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Nations by Artists

Works by

Ruanne Abou-Rahme & Basel Abbas, Sadie Barnette, Yael Bartana, Walter Battiss, Jasmina Cibic, Decolonize This Place, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, Demian DinéYazhi’/R.I.S.E. (Radical Indigenous Survivance and Empowerment), Pablo Helguera, Greg Hill, IRWIN, Iman Issa, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Will Kwan, Zoe Leonard, Life of a Craphead, Divya Mehra, Alan Michelson, Native Art Department International, Majdulin Nasrallah, Hương Ngô, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa

Nations by Artists

February 8–April 2, 2022

Curated by Mikinaak Migwans & Sarah Robayo Sheridan

University of Toronto Art Centre

Nations by Artists explores how artists have engaged the trappings of the nation-state as a material for protest, parody, or collective utopian wish, dreaming counter-realities that exceed and resist prevalent paradigms of nationalism. The title builds from the historical precedent of Art Metropole’s landmark publishing series that explored the potentialities of artist-led culture. The exhibition looks at critical interventions in the performance of nation/nationalism, and artists’ capacities to complicate and make fissures through standing notions of territory, belonging, authenticity, citizenship, and borders. The works included offer possibilities to disrupt colonial power structures, exhume suppressed histories, and create new political scripts. Timely subjects explored in the exhibition include contestations of public monuments, counter-archival research into suppressed historical memory, the assertion of otherwise marginalized knowledge nodes and histories of resistance. Other works place into sharp focus mechanisms of state suppression, bringing into visibility forms of erasure that are structurally persistent to upholding state power. Numerous works also address histories of dispossession and make claims for the return of land and the centering of Indigenous knowledge and cultural survivance. Together, the works assembled in this exhibition point to possible political futures as imagined by artists, offering rich provocations to challenge existing paradigms of nationhood.

Nations by Artists Podcast

A four-part series inviting artists, activists, and scholars to deliver a state of the nation on nations, interrogating ideas of nationhood, borders, power, and dissent. Episodes centre on themes of monuments, contested territories, archives and counter-archives, and sites of silence. Produced by Aliya Pabani and hosted by exhibition curators Mikinaak Migwans & Sarah Robayo Sheridan. Listen to the released episodes.

Nations by Artists Podcast Release + Online Listening Party

Wednesday, February 2, 6:30pm–7:30pm ET

Curatorial Tour with Mikinaak Migwans and Sarah Robayo Sheridan

Wednesday, February 9, 5:30pm
University of Toronto Art Centre

“Under the Museum, Under the University, Under the City: The Land”
Artist Roundtable with Decolonize This Place, Alan Michelson, Susan Blight, Jolene Rickard, and Maria Hupfield

Wednesday, March 30, 4pm–6pm
Online on Zoom and livestreamed on YouTube
Watch the recording

Exhibition Resources

Press Release
Exhibition Teaser
Exhibition Brochure
Large-Format Text
Exhibition Documentation

Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council, with additional project support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.




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