As If Sand Were Stone
20 May — 6 Aug 2017 at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada
For the first time ever, the AGO presents its extensive collection of Latin American contemporary art as the focus of its own exhibition. The artists, originating from Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela, are each influenced by the specific geographic, political and social contexts and artistic legacies of their respective countries. Brought together, these artists' works provoke visitors to reflect upon issues of time, place and identity and to question issues of belonging, precarity and transience.
The AGO's collection of Latin American Contemporary art has been acquired through purchase as well as corporate and private donations. Brascan Limited made a substantial gift in the 1970s, and the Volunteer Committee contributed acquisition funds in the 1990s. Today this tradition is being continued by the Sherritt International Corporation and The New Group.
Sherritt International Corporation has worked closely with the AGO to acquire contemporary art by Cuban artists, and as such contributed to building the largest museum collection of Cuban art in Canada. This exhibition marks the tremendous gift of the Sherritt Collection to the AGO, and includes works by Los Carpinteros, Carlos Garaicoa, Glenda Leon, Reynier Leyva Novo and Wilfredo Prieto, all of which will be on view.
This work was inspired by the artist's childhood memories of a vendor with three camels who sold shirt pins and collar stiffeners. Meireles could not understand how someone could make a living from selling such insignificant objects. One of the vendor's camels also carried puppets made from rubber and paper, objects that Meireles found magical. This work is one of an edition of 1000, and with it, the artist is also exploring notions of value, from the street economy of his memory to the art market he operates in today. His goal was to earn a million dollars from the thousand units, providing an answer to his childhood question of how many pins and collar stays would one have to sell to make a living?
The exhibition is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and is curated by the AGO's Associate Curator, Contemporary Art, Adelina Vlas.