Presented by Embassy Cultural House and the GardenShip and State Project
Join us Sunday, May 2, at 1:30 p.m. for A Virtual Exhibition Opening and Video Presentation. The event will begin with a Land Acknowledgment and welcoming by Mary Lou and Dan Smoke.
The Embassy Cultural House (ECH) and GardenShip and State are pleased to present a virtual group exhibition Stop Extinction! Restore the Earth to celebrate Earth Day, April 22, 2021. Works in the exhibition are by artists from within the ECH community and Gardenship and State participating artists. The 50 artworks that make up this ambitious project take on a broad range of issues related to the climate crisis and other threats to our ecology, emphasizing decolonial practices as central to addressing this urgent moment.
A concise animation, “Up in Smoke,” by the youngest presenter in the exhibition, 15-year-old Kian Saadani-Gordon, portrays the blue planet with a giant, billowing smokestack protruding from its body. It is a poignant yet frightening reminder of our predicament. Equally caustic in its critique of human culpability regarding the plight of gaia are the ‘earthly non-delights’ portrayed by Carole Conde and Karl Beveridge in their photo-triptych, “Futures.”
Numerous other artists in the exhibition, including Jessie Amery, Stephen Cruise, and Jamelie Hassan, also allude to the garden – as by turns a troubled sanctuary and a site of potential regeneration and possibility. In works by Sharmistha Kar, Roland Schubert, Jean Spence, and Christine Walde, rivers, lakes, and waterways feature as emblems of devastation, but also as reminders of human and more than human indebtedness to the earth’s water sources as central to survival.
GardenShip and State co-curator Jeff Thomas invokes colonization and decolonization, reminding us of the inseparable linkage between stewardship of the planet and the legitimacy of Indigenous land claims. Perhaps nowhere in the exhibition is the spectrum of human experience, aspiration, and often failure as fully pronounced as in the juxtaposition of Ron Benner’s digital photograph of seeds, grains, beans and pottery shards, labelled, “Remains in Association with cultural deposits: 10,000 years before present era,” and Mark Kasumovic’s stirring black and white image of a vast, florescent-lit cavern, entitled, “Vault #3 [from the series, A Human Laboratory,”2015]. Benner’s colourful, living archive, and Kasumovic’s frozen image of an empty Svalbard Global Seed Vault, are the exhibition’s alpha and omega moments.
Stop Extinction! Restore the Earth contributors include: Jessie Amery, Tariq Amery, Ron Benner, Paul Chartrand & Michelle Wilson, Carole Condé & Karl Beveridge, Stephen Cruise, Tom Cull, Susan Day, Holly English & Olivia Mossuto, Mike Farnan, Michael Fernandes, kerry ferris (1949 - 2016), Jan Figurski, Mireya Folch-Serra,Fatima Garzan, Joan Greer, Dave Gordon, Tariq Hassan Gordon, Jamelie Hassan, Fern Helfand, Lisa Hirmer, Sharmistha, Kar, Mark Kasumovic, Brian Lambert, Patrick Mahon, Kim Moodie, Catherine Morrisey, Troy Ouellette, Jill Price, Judith Rodger, Kian Saadani-Gordon, Niloufar Salimi & Mohammad Tabesh, Jayce Salloum, Jenna Rose Sands, Roland Schubert, Sandra Semchuk, Carolyn Simmons, Mary Lou & Dan Smoke, Ashley Snook, Jean Spence, Diana Tamblyn, Jeff Thomas, Bernice Vincent (1934 - 2016), Esther Vincent, Christine Walde, Paul Walde, and Jade Williamson.
www.embassyculturalhouse.ca is a volunteer digital project originally launched in July 2020 to recognize the contributions of the arts and culture community which came of age in London in the 1960s-1970s. Artists Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner and jazz musician Eric Stach founded the Embassy Cultural House (1983-1990), located in the restaurant portion of the Embassy Hotel at 732 Dundas Street in East London.
In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Embassy Cultural House was re-envisioned as a virtual artist-run space and website. ECH emphasizes activism, community engagement, and diverse and intergenerational collaboration. As a not-for-profit collective, the ECH has quickly grown into a network of 100 contributors from across Canada and around the world.
GardenShip and State is an artistic research project conceived at the intersection of environmental critique, decolonial theory, and artistic practice. Involving a diverse group of twenty Canadian-based and international artists and thinkers, the project examines urgent issues confronting us today: climate change and global warming and the measures states and non-state actors can, or should, take to resolve them. These challenges are of global concern because local actions and global effects are intertwined, as shown by the destructiveness of the environmental crisis on humans and more than humans experiencing colonialism.
Co-curated by Patrick Mahon and Jeff Thomas, an on-site exhibition planned for Museum London (Sept.2021 – Jan. 2022) will play an important role in promoting regional discussions about the consequences of living in the Anthropocene. The project began with a Launch Workshop held in Fall 2019 at Museum London and Western University. Since then, some of its participants were featured presenters in a panel for this year’s Words Festival (Nov. 2020), and a slide show of works by seventeen of the project’s collaborators was projected on the giant screens overlooking the Deshkan Ziibi (Antler River, also known as Thames River) from Museum London’s Centre at the Forks.
The GardenShip and State exhibition in Fall, 2021, will be a multi-sensory experience that inhabits the Ivey Galleries at Museum London, and spills into other areas of the Museum, inside and out. Comprising textiles, photography, sculpture, video, and installation, the exhibition emphasises environmental critique and decolonization through projects that are aesthetically rich and culturally complex. (
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The Embassy Cultural House (ECH) is pleased to announce that award-winning Indigenous journalists and activists, Mary Lou and Dan Smoke have joined the ECH Advisory Circle. They recently received the Atlohsa Peace Award for their work on truth and reconciliation. You can listen to their interview with Chris dela Torre on the CBC here.
Mary Lou is also well-known for her performances and was recognized by the London Music Hall receiving an award in 2019 for her traditional and contemporary singing. She is a member of the Ojibway Nation, from Batchawana, on Lake Superior, and Dan is Seneca Nation from the Six Nations Grand River Territory. They met in 1972/3 and were married in the Onondaga Longhouse in a traditional Indigenous Haudenosaunee Wedding Ceremony in 1977. They have been happily married for 43years.
Working together they have hosted "The Smoke Signals Aboriginal Radio Program," since 1990 and continue with this Western University campus-based radio program offering interviews with Indigenous cultural workers and advocates from across Turtle Island. They have collected an extensive archive and books over the years related to their decades of working as journalists and advocates. From 1999-2019 they worked with the London CTV Station.
ECH co-founders Ron Benner and Jamelie Hassan said, “Dan and Mary Lou Smoke have dedicated their lives to building bridges between the peoples of Turtle Island. We are honoured to have Dan and Mary Lou’s friendship over the years and look forward to collaborating with them on future ECH projects.”
Dan and Mary Lou Smoke said, “Ron and Jamelie have stood in solidarity with Indigenous communities through their art work and activism for decades, and we are pleased to join the ECH Advisory Circle and contribute to this innovative digital arts and cultural project.”
You can visit their page on the ECH website here.
Other members of the ECH Advisory Circle include: Samer Abdelnour, Wyn Geleynse, Fern Helfand, S F Ho, Lorraine Klaasen, Judith Rodger, Ruth Skinner and Lucas Stenning.
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