Private Thoughts Public Moments

Private Thoughts/Public Moments

September 13 - December 10, 2000


Artist-in-Residence: Sutapa Biswas & Site Specific interventions by Neena Arora, Rachel Kalpana James, Asma Arshad Mahmood and Meera Sethi

This project was curated by Shelly Bahl, Curatorial Resident

Private Thoughts/Public Moments is a collaboration between the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), the South Asian Visual Arts Collective (SAVAC) and U.K.-based artist Sutapa Biswas. The exhibition brings together site-specific works by artists from SAVAC that engage and interact with different aspects of the Art Gallery of Ontario''s permanent collection. Through workshops with Sutapa Biswas, the participating artists have produced interventions that explore features of the display of Canadian Historical art at the AGO.

The Canadian Historical galleries at the Art Gallery of Ontario chart the identity of what it means to be Canadian through selected visual and textual representations, relaying a history of Canada from the days of the early pioneers, through the colonial period, to the first half of the 1900s. The interventions developed by the artists for these galleries raise provocative questions about established Canadian narratives.


Private Thoughts/Public Moments stems from collaborations between the AGO and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI). In 1998 a sub-committee from the two organizations met to develop programming initiatives for the AGO, one of which was the initiation of the Artist-in-Residence program. This program was designed to establish a mentoring relationship between a recognized international artist and local emerging artists, and to explore issues of social identity and accessibility in the context of the museum. Sutapa Biswas was selected as the artist-in-residence and was invited to Toronto in April 2000 to work with members of SAVAC toward the development of workshops and a public presentation. As curator of Private Thoughts/Public Moments, Biswas selected the artists for the exhibition from proposals submitted in response to the work she initiated during her visit in April. An untitled video installation by Biswas was curated by Shelly Bahl and exhibited at the AGO in the spring of 2000.


Artist-in-residence Sutapa Biswas lives and works in London, England. She was educated at Leeds University, the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London University and the Royal College of Art, London. Biswas has exhibited her work internationally over the past 15 years. Recent exhibitions include collaborations with Yale Center for British Art, and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; University Museum of Ethnography, Norway, and the 1997 Havana Biennial, Cuba.

This project is presented in cooperation with:


SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Collective) is a nonprofit organization mandated to promote and facilitate the expression of contemporary visual arts by artists of South Asian descent. SAVAC provides a framework for the production, presentation and dissemination of Diasporic South Asian art.


Special thanks to the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, and the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London Institute, for their kind support in this project.

Contemporary programming at the Art Gallery of Ontario is generously funded by The Canada Council for the Arts.

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