Mayworks Festival 2024

Threaded Together by Cleopatria Peterson, 2024

Welcoming the 39th Annual Mayworks Festival of Working People & the Arts

May 1 – 31, 2024, across the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area and online.

Each year, throughout the month of May, Mayworks Festival presents projects that seek to further our struggles for better working and living conditions. This year we feature twenty artists, each of whom engages, with compassion, the spirit of collective power.

From responses to inaccessible healthcare in Ontario to a fight for dignity among migrant workers in Quebec; from capturing the alienation of injured workers in Toronto to classist land grabbing in Pakistan; from an analysis of radical protests against resource exploitation in the Caribbean to clarifying the long-lasting impacts of French colonialism, and to witnessing the endurance of Palestinian political prisoners; the artworks narrate our joint struggles.

The exhibitions include multi-channel video, sculpture, textile art, installation, video, website creation and virtual landscapes. We also present live music, performing shadow puppets and curated film screenings. There are participatory workshops, informed panel discussions and intimate artist talks.

Richelieu (still), directed by Pier-Philippe Chevigny, 2023

We begin on May Day (May 1) with the film Richelieu by Pier-Phillipe Chevigny, which captures the challenges faced by an employee who resists the exploitation of migrant workers in rural Québèc.

The historical context of forced labour in the Caribbean, as well as contemporary labour injustice and its role in deforestation, are revealed in When Did You Wake Up And Realize It’s All A Game? by Julianna A.S. Developed through collaborative art-making with Caribbean Solidarity Network, the project, a wooden sculpture installation and interactive website, captures the variety of mediums through which Caribbean artists, leaders, and organizers express radical protest.

When Did You Wake Up And Realize It’s All A Game? by Julianna A.S., 2024

Three exhibitions capture responses to the alienating and increasingly inaccessible healthcare system in Ontario. These include; Labour Pains, curated by Emma Steen, with artists Sean Lee, Camila Salcedo and Peter Morin; What is a Body Worth by Kristine White with Nazanin Zarepour; and A Library and a Garden by Atanas Bozdorov. Works range from multi-channel video and sculpture to textile art, performance and mixed media installation.

let me get you an orange by Sean Lee, 2024, a part of Labour Pains curated by Emma Steen

Umber Majeed’s Dil Dil Trans-Pakistan, a virtual exhibition and zoom performance, reframes housing policies in Pakistan where local communities are displaced to favour elite developments.

Cleopatria Peterson’s Mayworks 2024 festival poster art entitled Threaded Together, reflects on the use of quilting and textile work as radical praxis.

In our curated film series we present two iconic works set in historical context. The Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo and La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz capture facets of resistance to, and the impacts of, French colonial repression.

We close on May 31 with a screening of Tomorrow’s Freedom by Georgia and Sophia Scott, a story of the resistance and endurance of currently incarcerated Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti.

Please join us in celebrating working people and envisioning justice.

All Mayworks Festival events are free. To explore the full festival program, please visit

Mayworks Festival of Working People & the Arts annually presents new works by a diverse range of artists, who are both workers and activists. We prioritize the participation of artists and audiences from communities facing systemic discrimination. Our programming offers bold, insightful, responses to pressing issues at the intersection of art, social justice and labour. We are actively engaged in a social dialogue that challenges the logics of capitalism, and seeks to reimagine and represent a just future.

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Twitter: @MayworksToronto
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Mitra Fakhrashrafi
Curatorial & Programming Coordinator