The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), which is still facing blowback for the dismissal of its curator of Canadian and Indigenous art, Wanda Nanibush, last November, has lost another curator of Indigenous art. Taqralik Partridge quietly left her role as associate curator of Indigenous art, focusing on Inuit art, according to The Globe and Mail. Partridge’s departure leaves the AGO with no curators in charge of Indigenous art.
Partridge, an Inuk poet, artist and performer, previously worked as the director of the Nordic Lab, a part of Ottawa's artist-run SAW Centre. Her relationship with the AGO began in 2018 while curating the exhibition Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak, and continued with a full-time role in 2022. Regarding her departure from the gallery, director Stephan Jost told The Globe and Mail: “Taqralik Partridge’s curatorial work supporting the care, acquisition, research, interpretation and exhibition of Inuit art of all periods has been invaluable to the AGO. The AGO remains fundamentally and fully committed to our reconciliation journey and to showing, acquiring and programming Indigenous art, voices and stories.”
Partridge’s departure comes amid ongoing scrutiny of the AGO following Nanibush’s ouster. Partridge told The Globe and Mail that she was leaving her curatorial position in order “to focus on her art practice”, but neither Nanibush nor the AGO provided reasoning for her departure. In the aftermath of her exit, press coverage and a string of open letters have suggested that Nanibush’s support for the Palestinian cause amidst the ongoing war in Gaza may have led to her dismissal.
Nanibush is not named in the statement Jost issued regarding the episode, which says the AGO “is being asked to better define the rights and limits of political and artistic expression in a locally diverse but globally complex environment. We will go through a process to listen, to understand multiple perspectives, and then together we will articulate our institutional position.”