Departing from the notion of “out there,” the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) is an artistically and intellectually driven public art gallery dedicated to manifesting contemporary art through diverse cultural circuits by continuously, and simultaneously, creating and transcending contexts.
The AGYU moves fluidly between two artistic policies that inflect each other in an ever more integrative process. The first reflects our prime mandate of producing quality exhibitions and innovative scholarly publications and artist books at the forefront of contemporary art and its discourses, operating equally on a national/local and international level with the same commitments to each-but always from our point of view. The second reflects our “out there” vision of creatively transforming the institution by responding to artistic practices beyond the “routine” of exhibition schedules.
While the AGYU has been changing itself into a major contemporary art gallery, it has been transforming itself more radically otherwise without compromising this first, more visible commitment. We have done so by working differently with artists. Beyond our exhibitions, our out there vision transforms every aspect and function of an art institution into an intellectual endeavor and artist project. It may start with our performance bus or artist residencies, with our vitrines or web projects, but soon this ethos of working with artists and learning from them infiltrates all institutional activities. By working collaboratively with artists in an ongoing organic process, the institution becomes increasingly creative and integrative in all its activities. Every institutional function is treated as equally artistic and pedagogic, most of all the functions that we take to be least pedagogic and artistic, such as, for instance, marketing, audience development, or patron cultivation. We integrate programming, outreach, audience development, education, and marketing, conceiving them pedagogically as intertwined vehicles of artistic practice and modeling them on artists’ strategies. We learn from artists and then commission them, for instance, to do our marketing.
Integration of all activities means breaking all preconceived, traditional boundaries and social relations, especially those between artists and their audiences in order to bring them more intimately together. Learning from artists, we teach the public in all we do. Since we relate all we do to artists, everything we do is pedagogical, advocating for artists and interpreting their work innovatively and freshly. Throughout, the public is invited to share this creative process. Transforming itself, the AGYU teaches as it goes, performing in public, but only on the basis of what it learns from artists. Perhaps the AGYU is the first institution to take this transformation on as a constant creative process.
Our 2015 – 2016 Annual Report is now available. Take a look at what we did!