Winter 2010 Newsletter
Out There, Centre Stage

Agyu’s Winter 2010 Cast And Characters

Oliver Husain: Hovering Proxies

21 January – 14 March 2010
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 21, 6 – 9 pm



 
Oliver Husain’s productions often begin with a portrait of a person or place, mixing a wide range of cinematic languages and visual codes, dance, puppetry, and animation, which disassemble and subvert fixed readings of the original material in new theatricalized forms. Welcome to our social cabaret on the border between installation and performance. Here you will experience Oliver Husain’s exhibition Hovering Proxies, where a new installation forms the backdrop for a new film filmed inside the exhibition for the exhibition. With both these elements on display simultaneously, the viewer penetrates a thin veneer to become a performer on the exhibition’s stage — indeed only half way through the exhibition do you become aware you have replaced the hovering proxies.
Program Notes:

“Instead of the winter at York University, you are surrounded by the late summer in Tandun’s garden in downtown Jakarta (my favorite city). The two dogs, Ziggy and Uma, scuffle on the dry grass, Ziggy, the husky, is a bit crazy from the heat. Elegant wrought iron furniture balancing on thin legs, withered vines, broken flowerpots: this is the set for a tropical drama. But you are invited to step behind the flapping curtain, where you might find yourself in the position of an understudy, waiting for the star’s fatal slip… As always, the really exciting part happens backstage. (Backstage drama, my favorite genre.) Or rather, the really exciting part is that one step through the curtain, that thin in-between space, that slice of a moment. That’s the step with potential! ” – Oliver Husain

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Husain currently lives and works in Toronto. In 2008, he was a featured filmmaker at the Flaherty Film Seminar, Colgate, New York. In fall 2009, his film Mount Shasta screened at the London Film Festival, Impakt (Utrecht), EXiS Experimental Film and Video Festival (Seoul), and Experimenta (Bangalore), and his new film-performance Purfled Promises was presented at Live Film! Jack Smith! Festival, Berlin.
Oliver would like to thank: Iris Ng (Cinematography) and the Harbourfront Centre Glass Studio.
AGYU is the proud owner of the series of photographs produced for Hovering Proxies.

Brendan Fernandes: Relay League

21 January – 6 June 2010
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 21, 6 – 9 pm

Flashing from the wings, staged as a choreographed light performance, Relay League signals sympathetically to the AGYU’s current exhibitions. As well, it spills out there onto the York University campus acting as a primitive communications device. · · · — — — · · · . The title, Relay League, refers to a chain of forwarding optical telegraphs used to convey messages of distress or celebration. · — — — · · · Pulsing within the AGYU vitrines, SOS messages are sent and received. — — — — — In one, Morse code patterns pulse softly and slowly. In another, they vibrate more rapidly as the eyes of a neon African mask. The flashes of this optical trance are less scientific than supernatural, less advertising seduction than Voodoo probe. The final vitrine shows video footage of a searchlight maneuvering through an unidentified space, adding to the mystery … Voodoo you.
A text by Kenneth Montague accompanies the exhibition, published in another coded format as a free take away item at the AGYU.
AGYU would like to thank Orest Tataryn for producing the neon African Mask for Relay League, a work that is now in the permanent collection at AGYU.
Born in Kenya of Indian heritage, Brendan Fernandes immigrated to Canada in the 1990s. He completed the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art (2007) and earned his MFA (2005) from The University of Western Ontario and his BFA (2002) from York University. He has exhibited internationally, including The Third Guangzhou Triennial in Guangzhou, China (2008) and the Western New York Biennial at The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY (2007). Fernandes has participated in numerous residency programs including The Canada Council for the Arts International Residency in Trinidad and Tobago (2006), The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Work Space (2008) and Swing Space (2009) programs, Emerge 10 at Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ (2008), the AIM Program at the Bronx Museum, The New Work Residency at Harvestworks, NY, and an invitation to the Gyeonggi Creation Center at the Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Korea (2009). He has held the position of Artist in Residence at the School of Visual Arts, NY, in the graduate program for computer arts (2008) and is the a current recipient of a New Commissions Project through Art in General, NY (2010). He is based between Toronto and New York.
yu_alum

Mantler: The Performance Bus!

Make the familiar trip out there stranger on AGYU’s Performance Bus with Toronto performer Mantler (a.k.a. Chris Cummings). Mantler’s Tour Bus is your free ticket to Oliver Husain and Brendan Fernandes’ opening night and your serious comic relief for the evening! Part tour guide and part musician, this “childman” is all entertainer! The free Performance Bus departs OCAD (100 McCaul St.) on Thursday, 21 January at 6 pm sharp and returns downtown at 9 pm.
Far from the humble beginnings as a home-recording project together with his wurlitzer electric piano and 1970s Rhythm Ace drum machine, Mantler has become a favourite in the Toronto live music scene. Mantler has released three albums — Doin’ It All (2000, Le Systeme Records), Sadisfaction (2002, Tomlab Records) and Landau (2004, Tomlab Records). His fourth album, Monody, will be released in early 2010 on Tomlab Records, Tin Angel Records, and Blocks Recording Club. Cummings has played solo tours of Italy and Germany (2004), opened for Constellation artist Sandro Perri in Europe (2007), and has recently returned from a tour in the UK, where he opened for Tin Angel artist Devon Sproule.

Alex Wolfson and Bojana Stancic: And so, the animal looked back…

28 January – 14 March 2010
Opening Performances:
Thursday, January 28, 7:30 pm  [opening night!] & Friday, January 29, 7:30 pm
Closing Performances:
Thursday, March 11, 7: 30 pm  & Friday, March 12, 7:30 pm
Seating is Limited, please call 416.736.5169 to reserve. Thursday tickets are reserved for individuals on the free Performance Bus departing from OCAD at 6 pm sharp. There is no bus for the Friday performances.

 
 
 
 
 
And so, the animal looked back… is a unique venture of the AGYU into the world of experimental theatre, a theatre that has its roots equally in the art world and queer performance. The AGYU has commissioned two new plays under the overall title of And so, the animal looked back…, the performance of which open and conclude an installation that will retain props, performance elements, and projections from the first play.
Writer/Director: Alex Wolfson/ Set Designer and Visual Concept: Bojana Stancic/Costume Designer: Vanessa Fischer /Sound Designer: Matt Smith
Actors: Amy Bowles, Lindsey Clark, Vanessa Dunn, Nika Mistruzzi, Liz Peterson, Evan Webber
Program Notes

And so, the animal looked back… is essentially a project that examines the ways in which the many creatures who live on this earth interact with one another. The animal known as man has developed a certain type of interaction with the rest of the animal kingdom. There is man, the rational animal, and then the rest, “the animal kingdom,” with no differentiation between the elephant and the earthworm. This separation has turned to violence, with man using his technological prowess to impose our wants and wishes upon the rest. We do this both through physical violence, and through intellectual structures that create a living hierarchy, with man at the top, sitting on his throne, ruling those who sit below us. We eat their flesh, wear their skins, use them as tools for our most menial labour.
These interactions between “man” and “beast,” however, take place in a specific historical context, one that came to being only after the formation of the Cartesian subject. Individual, self-contained, and above all, rational. Descartes’ man knows the rest of the animal world, cohabits with them, but understands them only as automatons, aimlessly roaming the earth.
And so, the animal looks back… is meant to question the ways in which contemporary subjectivity is formed, a subjectivity that uses the separation between man and animal as the primary bedrock of the modern capitalist human subject. The two plays that bookend the show both take place in apocalyptic contexts. The first begins in the moment just after a biblical flood. Only one man is left in an empty world. To prove that, even then, he still is man, he builds a series of automatons, both of animals and men. These automatons are perfect in form, but he still knows that they are not alive, not rational beings like himself. He repopulates the world with these animals. They fill the ruined cities. He begins a new life with them. Eventually, he comes to realize that he has changed, he is no longer “man,” but something else. He must then question whether he ever truly was — whether any of us truly are “man” as we imagine ourselves to be.
The second play moves from the setting of a biblical wasteland to that of a contemporary laboratory. A group of primatologists are studying a chimpanzee named Max. One day Max begins to speak. Then to write. The primatologists are unsure of what to do with this new development. Soon Max begins to compose a long essay on the subject of the separation between man and animal, chimpanzee and animal, man and chimpanzee. Word leaks out to the world at large about Max. People become frenzied. Strange things begin to occur as the world slowly starts to fall apart. Pairs of animals, both human and otherwise, begin to congregate around the laboratory. Finally it becomes clear, Max’s essay is the last words to be spoken before a new flood, a new apocalypse, but unlike the deluge that occurred before the first play, this flood does not simply destroy, it also reconfigures new identities, new shared subjectivities. The play ends not with a prescription of what must come but simply with an understanding that things must change, and what will come is a mystery to them all.
— Alex Wolfson

Bojana Stancic (Set Design) was trained at the University College Drama Program, University of Toronto. She has designed plays for The Disturbed Family, Ammo Factory, and other theatre productions, as well as worked in film and television. She recently designed the set for Windows at the Summer Works Theatre Festival.
Alex Wolfson (Director) is a playwright and director. His plays are often performed in art galleries, including If I’m Me Today, Must I Tomorrow at Gallery TPW (August, 2008). His recent work, The Sexual Aberrations: Part One, was presented at the Rhubarb Festival in February 2009 and Windows was presented at the Summer Works Theatre Festival.
Alex and Bojana would like to thank the following people involved in And so, the animal looked back…:
Brendan Flanagan (Creative Advice)
Peter Freund (Technical Advice)
Nathaniel Wolfson (Concept Development)

The Puppet Theatre

The Glimmering Grotto: Seven plays over seven days
February 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 8:30 pm
The Department, 1389 Dundas Street West (Toronto)
The Glimmering Grotto is an outcrop week of performances by Oliver Husain, Bojana Stancic, and Alex Wolfson. Downtown, at The Department, the three artists work through a system of limitations imposed by themselves to create a series of seven performances over seven nights. Like a grotto, the space is both organic and artificial, transformed through each performance into its own mysterious domain.
The performances are set-up like a game of round robin; three solos, three duos, one group. Each non-performing artist sets limitations upon the two performing. And as for the limitations, there are no limitations on the limitations.
The Glimmering Grotto is both a place and an idea. A location and a game. A limitation and an opening.

Reprise

Audio Out
Conducting the Audio Out series from 6 January – 24 February will be Gwen MacGregor andLewis Nicholson in the production of New Time, a 24-hour sound loop building on recordings of sea clocks made by John Harrison between 1735 and 1759 for reliable global ocean navigation.
The following work, Outside Our Doors, will be under the musical direction of Janice Gurneyfrom 25 February – 7 April. This recording meditates on The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, with translated readings in numerous languages outside the door of the speakers’ homes to the outside of ours.
Foreign Agent:
Our new online Foreign Agent series continues with a trip to Colombia as our cultural attachéAstrid Bastin weathered the rain to take you into countless artist studios. She brings you the latest from Bogotá in her feature report exhausting all that the city has to offer from food to cultural institutions, with a special insider’s look at the ArtBo fair.
Look for our upcoming report from Mexico as Rodrigo Hernandez-Gomez sets the stage for a cultural getaway in Puerto Vallarta.
http://theagyuisoutthere.org/everywhere/
Artists’ Book of the Moment (ABotM):
Finding their light, the books are arriving on cue for the first ever Artists’ Book of the Moment prize. Lined up on the lobby stage like, well, like books on a bookshelf, the casting session is now in process. We’ve opened the house, so peak behind the flats and see the entire aspiring dramatis personas over the course of the next several months in the AGYU bookstore/lobby. Awards to follow in March.
http://www.theagyuisoutthere.org/abotm
Off-Off Broadway
Hitting the mark at the Durham Art Gallery (251 George Street East, Durham) the Fine Art Graduate and doctoral students in Art History & Visual Culture at York University will be producing a dress rehearsal for their upcoming thesis work from January 23 to March 14, 2010.  In collaboration with AGYU Assistant Curator Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot, the exhibition will be a “test site” for new ideas, projects, and exchanges between the players.
Artists: Jaime Angelopoulos, Eshrat Erfanian, Elle Flanders, Zev Farber, Lauren Goldman, Risa Horowitz, Anthony Koutras, Catherine Lane, Julieta Maria, Troy Ouellette, Cheryl Rondeau, and Dustin Wenzel.
Events: Challenge wordsmith Risa “The Champ” Horowitz in a Scrabble Tournament taking place at the Durham Art Gallery on Saturday, February 6th. Bring your board and get ready to throw down a Triple-Triple & join us for a one-night screening of new work by Elle Flanders, Road Movie, on Friday, March 12th.
For more information or directions please contact the Durham Art Gallery at 519.369.3692 or info@durhamart.on.ca
Special thanks to Michel Daigneau, Graduate Program Director of the Visual Arts Program, Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University.

~ Intermission ~
AGYU’s Upcoming Season

Stage master Daniel Barrow dazzles with his stage magic in two new shows.
31 March – 6 June 2010
Opening Reception: Wednesday, March 31, 6 – 9 pm
Backstage
Power Tool Drag Racing
Heeding the allure of chrome, carbide, and speed…or better yet, a flirting fancy with a perfunctory ideal, the AGYU and its cast of artists and trades professionals open the stage to an epic event, Power Tool Drag Racing. This limited feature program assembles on one stage an acclaimed troupe of supporting multidisciplinary artists and trades professionals, including Brandon Vickerd (from Apeshit), Elinor Whidden (from Mountain Man), Walter Willems (from Secret of the Syncope), Colin Harry (from Iris), Jessica Gilbank (from Ms. Lube), and Joey Fernandez and Michael Fernandez (from Daredevil Kustoms). In their supporting roles, these professionals will assist the principals, youth from the Jane and Finch area, in a ten-week running plot that creates rivals between function and form. Weekly prologues and dramatic scene shifts take participants from workshop, to the York Gate Mall, and to a final set in downtown Toronto — an exhibition at Ms. Lube’s garage — that will pique your curiosity and rouse what one might call a blurring of cultural boundaries. Power Tool Drag Racing is another innovative artist-led education project conceived and produced by AGYU.
Under the rigging of the AGYU and its major players, Promoting Economic Action and Community Health, Elements, and the TD Community Engagement Center, Power Tool Drag Racing is slated for spring 2010.
“IT’S ELECTRIC!”
Winter Contemporary Art Bus
On Sunday, January 31, join us at the Art Gallery of York University for a guided tour of the exhibitions. The bus will depart from OCAD (100 McCaul St) at 12:00 pm to the off-site exhibition of the Koffler Gallery, AGYU, Blackwood Gallery, and Doris McCarthy Gallery, returning to Queen’s Park at 5:00 pm. Seating is limited. To reserve please contact Julie Zalucky at 905.828.3789 or j.zalucky@utoronto.ca
totem impact

Encore

AGYU Sweeps OAAG Awards
It was a dramatic night at the 2009 Ontario Association of Art Galleries Awards ceremony when the AGYU — to continual audience acclaim — frequently swept to the stage to receive its unprecedented load of seven awards. Leading off was AGYU leading man Philip Monk, who was the first recipient of the OAAG Lifetime Achievement Award. Ever competitive and a drama queen to boot, our Director quipped from the stage that he would not be satisfied until he received the after-lifetime achievement award.
Stage Designer and Play Director Emelie Chhangur handily took the Exhibition Design & Installation award for her repeat hit Carla Zaccagnini: no it is opposition.. Playing a second role, quick-change artist Chhangur won her second Educator award, this time for Special Recognition for the AGYU’s web-based Studio Blog.
Perhaps the star of the show was our backstage hand Ken Ogawa, otherwise known in the profession as Vlackie O, who picked up three awards, two Design Awards and one Web Award. These included the subtle and shimmering poster for Project for a New American Century, his cut-up Carla Zaccagnini, no. it is opposition. newsletter, and his incendiary animation that opens the AGYU website (produced in collaboration with past star performers Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins).
Not to be outdone in the glamour department, designer Paul Wagner won the top Design Award for the AGYU’s book Matthew Brannon: To say the Very Least.
AGYU receives standing ovation in South America!
It was besos and beijos all around for the AGYU this year in South America as we participated in two major events in Bogotá and São Paulo. Hitting the ground running on our first trip to Bogotá, AGYU was invited to present Colombian upstart artist and super dub reggae DJ Mateo Rivano as part of the special projects series at ArtBo, South America’s premier contemporary art fair. Then it was off to São Paulo where we were invited to participate in the Sergio Motta Institute Symposium on Art and Technology with a presentation about the AGYU and portfolio reviews of this year’s Sergio Motta award recipients. ¡AGYU, allí afuera!
Buy Sellf at Art Toronto
The workshops were buzzing the week prior to Art Toronto 2009. Running a tight ship, the talent (Laurent Perbos and Boris Chouvellon, from the Buy Sellf collective of Marseille) came to town, empty-handed, and for ten days applied their set design skills to work, building all the props (e.g., art-works) necessary for the main-stage show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The work of six French artists (Vincent Kohler, Guillaume Poulain, Oliver Kosta-Théfaine, Vincent Ganivet, Laurent Perbos, and Boris Chouvellon) were fabricated, all to set the stage for what Buy Sellf does best — providing support for their artists. With such a tight timeline, set dressing continued right until curtain so first night came without any previews. Nonetheless, we certainly wowed them in the orchestra (did we mention some pieces sold?) over the five-day run.
This project could not have been accomplished without the generous help of the financial backers: props to the French Consulate of Toronto, CulturesFrance, Art Toronto, and the kind back-of-house assistance of Mia Nielsen of the Drake Hotel. Thanks also to our invaluable PA Emma Couttreau and, of course, Buy Sellf.
Ulysses Castellanos at UpArt (and beyond!)
It was a break-through performance by Toronto’s Ulysses Castellanos during multi-stage events at the UpArt Fair and Art Toronto. Castellanos reprised his role as the beloved clown painter to the patrons of the UpArt Fair during opening celebrations at the Gladstone Hotel. In a matinee performance on Sunday, October 25, Castellanos transformed into the two unique characters of Superdirectional Man, who took the elite guests from UpArt on a bizarre tour of Toronto en route to the Convention Centre and, making a quick change, reemerging in the starring role of DIKKIE DEE’S BADAAASS RETURN upon arrival at Art Toronto. Surrounded by the hungry guests he brought ice-cream happiness to all while cycling through the stalls and busy aisles at the art fair.
AGYU hosts Queer Night at York University
AGYU broke out the glow sticks for a night of block rockin’ beats out there on the dance floor at The Underground Pub for Queer Night. The infamous DJ Cozmic Cat of Cherry Bomb spun to the optical assemblage flow of video artist Jeremy Bailey as the Trans Bisexual Lesbian Gays Allies at York busted a move.
tblgayPROPS TO THE AGYU’S PUBLISHING PROGRAM!
New and noteworthy: in the bar
The production is done, but the run is only beginning. Join us in the actors’ bar to toast the latest from the AGYU:
Just out! Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins: Project for a New American Century
6.75×7.75 in, 64 pp, 38 col, hardcover, $24/$20 with AGYU membership
The AGYU has just published, in conjunction with their Winter 2009 main stage production, a catalogue documenting the work of Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins. Elegantly designed by Lisa Kiss, this copiously illustrated hardcover book includes “The Prisoner,” an essay by Philip Monk written as if it were a French philosophical treatise on modernist aesthetics from the 1950s. Putting context into context, the text deftly weaves a story of both the prisoner and the viewer as we move through the implications of the exhibition’s pre-history. This past November AGYU hosted a book launch for Project for a New American Century at Georgia Sherman Projects, Toronto.

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