Life Stories

Life Stories: Events

Jennifer Baichwal, Canadian Filmmaker

Public webinar: “Representing the Anthropocene: Challenges & Adventures” Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Discover the life story of the planet 

Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal was joined by local writer, filmmaker and TV producer Barbara Todd Hager for this lively Orion Series discussion, part of the public programming for the Life Stories exhibition.

Jennifer Baichwal highlighted the “life story” of our planet, and how its life stages shape the life stories of human and non-human species. A link to her award-winning, feature-length documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch was available to registered webinar guests for a limited time before and after the discussion.

A life in film  

Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for 25 years. Among other films, installations and lens-based projects, she has made 10 feature documentaries which have played all over the world and won multiple awards nationally and internationally. Her current project is a feature documentary on global insect collapse.

Her most recent undertaking is The Anthropocene Project, an acclaimed collaboration with director Nicholas de Pencier and artist-photographer Edward Burtynsky. It includes a major touring exhibition—which debuted simultaneously at the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada and is currently travelling around the world—as well as the award-winning feature documentary film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch. 

Connie Michele Morey - Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices is a performance with sculpture developed in collaboration with the exhibition Life Stories. The work attends to the abundant life stories that are present in marginalized spaces that are often considered inactive, uninhabited, abandoned or empty; spaces where graffitied voices proliferate and pioneer species flourish in the absence of anthropocentric systems of management and control.

Hearing Voices consists of a village of stacked lean-to buildings constructed out of photographs of “abandoned” places. This assembled neighbourhood is intended to be worn on the back of the artist and performed with. Performances will involve the simple acts of carrying and walking to metaphorically activate references to spaces that are often thought of as inactive, insentient and uninhabited.

Through the process of making and performing with the work, I am exploring what it means to hear the voices of those who inhabit spaces that are deemed vacant.

Over the last 18 months, I have been travelling to and documenting ‘abandoned’ village and industry sites on the east and west coasts of Canada. While visiting these sites, I have been questioning the ecologically erroneous, colonial notion of terra nullius (an empty land). In each place visited, where anthropocentric systems of management are absent, life exists and thrives.

There is a life force that inhabits the overgrowth of graffiti, the active decay of buildings returning to the land, and the sentient presence of pioneer species restoring life. In her talk “The Honorable Harvest”, Anishinaabe biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer notes that we are part of a system that grants “personhood to corporations but not to plants”. I would add that we often diminish the personhood of all marginalized groups, those marginalized by class, gender, sexuality, race and nature-culture. It’s not surprising that in abandoned spaces, marginalized groups often proliferate and give voice. Robin Wall Kimmerer also notes that listening is an attentive process and that we can listen in different ways, pragmatically and intuitively, by looking around and paying attention to diverse ways of speaking and diverse voices.

[text courtesy Connie Michele Morey, Artist]

Artist Talk with Connie Morey

Watch the event recording (~1 hour)

Wednesday, March 17 | 7-8 pm
Online via Zoom

Victoria-based artist Connie Morey (UVic MEd ’07, Phd ‘17) joined Gillian Booth, Legacy Art Galleries' Curator of Academic and Community Programs, and Life Stories Curator Dr. Erin Campbell for a discussion about her performance work Hearing Voices and her broader practice as an artist and educator.

Tessa Writing

Myfanwy Pavelic, Tessa Writing, 1954Gift of Dr. Myfanwy Spencer Pavelic. 

Writing from Life Stories

A workshop with Carla Funk

Saturday, March 6 | 1-4pm (online via Zoom)

In this three hour online workshop, writers drew inspiration from the Life Stories exhibition and how the various stages and rituals of life can be accessed through visual and material culture.

Participants engaged with a series of guided prompts and literary experiments designed as a tour and a treasure hunt through both the exhibition and their own personal gallery of memory and experience. All literary genres and levels of experience were welcome.

As part of the workshop, writers had the opportunity to have their work included as part of the interactive Life Stories journal.

Other Life Stories Events

  • Life Stories Curator Tour and Interview (UVic Alumni Association Event). Wednesday, January 27, 2021, 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. Online via Zoom.
  • Dr. Erin Campbell interviewed on North by Northwest with Sheryl McKay, March 6, 2021 on CBC Radio 1.

Acknowledgments: Gillian Booth, Curator of Academic and Community Programs, Legacy Art Galleries