Exploring the experimental energy of an era, Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989 brings together more than 100 works by 65 artists and collectives to highlight an innovative period in Toronto art history. Amidst the social and political upheavals of their time, the generation of artists that emerged in Toronto during the 1970s and 1980s pushed the boundaries of conventional painting, sculpture and photography, exploring new ways of art making including video, installation and performance. Drawing heavily from the AGO collection Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989 fills the entire fourth floor of the AGO’s Contemporary Tower. The exhibition runs until May 22, 2017, will be accompanied by satellite installations throughout the Gallery.
Organized thematically and punctuated by references to Toronto and its cityscape, the exhibition highlights the era’s preoccupation with ideas of performance, the body, the image, self portraiture, storytelling, and representation. Featured artists include Michael Snow, Joanne Tod, the Clichettes, Duke Redbird, Barbara Astman, Robin Collyer, Robert Houle, Carol Conde and Carl Beveridge, as well as highly influential artists like photographer June Clarke, illustrator Ato Seitu, and dub poet Lillian Allen. This is the first time since the AGO’s reopening in 2008 that many of these seminal works have been on display.
Curated by Wanda Nanibush, assistant curator of Canadian and Indigenous art, the title of the exhibition—a reference to the city’s many buried waterways—serves as a visual metaphor for the diversity of the cities art scene and its similarly buried histories. Intended as an evolving display, many of the works in the exhibition were rotated and refreshed in January 2017, so visitors could rediscover even more artists including Vera Frenkel, Jayce Salloum and Fastwurms.