Eco Art & Media Festival exploring urban realities starts today

The 16th annual Eco Art & Media Festival, “Urban Realities: Exploring Ecologies of Space, Place and Culture”, hosted by the Wild Garden Media Centre in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES), starts today and runs until Saturday, March 6.

Cultural conventions often influence the design of spaces and places. However, a city is not only defined by its architecture and design, but by the people, practitioners of diverse cultures, who fill those spaces and complete the design.

The first event of the festival is a video screening of Without a Home, a new and compelling documentary exploring homelessness in Toronto by MES student Mike Yam, along with two other short works – Public Interventions by MES student Tanisha Sri Bhaggiyadatta and Remembering Monuments by Fine Arts Cultural Studies student Laura Baratta. The screenings will run from noon to 2:30pm in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building, Keele campus.

The Eco Art & Media Festival opening will feature various performances and the unveiling of the festival’s visual art exhibition, which will continue until April 1. Chris Cavanagh (MES ’95) will tell tales, FES Professors Gail Fraser and Roger Keil & the Environmental Music Collective will make music, and Mind the Gap Dance Collective will dance. The festival opening will run from 6 to 8pm at the ZigZag Gallery in the FES Lounge in the Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building (HNES), Keele campus.

Ongoing through the festival will be the Discover & Participate…Rooting Toronto’s Urban Foodscape, a workshop for participants and passersby to visualize or write their ideas in response to the questions: What does your relationship to food look like? What food(s) best represent you, your family, your community and your city, and why?

On Wednesday, March 3, there are three events taking place, including The Landscape of York University: Biography of Place, an interpretive virtual tour of York to uncover the ecology, design and flows of the campus, from 10 to 11:30am in 102 HNES. From noon to 2:30pm, Exploring Private & Public Spaces, a film and video screening of work exploring issues around video-game design, pollution, trash, and ecological sustainability and development, will take place in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building. Following this, Rhythms of Indigenous Communities, in honour of Black History Month, will feature a mini-documentary and panel discussion on accessibility, community and equity from an Afrocentric perspective, from 5 to 8pm, in 140 HNES.

A workshop on Coptic bookmaking, creating small books that can be used as journals or notebooks using recycled materials in a versatile binding style, will take place on Thursday, March 4, from 10am to 1pm, in 143 HNES. Master of environmental studies (MES) student Louisa Krátká, who has 13 years of book binding experience and is a member of the Canadian Bookbindiers & Book Artists Guild, will lead the workshop.

Left: Screen shot from Professor Nancy Nicol’s film The Queer Nineties

A screening of York visual arts Professor Nancy Nicol’s film The Queer Nineties will take place from noon to 2:30pm on Thursday in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Bldg. The award-winning film examines a decade of struggle for lesbian and gay equality in Canada. A launch for the book Rising Action: Imagining City Building for Social Change by MES student Ian Malczewski will take place from 4 to 6pm, in 138 HNES.

On Friday, March 5, a cabaret night with musical, dance and theatrical performance by York-based artists will happen from 8pm to midnight at the Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Ave.

On Saturday, March 6, Growing Art, Rooted in Communities, a farmers’ market where people can participate in a variety of community activities related to agriculture, food politics and art making, will start at 11am and go until 3pm at the Artscape Wychwood Barns on Christie Street, one block south of St. Clair Avenue West.

The Wild Garden Media Centre has hosted and coordinated this multi-day event to celebrate and share diverse forms of creative expression with the goal of inspiring public discussion, engagement and dialogue around a specific, changing environmental and social theme, since 1995.

For more information, visit the Eco Art & Media Festival Web site.