A collaborative walking tour
for art, activism and inquiry
in Toronto’s financial district

October 5th, 2019, 10:30am-4pm

Organized by Stephanie Springgay and Sarah E. Truman (WalkingLab)
and Max Haiven (ReImagining Value Action Lab – RiVAL)

Please submit proposals to present or participate, or sign up for updates here by July 15: https://forms.gle/WKH9WhuBt8cXR5Va9

Toronto’s financial district, built on stolen Haudenosaunee and Mississauga lands, is home to many ghosts, notably those dispossessed by the global extractive industry headquartered on the city’s infamous Bay Street. The violence of (neo)colonialism haunts the corporate towers and cleansed streets of the financial district; it also haunts the pensions and savings of millions of Canadians who, knowingly or not, are invested in the industry via the neighbourhood’s preeminent financial institutions.

This glass, metal and concrete zone is a reactor of the imagination, where the abstract codes of global finance fuse with the settler colonial logics of racialized extraction and neoliberal capitalism. But what else might the imagination generate if we assembled ourselves otherwise? What resilient pasts, rebellious presents and radical futures flow beneath the surface, ready to erupt? How can we imagine and enact the complex solidarities we need to overturn the financialized global order of deadly inequalities and the fascistic spectres it unleashes?

WalkingLab and the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL) propose to assemble a temporary community of activists, artists, scholars and other peripatetic counter-speculators to investigate and challenge this power by walking together. On 5 October  2019 we will assemble in Toronto’s financial district to share our knowledge, ideas and forms of resistance through a series of presentations at various locations. We are calling for expressions of interest from those who might be willing to share their stories and talents as part of a collaborative walking tour.

Please use this form to propose a talk, a performance, or another intervention that could take place during our day-long event. Most contributions will take the form of 15 minute presentations that will take place at locations along our route, but we are also keen to explore other possibilities including durational artworks, installations, media or time-based works, and games. We anticipate that we will walk together for several hours hearing presentations at specific sites before retiring to a nearby indoor space for a conversation and panel. There will be a lunch break.

Topics might include, but are not  limited to:

  • Counter-speculations: pre-colonial memories, anti-colonial struggles and decolonized dreaming in the territories currently known as “Toronto”
  • The afterlives and traces of slavery and racial exploitation in (Canadian) financial and banking capital, including the role of Canadian banks in necolonialism in the Caribbean
  • Confronting the financial mechanisms that drive extractive capitalism: anti-mining and other activism
  • The architectures of financialized power: concrete, abstract, digital, material
  • Colonial algorithms: data extractivism, surveillance capitalism and the gendered/raced bodies they target in the city
  • Histories of financial violence, crime and activism in “Canada”
  • Artistic and academic confrontations (and/or complicities with) extractive capital
  • Biting the hand: confronting extractive and financial sponsorship of arts and culture
  • Urban zones of extraction and colonial dispossession: struggle within/against/beyond “gentrification”
  • Marketization: oblique uptakes on how ‘the market’ appears, proliferates, and captures daily life

Modest honouraria or artist fees are available for selected presenters

About the organizers

Writing of their project WalkingLab, Sarah E. Truman and Stephanie Springgay write: Conventional walking tours can reinforce dominant histories, memories, power relations, and normative or fixed understandings of place. This place-based knowledge serves various forms of governance, ideology, and maintains the status quo including the ongoing violence of settler colonization, and the erasure of racialized, gendered, and differently abled bodies. To counter dominant and normative walking tours that “take place” in specific locations, we developed a method we call a ‘queer walking tour’ to advocate for a critical consideration of place. This criticality, following Tuck and McKenzie, not only recognizes place as socially, culturally, politically, geosocially, and relationally constructed, it also considers “the place-based processes of colonization and settler colonization and works against their further erasure or neutralization through social science research.” The implication of queer walking tours is that they offer a form of place-based research that seeks to attend more responsibly and ethically to issues of place.

The ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL) is a workshop for the radical imagination, social justice and decolonization located in Anishinaabe Aki (Thunder Bay, Canada) and active around the world. It is co-directed by activist-artists Cassie Thornton and Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice Max Haiven. RiVAL seeks to convoke the radical imagination using methods that include hosting conferences, symposia and summer camps, hosting workshops, film screenings and talks, supporting research, pedagogy and debate on key themes, publishing in print and online and organizing walking tours and other experimental public events. This event follows on a successful walking tour of London’s financial district organized by RiVAL’s Max Haiven and Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou of University College London in Spring of 2018.