The Toronto-made film RISE embodies the creative force of a local youth-led spoken word movement known as RISE Edutainment. A subway station serves as the set where the collective’s poets, rappers, and musicians voice their experiences as first and second generation immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa.
Emelie Chhangur, curator of The Art Gallery of York University, sparked the film project in 2017, by inviting Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca to Toronto. Based in Recife, Brazil, the two artist filmmakers are known for examining cultural change in the making. Through film and photography, they document popular performance genres as they adapt to post-colonial economies and geographies.
The experimental film that Wagner and de Burca created with the RISE community in Toronto hybridizes fiction and documentary to establish a third language-territory—a space where rhythm and poetry are employed as catalysts to explore the complex diasporic and multi-cultural city.
RISE challenges us to consider what might constitute the creation of new traditions in and for Toronto. The story demonstrates how creative expression empowers the past, present and potential future of an extended, evolving community. By showcasing the film in the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art, artistic director Candice Hopkins and her collaborators follow through on their commitment to showcase local culture and history.
Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio from the film RISE, in order of appearance: Randell Adjei, Borelson, Kevin Braithwaite, Shahadda Jack, Laurette Jack-Ogbonna, Kwazzi, Michie Mee, Duke Redbird | RISE Audio Track, courtesy Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca Studio
About RISE: Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (RISE) is a youth-led movement that has been providing opportunities and spaces for youth to develop artistical-ly/professionally, personally, socially, and spiritually. We create safe and inclusive spaces that foster self-expression and healing through the performance arts and storytelling.
About Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca: The photographs and films of Bárbara Wagner (born in Brasilia, Brazil; lives in Recife, Brazil) and Benjamin de Burca (born in Munich, Germany; lives in Recife, Brazil) have explored the boundary between documentary between fiction, the role performance plays in daily life, and the translation of ideas and styles across cultures. Their show at Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo took as its jumping-off point the movement RISE, which relies on spoken-word performances and has been used in Canada to educate marginalized youths.
About the Art Gallery of York University: York University is situated in the neighbourhood known as Jane-Finch. The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) features programming that is responsive to its suburban locale through residencies and commissions that support artists who engage with the diverse and nuanced cultural context of the wider Toronto area.
About the Toronto Biennial: The Toronto Biennial of Art is a new international contemporary visual arts event as culturally connected and diverse as the city itself. In Fall 2019, Toronto and surrounding areas were transformed by exhibitions, talks, and performances that reflect our local context while engaging with the most pressing issues of our time. The Biennial’s free, citywide programs aim to inspire individuals, bridge communities, and contribute to global conversations from a variety of perspectives.