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What the Ocean Remembers

Grenfell co-organizes exhibition featuring leading Atlantic Canadian artists

By Melanie Callahan

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Grenfell Art Gallery have co-organized the virtual exhibition, What the Ocean Remembers, in partnership with the High Commission of Canada in the U.K.

Originally conceived as a Canada Gallery at Canada House in London, England, event, it has been adapted to an online platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What the Ocean Remembers presents new and recent works by Jordan Bennett, Kym Greeley, Thaddeus Holownia, Meagan Musseau, Jerry Ropson and Camille Turner.

“The participating artists highlight important issues and priority areas for the Government of Canada, such as caring for the environment and expanding our ways of thinking that include ancestral approaches to the use of our natural resources, our water and our land,” said Jonathan Sauvé, counsellor for public diplomacy at the High Commission.

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating on this dynamic and responsive digital platform that explores critical issues of environmental stewardship, historical erasure and different ways of knowing through the work of six leading artists engaged with Atlantic Canada,” said Matthew Hills, director, Grenfell Art Gallery, and curator, Memorial University Art Collection, Grenfell Campus School of Fine Arts.

Ta’sik amujpa iknmaulek

What the Ocean Remembers opens with a commissioned land-based performance by L’nu artist and Grenfell Campus alumna Meagan Musseau with Jenelle Duval. 

Meagan Musseau performs in Ta’sik amujpa iknmaulek/how much do we have to give you.
Photo: Tom Cochrane

Ta’sik amujpa iknmaulek/how much do we have to give you is available for viewing here.

Gratitude is acknowledged to Chief Rhonda Sheppard of the St. George’s Indian Band for preparing the site and supporting the creation of the artwork and to Michael R. Denny of Eskasoni, Unama’ki for the song and title translation.

As well, the Grenfell Art Gallery partnered with Qalipu First Nation and the city of Corner Brook on a pop-up screening of Ta’sik amujpa iknmaulek on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, on the Majestic Lawn in Corner Brook. 

Nature, colonialism and history

What the Ocean Remembers examines material memory, or memory of the land and sea, which can be understood both as the residual effects of human action and the reciprocity of co-existence with the natural world.

This reflects efforts towards thinking generatively about non-Western epistemologies and generational stewardship, as well as opening a broader critical discussion around decolonization and historical erasure.

“This project places the practices of contemporary artists who have engaged with the creative and critical milieu of the Atlantic provinces on an international stage that is digitally accessible to a wide audience,” said David Diviney, senior curator, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

“It also underscores the capacity of geographic location as a platform for examining and contesting shifting understandings of nature, colonialism and history.”

Throughout the exhibition, additional programs such as artist talks and panel discussions will take place. It closes Dec. 21.

Megan Musseau artist statement

“Since time immemorial we as L’nu people have relied on the natural resources that the environment provides in order to sustain ourselves. The current era that we live in is heavily dependent on natural resources, and therefore, the relationships we now have with these resources have changed dramatically. My choice of materials, geographic locations and actions acknowledge this change as well as the type of access we now have to these resources. My practice navigates a complex relationship and invites the witnesses of my works to acknowledge their own.”


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