Published: July 18, 2017
TORONTO – This summer, as Toronto observes Canada and Ontario’s 150th birthdays, the Art Gallery of Ontario will present an ambitious contemporary exhibition that critically explores three urgent questions through the eyes of artists working across Canada: Where has Canada come from? What is it now? and Where is it going?
On view through December 10, “Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood” is a multimedia exhibition that features more than 35 new and recent artist projects by established and emerging artists from across the country, including Xiong Gu and Yu Gu, Robert Houle, Meryl McMaster, Seth, Esmaa Mohamoud, Ed Pien and Shuvinai Ashoona, and many others. Addressing the mistakes and omissions of the past, redressing and reclaiming history, the exhibition takes over the entire fourth floor of the gallery’s Contemporary Tower, but will also break out of those walls within the gallery – and onto the streets of Toronto.
In the photo series “Wanted,” artists Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhai repurpose authentic Eighteenth Century fugitive slave ads printed in Canada, which featured detailed descriptions of the slave’s clothing. Those outfits are replicated and modeled in this photo series, creating the effect of a high-fashion spread that wouldn’t look out of place in a glossy magazine or on a billboard.
“Conversations shouldn’t happen in isolation. We need ‘Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood’ to exist outside of the gallery, to be encountered by Torontonians who don’t necessarily seek this art out,” said Andrew Hunter, the gallery’s Fredrik S. Eaton curator, Canadian art. “Now is the time for Canadians to be confronting these issues of memory, history, identity and absence, and what the number 150 means to them.”
The entire “Wanted” series will also be captured in a magazinelike catalog, which is available for purchase, as well as an extensive catalog for ‘Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood,’ featuring writings by Andrew Hunter, Dr Charmaine Nelson, Anique Jordan, Rosie Spooner, Quill Christie, Rachelle Dickenson and Srimoyee Mitra. Also available will be Shuvin Ashoona: The Polar World, a new commissioned comic by the leading contemporary Inuit artist with text by Andrew Hunter.
“Like a number of commissioned projects in ‘Every. Now. Then.,’ ‘Wanted’ should make us all uncomfortable. The artists have found a way to position the atrocities of slavery in Canada into a contemporary context, which encourages us all to ask questions of where and how we see the residues of this history lingering today,” said Anique Jordan, the exhibition’s research assistant and associate curator.
The exhibition is the anchor of the gallery’s ambitious “Canada 150” program, which also features a range of exhibitions, installations, digital initiatives and special programs.
The Art Gallery of Ontario is at 317 Dundas Street West. For more information, www.ago.net, 877-225-4246 or 416-979-6648.
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