Executive Editor's Letter: A Toronto Biennale, anyone?

Flash Forward Festival Boston: Photo by the Magenta FoundationFlash Forward Festival Boston: Photo by the Magenta Foundation

Since the first issue of the revamped online version of Magenta Magazine back in September 2009, we’ve tried to follow a mandate of placing the Canadian art scene in an international context, which is most obvious with this issue’s contents. This summer, we’ve joined the rest of the art world in Europe with our “Canadians in Europe” issue. Here, you’ll find features on several Canadian artists who have recently been showing work in Europe, including Steven Shearer, Canada’s representative at this year’s Venice Biennale, and veteran photographer Robert Bourdeau, whose monograph was recently published by Magenta.

Claire Fontaine: Foreigners Everywhere (2011): Neon. Installation at Gallery TPW, Toronto. Photo: Magenta.Claire Fontaine: Foreigners Everywhere (2011): Neon. Installation at Gallery TPW, Toronto. Photo: Magenta.Magenta – the magazine, as well as the Foundation – has international ambitions, and we are achieving our goals one issue, one publication and one festival at a time. I’m pleased to report that Magenta is being read not only in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., but also in places as far away as Australia, Argentina and Germany. In addition, Magenta’s Flash Forward Festival, which enlivened Toronto’s Liberty Village last September, travelled to Boston at the beginning of June, with photographers, curators and publishers converging in that city’s Fairmont Battery Wharf development for four days of insightful presentations about the state of photography book publishing and stimulating exhibitions of cutting-edge images. Highlights from the Festival can be found in this issue.

All of this coverage about Canadians swimming successfully in international waters seems timely, considering the recent conversations about Toronto’s place in the international art world. Last year, a panel at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art talked about the prospect of a Toronto Biennale and, earlier this spring, the subject was raised again in a discussion organized by the Toronto Alliance of Art Critics. Obviously, enthusiasm for such a thing in Toronto varies widely. Some people think that Toronto has missed the biennale bandwagon, and that biennales, despite still popping up all over the place, are becoming a tired model for presenting art. Aleksandra Mir: The Seduction of Galileo Galilei (2011):   Production still. Courtesy Mercer Union, Toronto. Photo: the artist.Aleksandra Mir: The Seduction of Galileo Galilei (2011): Production still. Courtesy Mercer Union, Toronto. Photo: the artist.Others, however, have presented some very interesting ideas that would build upon Toronto’s dynamic artist-run centre culture. I’m most excited about the idea raised in discussions that a Toronto Biennale would have to emerge from the ground up, and that we can’t rely on the city’s larger institutions to pursue the idea. Indeed, organizations like YYZ, Gallery TPW and Mercer Union have wells of experience in working with international artists and bringing their work to Toronto, as well as programming forward-thinking exhibitions by emerging Canadian artists. For example, Gallery TPW’s current exhibition features a roster of notable international artists, including Reza Haeri, Neil Beloufa, Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, and Keren Cytter, as well as a specially commissioned neon piece by the Paris-based collective Claire Fontaine. And, Mercer Union is showing newly commissioned work by Poland-born, London-based Aleksandra Mir, who is interviewed about her work in this issue. If the momentum behind a Toronto Biennale ever picks up, I hope that the people running these organizations will be included in its planning.

In other Magenta Foundation-related news, we’re excited to announce the launch of Imprint, our new blog that went live at the end of May. Imprint is dedicated to tracking Flash Forward programming and artists. New content is posted every Wednesday (with occasional extra posts). Visit Imprint at: blog.flashforwardfestival.com.

Bill ClarkeFrom all of us at Magenta, thanks for reading and a have a terrific summer.

Bill Clarke
Executive Editor, Magenta Magazine Online

Thoughts on this issue's contents? Share them with us at info@magentafoundation.org