Spring 2009 Newsletter
Throwin’ It Back Out There!
The Communism of Forms @ AGYU
8 April – 14 June 2009
Curated by: Emelie Chhangur + Earl Miller (Toronto), Fernando Oliva + Marcelo Rezende (São Paulo)
The Communism of Forms @ Red Bull 381 Projects
(381 Queen St West, suite 200)
9 April – 14 May 2009
Curated by: Nicholas Brown + Earl Miller (Toronto), Fernando Oliva + Marcelo Rezende (São Paulo)
Wednesday, 8 April, 6–9 pm (@AGYU)
Thursday, 9 April, 6–9 pm (@Red Bull 381 Projects)
Communism of Forms — an introduction to the mash-up
The Communism of Forms: Sound + Image + Time – The Strategy of Music Videos is a fluid and evolving exhibition whose first presentation (Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo, 2006) has been remixed and restaged to resonate in the Toronto context. The playlist has been edited, with some works dropped out, others added, and new works specifically commissioned for this presentation¬¬. The exhibition itself has been divided between two venues — the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) and Red Bull 381 Projects — and has insinuated itself into this year’s Images Festival. In transposing the exhibition from São Paulo to Toronto, the curatorial team was conscious of evoking the exhibition’s original spirit but also of finding strategies of presentation akin to the strategies of the works themselves — to create another “communism of forms” within the exhibition structure itself. At AGYU, a series of seven programs — Black Album, Flipside, Replay I, Replay II, MyTube, a program of work by the nomadic collective assume vivid astro focus (After Party I), and After Party II — functions as an archive of various themes in the history of artists’ music video while Red Bull 381 Projects features newly commissioned work and installations that diverge from specific reference to the genre to form new iterations of the interplay between sound, image, and time. The mash-up between the venues (i.e., AGYU and Red Bull 381 Projects) is also present inside the exhibition with an intervention programmed by the Images Festival of Ming Wong’s Lerne Deutsch mit Petra Von Kant (Learn German with Petra Von Kant), 2007. Wong’s installation, in the midst of the AGYU’s exhibition, not only provides a filmic counterpoint to the themes taken up by artists working in the music video genre but also provides another dimension to the viewers’ experience of the exhibition itself. Rock on. — Emelie Chhangur
The Communism of Forms celebrates a murder — at least a figurative one. In 1979, New Wave band The Buggles released their “Video Killed the Radio Star,” their one and only hit. Two years later, this song appropriately became the first music video aired on MTV.
Music video soon captured video artists’ interest as a new media that still overlapped video art’s last key one: television. With many art students and artists dabbling or immersed in pop music, music video was a natural choice. Most importantly though, the MTV music video format — its fast edits, disconnected imagery, and slick consumer style — offered the first generation of postmodern artists the perfect vehicle for addressing the Baudrillardian PoMo fragmentation and supersonic speed of hypercapitalism. Music video continues to provide this opportunity.
The Communism of Forms surveys three decades of work by artists who have considered music video’s bricolage of sound, image, and time. The AGYU programs show the possibilities of artists liberating music video of its commercial conventions to critique as well as expand its parameters. Meanwhile at Red Bull 381 Projects installations offer an abstract relationship to the communism of sound, image, and time of music video to illustrate the rhizomatic expansion of music video’s frame of influence.
Works by Pipilotti Rist and David Blandy acknowledge the problems of racism, sexism, homophobia, and materialism in commercial music video. Parodic videos by Andrew J. Paterson, Laibach, and Peaches propose real solutions to these problems through their send-ups of the mediums’ clichés: scantily-clad women and stiffly amateurish choreography to name two. Unlike artists/musicians such as Rist and Laibach who were responding to a new medium, a generation of artists who grew up with music video accordingly use its familiar sound and imagery as found material. Tasman Richardson, for instance, freely re-mixes material with post-production mash-up strategies recalling those of DJ culture. Indeed, the music video format is culturally entrenched, but it is still undergoing rapid change because of YouTube, whose submitted music videos reflect the current DIY pop culture, an aesthetic that artists in The Communism of Forms, including Giorgio Ronna & Matias Aguayo and Bull.Miletic, utilize to great effect. Their YouTube-comparable approach also recalls the low-tech, low-budget nature of early video art. Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard merge early video art and music video in Walk with Nauman (Re-Performance Corridor),2006, a remake of Nauman’s 1969 Performance Corridor, replacing Nauman with a lithe female dancer in glitzy clothing. Forsyth and Pollard consequently question whether contemporary video art has to be “fun” to have lasting power in this age of hypercapitalism.
The Music Video is dead. Long live the music video. — Earl Miller
The Communism of Forms List of Artists
@AGYU: assume vivid astro focus, Bani Abidi, Bad Beuys Entertainment, Márcio Banfi, Laura Belém, David Blandy, Daniel Borins, Bull.Miletic, Miguel Calderón (Los Super Elegantes), Cocoon, Marilá Dardot + Cinthia Marcelle, Dennis Day, Fabio Faria, Chelpa Ferro, Iain Forsyth + Jane Pollard, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Rodney Graham, Maki Guerzi, Mike Hansen, The Histrionics, Kaoru Katayama, Yuki Kawamura, Laibach, Rodrigo Matheus, Peaches, Elodie Pong, Stuart Pound, Sara Ramo, Tasman Richardson, Pipilotti Rist, Giorgio Ronna + Matias Aguayo, Corine Stübi, Tetine, Guido van der Werve.
@Red Bull 381 Projects: Daniel Borins + Jennifer Marman, Brady Cranfield, Anitra Hamilton, Mike Hansen, Rodrigo Matheus, Wagner Morales, Andrew J. Paterson, Valeska Soares, Weekend Leisure.
Lerne Deutsch mit Petra Von Kant (Learn German with Petra Von Kant)
Ming Wong (Singapore) created this work as a sort of cultural immersion exercise in preparation for his move to Berlin in the summer of 2007. Casting himself in the title role of his favourite German film, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1972), Wong carefully re-enacts the climactic scene in which German actress Margit Carstensen goes through a hysterical desperate emotional disintegration. In learning and acting the German dialogue, Wong is not only educating himself with a cornerstone of German culture, but potentially preparing himself for the words he may need to articulate his own emotions moving to Berlin as an aging, single, gay ethnic minority. Ming Wong lives and works in Berlin and Singapore. His practice explores the performative veneers of language and identity through the moving image. He has exhibited his work at MKgalerie and Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, The British Library in London, the Jakarta Biennale and ZKM Center for Art & Media, and many other venues. Wong will be representing Singapore at the 2009 Venice Biennale. — Jacob Korczynski and Pablo de Ocampo
The Performance Bus — It’s a throwback remix
Get on the AGYU Performance Bus to the opening reception of The Communism of Forms on Wednesday, April 8, and listen to an audio-interpretation of Mike Hoolboom’s early filmwork by acclaimed video artist and writer Steve Reinke. It’s a throwback to Reinke’s HOOLBUS from 2004 that brought visitors to the opening reception of The Invisible Man. Steve brings it all back, this time in celebration of the launch of Projecting Questions? Mike Hoolboom’s Invisible Man: between the art gallery and the movie theatre, the publication for Mike’s 2004 AGYU installation that put the black box into the white cube. The free Performance Bus departs OCAD (100 McCaul St.) at 6 pm sharp and returns downtown at 9 pm. Play it again, Steve-Machine!
In the AGYU Vitrines
Check out the vitrines along the north side of the Accolade East for a preview of the highly anticipated Final Fantasy album, Heartland. This exclusive sneak peek of Owen Pallett’s upcoming full-length release is courtesy of Boyfriend Management and For Great Justice and features a web-based music video produced by Patrick Borjal, accompanied by a poster campaign from designer Colin Bergh.
Patrick Borjal is an artist and band manager for Final Fantasy. Borjal is the founder of talent agency Boyfriend Management, designer for the company Ready Set Gentlemen, and is one half of Paris-based duo HHHUGE. As a collaborator with video collective 640 480, he worked on numerous projects and web-based works.
Owen Pallett is the principal member of the band Final Fantasy, a live violin-looping project named in tribute to the melodramatic videogame series. Final Fantasy’s sophomore album, He Poos Clouds, was awarded the inaugural Polaris Prize for best Canadian full-length album in 2006. Pallett has worked on arrangements for many bands including Arcade Fire, and has recently completed a film score for Richard Kelly’s The Box with Win Butler and Regine Chassagne.
In the AGYU Lobby
Audio Out: Sounding Out the Neighbourhood, part 2
Located just outside the gallery is our hallway listening station, the recently-named Audio Out. From 8 April to 14 June, students from Parkdale Collegiate Institute will provide the soundtrack, bringing bits of Parkdale and the Toronto International Art Fair in original sound compositions produced with the assistance of Jessica Thompson and Pamila Matharu.
Programming — Out There
Studio Blog — the artist/curator in a two-tone fusion.
Studio Blog is the AGYU’s rad forum for alternative conversations and collaborations between artists and curators. In the spring 2009 edition, swingin’ Toronto writer and curator Earl Millerdiscusses Music Video (Meditation I), a newly commissioned work featured in The Communism of Forms exhibition at AGYU, by Brazilian artist Laura Belém, before and after viewing the work as well as before and after she visits Toronto! Downtown Nicholas Brown, a Toronto hipster and Curator of Red Bull 381 Projects, interviews over twenty of Toronto artist Sandy Plotnikoff’scollaborators, revealing the relationships forged through the working methods of this hardcoreparticipatory art practitioner from the perspective of those who collaborate with him.
Contemporary Art Gallery Bus Tour — The Communism of Forms
On Sunday, 26 April, join us at the Art Gallery of York University for a free guided tour of The Communism of Forms. Bus departs from the main entrance of the Beaver Hall Gallery (29 McCaul Street, Toronto) at noon and returns around 5:00 pm. The bus tour begins with Koffler’s off-site project at the Beaver Hall Gallery and continues to the AGYU, Blackwood Gallery and Doris McCarthy Gallery. Seating is limited. To reserve please call Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot at 416-736-2100 ext 44021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrate International Poetry Month at the AGYU: T.A.P. FUNDRAISER
On Thursday, April 30 at 7 pm the AGYU is hosting an evening of spoken word and musical performances to raise funds for the Turn Around Project (T.A.P.). DONATE $ and SUPPORT T.A.P. in its effort to send two graduates of Port Antonio’s Titchfield High School to The Edna Manley School for the Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.
T.A.P.’s mission is to ensure that children all over the world experience the transformative power of the arts, while simultaneously learning alternative solutions to help them triumph over challenging circumstances and flourish within their communities.
For more information about T.A.P., please visit http://www.turnaroundproject.ca/
Student Video Screening
HOT NEW VIDEO ART 2009 Dissecting the Narrative
Reception and screening: Thursday, 7 May, 6:30 – 8:30pm @ AGYU
Screening and after party: Tuesday, 12 May, 6:30 – 8:30pm @ AGYU
Come out this May for our annual video screening. This year’s screening brings together students and emerging artists from across Canada in a program that explores different aspects of narrative expressed through conversation, appropriation, and self-reflection. Curated by AGYU’s 2008 curatorial assistant, Heather Phillips, as part of her internship at the gallery.
Liya Hyunjoo Choi (Toronto); Benoit Dhennin (Montreal); Troy Gronsdahl (Saskatoon); Maggie Groat (Toronto); Claire Hodge (Halifax); Serena Lee (Toronto); Kaitlin Till-Landry (Toronto); Alexandra Majerus (Toronto); Mani Mazinani (Toronto); Scott Saunders (Halifax)
AGYU’s Old School vs. New School
This is a throw-down, a showdown, Hell no, we can’t slow down. It’s gonna go on at The Beaver and The Ossington on Thursday, 21 May, starting at 10:00 pm – 12:00 am. Simultaneously at both locations, DJs will be squaring off through live video-feed projection. Old School will throw it out spinning and scratching and then New School, equipped with a laptop, will respond. This jam will be amplified, so just glide and let your backbone slide.
The Beaver — 1192 Queen St W and The Ossington — 61 Ossington Avenue
Waging Culture — a survey on the socio-economic status of Canadian visual artists
After a year and a half of survey design, data collection, and analysis, our survey of professional Canadian visual artists is done. In 2007, the typical artist made $20,000 from all sources combined … but this isn’t the whole story. Only 43% made any money from their studio practice. In fact, the typical artist lost $550 from their studio practice. Who made what, and where, is broken down in our extensive report which will be made available on our website on March 31st. The report will also be printed and distributed widely to policy makers near you.
Report on Curatorial Residency
What if we had an expanded notion of what constitutes the activities of a public contemporary art gallery?
Though traumatized by the cold Canadian weather, confused by the protean word “multiculturalism,” and, in general, freaked out by the pandemonium of Super Bowl Sunday, the two visiting curators, Eugenio Valdés Figueroa and Marcio Botner, nonetheless had an amazing and productive experience while in residence at AGYU. And why wouldn’t they? — we’re great hosts and Toronto’s a great city! Part of our expanded notion of how a contemporary public gallery can operate, the purpose of their trip was two-fold. On the one hand, it was an opportunity to conduct studio visits with Toronto artists, get acquainted with the local arts scene, and create new links between Toronto and Rio de Janeiro, and, on the other, it was to further develop the collaborative working relationship between Casa Daros and AGYU (on-going since 2006), probe the possibilities of an international residency exchange program, and explore the relationship of contemporary art and education. We accomplished it all and then some! Highlights of their residency included: a dinner in Hamilton at Henry Giroux’s; a packed public talk at Mercer Union; a symposium on the Pedagogical Intersection of Contemporary Art and Education Outreach with other visiting curators, artist-practitioners, and academics from York University and abroad; gettin’ down at the Samba Squad’s studio; celebrating Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman’s exhibition opening at AGYU; a tour of the new AGO; visits to artist run centres, such as an evening at Vtape’s Curatorial Incubator and an afternoon dig through the archives at Art Metropole; as well as meetings with a selection of Toronto’s commercial gallerists. A report on Eugenio and Marcio’s experiences in Toronto will appear in the inaugural issue of A Gentil Carioca’s new art magazine Bola. Stay tuned for more curatorial residency action at AGYU!
AGYU would like to thank the Prince Claus Fund for donating the airfare for both curators. Thank you to all the artists, audiences, and engaged members of the Toronto arts community for helping us make Toronto a little warmer for Marcio and Eugenio. Thank you as well to Warren Crichlow, member of AGYU advisory committee and key figure in the Faculty of Education at York University, for the Cachaça. Yum.
Pedagogical Intersection of Contemporary Art and Education Outreach
AGYU Invitational Symposium, February 2 – 4
In conjunction with the curatorial residency of Eugenio Valdés Figueroa and Marcio Botner, the AGYU organized an invitational symposium framed around the intersection of pedagogy and contemporary art education outreach. The symposium explored the new experimental education direction charted by the AGYU as it transforms itself into a new type of university art gallery. Audio files of the presentations are available on our website.
Marcio Botner (A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro); Rodrigo Barreda (Salvador Allende Arts Festival for Peace, Toronto); Kathleen Gould Lundy (York University); Natalie De Vito (Mammalian Diving Reflex, Toronto); Michael St. George (Turn around Project, Ontario and Jamaica); Sheliza Ibrahim (York University); Liz Forsberg and Laura Reinsborough (York University); Allyson Adley (AGYU); Eugenio Valdés Figueroa (Casa Daros, Rio de Janeiro); Janna Graham (Serpentine Gallery, UK); Roger Simon (OISE, Toronto); Carmen Mörsch (Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland); Felicity Allen (Tate Britain, UK); Karen Sandlos (School of the Art Institute, Chicago); Kathleen Vaughan (Concordia University, Montreal); Ruben Gaztambide-Fernandez (OISE, Toronto)
AGYU would like to thank the Faculty of Education, York University, York International, and Alumni Affairs for their financial contribution to the symposium.
Summer Artist Residency
Panamanian-born, UK-based artist Humberto Vélez will be in residency this summer to begin research on his large-scale, three-year project with the AGYU, collaborating with AGYU Assistant Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur and Regina-based independent curator Elizabeth Matheson.
Humberto Vélez creates performances in collaboration with groups, communities and artists, often turning areas of cities into artistic territories. For his Toronto project, Vélez will continue to demonstrate that conversations can be elicited between national and international visual culture; probe the ways in which local communities define themselves and their boundaries; the ways in which we relate to the particular places in which we live and work; and the ways in which people move in and out, cross borders, are welcomed or rejected. Very important things to consider in Canada, especially in a city like Toronto!
Velez’s projects have been shown at the 2003 Havana Biennale, 2004 Shanghai Biennale, 2005 Lima Biennial, and the 2006 Liverpool Biennial. In 2007, Vélez was commissioned by the TATE Modern to create The Fight, a performance in the Turbine Hall in collaboration with boxing clubs located near the museum. The AGYU project is the first time the artist has worked in Canada.
Upcoming Exhibition — Fall 2009
The construction and destruction of The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion will be documented by the recreation of two key exhibitions by Canada’s legendary artistic trio, General Idea. Going Thru the Notions and Reconstructing Futures were first exhibited at the Carmen Lamanna Gallery in 1975 and 1977 respectively.
Extension to the AGYU writing awards.
Due to disruption to the academic school year, the deadline for our annual student writing awards has been extended to June 12th. Open to all York University students who base a review or essay on AGYU 08/09 exhibitions. Winners receive a cash award of $100 for reviews and $150 for essays.
Current Education Program: AGYU-Medina Urban Arts Mentorship Program
The Art Gallery of York University, the Medina Collective (Tonika Morgan and Kemba Byam), and Sandra Brewster have joined forces to offer an urban arts mentorship program to 12–14 year old young women at Brookview Middle School. With the support of Tonika Morgan, Kemba Byam, and Sandra Brewster, these young women have been developing their storytelling skills through visual art, photography, as well as written and spoken word. As young women of colour, these griot girls are gearing up to produce their very own urban arts magazine that will provide readers with greater insight into their lives and the community around them. Stay tuned for our magazine launch in June 2009!
Tonika Morgan’s desire to empower women led her to establish and serve as the Co-Director of the Medina Collective, a hip hop feminism literary arts program for young women which fuses contemporary culture, social justice, and storytelling to help women identify and establish their politicized identities. As a result of her varied personal and professional pursuits, Tonika has been invited to speak and facilitate various workshops across the country on subjects such as homelessness, civic engagement, safety, anti-racism, feminism, Caribbean diasporic artforms, and violence against women.
As Co-Director of the Medina Collective Kemba Byam facilitates workshops around issues of empowerment, gender analysis, self-esteem, cultural navigation, and feminism. A spoken word artist, Kemba’s work deals with such themes as gender violence, the celebration of diverse body types, self-esteem, love, and pigmentocracy. Kemba also programs and hosts Womyn’s Word, a weekly feminist talk-radio show on CHRY radio.
Sandra Brewster is a multi-media artist creating work that explores issues concerning identity and representation. Referencing old photographs and using storytelling and the portrait as sources of inspiration, she draws, paints and pieces together her visual narratives. Sandra holds a BFA from York University and is a recipient of numerous grants and awards. She has exhibited in a number of venues in Toronto, Winnipeg, and South Africa.
The Art Gallery of York University and the Medina Collective would like to thank The Canada Council for the Arts – Artists and Community Collaboration program; The Ontario Arts Council – Artists in the Community/Workplace program; and Live With Culture TO for supporting this arts education program.
Sounding Out the Neighbourhood 2008: AGYU @ Parkdale Collegiate Institute
Sounding Out the Neighbourhood was developed as a way for students at Parkdale Collegiate Institute to use sound to explore and understand public space within their neighbourhood.
Starting with an examination of the work done by the Situationist International, the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, and contemporary sound artists, the students completed sound journals in Parkdale in sites of their choosing. The students then selected a second public space within Parkdale and created inventories of short original field recordings within those spaces. Using their field recordings, students created short sound compositions to reinterpret their spaces, which were then presented, along with a map of their routes in the AGYU booth at the Toronto International Art Fair.
During TIAF, the students created additional field recordings, capturing both ambient sounds (air conditioners, ad-hoc cafeterias, hammers and drills, elevators etc) and also the comments, conversations, and commentary surrounding the work itself. With these new recordings, the students created a final, site-specific sound piece to be experienced in various public spaces in Parkdale and the surrounding areas. — Jessica Thompson
The first set of sound pieces were presented over the course of the winter exhibition at the AGYU on our hallway listening station, and the second set will be presented over the course of The Communism of Forms exhibition at the AGYU site. This artist-led education project was led by Jessica Thompson (Buffalo/Toronto) and Pamila Matharu (Toronto). Sounding Out the Neighbourhood was made possible by the generous funding of the Hal Jackman Foundation.
Black Creek Storytelling Parade Celebrates its Second Year
The AGYU continues its commitment to deliver high-caliber educational programming in community satellite spaces in the Jane and Finch Community. Our latest endeavour, The Black Creek Storytelling Parade Exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University, featured photographs, video, and lanterns produced by youth artists during a six-week fall program at the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club. Drawing an impressive crowd to our opening reception on February 12, BCSP artists were thrilled to see and share their artworks with an engaged audience of staff from the Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club, York University faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students. The reception also provided an opportunity for our group to reflect upon the highlights of the program and to reunite with community artists Liz Forsberg and Laura Reinsborough.
The AGYU would like to thank Northern Artists for supporting this youth arts program.
Two new books from the AGYU.
Projecting Questions? Mike Hoolboom’s Invisible Man: between the art gallery and the movie theatre
Fringe film: old school, no doubt. Video projection: New school. Def new school. So, bring them together and one gets: Projecting Questions?, a series of essays and conversations on the relationship between experimental filmmaking and gallery presentation. Includes contributions from Mike Hoolboom, Philip Monk, Chris Kennedy, Yann Beavais, and an online component from Steve Reinke. Designed by Lisa Kiss Design.
And while I have been lying here perfectly still: The Saskia Olde Wolbers Files.
Mixing it up, but who’s mixing whom? Taking the narratives of Saskia Olde Wolber’s videos at face value, Philip Monk weaves a story of pathological subterfuge cast as misleading case-studies. Olde Wolber’s 2008 exhibition was our contribution to the 2008 Images Festival. Designed by Bryan Gee.
Carla Zaccagnini, Catalogue Traduit
Art Gallery of York University, 2008
$25.00/$21.00 with AGYU Membership
Not stopping for anything, new titles are on their way. Keep your eyes open for the doubling effects of Carla Zaccagnini with an exhibition catalogue by Emelie Chhangur. And, not to let the concrete set too hard, Philip Monk will be working towards Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman’s exhibition catalogue from their Winter 2009 exhibition, Project for a New American Century.