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Toronto Biennial of Art announces preliminary list of artists, partners, and sponsors for its inaugural 2019 biennial


The Toronto Biennial of Art (the Biennial) today announced an initial selection of Canadian and international artists for the inaugural, city-wide event opening September 21, 2019 and running through December 2019. Commissioned artists and artist collectives creating site-specific projects include Shezad Dawood, Embassy of Imagination and PA System, Luis Jacob, Ange Loft, Caroline Monnet, New Mineral Collective, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Arin Rungjang, Susan Schuppli, Althea Thauberger, and Syrus Marcus Ware. The Biennial is curated by Candice Hopkins and Tairone Bastien. Additional artists, partners, and sponsors will be announced in the coming months.

Luis Jacob (b. 1971, Peru) The Riddle (detail above), 2018
Epoxy resin and marble dust
Edition of 25, 5 Artist Proofs
Approximately 24 x 12 x 4 inches
Courtesy of Birch Contemporary, Toronto.

The Biennial commissions will take place in new and unexpected venues on Lake Ontario. The event’s trajectory along the waterfront traces the original shoreline boundaries of the so-called Toronto Purchase (1805), which stretched from the eastern Ashbridges Bay to the western Etobicoke Creek. “For Indigneous peoples, who have maintained a presence here for over 15,000 years, this is a site of spiritual healing, trade, treaty, and gathering. In more recent centuries, Toronto’s waterfront has been shaped by settler, slave, and immigrant narratives and has been physically transformed by military, industrial, and civilian use,” said Hopkins and Bastien.

As they develop their conceptual framework the curators ask: How can we be in relation? By considering humankind’s essential interconnectedness with one another as well as with all other animate and inanimate things, the 2019 edition of the Biennial and its programming will explore new ways of understanding ecosystems, alternative histories, sacred belief systems, and ways of knowing. “Our approach aims to recalibrate the compass with which we explore the past and direct our consideration of alternative futures: Indigenous futurisms, Black futurisms, migrant futurisms, and animal futurisms,” added Hopkins and Bastien.

Toronto Biennial of Art Founder and Executive Director Patrizia Libralato says, “We are beyond thrilled to share Candice and Tairone’s first thoughts around the Biennial’s thematic direction, as well as our exciting lineup of initial participating artists. We look forward to working with the artists as they create site-specific works that respond to our unique waterfront venues and the city’s complex cultural context. The Biennial team is also honoured to welcome the founding partners and sponsors supporting our bold vision for Toronto’s inaugural biennial.”

Partners and venues

Building creative partnerships through collaborative installations, exhibitions, and programming across Toronto is an integral part of the Biennial’s core activities. The Biennial will work with innovative art spaces, established art institutions, artist-run centers, community organizations, and educational institutions, including Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Art Toronto, Artscape Toronto Inc., BAND, The Bentway, Evergreen, Fogo Island Arts, The Gladstone Hotel, Harbourfront Centre, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, MOCA Toronto, National Gallery of Canada, Nuit Blanche Toronto, OCAD University, Ontario Place Corporation, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Ryerson Image Centre, Small Arms Inspection Building, A Tale of a Tub (Rotterdam), Toronto Union, and Waterfront Toronto.

Additional partners and venues will be announced in the coming months.

Sponsors and supporters

The 2019 inaugural Biennial is being supported by City of Toronto, City of Mississauga, Government of Ontario, TD Bank Group, St. Joseph Communications, Dickinson Wright, CIBC, Castlepoint Numa, The Gas Company, Menkes Developments, Canadian Art, Stratus Vineyards, ONEX, and The Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation. More sponsors will be announced in the coming months.