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Theory X with Monument Lab
June 16 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
As a part of our New Monuments for New Cities initiative with the High Line Network, High Line research residents and Monument Lab co-founders Ken Lum and Paul Farber and The Bentway have curated a speakers series entitled Theory X.
Together, Monument Lab and The Bentway have posed an open research question: What is your theory of Toronto? We have worked with Lum and Farber to create a list of potential speakers to reflect a widespread critical community. The invited speakers have been asked to respond to this question as it is broken down into four categories: the constitution of Publics, the historical transmission of Legacies, the recognition of Ecologies, and the striving for Belonging. Additionally, besides the speakers, all public attendees will be invited to author and contribute their own responses, which will be collected and shared as a part of this program.
Mark V Campbell
“Your gaze scans the streets as if they were written pages: the city says everything you must think…however the city may really be, beneath this thick coating of signs, whatever it may contain or conceal.”
–Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Theory X – a project organized by the Bentway and curated with Monument Lab’s Ken Lum and Paul Farber – proposes an open question to a group of 12 invited Torontonians: What’s Your Theory of Toronto? The question will spawn responses that will be prepared by a range of artists, activists, planners, and cultural workers; delivered as a form of public address at the Bentway; shared online in textual and video form; and serve as platform to invite public participants to respond with dialogue, or author words and/or images of their own responses to the central question, which will also be shared as a research platform afterward.
The question is intended to invite theorization about the city through creative speculation, recollection, and reckoning. If cities are places of order, logic, balance, encounter, and data-driven policy, as we understand, they, too, are sites of profound challenge, improvisation, inequality, surveillance, and grassroots forms of knowledge. Conscious of the narratives of “smart” cities as places wired for progress and profit, this speakers series and research project seeks a moment to pause, ponder, and unlock other insights regarding collective values and visions of civic identity.
This project took inspiration from CityTV’s long-running Speakers’ Corner television show, and audience members will have the opportunity to come out and have their say. All responses will then be collected via video and text and be shared as legacy project (exact form TBC).
Image Credit: Steve Weinik/Mural Arts
About Monument Lab
Monument Lab is an independent public art and history studio based in Philadelphia. Founded by Paul Farber and Ken Lum, Monument Lab works with artists, students, activists, municipal agencies, and cultural institutions on exploratory approaches to public engagement and collective memory. Monument Lab cultivates and facilitates critical conversations around the past, present, and future of monuments.
As a studio and curatorial team, Monument Lab pilot collaborative approaches to unearthing and reinterpreting histories. This includes citywide art exhibitions, site-specific commissions, participatory research initiatives, a national fellows program, a web bulletin and podcast, and more.
Monument Lab’s goal is to critically engage the public art we have inherited to reimagine public spaces through stories of social justice and equity. In doing so, they aim to inform and influence the processes of public art, as well as the permanent collections of cities, museums, libraries, and open data repositories.
Since 2012, Monument Lab’s projects have engaged 300,000 people in person, and garnered recognitions from Americans for the Arts and the Preservation Alliance.
About Habon Ali
Habon Ali is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. She is currently completing a degree in biology and environmental sciences. Habon is a community advocate who is involved with initiatives including the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, Toronto Public Health’s Youth Health Action Network, and Habitat for Humanity UTM. Previously, she was a fellow at the Mosaic Insitute as a part of their UofMosaic Fellowship which brought together young Canadians studying at various universities to create a national social action campaign to combat prejudice and discrimination within their respective communities. She has volunteered with Toronto Western Hospital, UTM Somali Student Association, and Silver Creek Pre-School. Habon has experience advising Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Government of Canada, UNHCR and CBC. Habon is actively involved in the creation of Canada’s first National Youth Policy and the development of Canada’s Service Corps. She is passionate about community building, youth participation, social determinants of health, reducing health inequity and healthy public policy.
About Cheryl Blackman
Cheryl Blackman is the Director of Museums and Heritage Services with the City of Toronto where she is responsible for the ten city-owned and operated historical museums, the city collection of historical objects, archaeological specimens, moveable fine art and an extensive portfolio of heritage buildings. Prior to joining the City of Toronto, Cheryl served as the Assistant Vice-President of Audience Development at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).
Her responsibilities included managing the front of house, audience research, and acting as the Museum’s liaison to more than 1300 Volunteers. She established the ROM’s Community Access Network (ROMCAN) which she grew to more than 80 partnerships with community organizations.
Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), and is a Fellow of Inclusion and Philanthropy from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). She is the Vice Chair of the Board at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery and an Officer of the Diversity committee at the American Alliance of Museums.
About Mark Campbell
Mark is the founder of Northside Hip Hop Archive, Assistant Professor at the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University and a former Board Member with the Ontario Arts Council. Mark is also co-founder of the Bigger than Hip Hop Show formerly at CHRY 105.5fm from 1997-2015. Since 2010, Mark has curated or co-curated 7 exhibitions focused on hip hop culture in Canada and is widely published with essays appearing in the Southern Journal of Canadian Studies, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Fuse, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, and the CLR Journal of Caribbean Ideas.
About Alexander Jospehson
Architect Alex Josephson is the co-founder of PARTISANS. He studied sculpture and architecture at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture and at the University of Rome, where he graduated as a President’s scholar. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and exhibitions including a New York Prize Fellowship awarded by the Van Alen Institute for Architecture. While studying and living in Italy he worked in the studios of Massimilliano Fuksas and Doriana Mandrelli. His thesis work on Islamic architecture has been the subject of numerous awards and reviews. In 2010 he was admitted to post graduate studies at the Architecture Association school (AA) in London England, but left to found PARTISANS in Toronto. Alex was most recently recipient of the Globe and Mail Catalyst Award for architecture.
About Devyani Saltzman
Devyani Saltzman is a Canadian writer and curator with a deep interest in relevant multidisciplinary programming at the intersection between art, ideas and social justice. She is the Director of Public Programming at the AGO, working across all disciplines and the author of Shooting Water (Publishers Weekly, Library Journal starred reviews, & ‘A poignant memoir’ The New York Times) and was the 2014-18 Director of Literary Arts at the Banff Centre as well as the Founding Curator, Literary Programming, at Luminato, North America’s largest multi arts festival and Toronto’s Festival of Arts and Creativity. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, National Post, The Atlantic and Tehelka, India’s weekly of arts and investigative journalism. She sits on the boards of the Writers’ Trust of Canada and SummerWorks Performance Festival, and has been a juror for the National Magazine Awards, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. Saltzman has a degree in Anthropology and Sociology from Oxford.
About Yaw Tony
Yaw Tony is a designer & an artist based in Toronto. He trained in Architecture, Graphic Design and Fine Art, and works in those areas as well as product design and creative consulting. His work has been exhibited in Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Atlanta, Austin, Toronto and has been published widely; .Cent Magazine 2016, Making Africa; A Continent of Contemporary Design 2015, and cover feature of Designlines 2018.
Yaw Tony is the founder of Elohim Studio (Architectural/Conceptual Studio) and Life Liveth In Me, LLiM (home of luxury goods), www.lifeliveth.com.
“I break all colours rules to define all colours rules. All colours complement with each other, you just have to know what you are doing. Take a look at nature, it consists of the many colours at a given time and they work beautifully.” _ Yaw Tony
About Quentin VerCetty
Quentin VerCetty is an award-winning multidisciplinary visual griot (storyteller) and art educator. VerCetty’s artistic work explores ideas around the Afrotopia and Afrofuturistic public art and the use of semiotic to tell metanarratives about society and politics. VerCetty’s art has been in numerous media outlets and publication. Along with showing his work in countries on every continent from Japan, Haiti, Peru, Ghana, Australia, United Arab Empire and France, to name a few.
In 2016 his passion for artivism, using art as a tool for social change, led to launching the Canadian chapter of the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAMCanada), an organization that gives a platform for artistic engagement, it has since then continued to spread it across the nation.
Through his work, he hopes to engage minds and inspire hearts to help to make the world a better place not only for today but for many tomorrows to come.
About Amy Wong
Amy Wong is an Angry Asian feminist disguised as an oil painter. She is the founder of AAFG, a collective dedicated to dialogue centered on Diaspora Asian concerns. By foregrounding care labour as praxis, Wong conditions spaces for thinking through together, aspiring towards feminist and decolonial ways of being.
Wong completed her BFA at Concordia University in Montreal, MFA at York University in Toronto and post-graduate studies at De Ateliers in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Recent projects include AAFG x Art Metropole at the Toronto Art Book Fair at Kem Xuân Huong Ice Cream Shop, Chinatown Centre (Toronto); Shared Conversations: A Dinner with ARCs across Canada at Modern Fuel (Kingston); Institutional Critique Teach-In at the Gardiner Museum (Toronto); Room for Taking Care at the OCAD U Graduate Gallery (Toronto); Session: Emilia-Amalia at Mercer Union (Toronto); Alimentary at Obrera Centro (Mexico City). She is a 2019-2020 fellow of the Toronto Arts Council/Banff Centre’s Cultural Leader’s Lab.