The Gardiner Museum is closed temporarily in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Check our homepage for a rotating selection of online resources and digital art experiences that you can enjoy at home. Be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter and follow us on social media for your daily ceramics fix.
During our temporary closure, we're posting exhibitions and selections from our collection online. Discover Inuit ceramics, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, pottery from the Ancient Americas, and more!
We're posting family-friendly art activities inspired by our collection and the endless possibilities of clay. Visit our Family Day page for weekly crafts, colouring pages, and more fun art projects that you can enjoy at home.
Every object in our permanent collection can be accessed through our eMuseum portal. Learn about individual collecting areas, like Italian Maiolica or Modern and Contemporary Ceramics, or search the full collection by keyword. You'll be amazed by what you discover!
We’re closed until further notice, but we’re planning for the day when we can again welcome visitors. We encourage you to make a gift to the Gardiner. This will be vital for when we reopen, and is the optimistic message we all need.
As part of the Ai Weiwei: Unbroken publication, we invited curator and artist Henry Heng Lu to respond to Ai Weiwei’s Han Dynasty Vases with Auto Paint, 2015. You can find the interactive publication, which aims to document the exhibition while connecting its themes to Canadian voices and experiences, at the Gardiner Shop or online.
When 1 X 1 ≠ 1 | Henry Heng Lu
“I don’t think you felt there was anyone else in the world like you.”
— Fred Wah, Waiting for Saskatchewan
When these ancient urns are destroyed by being coated in automotive paint, they become the embodiment of something rather unsettling, yet so familiar. They are branded and rebirthed with one new character, despite the difference in their colours. They now seem to bear the symbol of a certain cultural specificity, but also an invented, intricate authenticity reinforced by the act of destruction itself. And we, especially you, are all complicit, simply by the act of watching, as an outsider.
Taking a metonymic approach, Han Dynasty Urns with Auto Paint further traces histories and traumas, as well as hybridized identities, with these camouflaged vases on display as entities that are seemingly static but also produce subjectivities. The fake becomes the real, while the real is a lost cause.
When given a new exterior, how does someone camouflage their own state of being? When our experiences as Chinese Canadians get conflated and turn into a few sentences on some political agenda, how do our sensibilities manifest in culturally unbalanced and disconnected spaces? How do we identify ourselves with a cultural consciousness that has been directly linked only to a land across the ocean?
Henry Heng Lu is a curator and artist based in Toronto. He is interested in fostering dialogues that engage multigenerational artistic practices in a cross-cultural context.
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The Gardiner Museum is temporarily closed.