Nations by Artists | Miao Ying: A Field Guide to Ideology

Art Museum at the University of Toronto

February 8–April 2, 2022

Life of a Craphead, King Edward VII Equestrian Statue Floating Down the Don, 2017. Video. Production stills: Yuula Benivolski. Acquired by the Hart House Art Committee, 2021.

Nations by Artists

Curated by Mikinaak Migwans and Sarah Robayo Sheridan
University of Toronto Art Centre

Works by Ruanne Abou-Rahme & Basel Abbas, Sadie Barnette, Yael Bartana, Walter Battiss, Jasmina Cibic, Decolonize This Place, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, Demian DinéYazhi’/R.I.S.E. (Radical Indigenous Survivance and Empowerment), Pablo Helguera, Greg Hill, IRWIN, Iman Issa, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Will Kwan, Zoe Leonard, Life of a Craphead, Divya Mehra, Alan Michelson, Native Art Department International, Majdulin Nasrallah, Hương Ngô, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa

Nations by Artists explores how artists have engaged the trappings of the nation-state as a material for protest, parody, or collective utopian wish, dreaming counter-realities that exceed and resist prevalent paradigms of nationalism. The title builds from the historical precedent of Art Metropole’s landmark publishing series that explored the potentialities of artist-led culture. The exhibition looks at critical interventions in the performance of nation/nationalism, and artists’ capacities to complicate and make fissures through standing notions of territory, belonging, authenticity, citizenship, and borders. The works included offer possibilities to disrupt colonial power structures, exhume suppressed histories, and create new political scripts. Timely subjects explored in the exhibition include contestations of public monuments, counter-archival research into suppressed historical memory, the assertion of otherwise marginalized knowledge nodes and histories of resistance. Other works place into sharp focus mechanisms of state suppression, bringing into visibility forms of erasure that are structurally persistent to upholding state power. Numerous works also address histories of dispossession and make claims for the return of land and the centering of Indigenous knowledge and cultural survivance. Together, the works assembled in this exhibition point to possible political futures as imagined by artists, offering rich provocations to challenge existing paradigms of nationhood.

Nations by Artists Podcast Series
A four-part series inviting artists, activists, and scholars to deliver a state of the nation on nations, interrogating ideas of nationhood, borders, power, and dissent. Produced by Aliya Pabani and hosted by exhibition curators Mikinaak Migwans and Sarah Robayo Sheridan. All podcast episodes will be available to stream on

Curatorial Tour with Mikinaak Migwans and Sarah Robayo Sheridan
Wednesday, February 9, 5:30pm
University of Toronto Art Centre

Keynote Lecture with Decolonize This Place: “Under the Museum, Under the University, Under the City: the Land”
Wednesday, March 30, 4pm
University College, UC140

Virtual Spotlight: “Statues Also Die”, a virtual essay by Ameen Ahmed
Published on

Miao Ying, Analog Art—Uni-Donk&hunk#6 (2018), 2018. Sketch on dibond with frame and steel seal. Courtesy of the artist.

Miao Ying: A Field Guide to Ideology

Curated by Yan Wu
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Works by Miao Ying

Miao Ying: A Field Guide to Ideology (苗颖: 精神实用宝典) is the first presentation of Shanghai/New York-based artist Miao Ying in Canada. This exhibition features new iterations of her two recent projects Chinternet Plus (亲特网+, 2016) and Hardcore Digital Detox (硬核数据排毒, 2018). A first-generation internet artist in China and a dual netizen of the Chinternet and the World Wide Web, Miao Ying examines official and popular Chinese internet culture thriving behind the so-called Great Firewall. Commenting on a recent Chinese economic strategy “Internet Plus”—involving the rebooting of traditional industries through cloud computing, big data, and lifestyle branding—Miao Ying’s Chinternet Plus is a parodic and critical take on the cultivation of a new, counterfeit ideology complete with promotional videos, seductive imagery, logo designs, wallpaper, and concept slogan. Its companion work Hardcore Digital Detox, a caricature of #spiritualretreatinchinternet, turns focus to the proliferation of experience economy and commodification of lifestyle in a post-materialist society.

Miao Ying: A Field Guide to Ideology is a Core Exhibition of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Curatorial Tour with Yan Wu
Saturday, February 12, 2pm
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Artist Talk with Miao Ying (in-person and online)
Tuesday, March 8, 6pm ET
Daniels Building, University of Toronto
1 Spadina Crescent
Presented in partnership with the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design

Gallery Tour with Miao Ying and Yan Wu
Wednesday, March 9, 2pm
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery


Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
7 Hart House Circle
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3H3

University of Toronto Art Centre
15 King’s College Circle
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3H7

Admission is free. No advanced registration necessary.
Access between Art Museum’s spaces has changed due to construction on campus for the University of Toronto Landmark Project. Read more.

Museum Hours
Tuesday to Saturday, 12-5pm
Wednesday, 12 noon-8pm
Sunday and Monday closed

Media Contact:
Marianne Rellin,


The Art Museum gratefully acknowledges operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.

Additional project support for Nations by Artists is provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Additional project support for Miao Ying: A Field Guide to Ideology is provided by the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Special thanks to the MadeIn Gallery in Shanghai for their support in the realization of this exhibition, and to Trinity Square Video and Gallery 44 for supporting the equipment.