Robert Young: Unmask Fear
October 7 – November 30, 2021
Harbourfront Centre, Toronto
“To Unmask Fear is to engage the unknown and erase ignorance with truth. When truth is revealed in its entirety, humankind will find that we are all on the same side of the sun and therefore compassion for one another will be reflected in positive right-action in the light of adaptation.” – Robert Young
Toronto-born international artist Robert Young created Unmask Fear in response to the devastating global pandemic and the international outcry for racial justice. This critical, multiple content series features outdoor photographic portraiture and filmed stories of Black Canadians who have made remarkable contributions to community, culture, and country. Young’s campaign began in Washington, DC, on June 5, 2020, with the highly recognized self-portrait No Fear, the first of many large-scale public art activations. Young is also responsible for the creative originality of another large-scale public art activation – the world-famous Black Lives Matter mural on 16th Street in front of the White House.
Unmask Fear, commissioned by Harbourfront Centre, as part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021–2022, expands No Fear to tell the stories of Black Canadians to inspire, entertain, uplift, and transform the perspective of people of the African Diaspora that so proudly call Canada home.
Larger-than-life portraits have been installed on the east-facing windows of Harbourfront Centre’s Main Building at 235 Queens Quay West, with associated links to watch related interviews of the participants online on harbourfrontcentre.com/sandbox/unmaskfear/. Those interviewed offer personal, detailed, and uncut expressions of triumph and success achieved by overcoming their fears and following their passions.
As a multimedia storyteller with an unprecedented list of accomplishments, behind and in front of the camera, Robert Young uses large-scale experiential activations and positive interactive storytelling to balance prevailing, often negative, mainstream narratives with inspiration and hope.
Through relatable content creation and communicative problem-solving, Young endeavours to impact the national and global conversations surrounding truth in storytelling and its effect on industry and community.
Young’s signature series and most recognized international visual arts campaign, YOUNG WORLD FACES, began in 2009 and became the literal face of the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games online and at CIBC’s national headquarters. It has been seen around the globe thanks in part to installations hosted by the Royal Ontario Museum for Canada 150, Harbourfront Centre for Island Soul, and the Miami Dolphin’s Hard Rock Stadium for El Clásico Miami. Young’s career in storytelling began in 1993 with the launch of his live performance poetry series All Truths Spoken Are Poetry In Motion, a safe platform for Caribbean-immigrant youth to share their stories.
Unmask Fear is part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021–2022, a year-long celebration of Toronto’s exceptional public art collection and the creative community behind it. Working closely with artists and Toronto’s arts institutions, ArtworxTO will deliver major public art projects and commissions, citywide, from fall 2021 to fall 2022. Supporting local artists and new artworks that reflect Toronto’s diversity, ArtworxTO is creating more opportunities for citizens to engage with art in their everyday lives. This September, the City of Toronto invites the public to discover creativity and community – everywhere. Visit artworxTO.ca for full details.
Note that Covid-19 safety protocols are in place and as a result the venue is partially accessible as Harbourfront Centre’s Main Building with accessible washrooms remains closed. Attendees are expected to wear a mask or face covering at all times while on-site and practice physical distancing. If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness, please do not visit the Harbourfront Centre campus.
Harbourfront Centre is a leading international centre for contemporary arts, culture and ideas, and a registered, charitable not-for-profit cultural organization operating a 10-acre campus on Toronto’s central waterfront. Harbourfront Centre provides year-round programming 52 weeks a year, seven days a week, supporting a wide range of artists and communities. We inspire audiences and visitors with a breadth of bold, ambitious and engaging experiences, and champion contemporary Canadian artists throughout their careers, presenting them alongside international artists, and fostering national and international artistic exchange between disciplines and cultures.