Spring 2015 Newsletter Out There Conducting The Refrain

Rashaad Newsome
Silence Please, the Show is About to Begin

8 April – June 14, 2015
Opening Reception: Wednesday, April 8, 2015, 6 – 9 pm

Rashaad Newsome’s first Canadian exhibition, Silence Please, the Show is About to Begin, brings together a selection of recent video, performance, and collage works by this New York based artist that explore the constructions of gender, race, and class. Newsome works directly with vogue ball dancers in New York and appropriates the work of hip-hop legends to create new narratives that challenge the narrow view of what it means to be black and queer.

Through his video mash-ups, collages, and concerts, Newsome redefines ideas about masculinity, gender performance, and the communication of status. Like the showmanship on display in bling culture, Newsome doesn’t shy away from spectacle. The compositions are big, bright, and bold. In an explosion of light and colour, images drip with gold chains, diamond rings, and jewel studs. The aim, however, is not to glorify the glamour of luxury goods and status of aristocratic heraldry but to fuse them with positive images of black culture in order to create a new vision of art that links the two.

Through sampling, clashing, and choreographing the iconic works of hip-hop artists and the legendary moves of ballroom superstars with motifs from Baroque architecture, images of European heraldry, and tales from medieval poems, Newsome reveals a rich and complicated new representation of Blackness and queerness. These compositions topple traditional ideas of high culture to reconfigure it in relation to revalorized notions of black popular culture.

Silence Please, the Show is About to Begin is an Images Festival Off Screen exhibition curated by AGYU Assistant Curator Suzanne Carte.

Rashaad Newsome received a BA in Art History at Tulane University before studying Film at Film Video Arts NYC and music production and programming at Harvestworks NYC. His work has been exhibited, screened, and performed internationally, such as in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, MoMA PS1; Performa 2011, and the 2011 Venice Biennale.

Rashaad Newsome site

Public Window

8 – 19 April, 2015

1575 Dundas Street West, Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Public Studio hosts Untitled and Untitled (New Way) (2010) by Rashaad Newsome as part of their Public Window series. Stark and unadorned, the videos catalogue styles, variations, and gestures of dancers in the New York ballroom community, illustrating traditional movements and adding new moves to the repertoire.

3rd Annual Awards Ball

Saturday, 11 April 2015, 7:30 – 11:00 pm

The Underground, Student Centre, York University

The Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance (TKBA), first recipients of the annual Spirit of Will Munro Award, is a youth-led organization that provides youth with the opportunity to gain self-confidence using the ballroom arts. Working with new and experienced dancers, TKBA hosts the 3rd Annual Awards Ball at The Underground (York University Student Centre) with special guests Rashaad Newsome and Philadelphia-based DJ Delish.

Artist Talk

Tuesday, 7 April 2015, 7–8 pm. Free
The Drake Hotel, North Lounge
1150 Queen Street West

Rashaad Newsome discusses his recent work and presents The Conductor, a six-part video installation that focuses on the performative gestural languages associated with hip-hop culture remixed over Carl Orff’s cantata, Carmina Burana.

Get on the Performance Bus!

Speed Dating for (Non)Dancers

What is your relationship with dance? How do you understand and define yourself as a dancer or non-dancer? Led by Toronto-based choreographer Cara Spooner, this iteration of AGYU’s Performance Bus is about exploring your feelings, thoughts, and personal experiences with dance (without having to bust a move) while en route to the exhibition opening of Silence Please…. Speed Dating for (Non)Dancers engages with dance definitions and personal experiences, and where they intersect – simultaneously attempting to articulate embodied experiences on a moving bus.

The free Performance Bus departs OCADU (100 McCaul St.) on Wednesday, 8 April 2015, at 6 pm sharp and returns downtown at 9 pm.

Cara Spooner is a Toronto-based choreographer working in dance, performance art, and theatre. Her interest in movement and urbanism has led her to create performances in non-proscenium contexts as well as develop alternative mapping strategies. Select credits include Body Cartography (2010), 8037 (2011), Invitations/Into/Traces (2012) and Concord Floral (2014). She is a founding member of the Nomadic Curatorial Collective.

Join the Ring of Fire!

In case you haven’t heard – or you’re not already involved! – over the past year, AGYU has been gearing up for another large-scale participatory performance: a commissioned street procession by Japan-based Trinidadian artist Marlon Griffith for the City of Toronto.

Griffith’s work is based upon a reciprocal dialogue between “Mas” (the artistic component of the Trinidad Carnival) and contemporary art as a means of investigating the phenomenological aspect of the embodied experience while interrogating contemporary visual culture outside the traditional pitfalls of representation. An aspect of his practice is to invite members of the public to participate in the culminating procession.

With a core team of 100 collaborators, and another 100 participants involved in the production of the procession (including capoeira athletes, members of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, spoken word poets from across the GTA, and a host of disability dancers from across Ontario), we are doing an open call for 100 more people – a.k.a. YOU – for a total of 300 people.

If you are interested in participating, please email procession@theagyuisoutthere.org. The procession will take place on Sunday, 9 August 2015, along University Avenue from Queen’s Park to City Hall. Griffith’s residencies, procession, and exhibition are curated by AGYU Assistant Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur.

AGYU Vitrines

Got a Phil Collins’ tune stuck in your head? Blame it on Daniel Cockburn’s I Can Feel It in AGYU Vitrines. Silently rocking out along the Accolade East Building’s corridor, each of the three videos bear a famous Collins’ song with the exact same rhythm and tempo. Lyrics of Collins’ flash on the screen one word at a time: you can feel it in the air… and hear it in your head.

Currently completing his Masters in Film/Cinema and Media Studies at York University, Cockburn is a writer, director, and video maker and has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions internationally. He is the second artist presented in the AGYU’s new series of commissioned works by York MFA and PhD students.

Audio Out

TravoyintheFlesh will be getting you pumped with the exhibition soundtrack at our Audio Out listening post. Get ready to walk the hallway. These beats and chants will get the “gurls” screaming and shouting up. Warning: these sounds will be fab, fierce, and fun.

Originally from Jamaica, TravoyintheFlesh is a multi-disciplinary artist and activist majoring in Sociology at York University. He is a pioneer of the ballroom scene in Toronto: Mother of the House of Monroe, Chair of the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance, and Canada Father for The Legendary Royal House of Old Navy.


Showcasing emerging spoken word artists and participants from REVERB: Rhythms of Poetry our latest spoken word poetry programs in Regent Park, Jane-Finch, and Malvern, the AGYU takes the Toronto poetry scene by storm with three not-to-be-missed events. These events are free and everyone is welcome!

Reverb Regent Park
Thursday, 19 February 2015, 6 – 8 pm
Centre for Social Innovation Regent Park
585 Dundas Street East, 3rd Floor
Co-presented with COBA  (Collective of Black Artists)

Reverb Jane-Finch
Thursday, 12 March 2015, 6 – 8 pm
York Woods Library
1785 Finch Avenue West
Presented in partnership with Success Beyond Limits

R.I.S.E. & Reverb Malvern
Monday, 27 April 2015, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Burrows Hall Community Centre
1081 Progress Avenue, Scarborough
Presented in partnership with R.I.S.E and the MalvernSPOT

Support has been provided by a grant from the Honey Family Foundation and the Vital Toronto Fund at the Toronto Foundation and the Toronto Arts Council: Targeted Enhanced Funding

Contemporary Art Bus

Sunday, 24 May 2015, 12 – 5 pm | FREE

Tour starts at the Koffler Centre of the Arts at Artscape Young Place (180 Shaw Street) and then departs for Blackwood Gallery and AGYU, returning to Shaw Street at 5 pm. Seating is limited. Please RSVP by Friday, 22 May, to Mary-Rose Sutton | kofflergallery@kofflerarts.org | 647.925.0643 x 221

Summer Programming

AGYU Artist-in-Residency

May – September 2015

We know, you’ve heard this before but we’ll say it again! Japan-based, Trinidadian processional artist Marlon Griffith is our artist-in-residence. This summer he will be working intensely on the 300-person strong procession, based thematically on the Seven Grandfather Teachings, which will take over University Avenue on August 9, 2015. Marlon’s “Mas” camps will be set up in May in the Sculpture Area of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance, and Design (as the L.L. Odette Sculptor-in-Residence), at Art Starts in June, and at Sketch in July. Oh, and we’ll be preparing for his major solo exhibition that opens this fall at AGYU, you know, in our spare time!

Griffith’s residencies, procession, and exhibition are curated by AGYU Assistant Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur.

Performing the Accidental Archive

17–18 April 2015

AGYU is pleased to be collaborating with the fourth annual York University Theatre & Performance Studies Graduate Symposium, Performing the Accidental Archive, with a talk and tour of Rashaad Newsome’s exhibition that imaginatively explores his work as an incidental archive.

AGYU @ Toronto Pride

19 – 28 June 2015

AGYU, once again, participates in Toronto’s Pride festivities through a specially commissioned artist-project and collaboration with student groups on campus. Watch out for YorkU’s float in the parade and visit us at YorkU’s booth in the Community Street Fair.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Fall 2015: Marlon Griffith

Winter 2016: Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA) #3


Mentored by Britta Badour, David Delisca, and Jordon Veira, our team of emerging poets and workshop participants in Jane-Finch, Regent Park, and Malvern have been keeping busy writing and performing new poetry. Engaging in youth outreach, our junior artists promoted our programs to students at Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School and Jarvis Collegiate Institute.

While learning about the body language of performance, our participants also explored their vocal and emotional range in order to strengthen their stage presence. Continuing their investigation of the Anishnaabe Seven Grandfather teachings, participants wrote poems about honesty and reflected upon the various manifestations of courage they have witnessed—including the bravery of standing up and speaking out in spite of risk and backlash. Writing and performing eloquently, our participants examined such diverse subjects as growth, perserverance, familial relationships, shadeism, and the traumatic reality of living in a country wracked by civil war.

Representing Reverb Regent Park, Zeinab Aidid, Amira Sayidcali, and Nadia Adow performed throught-provoking poems, tearing up the stage at the Rosedale Heights School of the Arts Poetry Slam this past November.


In the spring of 2013, we presented Provenance Unknown, an exhibition of new work by Sara Angelucci including the video piece, The Anonymous Chorus and Aviary, a series of photographs. Both of these projects are based on late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century photographs, with The Anonymous Chorus animating a group portrait and Aviary photographically enmeshing Victorian cartes-de-visite with extinct and endangered bird species. This spring, we release the catalogue for the exhibition, beautifully designed by Zab Design and Typography. An introduction by the exhibition’s curator Emelie Chhangur is joined with two meditative essays by Claude Baillargeon and E.C. Woodley. Stay tuned to our website for details on when this fledgling publication takes wing.

Also of news in our publication department is that our next two books are to be co-published with the London UK-based Black Dog Publishing. We’re looking forward to this new collaboration, with hopes that these titles will reach an ever-wider audience, letting all and sundry know what we’re up to. Look for the publications on the 2012 residency and exhibition of Colombian artists, Imaginary Homelands and the fall 2014 survey of the late-seventies Toronto art scene, Is Toronto Burning?, in the new year.

Misc. Credits

Silence Please, the Show is About to Begin installation technicians: Michael Beynon, Joel Cottrill, Melissa Koziebrocki, Aamna Muzaffar, Carmen Schroeder, and Esther Simmonds MacAdam

Ray Abergas, Gallery Assistant

Thipika Alaguthurai, Gallery Assistant

William Brereton, Gallery Assistant

Shannon Saint, Gallery Assistant

Wendy Lai, Communications Assistant

Maju Tavera, Community Arts Intern




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Toronto Ontario  M3J 1P3

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