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It’s All Right Now
May 22, 2020 - July 31, 2020
It’s All Right Now is a public art project and a collective movement that confronts and captures our varied perspectives, experiences and understandings of life in COVID-19.
When entire communities, cities, or nations are tested, specific symbols and slogans tend to emerge as points of connection or collective rallying cries. The repeated chorus that “we’re all in this together” offers comfort in unity, but doesn’t necessarily reflect the spectrum of experiences, sentiments, and thoughts that we each hold.
In May, twenty Toronto-based artists were commissioned to respond to a simple inquiry: “What words are you living by?” The artists each created powerful textual responses in their own visual styles that, together, speak to the diversity and multiplicities of this complex moment: hopeful, fearful, forward-looking, introspective, joyful, even rousing.
Amidst the ongoing strain of COVID-19 — which disproportionately impacts BIPOC communities — and concurrent, widespread protests against violent injustices specifically targeting Black and other racialized peoples, The Bentway recognized the importance of foregrounding those communities’ voices within this ongoing project.
IT’S ALL RIGHT NOW CURATORIAL TAKE OVER, FEATURING BSAM CANADA ARTISTS
In collaboration with Quentin VerCetty (featured in the first phase of It’s All Right Now), The Bentway invited Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) Canada to curate the next phase of It’s All Right Now, selecting ‘artivists’ from impacted communities to consider the prompt, “What words are you living by, right now?” from their own perspectives, unified under their own curatorial statement:
BSAM Canada Institute curated this continuation of The Bentway’s #ItsAllRightNow campaign, which recognizes that what is happening, overwhelmingly, is all right now. It simultaneously addresses that, what is occurring is not alright, especially for the Black community. Through the lens of six talented Toronto-based Black and Afro-Indigenous creators, this collaboration aims to highlight that there are visions being planted for a better future. Representing various disciplines, each creator was selected for their already existing efforts in sharing speculative messages of hope and uplift during these times. The created works reflect attributes that are pushing folks to move, feel, and exist beyond what we see happening. Collectively the message is: Know that it’s going to be more than alright and that we are living proof of the Black future!
THE CITY AS CANVAS
It’s All Right Now manifested first on generously-donated digital billboards across the city (including along the Gardiner Expressway and at Yonge-Dundas Square). Sites that had, in “the before”, been platforms for consumer marketing, used to share mass directives on public health safety and social distancing guidelines, were re-tuned for a newly honest and artist-driven dialogue.
In the weeks that followed, this project has continued to roll out on Toronto’s streets, walls, civic landmarks, and digital public spaces with a social media take over, led by Quentin VerCetty of BSAM Canada Institute (July 9th – 19th), as well as along the Waterfront and The Bentway itself; claiming the city itself as a canvas and reaffirming the importance of the public realm.
ABOUT THE BENTWAY
The Bentway Conservancy re-imagines how we build, experience, activate, and value public space.
Our work is anchored by The Bentway site itself, located under Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, which we operate, maintain, and program as a platform for creative practice, public art, and connected urban life. The Bentway is a proud member of The High Line Network, an international network of projects that transform underutilized infrastructure into a new urban landscape.
Phase 1 of The Bentway is located just steps from the Waterfront, under the Gardiner between Strachan Ave and Fort York Blvd, on the grounds of Fort York National Historic Site.
Cossette is a community of more than 700 creative people, bringing together experts from all disciplines to offer integrated brand experiences unlike any other.
Over the past 50 years, Cossette has expanded across the country and beyond borders. Teams act locally for a global impact. Thanks to its work for powerful, high-potential brands, Cossette was named Canada’s Agency of the Year in 2016, 2017 and 2018. To learn more, visit cossette.com.
Special thanks to: Daniel Shearer, Lukas Levert, Andrew Cresswell.
ABOUT THE WATERFRONT BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AREA (BIA)
Representing businesses along the Queens Quay corridor between Bathurst and Yonge, the Waterfront BIA supports the continued growth of the waterfront as a premier destination that is well-connected to the rest of the City and is beautiful, clean and vibrant year-round. The BIA’s Waterfront ReConnect vision for improvements to north-south connections under the Gardiner drew significant inspiration from The Bentway. Designed by Ken Greenberg and PUBLIC WORK, Waterfront ReConnect was released in 2019 with a pilot project at Rees Street underpass.