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Ground Signals

Listen and look at multisensory art representing the land beyond landscape.

Paintings and picturesque photographs of Canada’s rugged wilderness and untouched nature continue to permeate our media and underwrite our national identity. Yet the Canadian landscape has rarely ever been untouched. The land has long been inhabited. There have been many centuries of cultural production by Indigenous Peoples that represent the land and the connection between nature and human experience in very different ways from the traditions encompassed within Western landscape art. During recent decades, new generations of artists working in Canada have drawn from a wealth of other non-Western practices and developed new forms of media to represent the land beyond the romantic, expressionistic styles and pictorial forms that have become so familiar. These artists invite us to consider our own presumptions and relationship to the places around us—beyond seeing them as scenic or banal, as sources of investment and industry, or as sites of recreation.

Gathering works by over a dozen artists from across Canada, Ground Signals features immersive, multisensory art that engages with land and water. The exhibition includes ceramic bowls that emit environmental audio recordings and Indigenous songs from northern Quebec; a towering sculpture of woven copper wire that broadcasts shortwave marine radio reports from a proposed pipeline terminus on British Columbia’s coast; a time-travelling shadow machine made of wax, paint, and human hair that transports visitors to the deep past of Tahltan territory; a gigantic mural of found blankets and building materials framed in words and writing about waterways impacted by industrial accidents; composite videos of Southern Ontario vistas morphing into English Romantic landscape paintings; and a solar-powered culture station collects stories in exchange for energy.

Building on several recent Surrey Art Gallery exhibitions that have addressed landscape, ecology, territory, and mapping, Ground Signals challenges viewers to listen and experience the land in fresh  and compelling ways through a combination of sounds and images.

Artists: Ruth Beer, Roxanne Charles, Marie Côté, Lindsay Dobbin, Richard Fung, Brandon Gabriel and Ostwelve, Farheen HaQ, Peter Morin, Valérie d. Walker and Bobbi L. Kozinuk, Charlene Vickers and Cathy Busby

Join us for the opening party on September 23.

Curators: Roxanne Charles and Jordan Strom
Origin of Exhibition: Surrey Art Gallery

Image credits from top:

Ruth Beer, Antenna 1 (2016), copper, polyurethane, broadband radio, receiver, and sound. Photo courtesy of artist and Bellevue Arts Museum.

Marie Côté, Jeux de bols et de voix (2013), vitrified porcelain, wood, speakers, wires, soundtrack. Installation in collaboration with Olivier Girouard, sound designer. Photo by Paul Litherland, courtesy of the artist and Oboro.

Richard Fung, Warkworth Castle, part of Landscapes (2008), video still.