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Open Sound 2017

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

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

Sound Thinking 2017
Sounds for Action

Canada’s colonial visual culture has been overwhelmingly defined by landscape painting and photography. In recent decades, however, artists have developed alternative forms of sensory apparatus to create a perception of the land that transcends the purely visual. These artworks question preconceptions about identity and colonial history. They conceive of the land as embodied and interlaced with power relations, reflecting upon these dynamics and situating the viewer in an immersive relationship to the world around them. Sound Thinking 2017: Sounds for Action features over a half-dozen artist presentations, along with live performance and group discussion that examines these questions and practices.

The presenters in Sounds for Action examine the relationships between identity and place, memory and history, performance and ritual, language and song, and local and global. Traces left on the land by lived experience, or industrial incursion, are as important as art-historical legacies embodied in the pictures of nationhood typically found throughout art history.

Sounds for Action seeks to foreground the importance of art in addressing both colonial history and our current colonial present. The convening of these talks and performances is inspired, in part, by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s “Calls to Action,” intended to further reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples. How do we as citizens, as artists, embody this shift? How do we manifest these discussions and further real change beyond the required policy changes and institutional transformations? This symposium includes a diverse array of artistic practices rooted in sound, song, speech and performance that address these and other urgent themes grounded in the land.

Participants: Cathy Busby, Marie Côté, Lindsay Dobbin, Farheen HaQ, Liz Howard, Peter Morin, Mavis Pierre-Sam, Charlene Vickers

Conveners: Roxanne Charles and Jordan Strom

View the program and participant bios

Image credit: Gallery visitors enage with the painting sʷəlməxʷəłt təməxʷ / Protecting Our Sacred Land (2017) by Brandon Gabriel (inkjet print) and the accompanying spoken word poem by Ostwelve, part of Ground Signals exhibit. Photo by Brian Giebelhaus.