The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is under intense scrutiny following the abrupt departure of renowned Indigenous curator Wanda Nanibush. Critics, including dozens from Indigenous arts communities globally, demand transparency and acknowledgment of Nanibush’s contributions. Reports suggest that Nanibush’s “vocal opinions” on various subjects, including support for Palestinian causes, led to friction within the AGO. AGO CEO Stephan Jost responded by acknowledging the intense discussions on political thought, artistic expression, and governance. AGO Responds to Criticism Over Indigenous Curator’s Departure, Pledges Governance Review and Trust Rebuilding
In an open letter, Jost emphasized the need for a rebuilding of trust individually and institutionally. While not directly addressing Nanibush’s departure, he recognized the impact of recent events and committed to reviewing governance policies, focusing on defining the rights and limits of political and artistic expression.
Earlier this week, Indigenous artists called for a “genuine response” from the AGO and highlighted Nanibush’s departure as one of many instances of Indigenous art workers facing challenges in cultural institutions worldwide. The AGO’s commitment to showcasing, acquiring, and programming Indigenous art remains strong, with an acknowledgment of the collaborative effort needed to re-establish relationships.
The controversy underscores broader concerns about the treatment of Indigenous cultural workers, with calls for an end to the harms inflicted on the community members working in public institutions
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