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Looking the World in the Face

June 16, 2022 to May 22, 2023

A black and white photography of curator Amin Alsaden
Amin Alsaden, curator

In 2022, the Canada Council Art Bank celebrates its 50th anniversary with Looking the World in the Face. The exhibition includes an unprecedented number of artworks by Indigenous and racialized artists from the Art Bank collection presented in Âjagemô exhibition space.

The exhibition presents works by: Barry Ace, Shuvinai Ashoona, Shelly Bahl, Carl Beam, Rebecca Belmore, Raphael Bendahan, Cécilia Bracmort, Reg Davidson, Sarindar Dhaliwal, Sherry Farrell Racette, Sunil Gupta, Jamelie Hassan, Jérôme Havre, Joanne Hui, Emily Illuitok, Gloria Inugaq Putumiraqtuq, Pedro Isztin, Serapio Ittusardjuat, Erik Jerezano, Sanaz Mazinani, Anna Jane McIntyre, Meryl McMaster, Norval Morrisseau, Indira Nair, Louise Noguchi, Julie Oh, Abdi Osman, Christina Peters, Ed Pien, Ramona Ramlochand, Paul Robles, Noboru Sawai, Ranjan Sen, Skawennati, Sam Tata, Jeff Thomas, Howie Tsui, Qavaroak Tunnillie, and Chih-Chien Wang. 

Learn more about some of the artists featured in the exhibition.


Curatorial Statement

Looking the World in the Face examines cultural representation in the Art Bank collection. It honours the significant contributions Indigenous and racialized artists, who have been historically underrepresented, have made to Canada.

By focusing on faces, the exhibition demonstrates how artists from marginalized communities defy the gaze of the dominant culture by representing themselves, telling their stories, and challenging stereotypes. The works are about more than mere visibility or self-portrayal. They are acts of valiant resistance and generous affirmation by artists who insist on being seen.

From self-portraits to depictions of kin, comics to allegories, and historical figures to contemporary groups, the works convey a range of preoccupations, aspirations, and world views in unvarnished, critical, and creative ways. Amplifying difference and plurality, the representations do not give themselves away easily and lay bare the complexity of historically marginalized communities in Canada. The exhibition proposes that the multiplicity found in these depictions confronts us with the face of the world.

As the Art Bank celebrates its 50th anniversary, the exhibition reflects a collection that includes a broad range of artists and perspectives. The exhibition asks visitors an important and relevant question: how can the arts help Canada look itself, and the world, in the face?

Read the full curatorial statement.

About the Curator

Amin Alsaden is a curator, educator, and scholar of art and architecture whose work focuses on transnational solidarities and exchanges across cultural boundaries. With his commitment to advancing social justice through the arts, Alsaden’s curatorial practice contributes to the dissemination of more diverse, inclusive, and global narratives by decentring and expanding existing canons, and challenging hegemonic knowledge and power structures. His research explores the history and theory of modern and contemporary art and architecture globally, with specific expertise in the Arab and Muslim worlds. He regularly serves as a guest critic and advisor for art, curatorial, and design programs, and has published and lectured widely.