The Toronto Biennial of Art announced an extensive series of free public programs during the 10-week Exhibition that will take place during its inaugural edition, from September 21 to December 1, 2019. More than 70 local and international Programs participants will lead talks, workshops, and performances that intersect and extend ideas emerging from the 2019 Biennial’s central question: “What does it mean to be in relation?

Programs will take place at over 15 sites across Toronto. The majority of programming will be held at the Biennial’s two main Exhibition venues—259 Lake Shore Boulevard East in the downtown Port Lands and the Small Arms Inspection Building in nearby Mississauga—but will also occur at site-specific locations throughout the city as well as online.


geisha gyrl: Commemoration, 2013. Photo: David Khang.

Programs is comprised of five streams:
Co-Relations is a program exploring critical issues—livability, access, interconnectivity—that intersect with and extend ideas addressed at the Biennial. It demonstrates a deep commitment to placemaking in a series of performances, conversations, and gatherings.
Currents is a platform for artist-led programming that invites visitors to engage directly with the creative and critical processes at work in the Exhibition. This stream consists of talks, performances, symphonies, star-gazing, and ceremonies that trace ideas circulating within and beyond the Biennial’s main sites and connect with other Exhibition locations.
Storytelling seeks to shift the mediation of contemporary art away from conventional modes of interpreting and informing toward narrating and embodying through weekly walks and conversations. An intergenerational and multilingual group of storytellers share personal insights and experiences of the city as they guide visitors through the Exhibition’s site-specific installations, research, and political perspectives. Taking us along hidden river routes, through archives, and into speculative futures, storytellers bring submerged narratives related to Toronto’s shifting shoreline to the surface.
Tools for Learning, generated with Biennial participants and collaborators, comprises group exercises, performative scores, proposals for collaborative thinking and making, artist interviews, and audio tours. Tools for Learning can be instruments to make and repair, but also strategies to undo and refuse. Whether in the Biennial, the classroom, or at home, our multimedia toolbox, designed by Chris Lee and Ali Qadeer, can be used by educators, students, and other community members in connecting their own experiences and curricula with process-based, playful approaches to contemporary artistic practices. Practically and conceptually, Tools for Learning offers materials and methods for reimagining relations with land, water, and each other. Tools for Learning is made possible with founding support from the Lang Family Foundation.

Toronto Biennial of Art Residency program is an experimental platform for artists whose socially engaged practices challenge disciplinary and aesthetic conventions in order to expand notions of community and enact social change at various scales. For the inaugural Residency, the Toronto Biennial of Art proudly presents the collective Life of a Craphead, presented in partnership with Ireland Park Foundation and Trinity Square Video and with the generous support of the TD Bank Group through its corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment.

Toronto Biennial of Art Programs highlights include:
Beach(fire) Blanket Bingo Biennale (Gathering)
BUSH Gallery (Peter Morin and Tania Willard), with guest artist Lisa Myers
Program: Co-Relations. October 19, 6:00‒10:00pm
Location: Ward’s Island Beach, Toronto Island
Presented in partnership with imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
The public is invited to gather around a beach fire to engage in the methodologies of exchange embedded in gifting. This participatory work examines the circulation of materials within and outside of the art system and Indigenous communities.
Ayumi Goto: single use salmon plogging (Performance)
Program: Co-Relations. October 20, 9:00 am‒3:30 pm
Start/end location: Bay Street & Queen Street West
Co-commissioned with and curated by FADO Performance Art Centre
Ayumi Goto runs the Toronto Waterfront Marathon as the half-human/half-salmon geisha gyrl in a performance addressing labor, responsibility, and the impact of environmental disaster. The performance is dedicated to the late Josephine Mandamin, Anishinaabe grandmother Water Walker—who circumnavigated the Great Lakes to raise awareness about water pollution, and to David S. Buckel—lawyer, environmental activist and runner, who self-immolated to protest humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels.
Sinaaqpagiaqtuut/The Long-Cut (Procession) – Embassy of Imagination
Program: Currents. September 21, 6:30–8:00 pm
Location: Starting at The Bentway, 250 Fort York Boulevard, and following the waterfront to 259 Lake Shore Boulevard East
Co-commissioned and presented in partnership with The Bentway, produced by PA System
Presented in conjunction with Embassy of Imagination + PA System’s installation at 259 Lake Shore Boulevard East, Sinaaqpagiaqtuut/The Long-Cut is a procession that began in Kinngait (Cape Dorset, Nunavut) this summer and continues in Toronto. The procession features work by Kinngait youth from the Peter Pitseolak High School made in collaboration with the Oasis Skateboard Factory School in Toronto. Members of the public are invited to follow the procession along the way.
Harbour Symphony (Performance) – Delf Maria Hohmann and Raven Chacon with Allison Cameron
Program: Currents. September 21, 7:00‒7:30 pm
Location: Harbourfront Centre and Toronto Harbour
Presented in partnership with Harbourfront Centre
Composers Delf Maria Hohmann and Raven Chacon with Allison Cameron bring the Harbour Symphony to Toronto. It originated in 1983 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, transforming boats berthed near the city’s shoreline into an orchestra on the water. Featuring music written for boat horns, Toronto’s rendition includes newly commissioned compositions as well as scores from the project’s musical archive.
In Conversation: Hajra Waheed, Nabila Abdel Nabi and Jayne Wilkinson (Conversation)
Program: Currents. September 21, 1:30‒3:00pm
Location: Lakeside Terrace, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West)
Presented in partnership with The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and Canadian Art
On the occasion of Hajra Waheed’s solo exhibition Hold Everything Dear at The Power Plant, her installation at the Biennial, and Canadian Art’s Fall 2019 issue launch, the artist will discuss the evolution of her multidisciplinary practice with The Power Plant’s guest curator Nabila Abdel Nabi and Canadian Art Editor-in-Chief Jayne Wilkinson.
Borelson (Performance)
Program: Storytelling. October 16 and November 6, 6:00‒8:00 pm
Location: Art Gallery of York University (AGYU)
Presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of York University
Rapper and spoken-word poet Borelson will present a performance in response to works by artists Jae Jarrell and Caecilia Tripp, presented at AGYU, a Biennial site. Borelson will connect his ongoing work around Afrofuturism with these artists’ critical reimaginings.
Life of a Craphead: Doored (Performance)
Program: Toronto Biennial of Art Residency. September 28, 2019
Location: Ireland Park Foundation
Presented In partnership with Ireland Park Foundation and Trinity Square Video
For its inaugural residency, the Biennial presents the collective Life of a Craphead whose work spans performance art, film, and curation. Doored is a curated art and performance show that ran from 2012 to 2017, featuring works by over 120 artists. For TBA 2019, Life of a Craphead will present a special edition of Doored.
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