Unprecedented gathering of art marks Komagata Maru centenary

Ruptures in Arrival: Art in the Wake of the Komagata Maru: April 12 to June 15
Opening reception: April 12, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Artist’s Talk with Ali Kazimi: April 12, 6:30 p.m.

Komagata Maru
Raghavendra Rao’s Visions of the living past. Image courtesy of the artist.
MARKING the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru episode, Surrey Art Gallery’s group exhibition Ruptures in Arrival: Art in the Wake of the Komagata Maru brings together for the first time a cross-section of visual art related to this history, and presents these works alongside art that addresses more recent histories of mass migration from Asia to Canada’s West Coast. Ten artists from Canada and India contribute works – in a wide range of media including painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, 3D film, and installation art – that explore history’s relationship to memory, mass media’s affects on personal experience, the creative use of fact and fiction, and the visual narratives of transpacific mass migration. Over the course of the exhibition, events such as artist’s talks, film screenings, tours, Family Day, and a symposium make for a deeper connection to the artworks and the ideas behind them. Ruptures in Arrival: Art in the Wake of the Komagata Maru is on exhibit at the Surrey Art Gallery from April 12 to June 15. Admission to this exhibition is by donation.

The Komagata Maru was a Japanese steamship that sailed to Vancouver in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, India. Only 23 passengers were allowed to land, and following two months of detention in Vancouver’s harbour the ship was forced to return to India. The Komagata Maru episode has come to reflect a troubling moment in Canadian history when the federal government’s discriminatory immigration policies coincided with widespread racism among mainstream Canadian society. The episode had tragic consequences for many individuals. It has become an important locus for conversations on Canadian history, identity, and citizenship. The Ruptures in Arrival: Art in the Wake of the Komagata Maru exhibition reveals the frequently overlooked contribution to these conversations from contemporary Canadian visual artists.

Ruptures in Arrival: Art in the Wake of the Komagata Maru features a diverse set of imagery in a variety of media by artists Roy Arden, Avantika Bawa, Ali Kazimi, Evan Lee, Ken Lum, Mass Arrival (Farrah Miranda, Graciela Flores, Tings Chak, Vino Shanmuganathan, Nadia Saad), Raghavendra Rao, Haris Sheikh, Jarnail Singh, and Paul Wong. Portland-based artist Avantika Bawa uses large-scale drawing and sculptural installation to reinterpret the original route of the Komagata Maru and its passengers’ journey from Asia to Canada and back again.

Toronto filmmaker and new media artist Ali Kazimi has created a new immersive 3D film installation that presents a series of vignettes about everyday life for South Asian Canadians on shore during the time of the Komagata Maru’s detention in Vancouver’s harbour. Surrey-based artist Jarnail Singh will present the newest and largest in a series of paintings he has been working on about the Komagata Maru episode. Evan Lee, a Vancouver-based artist, has created a new set of inkjet prints using 3D digital modelling based on press photography from the arrival of two boats to Canada’s West Coast: the MV Ocean Lady from Sri Lanka in 2009, and the MV Sun Sea from China’s Fujian province in 1999.

Ruptures in Arrival: Art in the Wake of the Komagata Maru is presented in partnership with Komagata Maru 1914 – 2014, a collaboration between eight organizations across Metro Vancouver that are presenting events and exhibitions related to the living legacies of the Komagata Maru episode. www.komagatamaru100.com

Also on exhibit is BogScape, a sound art installation inspired by Burns Bog by Surrey-based media artist Matt Smith. BogScape is part of Open Sound 2014: Sonorous Kingdom, an exhibition about sound and vegetation.

Exhibition launch with artist’s talk and opening reception:

Ruptures in Arrival: Art in the Wake of the Komagata Maru launches on April 12 with an artist’s talk at 6:30 p.m., followed by an opening reception from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. (formal remarks at 7:45 p.m.). Toronto-based artist Ali Kazimi will give an illustrated talk about his art practice, major works, and the context for his work on display in the exhibition. There is another event taking place on this evening, so visitors are encouraged to arrive early in order to find parking. Admission to the opening reception and artist’s talk is free (donations are gratefully received).

Exhibition tours:
Thursday, April 24, 7-8:30 p.m.

Be part of an informal tour of the exhibition led by Jordan Strom, curator, Surrey Art Gallery, and hear interesting stories about the artworks and artists. After the tour, stay for refreshments and conversation.
By donation; Surrey Art Gallery Association members free.

Location: Surrey Art Gallery
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Surrey Art Gallery is located at 13750 – 88 Avenue, Surrey. Phone: 604-501-5566. www.surrey.ca/artgallery

Closed Mondays and holidays. Surrey Art Gallery will be closed April 18 through 21.