Bruce Kuwabara, Sketch for Agnes Reimagined, Agnes Terrace Looking East, 27 March 2022. Courtesy of KPMB Architects
Here we go … Welcome to part two of 2022, a pivotal moment in the process of closing Agnes and reimagining her re-emergence, otherwise. We do not take this responsibility lightly.
It’s as if we’re prolonging this pivot by making our 2022 program a slow pirouette around change, knowing that this turn toward transformation can be destabilizing. But a pirouette is beautiful, elegant and powerful—when you know where you stand. From the intervals of Collection Count + Care that reflect on our responsibility of homing collections as we pack ours and say goodbye to them temporarily, to the liminality of Fugitive Rituals that seeks palliative care for systems no longer necessary, 2022 sees Agnes caringly carry forward the past while simultaneously speculating new futures.
Kept on our toes, it’s a careful balance …
In a dance across this time of transformation, we’re poised to have a lot of fun! There are house parties and solstice celebrations, performances and feasts, workshops that teach us how to unlearn and overnight reading groups that wear us out because there is so much to learn. We bring the streets to the gallery through a major graffiti commission on our exterior façades, as we ourselves prepare to “take to the streets,” readying for our closure at the end of 2022.
We are incredibly privileged. We don’t take this lightly either. As we work together with KPMB and RIEL Cultural Consulting under the change-making leadership of Bruce Kuwabara and Georgina Riel through an iterative and community-engaged design process for Agnes Reimagined, we take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity to rethink museological practices by literally building alternative architectures that restructure them, ensuring our new building won’t be container for old systems but a proposition for new ideas. Our 2022 program propels this experimentation—it’s testing possibilities—and our move off-site will prototype practices that innovate new gallery operations. As we pack our 17,000-object collection, we move into a defunct community centre (our “MacBrownLAB”) in Kingston to think about what an art centre centres by de-centring ourselves. Our programs this fall forge relationships that deepen during our closure.
Perhaps our 2022 program is a quadrille more than a solitary pirouette!
As we bring stewardship forward to the gallery from back of house, what has not been seen is now in full view. Through energies exemplified by artists Pamila Matharu and Winsom Winsom, we model forms of history as forums for recognition, resilience and radical love through counter-archival impulses, intergenerational connections and feminist genealogies that cite what came before. We inhabit spaces opened in-between with Fabrics of Representation, which textures complex processes of world-making through representation and Land Protectors, which honours Indigenous artists and activists on Turtle Island who steadfastly safeguard survivance toward non-representational ends. We must hold all these tensions seriously. We are a museum changing.
Actually, we’re breakdancing.
XO Emelie Chhangur, Agnes