About the AGYU

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.

Acknowledgement

The Art Gallery of York University respectfully acknowledges our presence on the traditional territory of Indigenous Nations including the Wendat, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), and Anishinaabe, and that this territory is the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Covenant and Wampum between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Three Fires Confederacy (the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomie), and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources in and around the Great Lakes. The Three Fire Confederacy includes the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, who settled in what is now the City of Toronto. In 1805, the Mississaugas agreed to the sale of tracts of land known as Crown Treaty No. 13 (also referred to as the Toronto Purchase), although the payment for the land was not concluded until 2010. As a result of the Toronto Purchase, the protection and management of the land is now shared with the present generation of inhabitants of Toronto and, as Métis Elder Duke Redbird reminds us, “remembering always that we never own the land but rather borrow its use from our children.”

In 2011, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation presented the AGYU with an Eagle Feather to acknowledge our continued relationship, built through collaboration beginning in 2009 and which has resulted in two projects, The Awakening in 2011 and Ring of Fire in 2015. We have installed this Eagle Feather permanently in the AGYU lobby as a visual reminder of our friendship, respect, and trust within this relationship.

In acknowledging that York University occupies colonized Indigenous territories, and out of respect for the rights of Indigenous people, we accept our collective responsibility to recognize our colonial histories as well as their present-day manifestations and to honour, protect, and sustain this land.

AGYU promotes LGBTQ2+ positive spaces and experiences and is barrier-free. All events out there are free of charge and open to everyone.

Annual Report

Our 2015 – 2016 Annual Report is now available. Take a look at what we did!