Fall 2013 Newsletter
Out There Breaking a Lance

Wael Shawky: The Cabaret Crusades

11 September – 1 December 2013

Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 11, 6-9 pm

Curated by AGYU Director Philip Monk

Wael Shawky: Cabaret Crusades is the first full-scale exhibition in Canada of this Egyptian artist from Alexandria. The exhibition is comprised of the first two of a projected series of four films collectively called the Cabaret Crusades. At the AGYU, The Horror Show File (2010) and The Path to Cairo (2012) are shown.

The West knows the Crusades through its own history, and lore that has suffused our culture, but here the story is told from the Arab point of view, which spoke of the Crusades, beginning in 1096 and lasting two centuries, as “the Frankish invasions.” The series is based on the book The Crusades through Arab Eyes, by Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, amongst other sources. Not only told from the Arab point of view (in Arabic with English subtitles), the story is performed by puppets. One soon realizes that a violent history actually can be told effectively and movingly through puppets and even be given the Hollywood treatment—in HD and surround sound.

The two films abbreviate the history of the Crusades to a number of key episodes. The Horror Show File starts with Pope Urban II’s advocacy of the Crusades in 1095 at the Council of Clermont, in response to an appeal by Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, and ends with the fall of Jerusalem in 1099. Along the way we are witness to massacres and betrayals as the Crusaders ransack and conquer their way to Jerusalem.

The Path to Cairo opens with the Crusaders in control of Jerusalem and continues through a fifty-year period of continuing strife until the first counter Arab victory by Zangi at Edessa in 1144 and his murder in 1146. All through this confusing period, where the action passes between Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, Antioch, Aleppo, Homs, and Edessa, we witness internecine conflict between various Arab rulers (assassinations or refusal of assistance) and strange alliances between Franks and Arabs. (The city names listed here betoken the relevance of this story of the Crusades to present day Middle Eastern politics.)

The Horror Show File (31:49) was made in Italy using a collection of hundreds of antique wooden marionettes that were 200-years old. The Path to Cairo (60:00) was made in Provence and involved the making of original ceramic marionettes. Sets here also more complex, based on Arab and Persian medieval miniatures, and music and song play a strong role, in part discriminating the Shia and Sunni characters.

Wael Shawky, born 1971 in Alexandria, lived in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, until he moved with his family back to Egypt when he was fourteen. He received his BFA from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University in 1994 and his MFA from the Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in 2001. He is a veteran of many international biennials including most recently Sharjah Biennial 11. Recent exhibitions include Al Araba Al Madfuna at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin (2012). Upcoming exhibitions include the Serpentine Gallery, London, and MoMA PS1, New York. In 2010, he established MASS Alexandria, an academy for young artists.

Artist Talk

Wael Shawky discussing his work at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St W) on Monday, 9 September at 7:00 pm. Free

Get on The Performance Bus!

Join the crusade to the AGYU as Public Studio eases the journey with Arab hospitality. Delving into the world of Egyptian Cinema—from grooving tunes to shadow puppets—the show begins on our mobile caravanserai (a.k.a., The Performance Bus) en route to the opening reception of Wael Shawky: The Cabaret Crusades on Wednesday, 11 September. The free Performance Bus departs OCADU (100 McCaul Street) at 6 pm sharp and returns downtown at 9 pm.

Founded in 2007, Public Studio is the collective art practice of Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky. Flanders, a filmmaker, and Sawatzky, a practicing architect, focus on landscape as a site of cultural struggle. They challenge viewers to look more closely at the world around us, through their hauntingly beautiful images. Recent projects include Road Movie, a six-screen installation based on travels and research in Israel and Palestine that was featured at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Berlinale.

What is she building down there?

AGYU Off-Site: Allyson Mitchell

Kill Joy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House

303 Lansdowne Ave (at Dundas)

Join us on Wednesday, October 16 from 6pm to midnight for a one-night-only opening extravaganza featuring 25 live performances, rock bands, video projections, tours, food trucks, and more! Kill Joy’s Kastle will remain open to the public from October 17 to 30 from 4-8 pm daily.

With same-sex marriage (and divorce) well established in Canada, it appears to some as though things are how they ought to be. To others, who believe that marriage is a holy institution that represents the union of a cisgendered man and a cisgendered woman, same-sex marriage may represent more a harbinger of doom and the nigh end times as morals corrode, institutions crumble, natural disasters strike, and plagues infest. Yet to some radical queer-identified folks, the recognition of same-sex relationships as the same as heteronormative ones is nigh apocalyptic, too: the end and erosion of decades of activism that called for a reordering of society rather than merely an assimilation of queer culture.

Allyson Mitchell’s Kill Joy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House rises up out of this doomsday scenario. Lez-erected in-situ over a period of three months, this maximalist, off-site project finds its roots in traditional carnival haunted houses and evangelical Christian fright nights but also grows out of a long tradition of feminist organizing as well as the use of craft and community as a material and political means.

Opening for Hallowe’en, Kill Joy’s Kastle playfully appropriates the conventions of the haunted house genre with a cast of ghosts, ghouls, bio-engineered monsters, indoctrinators, and avengers. Its eight “scarios” are designed to prey on the fears of queer culture. (Paranormal Consciousness Raising anyone?) Made in collaboration with a host of artists and activists from across disciplines, this installation/performance has resulted in even more unconventional and humungous hybrids of craft-based practices.

Through the development of Kill Joy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House Allyson mobilizes her “deep lez” commitment to radical queer world-making potential, making visible new kinds of representations of feminist sexuality and queer concepts of community and activism. Out of a four-month period of skill sharing, resource pooling, network building, and the collective creative processes integral to building a lesbian feminist space (haunted or not), a new type of pedagogical space has emerged. The situation has created a real feminist force to be reckoned with! And that, for some, might be the scariest thing of all! (Insert witchy cackle here).

Since establishing her commitment to a visual arts practice in 1999, Allyson Mitchell has primarily concentrated on the creation of illustrations, films, performances, sculptures, and site-specific installations that explore the implications of consumption, the domestic as politicized sphere, lesbian sexuality, and the complexity of the female psyche.  Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues including the Textile Museum of Canada, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Warhol Museum, Tate Modern, and the British Film Institute. Dr. Mitchell runs FAG, a feminist art gallery, with Deirdre Logue and is a professor in the school of Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies at York University, where she continues to challenge heteronormative pedagogical practices and inspire/be inspired by new generations of feminists to take action. Beware!

Allyson Mitchell would like to thank the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the York University Faculty Association (YUFA) for their financial support of this project.

Audio Out listening post

Christof Migone, Flipper A

1 September – 30 November 2013

On the Audio Out listening post is Flipper A, a transposition of the classic flip-book into the sonic realm by Toronto-based Christof Migone. A recording of ninety-nine books with titles beginning with the letter A from the Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives at the Banff Center. Audio books, taken literally.

ABotM

So, as we approach the deadline for the 2013 AGYU Artists’ Book of the Moment we want to take this moment to remind you: the AGYU Loves Artists’ Books. The ABotM, an ongoing international prize for artists’ books, is in its fourth incarnation. In each iteration, an independent jury selects the most deserving titles from the submissions, and the one book which rises to the top of the ABotM receives an award of $1,500. Sweet.

Deadline for submissions: 15 November 2013

Open to all that fit the bill.

http://www.theagyuisoutthere.org/abotm/books/

Waging Culture 2012

As you read this, an artist somewhere in Canada dutifully is filling in their survey for our study of the socio-economic status of Canadian visual artists. Data collection began earlier this summer, and we’re about halfway through. (If you get an invite to participate, please do. The more the merrier.)

In preparation for the data analysis, we’re brushing up on our excel skillz, our hazy memories of second-year stats courses, and our data-visualisation pretensions (Edward Tufte, save us!). Results will start to be released early in 2014.

If, on the other hand, you’re impatient and want to know now, might we suggest reviewing the 2007 study (http://www.theAGYUisOutThere.org/wagingculture/) or check out the 2010 report by Guy Bellevance on the state of research in the visual arts (http://visualartsvisuels.ca/en/resources/).

Foreign Agent

Jon Sasaki is back from Japan and wants to share his personal journal with you.  The Foreign Agent blog series provides a platform for artists, writers, and curators travelling the globe to bring fresh ideas back to Toronto. Soon to appear on our website.

Contemporary Art Bus

Sunday, 20 October 2013, 12 – 5 PM. Free

Tour starts at the Koffler Gallery Off-Site at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal (9 Queens Quay West) and then departs for Blackwood Gallery and AGYU returning to the Terminal at 5 pm. Seating is limited. Please RSVP by Friday October 18 to Erin Peck at peck@utsc.utoronto.ca or 416.208.2766.

FROSH 2013

It is that time of year again… Back To School! AGYU knows what students want: free stuff! AGYU will be doling out the love at YorkFest Festival Village on Campus Walk September 18, making sure that students walk away with a little more than pizza.

REPORTS

Summer Residencies: Camilla Singh and Allyson Mitchell

Our summer residencies stay close to home this year with two Toronto artists preparing work for their respective AGYU projects. Camilla Singh continues her fourteen-month AGYU/ Sculpture Area residency (Department of Visual Arts and Art History, York University) where she has been learning hard-core and hands-on sculpture processes: from silicon mould-making to 3D scanning and modelling to body casting, in the process producing replicas of AGYU staff (not a part of the haunted house BTW!). Meanwhile Allyson Mitchell has been busily creating everything from vampiric, radical grannies to crochet cobwebs and dreaming up other monstrous, sasquatch-like, hairy vulvic and gender-fluid imagery.

Having these two amazing Toronto-based artists in residence meant that we’ve been able to incorporate a pedagogical and community-building component into their production phases. Each artist has worked with a team of students and emerging artists from across the GTA, mentoring them while learning from them, and bringing them together alongside an older generation of artists and activists to share ideas, skills, and, hopefully, pave the way for future collaborations. In a sense the AGYU has been in residence too, becoming part of York’s Sculpture Area and the Feminist Art Gallery (FAG). Special thank you to Brandon Vickerd, Rhianna Paul, Andrew Gugan, Roch Smith, Joel Wengle, Kevin Yates, Deirdre Logue, Johnson Ngo, Brette Gabel, Alisa Grigorovich, Heidi Nagtegaal, and AGYU’s summer curatorial assistant Lena Suksi and gallery assistants Karen Pham and Erika Roshan.

Pride 2013

KAPOW! AGYU took a leadership role in making York @ Pride the biggest most super celebration ever! Along with the Centre for Human Rights (CHR), York Federation of Students (YFS), TBLGAY, and SexGen York committee, AGYU asked the LGBTTIQQ2SA communities at York to harness their inner superhero and fly the rainbow flag high.

With the help of artist and illustrator Maurice Vellekoop we flew into the Community Fair on Church Street with our Super Queer Super Heroes. These out-of-this-world mascots were a beacon of colour that attracted thousands to our booth to cool off.

The York @ Pride caped crusaders bounced their butts to the beat of DJ Mama Knows who created the ultimate party playlist for the ride all the way down Yonge Street in the 33rd annual Pride Parade.

New AGYU Award!

In conjunction with the Fine Arts Open House, which highlights the talents and hard work of the undergraduate visual arts students, AGYU recognized Andy Fallon with our new “AGYU” award: Aboriginal Greatness Yet Unrecognized. Congratulations!

The AGYU Writing Award: Smart Cash for Good Writing:

Writing doesn’t need to be scary. To take the fear out of critical writing, AGYU eases the pain with a little cash.  The annual AGYU Writing Award acknowledges excellence in two categories: review ($150 award) and a thematic article ($200 award) based on any of the exhibitions held at the AGYU over the course of the academic year.

This year, the competition was frightfully fierce. Students had a lot to say about the Deanna Bowen’s bold exhibition Invisible Empires. Ashley Mitrakos’ thematic essay successfully tackled the difficult images positioned in Bowen’s presentation of the KKK archives of century-long history in Canada.  The review goes to Natasha Chaykowski for her adept reading of Sara Angelucci’s capricious hybrids in Provenance Unknown. You can find them both here: http://theagyuisoutthere.org/everywhere/?cat=171.

EDUCATION

A part of Chronicles is about telling our own story because often times the media wants to tell stories for us, they want to tell us what it’s like to be a youth growing up in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood…it’s important for us to tell our own stories. A great writer Chinua Achebe once said “that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” —Quentin “Vercetty” Lindsay

Back by popular demand for a second year in a row, on May 29, Chronicles 2013 featured off-the-hook spoken word poetry, dance, and musical performances by a stellar lineup of Success Beyond Limits (SBL) artists. The event was hosted by The M.A.D Poet a.k.a. Melissa A. Dean and Quentin “Vercetty” Lindsay, two rising stars on Toronto’ s spoken word poetry scene. Commanding the stage at York’s state-of-the art Communities Recital Hall, the artists performed powerful and incisive poetry that meditated upon an array of themes chronicling the internal divisions that separate those that live “up top” from those that live on the “south side” of the Jane and Finch community; the resolve to assert feminist agency in order to challenge gender discrimination; and the incredible resilience of a survivor of sexual abuse who overcomes hopelessness to find empowerment. A number of our performers turned to poetry to reflect upon the pain and grief resulting from the recent tragic and senseless loss of much loved community youth St. Aubyn Rodney to gun violence. As a result of her mentorship with York University dance student Megan Cafferky, Nashana Zafis premiered her first choreographed piece alongside dancer Precilla Sanichar. Showcasing their vocal talents, Destiny Henry, Marocia Matthews, Taneese Jones, and Princess Hoddinott captivated audience members with a series of moving a capella gospel and pop performances. Fusing dance hall with Hip Hop, YOP Productions burst onto the stage with an electrifying dance performance.

Special thank you to Success Beyond Limits, York Alumni Relations, and the Equitable and Inclusive Schools Department of the Toronto District School Board for supporting Chronicles 2013.

Watch out Michie Mee, the next generation has arrived!

Impressed by the compelling performances she saw at AGYU’s Chronicles 2013 event, CHRY radio host Charlyn Ellis invited Aliyah Burey, Kareem Bennett, DC, Princess Hoddinott, and Destiny Henry to perform live on her radio program Covered and Bound on June 10. SBL artists were thrilled to have the incredible opportunity to share their poetry and music with CHRY listeners.  On June 23, SBL artists Destiny Henry and Moose both delivered impressive spoken word and a cappella performances as part of the Words and Vibes event held at Accents Bookstore.

ACE Student Internship

This past winter and spring Emery Collegiate High School student Assad Waseem completed his ACE (Advanced Credit Experience) co-op placement at the AGYU. In addition to researching contemporary South Asian visual artists, Assad led fellow ACE students on a tour of Sara Angelucci’s exhibition Provenance Unknown.

PUBLICATIONS

New

Soon to grace our shelves is our latest, Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic. Not just a catalogue of our Winter 2012 exhibition, it covers as much as was possible the entire practice of Will, from his studio work to his club nights, from Vazaleen to the Westside Stitches Couture Club. Loaded with illustrations; texts by Philip Monk and Emelie Chhangur, Luis Jacob, Bruce LaBruce, and Leila Pourtavaf; a compendium of Vaseline/Vazaleen nights; and, of course, underwear. Designed by Lisa Kiss to her usual standards (i.e., beautiful).

Will, you’re still missed.

Recent

Glamour is Theft: A User’s Guide to General Idea, 1969–1978 and Humberto Vélez: Aesthetics of Collaboration might now be called recent, but they’re still new to our hearts. Look for them on better bookstores and websites all over the place.

Forthcoming

Upcoming books include case studies of ten years of the Raqs Media Collective, a long-awaited monograph on the work of Anitra Hamilton, and a few other treats we’re holding up our sleeves. Details on all our publications, including the opportunity to order them for yourself, are at: http://www.theAGYUisOutThere.org/publications

UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS

Winter: Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA) #2

Ame Henderson, Terrarea (Janis Demkiw, Emily Hogg, Olia Mishchenko), J.P. King, Maggie Flynn

Spring: Camilla Singh: Uniforms for Non-Uniform Work