Souvenir, Ed. 2, currently on display at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver.

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Chantal Gibson multi-media installation on display on Canada's east and west coasts

November 04, 2021
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By Clare Slipiec

A multi-media installation by Chantal Gibson, a university lecturer in the School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT), is currently on display on Canada’s west and east coasts. Souvenir is featured in the Museum of Anthropology’s Sankofa: African Routes, Canadian Roots exhibit.

The show, which runs from November 4 to March 27, 2021, examines some of the divergent—and often fragmented—paths of political mobilization and cultural assertion that African and Black people in the Diaspora have taken.

Souvenir features a collection of 2000 unique souvenir spoons from countries around the world hanging in rows and spray painted matte black, calling up a history of Black bodies displayed and displaced.

Souvenir, Ed. 2, currently on display at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver.

While the spoons look alike at first glance, their identities erased, the unique details, emblems and engravings on the handles and bowls emerge upon closer look, evoking a contrast between the individual identity and a shared experience of Blackness.

Originally developed for the Royal Ontario Museum, the art piece was displayed in the ground-breaking  Here We Are Here, Black Canadian Contemporary Art exhibit. The travelling exhibition was showcased at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2018 and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in 2019. Souvenir was featured in Gibson’s solo show “A Grammar of Loss” at the Open Space Victoria centre in early 2020.

This first edition of Souvenir is now part of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia's permanent collection and is displayed in the Tyranny exhibit, a collection of a diverse works that confront dominant narratives.

In 2021, Gibson collected another 2000 spoons and created a second edition for MOA’s Sankofa exhibit.

"I like that Souvenir is 'bookending' the country, disrupting and challenging the colonial histories and the historically white spaces they are located in," says Gibson of the two editions of Souvenir on display. "I'm grateful to be HERE, part of a larger national conversation, showing alongside distinguished and emerging Black and BIPOC artists."

Souvenir Ed. 1 currently at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Photo: Steve Farmer of RAW Photography.

Gibson, who teaches writing and visual communication at SIAT, is also an award-winning author and teacher. Her debut poetry collection How She Read (Caitlin Press, 2019) was recognized with the 2020 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize at the BC Yukon Book Awards, and the 2020 Pat Lowther Memorial Award, given to Canadian women writers in recognition of their impactful work, and was shortlisted for the prestigious Griffin Poetry. She a recipient of the 2021 3M National Teaching Fellowship.

Gibson recently published with/holding (Caitlin Press, 2021), a new poetry collection where she examines the representation and reproduction of Blackness across communication media and popular culture.

For more on Gibson's artwork see: chantalgibson.com

Find out more about Sankofa and get tickets to the exhibit at: moa.ubc.ca
To see a virtual tour of the Tyranny including Souvenir visit: artgalleryofnovascotia.ca