For the first time since 2019, Canada’s leading visual arts event is returning to Toronto to bring you 10 weeks of groundbreaking contemporary art from around the world. The 2022 Toronto Biennial of Art will feature more than 40 local, national, and international participants showcasing and leading exhibitions, talks, workshops, performances, and learning programs connected to the idea: What Water Knows, The Land Remembers. This will mark only the second iteration of this large-scale public art exhibition in Toronto, the first of which achieved critical acclaim in 2019, and it will include both indoor and outdoor in-person events alongside digital activations. Throughout the 10-week art extravaganza, these exhibitions will be open for public access free of charge.
“Through storytelling sessions, conversations, performances, workshops, and walks, Biennial Programs invite communities to gather and learn together in different formats and engage deeply with artists’ works and practices,” says TBA Executive Director Patrizia Libralato in a statement. “Welcoming visitors back to the Biennial through our dynamic virtual and in-person public programs will be a powerful way to reconnect after more than two years apart.”
Why you should care
Toronto hosted its first Biennial of Art, following in the footsteps of other world-class cities, in 2019. It showcased more than 90 Canadian, Indigenous, and international artists, exploring a variety of complex issues and turning Toronto into an international destination for art. Now, after a brief COVID-related hiatus, the event is back and promises to once again attract intergenerational visitors with a deep appreciation for thought-provoking art.
Though the works of art are sure to vary greatly in their mediums and messages, the programs team and exhibition curators developed a lexicon of terms to inform their approach to the array of public programs: collectivity, conspiring, listening, and unlearning.
When it’s happening
The biennial will take place over a 10-week period, beginning on March 26 and ending on June 5, 2022.
Where you can find it
The majority of in-person events will be held at the biennial’s two main exhibition venues: 72 Perth Ave. in the Junction and the Small Arms Inspection Building in Mississauga. Programming will also take place at other site-specific locations throughout the city including 5 Lower Jarvis Street, Arsenal Contemporary Art, Colborne Lodge, Fort York National Historic Site, Toronto History Museums, High Park, Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA), and Textile Museum of Canada.
Who to look out for
There are countless impressive artists whose work you should look out for at the TBA this year, but we selected a few can’t-miss creators we think should be on your radar.
The first is Brian Jungen, an artist born in Fort St. John who transforms everyday products into museological objects with the intention of addressing “the issues of dispossession and appropriation latent in the aesthetics of contemporary global economic, political, and cultural conflict.” You may know him from his popular work in which he used Air Jordan sneakers to create masks akin to those by First Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast. At the 2022 TBA, his sculptures produced from dissected and reconfigured Nike Air Jordan sneakers, which take the form of a mask worn by so-called plague doctors in the seventeenth century, will be on display at 5 Lower Jarvis.
Camille Turner is another one to watch. Born in Jamaica, Turner’s work combines Afrofuturism and historical research and often focuses on revealing the entanglement of what is now Canada in transatlantic slavery. She is hosting a walk and workshop this year called Following the Afronautic Trail which will take participants on a two-day, multisensory exploration and interrogation of sites and monuments within the vicinity of the University of Toronto’s downtown campus — revealing the evidence of Canada’s colonial linkages between the transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans and its ongoing legacies.
World-renowned author and artist Judy Chicago will also be featured at this year’s TBA, and she’ll be showcasing art directly on a body of water for the very first time. Her piece, A Tribute to Toronto, will see white, yellow, green, blue, and purple pigments — all of which are non-toxic and environmentally-friendly — released from a barge into the air over Lake Ontario where they will mix with the wind and the light to create a myriad of colourful effects.
The TBA will feature a variety of must-see art by Indigenous creators, including interdisciplinary performing artist Ange Loft (Kahnawà:ke Kanien’kehá:ka). In collaboration with a team of choreographers, dancers, composers, and Jumblies Theatre & Arts, Loft will bring DISH DANCES to Fort York National Historic Site. Presented as a video installation and filmed at Camp Naivelt on the Credit River, the performance will feature an all-Indigenous cast and expand on ideas about the governance and sustainability of the land.
Lead image 1: Jeffrey Gibson,I AM YOUR RELATIVE, MOCA Toronto, 2022. Co-commissioned by MOCA and the Toronto Biennial of Art. Photos Toni Hafkenschied.
Lead image 2: Nadia Belerique, HOLDINGS, 2020-ongoing Plastic barrels, stained glass, copper, lead, etched glass, acrylic sheeting, rainwater, paint, steel, various found objects, photographs, wood. Installation view “2021 Triennial: Soft Water Hard Stone,” 2021. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Photo: Daniel Terna. Image Courtesy of the artist and Daniel Faria.
Lead image 3: Mata Aho Collective, Kaokao #1, 2014.Reflective safety trim, cotton.Installation view of Kaokao #1 for the Singapore Art Prize 2018, Courtesy of the Singapore Art Museum.
Lead image 4: Andrea Carlson, Cast a Shadow (2021). Acrylic, oil, gouache, ink, coloured pencil, and graphite on a suite of 24 paper segments. Image courtesy the artist and Bockley Gallery. Photo by Rik Sferra.