WAG Introduces Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial

WAG Introduces Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial
BMO Financial Group supports new platform to celebrate contemporary artists and artists

Winnipeg, Manitoba, November 8, 2018: The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) is thrilled to announce the establishment of the Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial to launch the opening year of the WAG Inuit Art Centre in 2020. Building on the recent success of INSURGENCE/RESURGENCE, the WAG’s largest-ever exhibition of Indigenous art, the new series will celebrate contemporary Indigenous art and artists for years to come.

The Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial is the first international Indigenous biennial organized by a public art museum in Canada. The Biennial will add to the international circuit and feature content from North America (Turtle Island).

The inaugural Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial will be curated by Jaimie Isaac, WAG Curator of Indigenous & Contemporary Art; and Dr. Julie Nagam, Chair in the History of Indigenous Art in North America, University of Winnipeg/WAG.

BMO Financial Group has come on board as Title Sponsor. For over 106 years, BMO has been a stalwart supporter of the Gallery, including an early contribution to the WAG Inuit Art Centre and Presenting Sponsorship of the WAG’s INSURGENCE/RESURGENCE exhibition in 2017/18.

Quick Facts:

  • The first Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial will be tri-national, looking at Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Entitled To Draw Water, derived from an Anishinaabegmowin concept, the exhibition will reflect how many Indigenous nations within Canada and abroad continue to focus on issues of sustainability, climate change, and the environment.
  • Building on the success of the WAG’s INSURGENCE/RESURGENCE exhibition, winner of the 2018 Tourism Winnipeg Innovation of the Year Award, the Biennial will include commissions, artist residencies, and education and outreach programs.
  • The Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial will respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, recognizing the power of art and its role in understanding and reconciliation.
  • Self-determined curatorial practices, methods, and ideologies will be applied to advance scholarship in innovative visual, written, and oral Indigenous art production, and develop innovative curriculums in the larger field of art history, museum studies, and visual culture.
  • The Biennial will coincide with the Province of Manitoba’s 150th anniversary and the opening year of the WAG Inuit Art Centre. Future home of the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art, the WAG Inuit Art Centre will connect Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making.
  • The WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and houses over 27,000 artworks spanning centuries, media, and cultures.

Launching in conjunction with the opening of the WAG Inuit Art Centre, the Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial will celebrate the voices of the artists. Canada is experiencing a renaissance of Indigenous art, and the Gallery is honoured to be part of this exciting movement. We are grateful to BMO Financial Group for supporting this transformative initiative as the WAG continues on a journey towards Indigenization.
—Dr. Stephen Borys, Director & CEO, Winnipeg Art Gallery

As two curators that are also artists, our collaborative team thinks about contemporary curating as shifting the ways art is exhibited, and you will see this in the Winnipeg Indigenous Biennale. We are excited to begin fresh dialogue and interactions that are long overdue about a vital and sacred resource: water. Contemporary Indigenous artists are producing some of the most relevant innovative work, examining issues and exploring movements that are motivating art practice today. Our curatorial research practices will bring forth these stories with a compendium of international narratives.
—Jaimie Isaac, WAG Curator of Indigenous & Contemporary Art; and Dr. Julie Nagam, Chair in the History of Indigenous Art in North America, University of Winnipeg/Winnipeg Art Gallery

BMO is honoured to help make the Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial possible, as a first of its kind celebration of Indigenous art and artists from around the world. This exciting and innovative Biennial will be as uniquely diverse, responsive, and layered as the Indigenous Peoples themselves, while marking the important contribution Indigenous persons have made to contemporary art.
—John MacAulay, Senior Vice-President, Prairies and Northwest Territories Division, BMO Bank of Montreal

Associated Links:
Inuit Art Centre
BMO Bank of Montreal

Stay Connected
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram #wpgbiennial

For more information or to prearrange interviews, please contact:

Catherine Maksymiuk
Manager, Media & Marketing
Winnipeg Art Gallery

Julie Smithers
Enterprise Media Relations
BMO Financial Group

About the Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a cultural advocate using art to connect, inspire, and inform. Playing a dynamic role in the community, we are a place for learning, dialogue, and enjoyment through art. The WAG holds in trust the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art on earth. To celebrate the art and to honour the Inuit, the WAG is building the Inuit Art Centre, the first of its kind in the world. Set to open in 2020, the Centre will bridge Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making. 

About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider - the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $765 billion as of July 31, 2018, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.



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