Conference Thematics


Day 1 | Reimagining Engagement: Negotiating Relationships through Art

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The word engagement encompasses a range of ideas, in particular, how to relate, interface, involve or exchange with another. It can take shape through a multitude of practices, including collaboration, dissent, activism, risk-taking, protest, performance, procession, community consultation, et cetera. What are the possibilities of engagement and, in turn, what are the limitations? How does engagement function as a kind of relationship? Who brokers this relationship – the artist, curator, gallery, site or audience? How does engagement take place both inside and outside of the gallery, such as for organizations without a fixed space? How can artists and artistic practices reimagine engagement as a critical tool for the production of knowledge, contemporary art and cross-cultural relationships? Day 1 will feature artist presentations, short talks, a public debate, roundtable discussion, self-directed pecha kuchas and keynote lecture by artist/curator Emelie Chhangur. Chhangur will explore the notion of ‘in-reach’ as a tool for building relationships across diverse communities, perspectives and levels of experience. Using engagement as the overarching lens through which participation, learning and alliances are brokered, Day 1 will celebrate distinct examples, as well as the inherent challenges, of art as representative of relationship-building.
Day 2 | Art as Advocacy: Aligning, Activating and Achieving Change

Friday, November 13, 2015

Advocacy reflects notions of critical support, encouragement, activism and other organized processes in which individuals and groups come together around a particular cause in order to challenge its dominant understandings. Activism implies the planning and implementation of action for critical social and/or political change. Within the arts, advocacy is an important tool for building new audiences and relationships, increasing visibility, and contributing to social and political change. What are the issues most urgent to artistic and cultural production, presentation and dissemination today on a local, national and international scale? Who does the work of advocacy and who benefits from such work in these contexts? How does art function as a form of visual activism? How is art “activated” and to what end? How do the politics of representation and access relate to this? Featuring a keynote lecture by Bastien Gilbert, Executive Director of Le Regroupement des centres d’artistes autogérés du Québec (RCAAQ), examples of advocacy and activism, as well as artist presentations, a public debate, an advocacy workshop, and funder information sessions, Day 2 will galvanize energy around today’s most urgent issues in the artist-run and contemporary arts community looking at examples such as collaborative practice, public intervention and the use of social media.
Day 3 | Rethinking Inclusion: Towards more Representative Practices

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A highly politicized and shifting term, “inclusion” relates to the ways in which different groups, bodies and histories are made visible or invisible within collectivities, institutions and representations in the arts. This relates to levels of access, ability, geography and coloniality, among other factors, and thus is reflective of the social realities of difference and inequality that exist in the world. Questions that will be considered are: ”Who is included, when, and to what end”; “Who does ‘inclusion’ exclude”; “Is it important to measure these disparities”; How do artists, artist-run centres and public galleries understand and negotiate the challenges of inclusion, such as tokenism, ghettoization and misrepresentation?; “How does the artist maintain agency in their visibility?”. The final day of the conference will explore the evolving role of inclusion in the arts by looking at its varied understandings and outcomes, featuring a keynote lecture by curator/critic/educator Andrea Fatona whose work makes visible multiple narratives of belonging in an effort to trouble dominant ones. Additionally, artist presentations, short talks, a roundtable conversation, talking circle, public debate and self-directed pecha kuchas will take place, offering further examples of ways in which non-white, differently-abled and other distinct communities engage with art.