Art Toronto late October.
That’s right! We’re participating in Edition again this year. Instead of lugging all our books down to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, though, we’re only bringing the artist books that the gallery has produced. Come visit us at the Fair, October 27–30, at the MTCC. http://www.editiontoronto.com/