Uncontainable Collections: Speculative Futures of Objects

New Podcast presented by Art Gallery of York University

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) presents a new limited-series podcast, Speculative Futures of Objects, as part of the Uncontainable Collections Research Project

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Ayana V. Jackson
Subash Thebe Limbu
Crystal Mowry
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Megan Tamati-Quennell
Camille Turner

With hosts Lillian O’Brien Davis, Clara Halpern, and Zulfikar Hirji

Uncontainable Collections: Speculative Futures of Objects is a three-part limited-series podcast exploring the future through the lens of museums, collections, and contemporary art. The series explores the diverse ways communities are envisioning the futures of museum collection, and Indigenous-, African-, Afro-American-, and Adivasi- Futurisms.

Episodes are available at AGYU.art or follow and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Vessels and Voyages

Episode 1 features artists Ayana V. Jackson, and Camille Turner, and writer Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, hosted by York University Anthropology Professor Zulfikar Hirji. Camille Turner discusses Afrofuturism, her recent work confronting the entanglement of what is now Canada in the transatlantic trade in Africans, in the context of Afronautics, an approach to colonial archives from the point of view of a liberated future. Ayana V. Jackson addresses the transatlantic crossing through the feminist aquatopia in her work In the Wake of Drexciya, and remapping the relationships between the photographer, subject, and viewer. Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor discusses counter naming and reclaiming through renaming the Indian Ocean/Swahili Sea and engaging with places that are not named on other people’s maps. Together, they explore the theme of moving objects and peoples across multiple futures: stories within stories; the sea; floating objects; and shipwrecks as containers of memory, history, and spirits.

Positioning the Present

In Episode 2, curator Crystal Mowry, of the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina, joins Clara Halpern, assistant curator, and Lillian O’Brien Davis, curator of collections and contemporary art engagement, to discuss what it means to focus on “the present” as a stakeholder in public museum collections and how that has the potential to shape the futures of artworks and how communities access them. Through this dialogue, we discuss care and the role of contemporary artists and non-human intelligences in museums. Mowry gives insight into creating space for untold stories and change, touching on transitions, especially those instigated through acquisition, repatriation, and the recontextualization of objects through new research.

Space, Place, and Land

Curator Megan Tamati-Quennell and artist Subash Thebe Limbu speak with co-hosts Zulfikar Hirji, Lillian O’Brien Davis, and Clara Halpern for Episode 3, which explores interconnected futures through the lens of curatorial and artistic practices oriented towards Indigenous perspectives. Tamati-Quennell discusses her work on acquisitions of historic artworks by Māori women artists for public art collections as a facet of her future-oriented museum practice. She shares the Māori whakataukī [proverb] Ka Mua, Ka Muri [walking backwards into the future]. Thebe Limbu speaks on Adivasi Futurism, which he defines as “a space where Adivasi artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers can imagine and speculate future scenarios [where] they have agency, technology, and sovereignty and where their Indigenous knowledge, culture, ethics, and storytelling remains intact.” This final episode of the podcast touches on weaving, time travel, intergenerational exchange, and global networks of Indigenous culture and technology.

This podcast series is the third iteration of the Uncontainable Collections Research Project, which invites conversations with scholars, curators, and artists who engage with articulations, expressions, and representations of the (im)possible, the (extra)ordinary, and the (un)imaginable—or speculative—futures that diverse individuals, groups, communities, and societies are envisaging, dreaming of, composing, conjuring, striving for, imagining, and bringing into being.

The Uncontainable Collections Research Project is an annual workshop series which re-orients York University’s art collection, serving as a pedagogical tool for faculty, students, and arts practitioners while also informing the development of collection guidelines that promote ethical current practices of collections care.

This year’s limited-series podcast developed from conversations between AGYU curators Lillian O’Brien Davis and Clara Halpern and Anthropology Professor Zulfikar Hirji related to the University’s art collection and a course at York University that considers various perspectives: Indigenous Futurisms, African Futurisms, Afro-American Futurisms, Arab/Gulf/Muslim Futurisms, Asian/Sino/Indo/South Asian/Adivasi Futurisms, MesoAmerican/LatinX Futurisms.

Organized by Lillian O’Brien Davis, Clara Halpern, and Zulfikar Hirji
Sound editing by Aaron Hutchinson
Graphic design by Marta Ryczko

For more information on the podcast, visit:

For press inquiries, please contact Clara Halpern: clarajh@yorku.ca

Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) is a socially minded not-for-profit contemporary art gallery that is a space for the creation and appreciation of art and culture. It is a supported Unit of York University within the President’s Division. We are externally funded as a public art gallery through the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, local and international foundations, embassies, and our membership who support all of our programs.

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) acknowledges its presence on the ancestral territory of many Indigenous Nations including the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Huron-Wendat. We thank and acknowledge the current treaty holders the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. We offer this land acknowledgement as an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those on whose territory we reside.

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.

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