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Betsabeé Romero
Braided Roots/ Trenzando raíces

We have complicated the essence of life and forgotten that the pure simple notion is to just live. This is what Indigenous roots are: to know you are more than just physical; you are the land, water, stars; you have the blood memory of many past lives that are interconnected; you are spirit (energy). Knowing Truth: this is your origin and this is what our braided roots are.
– Cathie Jamieson, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation

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This fall AGYU considers wayfinding as a means to facilitate cross-cultural, land-based encounters. Rather than navigating from place to place, the artists reimagine movement, translation, and migration as disorientating registers of our braided routes. Find your way to AGYU on Thursday, September 13, from 6-9 pm for a free public reception and performance by members of the Mississaugas of the New Credit Drum Circle. The exhibitions continue to December 3, 2018.


Braided Roots / Trenzando raíces

For Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero, culture is always in movement. Perhaps this is why the vehicle and, in particular, the tire—with its socio-economic and material traces—plays such a key metaphorical role in her practice. Traces are the evidence of errantry: of movement making manifest culture’s trajectory as a force of shared knowledge across time and space. For Romero, this shared knowledge is a form of kinship, and her AGYU exhibition—a collaboration with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation produced this past summer with York undergraduate students in the L.L. Odette Artist-in-Residency Program—is a kind of force that gathers traces: the shared symbols, materials, and traditions that overlap and persist in Indigenous cultures across the Americas.

Monumental in scale and comprised of five commissioned works—in cast-bronze, carved-wood, cut-vinyl, tractor-tire rubber, deer-hide, feathers, video, and mural— Braided Roots / Trenzando raíces is shaped by the experiences, encounters, and exchanges of Romero during her initial research visit to Toronto and New Credit in May 2017 as well as further research developed over the past year and a half—particularly in the aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake—into Canada and its mining practices in the Americas. Bookended by a post-apocalyptic landscape of “lost” marker trees pointing in all directions and an invitation to commune under a Quetzalcoatl (feathered serpent) reinterpreted as a series of inter-connected plumes, Braided Roots / Trenzando raíces weaves together a sophisticated story of strength, solidarity, and wisdom.

Braided Roots / Trenzando raíces is co-curated by Emelie Chhangur (AGYU Interim Director/Curator) and Cathie Jamieson (artist, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Band Council Member).

A tour of the exhibition with Cathie Jamieson takes place on Sunday October 21 at 2 pm


Disorienting Spectrograms

For Lou Sheppard, a settler artist from K'jiputuk in unceded Mi'Kmaq territory (Halifax), “a landmark is a place we remember, together, a monument in our collective conscious that orients us in the landscape.” The catch, however, is that with climate change and late-stage capitalism, landmarks are changing; our relationship to the land, and how we orient ourselves within it, is changing beneath our feet. Our challenge, in the throes of the Anthropocene, is to thus rethink our relationships to our environment. By translating spectrograms produced by analyzing bird calls into music, Sheppard offers us a guidebook of sorts to do so; an example to follow on. In the midst of an unprecedented loss of songbirds, Birdsongs of North America turns the AGYU Listening Bench into a memorial-in-waiting.


Orosi Registers

For Nima Arabi, migration of form is a wayfinding means that bridges the cultural barriers between his Persian background and the Canadian context of his adopted home. Talking Windows uses the geometrical patterns of orosi (stained-glass sash windows used in Persian architecture) to turn AGYU’s three exterior vitrines into lightboxes. Instead of being a tool for presentation of its contents, the vitrines themselves become an object of art, containing merely the light that makes the windows themselves visible.


For more information on public programming presented in conjunction with AGYU’s fall exhibition, please visit: http://AGYU.art

The AGYU is located in the Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto.
Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 10 am – 4 pm; Wednesday, 10 am – 8 pm; Sunday, noon – 5 pm; and Saturday, closed.

AGYU promotes 2SLGBTQIAP positive spaces & experiences and is barrier free.
Everything is FREE

Directions: TTC: Ride LINE ONE to York University Station: the gallery entrance faces the south exit. Driving: Enter YorkU Keele Campus via The Pond Road. Park in the Student Services garage. WheelTrans: the closest WheelTrans stop is York University Subway Station, North Exit.

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

Braided Roots / Trenzando raíces was produced in collaboration with Department of Visual Art and Art History’s L.L. Odette Artist-in-Residency and the Computational Arts Program in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD). Financial and travel support for the exhibition was provided by Mexican Consulate and AEROMEXICO.

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For more information or to request images or interviews with the artists, please contact Emelie Chhangur, Interim Director/Curator at Emelie@yorku.ca or 416.736.5169.

Image: Betsabeé Romero Studio, 2018

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