Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Multi-National Conglomerates Hostile Take Over of the New World Order
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun Multi-National Conglomerates Hostile Take Over of the New World Order, 2017.
Photo: courtesy of the artist & Macaulay & Co. Fine Art, Vancouver

(Re)Negotiating Every. Now. Then‘s Invisible Centre: Institutional White Spatiality

Justine Kohleal
In a short but poignant blog post regarding the Art Gallery of Ontario’s sesquicentennial exhibition Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood (June – December, 2017), writer, curator, and self-described “organizer of multifarious events”1 1 - Amy Fung, Biography, . Amy Fung laments, “It is ‘nice’ that the museum is trying to be more inclusive, but I am going to need more… it feels like the show is for white people, curated by white people.”2 2 - Amy Fung, POST Specific POST, July 2017, .

Fung is quick to point out that this is only partially true, as Every. Now. Then was conceived by former Curator of Canadian Art Andrew Hunter in collaboration with Anique Jordan, a Black artist and independent curator based in Toronto. In addition, Every. Now. Then features thirty-nine mostly Black, Indigenous, and Southeast Asian artists, positioned alongside archival and natural materials (Paul Kane’s Portrait of Maungwudaus, 1849 – 1851; footage from a 1925 “Indian Powwow”; an Impact Shatter Cone from Sudbury, Ontario, on loan from the Royal Ontario Museum). The show deliberately has no clear centre, enabling it to, as art critic Murray Whytedescribes it, “veer wilfully off course, without apology or explanation.”3 3 - Murray Whyte, “Canada Revisited at the Art Gallery of Ontario,” The Toronto Star, July 3, 2017, <>. Its main themes — memory, migration, narration, and time — are instead divided into sections and elucidated via artist quotes or authorless wall texts written in English and Anishinaabemowin. Although the exhibition’s curators clearly wish to give the participating artists the freedom to imagine new and different futures for themselves and their communities, Every. Now. Then nonetheless has, as Fung points out, a distinctly white tone — one that is, paradoxically, due to the exhibition’s lack of a curatorial centre.

You must have a valid Digital or Premium subscription to access this content

Subscribe to Esse now to read the full text!

This article also appears in the issue 92 - Democracy

Suggested Reading