EMILIA–AMALIA at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Toronto Art Book Fair

by | Jun 8, 2017 | Curatorial | 0 comments

Since 2016, EMILIA–AMALIA has been hosting monthly meetings to explore the legacies of 1970s feminisms, with a particular focus on Italian feminisms and the histories of “second-wave” feminism that we have inherited. Initiated by Cecilia Berkovic, Annie MacDonell, Leila Timmins, cheyanne turions and myself, the organizing group now includes Yaniya Lee and Zinnia Naqvi. These have been some of the fiercest, most generous minds I have had the pleasure to work alongside, and I have been regularly astonished by the vulnerability, creativity and commitment of the many folks who have come to our public sessions to share their thoughts and ideas, to challenge us as organizers, to bring readings to add to our collective and growing bibliography and to write in public with us.

Much of our work has been inspired by the events that took place at Now You Can Go, the ongoing work of Helena Reckitt and the Feminist Duration Reading Group in London, and the practice of Alex Martinis Roe.

After meeting monthly at Gallery 44, EMILIA-AMALIA is entering a new stage of doing research in public, including a residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and a series of chapbooks being published in time for the Toronto Art Book Fair:

AGO Artist-in-Residence Program: EMILIA-AMALIA
May 1 – August 4, 2017

Affidamento, or “entrustment,” is one of the most important, and most challenging, practices of 1970s Italian feminism. It asks women to not only acknowledge the disparities between them—in age, experience, and competencies—but to make these differences a generative force in their relationships, allowing them to support, learn from, and urge one another on.

Over the course of a three-month residency at the AGO, EMILIA–AMALIA aims to explore the resonances of relationships of entrustment between artists, curators, and writers, and to experiment with modes of public engagement that activate the productive differences between feminists and to ask how we can want differently together.

The residency will take shape around a series of related activities, including the production of a set of chapbooks that have emerged from the group’s recent programming, “How to Ask a Question”; interventions into the AGO’s library; a free public screening; and guest residencies by emerging feminist artists Oreka James, Camille Rojas, and Shellie Zhang. This new chapter of the group’s activity will investigate gestures of withdrawal, refusal, non-cooperation and abandonment as feminist strategies of resistance.


EMILIA–AMALIA is an exploratory working group based in Toronto that employs practices of citation, annotation, and autobiography as modes of activating feminist art, writing and research practices. The group is initiated by Cecilia Berkovic, Yaniya Lee, Annie MacDonell, Gabrielle Moser, Zinnia Naqvi, Leila Timmins, and cheyanne turions.

Through readings, screenings, discussions, and writing activities, the group investigates historical and intergenerational feminisms, as well as relationships of mentorship, collaboration, and indebtedness between artists, writers, thinkers, curators, and practitioners. In tracing these lines, the group aims to elucidate the histories of feminism that have been obscured and overlooked in the narratives of 1970s, or “second-wave” feminism, that we have inherited.

EMILIA–AMALIA critically examines how we fit in with these past iterations, and also, how we might update and extend them so that they can respond to contemporary questions. Motivated by a desire to think through these questions collaboratively. The group has been meeting monthly in Toronto, and each monthly meeting is structured around a text, a conversation, and a writing activity. EMILIA–AMALIA is an open group that invites all levels of engagement. We are all experts. No one is an expert. Expertise is not expected.

EMILIA–AMALIA at the Toronto Art Book Fair

EMILIA–AMALIA are thrilled to be participating in the Toronto Art Book Fair this year! We’ll be launching our first three chapbooks, which capture some of the texts that have inspired our monthly meetings, as well as writing by participants, artist projects by Helen Cho and Chris Curreri, and commissioned texts by the brilliant minds of Yaniya Lee, Michele Pearson Clarke and Zinnia Naqvi. Designed by Cecilia Berkovic, two further volumes in the series are forthcoming later this summer.

Please stop by our booth between June 15–18th, and say hi! We’ll also have artist books and multiples by the women artists who inspire what we do from coast to coast. See you there!