Programs Overview

How do we learn and listen with the lake? Taking up experiential and artist-led approaches, Programs explores issues, practices, and methodologies related to The Shoreline Dilemma.

Led by Ilana Shamoon and co-curated by Clare Butcher and Myung-Sun Kim, the five programming streams—Co-Relations, Currents, Storytelling, Tools for Learning, and the Toronto Biennial of Art Residency—activate the two main Exhibition sites, 259 Lake Shore Blvd E and the Small Arms Inspection Building, and also connect with projects around the city. Through storytelling, conversations, performative interventions, workshops, and readings, Programs invites visitors to gather and learn together in responsive and engaging formats along the water’s edge and beyond.

At 259 Lake Shore Blvd E, the Programs & Learning Hub is a place for gathering and sharing that invites visitors of all ages to engage in conversations, readings, and workshops within modular spaces, a library, and a listening room. Branching through this space, Flourish and Unfold, a new mural by Caitlin Taguibao, represents mushrooms and their networks. The piece explores relational ecologies between the living and the non-living, and draws attention to overlooked possibilities for inhabiting the ruins of the present. Situated at the centre of the Hub, the Gendai Mobile Unit is an artwork that functions as flexible seating, a presentation space, and a storage unit. Designed by Alexandre David and commissioned by Gendai and artist Yam Lau, it offers a platform for spontaneous, collaborative, and reciprocal methodologies that reimagine models of generosity and collective ways of gathering. 

Between Biennial editions, Programs nurtures further collaborations and relationships to advance ongoing projects and partnerships into 2020 and 2021.

Moving beyond Exhibition venues, site-specific programs take place at locations across Toronto and Mississauga.

For a selection of events occurring at Exhibition venues, please refer to the programming highlights under each Exhibition site.


Co-Relations explores critical local issues—livability, access, interconnectivity—that extend ideas addressed in the Biennial’s first edition. The program demonstrates a deep commitment to placemaking in a series of performances and gatherings, including artist talks, participatory games, civic conversations, youth-engaged projects, workshops, and communal meals. Participants are invited into shifting and expanding dialogues that reveal our often invisible, intangible, or overlooked connections to each other and our environment. These unseen or unnoticed connections provide insights into how we can better build and sustain symbiotic relationships over time.

Co-Relations is made possible with the generous support of the TD Bank Group through its corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment.


Currents is a platform for artist-led programming that invites visitors to engage directly with the creative and critical processes at work in the Exhibition. This stream consists of talks, performances, symphonies, star-gazing, and ceremonies that trace ideas circulating within and beyond the Biennial’s main sites and connect with other Exhibition locations. Be it through acts of restitution, revolutionary wearables, ways of knowing with the water, or the ethics of making, Currents asks participants to reconsider what it means to be in and out of relation in the context of artworks featured in this year’s Exhibition.


Storytelling seeks to shift the mediation of contemporary art away from conventional modes of interpreting and informing to narrating and embodying through weekly walks and conversations. An intergenerational and multilingual group of storytellers share personal insights and experiences of the city as they guide visitors through the Exhibition’s installations, research, and political perspectives. Taking us along hidden river routes, through archives, and into speculative futures, storytellers bring submerged narratives related to Toronto’s shifting shoreline to the surface.

Toronto Biennial of Art Residency

September 1–November 1, 2019

The Toronto Biennial of Art Residency is an experimental platform for artists whose socially engaged practices challenge disciplinary and aesthetic conventions in order to expand notions of community and enact social change.

For its inaugural residency, the Biennial is proud to present the collective Life of a Craphead, whose work spans performance art, film, and curation. For more information on all related Residency activities, please visit torontobiennial.org/programs.

The 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art Residency is presented in partnership with Ireland Park Foundation and Trinity Square Video, and made possible with the generous support of TD Bank Groupthrough its corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment.

Tools for Learning

Tools for Learning, generated with Biennial participants and collaborators, comprises group exercises, performative scores, proposals for collaborative thinking and making, artist interviews, and audio tours. Tools can be instruments to make and repair, but also strategies to undo and refuse. Whether in the Biennial, the classroom, or at home, our multimedia toolbox can be put to use by educators, students, and other community members in connecting their own experiences and curricula with process-based, playful approaches to contemporary artistic practices. Practically and conceptually, Tools for Learning offers materials and methods for reimagining relations with land, water, and each other.

 Tools for Learning is made possible with founding support from the Lang Family Foundation and a generous contribution from the Rossy Family Foundation.

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