Centre for Experimental Art and Communication Toronto 1973-1980

The Centre for Experimental Art and Communication (CEAC) was founded in Toronto in 1975 by Amerigo Marras, Bruce Eves and Ron Gillespie, as an avant-garde artist collective. The Centre acted as a studio, resource centre, museum, gallery and performance space for the collective. It also acted as the host for visiting acts and artists in the areas of performance art, behaviour workshops, contextualism, visual arts (especially video art) and other post-modern art forms. The CEAC collective also produced events which were showcased in Europe, the United States, South America and, to a lesser extent, Canada. The Centre was the sight of ’Crash ‘n’ Burn,’ a punk-rock musical venue in the mid-1970s founded by Toronto band The Diodes. The Centre alienated funding bodies in the late 1970s when a copy of ’Strike’, a journal associated with CEAC, was charged with promoting the violent overthrow of authority, and CEAC was forced to close in 1980.

The fonds consists of printed material, correspondence, photographs, slides, and related material of the Centre for Experimental Art and Design. The correspondence includes correspondence with artists, galleries and other arts groups in Canada and overseas, dealing with CEAC exhibitions, CEAC-sponsored travelling shows, and communications concerning gallery events. There is also material dealing with granting agencies, including the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council. Also included is correspondence relating to the OCA and CC decisions to suspend funding to CEAC, letters of reaction from CEAC members and supporters. The fonds also has grant proposals and covering documentation and other material. The fonds also contains various documents written by members of the collective defining the ’new ideology’ which would usurp the cultural and political elites, define a post-modern aesthetic. There is also material on related artistic and intellectual ideas. There are newspaper clippings of CEAC events and exhibitions both from Canadian and foreign newspapers, invitations to events, flyers and other announcements of forthcoming events, and clippings about other performance and avant-garde arts in other cities and countries. The photographs and slides concern performances at CEAC, including material related to ’Crash and burn’. York University Archive     More to come please post below.


Working against the backdrop of a global art practice that is all too often a self-contained tautology, my body of work has often been described (and dismissed) as merely “political”. But it is not political in the traditional sense. From the earliest point in my career, I have delved into the question of the “gay sensibility”. As an amalgam of Aubrey Beardsley and Johnny Rotten, I have been influenced by the theoretical issues raised by performance and conceptual art, but rather than take the standard trip down memory lane into the suck-and-fuck paradigm, I’ve positioned myself as an ironic spectator. Cherry-picking at will from mutually exclusive sources – the morning headlines, the official record of 20th-century art, the signs and signifiers of the gay male underground – has allowed me to explore the spaces between these charged relationships. While it is old news that the male body continues to be a provocation, ironically, a critique of masculinity has gone largely unexplored. Therein lies the challenge: The proposition explored in much of my work is that it should be possible to be simultaneously hot and sweaty and critical and detached. It is desirable.

Amerigo Marras at Ulrichs’ grave

Amerigo Marras  (1947-1999)

Founding member of CEAC (The Centre for Experimental Art and Communication) studio, resource centre, museum, gallery and performance space for the collective from the mid 1970’s.

Marras, a Gay activist since the early ’70s, was partially responsible for building and archiving the records of the Gay Liberation Front and of the Gay Activists Alliance. These records, which represent the history of the first two organizations born out of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, are now stored in the New York Public Library.

Also thanks to Marras, who was a dual national of Italy and Canada, the Canadian Gay Movement got its foothold. The activist newspaper The Body Politic, the Glad Day Bookstore, and the first Canadian Gay Pride organization all got started in his home in Toronto.

Marras was also an accomplished architect. He died October 14, 1999, of a brain lesion in Nice, France. He was 52.

Bruce Eves, Amerigo Marras, late 1977/early 1978, CEAC at 15 Duncan
photo by Peter Dudar

If you were there ….Please add to this bio below. There are many gaps to fill.  PCR 2009

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