Special performance part of AGYU exhibit by York grad student

York University's Accolade Galleria, Keele Campus

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) will host a special performance by York University PhD student Erica Stocking as part of MotherGinger Promenade, an exhibit running until Dec. 2.

The performance, which takes place June 10 at 3 p.m. with a reception following at 4 p.m., charts a path through the emergence of fashion as a discipline within modernism in late 19th century Paris, its entanglement in rhythms and spaces of visibility, and the social and material conditions of movement. Inspired by early examples of public promenades (such as those on the Bois de Boulogne in Paris after its redevelopment as a society gathering point in the late 1800s) as spaces where economic, social and aesthetic interests come together in an event of looking and being seen, Stocking invites the audience to consider, “What is a closet and where can it take you?”

Erica Stocking, MotherGinger Promenade, 2023. Courtesy the artist.
Erica Stocking, MotherGinger Promenade, 2023. Courtesy the artist

The performance builds on Stocking’s ongoing project, MotherGinger, named after the iconic drag character from Russian composer Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker. By referencing this figure, characterized by a massive dress that houses eight children, Stocking foregrounds the connection between mothers as producers of human bodies for labour, Western industrialization and the blurring of the boundary between leisure and work.

Stocking has developed MotherGinger as a brand, with multiple forms from performances to pop-up shops. Situating itself within fashion as a conceptual framework, this project considers the ways that gender, fashion, Western modernism, subjectivity and survival intertwine within this balletic character.

Engaging both container technologies and the character’s roots in the Zanni characters of commedia dell’arte, MotherGinger Promenade is an invitation, a monologue, and a fashion show.

Exhibition: AGYU Vitrines
May 27 — Dec. 2

For this installation of MotherGinger, Stocking has transformed the AGYU vitrines into stylized containers – evoking closets, window displays and travel trunks. In calling attention to the structure of the vitrines, and their role as containers, this installation echoes the writing of Australian researcher Zoë Sofia on “container technologies,” which highlights the significant role of containers throughout history, including vessels and a myriad of objects and devices frequently associated with women’s labour. For Sofia, as well as for Stocking, containment is not passive; it is active and integral, exemplified by human beings’ inextricable entanglement and reliance on their own container, their own environment.

The AGYU vitrines are situated in the colonnade of the Accolade East Building, a space designed for movement. To promenade is to move with the intent of display, and, in this iteration of MotherGinger, garments made from domestic household materials and found objects displayed in the vitrines are removed, worn, and later returned in a series of performances that echo the movement of clothing through private and public spaces, testing what it means to be seen.

Erica Stocking: MotherGinger Promenade is curated by Clara Halpern, assistant curator, Exhibitions, AGYU.

About the artist

Erica Stocking is an artist working at the intersection of sculpture, performance and installation. Her work has been exhibited in Canada at Artspeak, Mercer Union, The Western Front and at the Contemporary Art Gallery. Stocking’s public artworks are part of the City of Vancouver, City of Surrey and SFU Community Trust Collections. She received her BFA from Emily Carr Institute in 2004, and recently completed an MFA at OCAD University in 2021. Stocking lives and works in Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD in visual arts at York University.

AGYU gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, during exhibitions; AGYU vitrines can be accessed at any time.

AGYU is a public, University-affiliated, non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and by our membership.