salmon migration projected under the Cambie Bridge in Vancouver 2017

Reimagining Landscape and Our Relationship with the Land

18 August 2017
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANTHONY DIEHL

It’s summertime! For many of us, this means our relationship to the land in this country is a more positive one. We’re exploring parks, trails, bodies of water, and our cities and towns, after a cold winter or rainy spring. Canadians’ relationship with landscape is intrinsic to our identity. No surprise, then, that artists have been inspired by the land for generations, producing works that both uphold and subvert national narratives. Several projects on view this summer, funded through the Canada Council’s New Chapter program, challenge us to reimagine landscape and reflect on our relationship with built and natural environments.

crocheted polytwine, found objects, 40 feet in size
Doug Guildford, Rope begun, 2005, crocheted polytwine, found objects, 40 ft. to be installed at The Factory, Coaker Foundation, Port Union
print collage with archival photos and plants
Sara Angelucci, Arboretum, 2016, inkjet print to be installed at Fishers’ Loft Conference Centre, Port Rexton

The first Bonavista Biennale is now underway on the eastern edge of Newfoundland, located along 50 km loop of rugged coast. With the theme Art Encounters on the Edge, this site-specific exhibition developed by 2 Rooms Contemporary Art Projects, features 25 artists with artworks situated in historic outport communities. The contemporary works explore diversity, social exchange, and cultural perspectives, while their locations ask us to reimagine rural spaces. The exhibition is accompanied by a speaker series, workshops and other activities. Move over Venice – the Bonavista Peninsula is the place to be this summer!

crocheted series of exaggerated sculptural masks made from industrial fishing line
Omar Badrin, crocheted series of exaggerated sculptural masks made from industrial fishing line, mason’s line, flagging tape to be installed Sealers' Interpretation Centre, Elliston
minimal landscape photo of concrete and ocean taken in Wreckhouse, Newfoundland 2016
Ned Pratt Lay-by, Wreckhouse 2016, pigment-based archival print 33 x 46.25”

Earlier this year, artist-run center AXENÉO7 asked artists from across the country to reimagine the Canadian landscape through large-scale installations. These newly commissioned works are now on view in the exhibition À Perte de Vue/Endless Landscape at La Fonderie, a former iron and steel foundry and one of the few remaining vestiges of Gatineau, Quebec’s industrial heritage. From whimsical to political, these large scale installations ask us to reflect on our intricate relationships with the land. Performances and talks are taking place throughout the exhibition.

Wild bison returned to Banff National Park for the first time in more than century – and Canadians rejoiced. Iinisikimm celebrates that return through nighttime puppet-lantern performances, honouring the animal and its significance to our history, culture and ecology. Youth take part in an intensive program of theatre rehearsals, puppet building and performances with the Czapno Ensemble and drummers of Eya-Hey Nakoda. Together they will live off the land in Kananaskis, Alberta until the end of August, when their whimsical puppets will illuminate the rivers and forests of the Canadian Rockies. Workshops are on now and performances are scheduled for Banff, Morley, and Calgary.

group of buffalo lantern puppets lit up at night
Youth prepare for their performance in Iiniskimm
girl holds buffalo lantern puppet lit up at night

Built environment is paired with the natural world in UNINTERRUPTED, an immersive film experience that combines cinematic storytelling and high-tech art installation. Digitally mapped and projected onto Vancouver’s Cambie Bridge, UNINTERRUPTED allows the public to travel upstream with silver sockeye salmon, a captivating journey that reveals the species’ mystery, vulnerability and perseverance. Presented by the Canada Wild Arts Society, the show brings the beauty and challenge of salmon migration to the heart of the city and encourages the public to reflect on the intimate connections between people and the environment. Additional programming includes festivals, talks, opportunities to inventory species, and more.

salmon migration projected under the Cambie Bridge in Vancouver 2017
Uninterrupted projected under the Cambie Bridge, Vancouver 2017, captured by Anthony Diehl Photo: Anthony Diehl

While the Bonavista Biennale and À Perte de Vue / Endless Landscape host exhibitions in unconventional spaces and challenge us to reimagine Canadian landscapes in new and exciting ways, Iinisikimm and Uninterrupted focus on community engagement and our ecological impacts to honour the perseverance of two important species. These four projects are ongoing throughout August and September, so no matter where you are, be sure to get outdoors, take in some great art, and reflect on your place in the greater Canadian landscape.

photos of ice in Conception Bay, Newfoundland, March 2014
Marlene Creates, Head lead, Pancake Ice, Scattering Ice, Sish, Slack Ice, and Way Ice, Conception Bay, Newfoundland, March 2014 (excerpts from a Newfoundland Treasury of Terms for Ice and Snow 2014), archival pigment prints each 24 x 32" (61 x 173 cm)

New Chapter is a one-time program created to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Through this $35M program, the Canada Council is supporting 200+ exceptional projects that will leave a lasting legacy for communities across the country.