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A Literary Look at the Archives - The Videofag Collection

A Literary Look at the Archives – The Videofag Collection

A Literary Look at the Archives – The Videofag Collection

By: Lo Humeniuk

Drawing of William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill on a couch, with vertical rainbow stripes over top.
Drawing of William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill on a couch, with vertical rainbow stripes over top.

 

There’s a queer politic that I think we’re espousing […], which is the temporality. We’re interested in being this potentially legendary thing that happened for a few years in the 2010s that went away and hopefully it makes space for other artists to fill that gap.” So said Jordan Tannahill, co-founder of the art space and performance hub known as Videofag. And so it was.

Videofag, inspired by the many ephemeral, radical queer spaces that came before it, burst onto the scene in 2012,  at the hands of William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill. Functioning as a collaborative community space, the two opened up their home in Kensington Market to provide a work space for their artist friends. With a near “anything goes” philosophy, Videofag hosted plays, concerts, cabarets, birthday parties, screenings, art exhibits, and many other happenings over the course of it four-year tenure.

Postcard promotion for screening and exhibition of “Whatever Happened to Jackie Shane?” at Videofag, showing a drawing of a woman waving.
Postcard promotion for screening and exhibition of “Whatever Happened to Jackie Shane?” at
Videofag, showing a drawing of a woman waving.


The ArQuives is the lucky repository of  
The Videofag Book (edited by Ellis and Tannahill), a fascinating look back at this brief but impactful moment in Toronto’s queer history.  The book is a collage of texts written by performers and patrons of the space, including a poem by Aisha Sasha John as well as an intriguing play by Greg MacArthur (“A Man Vanished”), all of which bleeds this community into an acclaimed Japanese screenplay – The Videofag Book is well worth the read. Included in the collection is a detailed history written by Chandler Levack, who sat down for extensive interviews with the founders and friends, actors, and artistic directors of all things Videofag. Brendan Healy, renowned former artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times, describes Videofag as the “expression of a generation.”

“Certificate of Queer Achievement” awarded to Jordan, 2013.
“Certificate of Queer Achievement” awarded to Jordan, 2013.

If you’re not the literary type, we also have a plethora of artifacts from Videofag’s among our collections; photographs, play scripts, programs, posters, and an admirable collection of postcards and thank you notes from the community. BlogTO’s early review of the gallery walks the reader through and inside the space: https://www.blogto.com/gallery/videofag-toronto/. Curious about some of the performances that were mounted at Gallery? The Videofag Book contains an exhaustive index of the full programming, and notable play All Our Happy Days Are Stupid, reviewed by Kelly Nestruck in the Globe and Mail https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/nestruck-on-theatre/happy-days-are-frequently-delightful/article15078422/. These reviews capture the essence of the place/space/people of Videofag and their interaction with the community.

Gift of Life Consent Form- Organ and Tissue Donor Registration. Written in Sharpie over top: “Wish I could donate but I'm a fag”
Gift of Life Consent Form- Organ and Tissue Donor Registration. Written in Sharpie over top:
“Wish I could donate but I’m a fag”

Interested in reading more about queer Toronto history and the queer spaces that have housed, sheltered, and built community over the years? Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer (2017) is an editorial compilation of historic moments, movements, and people who have moved through this city. Check out these texts and more at The ArQuives.

 

Black and white photograph of street in Kensington Market, with pink arrows drawn on top with the words “Videofag, coming soon”
Black and white photograph of street in Kensington Market, with pink arrows drawn on top
with the words “Videofag, coming soon”

 

Black poster with rainbow lettering for event Queer Arcade, with accompanying news article in section “Out in the City”
Black poster with rainbow lettering for event Queer Arcade, with accompanying news article in section “Out in the City”

 

White button with “Videofag” written in pink lettering
White button with “Videofag” written in pink lettering

 

Six photographs featuring William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill, founders of Videofag. Five feature the two sitting at a kitchen table and the fifth shows one on a ladder and one sitting on a box.
Six photographs featuring William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill, founders of Videofag. Five
feature the two sitting at a kitchen table and the fifth shows one on a ladder and one sitting on a box.

 

Poster promotion for Videofag showing televisions and geometric shapes piled together.
Poster promotion for Videofag showing televisions and geometric shapes piled together.

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A Literary Look at the Archives – The Videofag Collection

A Literary Look at the Archives – The Videofag Collection

By: Lo Humeniuk

Drawing of William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill on a couch, with vertical rainbow stripes over top.
Drawing of William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill on a couch, with vertical rainbow stripes over top.

 

There’s a queer politic that I think we’re espousing […], which is the temporality. We’re interested in being this potentially legendary thing that happened for a few years in the 2010s that went away and hopefully it makes space for other artists to fill that gap.” So said Jordan Tannahill, co-founder of the art space and performance hub known as Videofag. And so it was.

Videofag, inspired by the many ephemeral, radical queer spaces that came before it, burst onto the scene in 2012,  at the hands of William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill. Functioning as a collaborative community space, the two opened up their home in Kensington Market to provide a work space for their artist friends. With a near “anything goes” philosophy, Videofag hosted plays, concerts, cabarets, birthday parties, screenings, art exhibits, and many other happenings over the course of it four-year tenure.

Postcard promotion for screening and exhibition of “Whatever Happened to Jackie Shane?” at Videofag, showing a drawing of a woman waving.
Postcard promotion for screening and exhibition of “Whatever Happened to Jackie Shane?” at
Videofag, showing a drawing of a woman waving.


The ArQuives is the lucky repository of  
The Videofag Book (edited by Ellis and Tannahill), a fascinating look back at this brief but impactful moment in Toronto’s queer history.  The book is a collage of texts written by performers and patrons of the space, including a poem by Aisha Sasha John as well as an intriguing play by Greg MacArthur (“A Man Vanished”), all of which bleeds this community into an acclaimed Japanese screenplay – The Videofag Book is well worth the read. Included in the collection is a detailed history written by Chandler Levack, who sat down for extensive interviews with the founders and friends, actors, and artistic directors of all things Videofag. Brendan Healy, renowned former artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times, describes Videofag as the “expression of a generation.”

“Certificate of Queer Achievement” awarded to Jordan, 2013.
“Certificate of Queer Achievement” awarded to Jordan, 2013.

If you’re not the literary type, we also have a plethora of artifacts from Videofag’s among our collections; photographs, play scripts, programs, posters, and an admirable collection of postcards and thank you notes from the community. BlogTO’s early review of the gallery walks the reader through and inside the space: https://www.blogto.com/gallery/videofag-toronto/. Curious about some of the performances that were mounted at Gallery? The Videofag Book contains an exhaustive index of the full programming, and notable play All Our Happy Days Are Stupid, reviewed by Kelly Nestruck in the Globe and Mail https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/theatre-and-performance/nestruck-on-theatre/happy-days-are-frequently-delightful/article15078422/. These reviews capture the essence of the place/space/people of Videofag and their interaction with the community.

Gift of Life Consent Form- Organ and Tissue Donor Registration. Written in Sharpie over top: “Wish I could donate but I'm a fag”
Gift of Life Consent Form- Organ and Tissue Donor Registration. Written in Sharpie over top:
“Wish I could donate but I’m a fag”

Interested in reading more about queer Toronto history and the queer spaces that have housed, sheltered, and built community over the years? Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer (2017) is an editorial compilation of historic moments, movements, and people who have moved through this city. Check out these texts and more at The ArQuives.

 

Black and white photograph of street in Kensington Market, with pink arrows drawn on top with the words “Videofag, coming soon”
Black and white photograph of street in Kensington Market, with pink arrows drawn on top
with the words “Videofag, coming soon”

 

Black poster with rainbow lettering for event Queer Arcade, with accompanying news article in section “Out in the City”
Black poster with rainbow lettering for event Queer Arcade, with accompanying news article in section “Out in the City”

 

White button with “Videofag” written in pink lettering
White button with “Videofag” written in pink lettering

 

Six photographs featuring William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill, founders of Videofag. Five feature the two sitting at a kitchen table and the fifth shows one on a ladder and one sitting on a box.
Six photographs featuring William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill, founders of Videofag. Five
feature the two sitting at a kitchen table and the fifth shows one on a ladder and one sitting on a box.

 

Poster promotion for Videofag showing televisions and geometric shapes piled together.
Poster promotion for Videofag showing televisions and geometric shapes piled together.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

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Telephone: 416-777-2755
Email: queeries@arquives.ca

Street Address:
34 Isabella Street
Toronto, ON M4Y 1N1

Mailing Address:
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P.O. Box 699
663A Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M4Y 1Z9

PUBLIC HOURS

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NOTE TO RESEARCHERS:

Some of our materials are stored off site. Before visiting the archives, please send us an email at queeries@arquives.ca listing in detail the topics and sources that you wish to consult and we will let you know when they will be available. We aim to respond to email inquiries within 4 business days.

CONSTRUCTION NOTICE:

As we continue our efforts to make The ArQuives more accessible, we are renovating the front of the house to add a ramp to the front entrance. Please note that there will not be any construction work done during public service hours. Should there be any disruptions affecting our access to the front door and/or work in the house during this process, we will post a notice as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we try to make The ArQuives more accessible to all. If you have any questions/concerns, please contact the Executive Director, Raegan Swanson, at executivedirector@arquives.ca


The ArQuives is located on the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnaabe and the Huron-Wendat. Today, Toronto is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.

The ArQuives strives to gather the stories of the unheard and silenced voices of the 2SLGBTQ+ first peoples of this land. We acknowledge that some stories have already been lost, and we aim to ensure that those that remain and those that are to come are preserved for the future.