Artists Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman open new exhibit at AGYU

Hailed as a mischievous Toronto collaborative team, Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman will open Project for a New American Century next week. It’s a "what if?" scenario in the form of an installation specially commissioned for the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), which combines architecture, painting and sculpture.

The installation involves building a monolithic, prison-like enclosure in the AGYU’s first gallery. It’s similar to the psycho-technic torture cells operated by anti-Franco anarchists during the Spanish Civil War, but instead it’s clad in a utopian brutalist motif. In this way, the artists establish a historical conjecture. They then play out the esthetic possibilities or consequences of this proposition with a series of paintings and sculptures in the second gallery. The opening reception will take place from 6 to 9pm on Wednesday, Jan. 28. The exhibition will run until March 29.

In addition, the AGYU’s Performance Bus is being turned into the SnakeBus. Toronto multidisciplinary artist Diane Borsato will let the snakes out of the box with a sibilantly soothing exhibition-opening ride to Project for a New American Century along with herpetologist and reptile educator Blair Watson.

The SnakeBus builds on Borsato’s past actions in that she has hired surrogate professionals to carry out ideas at stake in her work, altering the work’s relationship to the viewer. On the SnakeBus, Watson will present an assortment of live turtles, lizards and snakes in an adult-oriented talk for the Performance Bus. The reptiles will be available for riders to handle and experience up-close, proposing ways in which knowledge can be tangible.

Ride the SnakeBus for free. It departs the Ontario College of Art & Design (100 McCaul St.) at 6pm sharp on Jan. 28 and returns downtown at 9pm.

The AGYU will also host a free guided tour of Project for a New American Century on Sunday, Feb. 1. The Contemporary Art Gallery Bus Tour will depart from the main entrance of Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St. W., Toronto) at noon and will return around 5pm. The bus tour begins with the Koffler Gallery’s off-site project and continues to the AGYU, Blackwood Gallery and Doris McCarthy Gallery. Seats are limited. To reserve a seat, contact Julie Zalucky, Blackwood Gallery, at 905-828-3789.

In an expansion of what constitutes the activities of a contemporary art gallery, Rio de Janeiro-based Eugenio Valdés Figueroa and Marcio Botner will take up a curatorial residency in January and February at the AGYU. During their stay, Figueroa and Botner will conduct studio visits with local artists and, as a part of their research into Canada’s parallel gallery system, visit Toronto’s artist run centres.

The main purpose of their visit is to further the ongoing discussion between Casa Daros in Rio de Janeiro and the AGYU, toward the creation of an international artist/education residency exchange. A symposium, organized with York’s Faculty of Education, is intended to bring together local and international individuals who inhabit the intersection of art and pedagogy, either as innovative thinkers or artist practitioners. The symposium, a presentation by Figueroa and Botner, will also take place on Feb. 1, at 2pm at Mercer Union, 1286 Bloor St. W., Toronto.

Studio Blog, an ongoing Internet project that explores new methods of curatorial research premised on process-based exchanges and collaborations between artists and curators, is currently narrowing the gap between Toronto and Halifax. There will be virtual studio visits between AGYU Assistant Curator Suzanne Carte-Blanchenot, visiting Halifax artist David R. Harper, Dalhousie Art Gallery Director/Curator Peter Dykhuis and New York-based, Toronto artist Brendan Fernandes.

To view the latest exchange on the blog, visit the Studio Blog Web site.

Over the past year, the AGYU has been undertaking an extensive analysis of the state of Canadian artists. They have found that the average Canadian visual artist is 42.79 years old, attended postsecondary institutions for 6.02 years, has .464 dependents (not including pets) and netted $1,523 from their primary occupation in 2007. It’s the most extensive national study since Statistics Canada’s Canadian Cultural Labour Force Survey of 1993. For more information, visit the AGYU Web site.

The Art Gallery of York University is a University-affiliated public non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council and through memberships.

The AGYU is in the Accolade East Building, Keele campus. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm; Wednesday, 10am to 8pm; and Sunday, noon to 5pm. The AGYU is closed Saturday. Admission to everything is free.