Holding Presence, Holding Histories

A live roundtable conversation

design by Marta Ryczko

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) announces:

The Uncontainable Collections Research Project’s
Holding Presence, Holding Histories: A live roundtable conversation with Sanchita Balachandran, Gus Casely-Hayford OBE, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Ciraj Rassool

Wednesday, April 20, 2022
1:00pm-2:30pm EST
Online Event
Register here

We invite you to join AGYU for the inaugural event of The Uncontainable Collections Research Project on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 from 1:00pm-2:30pm EST. Holding Presence, Holding Histories: A live roundtable conversation will be an online event featuring Sanchita Balachandran, Gus Casely-Hayford OBE, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Ciraj Rassool and moderated by the AGYU’s curator of Collections and Contemporary Engagement, Liz Ikiriko.

The Uncontainable Collections Research Project is an online workshop series that invites local and global curators, conservators, scholars, and arts practitioners to discuss the care and engagement with institutional collections, first through sharing their own knowledge via a recorded video presentation and, followed by a group dialogue.

The workshop series will consider components of the AGYU’s collection which include: modern and contemporary art works, public sculptures, and cultural and ceremonial objects. Our first iteration of the series focuses on African cultural and ceremonial objects. Working in conjunction with York University Professor Warren Crichlow, AGYU gathered questions from graduate students regarding museum collections. Our speakers were given the opportunity to respond to the questions and/or present their focus and perspective on collections of cultural and ceremonial objects. Our invited speakers are Sanchita Balachandran, conservator and Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies; Dr. Gus Casely-Hayford OBE, a London-based Professor of Practice at SOAS in the Centre for African Studies and the Director of the V&A East Museum; M. NourbeSe Philip, a Toronto-based poet, writer, independent scholar and former lawyer; and Ciraj Rassool, Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa who directs the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies. Each individual recorded presentation acts as an introduction to our speakers’ unique expertise and addresses museological practices of community engagement, conservation, ethics and care. The video presentations and more on our guest speakers can be viewed here.

This conversation, and The Uncontainable Collections Research Project at large aspires to be a resource for students, faculty, curators, and museum educators, serving as pedagogical tool that can contribute to new discursive frameworks that may challenge colonial legacies that have informed the care and stewarding of art collections. Furthermore, bringing together these informed local and global voices provides an opportunity for the AGYU to envision and engage Afro-diasporic communities in new strategies for greater cultural care of collections.

The Uncontainable Collections Research Project is funded in part through the support of the Elizabeth L. Gordon Art Program, a program of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation.


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

York University acknowledges its presence on the traditional territory of many Indigenous Nations. The area known as Tkaronto has been taken care of by the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Huron-Wendat. It is now home to many Indigenous Peoples from numerous First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. We acknowledge the current treaty holders, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. This territory is subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement to peaceably share and care for the Great Lakes region.

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.

Art Gallery of York University, 83 York Blvd, Accolade East Building at York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto ON M3J 1P3
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