Celebrating Revolution, Creative Time Summit Heads to Canada for the First Time

The event will take place in Toronto and feature a site-specific exhibition dedicated to the hundredth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Participants and organizers of the Creative Time Summit. Top to bottom, left to right, Josh Heuman, Nato Thompson, Sally Szwed, and Gaëtane Verna. Thompson and Szwed photos courtesy Creative Time; Verna photo by Michael Graydon.
Participants and organizers of the Creative Time Summit. Top to bottom, left to right, Josh Heuman, Nato Thompson, Sally Szwed, and Gaëtane Verna. Thompson and Szwed photos courtesy Creative Time; Verna photo by Michael Graydon.

Critics, environmentalists, artists, curators, and activists will converge in Toronto this September for the 10th Creative Time Summit. This is the first time the New York–based public art organization will host the event in Canada. This summit is also co-organized with Toronto nonprofit Power Plantwhich is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this yearand the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Every year the conference focuses on one overarching idea that speaks to issues of art and social justice. This year’s summit, however, has two themes. “Homelands and Revolution.” Among the high-profile participants are Indian scholar and critic Gayatri Spivak, American environmentalist and writer Winona LaDuke, and Turkish curator Vasif Kortun.

On the topic of homeland, discussions will range from hospitality to the refugee crisis. As for the second theme, inspired by the hundredth anniversary of the socialist uprising in Russia called the October Revolution, discussions will delve deep into anticapitalist organizing. The broadly international roster of presenters includes community organizer Elizabeth Mpofu of Zimbabwe, Egyptian artist Wael Shawky, and environmentalist/artist Huhana Smith, of New Zealand.

Carrie Mae Weems at the Creative Time Summit, Washington, DC, 2016. Photo by Serli Lala, courtesy Creative Time.

Carrie Mae Weems at the Creative Time Summit, Washington, DC, 2016. Photo by Serli Lala, courtesy Creative Time.

“On the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the specter of Communism is a good thing to wrestle with—in an age of unfettered neoliberalism, it’s a good time to take stock of that history,” said Creative Time’s artistic director Nato Thompson (who talked to artnet News in January about his new book, Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life) in a phone interview. “Also, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and there’s interest from all cultural institutions in how the country has dealt with its indigenous populations. The interest in indigeneity has even popped up in major shows like documenta 14 and the Venice Biennale. And the homelands theme deals not only with that but also rising nationalism around the world, and developments like Trump’s travel ban. They’re very different conversations that have a lot in common.”

Thompson has curated the event along with Sally Szwed, director of the Creative Time Summit; Gaëtane Verna, director of Power Plant; and Josh Heuman, Power Plant’s curator of education and public programs.

The Power Plant will open exhibitions of Amalia Pica, Sammy Baloji & Filip De Boeck, and Michael Landy at the time of the summit. In addition, Thompson is organizing an exhibition titled Monument to 100 Years of Revolution, an installation by Russian collective Chto Delat. That show is part of the twelfth edition of Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s citywide contemporary art festival.

The 10th Creative Time Summit, “Of Homelands and Revolution,” will take place in Toronto, Canada September 28th – 30th, 2017; click here for the full program, and here to purchase tickets.


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