Skip navigation

Land Songs, Water Songs / Chants de terre, Chants d'eau

Experience a multimedia artwork centered around drums & intercultural connections to land and water.

As Canadians seek to discover ways to enact meaningful change in our time of Truth and Reconciliation, there is a growing sense that finding common ground between Indigenous and settler cultures is critically necessary to move forward. In their new collaboration, artists Marie Coté, Peter Morin, and Ziya Tabassian use visual art and performance to address the history of colonization to clear a path for new relationships.

For these artists, drums are essential instruments in building connections with environment, territory, and history. Drums are made to be held, to connect with the body. Hands move and manipulate the materials to make worlds. Drums are heartbeats from which songs are born. Coté and Morin join forces with musician Ziya Tabassian to consider the sonic system of the drum, the land, and bodies of water to become an interface for culture, language, and story.

The immersive installation in the Gallery combines numerous hand-made ceramic drum hoops and drum sticks, drum heads made from elk skin and deer skin, a large-scale drawing made from locally sourced clay from Semiahmoo traditional territory, along with a projected video with surround sound.

The installation extends out of Peter Morin’s and Marie Coté’s art residency at the Gallery in the fall of 2017. Since then, the artists, along with percussionist Ziya Tabassian, have continued to work in partnership with local Indigenous Peoples to integrate dreams, stories, and their own ancestries into this new multimedia art installation. Land Songs, Water Songs / Chants de terre, Chants d'eau is a presentation of Surrey Art Gallery’s Open Sound 2018 program.

Surrey Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges it is located on the traditional and unceded territories of the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, and Katzie Peoples.

Surrey Art Gallery would like to acknowledge support from the Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council for Marie Côté's contribution to this exhibition.

About the Artists

Peter Morin

Peter Morin is a Tahltan Nation artist, curator, and writer currently based in Brandon, MB. Morin studied at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and completed his MFA at UBC Okanagan in 2011. In both his artistic practice as well as his curatorial work, Morin explores issues of decolonization through the practice of Indigenous ways of knowing/knowledge. His work, defined by Tahltan Nation production and worldview, takes the form of performance interventions, and includes object and picture-making. Morin has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions across Canada and was longlisted for the Sobey Art Prize in 2014. Morin is an Assistant Professor with the Visual and Aboriginal Department at Brandon University.

Marie Côté

For Marie Côté, everything begins with pottery. The pleasure she takes in throwing a clay pot has never diminished, although she is now more well-known for her sculptures and installations. In addition to exhibiting her work in galleries nationally and internationally, she has participated in two artist residencies in northern Canada (Inukjuak, Nunavik and Dawson City, Yukon). Just as all pots want to be filled, Marie’s work seeks to make us aware of the complex experience that links an object to space. From her first shadow installations to her recent collaborative work with musicians, it is these links between space and matter that kindle her imagination. She lives and works in Montreal.

Ziya Tabassian

Ziya Tabassian began playing the tombak (Iranian drum) at the age of ten. After a brief initiation period in Iran, he continued his autodidactic training in Montreal. He studied classical Western percussion with Julien Grégoire and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in percussion interpretation from the Université de Montréal. In 2003, during a residency at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, he explored the contemporary music repertoire with Iranian percussion instruments. Tabassian is professionally active in early music (medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque), as well as contemporary and world music. He performs internationally with many groups, including Ensemble Caprice. Tabassian recently released his second solo album The Circle of the Cycles, stemming from his research on rhythmic cycles and new techniques on the tombak.

Curator: Jordan Strom:
Origin of Exhibition: Surrey Art Gallery

Image credits: Installation image of Land Songs, Water Songs at Surrey Art Gallery. Photos by SITE Photography.