Deanna Bowen, Eugenio Salas, and Public Studio (Elle Flanders, Tamira Sawatzky, Eshrat Erfanian)
Centre for Incidental Activisms [CIA]
19 January – 13 March 2011

A woman, dressed in a pantsuit resembling a disco ball, stands on a plinth. Spotlit, she is performing for an audience in a darkened environment.

This is a project in flux.
This is a project about flux.
This project is experimental.

Our aim is to make visible artistic inquiry, particularly the ephemeral nature of the groundwork of research-based practices and the setting up of possibilities for the artist to enact activisms within an institutional framework.

The CIA is a challenge to the contemporary art institution as much as it is a vehicle for extending the influence of contemporary art practices to wider institutional frameworks.

The CIA is a necessary extension of the AGYU’s commitment to learning from and collaborating with artists but to new purposes, ones that can transform the function of contemporary art’s institutional frameworks.

We want to invent a new public engaged with artistic process as method and not as means to a visible end.

The Centre for Incidental Activisms is there to support the development and articulation of an artist’s idea, but not necessarily its material outcome. We know that the artistic outcome can have many different activisms outside of the objects created by artists. Questions, not answers.

As an unconventional project it requires an unconventional approach: this is not exhibition making even if it does happen in an art gallery.

Emelie Chhangur
Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot
Michael Maranda

The Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA) Inaugural Events
Upon arrival at the gallery, visitors were met with a series of one-off situations that inaugurate The Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA), staged by artists Eugenio Salas, Deanna Bowen, and Public Studio: Eshrat Erfanian + Elle Flanders + Tamira Sawatsky, with Zev Farber and John Kamevaar.

Deanna Bowen: Deconstruction of a Political Engagement (the Selma Project)
This past summer Deanna Bowen walked over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama – the infamous bridge in Selma is the site of a violent clash between Alabama State Troopers and non-violent protesters en route to Montgomery (referred to as “Bloody Sunday.”) Deconstruction of a Political Engagement (the Selma Project) is an autobiographical intervention that works to reveal and interpret Bowen’s discoveries while researching Bloody Sunday and the Canadian response to the March from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965.

As a conceptually based revisionist project, Deconstruction of a Political Engagement (the Selma Project) takes advantage of the AGYU’s dissemination, promotion, exhibition, and archiving strategies by covertly inserting “outsider” narratives into “mainstream” institutionalized art practices in order to artistically/actively destabilize dominant narratives about race, conflict and self-inscription.
“…Do I remain a revolutionary? Intellectually – without a doubt. But am I prepared to give my body to the struggle or even my comforts? This is what I puzzle about.” *

Deanna Bowen is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist. She received a Masters degree in Visual Art at the University of Toronto (2008) and a Diploma of Fine Arts from Emily Carr College of Art and Design (1992). Recent works have been shown at Diaz Contemporary, The Images Festival, Thames Gallery, and Art Gallery of Peterborough and her solo exhibition Stories to pass on… is touring nationally through 2013.

Complete pdf copies of the 18 March and 26 March 1965 ProTem Newsletters can be located at the following links:

March 18:
March 26:

Special Events:
Deanna Bowen programmed a live broadcast stream in gallery of the National Youth Summit: the 50th Anniversary of The Freedom Rides on Wednesday, 9 February 2011 at 12 noon.

Broadcast speakers include Freedom Riders:

John Lewis, Freedom Rider, Troy, AL

Diane Nash, Freedom Rider, Chicago, IL

CIA Panel Discussion programmed by Deanna Bowen: Conceptual Practice, Political Engagement, and Institutional Change on Friday, March 4, 2011

Moderated by Warren Crichlow with presentations by Michelle Jacques, Dot Tuer, and Krys Verrall.

A round table discussion on conceptual practice, political engagement, and institutional change that are informed by the mechanics of language, the political potency of self-inscription, as well as an understanding that art making is a form of writing history.

Presenters have been asked to address the notion of art making as a form of writing, the intersections of political action/activism, how politics and conceptual art connect (or don’t), and the implications of omitted and included narratives.
*Nemiroff, Robert. To Be Young, Gifted, and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words. Adapted by Robert Nemiroff with original drawings and art by Miss Hansberry and an introduction by James Baldwin. Ed. Lorraine Hansberry, (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), p. 249.

Eugenio Salas and The Institute for Community Inquiry
Eugenio Salas was born in Mexico City in 1976. His artistic practice is based on performative actions that employ intervention, video, film, animation, photography, slide projection, artist books, and installation media. His single-channel videos have been screened in a number of festivals in Canada, United States, Mexico, Spain, and Italy.
Special Events:
G20 Graphic Novel research sessions on Sunday, February 13 and Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Institute for Community Inquiry is looking to collect stories from the York University community and beyond, who were or have a connection with the G20. This is an exercise of collective memory and allowing the untold stories that were silenced by violence and media sensationalism to be heard. It is up to the participants if they chose to disclose their identity. In the tone of casual encounters, this process emphasizes the role of oral history and its translation to a popular cultural medium so that it also challenges traditional ways of making history.

The session on the 13th of February were moderated by Eugenio Salas and Brian LaBelle.

Institute for Community Inquiry Show and Tell on Friday, March 11, 2011

The Institute for Community Inquiry occupies the AGYU!

The ICI is a self-managed group of activists, media artists and academics working with artistic and curatorial practices to extend critical relations between art and activisms in the aftermath of the G20 held in Toronto this past June. Sharing knowledge, production processes and dissemination strategies is a gesture of symbolic cross-pollination, highlighting the collaboration process rather than the final outcome. Participants were challenged to explore unknown territories and to confront notions of what is ‘political’ or ‘artistic’, in order to produce works that address these complexities.

No One is Illegal – Kate Milberry – Madi Piller
Philippe Blanchard – Brian Mitolo – Vid Inglevics
Martha Baillie – LAL – Alessandra Renzi – Eugenio Salas
Candance Mooers – Prisoners’ Justice Action Committee
Kawartha Food Security Farmers Network – CHRY

Come see what the Institute for Community Inquiry has unveiled!

In the form of  a ‘show and tell’, a final presentation of the works will take place at the galley on March 11 at 6:00 pm. Join us for an evening of live performances, food, drinks, and engaging with the participants.

Doors open at 6:00 pm
Event starts at 6:45 pm

Public Studio [Elle Flanders, Tamira Sawatzky, Eshrat Erfanian]
Elle Flanders is a filmmaker and artist based in Toronto. She was raised in Montreal and Jerusalem and holds both an MA in Critical Theory and an MFA from Rutgers University. Her work has been screened and exhibited at the Berlin International Film Festival, the MOMA, and festivals worldwide. Flanders is a PhD candidate in the Visual Arts at York University, where she also teaches.

Tamira Sawatzky is an architect and artist working in Toronto. She was raised in Winnipeg and holds a BA in English from the University of Winnipeg and a MArch from the University of Manitoba. She has been working for the award-winning firm MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects since 1998, designing community centres and libraries.

Eshrat Erfanian is a visual artist based in Toronto and a PhD candidate at York University, where she also teaches. She has an MFA from University of Toronto, and is an alumnus of the Whitney Independent Study Program in NYC. Her work has been exhibited in the USA, Europe, and Canada.
In-gallery interventions:
Table intervention (Tamira Sawatzky):

At the heart of the AGYU’s Centre for Incidental Activisms, a table was constructed for the purpose of meetings that were to bring curators, artists and community members together to collaborate and discuss the process of research based art practice. As a response to the larger than life size imposition of this very stable table which can be seen as a contradiction to the semi stable nature of art itself, and in keeping with the intention of the CIA, Public Studio rebels on all fronts by deconstructing the table every Thursday between 12-2pm. Their making and unmaking of the table is a physical manifestation of a thought process that means to symbolically return the power of art to art.

Archiving the Same and the Other (Eshrat Erfanian):

The question of Archives and who has the power over the Archives is what Eshrat Erfanian is interested in. Presenting a collection of images in a pseudo archival format during the course of the deconstruction of the centre table at AGYU, Erfanian challenges notions of the Same and the Other by constructing yet another order. Erfanian will display between 5 to 10 images every Thursday from 12 to 2 pm for the public to view. At 2 PM she will file them in a folder and keep them as archival files in a filing cabinet at the gallery for a future access by public.
Film and video screenings:
Kino Pravda 3G

Art is a lie that tells the truth-Pablo Picasso

Kino Pravda 3G brings to the foreground current images of global discontent: From the most recent G20 protests; the Green movement in Iran; the Red Shirts in Thailand; to student protests in the UK.  We are witnessing not only the large-scale collapse of Capitalism but so too democracy’s inherent failures, as the US government’s elimination of individual freedoms and speech swell, epitomized by its rancorous calls for (Wikileak) Assange’s lynching this month.

While mainstream media’s repetitive slick images of riots create grand narratives, mobile phones in the hands of protestors, allow for the narration of their own stories. Public Studio scours Youtube to retell these stories in a serial format much like Vertov’s original newsreels.

What Isn’t There

What Isn’t There has been an ongoing project documenting Palestinian villages that no longer exist. They have been in a constant state of ‘vanishing’ with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Elle Flanders, who grew up in Israel, has been documenting these villages for almost twenty years. Recently, she teamed up with architect Tamira Sawatzky and together they have escalated their project, rethinking photography’s approach to political landscape.

For the AGYU they will open the archive of hundreds of images of villages that they have photographed over the last 17 years.

Road Movie

Road movies have their roots in spoken and written tales of epic journeys, such as the Odyssey and the Aeneid. And like these journeys, Road Movie leans towards an episodic structure with each work revealing a piece of the plot—the master plan for Palestine—a road system partitioning the West Bank into three distinct enclaves with controlled passage between them.  Road Movie, shown here as short films, is part of a larger project—a twelve-screen installation—that will be completed in September 2011.

Continuing our work on landscape and its relationship to shifting political geographies, each film takes us on a small journey on the segregated roads that have become known as the Apartheid Roads in contemporary Palestine. Shot in stop-motion animation in single takes, Flanders & Sawatzky track the roads like surveyors, marking the land meter by meter in this most contentious world where borders are reinvented daily. The intense methodology mimics the systemic implementation of Occupation grafted onto the landscape and reveals the difficult truths of contemporary Palestine.
Special Events:
CIA Panel Discussion and Video Screening: Jenin Cinema School at the AGYU on Monday, March 7, 2011

Taking you into the heart of Palestine, Jenin Cinema School at the AGYU presents an interactive afternoon with the next generation of young Palestinian filmmakers; Mustafa Staiti, Suzan Wasfi Ibrahem, and Maryam Abu Khalid. Screening some of their latest work, these students of the Jenin Freedom Theatre’s Filmmaking Studio, will join us for a live discussion about politics, culture, and daily life in the Jenin refugee camp.  Rather than imagining Palestine, the filmmakers and their current teacher in residence, acclaimed filmmaker Udi Aloni, will put you in the centre of it. Elle Flanders, Mohammed Mohsen and John Greyson will moderate a conversation with director Udi Aloni and his students via Skype. Audiences are encouraged to participate in the Q&A with the filmmakers after they screen their work.

In partnership with IAW and SAIA.

See also:

CIA #3

CIA #3
on-site exhibition
6 Jan –  6 Mar 2016

Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA) #2

Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA) #2
on-site exhibition
6 Jan – 2 Mar 2014


Lost and Found
1 – 13 Mar 2011

CIA: Lost and Found

CIA: Lost and Found
1 Mar – 13 Mar 2011

Alejandro Campos-Garcia: Contemporary Cuban Artists and the Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Racism

Alejandro Campos-Garcia: Contemporary Cuban Artists and the Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Racism
17 Feb 2011


19 Jan – 13 Mar 2011

Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA)

Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA)
19 Jan – 13 Mar 2011

Anitra Hamilton: The Jeff Koons Performance Bus

Anitra Hamilton: The Jeff Koons Performance Bus
performance bus
19 Jan 2011

allí afuera! Viva la rebelión! Viva la AGYU!: Revolutionary Sundays and the Centre for Incidental Activisms

allí afuera! Viva la rebelión! Viva la AGYU!: Revolutionary Sundays and the Centre for Incidental Activisms
Winter 2011




Art Gallery of York University
Keele Campus, Accolade East Building
Toronto Ontario  M3J 1P3

Staff directory


Monday to Friday: 10 am to 5 pm
please note: the gallery spaces are currently closed for construction of our new building

Always free


Click here for a map

Visual story visitor guide

Nearest TTC Wheel-Trans stop is York University Subway (north entrance)