In the 1970s, the concept and practice of the artist-run centre emerged as a revolutionary challenge to public and commercial galleries in Canada. They focused on supporting the most vital component of any art space the artist. Nearly forty years later, it’s time to ask: how can artist-run centres better serve artists?

YYZ, which turned thirty this year, is responding to contemporary discourse about the breadth of artist support at artist-run centres by working beyond the crate and offering Toronto-based artists, JENNIFER MARMAN & DANIEL BORINS, a two-month residency this summer. The Z Gallery will be utilized as the artists studio, available to the artist around the clock and open to the public during gallery hours. An exhibition of work produced in the space follows the residency.

YYZ’s current direction toward artist engagement was born out of its renewed mandate to provide artists with the financial, physical and intellectual support for diverse practices. With YYreZidency, YYZ takes the leap of opening the process of creation to the public. Curiosity, questioning, investigation and participation are encouraged and indeed expected in this new space where the isolation of the studio is broken down, and conversations between artists and audience are a natural part of the formation of work. This reinvention of the space instigates social interaction and exposes the audience to the stages of process and progress that are usually shielded from public view. MARMAN and BORINS’s presence at YYZ as an interdisciplinary duo promises an ever-transformative space where no two visits will be alike and anything is possible.

On June 27, 2009, Marmco International will celebrate a groundbreaking ceremony in 401 Richmond, kicking off construction of Massive Sale @ YYZ Mall, the first ever artist-run centre mall of its kind in Canada. YYZ Mall will host 430 square feet of retail space in a mini-mall built within the YYZ gallery. It will feature a variety of small businesses operated by artists. It is anticipated that the development of YYZ Mall will enhance the retail mix of the area and boost both economic and social growth. Social and off-site attractions such as lectures, satellite spaces and events will enhance the mixed-use qualities of the mall. As part of its program to support its retail tenants, YYZ Mall will strive to provide unique advertising and marketing solutions to help businesses become successful in the current marketplace. In these challenging economic conditions, YYZ Mall offers a new model for small business owners, artists and their audience alike.

The Massive Sale @ YYZ Mall residency and exhibition originates from observations about the unique nature of small businesses in Toronto, and the ways in which the individuality and creativity of small business mirrors contemporary artistic strategies. Marman and Borins act as artist-producers, who enable the practice of four chosen groups of artists: Lucia de l’Amour and Ken Ogawa; Ulysses Castellanos; Eric Shinn and Karey Shinn; and Aleks Ognjanovich, as collaborators in the residency and exhibition. The traits of individuality, eccentricity, difference, and humour, which these artists have in abundance, mirror the cultural meshwork that makes independent businesses in Toronto unique, and thus the local urban experience unique. With respect to the four artists groups involved, illustrated is the concept that without the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses and artists, the city of Toronto would become a monoculture. The four groups of artists have eagerly opted to participate in Massive Sale Mall of 401 Richmond within the premise that if they were asked to open a small store what would it be like, what would it do, or sell? All of the artists have responded in highly individualistic manner.

Marman and Borins through this residency and exhibition engage with the concept of dematerializing and yet broadening the possibilities of the art object through a practice of social interaction with, and the creative participation of, other artists. The artists raise sociological questions about the tensions and power dynamics implicit within social based arts practice. Questions are asked of relational aesthetics, whether it is a post movement, and if so what hybridized strategies can be used to make it relevant? Within the context of a post-relational aesthetics art world, and the significance of the artist-run centre as backdrop for an art exhibition, Massive Sale both defiantly and with complicity responds to the modalities and consequences of the current economic conditions that artists face on a local and national level within the context of funding cuts and a menacing economic climate.

JENNIFER MARMAN and DANIEL BORINS practice sculpture, installation and media art in Toronto. MARMAN AND BORINS have shown work both in Canada and internationally, including exhibitions at: Art Santa Fe, in Santa Fe New Mexico; Galeria Vermelho, and Paco Das Artes, in Sao Paulo Brazil; at the University of Toronto; the Toronto International Art Fair; and the Toronto Sculpture Garden. In the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008 MARMAN AND BORINS showed their sculpture The Presence Meter at the National Gallery of Canada, as part of an exhibition entitled Dots, Pulses, and Loops. In the fall of 2008 MARMAN AND BORINS participated in a group sculpture show at the National Gallery of Canada entitled Caught in the Act. Most recently, they had their first museum level solo show at the Art Gallery of York University in Toronto.

MARMAN AND BORINS have been invited to speak at a number of galleries and institutions, including: the National Gallery of Canada, The Power Plant’s Hub-Bub series, the Art Gallery of Ontario, University of Toronto, the Ontario College of Art and Design, York University, and Syracuse University.

Their work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada (2008) and they are represented by Georgia Scherman Projects in Toronto.

MARMAN AND BORINS graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2001. Prior to that, MARMAN received a BA in Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, and BORINS received a BA in Art History from McGill University.