Toronto Biennial of Art (the Biennial/TBA) announced its confirmed roster of Canadian and international artists for the second edition of the city-wide event, on view March 26 to June 5, 2022. Tairone Bastien, Candice Hopkins, and Katie Lawson are the curatorial team for the free, 72-day event with contributions from former TBA curators Clare Butcher and Myung-Sun Kim. The event will include 23 new commissions at nine venues across the city and Greater Toronto Area. As the curatorial team has worked on two editions of the Biennial, a number of artists from 2019 are returning in 2022 as part of a longer-term engagement, including Aycoobo (Wilson Rodríguez), Judy Chicago, Shezad Dawood, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Ange Loft with Jumblies Theatre & Arts, Jumana Manna, Abel Rodríguez, Susan Schuppli, and Syrus Marcus Ware.
Commissioned and invited artists contributing to TBA 2022 exhibitions and programs include: Derya Akay, Ghazaleh Avarzamani, Andrea Carlson, Jeffrey Gibson, Hanyaterra | Jatiwangi Art Factory*, Marguerite Humeau, Timothy Yanick Hunter*, Tsēmā Igharas and Erin Siddall, Janet Kigusiuq, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Amy Malbeuf, Victoria Mamnguqsualuk, Anne Zanele Mutema*, Joar Nango, Eduardo Navarro, Aki Onda, Jessie Oonark, Paul Pfeiffer, Dana Prieto, Augustas Serapinas, Buhlebezwe Siwani*, and Denyse Thomasos. They join the following list of previously announced 2022 Biennial artists: Nadia Belerique, Brian Jungen, Waqas Khan, Mata Aho Collective, Eric-Paul Riege, and Camille Turner.
*Artists invited by Chiedza Pasipanodya and Sebastian de Line, the Curatorial Fellows for TBA 2022.
“We are beyond excited to launch the second edition of the Toronto Biennial of Art in 2022,” said TBA Founder and Executive Director Patrizia Libralato. “Having postponed our event by six months, we are eager to invite our local audiences and communities back, and excited to once again welcome the world to Toronto this spring to experience ambitious contemporary art by among the most compelling artists working today. Our curatorial team has expanded on the themes of the 2019 Biennial to create a second edition that speaks directly to many facets of Toronto’s history, geography, and culture that inform what our city is today. The Biennial team is also honoured to welcome back partners and sponsors who continue to support our bold vision.”
In total, the Biennial will bring together 37 local and international artists, hailing from over 18 places of origin including Argentina, Canada, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and Zimbabwe, as well as Indigenous communities in Canada, Colombia, Aotearoa | New Zealand, Norway, and the United States. The range of contributors reflects Toronto’s status as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world and the Biennial’s commitment to inspire people, bridge communities, and contribute to global conversations. Additional participants will be announced in February 2022 along with details for the Biennial’s extensive public programs and creative partnerships.
TBA 2019, titled The Shoreline Dilemma, was the first chapter of the two-part biennial, tracing various interconnected narratives and ecologies of the ever-changing shoreline of Lake Ontario. These connections revealed systems of resistance against and movement away from industrial colonial culture, uncovering polyphonic histories embedded in and around the shoreline.
The second chapter of the Biennial, What Water Knows, the Land Remembers, will explore locations near above-ground and hidden tributaries that channel water into Lake Ontario, as well as the ravines that shape the city’s geography. Extending the interconnections of those locations and expanding the notions of the central question from 2019, “What does it mean to be in relation?,” the curators envision expansive forms of kinship – with each other, their collaborators and the more-than-human, a belief that humans are in deep relation with other living beings. To frame and help guide their collaboration, the curators have generated a lexicon – a shared vocabulary – to ground their thinking and ongoing processes of exhibition-making. Examples of lexical words are bolded and underlined in the following descriptions of 2022 Biennial Highlights.
2022 Biennial Highlights
Artists have responded to the lexicon with new works that contemplate different kinds of relations and examine the past and present to project alternative futures. Highlights of new works for the 2022 Biennial include:
Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Choctaw/Cherokee) is creating I AM YOUR RELATIVE, a multi-purpose installation featuring 15 moveable stages that will populate the ground floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA). Co-commissioned by MOCA and TBA, the surface of the stages will become an archive over time as they are covered with posters created by Gibson that incorporate text and images from local historical archives and from the public. This visual archive, which prioritizes Indigenous, Black, Brown and queer voices, speaks to what histories are remembered and how. Over the course of the exhibition, the stages will host Biennial artists’ performances, talks, workshops, and gatherings, amplifying community voices past and present. MOCA and TBA plan to record many of the stage events to create a permanent archive. I AM YOUR RELATIVE will be on view at MOCA February – May 2022 with an installation of related work by Gibson at the Small Arms Inspection Building, Mississauga, during TBA 2022.
Tanya Lukin Linklater (Alutiiq) explores Indigenous geometries and ideas of inheritance. Linklater’s Biennial project features four dancers responding to her concise texts and instructions of a physical investigation of water through intimate performances filmed in their homes. Linklater has edited the performances into a video presentation for her installation at the Biennial. In the exhibition space, two performance platforms showing the videos will be activated by linear sculptures made of brightly coloured “kohkum scarves.” Kohkum (“grandmother” in Cree language) scarves are worn by powwow dancers, water protectors, and people who want to cite grandmother knowledge. The artist recognizes writer Saidiya Hartman who relays that inheritances are chosen. The inheritors are then concerned with what histories are claimed and what stories are surfaced.
Dana Prieto will work with soil and water from land adjacent to the Small Arms Inspection Building, to create a site-responsive ceramic installation for the site. Prieto’s commission, Footnotes for an Arsenal, proposes an exercise to think about the ground where we stand, an invitation to enact an unflinching, caring, and responsible attention to that ground, and to the profound social, historical, and chemical enmeshments that link us to it. Prieto will create terracotta tiles that will cover a portion of the gallery floor bringing the land back to the fore in a place that has had a complicated environmental history. In 1990, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) conducted an environmental audit of the site – a former large munitions manufacturing plant – revealing the presence of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), volatile organic compounds, and combustible gases across nineteen acres. The site was acquired by TRCA in 1992 and underwent extensive remediation.
Eric-Paul Riege (Diné) is an artist who creates woven sculptures, wearable art, and durational performances that directly link him to generations of makers and women weavers in his family. Inheritance and ideas of material faith figure into Riege’s decidedly matriarchal practice. His new installation, a home for Her, is a year-long project drawn from a collection of weavings made by Riege together with the women in his family. In his installation a series of looms create the outline of his childhood home and Riege asks the question, “how do we survive settlement?” As Riege explains, “our stories, our craft, our teachings, and our gifts as Indigenous peoples are woven into our bodies.” For Reige then, inheritance is woven from the intersections between cosmologies, family, story, and Indigenous knowledge, collapsing any division between the maker and the material, the warp and the weft.
Camille Turner will create Nave, an immersive multimedia installation exploring the link between the nave of a church, a tomb, and the hold of a ship, which Turner calls “the womb of the world.” This poetic reference relates to the forces that came to shape the world as we know it, of which the transatlantic slave trade played a major role. Revisiting the ship’s hold and impact of the slave trade on Canadian history, Turner’s video features the ancestor from the Age of Awakening — an afro
futurist time-traveler played by the artist — who visits a church in the Age of Silence, circa 2021, in order to perform a ritual to connect with ancestors of the past. Called upon is an ancestor from the sea, standing on the coast, dedicating song and dance to become a bridge to the past. A church is, in and out of view, a constant reminder of Canadian history, Black histories, the legacy of the slave trade, and the ideological beliefs at play therein.
Syrus Marcus Ware is one of several artists TBA curators have been working with across two editions of the Biennial. As a continuation from his 2019 Antarctica commission, the artist presents MBL: Freedom in 2022, as the next chapter of his expansive, multimedia, multi-year project that predicts a near-future wherein Antarctica has become the only habitable place on the planet. Three Antarcticans from Black, Indigenous, and POC communities abandon their mission to colonize Antarctica by swimming in icy waters towards the only part of the continent not claimed by a country, Mary Bird Land or MBL. The three set out to create a free territory for all activists and abolitionists to come to. When they land on the shores of MBL they make an unexpected discovery that changes their trajectory.
Reflecting on climate change, white supremacy, abolition, and disability justice, the work will be presented as an interactive film experience, situating participants on the Mary Bird Land campsite. During the Biennial, the audience will be invited to participate in a series of workshops and potentially performance nights with actors Yousef Kadoura, Heath Salazar, Ravyn Wngz, and Dainty Smith.
Toronto Biennial of Art Publications is a growing library of content, contexts, and concepts emerging from and expanding on TBA’s exhibitions and public programs. Aligning with TBA 2022, Publications will expand to include an Exhibition Publication that spans TBA’s 2019 and 2022 editions as well as further iterations of the Programs Publication. TBA recently launched Part One: This is Not An Archive, the first chapter of a digital publication that brings together the voices and process-based methodologies of past and present contributors, and traces ever-changing networks of relationships between practices, ideas, and questions that shape Biennial Programs over time.
Shared via a newly-developed interactive digital platform designed by Ali Shamas Qadeer and Chris Lee, the publication invites readers to engage with content online, and offers free, downloadable print options. Its editorial team is composed of Clare Butcher (managing editor) and Myung-Sun Kim, with editorial support from Ilana Shamoon and Melody Moon-Kyoung Cho (editorial assistant). Part One: This is Not An Archive does not attempt to offer an overview of TBA Programs but rather intimate insights into ongoing conversations, embodied activities, roving networks, and more.
Preliminary List of Venue and Exhibition Partners
Building creative partnerships through collaborative installations, exhibitions, and programming across Toronto and beyond is an integral part of the Biennial’s core activities. The 2022 Biennial will work with established art institutions, artist-run centres, arts organizations, community organizations, educational institutions, and repurposed spaces.
Exhibition Venues: 5 Lower Jarvis Street; 72 Perth Avenue; Arsenal Contemporary Art; Colborne Lodge; Fort York National Historic Site; Mercer Union; Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA); Small Arms Inspection Building (SAIB); and Textile Museum of Canada.
Exhibition Partners include: Aga Khan Museum; Agnes Etherington Art Centre; Art Gallery of York University (AGYU); Art Toronto; Artica Svalbard; ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021-2022; Castlepoint Numa; Evergreen; FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art; Gardiner Museum; Institut Français; Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts; Mercer Union; MOMENTA Biennale de l’image; Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA); Oakville Galleries; OCAD University; Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA); Textile Museum of Canada; The Daniels Corporation; and Toronto Sculpture Garden.
Additional partners will be announced in the coming months.
TBA Founders and Funders
The Toronto Biennial of Art is grateful to all contributing donors for their generous support. Major funders to-date include: The Pierre Lassonde Family Foundation; RBC Foundation; Polar Foundation; The Michael and Sonja Koerner Charitable Foundation; Michelle Koerner & Kevin Doyle; Delaney Family Foundation; Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation; Miranda Hubbs; TD Bank Group; Castlepoint Studio Partners; Hal Jackman Foundation; Newpoint Developments Inc.; Nutrien; Woodbridge Investments Corporation; Yamana Gold Inc.; Goring Family Foundation at the Toronto Foundation; Waterfront BIA; NAMARA; Ouellette Family Foundation; and our many generous individual donors, including our Founding supporters.
TBA is also grateful for our government supporters: ArtworxTO; Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021-2022; Canada Council for the Arts; City of Mississauga; City of Toronto; Government of Canada; Government of Ontario; Ontario Arts Council; Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; and Toronto Arts Council.
TBA also acknowledges the support of our media partners to-date: Akimbo; blogTO, Cineplex Media; Destination Toronto; St. Joseph Communications; Toronto Star; and Yonge-Dundas Square.
About the Toronto Biennial of Art
The Toronto Biennial of Art’s mission is to make contemporary art available to everyone. For 10 weeks every two years, local and international Biennial artists transform Toronto and the surrounding regions with artworks, talks, and performances. The Biennial’s free, citywide programming aims to inspire individuals, bridge communities, and contribute to global conversations.
The inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art launched in 2019 and was a popular and critical success, welcoming nearly 300,000 local and international visitors to 15 sites that featured 161 artists and performers. The Biennial provides expanded views of contemporary art practices, including significant contributions by artists from Black, Indigenous, and POC communities, and is establishing a legacy of free and accessible contemporary arts programming in Toronto, Mississauga, and the surrounding GTA.