Spring 2013 Newsletter
Out There: Free as a Bird

Sara Angelucci

Provenance Unknown

10 April – 16 June 2013

Opening Reception: Wednesday, April 10, 6 – 9 pm

Provenance Unknown brings together two new bodies of work by Toronto artist Sara Angelucci, The Anonymous Chorus and Aviary, both inspired by found, anonymous (unattributed) photographic portraits that the artist purchased on eBay. These works represent a distinct shift in the artist’s practice. Here, Angelucci moves away from exploring the familiar to interrogating the anonymous; from investigating her own identity (and family lineage) to tracing the history of others. Throughout her eccentric inquiry into the “live-ness” of the photographic portrait, she performs as well the role of amateur historian, only to very different ends. In these works, she mixes analogue sources and digital techniques and combines artistic genres through collaboration with composers, singers, and ornithologists. The Anonymous Chorus and Aviary open a temporally suspended space between past and present, where the subjects of these lost portraits may come to life, once again – in a transformed state of being.

When photographs are untethered from their historical contexts and cast out into the world, unattributed, their stories are left to the imaginative projection of those who “recover” them. In this new situation, historical fact is open to poetic interpretation while clues embedded in the photograph can be explored in existential rather than purely factual terms. In Provenance Unknown, Angelucci offers a space of contemplation between what is knowable about the human form in the photograph and what can be imagined from the other side.

The Anonymous Chorus unfolds a “story” contained in a still photograph as a ten-minute video. The video probes the inter-familial relations in the large family grouping and conjures its historical context by evoking being through breathing and communication through sound. Individual voices come to life through actual singing as Angelucci matches those portrayed in the image to choral singers with whom she collaborated to perform period songs by American composer Charles Ives (1874 – 1954). This musical transcription of an American family grouping creates an uncanny period portrait as the singers vocalize through their photographic stand-ins, mediating through song on existential questions of being and loss. The shroud of song amplifies the “second death” of its anonymous subjects lost to historical oblivion.

In Aviary, Angelucci adapts known photographic genres and biological taxonomies to entirely new fictional ends. In this work she reveals “other species not yet known to any system of taxonomy,” suspended photographically in a state of perpetual becoming. Aviary’s photographs originate from several collections of popular Victorian era cartes-de-visite and cabinet card portrait photographs meticulously interwoven with details from images Angelucci took of extinct and endangered North American birds preserved in the Royal Ontario Museum’s ornithology collection. Through her magical transformations, Angelucci breathes life into these newly-forming, hybrid creatures while conjuring with flight and fancy the otherworldly manifestations of “spirit photography” beloved by the Victorian era. Aviary resides at the mysterious threshold of photographic representation, chimeric in its vivifying potential.

Provenance Unknown aligns us with the spirits of the unknown and of un-knowing, opening up new fields of vision uncannily shaped into being through symbolic re-enactment. It mirrors Angelucci’s own aleatory process of discovery through her curious journey into the past via photography’s unknown.

Curated by AGYU Assistant Director/Curator Emelie Chhangur

Provenance Unknown is organized by the AGYU and presented in partnership with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival as one of the primary exhibitions. Special thank you to Mark Peck and the Ornithology/Department of Natural History, Royal Ontario Museum, for the loan of the vitrine and for his generous assistance to the artist. The artist wishes to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council for support of The Anonymous Chorus.

Soar out there on the Performance Bus!

If you had wings you could fly out there. Instead, take an equally exhilarating ride on AGYU’s free-spirited Performance Bus with amateur ornithologist Dr. Matthew Francis Brower. With flight and fancy, Brower takes you on a journey Wednesday, April 10 to the opening reception of Sara Angelucci: Provenance Unknown exploring the enigmatic worlds of the animal kingdom as it passes over into the photographic realm. Whether you are an old migrant or this is your first flight, The Performance Bus is free, departs OCADU (100 McCaul Street) at 6 pm sharp, and returns downtown at 9 pm.

Matthew Brower is the author of Developing Animals: Early American Wildlife Photography (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and much of his work focuses on the role of animals in visual culture. He teaches Museum Studies at the University of Toronto and has curated exhibitions of the work of Suzy Lake, Mieke Bal, and Gord Peteran among others.

AGYU Vitrines

Montreal-based sculptor and musician Nader Hasan’s investigation of nature and materiality has been beautifully captured within the glass cases of AGYU Vitrines – as an aviary of death and commodification.  The vitrines encapsulate the wonder of Natural History Museum displays, the tantalizing allure of retail shop windows, the “half-life” of reclaimed urban materials such as mummified animals, food waste, plant remains, money, metal, and ash: all for your inspection or consumption.  Peering through the window into diorama of carcasses, plastics, and digested dollar bills, one marvels at the spectacle of biological systems, chemistry, geology, and metallurgy. The sympathetic arrangements make us question the very way we understand what things are, how they have come to be, and what possibilities exist within their preservation and decay.

Waging Culture

Attention all policy wonks: the next socio-economic survey of Canadian visual artists is underway. More pie charts and maybe even, if you’re really lucky, a few box and whisker charts! This iteration will collect information on the 2012 calendar year, and will allow us to identify the effects of the last five years of policy initiatives on the economic health of artists in Canada. If you’re an artist, and get one of our email solicitations to take part, please please please do. In case you missed the last report, visit www.theagyuisoutthere.org/wagingculture to get your very own e-copy.

Open Doors Toronto

This year AGYU participates in Open Doors Toronto with tours of Provenance Unknown on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission, as always, is free.

Contemporary Art Bus

Sunday, April 28, 2013, 12 – 4 PM  FREE

Tour starts at the Koffler Gallery Off-Site at Epic Development Site at 48 Abell Street, and then departs for Blackwood Gallery and Art Gallery of York University returning to Abell Street for 4 pm. Seating is limited. Please RSVP by Friday 27 April to Juliana Zalucky at j.zalucky@utoronto.ca or 905-828-3789

Upcoming Exhibitions

Fall: Wael Shawky: The Cabaret Crusades

Allyson Mitchell: Killjoy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House

Winter 2014: Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA) #2

Education

Hairitage: Exploring our Roots

AGYU and Success Beyond Limits (SBL) join forces again this year to deliver HAIRITAGE: a workshop exploring the cultural politics of African hair. Initiated and co-facilitated by AGYU’s Allyson Adley, York University visual arts student Avia Allen, and SBL mentor Aliyah Burey, this program employs visual art and literature in order to delve into the cultural complexity of hair and its role as a powerful signifier of racialized difference.

Chronicles 2013

Building upon the successes of our Chronicles of the Outspoken program last spring and engaging some of the same youth artists-participants, this spring AGYU brings you Chronicles 2013. The M.A.D. Poet Melissa A. Dean and Quentin “Vercetty” Lindsay join forces to teach youth how to create thought-provoking poetry along with compelling visual art works. Stay tuned as youth gear up for an event showcasing a series of unforgettable performance. Visit www.theAGYUisOutThere.org for more information on date and time.

New Mentorship Program

Furthering our commitment to fostering and enriching the artistic practices of SBL’s emerging artists, the AGYU is facilitating a new mentorship program that brings York University Fine Arts students and aspiring SBL artists together. Nashana Zafis and Kareem Bennett were two stand-out performers featured in last year’s Chronicles event. Both SBL members are collaborating with co-founder of the Alias Dance Project and

York University dance student Meghan Cafferky on the creation of a new dance to be showcased in the upcoming Chronicle s2013.

A contributor to the AGYU’s Black Creek Storytelling Parade program in 2009, Aliyah Burey is currently a mentor at SBL and an aspiring playwright whose first play, The Easy Way Out, was recently performed by Jane and Finch-based performing arts collective NoManzLand. Aliyah is working with York University Theatre and Dramaturgy student Lucy Powis on further developing and strengthening her scriptwriting skills. Look out for the premiere of Aliyah’s latest theatrical production in Spring 2013.

The AGYU would like to thank Dance professor Mary Fogarty and Theatre professor Judith Rudakoff for supporting this mentorship program.

Social Media … WTF? We’re already Out There!

AGYU is not jumping into 2008 with carefree abandon. No. We know better than to trust the evils of Facebook. That is why we are eliciting the help of Administrative Studies student Jacky Li. As the Core Communication Ambassador of the Student Community & Leadership Development Department at York University, Li comes to the AGYU team as a seasoned pro producing a savvy plan for us to traverse the pitfalls and explore the wonders of social media-land. Look for us out there soon on your iThing.

We don’t need a webinar to tell us how it’s done! We had York’s Marketing and HR Course Director, Lisa Violo’s 4th year e-marketing class to guide us through the ever-changing world of electronic media. As the newest client, AGYU benefited from their expertise as they built a realistic, multichannel plan for the gallery’s marketing expansion. The student groups helped plan the overall development and design that utilized integrated marketing strategies to focus on peer-to-peer interaction using online tools and social media. As if we don’t already work hard enough to get people Out There! The Performance Bus is (apparently) so 2003!

Reports

IMAGINE US

Mobilized in direct response to sexual and gender-based violence on campus, Chase Joynt’s IMAGINE US was boldly installed in Vari Hall this March. By co-opting the structures of various York University advertisements and popular poster sales, IMAGINE US utilized still and moving image portraits to fearlessly turn the densely populated public space into an unavoidable viewing gallery of personal connections to these issues. Passing through, audiences quickly learned that each face unflinchingly featured by Joynt carries a history of sexual and/or gender based violence; the sheer size and scale of the project imploring the attention of all people. Part Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, part Foucauldian panopticon, Joynt brazenly shifts the gaze back onto the York community, confronting viewers with the unavoidable realities of violence experienced by so many.

AGYU would like to thank the Woman and Trans People Safety Committee at York University for their generous support of this project.


Inuit Collection installed at the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services

This past fall AGYU installed a selection of works from its impressive Inuit Collection at the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services, 246 York Lanes. We encourage you to visit this innovative centre and check out this important work!

Inclusion Day at York University

AGYU participated in sharing ideas and respecting differences at York’s Inclusion Day celebration and information sessions. Organized by the Centre for Human Rights, the event focused on the research and work of Deanna Bowen. A crowd of participants moved through the gallery, lively animating the day’s discussion through the Invisible Empires exhibition.

Publications

New publications are nesting on our shelves this spring.

First off, Glamour is Theft: A User’s Guide to General Idea, 1969–1978. It is what it claims to be: a guide to the first decade of the Canadian trio who brought glamour, amongst other things, to Canadian art. The most comprehensive book to date on General Idea is written by Philip Monk and thoughtfully designed by Barr Gilmore.  $40 in hardcover.

Then, Humberto Vélez: Aesthetic of Collaboration is a bilingual Spanish/English book on the participatory performance work of this Panamanian artist. The first book on Vélez, it includes contributions from Emelie Chhangur, Luis Camnitzer, Adrienne Samos, and Hans-Michael Herzog. Lisa Kiss brought the design for this one, and it is as stunning as her work always is. $30 in softcover.

Finally, there’s the long awaited catalogue of Terrance Houle: Givn’r, a co-publication with Plug In ICA. Sébastien Aubin did the design, and Anthony Kiendl, Emelie Chhangur, and Richard William Hill did the writing. $25 in softcover.

As you read this, work continues on upcoming publications: Will Munro, Raqs media collective, Anitra Hamilton, Imaginary Homelands, Deanna Bowen, and, of course, Sara Angelucci. Details, always, to come.

AGYU Artists’ Book of the Moment

We know you’ve been waiting to hear this: we are currently accepting submissions to the next ABotM. Check the website (www.theagyuisoutthere.org/abotm/books) for all the details. Your book could be next!