Major exhibition of over 35 projects explores Canada in its past, present, and imagined future
TORONTO — This summer, as Toronto observes Canada and Ontario’s 150th birthdays, the AGO 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?
Opening on June 29, 2017, with a free sneak peek on June 28 at 6 p.m., Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood is a multimedia exhibition that will feature over 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, redress and reclaim history, the exhibition will take over the entire fourth floor of the AGO’s Contemporary Tower, but will also break out of those walls within the AGO—and onto the streets of Toronto.
In the captivating photo series Wanted, artists Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhai repurpose authentic 18th-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. In fact, one image from Wanted will be taking over a digital billboard on the north side of the Eaton Centre at Yonge-Dundas Square on July 3, lasting throughout the month. The billboard will direct onlookers to the hashtag #RewardWanted.
“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 AGO’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 magazine-like catalogue, which will be available for purchase at shopAGO, as well as an extensive catalogue 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, Research Assistant and associate curator for Every. Now. Then.
There are several places glimpses of the exhibition can be found throughout Toronto, including:
- Lisa Hirmer’s Weather Watchers, a windsock/sculpture will stand on the top of the AGO’s roof, continuing her exploration of Canada’s obsession with weather, and winter in particular, amidst anxieties around global warming and the human influence on weather patterns.
- A projection of Jeff Thomas’s photo composite work The Imposition of Order, commissioned for Every. Now. Then., will be projected onto the front exterior of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts at 27 Front Street in a partnership with the Luminato Festival. It will remain on display from June 14 -25.
- Three more large-scale images by Jeff Thomas will be displayed in the AGO’s street-facing window space, both near the front entrance on Dundas Street and on the building’s east side on McCaul Street.
Complementary programming to Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood will include two AGO First Thursday programs (July 7 and Sept. 6, 2017); a public, ticketed talk with curator Andrew Hunter and artists Syrus Marcus Ware, Michael Belmore, Lisa Hirmer and Charmaine Lurch; and community outreach programs coming in the fall of 2017 curated by Anique Jordan.
Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood is the anchor of the AGO's ambitious Canada 150 program, which also features a range of exhibitions, installations, digital initiatives and special programs. AGO Members will see this exhibition for free. Click here for more information on membership benefits.
Government of Canada
Canada Council for the Arts
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With a collection of more than 90,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’s masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002, Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit ago.net to learn more.
The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.
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