FORUM: From the Ground Up A biennial platform for international contemporary art in Toronto


FORUM:  From the Ground Up
A biennial platform for international contemporary art in Toronto

April 17, 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: FREE

Organized by MOCCA and The Power Plant

Toronto, ON., April 14, 2010The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art is collaborating with The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery at Harbourfront Centre to co-present From the Ground Up: A biennial platform for international contemporary art in Toronto. There has been much talk about the idea of a Toronto biennial or triennial in recent years, particularly as these events have proliferated both in Canada and around the globe. The Power Plant and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, as local and international leaders in the presentation of contemporary art, recognize that this conversation is overdue and are therefore pleased to bring Toronto’s contemporary arts community to the table for a day of panels and discussion. This forum focuses the discussion to reflect on why and how Toronto might host such an international biennial/triennial platform for contemporary art practice and discourse.

Gregory Burke, Director of The Power Plant, briefly touches on the significance of this event: “I am very pleased that MOCCA has worked with us to present this important forum. United by a shared interest in leading the discussion about the potential for a Toronto biennial or triennial, The Power Plant and MOCCA have collaborated in an effort to reach out to the numerous groups concerned to participate in an organized, focused discussion of such a potential event. This sort of leadership through collaboration is exactly what is needed to bring an internationally significant and highly credible biennial to the City of Toronto.”

The partners have invited several key members of the city’s arts community to participate, from directors of some of Toronto’s most influential arts organizations to artists within the community, university professors and curators, collectors, and local art professionals. Speakers will address such questions as: Given the plethora of large scale contemporary art exhibitions across the world, why would such an event be relevant in Toronto? What would define such a project and how could it make a critical contribution? What would its relationship be to local artists, audiences, and art dealers, as well as stakeholders interested in the growth of Toronto as an influential art centre? How would such an exhibition address local, national and global concerns? Who would fund, curate, participate in and attend such an event? And why should it happen in Toronto? What distinctive features could the city offer the international art world?

Please join us for this free event:

10:30 a.m. David Liss, Artistic Director and Curator, MOCCA
Welcoming Remarks

10:35-11 a.m. Gregory Burke, Director of The Power Plant
Introduction: background on discussions, context of what has motivated biennials in the past, their contributions to cultural scenes

11 a.m.-12:30 p.mPanel Discussion:
Histories and Opportunities Moderated by Peggy Gale, Critic and Curator
Focusing on the specific Toronto context, this panel addresses how a Toronto Biennial could build on our past cultural legacies to further develop relationships to the rest of the world. Some questions to consider are: Does Toronto need such an event and what particular challenges and opportunities would we encounter in mounting one? How could such a project enable Toronto to deepen its international engagement? And how could it harness different aspects of Toronto’s historical, political and aesthetic context such as the artist-run culture movement, film/video experimentation, cultural diversity, queer legacies and urban thought alongside key events from the city’s artistic history, such as Sculpture ’67?

Jessica Bradley
, Owner of Jessica Bradley Art Projects
Barbara Fischer, Executive Director/Chief Curator of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto
Philip Monk, Director/ Curator of the Art Gallery at York University
Lisa Steele, Artist, co-founder of the media arts centre Vtape, and Professor and Associate Chair of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto
Gerald McMaster, Curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario

12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch Break
Provided on-site for $10 (choice of sandwich, salad and beverage)

1:30-3 p.m. Panel Discussion: Propositions
Moderated by Sara Diamond, President of the Ontario College of Art & Design

Panelists put forward their ideas for what an international platform for contemporary art in Toronto might look like, and how it could be executed.

Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher, Founders of DisplayCult curatorial collaborative and Associate Professors at the Ontario College of Art & Design and York University respectively
Heather Haynes, Founder and Executive Director of the Toronto Free Gallery
Haema Sivanesen, Executive Director of SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre)
Janice Price, President and CEO of Luminato (TBC)
Fern Bayer, an independent researcher/curator who has also been previously active in international cultural promotion projects

3-4 p.m. Open Forum
Moderated by Helena Reckitt, Senior Curator of Programs,
The Power Plant

Includes both invited guests and spontaneous public participation.

4-4:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: Where Do We Go from Here?
Moderated by Peggy Gale, Critic and Curator

A discussion about next steps: assemble an organizing committee, realistic potential funders, presenting a path forward, next meeting.

Gregory Burke, Director of The Power Plant
David Liss, Artistic Director and Curator of MOCCA
Matthew Teitelbaum, Michael and Sonja Koerner Director and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario
Sara Diamond, President of the Ontario College of Art & Design

5 p.m. Reception

All programs and activities at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art are supported by Toronto Culture, BMO Financial Group, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, individual memberships and private donations.