The AGO Youth Council has initiated all sorts of programming for youth by youth for over 10 years, including exhibitions, public art projects, large-scale events, field trips and much more.
One of the highlights of 2017 was participating in Eksperimenta!, an international contemporary art triennial for students that includes the professionally installed exhibition Disruption of Economy, currently on display in Tallinn, Estonia until December 3.
The theme of this year’s Eksperimenta! was art and economy, encouraging young artists to analyze the current international economic climate by creating contemporary artworks. The AGO Youth Council collaborated with artist Oliver Husain on a video work called MODEL ECONOMY, currently on display in the Weston Family Learning Centre at the AGO.
Rowan (22), Roy (17) and Zoe (16) are three Youth Council members who travelled to Estonia with Sarah Febbraro, Coordinator of the AGO’s Youth & Family Sundays Programs, to represent the Council and its artwork, meet other young artists from all over the world and participate in a photography workshop with some of Estonia’s most talented photographers.
We chatted with Rowan and Roy about their trip:
AGO: What surprised you most about Tallinn?
Roy: Tallinn was both a lot bigger and smaller than I thought. The way the town is designed is spacious but in terms of community it’s tight. A lot of cobblestones—and safety hazards as everything is a lot older. The photo museum we went to used to be a prison, so it had these very steep steps. It was a beautiful city with a rich history.
Rowan: I was surprised how the architecture was a mix of Soviet and Scandinavian influence; I had always considered those styles to be almost opposite.
AGO: Tell us about the photography workshop you did while you were there.
Roy: We worked with Sohvi Viik, a photographer for VICE, on a theme of self-portraits by the sea. There was another group whose theme was architecture but it was sponsored by the hotel, so they had to take photos of the hotel.
Rowan: We all wanted to see the Gulf of Finland, so they took us to the water and they let us explore the architecture there and we had a full day to take photographs.
Roy: It was really wet. It rained the whole time, but it was fun.
AGO: What was your takeaway from the trip?
Rowan: It was really nice to socialize with all the other kids who were there, because there were people from a lot of different countries representing the artworks in Eksperimenta! We all had something in common, and we all took photos of each other.
Roy: What I found super-interesting that I shouldn’t be surprised by (but I am) was that we all had a lot more in common than we thought. We almost have a shared teen language because of the Internet and globalization. The Finnish girls were super into pop culture; they were like “Oh, mood!” whenever something was relatable.
Rowan: They all use the memes and Internet references that we use and in the same context.
AGO: Memes connect us all!
Rowan: Yeah, that’s kind of the takeaway!
Roy: So many things are so universal that you don’t realize. Almost everybody watches RuPaul’s Drag Race!
AGO: What was the highlight of the trip?
Rowan: It was nice to be around so many artists. I didn’t think about it until I was there but everyone who participated was either an artist or worked on the show. You got to talk about your different approaches as well. I felt like the German group’s work had a similar vibe to ours, like being finished and considered but also with messiness and an uncontrolled feeling to it.
Roy: I definitely want to travel more now. You don’t realize what you’re missing out on until you go. It’s like, “Okay, great, I could be doing this…” but instead I’m stuck in school.
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Youth programs at the AGO are generously supported by
Robert Harding & Angel Yang
With assistance from
The Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation