New Art 2017: Going Gonzago

The Gonzago Institute is Halifax’s free art school, here for you.

@KhyberCentre Instagram
FLIM FLAM flies.

To February 4
Panel discussion February 4, 6pm
The Khyber Centre for the Arts, 1880 Hollis Street

In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, The House of Gonzaga—an old royal family that ruled in Northern Italy—is the inspiration for his play-within-the-play. The play is called The Murder of Gonzago.

"It's basically the idea of a thing within a thing. Like an institution within an institution—like Gonzago within the Khyber," says Merle Harley, a graduate of NSCAD's Bachelor of Fine Arts program and 2016 Gonzago student.

The Gonzago Institute is a tuition-free certificate program started by NSCAD professor Craig Leonard and hosted at the Khyber Centre for the Arts. It's open to anyone in Halifax aged 19 to 35 years old who is not already a full-time student.

The free school operates independently of NSCAD and assists students in furthering their arts-related writing and communications skills over a three-month period. Through workshops and conversations held at the Khyber, Gonzago aims to support and challenge students in their independent practices and capacities.

Gonzago's curriculum draws on topics of practice, theory and community, with students—including writers, musicians, perform- ers and fine artists—sharing and critiquing one another's projects throughout the program.

"We would get writing assignments and present and give each other feedback on our personal projects and practices," says Harley. "For one assignment, we wrote about limits—like, what our personal limits were."

Leonard, with Merray Gerges—CRIT co-founder and editor and Canadian Art staff writer—and Olivia Lucca Fraser, independent researcher and member of Laboria Cuboniks—the international feminist collective behind the Xenofeminsm Manifesto—co-directed the intimate pilot program.

The Institute's 2017 program participants—which are determined through an open call and application process—were selected earlier this month and have just had their first of 15 meetings.

FLIM FLAM, Gonzago's first group exhibition and publishing project, is on at the Khyber until February 4. The exhibit features the eloquent, silly and thoughtful unedited transcripts of Gonzago's 2016 pilot group's 15 meetings. Following the exhibition's closure, the 2016 students plan to publish and distribute the final manuscript at a book launch later this year.

To learn more about The Gonzago Institute and how you can get involved, check out its Facebook page or send a message to