Theory X

As a part of the New Monuments for New Cities initiative with the High Line Network, High Line research residents and Monument Lab co-founders Ken Lum and Paul Farber and The Bentway curated a speakers series entitled Theory X. Together, Monument Lab and The Bentway posed an open research question: What is your theory of Toronto?

The question was intended to invite theorization about the city through creative speculation, recollection, and reckoning. If cities are places of order, logic, balance, encounter, and data-driven policy, as we understand, they, too, are sites of profound challenge, improvisation, inequality, surveillance, and grassroots forms of knowledge. Conscious of the narratives of "smart" cities as places wired for progress and profit, this speakers series and research project sought a moment to pause, ponder, and unlock other insights regarding collective values and visions of civic identity.

The invited speakers were asked to respond to this question as it is broken down into four categories: the constitution of Publics, the historical transmission of Legacies, the recognition of Ecologies, and the striving for Belonging.

Habon Ali
Youth community advocate

Cheryl Blackman
Director of Museums and Heritage Services, City of Toronto

Mark V. Campbell
Founder, Northside Hip Hop Archive, Assistant Professor, RTA School of Media at Ryerson University

Alex Josephson
Architect and co-founder of PARTISANS

Devyani Saltzman
Director of Public Programming, AGO

Yaw Tony
Founder of Elohim Studio and Life Liveth In Me, LLiM

Quentin VerCetty
Multidisciplinary visual griot (storyteller) and art educator

Amy Wong
Artist and Angry Asian feminist


Featured Speakers: Habon Ali, Prime Minister’s Youth Council, Cheryl Blackman, Royal Ontario Museum, Mark V Campbell, Northside Hip Hop Archive, Alex Josephson, Partisan, Devyani Saltzman, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Yaw Tony, Designer, Quentin VerCetty, Artist, Amy Wong, Angry Asian Feminist Gang

Monument Lab Team: Paul Farber, Ken Lum, and Kristen Giannantonio

Partners: The Bentway

Photo Credit: Wei Qi/The Bentway