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The (Public) Art of Inclusion

This fall, Toronto launched its Year of Public Art 2021-2022 aptly named ArtworkTO. Curious, I was nicely surprised to learn about #Pop Up Art Hubs around the city, from community galleries, Union Station to suburban shopping malls eager to fill up empty retail spaces due to the #pandemic's impact. After exploring one of these suburban Art Hubs (which I may save for a later post), I planned a brief shopping jaunt downtown to the Toronto Eaton Centre.

If you need a break from holiday-shopping hordes, step out into Accountability, a public art project that is part of the city’s ArtworxTO endeavour. Curated by the Good Guise, a creative collective of racialized men, Accountability is set within a historic, well-preserved square in front of the Church of the Holy Trinity. Here, Good Guise interrupts and overlays another history that perhaps the city ought not to preserve. For, Accountability embeds a montage of four decades of local newspaper #TorontoStar and #GlobeandMail reportage of police-Black encounters. The criminalization of Black peoples and the higher rates of police brutality of Black peoples forms a harrowing history to which we are all too accustomed, and yet, that the newspaper stories span more than 40 years encourages us to consider how this #systemic #inequity has become normalized, potentially forgotten, like the little square and old church providing supports for the marginalized and the disenfranchised cheek-and-jowl to a cathedral of rampant consumerism.

Moreover, as I've tried, albeit amateurishly to document below, framed around the Accountability narrative our benches that proclaim creativity, economic sustainability and accountability, arranged for us to take pause and reflect: how do we move from the inequities of cities such as Toronto has become to a more #equitable, #inclusive future? What, indeed is the role of public #art in crafting a new culture of #inclusion?

The creative collective of Good Guise writes:

We have been harmed, we ourselves also have harmed. What does it then mean to be accountable to ourselves and to others in this dual reality? This installation invites you to immerse yourselves in our reflections as we approach this question from a position of self and communal care. We ask what it means to love and practice loving accountability as future ancestors rooted in community. While we don’t yet have the answers, we hope this can be a starting point for others asking similar questions.

This, on the last week of #Movember and its attention to men's health, and on American #Thanksgiving, Good Guise's notion of a position of care and "loving accountability" invites us to install a new sense of #accountability in our public spaces and institutions.

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