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Archive: August, 2008

WHAT IS A ZINE?

August 27th, 2008

Now that Collection X has its own zine, you might be wondering what is a zine?

A zine is usually a non – commercial, non professional publication, kind of
like a magazine but with a twist. The main difference between a magazine
and a zine is that zines are not out there to make a profit but, rather, to add
other, often unheard voices into the mix. Zines are usually made out of
interest and passion and are often self-published by the writer/artist/creator.
Typically zines are made using collage techniques and are then photocopied
since these are means available to almost everyone.

What I like best about zines is that they provide a voice for all; outside
of the mainstream, of alternative, from
the underground, the margins of society. I first started making zines as a way to share
my personal collections of found paper and my drawings, but quickly saw
potential for much more. The majority of the current publications out there
offer only a narrow perspective, and zines are the natural antidote to that,
especially since anyone can make them. A
Collection X zine makes sense because it connects something which has many
zine-qualities: Collection X (openness, anyone can use it etc) with a tangible
item (the zine itself) and provide a real-world link for Collection X. The AGO
Youth Council also uses zines as a medium of expression to communicate on its
projects. It appeals to youth because it is much more honest in its intentions.

Before zines became what they are today there was an amateur press movement
in which publications were created by people who then distributed them to a larger
group of people through mail. Many of the first zines were science fiction
fanzines created in the 1920s and 1930s through which science fiction fans
would speculate and discuss various topics. Later on, in the 1950s with the
Beatnik era, poets and other artists would make small leaflets with their poems
as means of self promotion. Many avant-garde movements, including the Dadaists
and the Situationists, also self-published pamphlets and manifestos. The 70s
saw punk zines being created as part of the punk movement and in the spirit of
the DIY (do it yourself) culture that came along with it. In the 80s, a zine
called Factsheet 5 began reviewing zines, thus creating a somewhat more formal
zine scene. In the 90s, many zines were made as part of the Riot Grrl movement.

Today, zines are still being made, by all sorts of people on all sorts of
topics, ranging for comics to radical politics to stories for children to
personal zines to literary reviews to teapot collections. Many of these zines
are sold in alternative stores but many are also distributed through
distribution centres that stock a bunch of zines you can order. There are even
a few zine libraries as well; in Toronto this
includes the Toronto Zine Library located in the Tranzac at Bloor and Brunswick, and the OCAD
zine library located in OCAD.

Toronto Zine Library Website: http://sitekreator.com/zinelibrary/index.html

OCAD Zine Library Website: http://zinesforlunch.blogspot.com/

XYZine

August 27th, 2008

XYZine

Collection X now has its own zine, made by me. Available at public libraries
and community centres in Toronto, XYZine is a "whY participate in
Collection X Zine" that talks about many things related to
art and the Internet, made with the purpose of promoting Collection X
particularly with a youth audience, by provoking and examining various issues
of interest. My greatest hope with this zine is to make you think about art and
people and how they interact, and it would be nice if you learned about
Collection X and maybe joined in too.

XYZine is available for viewing on Collection X: http://www.collectionx.museum/en/exhibition/7683.html

What’s in the XYZine:

What’s on: what’s new on Collection X, including a changing list of
featured exhibitions

How to use Collection X: a more in-depth guide to using Collection X,
including the reasons why I think you would want to use it

Who decides what art is: a personal exploration/rant about who
decides what art is and who should decide what art is

Museums versus Art
Galleries
:
a short
article exploring the different origins of museums and art galleries from my
perspective

ArtsAccess: a description of ArtsAccess, including some of the
projects and where they can be found on Collection X

Youth happenings: descriptions of recent youth projects in Toronto including Walls
of Sorrow/Walls of Hope and Shiftchange

Exhibit reviews: reviews of some of my favorite exhibitions now
appearing on Collection X

and more!

Change, shift, change

August 25th, 2008

Some people go through changes to reflect their identity; others go through changes to adhere to society’s expectations. Some go through these changes for a specific mix of reasons, and some do for completely other reasons. What does it mean to make these changes? What does it mean that to be taken seriously in society one often has to be clean-shaven or wear business attire? What does it mean for a black woman to straighten her hair? What does it mean to be expected to fit into a specific gender category? What does it mean to be judged on your appearance? When you change your appearance, to what extent do you also change yourself? These are some of the questions that we are pondering as we work on Shiftchange. We hope that viewers will add their own questions into the mix, considering their own experiences of change, and the changes in those around them. What do you think?

Shiftchange

August 22nd, 2008

a project by the AGO Youth Council and Dan Bergeron
opening reception on September 12 2008
tours and talk 6-8 pm; party and performances 7-10 pm
AGO Gallery School 60 Mccaul St
performances by drag king Flare, DJ Daniel Wilson and more

Shiftchange is the latest creative offering from the AGO Youth Council. The project explores the themes of transformation and identity through the idea that the only thing constant is change. While every individual experiences change in a way that is unique and personal, the presence of change in our lives is a common thread through all times, cultures and people. This includes the small ritualized changes made everyday as we prepare to face the world as well as changes that are drastic and life altering.

You can see pictures of the project on Collection X

Shiftchange is the latest creative offering from the AGO Youth Council. The project explores the themes of transformation and identity through the idea that the only thing constant is change. While every individual experiences change in a way that is unique and personal, the presence of change in our lives is a common thread through all times, cultures and people. This includes the small ritualized changes made everyday as we prepare to face the world as well as changes that are drastic and life altering.

Along with members of the Trans_fusion Crew from Supporting Our Youth and guest artist Dan Bergeron, the project developed into a seven image series that document transformation as they happen—shaving a beard, straightening curly hair, cinching one’s waist, binding one’s chest, transforming from a drag persona to a business persona and preparing for plastic surgery. All of the changes deal with external appearance and the need to convey a certain image to the rest of the world.

The inspiration for choosing these kinds of personal transformations was to challenge the viewer by representing varying degrees of change. In the end, all of these personal transformations are tied to notions of identity and we tried to cover as wide a range of changes as possible in the hopes that people would relate to at least some of the changes and then understand the other changes in a similar way.

Once complete the images will appear life-sized as part of a series of installations to be pasted up separately in various locations around Toronto. Following this city-wide installation, the images will also appear on the AGO construction hoarding.

The Sound of Art

August 21st, 2008

The Sound of Art was the first project created by the Art Galley of Ontario’s Youth Council in 2008. Working with guest artist Nobuo Kubota, the Youth Council sought to explore the artistic process and imagination to create a multi-media response to the music and visual art of Joni Mitchell as well as the medium of sound poetry/sound art. The Sound of Art was also meant to engage the imagination of the viewer while paying homage to the great sound artists who have come before. This project encourages all of us to explore the playfulness of the artistic process and to listen for the sound of art.

You can see images and the video from the project on Collection
X at http://www.collectionx.museum/en/exhibition/6582.html

In its final form, the project consisted of many different
elements, including a video montage made up of a series of five-second
long sound-portraits; a large scale photo wall of images representing each
participant making their own unique sound; and a live performance of a sound
art “poem” all contributing to the make up of this interdisciplinary
performance and installation. The project was installed in the lobby of the Anne Tanenbaum
Gallery School

at 60 McCaul Street,
and was launched in June as part of the 2008 Luminato festival.

In developing this project the members of the Youth Council,
guided by Nobuo Kubota, learned about the history of sound art and then started
exploring how to make sounds. The hardest part was letting go of shyness and
expectations and giving in to the process of making sounds. We quickly took the
plunge and began making sounds with no pretentions, shyness or expectations,
embracing the playfulness and the possibilities existent in sound.

We then proceeded to explore how sounds could be mapped in
other media beginning with photography. These photographs were then installed
on a wall, becoming a set of instructions for a sound poem. Working with
filmmaker Dagny Thompson we then recorded a series of sound clips, based on the
sound “ka-chung”, but pushing much further to make many other sounds. We then
weaved these clips together to create another sound poem that started from the
same basic unit but that used the process of filmmaking to reach our final
product.

The third element of our project was a live performance that
sought to include and invite the audience to join in to create a collaborative
sound poem. We also created a mini zine with instructions for the performance as
a way to have at least a few curious audience members become engaged in the
project. Following the touch of the pre-designated youth council members
assigned with the role of “Ka-chungs”, we began to make sounds, heading towards
the area where the photographs were displayed, bringing audience members with
us and encouraging them to join in. We then made a circle, building up the
sound to a peak followed by a sudden stop. Despite many people being unfamiliar
with the performance the process worked quite well and there was plenty of
participation. The event itself also featured delicious foods, all which made
noise when eaten, and music by DJ Daniel Wilson.

Youth Council Spotlight: M’Lex Alexandrescu

August 13th, 2008

By Amanda Gabriele

Photograph courtesy of AGO Photographer, Carlo Catenazzi. © 2008 Art Gallery of Ontario.

The AGO’s Youth Council is a motivational outlet for youths and teens to express themselves through artistic creations. M’Lex Alexandrescu, a 19-year-old artist and activist, has been involved with the council for the past two years and is currently focused on promoting youth issues through the AGO blog and online culture-zines.

Born in Romania, M’Lex moved to Canada at the age of three. Taking up residence in North York, M’Lex quickly developed a love for the Canadian outdoors. “North York is where my love of nature comes from,” says M’Lex of the many beautiful neighbouring parks and ravines.

M’Lex will spend the bulk of the year studying at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Cambridge. “Architecture is one of the most important things,” says M’Lex passionately in reference to the transforming AGO. “There is so much potential to do something good with it.” These sentiments echo M’Lex’s future hopes to combined architectural expertise with politically charged worldviews to explore community building initiatives.

Since joining, M’Lex has become a mentor to others participating in the program. “The Youth Council allows you to start where you are and move forward to create different things in a better way,” says M’Lex. “It provides opportunities to do large-scale projects, addressing larger issues with larger communities.”

M’Lex feels passionate about helping youths become aware of their opportunities and artistic potential, and helping them tell their own story. The Youth Council brings groups of people, projects and ideas together to create a collaborative and creative setting. The blog illustrates not only the youth initiatives in the gallery, but also the attention paid to outside social issues.

“The Youth Council creates opportunities for young people to get involved,” says M’Lex about the future of the council. “It builds strong ties with outside organizations and continues to create change.” As the nature of community involvement and social activism changes with the rise in technology and social networking, M’Lex’s youthful disposition and willingness to take chances is a great asset to the AGO’s Youth Council.

Construction Update: Introducing the “barnacle” staircase

August 7th, 2008

Photograph courtesy of AGO Photographer, Carlo Catenazzi. © Art Gallery of Ontario.

Scaffolding and tarpaulins have now been removed from the AGO’s south façade to reveal a signature feature of the Frank Gehry design: the barnacle staircase. Dubbed “barnacle” by the Gehry architects because of the way it projects out from the exterior of the building, this staircase connects the fourth and fifth levels of the south tower, which will house the Gallery’s Centre for Contemporary Art.

The barnacle staircase was not part of the original schematic design. It was added by Frank Gehry in response to feedback by artists advising on the design for the Centre for Contemporary Art, who felt that a special connectivity was needed between the Centre’s two floors. The placement of the staircase on the exterior of the building also responded to encouragement by the AGO’s local neighbourhood to give the south façade a distinguishing feature. The AGO’s south façade with its barnacle staircase is now a unique landmark that can be clearly seen from the Rogers Centre up John Street.