Positioning the Present, episode 2 of Uncontainable Collections: Speculative Futures of Objects

This episode of our podcast series, Uncontainable Collections: Speculative Futures of Objects, features a conversation between our guest, curator Crystal Mowry of the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina, and AGYU curators Clara Halpern, assistant curator, exhibitions, and Lillian O’Brien Davis, curator of collections and contemporary art engagement. This conversation centres on what it means to focus on “the present” as a stakeholder in public museum collections and how that has the potential to shape the futures of artworks and how communities access them. Through this dialogue, we discuss care and the role of contemporary artists and non-human intelligences in museums. Mowry gives insight into creating space for untold stories and change, touching on transitions, especially those instigated through acquisition, repatriation, and the recontextualization of objects through new research.

This podcast is also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.

Crystal Mowry, guest
Crystal Mowry (she/her) is the Director of Programs at the MacKenzie Art Gallery. A recent arrival in the Prairies, she previously held the position of Senior Curator at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. Her work often explores the tension between perceived authenticity and troubled forms of representation. As a curator operating primarily within the context of a public art museum, she treats her role as equal parts co-conspirator and translator, often seeking ways to support artists in the development of new projects. Her solo projects with artists Deanna Bowen, Maggie Groat, and Ernest Daetwyler have received Exhibition of the Year Awards from Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries and in 2020 she was a recipient of a Waterloo Region Arts Award. She has written texts for various artist-focused books on the work of Brendan Fernandes, August Klintberg, Shary Boyle, and others.

Clara Halpern, co-host
Clara Halpern is Assistant Curator, Exhibitions, at the Art Gallery of York University. In her curatorial work, she is interested in contemporary art, ecologies, and the future. Prior to joining the AGYU, Halpern curated exhibitions for Oakville Galleries, Nuit Blanche Toronto 2017, The Power Plant (Toronto), Pioneer Works (Brooklyn), and Abrons Arts Center (New York). Her work spans writing, researching (The Centre for Possible Studies, Serpentine Gallery, London), producing (US Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2013), and educational programming (Frieze, New York, 2014). She holds an MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Lillian O’Brien Davis, co-host
Lillian O’Brien Davis is Curator of Collections and Contemporary Art Engagement at the Art Gallery of York University. Lillian’s research interests are motivated by a broader social momentum to redress power imbalances and historical erasures within contemporary art. She has curated independent projects at the Art Museum, University of Toronto; Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto; School of Art Gallery at the University of Manitoba; and the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina. Her writing has appeared in BlackFlash Magazine, Canadian Art online, C Magazine, Insight Magazine, and RACAR Art History Journal. She is also currently one of two inaugural visiting curators at the University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery.


Uncontainable Collections: Speculative Futures of Objects is a limited-series podcast featuring three conversations exploring the prospective and yet unknown condition of the might-be through the lens of collections and contemporary art. In this series, scholars, curators, and artists engage with articulations, expressions, and representations of the (im)possible, the (extra)ordinary, and the (un)imaginable—or speculative—futures that diverse individuals, groups, communities, and societies are envisaging, dreaming of, composing, conjuring, striving for, imagining, and bringing into being. This series developed out of conversations between AGYU curators Lillian O’Brien Davis and Clara Halpern and Anthropology Professor Zulfikar Hirji related to the University’s art collection and a course at York University that considers various perspectives: Indigenous Futurisms, African Futurisms, Afro-American Futurisms, Arab/Gulf/Muslim Futurisms, Asian/Sino/Indo/South-Asian/Adivasi Futurisms, MesoAmerican/LatinX Futurisms.


***NOTE: Email AGYU@yorku.ca to be notified when episode transcript is available.

See also

Episode 2: Positioning the Present podcast

Episode 2: Positioning the Present podcast
Uncontainable ...
24 May 2024

Episode 1: Vessels & Voyages podcast

Episode 1: Vessels & Voyages podcast
Uncontainable ...
4 May 2024

Uncontainable Collections 2024

Uncontainable Collections 2024
podcast series
Summer 2024

Uncontainable Collections 2023

Uncontainable Collections 2023
research project
4 May 2023

Uncontainable Collections 2022

Uncontainable Collections 2022
research project
20 Apr 2022




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