Toronto Biennial of Art 2019: what to see with kids

Toronto has officially launched its first international art biennial. For 72 days, Torontonians and tourists are invited to visit the numerous contemporary art installations, performances and talks under the umbrella theme of The Shoreline Dilemma which takes a look at the past, present, and future of the city’s waterfront, which is currently undergoing an urban renewal. Toronto Biennial of Art also explores and honours the Indigenous people who were here long before Toronto was a city. The exhibitions are all FREE thanks to government grants, corporate and private funding and donations.

There are two main venues that house numerous international and Canadian artists and great for exploring: 259 Lakeshore Blvd East and the Small Arms Inspection Building in Mississauga. However, there are many other venues participating. A complete list of venues and participating artists available on the official website.

Organizers also made it a mission to make art accessible to everyone –including families. Here are some installations and programs you and your kids may find interesting to check out:

VENUE:  259 Lakeshore Blvd. East (multiple installations)

The New Red Order (NRO) by artists Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil (Ojibway artists now living in New York City) and Jackson Polys (Tlingit artist now living in New York City). This multi-part project that includes a public recruitment campaign and participatory installation invites prospective recruits to undergo an initiation.

Tocihuapapalutzin (Our revered lady butterfly) by artist Fernando Palma Rodriguez (Mexico City, Mexico). 104 Monarch butterflies are electronically controlled, PIR sensors and electronic software are created with aluminum, soft drink, and beer tin cans. Their movements are programmed to respond to seismic data. Monarchs are the only species to migrate between Mexico and Canada annually however rapidly declining. His installation questions technology and the perception it will save us from catastrophic climate change.

Toronto Biennial

Lo’bat by artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh (Dubai, UAE) and Hesam Rahmanian (Knoxville, US). This jellyfish-like robot with narratives of fear embroidered across its belly. Its eyes are positioned on the opposite wall, the robot comes alive when people enter the space.

R.I.S.E. (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) short film by experimental documentary filmmakers Barbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca (Recife, Brazil) features young poets, rappers, and musicians (mostly first or second-generation immigrants) perform in Toronto’s underground locations.

Interstellar Sleep by artist Caecilia Tripp (New York, Paris) an immersive installation produced in collaboration with astrophysicists from York University Observatory, cosmologist Dr. Renee Hlozek and composer Mani Mazinani. The installation comprises of a film, soundscape, and a series of performances that question who we are in the grand scheme of life and the universe.

Toronto Biennial

Sinaaqpagiaqtuut/The Long-Cut by Embassy of Imagination + PA System artists Alexa Hatanaka (Toronto), Patrick Thompson (Toronto), with participation of Kinngait youth artists: Iqaluk Ainalik, Kevin Allooloo, Oosloosie Ashevak, Salomonie Ashoona, Parr Josephee, Moe Kelly, Janine Manning, Leah Mersky, Saaki Nuna, Mathew Nuqingaq, David Pudlat, Kunu Pudlat, Taqialu Pudlat, Cie Taqiasuk,Embassy of Imagination 2019 participants, and Oasis Skateboard Factory 2019 Fall Cohort. Sinaaqpagiaqtuut/The Long-Cut is a two-part procession that begins in Kinngait, Cape Dorset and continues in Toronto starting at The Bentway (Sept. 21) and moves to 259 Lakeshore Blvd E where works by youth artists explore Kinngait-Toronto connections and how these distance places are tethered.

Infinity Series by artist Curtis Talwst Santiago (Edmonton). Featuring 48 works which consist of miniature dioramas housed in reclaimed jewellery boxes. Each reflecting a layered historical reference decontextualized.

VENUE: Small Arms Inspection Centre (Mississauga) Multiple installations

You Are A Good Apple by artist Diane Borsato. Come together to taste and learn about apples and community orchards. ORCHARD is a living sculpture made up of old and eccentric varietals of apple trees that will be planted by the artist at this location. The work expands the ideas of the public at and seeks to connect the land, plants food and one another.

Talk: Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, author of Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat, discusses the military’s role in the technological developments of processed foods and the distribution, commercialization, and effects of packaged goods within society. The talk happens Nov. 10.

VENUE: Ontario Place (two exhibits) also ideal grounds for biking and exploring.

The Drowned World: multiple exhibiting artists. The Cinesphere becomes a world within a world, merging film and sound art with scents and changing atmospheric conditions. Every Saturday during the Biennial dates.

Wigwam Chi-chemung (Big House Canoe) with artist, poet, and teacher Elder Duke Redbird:  a floating art installation and Indigenous interpretive learning centre. Includes open studio sessions with an opportunity to ask questions and engage with the perspectives of Indigenous Elders (see sight for dates/times). The installation is docked at the Marina and tells the story fo Indigenous presence on Toronto’s waterfront. the Forty-foot pontoon houseboat has been covered with artwork by Redbird and Philip Cote, a painter and muralist from Moose Deer Point First Nation.

VENUE: Riverdale Park West also ideal area for nature walk/bike rides near Evergreen Brick Works

Phantom Pain by artist Maria Thereza Alves (born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Currently lives in Naples, Italy and Berlin, Germany). Alves’s sculpture traces the former curving path of the Don River. This installation makes visible the complicated and often buried histories of Toronto’s watersheds. There is a guided walk and workshop led by poets, storytellers that investigate Toronto’s lost rivers and forgotten network of water that runs beneath our feet. See site for updates.

VENUE: Old Mill Community

Walk and workshop: Mushroom Foray with Outdoor School and Alan Gan (October 13) Artist Diane Borsato and Amish Morrell of Outdoor School, with Gan of the Mycological Society of Toronto, invite visitors to a community mycological foray an informal event that offers participants the opportunity to collect fungi and learn about the culture of mushrooming.

For a complete list of participating artists, descriptions, locations, and up-to-date information visit



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Covering events, openings and all the deliciousness in Toronto.