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Freedom of expression and Fucked Up take centre stage at AGO First Thursdays

September edition of the AGO’s monthly art party celebrates freedom of expression with performances by Fucked Up, Sean Martindale and a live Ai Weiwei video chat

Toronto—On Sept. 5, 2013, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) throws a party fuelled by freedom of expression as it presents Polaris Prize–winning band Fucked Up, installations by Toronto artists and a live video chat with artist/activist Ai Weiwei. A range of talks, activities and installations salute Ai, including a special performance piece by local artist Sean Martindale.

Polaris Prize–winning band Fucked Up provides the soundtrack to the night as it dishes out its powerful breed of punk rock in Walker Court. Described as having “one of the best hard rock records of the past ten years” by SPIN Magazine, Fucked Up is “a convincing demonstration of what can happen when a band works without limitations” ( Hailing from Toronto, the hardcore rock band has a psychedelic edge that features unexpected flute and keyboard melodies.

Making a rare live appearance, Ai Weiwei joins the AGO’s director and CEO, Matthew Teitelbaum, via video stream for a thought-provoking discussion of the artist’s life and work. The specially ticketed event runs from 8 to 9 p.m. in Baillie Court. The video chat portion of the night is now sold out, but a live video stream of the discussion will be on view for general admission ticket-holders in Walker Court. Both regular admission and live video chat ticket-holders may take advantage of the AGO’s general First Thursdays activities located throughout the Gallery.

“This video chat is an exciting opportunity to hear Ai Weiwei directly share his compelling insights into his art, activism and passion for China and its changing landscape,” said Matthew Teitelbaum. “As we celebrate this major exhibition, Ai’s physical absence is deeply felt, but this is a way for us welcome him personally to the AGO and to Toronto.”

The critically acclaimed exhibition Ai Weiwei: According to What? will be open until 10 p.m.; combo tickets for access to the event and exhibition are available for purchase.

Guests are invited to let their hair down in an act of solidarity with Ai and other activists around the world similarly persecuted for their political views. Solidarity Buzz: Shaving for Free Expression is a participatory performance by local artist and activist Sean Martindale, which will serve up buzzcuts all night long. Participants will have the option of snapping pre- and post–buzz cut mugshots to be shared online both on the night and after. Visitors can volunteer to have their heads shaved in advance by emailing For more information visit

Martindale’s eight-foot cardboard sculpture of Ai, entitled Love the Future / Free Ai Weiwei (2011), will also be displayed in the front entrance of the Gallery. Made entirely out of salvaged cardboard collected in and around Toronto’s central Chinatown neighbourhood, the sculpture of Ai has popped up in galleries, at events and around government buildings in Toronto.

Pop-up talks begin at 7:45 p.m. featuring Toronto city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, University of Toronto scholar Elizabeth Parke (8:30 p.m.) and president of PEN Canada, Charlie Foran (9:30 p.m.), who will share their insights and personal reactions to Ai Weiwei: According to What?

Adding to the evening’s theme, Toronto-based artist, author and musician Jonathan Campbell delivers a special DJ set of Chinese rock music in tribute to Ai’s latest project, a punk album entitled The Divine Comedy. For those looking to unleash their creativity, local artist Shannon Gerard will lead poster-making workshops, inviting party-goers to customize their own street poster designs in the Edmond G. Odette Family Gallery and in Galleria Italia.

The monthly Out of the Vaults exhibition in the Marvin Gelber Print and Drawing Study Centre brings a selection of protest art out of the vaults for one night only. Rare women’s rights promotional materials, anti-war imagery and in-your-face social commentary will be on display.

Tickets for September’s First Thursday are on sale now. Regular-priced tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Admission for AGO members is $10 in advance and $13 at the door. Latest entry to the Ai Weiwei: According to What? exhibition will be at 9:30 p.m. for those looking to delve further into the world of the artist. Combo tickets include entrance to the exhibition and First Thursday’s general programming for $22 in advance and $25 at the door. Book tickets online by visiting

For details about First Thursdays, visit and follow #AGO1st on Twitter and Instagram.

The Art Gallery of Ontario is pleased to acknowledge the Joe Fresh® brand as the Sponsor of AGO First Thursdays.

AGO First Thursdays Media Partner: NOW Magazine

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 Aimia, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program.


With a collection of more than 80,000 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’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Kenneth 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 to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

Aug. 17, 2013 – Oct. 27, 2013: Ai Weiwei: According to What?

Sept. 25, 2013 – Nov. 27, 2013: David Bowie is

Nov. 30, 2013 – March 2, 2014: The Great Upheaval: Modern Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection

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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For media inquiries about AGO First Thursdays, please contact:

Laura Banks; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 504,

Andrea-Jo Wilson; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 403,

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