The Life Cycle of Celestial Objects Pts. 1 & 2

Bettina Forget, Rogue 45 (still), 2022. AI generated video. Image courtesy of the artist.

The Life Cycle of Celestial Objects
Pts. 1 & 2

September 21 – December 9, 2023
McIntosh Gallery, London ON

Shuvinai Ashoona, BUSH Gallery (Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Peter Morin, Tania Willard), Bettina Forget, Nurielle Stern and Nancy Jo Cullen, Janet Jones, Jesse Tungilik, Brandon Vickerd, Luca Cherpillod, Michael Miroshnik, Grace Grothaus, Kieran Maraj, York University Nanosatellite Lab (led by Regina Lee)

Curated by Helen Gregory and Joel Ong

The new space age and the accompanying technologies for interstellar exploration have brought to life the furthest reaches of the cosmos, fueling visions of future terraforming and celestial elevation. Space is now increasingly seen as the foreground of curiosity-driven research – the boundaries of which are continually expanding with the onset of ever more powerful telescopes and image reading machines that catalogue and identify new findings. The intensive foraging through the firmament promises new and profound revelations about ourselves and the universes around us. In this never-ending kinematization of the skies, the passage of light in the darkness, the convolving of myth and technology, the omnipotence of future discovery, and our freedom of ambition, have we ourselves become celestial objects? The Life Cycle of Celestial Objects Pts. 1 & 2 takes the form of an exhibition in two parts that considers the legacy of space exploration through the humanity of researchers across various disciplines. Recognizing that access to space is a non-uniform endeavor, the exhibition considers the role that marginalized groups play in its implementation – including Indigenous, racialized, gendered, and what (or who) western science considers the amateur.

Joel Ong’s interdisciplinary collaborations with the York University Nanosatellite Lab, led by Regina Lee, focus on the material artefacts and social engagement of satellites and satellite engineers engaged in the burgeoning field of Space Situational Awareness and RSO (resident space object) observation/recognition. McIntosh Gallery Curator Helen Gregory responds to related research by asking broader philosophical questions about who has access to such knowledge required to engage in space exploration that historically has been dominated by white men. Attempting to reach what Gregory Cajete calls a “participatory consciousness to the conception of the heavens”1, the exhibition focuses on artistic practices, community science, citizen engagement, and education, complicating the notion of wonder as an unbiased ideology for space exploration. Through multi-media artworks, scientific models, interactive projects, and a broader series of science engagement events, the exhibition locates decentered, diverse narratives of space exploration that propose forms of collaborative exploration in cosmic futurities. In this unprecedented time of access and democratization of tools, we consider a reframing of space not as a ‘new frontier’ for appropriation and extraction, but as a critical site for considering how we can collectively participate in pioneering explorations in the skies above us.

1. Cajete, G. (1999). Native science: natural laws of interdependence. Santa Fe, NM, Clear Light Publishers. P 216.

Shuvinai Ashoona, Earth Transformations, 2012. Coloured pencil and Conté on black paper, 123 x 124.5 cm. Collection of Martha Burns and Paul Gross. Reproduced with the permission of Dorset Fine Arts.

Related Programming:

Artist Talk: Brandon Vickerd
Thursday, September 21 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. | Rm. TBA
Presented in partnership with the Department of Visual Arts’ Art Now! Speakers’ Series
Registration required

Opening Reception
Thursday, September 21 from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. | McIntosh Gallery

Panel Discussion: Decolonizing Space
Thursday, September 28 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. | Zoom
Featuring Bettina Forget, Peter Morin and Tania Willard, Joel Ong, Jesse Tungilik, and Camille Turner.
Presented in partnership with the Department of Visual Arts’ Art Now! Speakers’ Series
Registration required

McIntosh Gallery
1151 Richmond Street N.
London, ON, N6A 3K7
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