Alan Michelson. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World) detail

Alan Michelson. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World), 2019 (detail). Four-channel video installation (colour, sound, 11 min. 36 sec.) and four fibreglass globes. Purchase, with funds by exchange from a gift from the J.S. McLean Collection, donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 2020. © Alan Michelson 2020/19

Alan Michelson

December 3, 2021 – July 23, 2023

Located on level 2 in gallery 238.

Admission is always FREE for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass Holders & Visitors 25 and under. Learn more.



Named after the first modern European world atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World) consists of four videos projected sequentially onto four white globes. Working with layers of image and sound, Mohawk artist Alan Michelson incorporates a Haudenosaunee perspective through music as well as the words of Mohawk activists Richard Oakes, leader of the 1969 occupation of Alcatraz, and Ellen Gabriel, a spokesperson during the 1990 Kanien’kehá:ka Resistance (or “Oka Crisis”) in Quebec. Theatrum brings together material from dozens of maps, illustrations, paintings, photographs, videos, and audio, to disrupt five hundred years of colonial history through powerful displays of Indigenous resistance.


Alan Michelson is an internationally recognized New York-based artist, curator, writer, lecturer and Mohawk member of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

For over twenty-five years, he has been a leading practitioner of a socially engaged, critically aware, site-specific art grounded in local context and informed by the retrieval of repressed histories. Sourcing from both indigenous and western culture, he works in a varied range of media and materials, among them painting, sculpture, photography, sound, video, glass, and stone.

He is the recipient of several awards, including an NEA Visual Artists Fellowship, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship, and the GSA Design Award, Citation in Art. His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, National Gallery of Canada, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

His practice includes public art, and Mantle, his large-scale monument honoring Virginia’s Indian nations, was recently dedicated on Capitol Square in Richmond. Michelson is co-founder and co-curator, with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School, of the Indigenous New York series.

Visit the artist’s website


Alan Michelson: Theatre of the World

Alan Michelson and Wanda Nanibush in conversation about Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World), from aabaakwad 2021.


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