Emelie Chhangur

Message to Japan

Let’s open our imagination for a moment and picture how we might relate to a place through a dream we share with the people who live there.

Let’s imagine real images to show the world what really moves us—though we create them together through fictitious situations. Let’s truly participate in the reality of our place through the imaginary frameworks of art projects.

And through these frameworks, let’s propose real encounters that have the power to redefine the meaning and purpose of art.

While we are dreaming, let us also re-imagine the ethics of current modes of production that constitute the map of this contemporary art world and its relationship to people and/or places that are not on this art “map.” Let’s propose something new to the art world’s systems of inclusion and exclusion. Let’s also reconsider aesthetics, because, in the real world, your view of what is beautiful may not be the same as mine, or someone else’s.

Let’s open up the possibilities of the discourses of beauty and art to alternative, hybrid forms of expression and diverse cultural circuits. And let’s storm the institutions with our new collective power to imagine that art can have a real purpose and also a new territory.

Artist information

Emelie Chhangur is an artist and award winning curator and writer based in Toronto, where she works as the Assistant Director/Curator at the Art Gallery of York University. Over the past decade, she has developed an experimental curatorial practice in collaboration with artists. Recent projects (2011) include The Awakening, a three-year multi-faceted participatory performance with Panamanian artist Humberto Vélez and the Centre for Incidental Activisms (CIA), a radical proposition of gallery “in-reach,” where participatory, activist, and research-based practices were emphasized over conventional methods of exhibition display.

Chhangur has published a number of texts, which follow the principles and strategies of the artists she works with, most recently (2011) the hybrid screen-play/curatorial text Oliver Husain: Mechanisms at Play, and the relational text/diary Walking into and along-side Diane Borsato’s Walking Studio.

Chhangur is interested in how exhibitions and texts perform to create unique interpretative experiences as well as in finding ways to enact activisms from within an institutional framework and believes the contemporary art gallery must serve a social as well as aesthetic function. She makes single channel videos and installations, which are shown nationally and internationally, but questioning the nature and function of a contemporary art gallery is her primary art project at the moment.