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AGO Shines Spotlight on Contemporary Art in 2012

(TORONTO – Jan. 5, 2012) The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) kicks off 2012 with five diverse exhibitions of contemporary art, celebrating the work of artists both established and emerging, local and international.

Taking over various spaces within the Gallery, several separate installations beginning this month and continuing into the spring will offer something for every contemporary art lover. Each exhibition offers an immersive experience, prompting viewers to reconsider their notions of time, space, and identity, or, in some cases, asking them to participate in the work directly.

Yael Bartana: ...And Europe Will Be Stunned
Israeli filmmaker and artist Yael Bartana is a rising, and to some controversial, star in the international art scene, and soon AGO visitors will have a chance to get up close and personal with her work.

After winning the Artes Mundi prize for “work that stimulates thinking about the human condition” in 2010, Bartana presented her latest project at the 2011 Venice Biennale — the first non-Polish artist to represent Poland at the major international art exhibition....And Europe Will Be Stunned, her film trilogy made between 2007 and 2011, will be on view for the first time in Canada in the AGO’s Lind Gallery from Jan. 25 to April 1, 2012.

“Interweaving past and present, reality and fiction, the conceptual and the emotional, and drawing on propaganda films of the 1930s and ’40s, as well as the visual language of advertising, Bartana’s films boldly traverse a landscape scarred by the histories of competing nationalisms and militarisms,” said Elizabeth Smith, AGO executive director of Curatorial Affairs and curator of the exhibition.

Featuring architecture and scenography by Oren Sagiv, ...And Europe Will Be Stunned raises questions about ideas of homeland and a sense of belonging. In the films — Mary Koszmary (Nightmares), Mur i Wieza (Wall and Tower) and Zamach (Assassination) — Bartana tests reactions to the unexpected return of the “long-unseen neighbour,” telling a story of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland. The trilogy also challenges the viewer’s readiness to accept the other and the complexities of cultural integration in a culturally and politically unstable world.

...And Europe Will Be Stunned is accompanied by one of the artist’s earlier video works, Trembling Time (2001), from the AGO’s collection. Click here to listen to Bartana’s conversation with Sławomir Sierakowski, the protagonist of ...And Europe Will Be Stunned, recorded on Jan. 26, 2012, in the AGO’s Jackman Hall.

IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958–2011
IAIN BAXTER& has made a career out of breaking rules and keeping viewers on their toes, and the AGO is inviting visitors to experience his intriguing body of work in 2012.

The Gallery will present a major exhibition of more than 100 works by the preeminent Canadian artist from March 3 to Aug. 12, 2012. Including work produced both under his name and through the N.E. Thing Co., IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958–2011 offers the most comprehensive survey of BAXTER&’s career to date, comprising pioneering works of appropriation art, gallery-transforming installations, environmental art, and conceptually based photography. The exhibition affords a unique opportunity to recognize the artist’s defining contribution to Canadian contemporary art.

Co-curated by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and David Moos, former curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the AGO, the exhibition travels directly to Toronto from Chicago, where it is currently on view at MCA. IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958–2011 is generously supported by Philip B. Lind and Ellen Roland.

Watch this Space: Contemporary Art from the AGO’s Collection
Marking the return of the AGO's contemporary collection to the galleries for which it was intended, Watch this Space is an installation that re-imagines the collection and invites visitors to consider how the universal concept of space has inspired artists.

Compelling works in a variety of media by both Canadian and international artists explore issues and ideas related to space — be it physical locations, psychological realms or the places that exist somewhere between the real and the imagined. “In recasting our contemporary collection, this installation will introduce some visitors to the featured works for the first time and prompt others to see them in a whole new light,” said AGO acting curator of Canadian art and Watch this Space curator Michelle Jacques. The installation includes both new acquisitions and more than 40 longtime collection favourites, including Gerhard Richter’s Scheune/Barn No. 549/1 and Ellsworth Kelly’s Blue White.

Through these works and others, the installation explores how artists employ colour, shape, line and image to create spaces, both psychological and physical, and asks whether we can make clear distinctions between the realms of inner and outer space or if the majority of our reality exists somewhere in between. Watch this Space runs from Feb. 11 through summer 2012.

Celebrating Toronto Artists

The AGO extends contemporary programming into its community gallery spaces early this year with two exhibitions from Toronto artists that call on visitors to participate in the work and raise questions about the implications of collaboration and participation in a community.

Team Macho: Axis Mundi
Axis Mundi,
a playful and interactive installation by local art heroes Team Macho, will transform the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre Community Gallery into a fully functioning art studio on Jan. 23., inviting visitors to occupy the space alongside the artists

The installation, which will include a series of studio structures, draws on themes brought forth in writer Northrop Frye’s Words with Power, along with ideas related to the history of artists working in collaboration, referencing the practices of General Idea and the Group of Seven, among others. Axis Mundi examines the manner in which these artists collaborated and supported one another, while developing structures that were both physical and personal to propel their individual practices. Team Macho comprises members Nicholas Aoki, Stephen Appleby-Barr, Christopher Buchan and Lauchie Reid, who share a studio in Toronto, creating work in a wide variety of media, with a focus on illustration. They have shown their work with solo shows at Narwhal in Toronto and the Optica Centre for the Arts in Montreal, and internationally in Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and Amsterdam. Axis Mundi, organized by Ann Marie Pena, continues into April 2012.

NOW: A Collaborative Project by Sean Martindale and Pascal Paquette
This do-it-yourself (or “DIY”) agency kicks off the Toronto Now series in 2012, challenging visitors to use the AGO’s fully accessible Young Gallery as a forum for pressing Toronto issues.

Pushing the idea of Toronto Now to its limits, Toronto artists Sean Martindale and Pascal Paquette appropriate the AGO logo and the NOW name in a creative space that encourages mindful action on local issues. The project, guest curated by Katherine Dennis and on display from Jan. 21 to April 1, reflects the artists’ interest in the tension between the rush and impatience of the average Torontonian’s current lifestyle and the benefit of slowing down and being mindful of environmental, political and cultural subjects. Running concurrently with NOW is the Martindale and Paquette’s Gift Shop Gift Shop, a store within a store featuring artworks for sale by local Toronto-based artists, designers and illustrators.

Toronto Now is a series of contemporary art projects that puts the focus on Toronto artists and displays their work in the free, street-facing Young Gallery. Artists previously featured in the series include Dean Baldwin, Will Munro, Allyson Mitchell, John Sasaki, Libby Hague, John Dickson and Paul Butler.

The Toronto Now series is generously supported by The Contemporary Circle.

All exhibitions are organized by the AGO. Contemporary programming at the AGO is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

The AGO acknowledges the generous support of its Signature Partners:
American Express, Signature Partner of the Conservation Program; and Aeroplan, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program.

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture. 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.

For more information on exhibitions and special programming, please visit

With a permanent collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. In 2008, with a stunning new design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the AGO opened its doors to the public amid international acclaim. Architectural highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase made of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, along the Gallery’s facade; and the feature staircase, spiralling up through the roof of Walker Court and into the new contemporary galleries above. From the extensive Group of Seven collection to the dramatic African art gallery; from the cutting-edge works in the contemporary tower to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, a highlight of the celebrated Thomson Collection, there is truly something for everyone at the Art Gallery of Ontario.


For images and more information, please contact:

Meagan Campbell, 416-979-6660 ext. 372,
Caitlin Coull, 416-979-6660 ext. 364,

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