Winter 2013 Newsletter
Out There: Crossing The Line

Deanna Bowen: Invisible Empires

16 January – 17 March 2013
Opening Reception:
Wednesday, January 16, 6 – 9 pm

Deanna Bowen: Invisible Empires is a bold exhibition that presents a view on the Ku Klux Klan both during the American Civil Rights Movement era and its century-long history in Canada. The long-standing research stems from Toronto artist Deanna Bowen’s inquiry into her own ancestry of Black pioneers who emigrated from Oklahoma to northern Alberta in the early twentieth century, research that previously has formed the basis of her autobiographical approach. Her autobiographical approach and archival investigations, though, deviate in this exhibition. Documents no longer serve the purpose of memorializing a traumatic past experience by means of an empathetic act of witnessing in the present, working through the traumatic archives of memory. Instead she “crosses the line” into enemy territory by working with an “archive” of Klan material. In fact, she creates the archive, memorializing it to another purpose. In this endeavor, she, furthermore, “crosses the line” in what is expected or permitted of a Black artist by, in effect, reversing her area of concern from Black Studies to White Studies.
“Working through” takes on a whole new dimension when the archives that supposedly are memorialized are those of the KKK, and when these documents and scenarios are re-enacted. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a live theatrical, costumed re-enactment of a twenty-minute October 24, 1965, CBC television interview between Calvin Craig, Grand Dragon of the Georgia Realm of the United Klans of America and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; his fellow Klansman George Sleigh; Civil Rights activist Reverend James Bevel; and This Hour Has Seven Days host Robert Hoyt. The re-enactment takes place on a reconstructed This Hour Has Seven Days’ stage set, which houses a video projection of the performance during the exhibition.
The exhibition also includes photographic documentation of Canadian sites of Klan cross burnings, photographic documentation of Klan paraphernalia, as well as works from Bowen’s The Paul Good Papers, a project based in part on the archives of ABC news correspondent Paul Good, a veteran of Civil Rights reporting. The exhibition utilizes all sites of the AGYU, including the Vitrines and The Performance Bus.
The artist says of her artistic focus: “A project in mapping African diasporic movement and a genealogical investigation in equal measure, my autobiographical, process-driven interdisciplinary practice is concerned with the document and the act of witnessing. My practice revolves around the research and creation of conceptually rooted works that draw upon interrogations of personal and community-based genealogical research, local and international ‘domestic’ histories, American slavery, Migration and Diaspora studies, Trauma theory and corollary discussions of memory and testimony, Southern Gothic Literature, and contemporary debates about political/personal art production. My works are informed by theories related to the aestheticization of the ‘unspeakable’ as they contribute to my efforts to reconstitute the self/collective by artistically ‘working through’ familial and community silences.”
Deanna Bowen: Invisible Empires is curated by AGYU Director Philip Monk
Deanna Bowen: Invisible Empires is generously sponsored by Partners in Art

The (Performance) Buses Are A’Comin’

Sorry Jim Crow, there’s no more room for you on this bus! The Performance Bus departs OCADU (100 McCaul Street) on Wednesday, January 16 at 6 pm sharp, tracing an appropriate route through history and into the present as Shelley Hamilton, Reena Katz, and Archer Pechawis take you on a ride to and from the opening reception of Deanna Bowen’s exhibition at AGYU. The Performance Bus returns downtown at 9 pm. Free.

AGYU Vitrines

The vitrines are part of Deanna Bowen’s exhibition and intimately connected to its strategies of presenting KKK material without necessarily revealing a critical context. Here the banners of Klavern Number 10 of Red Bank, New Jersey, with their kitschy symbolism, are reproduced as backlit advertising.

Crossing the Line: a Symposium on Difficult Images

How does one confront images of racism on the same order as those of violence and the atrocities of genocide? Can we begin to read images differently other than archiving them as memorializations of past traumas to be worked through? Crossing the Line addresses issues of difficult knowledge, difficult histories, and difficult images in a free, one-day symposium held in room W132, Schulich School of Business, York University, on Thursday, February 28, 2013.
Crossing the Line is generously sponsored by Partners in Art and produced with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council Investment Fund.


AGYU has partnered with TPW R&D for a series of difficult discussions around the difficult image. Leading up to the Crossing the Line symposium this series attempts to expose and examine methods of artistic production dealing with trauma history and difficult knowledge.
TPW’s new iteration (1256 Dundas Street West) serves as a temporary research office, intended as a transitional and flexible space for shared research and the development of critical discourse. The focus on discursive programming — writing, screenings, discussions, workshops, fluid exhibition strategies — is a situation where one can think out loud about strategies of looking and showing while continuing to directly experience the force of images.

Imagine Us

The AGYU partners with transgender artist Chase Joynt in a commissioned poster campaign and video project that will take place at York University. Strategically appropriating the display structure of the popular poster sale on campus every year, Joynt’s project, IMAGINE US, presents multi-media narratives from survivors of sexual violence to the broader York community. IMAGINE US addresses various safety and security needs of students by giving a face to experiences of violence so often hidden from the public. This project is co-presented by the YorkU Women and Trans People Safety Committee.

Residency: Camilla Singh

Since leaving her position as Curator of MOCCA in 2009, Toronto artist Camilla Singh has been immersed in experimentation with materials, rhythm, and movement to question the nature of “work.” In part, this process of artistic inquiry has become an alternative means to research, explore, and articulate the inclinations, motivations, processes, and practices of curating.
Putting into practice these initial explorations, AGYU and York University’s Sculpture Area (Department of Visual Arts and Art History) have pooled resources to put Camilla to work! Over the course of the next year in preparation for her Spring 2014 AGYU exhibition, Uniforms for Non-Uniformed Work, Camilla will be artist-in-residence in the Sculpture Area, and, under the guidance of professor and artist Brandon Vickerd, will explore the innovative techniques and cutting-edge processes York’s studio has to offer.
During her residency, Camilla will engage in a discussion with third and fourth year students about putting a practice into form: exploring the curatorial considerations of art making and the artistic processes undertaken by curators, especially as they pertain to the application of sculpture to exhibition design. The residency will culminate in the production of a series of uniforms for curators, whose display will consider the context of the gallery space—a trajectory the students will follow from initial conception through to the final installation of the exhibition at AGYU. A lot of work indeed!
Camilla’s multi-faceted project is curated by AGYU Assistant Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur.

Contemporary Art Bus Tour

On Sunday, February 10, join us at the Art Gallery of York University for a guided tour of the exhibition Deanna Bowen: Invisible Empires. The free bus tour starts with the Koffler Gallery’s off-site project at General Hardware Contemporary (1520 Queen St W) at noon and then heads to the Blackwood Gallery, AGYU, and Doris McCarthy Gallery, returning to Queen West at 5 pm. Seating is limited. Contact Suzanne Carte at 416-736-2100 ext 44021 or to reserve.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Spring: Sara Angelucci
Fall: Wael Shawky: The Cabaret Crusades

Education Update

Hello Allyson,
This is Idman. I don’t know if you remember me or not but, my 8th grade class did a project with your gallery 5 years ago called Architecture of the Imagination.
How have you been? The last I’d heard from you, you’d given birth to beautiful baby girl! I hope she is well. Well, I am now a freshman at USM (University of Southern Maine) and looking back on those days they seem so long ago. A couple days ago I was speaking to another classmate from our class and we were speaking about how many great memories came from being involved in that program. It truly allowed us kids, from a seemingly bad metropolitan area, to look outside our surroundings and embrace all that the world has to offer — and for that I thank you. Thank you so much for showing us that we could dream big, that dreams could allow us to create worlds in which we could escape entirely. I don’t think you guys will be able to truly ever understand how amazing an experience that was for us. I will forever be grateful for that experience. Sometimes I find myself googling those images we took in class and letting the nostalgia sort of creep up and come over me. My only regret is not taking a copy of those of shorts we filmed … but I won’t stop till I manage to get a copy out of someone sometime. I hope you can relay my thanks and appreciation to the others who also worked on the project, i.e. Bruno, Michael, Aleesa … ( I haven’t forgotten 🙂 ).
Please never stop inspiring people with your art and aid. Sending good vibes to you all.
Thanks again
Idman Abdul Kadir


OAAG awards

The annual Ontario Association of Art Galleries Awards took place September 21, 2012. It’s getting to be a routine, winning these awards—but we’re not complaining. In fact, we’re celebrating, bragging even. After all we won four awards … again! OAAG’s top award, Exhibition of the Year, went to AGYU’s Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic. The Public Program Award went to Assistant Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur’s The Awakening/Giigozhkozimin (her three-year long residency program and her three year residency and outreach project culminating in the AGYU’s Humberto Vélez performance at the Art Gallery of Ontario with The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Reserve, the Tecumseth Collective, and Toronto’s Parkour). In the three years the Public Program Award has been in existence, AGYU has won it all three times! The Design Award (Art Book) went to Lisa Kiss Design for Diane Borsato. The Design Award (Poster/Newsletter) went to Ken Ogawa for Humberto Vélez/The Aesthetics of Collaborationnewsletter. Well-deserved congratulations to all.

2012 AGYU Artists’ Book of the Moment (ABotM)

The jury’s job was cut out for them, and, fortunately, they didn’t cut out on us. Indeed, Corinn Gerber (Art Metropole) and Dave Dyment (Artists’ Books and Multiples blog) spent an agonizing session cutting through the submissions to the 2012 AGYU Artists’ Book of the Moment competition, sorting out which cut the mustard and which should be cut adrift. To cut a long story short, let’s cut to the chase: Maggie Groat’s self-published Studies for Possible Futures, a collection of collages, exemplary examples of the fine art of cut and paste, was determined to be the top of the ABotM for 2012. With great thanks to those who sent their work for consideration, those that juried, and those that just like artists’ books all round.
For more info on the winner, on the short list, and on past submissions, please visit the ABotM website:

Queer Frosh 2012

Frosh week is all about meeting new people. Artist Lena Suksi, AGYU’s summer Curatorial Intern, made it just a little easier with Stranger Danger, a craft project about risk and experimentation held at Trans Bi Lesbian Gay Allies at York (TBLGAY) headquarters. In collaboration with AGYU, the project demanded a little fashion, exchange, and extroversion. With a whack of craft supplies at their fingertips, students made portraits of strangers they encountered at this Queer Frosh event. Buttons, dolls, and puppets were made and then these ornaments were offered to “their stranger” and, magicically, they were strange no more.


Big exhibitions demand big books. Big books take time. And now is the time for two of our heftiest tomes to come by in a while.
Glamour is Theft: A User’s Guide to General Idea 1969–1978 comes out of the Fall 2009 exhibition, The Art Gallery of York University Presents: The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion.Philip Monk was busy writing this one for a couple years, and Barr Gilmore has offered a design suitable to the subject.
Then, Lisa Kiss was busy at work this fall designing Humberto Vélez: Aesthetics of Collaboration.With contributions by Emelie Chhangur, Luis Camnitzer, Hans-Michael Herzog, and Adrienne Samos, this book documents The Awakening / Giigozhkozimin (Vélez’s AGYU-produced award winning performance from May 2011), The Aesthetics of Collaboration (his Spring 2011 exhibition at the AGYU), and a selection of his past work.
Oh, did we mention that the Plug In ICA and AGYU co-publication of Terrance Houle’s catalogue, Givn’r, is also back from the press? Well, it is! Essays by Plug In’s Anthony Kiendl, York University’s Richard W. Hill, and AGYU’s Emelie Chhangur. Design on this one comes from Sébastien Aubin.
More details on these books, launches to happen, and upcoming publications will be available soon on our website.




Art Gallery of York University
Keele Campus, Accolade East Building
Toronto Ontario  M3J 1P3

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