Estate of Will Munro

January 11 - March 11, 2012

Will Munro Underwear Mannequins Courtesy the Will Munro Estate and Paul Petro Contemporary Art / photo AGYU

Will Munro Underwear Mannequins Courtesy the Will Munro Estate and Paul Petro Contemporary Art / photo AGYU

Sadly, in May 2010 Toronto’s beloved Will Munro (Feb 11, 1975 – May 21, 2010) passed away after a two-year battle with brain cancer. Will was the lively centre of so many overlapping communities: he was a DJ, a music promoter, an activist, a queer community catalyst as well as a visual artist. The AGYU exhibition attempts to capture the full scope of the Will Munro experience.

The exhibition concentrates on the multi-media work Munro produced after graduating from OCAD in 2000, i.e., from his first exhibition Boys Do First Aid (2000) to his last, Inside the Solar Temple of the Cosmic Leather Daddy (2010): from his various signature underwear work (handcrafted, for instance, from heavy metal concert T-shirts); banners of legendary queer performers such as Klaus Nomi and Leigh Bowery; his stitching collaborations with West Side Stitches Couture Club, Jeremy Laing, and others, including a restaging of The Pavilion of Virginia Puff-Paint, his collaboration with Laing made for the AGYU in 2004; his experimental films; the multitude of hand-made silkscreen posters that accompanied his DJ’ing and music promotions at his club nights Vazaleen, Peroxide, No T.O., and Moustache. The dynamic exhibition will be punctuated by a collection of never before seen ephemera and archival material that stitches together the many vibrant activities of this non-stop artist.

The exhibition is about the history Will based his work on and the history he was; his glam subjects and the glamourous one he was; the magic dimension of his last work and his magic that lives on. His spirit carries on in the last room of the exhibition, a lezbro room that acknowledges the role lesbians had in Will’s life and work, with contributions from Lex Vaughn, Cecilia Berkovic, and Allyson Mitchell.

The AGYU has had a long history with Will. He was an important part of the 2004 Sinbad in the Rented World exhibition with his delightfully perverse Pavilion of Virginia Puff-Paint, crafted in collaboration with Jeremy Laing. (A second, complementary AGYU Sinbad exhibition at Zsa Zsa downtown showed his Vazaleen posters.) A year later, the AGYU hosted a night of Westside Stitches Couture Club, a group Will formed with Jeremy Laing, which that night included a limp-wristed “hazing” for York’s frosh. In 2006, the AGYU published the artists’ book and DVD performance Pavilion of Virginia Puff-Paint by Will and Jeremy. Will was also a valued member of the AGYU Advisory Committee and hosted our post-opening parties at The Beaver.

Special thank you to Margaret, Ian, and David Munro for their dedicated assistance, to Luis Jacob, Lex Vaughn, John Caffery, and Jeremy Laing for their advice, and to Cecilia Berkovic, John Caffery, Michael Cobb, Janusz Dukszta, Luis Jacob, Alex McClelland, Michael McClelland, Paul Petro, Julia Strutt, and Lex Vaughn, who loaned work for this exhibition.

The exhibition is generously sponsored by Salah Bachir and Jacob Yerex.

Link to the AGYU website

Link to Canadian Art Magazine review