Reframing Nationhood at the AGO

National identity and contemporary art.

On June 29, the fourth floor of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Contemporary Tower becomes home to Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood, an exhibition examining Canada’s national identity as “a dynamic work in progress.” A self-critical part of the AGO’s sesquicentennial offerings, the exhibit welcomes 33 projects from contemporary Canadian artists to creatively address how to move forward together as a country.

“The exhibition acknowledges that Canada is complex and that its cultural narrative extends far beyond 150 and the traditional founding English/French story,” says Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art. Reframing Nationhood significantly focuses on the work of Indigenous artists, including Jeff Thomas, Robert Houle, Bonnie Devine, and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, and Black artists “addressing the erasure of Black history in Canada,” says Hunter. By acknowledging that Canada has not necessarily been historically diverse or inclusive, the exhibit engages with darker elements of the past with an intent to consider the role cultural institutions play in creating a defining sense of nationhood.

Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood offers timely insight into Canadian history, and acts as a platform for artists sharing diverse interpretations of the country’s resonating legacy. “There is an emerging generation of artists grappling with complex issues of identity and hybridity, many with roots in multiple cultures and nations…” says Hunter. “The ideas and histories many of these artists explore push well beyond the narrow limits of the past 150 years.”

Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood is on at the AGO from June 29 to December 10, 2017.

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