Nations by Artists
January 12–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, borders, etc. 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.
We gratefully acknowledge the 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.