This exhibition is taking place at the Karsh-Masson Gallery. Please see the city of Ottawa website for details on opening hours.
This exhibition is about how we are entangled with a variety of ecological communities. It considers the often-messy relationship between humans, objects, and beings of all kinds.
Cheryl L’Hirondelle works through her Cree worldview to reflect upon the fate of eels in the Ottawa River and the possibilities of the will and desire of other beings and how we communicate across species. Sasha Phipps’ sculptural installation comprise of home-made fruit gummies packaged in plastic and modelled using shells and fish from the prehistoric Champlain Sea – which once covered the Ottawa Valley. Phipps comments on the consumption of nature, as well as drawing our attention to extinction narratives – past and present. Meryl McMaster’s performative photographs draw from her nêhiyaw (Plains Cree), British and Dutch ancestry, to witness the impact of insect decline in the forests of Manitoulin Island and among the coastal ice flows of Lake Erie. Here she performs with the insects to spark a rethinking and restructuring of human and more-than-human relations. While Hublots, an installation by the art-science ‘Macronauts Collective’, invites us to consider plankton – molecular, aquatic life and its relationship with micro plastic, and reminds us that the ocean is co-constituted by more-than-human elements that dwell in its depths that we are ordinarily unable to ‘see’.
These artistic voices reflect upon a deeper scale of time at work in our environment while simultaneously drawing our attention to the uncertainty of our present and the precarity of the future. These stories of relations between beings of all kinds suggest that we need a new understanding of community to help imagine a space beyond resilience and into a thriving future.
Entanglements is co-curated by Celina Jeffrey and Ryan Stec. It is part of a larger research collaboration between Jeffery and Artengine. In this time of climate crisis, we are exploring the roles that artists and the cultural community have in responding to these global challenges.
Celina Jeffery is an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Ottawa, Canada. Her research primarily involves curating exhibitions that consider the visual cultures of climate change and oceanic degradation, the most recent of which was the SSHRC funded Ephemeral Coast www.ephemeralcoast.com (2015-2020). Ephemeral Coast – Visualizing Coastal Climate Change, an edited anthology which parallels her curatorial project was published by Vernon Press in 2022.
Ryan Stec is an artist/designer/producer working with texts, organizations and things, and is currently the Artistic Director of Artengine and Part-Time Professor in the Visual Arts Department at University of Ottawa.
We acknowledge that the exhibition is situated on the unceded Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation whose presence here reaches back to time immemorial.
This exhibition was postponed twice due to the pandemic. We are extremely grateful to the staff of Karsh Masson who have been incredibly supportive during these difficult times.
We are grateful to the Department of Visual Arts, University of Ottawa, where Celina Jeffery, Ryan Stec, and Sasha Phipps all work.
Celina Jeffery would like to acknowledge the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) for funding aspects of this exhibition. In turn, she is grateful for the funding that allowed her to hire the following students Anna Paluch, Zeina Hamod, and Madeleine Merritt, all of whom supported various aspects of the exhibition over the course of its three years of planning.
Meryl McMaster gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council, as well as galleries Stephen Bulger Gallery and Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, who have provided image permission.
Cheryl L’Hirondelle would like to thank The Canada Council for the Arts for their Creating, Knowing, Sharing grant.
Macronaut Collective would like to thank Christian Sardet, Guillaume Cavalier and our collaborators: Sharif, Mathilde, Valentin, Clotilde and Clément. Gilles et Adèle Captains of the Woy Woy, Pépé Ardens, & Studio Studio friends, as well as partners Ecomaris, Oceanographic Observatory of Villefranche-sur-Mer, Tara Ocean Foundation.
All images courtesy of the artists.
Cheryl L’Hirondelle (Cree/Halfbreed; German/Polish) is an interdisciplinary, community-engaged artist, a singer/songwriter and a critical thinker whose family roots are from Papaschase First Nation, amiskwaciy wâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta) and Kikino Metis Settlement, Alberta. Her work critically investigates and articulates a dynamism of nêhiyawin (Cree worldview) in contemporary time-place with a practice that incorporates Indigenous language(s), audio, video, virtual reality, the olfactory, music and audience/user participation to create immersive environments towards ‘radical inclusion.’
The Macronauts are an art collective that engage with expeditions, create films, documentaries, photographs, and museum/gallery exhibitions on the relationship between the ocean and the cosmos. The Collective have created Art Residencies at sea, including The Cosmic Plankton (2018) and Labrador Giants (2021) ocean expeditions. They have exhibited internationally in museums and galleries including Fondation Cartier, Kyotographie, Place de la Bastille – Photo Climate. They have also created immersive films and installations for science museums around the world including Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle -Paris, and the Eden Project -Cornwall.
Meryl McMaster is a Canadian artist with nêhiyaw (Plains Cree), British and Dutch ancestry. Her work is predominantly photography based, incorporating the production of props, sculptural garments and performance forming a synergy that transports the viewer out of the ordinary and into a space of contemplation and introspection. She explores the self in relation to land, lineage, history, culture and the more-than-human world.
Sasha Phipps is a French-Canadian multidisciplinary artist based in Ottawa. His works feature video, sculptural installation, electronics, and at times, edible artworks. Phipps is interested in environmental anthropology and his relation to the natural world. He continues learning about his complex Franco-Ontarian history, living and practicing on unceded land. He currently works as an artist and arts technician (photography and media) at the University of Ottawa.