Toronto Biennial of Art Announces Inaugural Programs


Borelson, 2018. Photo: Andrei Pora


Gatherings, performances, workshops, guided walks, artist talks, youth-engaged projects, and storytelling among featured events

Today the Toronto Biennial of Art (the Biennial) announced an extensive series of free public programs during the 10-week Exhibition, that will take place during its inaugural edition, from September 21 to December 1, 2019. More than 70 local and international participants will lead talks, workshops, and performances that intersect with and expand ideas emerging from the 2019 Biennial’s central question: “What does it mean to be in relation?”

Led by Deputy Director and Director of Programs Ilana Shamoon, and conceived by Curator Clare Butcher and Associate Curator Myung-Sun Kim, the Biennial’s Programs team has developed five programming streams: Co-Relations, Currents, Storytelling, Tools for Learning, and the Toronto Biennial of Art Residency.

Programs will take place at more than 15 Biennial sites across Toronto. Conceived to extend beyond the event itself to activate the Biennial between editions, Programs is responsive to conversations that emerge during the inaugural Biennial and will precipitate ongoing projects, research, events, and partnerships that create a foundation for continued exchange into 2021.

Co-Relations explores critical local issues—livability, access, interconnectivity—that extend ideas addressed in the Biennial’s first edition. The program demonstrates a deep commitment to placemaking in a series of performances and gatherings, including artist talks, participatory games, civic conversations, youth-engaged projects, workshops, and communal meals. Participants are invited into shifting and expanding dialogues that reveal our often invisible, intangible, or overlooked connections to each other and our environment. These unseen or unnoticed connections provide insights into how we can better build and sustain symbiotic relationships over time.

Currents is a platform for artist-led programming that invites visitors to engage directly with the creative and critical processes at work in the exhibition. This stream consists of talks, performances, symphonies, star-gazing, and ceremonies that trace ideas circulating within and beyond the Biennial’s main sites and connect with other exhibition locations. Be it through acts of restitution, revolutionary wearables, ways of knowing with the water, or the ethics of making, Currents asks participants to reconsider what it means to be in and out of relation in the context of artworks featured in this year’s Exhibition.

Storytelling seeks to shift the mediation of contemporary art away from conventional modes of interpreting and informing to narrating and embodying through weekly walks and conversations. An intergenerational and multilingual group of storytellers share personal insights and experiences of the city as they guide visitors through the exhibition’s site-specific installations, research, and generative proposals. Storytellers will bring submerged narratives to the surface in relation to the history and politics of Toronto’s shifting shoreline.

Tools for Learning is generated with Biennial participants and collaborators, and comprises group exercises, performative scores, proposals for collaborative thinking and making, artist interviews, and audio tours. Whether in the Biennial, the classroom, or at home, our multimedia toolbox can be put to use by educators, students, and other community members in connecting their own experiences and curricula with process-based, playful approaches to contemporary artistic practices.

The Toronto Biennial of Art Residency is an experimental platform for artists with socially engaged practices. It supports artists whose work is challenging disciplinary and aesthetic conventions to expand notions of community and enact social change at various scales. For its inaugural residency, the Biennial is proud to present Life of a Craphead, a collective whose work spans performance art, film, and curation.


Life of a Craphead, 2018. Photo: Yuula Benivolski

Confirmed Toronto Biennial of Art Programs participants:

  • Maria Thereza Alves
  • Golboo Amani
  • Art in Access: Cole Swanson and Anne Zbitnew
  • Blank Canvases
  • Borelson
  • Diane Borsato
  • BUSH Gallery: Peter Morin and Tania Willard with Lisa Myers
  • Hera Büyüktaşcıyan
  • Allison Cameron
  • Jill Carter
  • Raven Chacon
  • CA Conrad
  • Patrisse Cullors
  • Shezad Dawood
  • Bonnie Devine
  • Emory Douglas
  • Embassy of Imagination + PA System
  • Jeneen Frei Njootli
  • Victoria Freeman
  • Outdoor School: Diane Borsato, Alan Gan, Amish Morrell
  • Erin Gee
  • Gendai Gallery
  • Camilo Godoy
  • Ayumi Goto
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan
  • Delf Maria Hohmann
  • Dr. Renée Hložek
  • Ts̱ēmā Igharas
  • Isuma
  • Luis Jacob
  • Keerat Kaur
  • KITE
  • Zahra Komeylian
  • Chris Lee
  • Una Lee
  • Life of a Craphead: Amy Lam and Jon McCurley
  • Ange Loft
  • Lost Rivers: Helen Mills and John Wilson
  • Stephanie Loveless
  • Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning
  • Miya Masaoka
  • Fadi Masoud
  • Nabila Abdel Nabi
  • New Mineral Collective: Tanya Busse and Emilija Škarnulytė
  • New Red Order: Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil, and Jackson Polys
  • Alejandra Nuñez
  • Haruko Okano
  • Laura Ortman
  • Aliya Pabani
  • Ali Shamas Qadeer
  • Elder Dr. Duke Redbird
  • Lisa Reihana
  • R. I. S. E. Edutainment
  • Anastacia Marx de Salcedo
  • Curtis Talwst Santiago
  • Susan Schwartzenberg
  • Angela Shackel
  • Lou Sheppard
  • Sawmill Sid: Sidney and Sheila Gendron
  • Sister Co-Resister: Marilyn Fernandes, Pamila Matharu, and Annie Wong
  • Stephanie Springgay
  • Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak
  • Caitlin Taguibao
  • Maiko Tanaka
  • Toronto Art Book Fair: Karie Liao and Maxine Proctor
  • Marshall Trammell
  • Caecilia Tripp
  • Anu Radha Verma
  • Simon Vickers
  • Hajra Waheed
  • Syrus Marcus Ware
  • Jayne Wilkinson
  • Jane Wolff


About the Toronto Biennial of Art

Launching in fall 2019, the Toronto Biennial of Art is a new international contemporary visual arts event as culturally connected and diverse as the city itself. From September 21 to December 1, Toronto and surrounding areas will be transformed by free exhibitions, talks, and performances that reflect our local context while engaging with the most pressing issues of our time. Register for Professional Preview days taking place September 19-20.

For more information and a detailed list of Programs participants and our creative partners, please visit:, or follow @torontobiennial and #TObiennial19 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Media Contacts:
For additional information, Libby Mark or Heather Meltzer at Bow Bridge Communications, LLC, Toronto: +1 647-544-8441, New York City, +1 347-460-5566;