Movement Two: Ecology
January 9–April 23, 2023
Curated by Farah Yusuf
Part two of This Unfathomable Weight, a three-part exhibition on UTM campus lightboxes and public billboards
When every basic system–environmental, political, economic and social–is in crisis and facing collapse, the media can be overwhelming. The sheer glut of information and misinformation circulating from trusted sources and deniers alike create an endless cycle of current events too heavy to dwell on, too extensive to fully comprehend. How do we, on a human scale, contend with all of this news?
In an effort to rouse the public out of resignation and passive acceptance of the state of the planet, Christina Battle’s series how to make sense out of the nonsensical compels viewers to pay attention to the ways our ecology is intertwined with systems of power, exchange, and extraction. Each image contains recent news headlines that focus on climate change, and also address topics like the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, conspiracy, and social uprisings. Like relics of catastrophe, the headlines are surface-level fragments and sound bites of an entangled, complex web of events and actions that have led to dire consequences.
Across the series, Battle offers prompts that seed the impulse to regain a sense of agency against fatalistic attitudes: “FOLLOW THE THREADS OF THE NETWORK,” “ATTUNE TO HOW INFORMATION TRAVELS,” “CONSIDER WHO YOU ARE IN RELATION WITH,” “OUR RELATIONSHIP IS SYMBIOTIC.” With each statement, Battle cuts through the noise of the news with strategies of empathy and criticality that foster collective resilience and action. The analogies between the natural and more-than-human world, urge viewers to recognize social and ecological relationships. These statements are not intended to be a utopian antidote, but rather achievable and persistent empowerments.
This program of images forms part two of a three-part exhibition, This Unfathomable Weight, which animates outdoor lightboxes across the UTM campus and public billboards in Mississauga from September 2022 to August 2023.
Each part of This Unfathomable Weight features a fifth image on a public billboard in Mississauga. For part two, the public billboard appears on Lakeshore Road East, east of the intersection with Lakefront Promenade, on the south side facing west, January 9–February 5, 2023.
Visit the Blackwood website for the full curatorial statement, artist bio, documentation, and program details.
About This Unfathomable Weight
Three-part exhibition on UTM campus lightboxes and public billboards
September 6, 2022–August 27, 2023
Artists: Christina Battle, Erika DeFreitas, Jessica Thalmann
Curator: Farah Yusuf
Program Respondent: Maandeeq Mohamed
This Unfathomable Weight is a three-part lightbox and billboard project that grapples publicly with how we make sense of living through the massive crises of recent years. As we return “back to normal,” the effects of collective trauma, inflicted by the pandemic and cascade of socio-political upheavals will linger across society for a long time. How can we heal from widespread experiences of shock, anxiety, loss, and social upheaval?
Through an understanding of trauma as a psychic rupture, where meaning-making has been suspended, deferred, or displaced, the project carves out space for reparative gestures of making sense across personal, societal, and spiritual registers. In part one (Fall 2022), Jessica Thalmann reflects on a personal crisis of meaning through a series of images that document her time in the ICU as primary caregiver to her mother who suddenly became critically ill. In part two (Winter 2023), Christina Battle uses text-based imagery to attend to collective resilience against an overwhelming media ecology. In part three (Summer 2023), Erika DeFreitas looks to the miraculous as a way of contending with uncertainty through a daily ritual of attempting to capture the Virgin Mary (or what she refers to as the “divine feminine”) in photographs of the sun.
Curating this project has become an antidote to my own post-traumatic inertia and anxiety. The effects of trauma are often characterized by sustained disaffection, apathy, and persistent low-level state of shock. By meditating on Thalmann, Battle, and DeFreitas’s images of fragility, grief, quiet rage, and serene contemplation, this project provides a way to truly consider and dwell in the complexity of my emotions—to try to fathom the magnitude of this moment. As such, This Unfathomable Weight embraces the need to understand and give form to what overwhelms. Intended as a series of public gestures, this exhibition invites a wider audience to collectively process together.
For the full curatorial statement, please visit the Blackwood website.
Across This Unfathomable Weight, writer Maandeeq Mohamed will facilitate a series of programs in response to the exhibition.
The Blackwood gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the University of Toronto Mississauga, and the City of Mississauga. Proudly sponsored by the University of Toronto Affinity Partners: Manulife and TD Insurance. Discover the benefits of affinity products!
University of Toronto Mississauga
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Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6
Please note: This Unfathomable Weight is FREE and open to the public, and accessible 24 hours a day in four outdoor lightboxes across UTM campus and on a public billboard in Mississauga. Some movement throughout the campus is required—ramps and curb cuts are in place.
Please respect social distancing protocols while on campus.
Image descriptions: (1) Large white text reading, “HOW TO MAKE SENSE OUT OF THE NONSENSICAL,” is centered above tree trunks with roots on a bright purple ground. (2) Large white text reading, “ATTUNE TO HOW INFORMATION TRAVELS,” is centered above tree trunks with roots on a bright blue ground. In both images, a fog-like cluster of tightly spaced and overlapping grey words fills the sky.