Water, Photography and PANAMANIA

By Samantha Rodin, Visual Arts Editor, LaVaLab, visualarts@lavalab.ca

 

Water. That massive, incomprehensible substance that is integral to our survival is one of the central themes to PANAMANIA, the 35 day arts and culture festival in the city of Toronto as part of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

 

One exhibit that completely encapsulates the power and importance of water is Requiem of Water, a large-scale photo installation at Brookfield Place by award-winning photographer Meaghan Ogilvie. The exhibition is intended to bring awareness to the importance of water and how it connects us all.

 

More than half our bodies are made up of water, we need to consume it to survive and it’s through lakes, rivers and oceans that all land and people are connected. There is a sort of magic in thinking about waterways as pathways to everywhere. In a world of differences, it’s something we all have in common. Water is also simultaneously beautiful and dangerous –it’s a substance to be revered for it’s physical and metaphorical properties. This is perhaps why so many artists, such as Ogilvie, are drawn to immersing themselves in work in and about water.

 

"Requiem of Water is an act of remembrance to the spirit of water that has been forgotten. Water is our life-sustaining gift, connecting all living things - without it, there is no life. Contrary to our past, today's developed technological society has become indifferent to this source of life. The world's natural inheritance of rivers, seas and oceans has been exploited, abused and contaminated. These narrative images embody our relationship and journey back towards honouring the waters. By exploring Indigenous culture and bodies of water around the world, Requiem of Water reveals the simple and profound truth that, “Water is Life”. The goal of the Requiem of Water exhibit is to heighten public awareness and encourage thoughtful responsibility towards our precious water sources and the role we all play in caring for them.” (1)

 

Ogilvie’s reference to Indigenous culture refers specifically to the Anishinaabe women’s responsibility to care for the water. “A series of internationally developed documents has supported Indigenous peoples’ calls for increased recognition of the importance of TK [Traditional Knowledge] in resolving environmental crises, including those involving water.” (2) Learning from Indigenous communities and teachers greatly informed the Ogilvie’s research and preparation for creating Requiem of Water.

 

Learn more about Requiem of Water at www.requiemofwater.com and PANAMANIA at www.toronto2015.org/panamania.

Image: Meaghan Ogilvie, Detail of Vessel 01. Tulum, Mexico

Requiem of Water: Underwater Photo and Video Exhibition was commissioned for the TORONTO 2015 arts and culture festival PANAMANIA, presented by CIBC.

(1)   Ogilvie, Meaghan: Requiem of Water Artist Statement, www.requiemofwater.com

(2)    McGregor, Deborah: Traditional Knowledge: Considerations for Protecting Water in Ontario, International Indigenous Policy Journal, 2012, http://bit.ly/1JIUYQC


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