Mere Phantoms: Shadows Without Borders

Mere Phantoms, Shadows Without Borders, Athens, 2018. Photo by Leila Shifteh and Harun Yasin Tuna.

Mere Phantoms: Shadows Without Borders

June 18–August 14, 2022
Artists’ Talk: June 19, 2022 | 2pm

This summer, Surrey Art Gallery presents Mere Phantoms: Shadows Without Borders, a participatory installation from June 18 to August 14 that sheds light on human displacement, memories of home, and the refugee crisis.

Maya Ersan and Jaimie Robson of Mere Phantoms use shadow play to explore the relationship between memory and architecture, people and place. In 2018, the duo created Shadows Without Borders, a mobile interactive shadow installation that travelled to refugee camps, squats, and settlements in Athens and Istanbul. Building on previously established relationships, Mere Phantoms led paper cutting and shadow workshops and play sessions with children and families in these communities.

Ersan says, “The initial idea came from the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. Having grown up in Turkey and Cyprus, I was very familiar with the aftermath of such events. Jaimie and I wanted to do something that could make a difference in our own small way with our unique tool set, which was to bring shadow play to vulnerable and displaced families.”

Mere Phantoms, Shadows Without Borders, Athens, 2018. Photo by Leila Shifteh and Harun Yasin Tuna.

Some of the work created collectively during this journey is included in the exhibition along with the 3.5 x 3.5 metre shadow projection tent and custom-made flashlights. Also central to the exhibit will be a series of photographs from a night of shadow play at an Athens squat, as well as a seven-minute video documenting the workshops and shadow play sessions in Athens and Istanbul. Both the photographs and video were created in collaboration with filmmakers Leila Shifteh and Harun Yasin Tuna. For this latest edition of Shadows Without Borders at Surrey Art Gallery, the artists have made new paper-cut tableaus that will be exhibited for the first time.

During the exhibition, visitors are invited to engage with the artwork. People can add their own cut-outs to this ever-growing interactive installation and pick up a flashlight to animate the intricate paper tableaus imbued with stories from communities both near and far.

The artists will be giving a talk at the opening reception on Sunday, June 19 at 2pm. Admission is free but registration is required.

Jaimie Robson (left) and Maya Ersan (right). Photo by Mario Pierre.

About Mere Phantoms
Mere Phantoms is a partnership between artists Maya Ersan and Jaimie Robson. Since 2012, the Montreal-based duo has created fantastic worlds inspired by two classic art forms: the theatre of shadows and the art of paper cutting. The artists use as few tools as possible—such as simple drawing tools, knives and paper—so that light is the medium that makes their creations come alive. The result fascinates and captivates spectators the moderators of their own experience.

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Founded in 1975, Surrey Art Gallery presents contemporary art by local, national, and international artists, including digital and audio art. Recognized for its award-winning programs, Surrey Art Gallery aims to engage the public in an ongoing conversation about issues and ideas that affect our communities and to provide opportunities to interact with artists and the artistic process. The Gallery is located at 13750 88 Avenue in Surrey on the unceded territories of the Salish Peoples, including the q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie), q̓ʷɑ:n̓ƛ̓ən̓ (Kwantlen), and Semiahma (Semiahmoo) nations. Surrey Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the City of Surrey, Province of BC through BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and the Surrey Art Gallery Association.

Surrey Art Gallery
13750 88 Avenue
Surrey, BC V3W 3L1

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Charlene Back
Communications Coordinator