Syrus Marcus Ware

© Syrus Marcus Ware, MONOMYTHS, Training Sessions for Freedom Fighters, 2016. Photo Henry Chan.


Syrus is a visual artist, activist, curator and educator. He is the Coordinator of the Art Gallery of Ontario Youth Program and a facilitator/designer at The Banff Centre. Syrus is the inaugural Daniel’s Spectrum Artist-in-Residence (2016/17). As a visual artist, Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. His work has been shown widely, including at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Art Gallery of York University, and The Gladstone Hotel. Syrus’ recent curatorial projects include That’s So Gay: On the Edge (Gladstone Hotel, 2015 & 2014), Re:Purpose (Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2014) and The Church Street Mural Project (Church-Wellesley Village, 2013).

He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective and co-programmed Crip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks 2014. Syrus is part of Blackness Yes! and co-produces Blockorama at Pride and other related events throughout the year. For 17 years, Syrus hosted the weekly radio segment, Resistance on the Sound Dial on CIUT 89.5FM. He is a prison abolitionist, is a former member of Friends of MOVE Toronto and the Prisoners’ Justice Action Project, and is one of the organizers of Toronto’s Prisoners’ Justice Day events.

Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by NOW Magazine (2005) and was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award for LGBT community leadership and activism (2012). In 2009, Syrus coedited the Journal of Museum Education issue Building Diversity in Museums with Gillian McIntyre. Syrus’ writings on trans health, disability studies and activism are part of curricula at City University of New York, York University, and Ryerson University. Syrus holds degrees in Art History, Visual Studies and a Masters in Sociology and Equity Studies, University of Toronto. Syrus is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.


Conceived and curated by Shannon Cochrane and Jess Dobkin.

MONOMYTHS invites a diverse collection of artists, scholars, and activists to revise Joseph Campbell’s conception of the hero’s journey through performance art, lectures, workshops, and other offerings. This new assemblage of non-linear un-narratives proposes a cultural, political and social feminist re-visioning of the world. The MONOMYTHS perception of the universal journey dispels the notion of the lone patriarchal figure on a conquest to vanquish his demons—both inner and outer—in consideration of community, collectivity, and collaboration.

MONOMYTHS Stage 8: Atonement with the Father/State
Movement: Training Sessions for Freedom Fighters
Syrus Marcus Ware

In this stage of the monomyth narrative, the hero must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in life. All the previous stages of the journey have been moving into this place; all that follow will move out from it. This stage is frequently symbolized by an encounter with someone or thing with incredible power, often conceived as masculine, through the patriarchal heterosexist imagining of the state. 

In Movement: Training Sessions for Freedom Fighters, Syrus Marcus Ware invites you to join in the present moment (after, back then and just before, in the future), wherein the potential directions are seemingly endless, yet also hyper- focused. In this confrontation with the Father State, we move past what we have been training for, and into what we are creating anew. We will move into the prefigurative political dreams we have been working towards. All participants (heroes) will participate in collective struggle that harnesses all the activisms that have come before and that will lead us into the future together. This work will be rooted in the often invisibilized labour behind the scenes, work often done by those on the margins of the struggle. It celebrates the powerful behind the scenes hustle that facilitates–and is its own kind of–direct action. 

Participants (heroes) will create a 36-square metre banner, in four connected pieces. The 4-piece banner will be themed around 4 phrases that guide our heroes journey:

  • Octavia E. Butler’s phrase, “Our future is in the stars”;
  • Nat King Cole’s resistance statement to a white supremacist concert audience, “Some people are just afraid of the Dark”;
  • Assata Shakur’s famous words, “I believe that we will win”;
  • And finally, the relatively ambivalent expression, “What if we don’t?” 

Separately the phrases convey hope, fear, confidence and uncertainty. Together they tell a broader story about the decidedly hopeful uncertainty of our current struggle–the struggle against the supremacist state with the future of humanity and our planet in the balance. 

The banner will be gifted to the movement for use in future actions, bringing all participants into the process of supporting this life giving work. As a collective journey, as heroes we are all witness and archive to this behind the scenes labour; and as allies to the struggle for self-determination of all people through the liberation of black people, we are all implicated in the shared risks and responsibilities of this work. 

We will work together, collectively, to create these works and through the process we will meditate on the question, “what if we don’t?”, perhaps coming up with answers together as we go. For, ‘its not all we got’….and we do have each other.

This event will be ASL interpreted.

Performance Yellow

This fragrance opens us to the question, has the show started? It's winter, the theatre is colder than the street and the room is filled with people and all their winter smells: wet faux leather, down, too much shampoo, and beer breath. The atmosphere is a trickster. Am I late, am I early?

Top Notes

yellow mandarin, mimosa

Middle Notes

honey, chamomile, salt

Base Notes

narcissus, guaiac wood, piss, beer