We regretfully share that the City of Markham has announced it will not be proceeding with the Markham Pan Am Centre installation of the first edition of the Façade Public Art program at this time and has cancelled the September 10 launch event.

We support this artwork and the ideas and dedication behind Julian Yi-Zhong Hou’s Bicycle and will continue to work with the City of Markham’s Public Art Program and the artist to identify an opportunity to showcase this important artwork.

We want to acknowledge the support of artists James Albers, Haus of Devereaux, FASTWURMS, and Yam Lau. 


Façade: a series of public art commissions

Launch Event: September 10, 2023, 1–4pm
Location: Markham Pan Am Centre, 16 Main Street Unionville, Markham Ontario

Drag performances by Haus of Devereaux with special guest appearance by Lady Boi Bangkok
Tarot Card readings by FASTWÜRMS and I-Ching readings by Yam Lau
Food Trucks on site

Event Free, All welcome!


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.

Please join the City of Markham’s Public Art Program and the Art Gallery of York University for the launch of the inaugural public art commission Bicycle by artist Julian Yi-Zhong Hou curated by Yan Wu, Public Art Curator, City of Markham to be presented on the west façade of the Markham Pan Am Centre. Under the title and theme of Façade, four curators over 2 years will each invite an artist to develop a massive 127 x 32 foot photomural conceived and designed specifically for the site. Each project will be unveiled consecutively, beginning with work by Yi-Zhong Hou. New commissions by Andrea Carlson curated by AGYU Assistant Curator, Exhibitions, Clara Halpern and Aleksandra Domanović curated by AGYU Director/Curator Jenifer Papararo will follow, with a final project curated by Artangel’s Director Mariam Zulfiqar.

Staged as a floating signifier, literally and semiotically, Façade invites four artists to explore the performative potential of an architectural element as public space and to contemplate the layered identity of a place through the lens of their artistic and theoretical concerns. We use the theme Façade to articulate a possibility of encounters. Technically, the façade is a building’s outer shell and can refer to all of its external surfaces, but most typical to its front and public face which is commonly accentuated with material flourishes. The façade of a building houses its main entry point, and as such is usually dressed up, stylized, and adorned. It’s embellishment acts as a means of way finding, designed to draw a person’s attention, and, as a first encounter, establishing an impression of what lay beyond it. The façade can set a mood, create an experience, and indicate what’s to come. It can also mislead, be a mask covering something more perfunctory, plain, or even ugly. A façade in general can be used as a distraction and as a means of redirection, shifting one’s focus away from the lesser materials used internally or the mundaneness of everyday operations. It can be used to create an illusion of grandeur, signifying status and thus directing behaviour. But ultimately, it is a threshold and point of entry to what’s beyond its surface. For this public art series, we invoke this liminal space between exterior and interior, applying another surface to a surface, to metaphorically create an opening for the public to engage with artwork that esoterically, symbolically, and visually shifts our perceptions and assumptions about who and what gets represented. The artists selected to varying degrees render internal dialogues externally, exposing what lies beneath the surface of how we represent and construct society and community while also questioning who and what is allowed and deemed worthy of taking up space.

Chosen as the architectural host of Façade, the Markham Pan Am Centre is a multi-purpose high performance sport facility designed to serve as one of the venues for the 2015 Pan American Games. Its location is interwoven with the past, present, and future of Markham. Indigenous peoples have lived for over 10,000 years in the Markham area, and the Centre is positioned adjacent to the Rouge River, an important watershed that hosts some of Canada’s oldest known Indigenous sites. The Centre sits on the south end of Main Street Unionville, one of the city’s most celebrated historic neighbourhoods, and at the eastern edge of Markham Centre, a planned development by the city for a vibrant, intensive, mixed-use downtown. Across the street to its north are a secondary school and a retirement home. To the west of the Centre, on the adjacent lot, York University is constructing a new campus, scheduled to open in 2024, which will focus on technology and entrepreneurship, hosting programs from science to engineering as well as the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, among others.

 Each of the artworks presented in Façade will bring a distinct perspective to this series in both artistic approach and content. The first project to be presented is a photo-collage by Julian Yi-Zhong Hou. Curator Yan Wu engaged Hou to create a new artwork that reflects his speculative approach to translating traditional Chinese aesthetics across time and space, and its application in representing contemporary popular culture and lived experiences. Following Hou’s work, Andrea Carlson’s project will launch in spring 2024. Given the potential for Façade as a future-oriented platform, Clara Halpern has invited Carlson for the artist’s visionary practice, which often engages with Indigenous Futurism(s), language, and land. In fall 2024, Aleksandra Domanović’s project, curated by AGYU’s Director/Curator Jenifer Papararo, will launch as York University’s Markham Campus opens. Papararo approached Domanović for the artist’s feminist and perceptual exploration of moments of technological advancement from ultrasound to the internet. Mariam Zuliqar will curate the last iteration of Façade. Zuliqar’s curatorial work focuses on public art, recognising the potential of site-specificity for broadening dialogue and understanding. Her work manifests in unusual places including transport infrastructures such as canal and railway networks, disused and abandoned buildings, and sites of historic significance.

Bus transportation, subject to capacity, available from downtown Toronto (Spadina and Bloor) for the launch. Please contact Maria Won to register: mwon11@yorku.ca

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.

Julian Yi-Zhong Hou, Bicycle, 2023 (detail)

Markham Pan Am Centre (West façade)
16 Main Street Unionville
Markham Ontario, L3R 2E4

Artwork: Bicycle
Artist: Julian Yi-Zhong Hou
Curator: Yan Wu, Public Art Curator, City of Markham
Façade Launch Event: September 10, 2023, 1–4 pm

  • Drag performances featuring Haus of Devereaux with Lady Boi Bangkok
  • Tarot Card readings by FASTWÜRMS and I Ching readings by Yam Lau
  • Food Trucks

Free, All welcome!

On view: September 2023 – March 2024

Upcoming projects

March – September 2024:
Project by Andrea Carlson, Curated by Clara Halpern, Assistant Curator, AGYU
September 2024 – April 2025:
Project by Aleksandra Domanović, Curated by Jenifer Papararo, Director/Curator, AGYU
April – September 2025:
Project curated by Mariam Zulfiqar, Director, Artangel, UK


We acknowledge Façade’s placement on the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples and want to thank the Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Anishnabeg, Seneca, Chippewa, and the Mississaugas of the Credit peoples for being care-takers of this land, now and for thousands of years.




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