Fall 2012 Newsletter
Imagining there’s somewhere Out There

Imaginary Homelands

Carlos Bonil, Nicolás Consuegra, Miler Lagos, Mateo López, Mateo Rivano, María Isabel Rueda, Daniel Santiago, Angélica Teuta, Icaro Zorbar

12 September – 2 December 2012

Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 12, 6 – 9 pm

Imaginary Homelands is both a thematic framework and a strategy for exhibition making. It is the culmination of a three-year experimental residency project that explored how the oscillation of people, ideas, and materials between two real places—in this case Bogotá and Toronto—could become a point of departure toward “locating” a fictionalized mid-way point. A product of this experiment, the exhibition is an imaginary place conceptually situated somewhere between the two locations, made tangible through a series of artworks created specifically for, and as, an “Imaginary Homeland” at AGYU.

Throughout the series of residencies, artists considered their projects from the position of being in and being from these two places simultaneously: allowing both to inform their experiences, inflect their understanding of “the local,” and provide differing social and cultural contexts, available materials, etc., for the development of their work. As hybrid creations that draw upon and from so many different sources, materials, stories, and experiences (from visiting paper mills and recycling plants, to flea markets and shipping docks; from going to the Arctic, Niagara Falls, Northern Ontario, to taking ravine walks and river rides), the resulting works in Imaginary Homelands are more than just translations.

Our “Imaginary Homeland” merges fiction (stories, legends) with description (mapping journeys, recounting events) and combines fantasy with real, lived experiences from both Toronto and Bogotá. The exhibition literally and figuratively crosses actual and perceived borders and boundaries, which its works annul by proposing new insights from the perspective of being in a place that is neither here nor there. Imaginary Homelands is a place you have to see to believe. It is a “third space” that is open to imaginative projections as part of an ongoing process of creation.

The exhibition is curated by Emelie Chhangur.

Special thanks to Astrid Bastin for her assistance with this exhibition project and to the Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño for the financial support of Mateo López, Mateo Rivano, and María Isabel Rueda’s residencies.

Get on The Performance Bus with Miles Collyer (that is, if you can…)

“Halt!”

“Border inspection”

“Step forward”

“Identification papers”

“Thank you”

“Where are you traveling from?”

“What is the purpose of your visit to North York?”

“Anything to declare?”

“Do you have any fruits or vegetables with you?”

Welcome to immigration inspection. The border between downtown Toronto and North York is now under lockdown. Bring your passport, appropriate travel documents, and required identification papers to board The Performance Bus, which will take freedom seekers to the safety of AGYU’s Imaginary Homelands on Wednesday, 12 September 2012. The Performance Bus is free, departs OCADU (100 McCaul St.) at 6 pm sharp, and returns downtown at 9 pm. Due to a large number of Urban nationalists fleeing across the border, MegaCity authorities request your assistance in identifying suspicious individuals during your journey “out there.” Diligence is appreciated. Travel documents will be checked thoroughly in order to rule out the possibility that they are counterfeit or forged.

Miles Collyer is a Toronto-based visual artist whose practice is motivated by photo-based sources and issues relating to cultural identity. After graduating from OCAD in 2006, Collyer has received several awards, most notably a Gold Medal in 2008 from the Canadian National Magazine Awards. His work has been published and exhibited across Canada, the United States, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and several curated exhibits online. In 2012 he was accepted into the graduate program of Fine Art at York University, leaving the position of Shop Manager at Art Metropole, which he had held since 2005.

AGYU Vitrines

Alex Snukal: You Can’t Have Fucking Nothing Isn’t

A vitrine is always a little not there. It’s either just another section of the wall or a reflective surface, which occludes everything inside. In either case, what’s inside the vitrine is immaterial, the glass is all that matters: a vitrine isn’t named after its negative space.

“Dazzle patterns,” in biology or military applications, aren’t really camouflage.  They’re conspicuous visual illusions meant to disrupt the predator’s sense of direction, extension, and depth.

Alex Snukal’s You Can’t Have Fucking Nothing Isn’t takes the AGYU vitrines at face value. Playing with ideas of surface, camouflage, and disappearance, the work attempts to be both visible and invisible. Applying a kinetic dazzle pattern to the surface of the vitrines, Snukal’s work evades detection by passers-by while trying to blind them to the exact dimensions of the work.

Alex Snukal is an artist, writer, and musician who lives and works in Toronto. He performs regularly as Animal Monster and as part of New Feelings. Snukal’s writing has appeared in C Magazine, Locus Suspectus, and Broken Pencil. Recent projects include No Images (2010), Consensus Bus (2010), and Magic Acid Video Clash Crash Feet (2012). He is currently a resident at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts’ Art and Law Residency in New York City, which culminates in an exhibition at the Dumbo Arts Centre in October. Snukal is the Programming Coordinator at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre in Toronto.

Studio Blog

Emerging artist-curator Lena Suksi interviews curator-multimedia-artist-singing sensation-popess Lido Pimienta about making headdresses to make a space for herself, collaboration before conversation, and taking care of oneself in order to take care of strangers all over the world. Follow Lido as she builds her own fortress out of electric orange fencing on her plant-filled patio, makes music with Audio Out artist Carlos Bonil, and gets down on Toronto Island with the New Traditions festival.

Lido Pimienta is an internationally touring/exhibiting artist, originally from Baranquilla, Colombia, currently rooting herself on College Street. She’s recording her second album, La Papesa, in Chile this summer.

Lena Suksi, Lido’s fellow former Forest City resident and classmate in OCADU’s curatorial program, wants to build utopias with perfect interview conditions. She’s interning at AGYU this summer while pursuing her drawing practice on her neither-here-nor-there commute.

The 2012 AGYU Artists’ Book of the Moment

After a minor delay on jurying of the third-ever Artists’ Book of the Moment, the decisions have been made, the field mapped out, the wayfinders found. Our jury, the esteemed Corinn Gerber (Art Metropole) and independent artist Dave Dyment, had their sights set on the best of the best, the top of the ABotM, and came up with a shortlist (right now available on our website!) All the 2012 ABotMs are worthy of the designation, but there’s still one more secret to reveal: the be-all and end-all (for this year, anyway) 2012 ABotM. We’ll be unveiling that secret on our website the day of the opening for Imaginary Homelands. Shortly thereafter, we’ll release the treasure of $1,500 to the winner of the day.

We’d like to thank our jury, who waded ashore the island of printed matter to assay the finds, and of course all the artists who submitted titles for consideration. We couldn’t do it without you.

Frosh 2012

Once again AGYU teams up with the fine art student organizations on campus, CASA (Creative Arts Student Association) and VASA (Visual Arts Student Association), to provide a curatorial experience for our summer interns and an exhibition experience for one (or some) of York’s many talented student artists. The exhibition kicks off the Fine Art Department’s Frosh week.

Contemporary Bus Tour

On Sunday, 30 September, join us at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) for a guided tour of the exhibition Imaginary Homelands. The free bus tour starts with the Koffler Gallery’s off-site exhibition at Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor Street West) at noon and heads to the Blackwood Gallery, AGYU, and Doris McCarthy Gallery, returning to Honest Ed’s at 5:00 pm. Seating is limited. Contact Valentine Moreno at 416-638-1881 X 4249 or vmoreno@kofflerarts.org to reserve.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Winter 2013: Deanna Bowen: Invisible Empires

Spring 2013: Sara Angelucci

Reports

Summer Residencies

This year’s summer residencies were with Colombian artists Mateo López, Mateo Rivano, María Isabel Rueda, Daniel Santiago, Angélica Teuta, and Icaro Zorbar in the final stages of production for Imaginary Homelands.

Havana Biennial 2012

The theme of this year’s Havana Biennial was Artistic Practices and Social Imaginaries. AGYU staff members Emelie Chhangur and Philip Monk were invited to speak at the Biennial’s Theoretical Forum with our long-time collaborator Humberto Vélez. It was fitting that our talk, which was on our major three-year project/performance The Awakening, was scheduled for May 15th, one year and a day after the performance took place. Held at the Centre for Criticism and Theory near the iconic Malecón, Emelie, Humberto, and Philip spoke to an enthusiastic audience (with many Canadian friends in attendance) about collaboration, working with non-artists, ethics, and performance. Then we went for mojitos. And more mojitos.

We wanted to give a little shout-out to Toronto’s Catherine Sicot, whose project for the Biennial MAC/SAN (museo de arte contemporaneo de San Agustin) was definitely out there – both conceptually and physically, located an hour outside of Havana (hmm…sound familiar?). We also had several celebratory mojitos with her, of course. See: mac-san.blogspot.com

Chronicles of the Outspoken:

A Multidisciplinary Art Education Program for Success Beyond Limits

January – May 2012

I want to extend congratulations to those students and educational leaders who have had an opportunity to bond and develop something that I am sure will be remembered by all…The unique team of leaders that came to Westview have given our youth yet another outlet and opportunity for them to shine…The partnership with the Art Gallery of York University has been nothing but extraordinary. What separates them from many other partners is their commitment to relationship building and their commitment to developing a program designed by youth, for youth.”
– the staff of Success Beyond Limits

On May 25th, the AGYU hosted a multimedia art event and blog launch that celebrated the completion of Chronicles of the Outspoken, a multidisciplinary arts education program that engaged Success Beyond Limits youth at Westview Centennial Secondary School. Over a five-month period, SBL participants worked in partnership with a team of emerging and mid-career artists, including: Deanna Bowen, Truth Is…, Lola Lawson, NoManzLand (Yasmin Ali, Khadija Saayadi, The Real Sun, and Drae Walsh) and Eugenio Salas. Experimenting with a variety of media including photography, video, spoken word poetry, and theater, youth artists used these art forms to express the overlooked, unacknowledged, and forgotten stories of their community. The resulting artworks were channeled into a collective blog, a video work, and spoken word performances, forming a compelling series of artistic testimonies that chronicle the complexity and richness of growing up in the Jane and Finch community.

The reception began with the launch the Chronicles of the Outspoken blog (www.theAGYUisOutThere.org/chronicles), which featured the photography of Noterlee Johnson, rap performances by Deshawn Williams and Tyrone Manners and poetry by Robin Pariagh, David Huynh, Noella Gordon, Kevin Jagrup, Saifullah Khan, Ose Okonofua, Kareem Bennett, and Nashana Zafis.

Later that evening, NomanzLand artists The Real Sun and Drae Walsh hosted a stellar lineup of Success Beyond Limits artists. Held in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall (Accolade East Building, York University), the event kicked off with Robin Pariagh performing his compelling poem My Ambition, which delves into his determination and perseverance to succeed, followed by David Huynh reciting Reality Check, an autobiographical look into the challenges and empowerment that accompany personal transformation. Nashana Zafis, Mariah Clayton, and Precilla Sanichar commanded the stage with a bold dance performance followed by Kareem Bennett’s engaging poetic rendition of Love or Satisfaction. Speaking for disenfranchised people on the margins, Akifa Forde delivered an impromptu performance of This is the Life defiantly exposing the human cost of unwarranted military violence, the injustice of police brutality, and a legal system that targets and imprisons young men of colour. Princess Hoddinott graced the stage singing Someone Like You and then Nashana Zafis returned with her heartrending performance of Third Eye Crying, a poetic account of the physical and emotional scars that remain in the wake of domestic violence. Whitney Smith captivated the audience with her impromptu poetry performance of So Far Gone. Deshawn DC Williams brought audience members to their feet with a number of show stopping rap performances. Demonstrating his verbal dexterity, in Big Dreams, Ambition and Rich Forever Williams lamented the lives lost to street violence and affirmed his will to escape inner city poverty, and his desire to make it out of the hood. Taking the stage once again, Whitney Smith demonstrated her impressive vocal abilities as she sang an a cappella version of Thinking About You. Surrounded by all of the Success Beyond Limits artists the finale featured the magnetic lyricism of Deshane Minott as he dropped bars from his rap Growing Up.

The Chronicles of the Outspoken arts education program and culminating event reflects the AGYU’s ongoing commitment to partner with community organizations and the city’s leading artists in order to create an artistic climate that is conducive to the development and growth of youth artists from the Jane and Finch community.  By celebrating and showcasing their achievements, the AGYU affirms its mission to support and cultivate a new generation of Jane and Finch artists.

Youth Artists: Abdikarim Abdi, Gabriela Aguilera, Kareem Bennett, Olando Blair, Peter Bunkuna, Asher Ralph-Farrell, Akifa Forde, Titus Geday, Noella Gordon, Melonie Halasz, Princess  Hoddinott, David Huynh, Kevin Jagrup, Noterlee Johnson, Khalid Khan, Saifullah Khan, Tyrone Manners, Javaunn Nembhard, Abdul Nur, Ose Okonofua, Robin Pariagh, Tennelle Russell, Jauvan Samuels, Deshawn Williams, and Nashana Zafis.

Pride!  Gimme a Fistful of Love

For Pride 2012 we declared our feelings for one another (and for you too!) with love love love love, a project by artists Hazel Meyer and Logan MacDonald for our annual collaboration with the York Federation of Students and Trans Bi Lesbian Gay Allies at York. This year we wore our hearts on our banners with a group of girls who are boys who like boys to be girls.

Our love love love love story began with Hazel and Logan soliciting a list of love anthems from the queer students on campus. Then, in collaboration with these same students (and their allies) the lyrics became de facto declarations of pleasure and politics as they were transformed into hand-painted banners that cut a swath through the parade. We had the crowds singing along in no time, perhaps thinking we laugh just a little too loud, we stand a little too close.

Marching in the wake of the recent victories in Ontario for Gay-Straight Alliances and trans-rights was cause to raise our banners even higher this year. At the same time we recognize both locally and globally our words and actions have yet to brighten every corner, and that still the darkest hour is just before dawn.

The AGYU Writing Award: Smart Cash for Good Writing:

A journey begins, and a journey continues. It really doesn’t have to end. To that end, the AGYU annually encourages students to submit proof of their journeys in progress to the AGYU Writing Award. We look for a review (cash award of $150) and a thematic article (cash award of $200) based on any of the exhibitions held at the AGYU over the course of the academic year.

This year, the competition was as fierce as ever. It seems, though, that the strongest writers were most strongly influenced by Will Munro: History Glamour Magic. On the review front, Lena Suksi won for “Generation: Getting Familiar with ‘History, Glamour, Magic,’” while the article award goes to Leo Krukowski, for his “In There and Out There: AGYU’s Will Munro Retrospective as Antirelational Aesthetic.” Thanks to all the students who submitted, and special congratulations to the two winners. You’re work shows your journey has well begun, and we look forward to seeing where it takes you.

A reminder: again, this year, we will be awarding two awards to aspiring student writers. More details to come on our website and on posters throughout campus.

All Hands on the Archive Re-animated

The echoes of All Hands on the Archive this past spring can still be heard across the city, and now for those of you who missed our project with feminist film and video distributor Cinenova, you can still grab a seat and listen up!

Terra Long, an MFA candidate in the Department of Film and Video at York was present as this collaborative project between the AGYU, Feminist Art Gallery, and The Power Plant unfolded, carefully recording the dialogues, discourse, and disagreements that produced a feminist viewing context for the range of film and video practices that were activated here in Toronto. Catch All Hands on the Archive: The FAG Tapes, Terra’s online reflection about the project here: http://theagyuisoutthere.org/everywhere/?tag=fag-tapes

Publications

RECENT TITLES:

Spoiler Alert: Oliver Husain
Art Gallery of York University, 2012

9×13 in, 72 pp, 72 col, softcover
ISBN 978-0-921972-63-1
$40.00

With filmmaker and artist Oliver Husain, what you see may be what you get but what you get isn’t necessarily what you see. To publish, then, a standard exhibition catalogue would at best mis-represent his practice, disciplining a cross-disciplinary oeuvre. With that in mind, we approached Oliver Husain: Spoiler Alert less as a catalogue and more as an artists’ book.

Drawings obscure installation images, images counter the narrative of the text, and extradiegetic captions by Husain himself intersperse the book. These captions tell another story, not counter to the project but rather complementary, filling in gaps in the narrative at the same time that they announce that the gaps are inherent in his process.

The included essays extend from the working practice of Husain, contextualizing his queer aesthetic to strict structuralist filmmaking (Ian White), or to a-spatial geographies (Chi-Hui Yang), or, even further afield, to neo-absurdist conversation between parrots, balloons, and beads (Emelie Chhangur).

The design of the book, by Sameer Farooq, was the result of an intensive collaboration between the artist, the designer, and the gallery staff. The design aesthetic was carefully chosen to play the “straight-man” to the meandering content. As with all double acts, however, the dead pan design (read: understated elegance) played an essential role in staging the content for its best performance. Right from the start, the trompe-l’oeil cover announces that this book should not be read for its face value: with Husain, there’s always a foil awaiting to trap the not-so-innocent bystander.

Diane Borsato
Art Gallery of York University, 2012
8.25×10.68 in, 112 pp, 156 col/6 B&W, hardcover
ISBN 978-0-921972-64-8
$30.00

Collaborating with a varied cast of characters—beekeepers, mycologists, astronomers, physicists, bees, cats, snowballs, tango dancers, passersby, plants, curators, hotel porters—Canadian artist Diane Borsato creates works that propose eccentric models for relating to one another and to the world. For her project Italian Lessons, she attempted to learn Italian by learning salsa, physics, first aid, and beekeeping by way of Italian instruction. In Terrestrial/Celestial, Borsato coordinated an unconventional exchange of observational practices—from opposite ends of the scale—between amateur mycologists and amateur astronomers. In a new work, Walking Studio, Borsato proposes a different space for research and reflection with her mobile field study lab, comprised of a study center and fully functional sauna.

How better to document this work, then, but with a lavishly illustrated catalogue designed by Lisa Kiss, and edited by Stephanie Springgay? Add to this some texts contributed by Diane herself, Emelie Chhangur, Springgay, Darren O’Donnell, and Scott Watson, and you end up with the first full-length treatment of the work of Borsato.

UPCOMING TITLES

And you thought we were taking it easy this summer? Hardly. We’ve been diligently working on all through the hot muggy summer days. Here’s a couple of the titles that we’re bringing to press:

First up is Glamour is Theft: A User’s Guide to General Idea 1969–1978, a monograph by Philip Monk on the first decade of General Idea. As if written in the same period, with structuralist tables and semiotic figures, this book traipses across the themes and motifs of the work of AA Bronson, Jorge Zontal, and Felix Partz. Well, traipses is certainly not the right word to describe this book, … like the work of GI itself, it initially appears to be a labyrinth of mirrors mirroring mirrors, but in reality it comprises a systematic analysis of the trio’s methods. Designed by Barr Gilmore.

Then, The Aesthetics of Collaboration: Humberto Vélez comes as the culmination of a three-year on-again off-again residency, an extended retrospective exhibition, and a central performance/ceremony, The Awakening / Giigozhkozimin. With texts by Emelie Chhangur, who curated the entire cycle, Luis Camnitzer, as well as interviews with Vélez by Hans-Michael Herzog and Adrienne Samos, it covers the working strategies of the artist at the same time as it functions as the ideal reference work on his past performances. Designed by Lisa Kiss.