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Will Munro: Total Eclipse

Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto Jul 31 to Sep 6 2010
Will Munro  <I>Nomi Slipmat #1 and #2</I>  2005  Courtesy Paul Petro Contemporary Art  © 2010 Estate of Will Munro / photo Sean Weaver Will Munro Nomi Slipmat #1 and #2 2005 Courtesy Paul Petro Contemporary Art © 2010 Estate of Will Munro / photo Sean Weaver

Will Munro <I>Nomi Slipmat #1 and #2</I> 2005 Courtesy Paul Petro Contemporary Art © 2010 Estate of Will Munro / photo Sean Weaver

The multivalent practice of late DJ, artist, restaurateur and community organizer Will Munro gets a long-awaited retrospective at the AGO this week with the opening of “Total Eclipse.” The third instalment in the gallery’s bimonthly “Toronto Now” series, "Total Eclipse" chronicles major themes from Munro’s all-too-short life. (Born in 1975, the artist passed away in May 2010 following a battle with brain cancer.) Crucially, the show also underscores Munro's ongoing interest in tapping into the “whispered histories” of queer art and activism. Combining examples of Munro’s unique silkscreen-on-mirror technique, such as his large-scale portrait of David Bowie in Circle of One, with hand-stitched quilts based on album covers, DIY clothing designed in homage to musical heroes including German tenor Klaus Nomi, and the artist’s own memorabilia, “Total Eclipse” promises to bring together several facets of Munro’s career into a coherent presentation that attests to his lasting influence on Toronto's artistic community. Rounding out the exhibition of Munro’s own creations is a display case of ephemera related to the artist’s work as the organizer of Vazaleen, a monthly queer dance party, and a media kiosk, organized by Munro’s colleagues Luis Jacob and Kevin Hegge, featuring YouTube clips from the performances that inspired his practice. Though it seems a sad and strange irony to have the late artist’s work featured in a series of exhibitions devoted to “the wealth of creative energy burgeoning” in the city, positioning his survey in a free-admission street-front gallery—with an all-welcome August 7 dance party officially opening the show, no less—might just provide a perfect send-off. (317 Dundas St W, Toronto ON)

This article was first published online on August 5, 2010.

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