Is Toronto Burning? 1977/1978/1979 Three Years in the Making and Unmaking of the Toronto Art Community


Strike out there to the Art Gallery of York University this fall and witness an exhibition of radical remembering. Welcome to the Toronto art community of 1977/1978/1979 and its politics re-staged in Is Toronto Burning?

Remember radicalism? A time when the Toronto art scene was in formationand destruction? Think back to the visionary period of 1977/1978/1979, when artists re-invented political art and sometimes engaged the whole resources and profile of institutions as ideological vehicles for their program of revolutionary politics. When there were no models and anything was possible: even alignment with the radical politics of the knee-capping Red Brigades; even the invention of the idea of an art community as a fictional creation!

It was a political period. Beyond the art politics, art itself was politicized in its contents and context. Arts political dimension was continually polemically posedor posturedby artists in these years. Beyond politics, posturing, in fact, was a constant presence as the community invented itself. One could say Toronto was on fire!

AGYU takes you on a journey through this period rich in invention of new forms of art with our fall exhibition Is Toronto Burning? 1977/1978/1979 Three Years in the Making and Unmaking of the Toronto Art Community, opening on Wednesday September 17, 6-9 pm. Following along the trail-blazing path of Philip Monks wildly successful, strategic, and serial Toronto history shows, Is Toronto Burning? features the artists and collectives Susan Britton, David Buchan, Colin Campbell, Elizabeth Chitty, Carole Cond and Karl Beveridge, Judith Doyle, General Idea, Isobel Harry, Ross McLaren, Missing Associates Peter Dudar & Lily Eng, Clive Robertson, Tom Sherman, and Rodney Werden alongside archival documents, with a room devoted to the Centre for Experimental Art and Communication CEAC. The raging glory of Is Toronto Burning?... continues until December 7, 2014, when its flame is extinguished so that its impact lives on.


Art History isn't only an easy A in high school and first-year university it can change your life! Get on the AGYUs Performance Bus to learn How To Use Art History to Your Advantage: Find Love, Earn Millions, and Cure Cancer with Toronto artist Peter Kingstone. On Wednesday, 17 September, en route to the opening reception of Is Toronto Burning?..., Peter gives riders a primer on how to view the exhibition and on how to use the work in the show to profound mind-altering ends, and progressive new beginnings. The free Performance Bus departs OCADU 100 McCaul Street at 6 pm SHARP and returns downtown at 9 pm.


In October, AGYU kicks off the Creative Campaigning: Performance as Resistance series that strives to activate participation campus-wide on sociopolitical issues, educational concerns, and the promotion of equality. Led by Los Angeles artist Heather Cassils, the commissioned action, The Human Printing Press, is implemented in collaboration with a diverse range of student advocacy groups and associations represented by the York Federation of Students YFS and intended to further articulate their vision and needs on campus.


On November 12 at 1 pm, AGYU hosts CEAC: Radical Experiment or Exercise in Self-Destruction: An Afternoon of Panel Discussions. Join the original protagonists of the CEAC experimentDiane Boadway, Ron Giii, Bruce Eves, Lily Eng, Peter Dudar, and John Faichneyalong with Mike Hoolboom, Philip Monk, and Dot Tuer for a series of panel discussions on the forgotten history of and renewed interest in the Centre for Experimental Art and Communication.

TAKE ACTION! See the latest statistics on the economic status of Canadian artists, here:

The Art Gallery of York University is a university-affiliated public non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and our membership.

The AGYU is located in the Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto. Gallery hours are: Monday to Friday, 10 am4 pm; Wednesday, 10am8 pm; Sunday from noon5 pm; and closed Saturday.


TTC: Take the subway to either Downsview or Sheppard station. Take the new and improved 196 York University Express bus direct to York University Keele Campus.

Driving: due to subway construction yes it is coming, enter York Universitys Keele Campus via The Pond Road. Parking is available in the Student Services parking garage, the first building to your right. The Accolade East building is directly north-west of the parking garage.

AGYU: Out There lighting a fire for the art community


Image Credit: Isobel Harry, Fashion Burn at the Crash n Burn, June 1977.

Is Toronto Burning? 1977/1978/1979 Three Years in the Making and Unmaking of the Toronto Art Community

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