Agnes Reimagined brochure cover. Text reads: “We are poised to emerge as an inﬂuential champion of museological change as we advance our capacity to foster and relay intersectional connections across disciplines and communities that converge when a public, university-affiliated museum is both civically minded and pedagogically driven.” Emelie Chhangur, Director
2022 marks a passage in Agnes’s history. At the end of this year, we close our facility. 2022 is an integrated program that reflects on this process of transformation and change. We take up operative themes that performatively engage the full range of emotions manifest in this monumental moment by bringing audiences along with us and by making public the behind-the-scenes work and curatorial thinking that underpins our future plans.
As we look forward, we must also look back. Over the course of this year we reflect, retreat, rehome and reimagine. Perhaps the hermits in The Dark Room exhibition are a guide? We, too, are in a phase of introspection, looking for answers within. Our upcoming Summer Institute on The Curatorial marks a mid-way point in the year; another moment for pause and reflection, as well as for preparation. To prepare is another way of making future plans!
2022 begins with a weave. Twinned solo exhibitions by two Canadian artists, Chris Curreri and Tom Thomson, entangle stories of authenticity, art history and the artist’s studio. Exposed through the lens of provenance and legacy—whether by historical fact or fictional queering—the artists show us how to work with forms of folded time; similar curatorial questions are being asked from two different time periods, subject positions and styles.
We draw on last year’s experimentation and continue to prototype new ways of working, informing how we work with artists and the artworks across our collections. A series of exhibitions emerge from our fall Studios in Solitude micro-residencies; we show the “hidden currents” manifest in the work of past Koerner Artists-In-Residence, connecting the artists’ studios to artist-led pedagogy; we go nomadic as we welcome the Indonesian artist collective Jatiwangi art Factory (JaF) and their terracotta ensemble, Lair, to Kingston in our collaboration with The Isabel, local musicians and ceramicists and the Toronto Biennial of Art; and we host Rajni Perera in a sustained way this year as Agnes’s 2022 Stonecroft Artist-In-Residence, capitalizing on this artist’s prophetic aesthetic in a major commission for Agnes’s new home.
But, if in Agnes Reimagined we return Etherington House to a home to create a live-in artist residency, we must also rehome Agnes now as a preparatory study. This season kicks off a year-long series staged in Etherington House. Beginning with the “summoning of an investigative commons,” where social activities are re-energized, A guest + a host = a ghost is followed by Berlin Reed’s “pairings” in the gastro-experimentation Brown Butter. Perhaps these artists are reversing guest/host relations as they smooth our transition, grounding Agnes’s re-emergence as a living space in Agnes Reimagined, but as Reed reminds us: “some bites may taste or feel unpleasant; experiences may jar rather than soothe.” We arise from these experiments and experiences as a more resilient art centre poised to meet the challenges to come, which include, in 2023, leaving our home altogether!
Along the Way this winter we get out of the museum to practice elsewhere. Artist JP Longboat and a playgroup of interdisciplinary protagonists lead us in a project that connects with Haudenosaunee ways—such as “preparing a bundle” as a way of readying to go out on the land—awakening us to the peripatetic practices we prepare for during our closure.
As we like to say: Agnes Reimagined is a long-term social practice project, with architecture as its medium and the curatorial as its methodology. This makes our future home a proposition from which new museological practices emerge.
So … let’s begin!
Situated on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory, Agnes is a curatorially-driven and research-intensive professional art centre that proudly serves a dual mandate as a leading, internationally recognized public art gallery and as an active pedagogical resource at Queen’s University. By commissioning, researching, collecting and preserving works of art, and by exhibiting and interpreting visual culture through an intersectional lens, Agnes creates opportunities for participation and exchange across communities, cultures, histories and geographies.
• To showcase the diversity of artistic production in a considered program of exhibitions, publications, programs and residencies that reflects and is relevant to the multiple contexts of our immediate and global locales, including the pedagogical context of Queen’s University and our uninvited presence on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek.
• To provide welcoming access to exhibitions, programs and collections for diverse audiences to experience the transformative power of art, empowering civic participation and fostering community well-being.
• To position the gallery as a cultural change leader and our work as social processes that deepen relations with Indigenous and racialized persons, building trust, advancing social justice and enacting the work of decolonization.
• To steward the physical integrity—and imaginatively extend the intellectual and cultural value—of significant art collections through innovative museological approaches and new curatorial practices, influencing a new generation of cultural leaders and scholars.
Mobilizing the transformative power of art to create more equitable, inclusive and sustainable worlds.
Agnes Reimagined is a future-oriented facility that will:
• Centre the social impact and civic role of art;
• Work across multiple temporalities and diverse world views;
• Create deeper, more intimate and empowering relationships to art, artists and material culture;
• Enliven participation in and constitution of poly-vocal museology through research, exhibition, curatorial practice, and community engagement;
• Amplify our capacity to foster and relay intersectional connections across the disciplines and communities that converge when a public, university-affiliated art institution is both civically minded and pedagogically driven.
Join the many Agnes members, Queen’s alumni, faculty and staff, community members and friends who believe in the transformational power of art by making a gift today.
Your donation may be directed to support studio and gallery-based programs for children, youth and adults; to fund conservation treatment of works of art in our collections; to enable creative learning opportunities for Queen’s students and community groups; or to help bring art to life through exhibitions and events such as artists’ talks, tours, screenings, special events, and symposia.