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Migrating the Margins: Circumlocating the Future of Toronto Art

Emelie Chhangur and Philip Monk
Art Gallery of York University
Contemporary Art, Canadian

The future of Toronto art is now—and it is happening in that assembler of difference, the suburbs. Migrating the Margins traces the roots of artists’ diasporic identities as rerouted through the cosmopolitan hospitality of Toronto’s suburbs. Being at home with an elsewhere is a common condition, but suburban artists affiliate themselves with their neighbours in the peripheries rather than seek their identities “back home” or mimic the artistic strategies of the centre. Beyond the identity politics of postcolonialism, beyond postcolonialism itself, these artists reflect an appositional practice that links periphery to periphery. Migrating the Margins is not a matter of moving the margins to the centre; the margins create their own centres. The suburbs now define the city’s cultural content. The social experiment we know as Toronto is a result of the cultural mixing deriving from decades of immigration and life in the suburbs. As a result of the peripheries no longer reporting to the centre, we no longer look to the past to legitimate our history but to the diversifying differences of an evolving future.

Taking a Glissantian point of view on Toronto’s creole conditions as an organized manifestation of diversity, this book sketches out some of the developing characteristics of an aesthetics of amalgamation that have newly evolved in suburban conditions of peripheral circulation and diversifying totality. The suburbs and suburban artists are forever fated to be entangled in difference, where rooted identities are a thing of the past.

This book is a companion to the Art Gallery of York University’s fall 2017 exhibition, Migrating the Margins, curated by Emelie Chhangur and Philip Monk, which included work by Erika DeFreitas, Anique Jordan, Tau Lewis, Rajni Perera, and Nep Sidhu and public art projects by Farrah-Marie Miranda, Otherness (Pamila Matharu and Marilyn Fernandes), and Sister Co-Resister.

  1. Migrating the Margins

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