Another Indigenous Curator Leaves Art Gallery of Ontario

Taqralik Partridge has departed from Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), changing into the second Indigenous curator to exit the Canadian museum’s Indigenous and Canadian Art division inside two months. Partridge’s go away from AGO earlier this month rapidly succeeds the scrutinized departure of Wanda Nanibush, AGO’s inaugural curator of Canadian and Indigenous artwork, who quietly left the establishment in November, spurring hypothesis that she was underneath strain by the museum’s higher-ups over her pro-Palestine feedback.

In an electronic mail to Hyperallergic, AGO spokesperson Laura Quinn confirmed that Partridge “has chosen to resign from the AGO to focus on her art practice” and that the museum alerted workers of the information in early January. Partridge has not but responded to Hyperallergic’s requests for remark.

An Inuk-Scottish multidisciplinary artist, author, and spoken-word poet, Partridge joined AGO’s curatorial group in November 2022 as an affiliate curator specializing in Inuit Art after working two years because the director of the Nordic Lab at SAW Gallery. “My interest is in helping Inuit have access to our heritage in art spaces and in creating opportunities for Inuit artists working today,” Partridge instructed Inuit Art Quarterly on the time of her appointment, including that she was taken with curating exhibitions “to create an environment that’s welcoming to Inuit, and subsequently welcoming to everybody else.

Partridge performed a task within the museum’s acquisition of new Inuit artworks at Art Toronto 2022, together with 4 works by Inuvialuk artist Kablusiak and a hand-beaded wall hanging by Nunavik-born Inuk artist Niap. She additionally led the launch of new exhibition programming that concerned a solo show of Kinngait artist Ningiukulu Teevee that ran throughout the first half of 2023. 

Taqralik Partridge, “Nunami” (2022), beading designed with Isaac Partridge (© Canadian Museum of Nature)

She additionally co-curated AGO’s 2018 exhibition Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak, contributing tales about Inuit experiences and tradition to the present. Her personal work, “Nunami” (2022) — a hand-beaded amautik (coat) created along with her youngsters Isaac and Akinasi — is presently on show within the ongoing exhibition Our Land, Our Art ᓄᓇᑦᑎᓂ ᑕᑯᒥᓇᕐᑐᖁᑎᕗᑦ on the Canadian Museum of Nature.

“Taqralik Partridge’s curatorial work supporting the care, acquisition, research, interpretation, and exhibition of Inuit art of all periods has been invaluable to the AGO,” AGO Director and CEO Stephan Jost mentioned in a press release shared with Hyperallergic.

Partridge’s departure follows Nanibush’s quiet exit final fall, which resulted in backlash from Indigenous neighborhood members and humanities staff. The curator’s resignation adopted a grievance about her on-line posts in help of Palestine despatched by the pro-Israel group Israel Museum and Arts, Canada (IMAAC) to AGO management, which was anonymously leaked on social media. In response, an open letter from Jost acknowledged that the establishment is “taking the time to deeply review and reflect” on its adherence to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2022 recommendations for decolonizing Canadian museum insurance policies and practices that perpetuate hurt in opposition to Indigenous neighborhood members.

Most lately, the Indigenous Curatorial Collective, a Canadian nonprofit that works to supply help for Indigenous curators, artists, writers, and teachers, has launched an open letter marketing campaign requesting that the museum launch Nanibush “from any legal obligations preventing her from speaking publicly about her tenure and dismissal, about how she sees what happened and why.”

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