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Artist Altmejd's Biennale work headed to Toronto

The unusual art installation David Altmejd created for the Canadian pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale's will find a new home at the Art Gallery of Ontario next year, organizers announced Monday.

The unusual art installation David Altmejd created for the Canadian pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale will find a new home at the Art Gallery of Ontario next year, organizers announced Monday.

Altmejd's contemporary sculpture The Index, which remains on display in Venice until November, was purchased by Toronto art collectors George Hartman and Arlene Goldman, who have in turn donated it to the AGO.

The AGO will feature The Index among its new contemporary galleries when it reopens in 2008, after the completion of its Frank Gehry-designed revamp.

"The scale and complexity of The Index is unlike any other work in the AGO's collection," David Moos, the AGO's curator of contemporary art, said in a statement.

"In creating an art environment that incorporates the viewer, this work is indicative of a significant new direction in contemporary art and an important addition to our permanent collection."

The Index drew early buzz at the prestigious Italian contemporary art festival when it opened in June.

Many queued to see the installation, which features wood and steel structures filled with a combination of flowers, stuffed birds and squirrels as well as severed limbs, half-human, half-bird bodies and sculptures of werewolves.

The piece explores themes of death, decay and transformation.

Born in Montreal, Altmejd now divides his time between London and New York, where his work is included in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The 33-year-old was the youngest artist ever selected to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale.