This is the Present Continuous.
A continuous present presents an action that is ongoing and requires a mind that keeps working and wondering.
2019 is a transformational moment for AGYU, becoming an opportunity to push and pull at our own institutional borders and thresholds by being fully present in these liminal spaces that transform borders into thresholds and vice-versa. This transformative moment has a special kind of time-sense: it is both in and of time. Being in time acknowledges that the present is historically made and that our future is before us. Being of time ensures that memory and anticipation are equal forces that keep us magnetically (and mindfully) poised along a continuum rather than positioned in-between what was and what will be.
We continue to build on a decade-long commitment of experimenting with long-term collaborative projects that bring individuals and groups with no (apparent) natural affinity into collaborative relation in order to explore what might constitute future forms of hybrid expression and aesthetics. But as well, we now fully embrace our own hybrid identity as a university-affiliated public gallery—to no known ends. Throughout 2019, we are middling in this liminal space of cross-acculturation and cross-temporality with a mandate and program that commit to learning from what a syncretic point of view might holistically impart as an institutional practice. Working and wandering.
We move with our 2019 program, understanding that hybrid techniques give rise to new forms of visual culture and aesthetics and, in fact, give new form to concepts of identity: concepts not beholden to traditional post-colonial frameworks or historical conditions of plurality or conquest or displacement or appropriation. Within and across our 2019 program—the exhibitions and residencies and publishing and social and civic engagement actions (see verso)—hybrid identities and their attendant techniques foster forms of cultural kinship and survival, challenge popular culture and its universalisms, and innovate models of communication between and across cultures and geographies. We take 2019 as a form of research, alongside our many visiting curators and artists—Sonny Assu, Brendan Tang, Amy Malbeuf and Jessie Ray Short (winter), members of Arnait Video Productions and ruangrupa (spring), Tian Zhang and Caecilia Tripp (summer)—whose presence presents us with ways of thinking about what our program this year is proposing.
Being in the present continuous is a curatorial proposition that thinks processually with our programming as it is happening: we are doing our institutional thinking in real time while being of our time.
In 2019, we are wondering: can hybrid identities perform as political gestures of hegemonic resistance? What aesthetico-political gestures might constitute new kinds of social and political alliances? Could these gestures move us into trans-historical, intra-local, and inter-traditional spaces of liminal potential with their own time-sense? We believe that this potential is already emerging in Canada’s polyvocal futurity.
– Emelie Chhangur, Interim Director/Curator
Next: the future real conditional.
Arnait Ikajurtigiit: Women helping each other
Arnait Video Productions
17 April – 23 June 2019
Opening Reception: Wednesday, 17 April @ 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition Tour with Arnait in Inuktitut and English @ 6:30 pm
Arnait Video Productions is a dynamic collective of women filmmakers whose films speak directly to the lives of its Inuit and non-Inuit members. The sheer endurance required to realize these video documents testifies to the importance of Arnait’s collaboration and the value of their work.
The collective has a loose collaborative model with members taking on various roles over the years. It was founded in Igloolik in 1991 by Madeline Ivalu, Susan Avingaq, Martha Makkar, Mathilda Hanniliaq, and Marie-Hélène Cousineau. Other women who got involved in various ways include Mary Kunuk, Atuat Akittirq, Carol Kunnuk, and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. Uyarak (Lucy Tulugarjuk) is the new president of Arnait.
Arnait’s original name in Inuktitut, Arnait Ikajurtigiit, means “women helping each other.” Thus, their works are uniquely collaborative and produced from a fiercely female perspective: investigatory and tender at the same time. The collective explores time-based art in the broadest definition, from hand-making objects using traditional methods to producing digital art. In taped interviews, re-enactments, feature films, experimental animations, and multi-episode documentaries, Arnait has rendered the possibilities of moving images as seemingly limitless.
Their subjects are equally broad: Inuit tradition, self-determination, children, family, intergenerational learning, and new ways of communicating and being together across the geographic distances and cultural differences between North and South. They also address difficult contemporary issues affecting post-contact Inuit life, including suicide, mental health, racism, addiction, and the environmental destruction resulting from resource extraction in the North. Premiering at AGYU, Igalaaq/Seeing Through (2019), new work for this exhibition, shows hope. Bringing innovation and tradition together and facilitating communication between North and South through the use of video chat technology, Igalaaq literally is a portal for collectively stepping into the future.
The originality of Arnait’s works is rooted in efforts taken to create a production process in harmony with the lives of the women involved in each project. The collective’s production values reflect the cultural values of participants, such as: respect for Elders, for hunting and fishing seasons, for traditions belonging to particular families, and for community events. They work as a team to write each script, to make the costumes and props, and to shape the interaction and performances of the actors. With strength, grace, humour, and resilience, the works in Arnait Ikajurtigiit: Women helping each other offer a model of learning by doing.
Arnait’s rare and urgent collaborative working model is useful for everyone at a time when Indigenous–settler relations in Canada and North–South relations in North America are deeply strained. In spite of the ever-growing influence of Western culture, Inuit people today continue to thrive through adaptation that brings together innovation and tradition. Seen from the perspective of women of Igloolik over three decades, the works in the exhibition (including film, objects, and photography) show the continual change inherent to Inuit life. Throughout, intergenerational teachings hold strong.
Arnait Ikajurtigiit: Women helping each other is a Primary Exhibition of 2019 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and presented in partnership with the 2019 Images Festival. It is curated by Interim Assistant Director/Curator Alissa Firth-Eagland.
Artist Talk: Arnait Video Productions members Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Madeline Ivalu, and Uyarak (Lucy Tulugarjuk) in conversation with Candice Hopkins (In Inuktitut and English)
Thursday, 18 April @ 12 – 2 pm | The Commons
401 Richmond Street West, Suite 440, Toronto, Ontario
Inuit and non-Inuit members of Arnait Video Productions from three generations dialogue about their collective filmmaking practice with writer and curator Candice Hopkins (Carcross/Tagish First Nation).
Igalaaq (Seeing Through): Makers Exchange
Given the chance, what will you, as a person living in southern Ontario, offer to an Inuk living in Igloolik? Using simple video chat technology, we open a portal between Igloolik and AGYU, where participants can experiment with exchanging art and offerings between the North and the South. Led by Arnait and guest artists working with song, food, and story, the group refines a creative offering to Inuit, and shares it over live video chat. This free program is limited to eight participants. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.
Wednesday, 17 April
Exchange Leaders: Bonnie Devine, Susan Avingaq, Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Madeline Ivalu, Uyarak (Lucy Tulugarjuk)
Saturday, 4 May
Exchange Leaders: Lisa Steele, Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Madeline Ivalu, Uyarak (Lucy Tulugarjuk)
Student Tour Series
Wednesday, 15 May @ 5:30 pm
As Indigenous communities come to adopt new digital technologies in the North, what are the potential effects on Indigenous sovereignty of exploring their identities online? Join PhD candidate in Communication Studies at York University Ali Hirji for a tour of Arnait’s exhibition as he discusses the artists’ broad creative practice in through his experience and research in artificial intelligence, broadband, cyber security, and Indigenous populations in remote communities like those in Nunavut.
Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday, 26 May @ 12 – 5 pm
The bus departs from OCADU (100 McCaul Street) at noon and travels to the Art Gallery of York University for a curatorial tour of Arnait Ikajurtigiit at 1 pm and continues with stops at the Doris McCarthy Gallery and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. To reserve a seat, please email Alissa Firth-Eagland, email@example.com. Co-presented with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.
Ella Dawn McGeough is an artist interested in relays. The passing of a baton between runners, for instance, where the feeling of palming a thing and the tangibility of sweat and chalk are transferred between subjects, and where time and space collapse. Multiple entities apprehend each other, rub off on each other, give each other power, meaning, and reality. This is a metamorphic process, an enduring aesthetic event, a perpetual act of poiesis. McGeough’s commission for AGYU Vitrines is an off-site component of this year’s AGYU Curatorial Intensive exhibition, On Pause, which takes place May 16 – 26, 2019, at York University’s Gales Gallery.
Originally from Vancouver, York PhD Candidate Ella Dawn McGeough is a cross-disciplinary artist whose work centres on practices of historicization, myth-making, and speculative feminism. She received a BFA from UBC (2007) and an MFA from Guelph (2013). She has presented work nationally and internationally and participated in numerous residencies, most recently at Banff Centre, Flaggfabrikken in Bergen, Norway, and Trelex in Peru’s Tambopata National Reserve. Her writing has been published by Public Journal, Moire, C Magazine, ESP, Open Studio, and Susan Hobbs Gallery.
AGYU Audio Out Listening Bench:
angela rawlings Performs Geochronology
In pursuit of the AGYU Audio Out Listening Bench theme of lamentations, we’re travelling to, perhaps, Iceland? Maybe Finland? Somewhere where there’s still some glaciers, even if they’re on their way to becoming part of the sea once more. The work of angela rawlings asks pertinent questions for these seeming-to-be end times: How does one cultivate empathy for more-than-human entities at the crux of climate change? rawlings’ practice seeks and interrogates relational empathy between bodies—be they human, more-than-human, other-than, or non. Her approach to developing an ecopoethics manifests through the actions of observation, tuning in, noticing, dwelling, and becoming-with. Meditating on languages as inescapable lenses of human engagement, rawlings’ methods over the past fifteen years have included sensorial poetries, vocal and contact improvisation, theatre of the rural, and conversations with landscapes.
angela rawlings is a Canadian-Icelandic interdisciplinary artist whose books include Wide slumber for lepidopterists (Coach House Books, 2006), Gibber (online, 2012), o w n (CUE BOOKS, 2015), and si tu (MaMa Multimedijalni Institut, 2017). Her libretti include Bodiless (for composer Gabrielle Herbst, 2014) and Longitude (for Davíð Brynjar Franzson, 2014). rawlings is the recipient of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship (2009 – 10) and held the Queensland Poet-in-Residence (2012). She is pursuing a PhD at the University of Glasgow on performing geochronology in the Anthropocene. rawlings loves in Iceland http://arawlings.is
Research & Residencies
Curatorial Residency: Amy Malbeuf & Jessie Ray Short
This year AGYU’s residency program turned its attention to the curatorial as a mode of re-thinking our institutional practices and our social and civic role (see also ruangrupa). This past January, we welcomed Métis artists Amy Malbeuf and Jessie Ray Short for a curatorial residency to conduct research on their upcoming AGYU exhibition commission (winter 2020) and to think with us in relation to our 2019 programming year. During their time in Toronto, Malbeuf and Short met with Métis scholars in York’s Indigenous Studies Program, History Department, and Equity Studies Department, and conducted studio visits with Toronto-based artists. We hosted a discussion on their three-year long research trajectory into Métis visual culture (that formed the basis of their Li Salay exhibition at the Art Gallery of Alberta in 2018) for York’s History of Indigenous Peoples (HIP) Network. They visited the Ontario Archives, the ROM, and the Bata Shoe Museum, as well as key historic sites in Toronto that point to the economic, cultural, and political exchange between eastern and western Canada in preparation for situating their second major exhibition on Métis visual culture here in Toronto. Importantly, their visit was bookended by extended conversations with YorkU PhD Candidate, P.E. Trudeau Scholar, Vanier Scholar, and Governor General Medallist Jessie A. Thistle and Elder, poet, mentor, and TDSB consultant Dr. Duke Redbird, who, by the way, was the first Métis person to receive a master’s degree in Canada (York University, 1978).
AGYU Visiting Curator’s Series
This June we welcome Sydney-based independent curator Tian Zhang as part of AGYU’s Visiting Curator’s Series. A like-minded kin, Zhang is a socially-engaged curator and creative producer whose research into non-European / Asian diasporic cultural forms of curating and leadership serve as a means and methodology to deconstruct social issues and facilitate change.
During her secondment at AGYU, Zhang will work in dialogue with AGYU’s year-long inquiry into the role hybrid identities might play in constituting new forms of cultural kinship and survival. AGYU looks forward to this opportunity to share learnings of diasporic forms of curating in Australia and Canada and set up a robust schedule of studio visits with Toronto-based artists and cultural workers with the hopes of further reciprocal exchange. Stay tuned to our website for any additional programming announcements in relation to Zhang’s research trip.
Thursday, 13 June @ 7 pm
Small World Theatre, Artscape Youngplace 180 Shaw Street
Tian Zhang discusses the broader Australian cultural landscape and a brand-new artist-run space she is leading that serves as an “anti-gallery”. Zhang’s most recent independent curatorial projects include Site of Passage (2018), a multi-level exhibition at Sydney’s Customs House, I Am, You Are, We Are, They Are (2017) at Peacock Gallery, and Justine Youssef: All Blessings, All Curses (2018)at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney’s Chinatown.
This project received financial assistance from the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. Tian Zang’s talk is presented in collaboration with Critical Distance Centre for Curators (CDCC), Toronto.
ruangrupa: An Imagination Tool for Institutional Operations
Mirroring the AGYU trip to Jakarta of summer 2018, Reza Afisina, Indra Ameng, Leonhard Bartolomeus, Daniella Fitria Praptono, Ajeng Aini, and Gesyada Siregar, members of the Jakarta-based art collective ruangrupa, made their way to Toronto in March and April 2019. Additional collective members will come in the summer, and more in the fall, and so it will continue through to fall 2020 when our project emerges. The exchange is still at the very beginning of what we hope to be a long engagement with reciprocal benefit—both artistically and administratively. Just announced as the curators of Documenta 15 in 2022, ruangrupa is known for foregrounding research as a primary tool for transforming artistic traditions and institutional operations. We are keen to learn with ruangrupa as we explore more holistically our hybrid identity as a public, university-affiliated contemporary art gallery (i.e. our entangled civic/social and pedagogical role).
It is not by coincidence that we are embarking on this long-term project with ruangrupa as they too advance as an organization by transitioning to the new formation of Gudskul, a fully-functioning independent school conceived and structured with two other Jakartan collectives: Serrum and Grafis Huru Hara. Gudskul could be seen as a culmination of their more than 20-year production of and commitment to youth culture and pedagogy but it is something more than that too. It is a football team! Or, at least, the school is modelled after its players and the role they play in “the field” (the school itself is sited in a now-defunct indoor soccer venue in South Jakarta). For instance, there are the “defensive players,” who take care of the theoretical things. The “goalkeepers” look into the philosophy of collectives with curriculum centred upon collective intelligence, public relations (and event-making), the history of Indonesian collectives, and the relation between analogue and digital media. Then there are the “midfielders,” who have one foot in theory and the other in practice: these players play with courses on curatorial practice within a collective framework as well as cover the area that runs the “art lab,” offering a course called “sustainable strategy” where students learn the nitty-gritty of grant and proposal writing. The “forwards” teach the practical things through workshops, like the garden of knowledge where students learn how to extract information and knowledge from their neighbours and where one learns how to find new methodologies as a collective (what one might call “design thinking”). This is also where the “centre forward” or “false 9” player operates, kicking forth concepts of spatial practice drawn from the discipline of architecture. A kind of trickster player, the “false 9” also looks beyond architecture proper into how the rural, urban, or suburban informs collective activity as a site-specific practice. Of course, a strong player can play any position and this shows in ruangrupa’s world view: there are no star players.
The school’s aim? To develop the skills necessary to set up collectives with intention and to develop an understanding of the ways of thinking necessary for collective labour (inside and outside the art world). Naturally, Gudskul is also a collective thinking process for ruangrupa as a collective; the school model is a pedagogical tool to shape what comes next for their continuing evolution. AGYU feels at home with this processual kind of practice.
Over the course of the next two years, we will be pushing forward our project until, eventually, Gudskul X, a collective of collectives (ruangrupa, Serrum, and Grafis Huru Hara), will take over the AGYU, putting our institution into residency at home and advancing a new chapter of AGYU’s pedagogical role within York University and Toronto at large, modelled on the Gudskul and informed by the super-collective’s in-situ research.
We wonder: what could our school be modelled on (which of course is a model of learning for us, too)? And how could that modelling give rise to thinking alternative curricula for the curatorial? For social practice? For institutional transformation? This thinking is key as we partner with York’s School of Continuing Studies, the School of Social Work, and several Organizational Research Units to offer an alternative pedagogical framework from the point of view of a contemporary art gallery nestled within a university proper. For now, we’re juggling multiple balls in the air…and we will keep our goals posted.
Waging Culture: The story so far
We’re always surprised at the length of time needed to wade through the numbers. The stages of data collection are numerous: cleaning the data, crunching the resulting numbers through the mysterious weighting machine, and then the feeding the results into the data-mogrifier to get to the oh-so-elegant charts and graphs. They do come from somewhere!
By the time you’re reading this, we should be seeing some solid results, including some more extensive analysis never before done on the Waging Culture datasets thanks to a special Sector Innovation and Development grant from the Canada Council. In the meantime, let’s just tease you with this: the median studio-based income has hit the magic $0 … which means a full 50% of artists lost money on their practice in 2017. While in line with the past two surveys, this is likely not the big story, though. Instead, it’s the combination of this median income remaining constant while the average income almost doubling (to somewhere between three and four thousand). Whenever a gap between median and mean incomes increases, it suggests that income inequality is also increasing, and thus we’re seeing a strong shift in the field towards a winner-takes-all economic model.
16 – 26 May 2019
Gales Gallery, 105 Accolade West Building, York University
Vera Frenkel, Cindy Ji Hye Kim, Nicole Levaque, Ella Dawn McGeough, Naz Rahbar, Véronique Sunatori, Nicole Kelly Westman
Curated by Katarina Veljovic
Full Moon Book Club: Thursday, 16 May @ 6 – 7 pm
Opening Reception: Thursday, 16 May @ 7 – 9 pm
Curator’s Tours: Thursday, 23 May @ 2 pm and Sunday, 26 May @ 2 pm
Thursday, 16 May @ 6 – 9 pm
Friday, 17 May @ 1 – 6 pm
Sunday, 19 May @ 12 – 5 pm
Thursday, 23 May @ 1 – 6 pm
Friday, 24 May @ 1 – 6 pm
Sunday, 26 May @ 12 – 5 pm
On Pause reflects on broad ideas of caesural pauses. A caesura is a break … an interruption … a cut. A space for thought. A momentary breath. Articulating a connection between two phrases, a caesura is a literary and musical device that creates emphasis or provides respite. Importantly, caesurae disobey established patterns and detour natural rhythms. How can we apply this musical and poetic concept to our lives and embrace times of pause as a way to find connection between two moments?
Artworks in On Pause express notions of pause indirectly, as a reference through subjects or processes. Some offer an invitation to celebrate the in-between, the interlude, and anticipation. Others, highlight mindlessness and the perils of procrastination. Together in chorus, the artworks in this exhibition echo and reverberate off one another to provide a refuge and immersive space in which the viewer can enter and … linger.
Arts in the Park
Throughout July, the AGYU is working in partnership with the Driftwood Community Centre and New Tradition Music’s Mobile Recording studio to run a satellite rap music video production program for youth in Shoreham and Edgeley Park, located in the Jane–Finch community. Working with a team of talented rappers/poets as well as a sound engineer and a videographer including Jameel3n, NamedTobias, Terence Penny, Abdulkadir “Moose” Nur, Jaselle Ricketts, and Kareem Ricketts, Driftwood Community Centre campers participate in an intensive writing, performance, sound recording, and video production program that culminates with the collaborative creation of five rap and poetry videos.
Art on My Mind 2019: Performance Showcase
Friday, 19 July @ 7 – 9 pm
Edgeley Park, 4401 Jane Street (adjacent to Driftwood Community Centre)
Admission is free
A showcase and open mic event featuring performances by established and up and coming rappers and poets including Jameel3dn, NamedTobias, Terence Penny, Abdulkadir “Moose” Nur, Unika “UTG Ruby” Geohagan, Denise De’ion, Kibra Tesfaye, and Veshone.
AGYU gratefully acknowledges the Toronto Arts Council–Arts in the Parks Program, The Toronto Arts Foundation, the Driftwood Community Centre, and New Tradition Music for generously supporting this program.
FINAL-FINAL: Experimental Shorts
Friday, 26 April @ 7 – 9 pm
Kalil Haddad, Alicia Hewitt, Andrei Pora, Marteen Sevier, Weibin Wang, and Katerina Zoumboulakis … and more! Organized by Andrei Pora
This showcase of experimental short films made by undergraduate students in the Film Production program at York University during the 2018 – 19 school year explores concepts and themes such as temporo-spatial dislocation, the ways we relate to one another, and shifting perceptions. Come meet the diverse filmmakers and experience a cross-section of boundary-pushing filmmaking practices of the York community.
AGYU Film Production Manager Report: Andrei Pora
I’ve spent most of my three years in the film program at York University in the Centre for Film and Theatre: the brick building north of the bus loop, situated between Accolades East and West. Outside of my friend group in the film and theatre programs, I know almost nobody. I don’t think I’d be wrong to assume that the majority of the 20,000 students that are on Keele campus each day feel the same way. The York community is profoundly compartmentalized—we share the same school, but each student culture and department operates in its own ecosystem, with minimal awareness of “the other”. Beyond the alienating industrial plazas and highways that surround us, the school has a certain subliminal austerity built into it.
The AGYU, located on the corner of Accolade East, is nondescript. The only feature that announces its presence is a small neon sign in the window, which reads “ART BOOKS”. I later discovered this is an artwork by York alumnus Derek Sullivan.
Over the summer, I had the opportunity to do my third-year field placement with the AGYU. First, I worked as an electrical swing on Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca’s AGYU commissioned film RISE. The shoot was exciting and challenging in equal measure. Our crew shot on the TTC’s new Line 1 subway extension from 6 pm to 5 am for six days straight. We “occupied” the transitional space of the subway platform and repurposed it into a production/performance zone. This was the first and hopefully not the last time the space was used in this way.
I am currently working with French artist Caecilia Tripp, Toronto-based spoken word artists MC Zak’isha Brown and Borelson, and staff/students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at York, to produce a new work for the AGYU’s upcoming fall exhibition. Collaboration and active participation in the creative process is producing a stronger piece and sets the standard on how an arts institution should engage with its community. It may be a small act, but a bridge has been built between both sides of the bus loop. Experiences and knowledge have been exchanged between two parties that would never interact under normal circumstances. Outside York, I’ve observed the gallery’s commitment to community building and local involvement through its longstanding relationships with First Nations peoples and youth artists in Scarborough and Jane–Finch. There’s a lot of heart in the work that surpasses the perfunctory.
Besides the projects I’ve been involved in, I’ve caught glimpses into the dynamics of the AGYU and how it operates. What most surprised me was AGYU’s Interim Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur’s performative/theatrical approach to the exhibition space because it parallels my film education: the way works are arranged and contextualized, how light affects the viewer’s experience, the partitioning of space, the interplay between tension and release, and so on. The curator’s work is comparable to a strange mix of producer, editor, and writer in the film world.
Although the paroles of the two worlds differ, their langues remain the same: The search for “truth”, the analysis of our pasts/presents/futures, the need to be informed, the desire for excitement, and the never-ending struggle to justify our own existence. I suspect that all art forms are bound by these characteristics.
Maybe the “ART BOOKS” sign alludes to more than just the AGYU’s book collection and publications. The sign, which camouflages itself as utilitarian is also an original artwork. This mirrors the dual role of the art institution it inhabits: the gallery functions as a department of the University and also fills a social need. On the glass doors leading inside—the gallery’s previous motto: out there. Out there in the world, or out there in the fringes? Maybe a bit of both.
– Andrei Pora
Make Money Writing Art Reviews
AGYU has two cash awards for undergraduate critical writing! Send us your review or essay on one of our 2018–19 exhibitions (Braided Roots, Ready Player Two, Arnait) and we will send you AGYU CASH — $150 for a review and $200 for a thematic essay. The winning review discusses the exhibition and offers a brief critical analysis of its content (word count: 500 – 1000) and the winning thematic essay thoroughly explores one or two underlying themes of the exhibition (word count: 1500 – 2000). Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 3 May 2019.
News & Reports
Hello! AGYU welcomes new assistant curator
AGYU is thrilled to announce the appointment of Clara Halpern to the position of Assistant Curator. Clara is an accomplished curator and writer with an interest in contemporary art, its institutions, and the role of pedagogy. From 2016 to 2019 she was Assistant Curator at Oakville Galleries, where she curated Waves and Waves: Rebecca Brewer and Rochelle Goldberg, An Assembly of Shapes, an exhibition of contemporary painting by nineteen Canadian artists, as well as a solo exhibition of the collective FASTWÜRMS. In 2017, she was the curator of Calculating Upon the Unforeseen for Nuit Blanche, Toronto. Prior to this, Clara was the inaugural curatorial fellow at The Power Plant, where she curated Maria Loboda: Some weep, some blow flutes. Her international career spans publishing (Modern Painters) researching (The Centre for Possible Studies, Serpentine Gallery, London), producing (US Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2013), and educational programing (Frieze, New York, 2014). She holds an MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. Welcome to AGYU Clara (and Hazel)! We are looking forward to working with you (both).
Toronto on the international map
Even though we retired our out there vision in 2018 when the TTC’s new Line 1 subway extension opened up at our front doors, we haven’t forgotten how important out there was as an operative concept of difference that generated a new role and function for AGYU. With out there came in-reach: a model of working that brought different working practices and social economies into the institution to transform it from within. This out-and-in movement has become a new kind of “oscillatory” model: what comes in must go back out. It is with this thinking that our recent commissions have taken shape and we are very proud to tell you how “out there” we are on the international map, showcasing Toronto artists from São Paulo to Berlin to Venice to Sharjah. Of course, there was RISE, our commissioned film by international art stars Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, which was shot on the TTC’s Line 1 subway extension and featured poets, rappers, dancers, and singers from across the GTA. It was considered one of the best things to see during the São Paulo Biennial, and had its world premiere at the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, where they won the prestigious AUDI award. And, since Wagner and de Burca will now represent Brazil at the Venice Biennial, we launch an AGYU publication at Venice (which is, incidentally the artists’ first monograph)! Expanding our reach even further, our co-commissioned film installation Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Caecilia Tripp premiered at the Sharjah Biennial 14 this past March (as part of Look for Me All Around You curated by Claire Tancons). It features Toronto-based Congolese poet Borelson and Jane–Finch-based MC Zak’isha Brown and was shot in the York University Observatory. AGYU continues to oscillate, working with partners and programming opportunities that push us, and Canadian artists, further “out there” on the international map.
Hold on as we catch our breath here!
Hot on the heels of our publication-intensive fall, we continued right through the winter. There was the photo-based artist book, Clearance Process, by Jordan Scott. Published in conjunction with the Winter Audio Out Listening Bench project, it’s a short run artist book documenting Scott’s visit to the Guantánamo Bay detention camp back in 2015.
We also forged ahead on the Derek Liddington book, as designed by Zab. This one is slated for a launch in short order and its title is Derek Liddington: the body will always break before it bends, the tower will always bend before it breaks; the tower will always break before it bends, the body will always bend before it breaks. Please check out the publication as soon as you can to read all about Liddington’s project through multiple perspectives: AGYU Interim Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur’s curatorial text, dance critic Fabien Maltais-Bayda’s critical essay, and Liddington and curator Ryan Doherty’s conversation.
We finalized Migrating the Margins: Circumlocating the Future of Toronto Art. Working closely with Sameer Farooq on design, this is one elegant book. It’s equal parts documentation of the Migrating the Margins exhibition of fall 2017 and clarion call to what the future of the Toronto art scene could look like, if not how the city as a whole might be understood. The extended essays by Emelie Chhangur and Philip Monk (co-authored all the way through) are must reads for the ever-changing landscape of this most interesting, and diverse, of metropolises. With great thanks to the artists of that exhibition, Erika DeFreitas, Anique Jordan, Tau Lewis, Rajni Perera, Nep Sidhu, Farrah-Marie Miranda, Otherness (Marilyn Fernandes + Pamila Matharu), and Sister Co-Resister. As always, our intense gratitude to the RBC Foundation and the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts (TFVA) for supporting this ground-breaking publication.
Not just that, though, we also went into overdrive with the news that our beloveds Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca are to represent Brazil at this years’ instalment of the Venice Biennale! Our publication, the artists’ first, will document all their films: from Cinéma Casino of 2013 through to RISE in 2018 (yes, our RISE) and even, their new film, which isn’t even yet finished as we put together this newsletter! We’re aiming to launch this book in Venice alongside the premiere of that new work. Writers for this book are Emelie Chhangur, the Executive Producer of RISE, as well as Brazilian writer and curator Hélio Menezes (with great help from translator Heitor Augusto), André Lepecki, chair of Performance Studies at Tisch School of the Arts, New York, and Evan Moffitt, New York editor for frieze. A special treat is the return after a few years of Lisa Kiss Design, who has already worked day and night to see this publication done on time.
Speaking of launches, if you find yourself at the Canadian Centre for Architecture on March 30, be sure to make your way to the bookstore as we will be conducting the Montreal launch of our Public Studio publication, The Long Now.
Caecilia Tripp: Going Places and Other Worldings
Where differences meet each other, intertwining,
not as the limit which divides, but where differences meet each other and coexist …
We are thrilled to witness the culmination of two years of residencies and research with New York-based, French artist Caecilia Tripp in our fall 2019 exhibition. Tripp has always taken an interest in the question of movement, fluidity, and worldliness-becoming as a way of unfixing notions of singular identity, nationhood, and belonging-ness. This “solo exhibition” uniquely puts into practice the artist’s strategies and thematics through a fluid and changing exhibition form that moves between locations and across time-scales, and, in fact, includes other artists and other entities all set “in-relation.” We consider exhibition making itself as a “fluid identity,” also in flux and as a means to engage and further Tripp’s exceptional practice: from the cosmos of Scoring the Black Hole to the deep earth of Toronto’s Lake Iroquois shoreline and all the interstellar matter(-ing) in between.
The exhibition features a “re-enactment” of the artist’s early work Scoring a Black Hole and two commissioned works, Interstellar Sleep and Even the Stars Look Lonesome (co-commissioned by Sharjah Biennial 14).
Interstellar Sleep is an overnight, 12-performer installation with surround sound, locally sourced earth. It is built in collaboration with astrophysicists from the Dunlap Institute at the University of Toronto and local Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers. The installation explores the relationship between scientific and Indigenous knowledge, paving the way for a “new awakening” to “otherworlding” ways of “relation” beyond borders, nations, and other “earth-bound” forms.
Produced over the past year in collaboration with York professor Paul Delaney (Department of Physics and Astronomy), undergraduate film student Andrei Pora, undergraduate astronomy students Jared Carlson and Joshua Parsons, Toronto-based sound designer Matt Beckett, Toronto-based Congolese spoken word poet Borelson, and Jane–Finch-based MC Zak’isha Brown, Even the Stars Look Lonesome is a five-screen film installation. No shortage of talented contributors, it also features performances by David Hamilton Thompson, a musical score by Robert Aiki, Aubrey Lowe, and Nicolas Becker, and costumes by internationally renowned fashion designer Rick Owens.
As a poetics of cosmic magnetism and rhizomatic relation, Going Places and Other Worldings conceptually, thematically, and physically pushes beyond concepts of belonging that are constituted through filiation and rootedness (beyond the singularity of the solo exhibition concept, too, in fact) in favour of alternative foundational grounds from which to build new multiplicities. From the multi-verse to the earth’s heartbeat, we “tremble together.”
In collaboration with the Toronto Biennial of Art, a portion of AGYU’s fall exhibition program will take place along Toronto’s shoreline. Simultaneously, an exhibition within Caecilia Tripp’s AGYU show will be curated in relation by the Toronto Biennial. Details to follow!