Fall 2016 Newsletter
Out There, Secreted Away

Iris Häussler: The Sophie La Rosière Project

14 September – 11 December 2016
Opening Reception: Wednesday, 14 September 2016, 6 – 9 pm

Trained as a sculptor, since 2009 the German-born, Toronto-resident artist Iris Häussler has been painting. But not just any painting. It’s been out of date for a hundred years! In fact (or is it fiction?), after teaching herself how to paint, Häussler has produced the complete oeuvre of unknown French artist Sophie La Rosière who died in 1948. In fact, Häussler has created an artistic persona (a heteronym) through which to channel this fictitious artist’s secrets while, at the same time, fabricating a biography for her and an elaborate back story of a hidden erotic liaison that intersects, nonetheless, with real people, historical events, and actual artistic movements.

Häussler calls her project a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art—and it is more than all-consuming of the artist Iris Häussler herself, but a life work of Sophie La Rosière, too. The painting, though, is merely a kernel within the larger shell of La Rosière’s life circumstances, which includes the recreation of her studio, its products and detritus, and also the elements of a forensic investigation that tries to answer the questions, after the paintings’ discovery, of why these paintings were abandoned, why they were concealed by a layer of black encaustic, and, ultimately, what secrets do they conceal?

Häussler also calls her project a novel in three dimensions because the story unfolds over time and through its various material means—with surprising plot twists! Coincidentally, the story reveals itself tentatively over three different sites in Toronto. At the AGYU, La Rosière’s mystery is encased in her abandoned studio with its encaustic-obscured paintings. At Scrap Metal (21 September – 17 December), the forensic investigation continues. The display there includes x-rays of paintings undertaken by the C2RMF laboratory (Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France), the official investigator in the project, as well as testimonies by and interviews with various French officials on the historical, artistic, and psychological circumstances of La Rosière’s life. Finally, La Rosière’s paintings are unveiled and their hidden subjects revealed in the restoration of the works exhibited at Daniel Faria Gallery, spring 2017.

The Sophie La Rosière Project was undertaken by Iris Häussler in collaboration with Catherine Sicot, Director/Curator of Elegoa Cultural Productions. The AGYU exhibition is curated by Philip Monk. The Scrap Metal exhibition is curated by Rui Mateus Amaral. A book on the project will be co-published by the AGYU and Black Dog Publishing, London.

Sophie La Rosière goes to Art Toronto

The AGYU is pleased once again to participate as a Cultural Partner in the 2016 Art Toronto art fair, 28 – 31 October, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Aspects of Iris Häussler’s Sophie La Rosière Project will be on view through the Daniel Faria Gallery.


R.I.P. H.A.M.S.

After a decade of haunting the AGYU, the Peterborough-based Holiday Arts Mail-Order School (H.A.M.S.), a collaboration of Toronto novelist Derek McCormack and Toronto artist Ian Phillips, comes to an end. [Insert boo here.] Visit us at Edition—Toronto’s Art Book Fair (28–31 October) for the launch of the 1937 Yearbook, which features all five lesson plans, photos of the senior gradating class (including the Honour Roll) and faculty, a campus scrapbook (which charts the many manifestations of this project, including a large-scale installation of the “Haunted School House” presented at the 2011 edition of Art Toronto), and a student gallery featuring the work completed through this AGYU commissioned mail art project. H.A.M.S! H.A.M.S. forever!

And Die! Die! Die!

Get On The Performance Bus!

A mold of a dying man’s hand … a morphine dream … a woman in a hospital room overhearing the many conversations taking place in the curtained cells surrounding her own … nurses named after famous writers … and so many other tiny topographies. Enter the world of Giller-nominated writer and multidexterous artist Martha Baillie as she secrets you away on this iteration of The Performance Bus. The free Performance Bus departs OCADU (100 McCaul St.) at 6 pm sharp en route to the opening reception of Iris Häussler’s The Sophie La Rosiére Project at AGYU and returns downtown at 9 pm.

Toronto-based writer Martha Baillie studied history and modern languages at the University of Edinburgh, the Sorbonne in Paris, and the University of Toronto, where she also became involved in theatre. Baillie’s first novel, My Sister Esther, was published in 1995, followed by Madame Balashovskaya’s Apartment in 1999. The latter was translated into Hungarian and German. In 2006, her third novel, The Shape I Gave You, received excellent reviews nationwide. Revealing both the impossibility of fully knowing the past and the effectiveness of literary imagination in grappling with history, in 2015, Baillie brought to life her most recent book, The Search for Heinrich Schlögel (2014), into a multi-media installation at the Koffler Gallery.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Winter 2017: Illusion of Process: Marvin Luvualu Antonio, Miles Collyer, Maggie Groat

Spring 2017: Derek Liddington

Contemporary Art Bus

Sunday, 16 October 2016, 12 – 5 pm | FREE

Tour starts at the Koffler Centre of the Arts, Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street) and then departs for Blackwood Gallery, AGYU, and Doris McCarthy Gallery, returning to Shaw Street at 5 pm. Seating is limited. Please RSVP by Friday, October 14, to Sarah Munro at 647.925.0643 x221 or smunro@kofflerarts.org.

A Political Documentary Film Festival

AGYU is collaborating with the York Federation of Students for their first Political Documentary Film Festival. Taking place 10–14 October, the festival highlights marginalized voices, places value on the labour of activists, and integrates film and video from students in the York Cinema and Media Studies and the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD). The campus will be activated with moving-image installations, shorts programs, as well as a full-day of feature-length screenings in the Nat Taylor Cinema in the Ross Building on Thursday, October 13, all focused on the art of real-life stories. The festival is a precursor to the Xpressions Against Oppression (XAO) at York University, an annual week of events filled with workshops, discussions, and performances of various topics related to social justice and equity issues such as Islamophobia, anti-black racism, consent, queerness, and disability.


Creative Campaigning

What do you see when you close your eyes? What images flicker behind your eyelids?

Sameer Farooq’s experimental research-as-performance, Behind The Eyes, examined the individual as a moving archive. Through a series of live Vision & Image Streaming exercises, Sameer literally peered into the brains of eight student leaders from the York Federation of Students (YFS), York United Black Students’ Alliance (YUBSA), Active Minds, Visual Art Student Association, and Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) at York to retrieve images from the depths of the brain.

For stage one Sameer unlocked the images “stuck” in the students’ brains via a private one-on-one meditation session in the dark cozy studios of the Department Of Cinema & Media Arts and the Department of Theatre in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD). Stage two took place in the fMRI machine at YorkU’s Sherman Health Research Centre. The neuroimaging procedure uses magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed scans of the organs and tissues within the body. The technology measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. Students allowed Dr. Diana Gorbet and MRI Technologist Joy Williams to examine their brains while following a similar visualization path from a pre-recorded audio guide. Using an analysis technique that looks for functional networks within the brain—regions that are “talking” to each other—Dr. Gorbet has already identified some very interesting results. Documentary filmmaker Jordan Kawai was on-hand to capture both stages of the process and interview participants, doctors, and neuroscientists on campus.

Stay tuned this October as we gather at Workman Arts to discuss the results, including the final report from Dr. Gorbet on how the brain networks evolved over the course of the guided visualization process, a panel discussion on image production, and screening of Jordan Kawai’s documentary.

Chronicles 2017: Art and Activism

How are youth art activist leaders and organizations mobilizing youth in creative pursuits to bring their stories, histories and experiences out of the margins and into public consciousness?

Engaging youth from the Jane-Finch community in art making through an activist lens, Chronicles 2017 unfolds over a school year as a series of photography and spoken word poetry workshops led by photographer Anthony Gebrehiwot and spoken word poet Paul Ohonsi, with the support of youth artists Nathan Baya and Thunderclaw Robinson. Exploring youth-driven arts and social justice organizations, participants meet with and interview a number of the city’s youth art activist-leaders such as Joel Zola, founder of Street Voices; Jega Delisca, Founder of the Carefree Black Boy Project; Randell Adjei, founder of RISE; and Whitney French the Coordinator of Writing While Black.  Using photography and spoken word poetry as expressive platforms, participants examine the motivations and driving forces that propel these grassroots organizations. Looking at their respective activist missions and mandates as well as their programming, participants consider the transformative potential and impact of these cultural initiatives and find ways to reflect these transformations in photographic and poetic form.

Unaligned Seminar: Subjects as Objects

We’re always looking for ways to enrich the cultural life of Toronto, and the cultural life of artists is no exception. So, as an experiment, we decided to offer some intellectual stimulation to the artists of Toronto through our newly instituted Unaligned Seminars. Consisting of what we imagine to be a series of serial seminars, we’re only now figuring it out as we advance.

To be honest, we weren’t sure how popular this would be, so we were thrilled at the overwhelming response to our first seminar. Instead of worrying about getting enough people to participate, we’re oversubscribed. Even with turning away multitudes, we’ve got a double cohort!

The—ahem—subject of this first seminar is an intensive look at Object Oriented Ontology, a subfield of Speculative Realism. Entitled Subjects as Objects, this seminar is currently underway, having started in June at the Drake Hotel (thanks, Mia!). Each iteration is in a new space, and the conversation is far reaching and stimulating. Of course, one of the main reasons for the continuing success is the brilliant moderating of the conversations by local philosopher, Kevin Temple.

Stay tuned for future seminars. If you’d like to get notice of when the next one is open, please sign up for our email press releases on our website.

AGYU@Pride 2016 – A Report

Working alongside the Trans Bi Lesbian Gay Asexual at York (TBLGAY), York Federation of Students (YFS), Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Glendon Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (GLgbt*), The York United Black Students’ Alliance (YUBSA) and the SexGen York Committee, AGYU proudly walked in the Trans March, Dyke March, and Pride Parade on Yonge Street this summer. York@Pride’s week-long events, This Is Us Now, united people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions and featured a newly commissioned art work by Joshua Vettivelu made in collaboration with student leaders from across YorkU’s campus.

Vettivelu built a 20-foot banner, How Foolish, boldly naming the unease of encroaching assimilation, while providing shade and shelter—not to mention a “safe space”—during the Pride parade for those “on the ground.”  As we yelled upwards: “How foolish it feels, to take these steps, thinking you’d protect us” to those at the tops of tower, we also brought a message to those lining the streets of our truths: “When we are welcomed into the fold, where do we keep what is left behind?” and “The farther you are from the ground, the harder it is to feel a heart stop beating.”

BIG THANKS to DJ Craig Dominic, who took time out from Blockorama to keep us moving on the Pride Parade route all the way down Yonge Street to Dundas Square.

Artist, writer, and activist Farrah-Marie Miranda held two workshops on the fundamentals needed to understand What Ally-ship Looks Like. Participants engaged in exercises and discussions about issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community and how they can be a part of social change and take a stand against oppression.

Spotlight: Youth Artists Take Centre Stage – A Report

Over this past year the AGYU conceived and produced Spotlight: Youth Artists Take Centre Stage,a groundbreaking dance and spoken word poetry program. Working in partnership with Success Beyond Limits, Words by the Water, BAM Youth Slam, Urban Arts, C.W. Jeffreys Collegiate Institute, and Emery Collegiate Institute we showcased emerging artists in cultural events that took place in Jane-Finch, Weston-Mt. Dennis, and the Annex, and offered weekly spoken word and bi-weekly dance workshops. In addition to facilitating workshops and gaining hands-on experience as arts educators, dancers Destiny Henry and Nathaniel Mitchell and emerging poets Kareem Bennett, Thunderclaw Robinson, and Isiah Lea benefitted from paid employment as well as thirty hours of paid professional development sessions led by poet Britta Badour and dancer Shawn De Ocampo.

The AGYU would like to thank the Toronto Foundation’s Vital Toronto Fund and the Anonymous Fund for generously supporting this program.

AGYU Awards

On March 9, Emelie Chhangur and Philip Monk juried the annual AMPD Open House in order to select winners for the AGYU’s two awards. Rena Silver won the Best in Show Award and Nedda Baba won the AGYU Award. Congratulations!


Did we tell you?

Sara Angelucci: Provenance Unknown, designed by Zab Design and Typography, won an Alcuin Society Award for Excellence in Book Design in Canada! We’re absolutely thrilled about the news, and thought you would be too. If you see Zab today, make sure to congratulate her.

Book Launch!

Were you there? Ms Susan of The Cabana Room was, and she welcomed all and sundry (even Robin!) to the launch of Is Toronto Burning?: Three Years in the Making (and Unmaking) of the Toronto Art Scene, our latest title to come back from the printer. The launch was held on June 15 in the storied Spadina Hotel, location of The Cabana Room and mise en scène for Colin Campbell’s Bad Girls, his serialised take on the same period as Philip Monk’s book. Of course, in the background, Campbell’s opus was on loop throughout the glamorous evening. To welcome this addition to our list of titles, a panel was convened, and Adam Lauder, Sky Gooden, and Luis Jacob all presented to the generationally-diverse audience their takes on Philip’s take on the titular scene of the book. Of the many in attendance, one would be remiss to miss mentioning Bruce Eves, Ian Carr-Harris, Vera Frenkel, Carole Condé, Judith Doyle, and Diane Boadway … a veritable who’s who, and that was only the first row! Also in attendance was Duncan McCorquodale, CEO of Black Dog Publishing, our co-publisher on this venture. We’d like to acknowledge and thank BrainStation, the current landlords of the Spadina Hotel, for their generosity in letting us use their space.

Also: In stock is the co-published Imaginary Homelands, the bilingual English/Spanish book on the residency and exhibition project with young Colombian artists of the same name curated by Emelie Chhangur.  Details on this title, and all our others, are on our website. You can also see them in the flesh in our bookstore, so next time you’re in for a visit, please do browse the shelves.

Are you ready?

We continue working away in the salt mines, getting ready to publish the first monograph on Trinidadian, Japan-based artist Marlon Griffith. This is going to be a big one, with commissioned texts by Gabriel Levine, Claire Tancons, Chistopher Cozier, Chanzo Grenidge, and Emelie Chhangur, so make sure you clear some space on your bookshelf. We’re also publishing an artist book by Alejandro Tamayo based on his vitrine project of last fall. Fun.


Elizabeth Nam: 1 June 1978 – 1 June 2016

A year ago we happily announced a new member to our team, Elizabeth Nam, as Administrative Assistant. It is with regret that we now announce that Elizabeth passed away in June after battling a serious illness for a year. Elizabeth not only made her contributions to the AGYU, she had a long history with York University, in the School of Nursing, the Department of Sociology, and worked as well for a number of other departments, including ITC, York International, Research Accounting, the Faculty of Graduate Studies, and the Faculty of Science & Engineering. She also completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at York.




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