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In a city recently unsettled by museum strikes and closures, the exhibition aims to measure the emotional climate of our times.

Toronto Biennial of Art to Spark ‘Precarious Joys’

Ikumagialiit, AATOOQ (Full of Blood) (still) (2021). Film. Performance Art Band: Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Cris Derksen, Jamie Griffiths, Christine Tootoo. Courtesy Toronto Biennial of Art.

Toronto Biennial of Art has announced the title, venues, and artists for its third edition, on view from 21 September to 1 December 2024.

Sited across 12 venues of Canada's financial capital, Precarious Joys endeavours to acknowledge 'our vulnerability and grief, while emphasising the importance of passion and beauty in driving social change'.

The vulnerability of the city's art community has been conspicuous of late, with 400 workers at the Art Gallery of Ontario—one of the Biennial's venues—striking in March over inadequate wages, which caused the museum to shut temporarily.

Local art institutions have scaled back due to 'serious financial challenges' amid declining funding, Toronto Star reported last month.

The Biennial's central exhibition venue, 32 Lisgar Street, was formerly occupied by Toronto Media Arts Centre, which shut in 2021 following a years-long fight with the City Council and a real estate developer to remain open.

Cecilia Vicuña, Quipu Menstrual (2006). Exhibition view: Soñar el Agua, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile (11 May–3 September 2023). Photo: Carolina Castro.

Cecilia Vicuña, Quipu Menstrual (2006). Exhibition view: Soñar el Agua, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile (11 May–3 September 2023). Photo: Carolina Castro.

Last edition's central venue, 72 Perth Avenue, a former Pentecostal Church, has since become a mid-rise residential building. The exhibition, which positioned land and water as archives, asked what inhabitants inherited from these environments.

Amid this shifting cityscape, curators Dominique Fontaine and Miguel A. López selected 37 artists and collectives to respond to colonialism's impact and how representation can contribute to collective survival and the restoration of the social fabric.

The list includes veterans such as Golden Lion recipients Sonia Boyce and Cecilia Vicuña, alongside rising names such as Citra Sasmita, Manuel Mathieu, and Rajni Perera.

Citing dialogue as a central to their approach, Fontaine and López identified two words—'joy' and 'precarious'—that best embody how this year's participants 'amplify political consciousnesses and reassert the power of aesthetics in shaping collective existence'.

Highlights include new sculptures and an installation by Vicuña, which showcase the artist's notion of precarious art (art that vanishes) and links her activism against the Chilean military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s to present-day false news and media distortions.

Performance art quartet IKUMAGIALIIT ᐃᑯᒪᒋᐊᓖᑦ (those that need fire) will present the film Aatooq (2021) (full of blood), 'a visio-sonic poem about the gifts of blood' narrated in Greenlandic.

'In these complex times, we hope that this edition of the Biennial can serve as a moment of introspection, offering a lens through which to navigate the flux of our world and contemplate the myriad challenges and opportunities it presents,' the curators said. —[O]

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