Brian Jungen Friendship Centre (detail), installation image, Art Gallery of Ontario © Brian Jungen
Have you ever seen Nike Air Jordan sneakers reimagined as Indigenous masks? What about a 40-foot long whale sculpture made of white plastic deck chairs? Or sculptures resembling totem poles made of golf bags? If you haven’t, hurry in to the AGO to see Brian Jungen Friendship Centre; this incredible exhibition, on view now on Level 2 in the Sam & Ayala Zacks Pavilion, closes on Sunday, August 25.
During your visit to the exhibition, don’t forget to look down – that’s right – down at the floor of the gallery. There you will find the large-scale artwork that gave the exhibition its name. Featuring a black basketball court accented with neon lines, Friendship Centre is an artwork you can walk on. Installed in one of the gallery spaces, this piece has transformed the Sam & Ayala Zacks Pavilion into a gymnasium. And for Jungen, this is an important shift in thinking about this former gallery space.
The gymnasium is a communal Indigenous space. Whether in a community centre, a school on a reservation or in an urban Friendship Centre, the gym is used to host many celebrations, ceremonies and cultural events. In redefining the gallery, Jungen lends the space a new more generous sense of purpose.
Watch the video and listen as Brian Jungen explains his connection to Friendship Centres, and why he chose this work to literally ground his exhibition at the AGO.
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