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2006 06 08
The AGO Opens “The Future Now” June 14th
While the public waits for Gehry's Transformed AGO to open its doors a few years from now, the gallery's curators decided to launch a series of "experiments" on better engaging gallery visitors. The first of these experiments, The Future Now: Exploring Tomorrow's Collection Today, opens June 14th.

David Wistow, the show's curator, says that, "We have a whole year to study the experiences of our audiences and work with them to better understand how they find meaning in art." "How will visitors respond to the the four major themes of this show - gender, spirituality, community, and food?"

The laboratory for the experimental show is the second-floor gallery once dedicated to the AGO's permanent collection and more recently given over to blockbuster shows. It is also one of the few gallery spaces not closed for the Gehry transformation. Laboratory might be too strong a description though. The gallery looks like a traditional gallery. Nothing too edgy or experimental intrudes on what is an otherwise normal gallery visit.

The gallery's permanent collection is the basis for the show. It is surprising to see how blending familiar works of art based on theme rather than period can be so refreshing. That alone is worth a visit.

The AGO's curatorial staff is serious about the idea of using this transitional period as an opportunity to experiment. They want to know how to fill the 110 galleries that will open in 2008. That makes sense. But experimentation suggests the possibility of failure and the curators will have to push the boundaries of their craft further than this show does to really benefit from experimentation.

What are experimental alternatives? Recently the science publication "Nature" threw itself open to a kind of open-source editorial policy when they invited peer reviews of submissions. Maybe the AGO can try something similar. How about putting on an "inside-out" salon show. Rather than having hundreds of works from different artists, get hundreds of artists to use online technologies like wiki's to put together a cohesive show around a major theme. That would be experimental.

Any other ideas out there?
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 06/08 at 12:33 PM

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