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Mass Arrival

Five Toronto artists re-enact the Tamils’ arrival to BC in 2010.

In this installation, the collective Mass Arrival (Farrah Miranda, Graciela Flores, Tings Chak, Vino Shanmuganathan, Nadia Saad) presented a video documentation of their street action  together with press clippings and images related to controversies about migration. In August 2010, the arrival of 492 Tamils in British Columbia in a cargo ship led to concerns over the effectiveness of Canada’s border. This situation prompted Ottawa to tighten laws against human smuggling.

As an act to explore Canada’s reception of the passengers on the MV Sun Sea, 5 Toronto artists re-enacted the Tamils’ arrival in downtown Toronto in 2013. For their participatory performance, the Mass Arrival artists invited “white” people “dressed in white” to participate in filling a ship and disembarking down one of Canada’s busiest streets. This “white mass arrival” in front of Hudson Bay’s flagship store on Queen St. was meant not only to draw connections to Tamil arrival three years earlier, but also to earlier histories of mass arrival including the Fujianese boat that arrived on the West Coast in 1999, or the MS St. Louis and its 907 Jews who were turned away in 1939, and the Komagata Maru “incident” in 1914.

Presented as part of Ruptures in Arrival: Art in the Wake of the Komagata Maru.

Image credit: Installation image of Mass Arrival at Surrey Art Gallery in 2014. Photo by Scott Massey.