Winter 2009 Newsletter
Bustin’ Out There
Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman
Project for a New American Century
28 January – 29 March 2009
Opening reception: Wednesday, 28 January, 6–9 pm
Project for a New American Century is a “what if” scenario that in part has its source in a little-known historical event. During the Spanish Civil War, anti-Franco anarchists operated prisons using “psychotechnic” torture in the form of “coloured cells” based on the principles of abstract and surrealist painting. In reference to this history, the Toronto collaborative team of Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman have created an installation combining architecture, painting, and sculpture, building a monolithic prison-like enclosure in the gallery but updating it with reference to utopian brutalist architecture from the 1950s and 1960s (such as York University’s Ross Building) and op art painting. Having established a historical conjecture in the first gallery with this aggressive architectural intrusion, the artists play out the aesthetic possibilities or consequences of this proposition with a series of paintings and sculpture in the second gallery. As they write, “The foundations are set for a scenario wherein the artists act as players in the landscapes of political radicality both past and present, while simultaneously imprisoning themselves within their own formalist devices. The socially utopian brutalist architectural scenario that oversees the installation carries within its walls the clashes and harmonies of the ideologically charged art of the twentieth century interwar period, and the hollowing ideological clashes of the culture wars that have ensued since this period. What better way to usher in this disillusioned century than to imprison us in the previous one.”
Ride out there on the Snakebus!
On Wednesday, January 28, slither and slide in a sibilantly soothing ride to the exhibition opening of Project for a New American Century with multidisciplinary artist Diane Borsssssssato together with Herpetologist and Reptile Educator Blair Watssssssson. Watson will present an assortment of live turtles, lizards and snakes in an adult-oriented talk for the Performance Busssssss, available for riders to handle and experience up-clossssssse.
In a series of recent works, Diane Borsato has been hiring substitute educators and practitioners to convey significant ideas at stake in her work. SNAKEBUS reflects her recent interest in naturalist field research, enacts the relationships we have to animals, and proposes ways that knowledge can be tangible and felt.
The free Performance SnakeBusssssss departs OCAD (100 McCaul St.) at 6 pm sharp and returns downtown at 9 pm.
In the AGYU Lobby
The Black Creek Storytelling Parade exhibition features photographs, watercolour paintings, and poetry produced by youth artists from the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club during the Black Creek Storytelling Parade program (fall 2008). The exhibition also features a three-channel video installation inspired by Carla Zaccagnini’s double-channel video Duas Margens (Two Margins, 2003 and 2005). Extending Carla’s investigation of differing coastal perspectives of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, these Toronto-based works—which document the Black Creek watershed (south of Finch Avenue), the Humber River as it empties into Lake Ontario, and footage of water flowing from the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club’s kitchen tap—provide a local iteration of this Brazilian artist’s interest in similarities and differences by showing the Black Creek in its various manifestations (as creek, lake, and tap water). In the spirit of Zaccagnini’s art practice, the work was created collaboratively between youth artists Brittany Asiamah, Sharlene Boateng, Latisha Geddes, Lechateau Geddes, Ivie John, Nicky John, Shazzya Mitchell, Niasha Slocombe, Kaiyanna Thompson-Spence, and community artists Liz Forsberg and Laura Reinsborough.
Programming – Out There
Curatorial Residency: Eugenio Valdés Figueroa and Marcio Botner
AGYU welcomes Rio de Janeiro-based Eugenio Valdés Figueroa and Marcio Botner for a curatorial residency in January/February 2009. During their stay, Figueroa and Botner will conduct studio visits with local artists and, as a part of their research into Canada’s parallel gallery system, visit Toronto’s Artist-Run-Centres. In conjunction with their residency, the AGYU and York’s Faculty of Education are organizing an invitational symposium on the subject of the pedagogical intersection of contemporary art and education outreach. While the overarching purpose of Figueroa and Botner’s visit is to further the discussion (ongoing since 2006) between Casa Daros in Rio de Janeiro and the AGYU towards the creation of an international artist/education residency exchange, this symposium is intended to bring together local and international individuals who inhabit this art/education intersection, either as innovative thinkers or artist practitioners in order to gain fresh perspectives on this important thematic.
Join us on at 2 pm, Sunday, February 1 at a location ot be confirmed for a joint presentation by Eugenio Valdés Figueroa and Marcio Botner.
Eugenio Valdés Figueroa is a curator, art critic, and art historian born in Havana, Cuba in 1963. Instrumental to the development of ad a key figure in contemporary Cuban art, he was co-curator of the Havana Biennial for several years, a member of the Department of Research on Contemporary Art at the Wilfredo Lam Centre, and lecturer at Superior Institute of Art, Havana. From 1991 to 1997 he was researcher in situ on contemporary Sub-Saharian African art in Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, Angola, and South Africa. He has curated numerous exhibitions in Canada (Stretch at the Power Plant, 2003, for example) and internationally and his texts on art and pedagogy have been widely published (such as the last issue of Parachute). He is a member of the Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC) and the artistic collective RAIN. He is currently the Director of Art Education and Research at Casa Daros, Rio de Janeiro.
Marcio Botner is an artist, curator, and cultural worker born in Rio de Janeiro in 1970. In 2003, together with artists Ernesto Neto and Laura Lima, he founded A Gentil Carioca gallery in one of the oldest most multicultural areas of downtown Rio. A Gentil Carioca was conceived in a melting pot with a view to capturing and disseminating artistic diversity in Brazil and the world. Embedded in the mandate of the gallery and practiced by the artists who run it is the belief that each work of art is a cultural particle with the potency to illuminate culture and education. Botner has exhibited his work internationally and is Vice-President of the School of Visual Arts of Rio de Janeiro where he has taught since 2003. He is also Coordinator of Training Program of Casa Daros.
Studio Blog — Toronto, meet Halifax; Halifax, meet Toronto.
Studio Blog is an ongoing Internet project that explores new methods of curatorial research premised on process-based exchanges and collaborations between artists and curators. Visit http://www.yorku.ca/agyu/studioblog to see the latest exchange, this time narrowing the gap between Toronto and Halifax, with virtual studio visits between AGYU Assistant Curator Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot visiting Halifax artist David R. Harper and Dalhousie Art Gallery Director/Curator Peter Dykhuis visiting New York-based, Toronto artist Brendan Fernandes.
Waging Culture — a survey on the socio-economic status of Canadian visual artists
A question for you: Who’s 42.79 years old, attended post-secondary institutions for 6.02 years, has .464 dependents (not including pets), and netted $1,523 from their primary occupation in 2007? Here’s a hint: classical economists would call them irrational. If you guessed the average Canadian visual artist, you’d be right. Over the past year, the AGYU has been undertaking an extensive analysis of the state of Canadian artists (the most extensive national study since Statistics Canada’s Canadian Cultural Labour Force Survey of 1993), and we’re getting near the release date for the final report. Details, as they arise, will be posted to our website.
Contemporary Art Gallery Bus Tour – Project for a New American Century
On Sunday, February 1 join us at the AGYU for a free, guided tour of Project for a New American Century. Bus departs from the main entrance of Honest Ed’s 581 Bloor Street West, Toronto, at 12:00 pm and returns around 5:00 pm. The bus tour begins with Koffler’s off-site project and continues to the Art Gallery of York University, Blackwood Gallery and Doris McCarthy Gallery. Seats are limited. To reserve please call Julie Zalucky, Blackwood Gallery, 905-828-3789.
An exhibition of over 50 Canadian and International artists in two parts, with an exhibition intervention by Images Festival
The Communism of Forms
Sound + Image + Time – The Strategy of Music Videos
8 April – 14 June 2009
Opening reception: Wednesday, April 8, 6–9 pm
Co-curated by Emelie Chhangur + Earl Miller (Toronto), Fernando Oliva + Marcelo Rezende (São Paulo)
The Images Festival intervenes inside the AGYU’s The Communism of Forms exhibition, presenting the installation Lerne Deutsch Mit Petra Von Kant (Learn German with Petra Von Kant) by Singapore-based artist Ming Wong.
+ Red Bull 381 ProjectsThe Communism of Forms
Sound + Image + Time – The Strategy of Music Videos
Co-curated by Nicholas Brown + Earl Miller (Toronto), Fernando Oliva + Marcelo Rezende (São Paulo)
9 April – 14 May 2009
Opening Thursday, April 9, 6–9 pm
381 Queen Street West, Suite 200
Student Video Screening
Curated by AGYU curatorial intern Heather Phillips, the AGYU Annual Student Screening will take place in April 2009. See the website for more details.
We are pleased to announce that Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot has been hired as Assistant Curator with prime responsibilities for exhibition coordination and student outreach. Suzanne brings her experience as outreach programmer for the Blackwood Gallery and the Art Gallery of Mississauga and previously as professional development and public programmes coordinator at the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. She has a BFA from the University of Windsor and a post-graduate diploma in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College. She has had internships at Open Studio and The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, where she also served as the membership and individual giving coordinator. She sits on the Board of Directors for C Magazine and has contributed to the Board at Mercer Union and Hamilton Artists Inc. as well as fundraising committees at the Art Gallery of Ontario and CANFAR. Suzanne is an artist and also the undefeated former Pillow Fight Champion of the World.
Ontario Association of Art Gallery Awards
The AGYU continues its tradition of multiple wins at the annual Ontario Association of Art Gallery Awards. This year’s awards concentrated on the AGYU’s excellence in publication and design. Bryan Gee won two design awards, the book award for director Philip Monk’s Disassembling the Archive: Fiona Tan and a shared award with Kristan Horton for Horton’s artist book Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove. Cecilia Berkovic won the poster design award for her faux movie poster for FASTWÜRMS’ Donky Ninja Witch exhibition. And in recognition of the AGYU’s tradition of artist web commissions, Ken Ogawa (aka Vlackie O) won the Artist’s Project Web Award for his commission weitiko (www.yorku.ca/agyu/artistsproject/vlackieo), one of several of his web projects on the AGYU website.
The AGYU is proud to nominate its collaborators in order to advance recognition of their talents. Congratulations!
Upcoming Education Program
AGYU-Medina Urban Arts Mentorship Program
During the winter and spring of 2009, the AGYU in partnership with the Medina Collective(Tonika Morgan and Kemba King) and Toronto visual artist Sandra Brewster will offer an after-school urban arts mentorship program for members of Ladies 4 Life, a club for twelve–fourteen year old girls at Brookview Middle School. Through visual arts and writing, participants will explore how hip-hop can serve as a vehicle for self-definition, empowerment, and social justice. In addition to learning how to generate visual and textual content, participants will also design, and publish their own urban arts magazine for young women. A reception will be held in June 2009 to recognize the contributions of participants and to celebrate the launch of the magazine.
The AGYU-Medina Urban Arts Mentorship Program will mark the second time that the AGYU partners with Brookview Middle School. Following Architecture of the Imagination, the AGYU’s highly successful arts education program for Brookview Grade 8 students in the winter and spring of 2008. This latest project will enable us to continue building and strengthening our relationships with students, teachers, administrators, and parents from this local school.
Sounding Out the Neighbourhood: AGYU @ TIAF
Invited to participate in the Toronto International Art Fair, we decided to foreground our educational outreach programs. Working together with Toronto/Buffalo-based new media artist Jessica Thompson and Toronto-based artist and educator Pamila Matharu as artist-facilitators, we initiated a sound-based investigation of the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto with Matharu’s Grade 11 Film and Video students from Parkdale Collegiate Institute.
Working through September, the students recorded ambient sounds in their immediate neighbourhood and composed a set of sound compositions. These compositions were brought to our booth at TIAF, where listeners were encouraged to talk a tour through Parkdale … all contained within the confines of the Toronto Metro Convention Centre. At the same time, they collected sounds from the Convention Centre floor to use in a second sound composition which brings TIAF back to Parkdale. Details on the public presentation of the second half of the project will be announced on our website.
Sounding Out the Neighbourhood could not have happened without the cooperation of Parkdale Collegiate Institute and the Toronto District School Board and the financial help of the Hal Jackman Foundation.
Black Creek Story Telling Parade
This fall saw the renewal of our partnership with community artists Liz Forsberg and Laura Reinsborough and the return of the Black Creek Storytelling Parade with youth artists from the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club. With the guidance of Liz Forsberg and Laura Reinsborough, this latest incarnation of the BCSP included the creation of pattern-inspired installations, and watercolour painting along the Black Creek, as well as a guerilla gardening intervention in front of the club. Our walks from the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls to the creek provided numerous occasions to explore the distinct colours and patterns of the neighbourhood and served as a rich source of subject matter. Amazing photographs were taken of water and its various sources, neighbourhood gardens, sumach trees, autumn scenes of the creek, a community mural as well as friends at the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club and the Oakdale community centre.
On October 30 our youth artists led a celebratory parade to the Black Creek. Over fifty members and staff from the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club attended this culminating event, which celebrated the creek as well as the art produced by our youth participants over the course of our five-week program. Upon arrival participants were treated to a dance performance by youth choreographed by Damian “Shizzle” Hughes, the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club in-house choreographer. As participants ventured further along the creek, they discovered photographs installed in a sumach grove. Taken by youth artists, the photos explored the artists’ encounters with water in their daily environments. Subjects included an aquarium, kitchen and bathroom sinks, plumbing pipes, water fountains, rain boots, sidewalks after a rainfall, a brother’s tears, and a reflection in a puddle of water. Gaspar Horvath of the Black Creek Conservation Project later joined us at the creek and spoke about his organization’s efforts to engage in the environmental restoration of the watershed. With shovels in hand, a group led by Horvath planted a number of native trees to further the naturalization of this community habitat. As it grew darker, the artists lit their handmade lanterns to guide our way back to the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club where the celebration continued as viewers enjoyed a floor to ceiling installation of suspended photographs, an exhibition of watercolour landscapes, and food and drink.
The AGYU would like to thank: Liz Forsberg, Laura Reinsborough, Serena Nudel, Brenda Bi, Fartun Ahmed, Sarah Bower, Damian “Shizzle” Hughes, Gail Moore, Wayne Black, and Philip Jackson
Working out of the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club over a seven week period, we facilitated the Black Creek Storytelling Parade program, a series of after-school art-making sessions with a group of eight to twelve year-olds. Most of the participants were unfamiliar with the creek when we began, some even afraid to walk the asphalt path into the ravine. The impetus for this project is to foster a cultural connection with the creek, to break down “nature” as something separate or other. We hoped to animate Black Creek with the energy, creativity, and enthusiasm that the participants had to share. And so we trekked twice weekly down to the creek, with sketchbooks or sculptural material in hand, sometimes outlining our path with sidewalk chalk or leaving eco-art installations to trace our presence. We talked about such things as where our drinking water comes from, but the most salient moments emerged from sharing experiences together just by being near the creek. … The Black Creek Storytelling Parade had humble beginnings, born from our curiosity as York students wanting to learn more about the place where we went to school. With the support of the AGYU, it has gone out there, taken new turns, and grown into a much wider project that has gained local resonance. – Liz Forsberg and Laura Reinsborough, Community Arts Facilitators
As part of her Advanced Credit Experience, Amy Villarruel, a Grade 11 student from James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic Secondary School, is taking part in an internship at the AGYU. Contributing to our youth outreach efforts, Amy developed a survey that will be distributed to her fellow high school students. The survey answers are meant to give the AGYU a clearer picture of the types of programs and events that would engage and attract a youth audience to the gallery. Amy is also developing the AGYU’s first team of youth docents from James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic Secondary School. Stay tuned for further developments.
AGYU and Brookfield Middle School @ Ladyfest
We are pleased to report that Architecture of the Imagination was screened on September 15 at the Beaver Hall Gallery as part of the Young Ladyfest program showcasing video by youth. Conceived and organized by the AGYU, Architecture of the Imagination is a compilation of eight video works produced by twenty-six grade eight students from Brookview Middle School during the winter and spring of 2008.
Carla Zaccagnini, Catalogue Traduit
Art Gallery of York University, 2008
$20.00/$17.00 with AGYU Membership
Catalogue Traduit consist of ten French essays on themes bifurcating from, and illustrated by, works by artist Carla Zaccagnini. Designed by Marilyn Fernandes, the book features texts by: Martin Breaugh, Vicky Chainey Gagnon, Larissa Joachim, Isabel Koellreuter, Mark Lanctôt, Cécile Martin, Catherine Sicot, Carl Trahan, Julie Tremble, and Thiffany Wilmouth. Produced by the gallery for Zaccagnini’s exhibition, this is the fourth in a permutating series done by the artist, the first three being in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. The entire series is available for viewing in the gallery bookstore.
Matthew Brannon: To Say the Very Least (essay by Philip Monk)
Art Gallery of York University, 2008
$60.00/$51.00 with AGYU Membership
Distributed by D.A.P./ Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.
Disassembling the Archive: Fiona Tan (a book by Philip Monk)
Art Gallery of York University, 2007
$25.00/$22.00 with AGYU Membership
Distributed by D.A.P./ Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.
Back in 2004, Mike Hoolboom was invited into the gallery space in response to his critique of film presentation in gallery spaces. The resulting exhibition, The Invisible Man, consisted of the presentation, re-presentation, and reformulation of several of his film works. Doubling back on the issues that gave rise to the exhibition, a collection of essays and interviews will be released late this fall further interrogating the relationship of fringe film to gallery presentation. Contributors include Mike Hoolboom, Philip Monk, Yann Beauvais, and Chris Kennedy.
More recently, Saskia Olde Wolbers presented two of her video works, Trailer (2005) and Deadline (2007), in the gallery in 2008. Trailer took the viewer on a circuitous tour from a midwestern cinema to the Amazonian jungle (via Hollywood, of course) while in Deadline, the viewer followed an interrupted journey from Gambia to Greece. In a reflective mood, the dream-like state of Olde Wolbers’ narratives are re-imagined as unresolved pathological case studies in a forthcoming book by Philip Monk.