The Art Gallery of Burlington’s Spring 2021 Exhibitions are Open

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Monira Al Qadiri, Diver, 2018, Video installation. Courtesy of the artist

This season marks the first Canadian exhibition of Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri. AGB presents Al Qadiri’s Diver, an immersive video installation which is part of her ongoing search for historical ties between the pre- and post-oil worlds in the Gulf. This exhibition runs in the Lee-Chin Family Gallery until June 13, 2021.

For hundreds of years, the economy of the coastal region was based on decorative pearls. After the discovery of oil in the twentieth century, a massive transformation took place in the affected societies and this part of history was erased, relegated to popular fiction. The video proposes to bridge that gap through the formal abstraction of colour; it follows the movements of synchronized swimmers wearing dichroic body suits akin to the sheen of both pearls and oil, fully choreographed to a traditional pearl-diving song.

The work directly ties the industrial history of the region to her family’s story of survival, as Al Qadiri’s grandfather worked as a singer on a pearling boat. Diver questions the popular romanticization of the pearling industry’s past, which sanitizing the poverty, labour, and hardship experienced on the boats. The use of these bodies as ornamentation manifests the placement of these histories in contemporary society – as embellishment and décor – but at the same time reflects the artist’s absolute effort to sincerely articulate them as a solid component of regional identity through exhausting physical action.

In February, Monira Al Qadiri and curator Amin Alsaden discussed Al Qadiri’s 2018 video Diver and their common interests in the global impact of extractive capitalism, from rapid modernization and armed conflict, to the engagement with and representations of oil-producing countries in the Arab world. A transcript of this conversation has been published by Ocula Magazine and can be read on the AGB website here.

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Meera Sethi, Govind, 2017, Acrylic Painting. Courtesy of the artist.

Curated by Hitoko Okada, In Visible runs in the Perry Gallery until June 27, 2021. The exhibition pairs the work of Toronto-based artists, Marina Dempster and Meera Sethi to honour and celebrate connections between personal healing and political transformation through self-fashioning. Donning an article imbued with powerful energy or styling an expression of who we are, can be ways of connecting to our personal and collective histories, signals of reclamation, and acts of social resistance. In these ways, objects that we wear can have powerful transformative qualities within ourselves, what we may believe about belonging, and act as visual interruptions to dominant culture in public spaces.

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Larry Weyand, Five Babybels, 2019, Briggs & Little yarn, burlap, thread. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Peeling the Sticker Off an Overripe Pear, runs in the Lakeshore Gallery until June 13, 2021. St. John’s-based artist Larry Weyand explores family and memory through yarn and cloth, transforming moments in time into a series of two- and three-dimensional rugs. Bright, colorful, and humorous mats softly and safely start conversations about mental health, intergenerational dysphoria, trauma and the act of making as a coping mechanism, and occupy the space where narrative, psychological resilience, mat-making and food intersect. Curated by Tara Bursey, the exhibition is the basis of a rug hooking workshop series, part of the new AGB Digital program, presented in partnership with Reach Out Centre for Youth (ROCK) and the Positive Space Network (PSN). Work from the sessions will be mounted in the exhibition during April and May.

AGB’s exhibitions have been supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. Diver is sponsored by DJB Chartered Professional Accountants and equipment support is provided by Factory Media Centre. AGB Digital is supported by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and Burlington Foundation.


AGB is proud to acknowledge that the land where it is located is part of the ancient Dish With One Spoon Treaty and also the Brant Tract Purchase, Treaty No. 3 3/4 of 1795, and it is grateful to the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Six Nations of the Grand River for sharing this territory. The Art Gallery of Burlington is located at 1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario.

The AGB is currently open with reduced hours of service and health & safety protocols in place, including mandatory mask-wearing for all visitors. Click here to visit our website to review our visitor guidelines.

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Saturday, April 3: 10 AM to 5 PM

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