Winter 2012 Newsletter
An Army of Lovers Will Never Be Defeated

AGYU … for “all the freaks out there”*

WILL MUNRO

HISTORY, GLAMOUR, MAGIC

11 January – 11 March 2012

Opening Reception: Wednesday, January 11, 6 – 9 PM

Sadly, in May 2010 Toronto’s beloved Will Munro (Feb 11, 1975 – May 21, 2010) passed away after a two-year battle with brain cancer. Will was the lively centre of so many overlapping communities: he was a DJ, a music promoter, an activist, a queer community catalyst as well as a visual artist. The AGYU exhibition attempts to capture the full scope of the Will Munro experience.

The exhibition concentrates on the multi-media work Munro produced after graduating from OCAD in 2000, i.e., from his first exhibition Boys Do First Aid (2000) to his last, Inside the Solar Temple of the Cosmic Leather Daddy (2010): from his various signature underwear work (handcrafted, for instance, from heavy metal concert T-shirts); banners of legendary queer performers such as Klaus Nomi and Leigh Bowery; his stitching collaborations with West Side Stitches Couture Club, Jeremy Laing, and others, including a restaging of The Pavilion of Virginia Puff-Paint, his collaboration with Laing made for the AGYU in 2004; his experimental films; the multitude of hand-made silkscreen posters that accompanied his DJ’ing and music promotions at his club nights Vazaleen, Peroxide, No T.O., and Moustache. The dynamic exhibition will be punctuated by a collection of never before seen ephemera and archival material that stitches together the many vibrant activities of this non-stop artist.

The exhibition is about the history Will based his work on and the history he was; his glam subjects and the glamourous one he was; the magic dimension of his last work and his magic that lives on. His spirit carries on in the last room of the exhibition, a lezbro room that acknowledges the role lesbians had in Will’s life and work, with contributions from Lex Vaughn, Cecilia Berkovic, and Allyson Mitchell.

The AGYU has had a long history with Will. He was an important part of the 2004 Sinbad in the Rented World exhibition with his delightfully perverse Pavilion of Virginia Puff-Paint, crafted in collaboration with Jeremy Laing. (A second, complementary AGYU Sinbad exhibition at Zsa Zsa downtown showed his Vazaleen posters.) A year later, the AGYU hosted a night of Westside Stitches Couture Club, a group Will formed with Jeremy Laing, which that night included a limp-wristed “hazing” for York’s frosh. In 2006, the AGYU published the artists’ book and DVD performance Pavilion of Virginia Puff-Paint by Will and Jeremy. Will was also a valued member of the AGYU Advisory Committee and hosted our post-opening parties at The Beaver.

Special thank you to Margaret, Ian, and David Munro for their dedicated assistance, to Luis Jacob, Lex Vaughn, John Caffery, and Jeremy Laing for their advice, and to Cecilia Berkovic, John Caffery, Michael Cobb, Janusz Dukszta, Luis Jacob, Alex McClelland, Michael McClelland, Paul Petro, Julia Strutt, and Lex Vaughn, who loaned work for this exhibition.

The exhibition is generously sponsored by Salah Bachir and Jacob Yerex.

* The theme of this edition of AGYU newsletter comes from a statement Will Munro made regarding Vazaleen: “I’d like to do something that’ll encompass all the freaks out there, myself included” (as quoted by Carl Wilson). As Bruce LaBruce wrote, “In his own words, he always said he wanted to see ‘a lot of freak flags flying in Toronto.’ And his, I say with the utmost admiration, was one of the freakiest.”

1. GET ON THE PERFORMANCE BUS!

Vaseline in His Back Pocket…

Artist and DJ Syrus Marcus Ware turns The Performance Bus into his memory of a circa 2001 – 2002 Friday night Vazaleen party that was hosted by Will Munro, Miss Barbrafisch, and Rawbrt at the El Mo (with a bear pit and all!). On Wednesday, January 11, ride out there to the opening reception of Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic on the free performance bus departing OCADU at 6 PM sharp. Bring your memories and your dancing shoes…

Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, community activist, researcher, youth-advocate, and educator. He is Program Coordinator of the Teens Behind the Scenes program at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Through the mediums of painting, installation, and performance, Syrus challenges systemic oppression and explores the spaces between and around identities; acting as provocations to our understandings of gender, sexuality, and race. For the past 6 years, Syrus has worked with Blackness Yes to produce Blockorama (the black queer and trans stage at Pride), and is a founding member of the Prison Justice Action Committee of Toronto.

2. AGYU VITRINES

Approximate And At a Distance

An affective encounter can be explained in another affective encounter – living near each other, living together. What are these social relations that we explain with space and time? What happens when we are close, or only know of each other from a distance? What is possible?

Inspired by the systems of support produced by Will Munro that continue to proliferate throughout his community, Emma Hedditch approaches her project for the AGYU vitrines in relation to agency and affect – and the intimacy and hope that remains after watching the classic Toronto lesbian film I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing.

Emma Hedditch is an artist, writer and a volunteer for the Cinenova Working Group, London. Currently, she is working with Ian White and Jimmy Robert at the Dutch Art Institute in the programme ‘Practice- Theatre’ curated by If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution and is part of the exhibition Community Without Propinquity at the Milton Keynes Gallery.

3. AGYU LOVES FAG!

We’ve been fans of the Feminist Art Gallery since before its inauguration and now we are proud to proclaim that we are their first institutional Matron! In conjunction with Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic, AGYU continues to celebrate the legacy of Toronto’s feminist and queer communities out there with Cinenova: All Hands on the Archive, the inaugural program of FAG’s 2012 programming year and a co-production with AGYU, FAG, and The Power Plant! (Now, how’s that for working together?)

Cinenova is a London-based, volunteer-run, non-profit organization dedicated to the distribution of films and videos made by women. Cinenova is a cultural community and network for feminist film and video practice, but beyond that, it is an activist platform for making these practices known and publically accessible. Run by artists Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue, the Feminist Art Gallery is a Torontobased, volunteer-run, non-profit centre also firmly rooted in activism: hosting, funding, advocating, and supporting feminist practices, beyond gender and privilege.

All Hands on the Archive develops a dialogue between the work in the Cinenova collection and Toronto’s long-rooted feminist and queer histories as a means to access, activate, and animate both.

The month-long engagement with Cinenova begins on February 3 at The Department, 1389 Dundas Street West at 7 PM with a screening curated by Cinenova Working Group member Emma Hedditch. The evening program serves as an introduction to the scope of this international and intergenerational collection.

From there, the program relocates to FAG, 25 Seaforth Avenue, side gate, on Saturday, February 4, 11, 18, and 25. An Audience of Enablers Cannot Fail takes place from 1 to 5 PM, and each day brings together two local artists, activists, or educators who have been specifically chosen to animate the Cinenova archive from their particular point of view, selecting work for collective viewing and group discussion.

All Hands on the Archive concludes on March 4 in the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom (1214 Queen Street West) at 8 PM with a closing party that features a commissioned performance by local artist Sharlene Bamboat. Bamboat’s performance responds to Cinenova’s work and working methodologies, locating them within the conditions and contexts of Toronto. The performance is followed by a special screening curated by Toronto’s GB Jones, Alex McClelland, Leila Pourtavaf, and Lex Vaughn (see Rebels Rule for details).

Cinenova: All Hands on the Archive is an initiative of the AGYU, the Feminist Art Gallery, and The Power Plant and celebrates the affinities of our collective winter programing. All Hands on the Archive is presented as well in the context of The Power Plant’s exhibition Coming After (10 December, 2011 – 4 March, 2012).

Free admission to all events!

4. REBELS RULE

Curated by G.B. Jones, Alex McClelland, Leila Pourtavaf, and Lex Vaughn

Gladstone Hotel Ballroom

Sunday, March 4, 9 PM

“Hi there. The reason I’m writing is that I wanted to share an idea I had with you to see what you thought of it. I would like to put together a night devoted to Will’s films and appearances in films – basically, a retrospective of his film work […] as you know and can see, Will did a lot of film work, and I thought it would be so amazing to have a retrospective and bring it all to people’s attention, to celebrate his life and his impact on so many people in Toronto and way beyond.”

– G.B. Jones, email, 9 October, 2010

Featuring:

Rebels Rule (1998) by Will Munro; Queercore, a punk-u-mentary (1996) by Scott Treleaven; The Hidden Cameras’ Golden Streams (2002) by Joel Gibb; Drowning (1996) by D.C. Hillier; Gentleman Reg’s The Boyfriend Song (2004) by Kevin Drew; Sunflower (2004) by Keith Cole and Michael Caines; Fagtactics (2002) by Scott Miller Berry; The Hidden Cameras’ Mississauga Goddam (2004) by Joel Gibb; filth (2004) by Wrik Mead; and Kids on TV’s Breakdance Hunx (2006) by John Caffery and Sarah Haywood.

5. PEOPLE, POWER, MAGIC

An AGYU in-reach project by John Caffery

Will Munro was a catalyst for creating queer spaces in Toronto that were inclusive and diverse, and they brought together, artists, activists, and freaks. People, Power, Magic honours Will’s spirit by expanding upon his exhibition with a series of bi-weekly events, happenings, and tours led by Toronto artist John Caffery in order to engage queer and trans youth through a direct dialogue with Will’s ideas and artwork. John was close to the source as a friend and a collaborator in the West Side Stitches Couture Club. John is also an advocate for queer and trans youth, as a program coordinator at Supporting Our Youth (SOY), one of the partners in this project. This multi-disciplinary program features John working with many of Will’s frequent collaborators, including Scott Miller Berry, Lorraine Hewitt aka CoCo La Crème, Luis Jacob, Jeremy Laing and Zavisha, as well as the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance, recipients of the first annual Spirit of Will Munro Award. People, Power, Magic is dedicated to creating real opportunities for self-expression in order to provide a space for outcasts and freaks to thrive without fear.

Wed, January 18, 7 – 9 PM: T-Shirt Relay with West Side Stitches Couture Club members Lorraine Hewitt aka CoCo La Crème, Luis Jacob, Jeremy Laing & John Caffery @ AGYU

Wed, February 1, 6 – 9 PM: Vogue, Runway, Commentary & DJ Workshop with Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance, DJ Cozmic Cat & DJ John Caffery @ The Underground (York University Student Centre). Free buses depart Sherbourne Health Centre (333 Sherbourne St.) at 5 and 7 PM sharp.

Wed, February 15, 7 – 9 PM: Sash Bash with West Side Stitches Couture Club members Zavisha & John Caffery @ AGYU

Wed, February 29, 6 – 8 PM: Tour of Coming After, a group exhibition on queer time, arriving too late, and the spectre of the recent past @ The Power Plant (235 Queens Quay West)

Fri, March 2, 7 – 11 PM: Army of Lovers Ball with Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance @ The Underground (York University Student Centre). Free buses depart Sherbourne Health Centre (333 Sherbourne St.) at 6 and 8 PM sharp.

Sun, March 4, 9 PM: Rebels Rule film and video screening curated by G.B. Jones, Alex McClelland, Leila Pourtavaf, and Lex Vaughn @ The Gladstone Hotel Ballroom (1214 Queen Street West)

Admission to all of these events are free.

Please RSVP for the T-Shirt Relay, Vogue, Runway, Commentary & DJ Workshop and Sash Bash by emailing Jacob Korczynski, assistant curator at jacobkor@yorku.ca or by calling 416.736.2100 X 44021

6. AUDIO OUT

AGYU kicks off its 2012 Audio Out series with a tribute to Will Munro and all his multifaceted roles as promoter, DJ, and mentor. The season begins a series of playlists that Will created for his iconic club nights including Vazaleen, No T.O., Peroxide, Xerox, and Moustache. Each playlist will be on weekly rotation, bringing the spirit of Will, and the music he loved, to the halls of York University. Will Munro’s program runs from January 11 to February 12, 2012.

In keeping with the spirit of Will’s support of young talent in the City of Toronto and beyond, the second half of the series provides a platform for the third and fourth year students from Professor Marc Couroux’s sound classes at York University. (UN)FRAMING SOUND, (third edition) begins with “field recording” projects realized as part of the course work for Sound for Artists (Dept. of Visual Arts) by David Borochovitz, Ran Cheng, May Chook, Matthew Clement, Kevin Hua, Varun Kapahi, Martin Kwok, Steven Lam, Angelena Paglia, Connor Phelan, Manpreet Randhawa, Eduardo Rebagliati, Stephanie Spafford, and Kevin Yung, and is followed by a series of new works specifically commissioned for Audio Out by fourth year students Ana Cornejo Diaz, Marcelino DaCosta, Miles Forrester, Jennifer MacDonald, and Brock Wreford. The (UN)FRAMING SOUND series runs from February 13 to May 1, 2012.

7. 2012 ABOTM

“Print is not dead. Print is where words go to die.”

– Jeff Jarvis, blogger

Pop quiz: What’s not the Booker, the Giller, the IMPAC, nor even the Pulitzer but has just as much prestige?

Why, the AGYU Artists Book of the Moment, that’s what. The concept is simple. Send us your content-driven artists’ book, and our esteemed jury considers it, along with all the other submitted titles.

A short list is generated. A finalist is chosen. The winner basks in short-lived infamy, and receives the $1,500 prize. Repeat for as many years as feasible; no gala required.

Time is short to submit to the 2012 ABotM — deadline for receipt is 5 March 2011.

See http://www.theAGYUisOutThere.org/abotm for past submissions and winners, and all the rules and regulations.

8. EDUCATION

Voices Across Generations brings together fifteen youth from the “Success Beyond Limits Program” at Westview Centennial Secondary School to create multimedia artworks that explore the silenced and overlooked histories of diasporic cultural groups in the Jane and Finch Community.

The Art Gallery of York University is partnering with a group of multidisciplinary artists including Deanna Bowen, Truth Is…, NoManzLand, The M.A.D. Poet, aka Melissa A. Dean, and Lola Lawson to mentor a group of fifteen youth through a multifaceted artistic process that explores visuals arts, oral history, spoken word performance, and theater. In response to the erasure of cultural diasporic experiences, this program will encourage the recovery and reclaiming of lost voices and histories by channeling them through multimedia art forms.

Support for Voices Across Generations has been provided by a grant from the Vital Toronto Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation.

9. CONTEMPORARY BUS TOUR

On Sunday, February 26, join us at the Art Gallery of York University for a guided tour of the exhibition Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic. The free bus tour starts with the Koffler Gallery’s off-site project at 80 Spadina Avenue, Unit 501 at noon and then heads to the Blackwood Gallery, AGYU, and Doris McCarthy Gallery, returning to Spadina Avenue at 5 PM. Seating is limited. Contact Julie Zalucky at 905.828.3789 or blackwood.gallery@utoronto.ca to reserve.

10. UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS

Spring: Diane Borsato

Fall: Imaginary Homelands

11. REPORTS

OAAG Awards Reflect AGYU’s Team Nature

Can we modestly say, or perhaps surreptitiously shout, that the AGYU was the big winner at the 2011 Ontario Association of Art Galleries Awards, which took place this year on September 30? The AGYU took home four awards and these awards, in part, reflect the team nature of the AGYU. Assistant Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur was honoured with the major Curatorial Writing Award for her essay “Forking Paths and Crossroads: Two Encounters ” accompanying her Carla Zaccagnini exhibition no. it is opposition.. Jury Comments were: “Emelie Chhangur’s clever, writerly touch in translating the disorienting experience of Carla Zaccagnini’s exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University offered an engaging, refreshing take on the convention of the catalogue essay, and performed the all-too difficult task of capturing the experience of being there and transporting the reader into that experience with remarkable aplomb.” The AGYU took the Public Program Award for the second year in a row for the Centre for Incidental Activisms, January 2011’s exhibition project that was organized by the AGYU team of Emelie Chhangur, Suzanne Carte, Michael Maranda, and Allyson Adley. The AGYU won again with the Art Publication of the Year for our FASTWÜRMS: Donky@Ninja@Witch. The award went to everyone involved in the making of the book: curator (Philip Monk), writers (Emelie Chhangur, Andrew Harwood, Jon Davies, Sally McKay), editor (Michael Maranda), and designer (Lisa Kiss) and of course the artists, FASTWÜRMS. Then to top it off, Sally McKay won the Art Writing Award for her essay, “Nature in the Network,” for the very same FASTWÜRMS publication. Congratulations to all! Philip Monk’s advice to the assembly of colleagues was that if you want to win awards better get the “real” witches on your side.

Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art

AGYU Director Philip Monk is the recipient of the 2011 Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Awards for curatorial excellence in contemporary art. Time seems to be going backward and our Director is getting younger and younger. Two years ago he received an OAAG Lifetime Achievement Award and now he has been given a mid-career curatorial award. The press release reads: “In making the curatorial award recommendation, the jury praised his enormous, ongoing contribution to contemporary art in Canada and internationally, which he has addressed with outstanding rigour and intellectual acuity in numerous exhibitions, lectures, and substantial publications. The history of the Toronto arts community, in particular, is indelibly marked by his critical candour and dedicated curatorial work from the late 1970s on, having been the focus of many important group and solo exhibitions of artists such as Michael Snow, Ian Carr-Harris, Robin Collyer, Liz Magor, Shirley Wiitasalo, General Idea, FASTWÜRMS, Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins and many others. Widely recognized as one of the most prolific and articulate writers on contemporary art in Canada, Monk is also internationally respected for his vigorous and innovative curatorial transformation of the Art Gallery of York University, one of Canada’s pre-eminent University-based galleries, into a particularly vibrant, acutely current and challenging institution.”

AGYU @ Art Toronto

Things sure got scary when novelist Derek McCormack and artist Ian Phillips installed themselves in a haunted schoolroom in the AGYU’s booth at Art Toronto 2011. Taking residency at an art fair, the Holiday Arts Mail-Order School even scared some collectors into buying the school novelties for sale: spooky limited edition multiples such as tainted tongue depressors, Ouija boards, and bone-china Westclox replicas by prize pupil Alexx Boisjoli. The transported classroom also featured some of the top assignments from the correspondence school’s students. The saga continues: there are still two more lessons before the PhDs (Professional Hallowe’en Diploma) are to be conferred!

Total Impact

In 3-D no less. A two-year project came to completion with the screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox October 23 of Totem Impact at this year’s ImagineNative Film & Media Arts Festival. Totem Impact is a project commissioned and funded by the AGYU with support from Canada Council Aboriginal Media Arts Program. Totem Impact is a short film by First Nations artist, activist, poet, elder, and journalist Duke Redbird that questioned the contradictions of choosing the beaver as our national symbol. York University’s Dance Ensemble, choreographed by Terrill Maguire, collaborated as dancers. ImagineNative was proud to say that it was their first ever 3-D film. Well, ours too!

This is the Story of General Idea

It was a standing room only audience at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jackman Hall that came to hear Philip Monk deliver the McCready Lecture on Canadian Art November 9. Responding to both the AGO’s General Idea retrospective and the McLuhan 100 symposium, Mr. Monk—performer that he is—titled his lecture Marshall McLuhan, General Idea, and Me! But it was really all about General Idea and an attempt at shaking up existing interpretations of their work by considering it as a “system in motion” not a stable product. The lecture achieved the stamp of approval from AA Bronson himself, who said, “fantastic essay! Really very groundbreaking, I think, and it rings very true.” We’re all waiting for Mr. Monk’s book on General Idea, but in the meantime you can read his review of the General Idea retrospective in the current issue of C Magazine (no. 112, December 2011).

12. PUBLICATIONS

Recent

Of course you’ve heard already that FASTWÜRMS: Donky@Ninja@Witch: A Living Retrospective won Art Publication of the Year at the 2011 OAAG awards, right? (if not, you’re not reading this newsletter closely enough). Well, published just a bit too late for submission, And so, the animal looked back …, documenting Alex Wolfson and Bojana Stancic’s exhibition at the AGYU, was launched back in September at Paul Petro Contemporary Art (thanks for hosting us, Paul).

Upcoming

We’ve been busy on the front-end of our next slew of books that will see the business end of a printing press in the near future.

First up, a luscious edition on the work of Oliver Husain. Entitled Spoiler Alert, it includes essays by Emelie Chhangur, Ian White, and Chi-Hui Yang with additional text by the man himself, Oliver. Sameer Farooq is the designated designer.

Then, the long awaited monograph on the early work of General Idea by none other than Philip Monk: Glamour is Theft: A User’s Guide to General Idea, Volume 1: 1969 – 1978. Designed by Barr Gilmore, this one will have been worth the wait.

But there’s more: A catalogue of the work of Diane Borsato will grace our shelves in time for her spring exhibition, with texts by Emelie Chhangur, Darren O’Donnell, Stephanie Springgay, and Scott Watson, design courtesy of Lisa Kiss.

Not enough? How about the 1937 yearbook for the Holiday Arts Mail Order School, a compilation of the best, and worst, work submitted to the H.A.M.S. PhD program (Professional Hallowe’en Degree). Derek McCormack and Ian Philips are hard at work on this one as we speak (if they’ve recovered from Art Toronto, yet, that is.)

Stay tuned for additional titles as we remember which ones are still to come … Full publication details, pricing, and purchasing opportunities (hint, hint) are available on our website at: http://www.theAGYUisOutThere.org/publications