Desire Lines: Mapping the metadata of Toronto arts publishing

Speaker Series presented by the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) in coordination with Artexte and Spoken Web

Curated by Felicity Tayler and Michael Maranda, with assistance from Faith Paré
February through May, 2021

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The trajectory of arts magazine publishing in Toronto from the 1970s onward has always been a space criss-crossed by lines of desire. This speaker series takes an algorithmically produced network diagram of publishing metadata as a jumping off point for story-telling around personal memories. Can the metadata describing the people and organizations producing magazine issues work as a narrative prompt to uncover hidden connections? What stories can we tell by reading the nodes (the dots representing either people or single magazine issues) as nouns, and edges (the links between these nodes; the desire lines proper) as verbs?

The Desire Lines series of conversations is premised on the belief that what is important is not canonical figures, but the network produced through a cumulative collectivity. It is the physical traces of this network that allows us to see that the scene was (and continues to emerge as) a network, not merely charismatic individuals. For instance, through this framing, we see that the intern working at several magazines simultaneously may be more consistently significant to the cohesiveness of the scene than the “significant” names we are accustomed to hearing and reading about.

Over the course of the sessions, the series will underline how the practice of publishing has always been a networked structure, a nexus of social relations and artist organizing that continues today. Through this reframing will come a speculative promise to build the tools to tell our histories in a way that counters personality-driven charismatic histories.


The Conversations

Each panel runs Fridays, 2 to 3:30 pm EST on Zoom. Registration for each session will be done through Eventbrite, and details on the sessions will be released the week prior. For links to register, please visit http://agyu.art/project/desire-lines/.

February 26: Riddim an’ Resistance

When performed poetry, audio recording, and cross-cultural solidarities create transformative moments in arts scenes

March 26: Setting a Tone

Where intergenerational mentoring is recognized as a central experience of cultural transmission and print-based traces of Black feminist sensations of belonging are uncovered

April 16: Access to Print

How the absented presences, or received lack, of one publishing project generates desires for newer ones

April 30: Women and Language

Understanding Fuse as a space of materialist feminism and Fireweed as an exploration of intersectional feminist subjectivity

TBD: Making a Network of Relations Visible

A self-reflexive review of the series, with an eye to documenting absences and the ethical exigencies of data-driven oral histories


This series is organized by Felicity Tayler, Interim Head, Research Support (Arts and Special Collections) at the University of Ottawa Library and Michael Maranda, assistant curator. New generation respondents are curated by Faith Paré, made possible by an RA-ship from the SpokenWeb partnership. The background to the series comes out of a metadata analysis of three magazines from the seventies and eighties, Fuse, Border/Lines, and Fireweed, that Felicity put together with Tomasz Neugebauer of Concordia University. Graphics for the series were designed by Josie Spalla.

Video recordings of the series, transcripts of the speakers’ voices, and commissioned responses by the new generation writers will be published online, inscribing their depositions into the archives of local art histories. The series is functioning as a prequel of sorts for the physical exhibition Lignes de désire // Desire Lines: Displaced Narratives of Place, to be held at Artexte in Montreal. Because the exhibition is in perpetual pandemic delay, this speaker series will work as an engagement in the present, which simultaneously acknowledges a continual deferral.

We would like to offer thanks to our participants, who are generously contributing to this program, which is deeply informed by the legacies of their practices. Specific panel descriptions, including lists of these participants, will be announced closer to the panels themselves. To ensure you don’t miss one of the conversations, subscribe to our e-blast list.

Artexte is supporting this series through research services and access to the physical and digital collection. Felicity Tayler’s investigation into the social, political, and geographical spaces of Canadian magazine publishing in the seventies and eighties charts new territories of knowledge within and around Artexte’s holdings. SpokenWeb has made the participation of Faith Paré possible, as well as provided necessary inspiration and methodological guidance in the process of putting this series together. We at the Gallery are grateful for the contributions of both of these institutions.

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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.

In recognition of our place on the traditional territory of numerous Indigenous Nations, the Art Gallery of York University thanks the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabek who have and continue to care for this land. This land is the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Covenant and Wampum between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Three Fires Confederacy (the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi), and other allied nations in an agreement to share land and its resources. We occupy land referred to in Crown Treaty 13, known as the Toronto Purchase, signed in 1805. Terms of this Treaty were not met by Canada until 2010, when the Federal Government settled the claims of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

AGYU promotes 2SLGBTQIAP+ positive spaces & experiences and works towards being barrier free. We are committed to anti-racism and working to eradicate institutional biases and develop accountable programs that support Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.

For press inquiries, please contact Michael Maranda, assistant curator, via mmarand@yorku.ca