March 17, 2011

OUT THERE: The Periphery as Centre

Art Gallery of York University
Art Gallery of York University (AGYU)Aesthetics of CollaborationHumberto Vélez

The exhibition at the AGYU opens April 13 from 6–9 pm and runs until June 26.

This exhibition is an alternative mapping of the world’s cities as told through the dreams, aspirations, and new forms of belonging forged by common, marginalized, or overlooked peoples living there. No one-man band, Vélez has made it his practice to work collaboratively with groups in Cuenca (Ecuador), Panama City (Panama), La Habana (Cuba), Valparaíso (Chile), Las Palmas Gran Canaria (Spain), as well as London, Liverpool, Manchester (England), and Paris (France). He has worked with boxers, hip-hop musicians, Indigenous peoples, refugees, asylum seekers, synchronized swimmers, spoken word artists, marching bands, body-builders, amongst many others—not to mention llamas and alpacas! Vélez brings these diverse groups together in projects that develop what he calls his collaborators’ “capacity to produce aesthetics” in participatory projects at the forefront of new contemporary art practices today. Over the past decade, these collaborations have resulted in hybrid processions/sport and music events such as large-scale performative boxing matches cum hip-hop dancing events with youth (Tate Modern, 2007), concerts with popular poets (Valparaíso: in(ter)venciones, 2010), orchestrated swim meets (Pompidou, 2010), and bodybuilding competitions, transcending divisions of gender and class with all of them accompanied by marching bands, spoken word, or commissioned hip-hop music.

The world tour stops here in an AGYU layover at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) with Vélez’s latest monumental performance, The Awakening. The performance takes it cue from Métis leader Louis Riel’s famous 1885 quotation, “My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” Commissioned by the AGYU and three years in the making through residencies in 2009, 2010, and 2011, The Awakening is the culmination of a sustained relationship between Humberto and the people of Toronto and surrounding area. (The exhibition and performance are the artist’s first projects in North America.) The performance brings together First Nations artists, musicians, and dancers (from the Greater Toronto Area and the Mississaugas of The New Credit First Nations), with Aboriginal youth and elders, and with Toronto’s Urban Runners (parkours) in a new “art ceremony” in the symbolic centre of Toronto’s visual culture (and power)—the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Walker Court onSaturday, May 14 at 4:30 pm. The exhibition and performance is curated by Emelie Chhangur, Assistant Director/Curator, AGYU.

Wishing you could get back home or somewhere else?

Travel out there on The Performance Bus with Toronto artist Jon Sasaki to the Vélez opening at the AGYU but please don’t ask along with him, “Are We There Yet?” – because this is just the start of your journey (and we’re not willing to give up the joke quite yet).

Make the AGYU your travel centre and take off to Taiwan with Amsterdam-based curator JacobKorczynski’s Foreign Agent tour of Taiwan’s two biennials at:

Afraid to travel?

Then while at the AGYU hide in our vitrines—located just outside the gallery—and get caught up in Toronto artist Jennie Suddick’s webbed work.

Or rise up from the bottom and learn the winner of the second annual Artists’ Book of the Moment Award(ABOTM- the “a” is silent), AGYU’s prize for artists’ books – cause they matter the world over.

Or get the two-sided story (we love these) on artists and curators with Toronto artist and curator Camilla Singh’s Curatorial Sartorial – part two, which continues (for the rest of the year) on-line on AGYU’s Studio Blog at: 

After a journey to the centre and back, return to the periphery as centre.

The Periphery is the Centre now.

The Art Gallery of York University is a university-affiliated public non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and our membership.

The AGYU is located in the Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street Toronto. Gallery hours are: Monday to Friday, 10 am–4 pm; Wednesday, 10am–8 pm; Sunday from noon–5 pm; and closed Saturday. Admission to everything out there is free and worth the ride to North York, even if it is on the periphery.

AGYU is out there

Do you have questions or require further information or images? Please contact Emelie Chhangur, Assistant Director/ Curator, AGYU, +1.416.736.5169 [email protected]

Thank you!

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