Back to calendar

Charles Campbell: An Ocean to Livity

Charles Campbell, Breath Cycle 2022, aluminum composite. Photo by artist
Charles Campbell, Breath Cycle 2022, aluminum composite. Photo by the artist.
Charles Campbell, Breath Cycle 2022, aluminum composite. Photo by artist
Charles Campbell, Breath Cycle 2022, aluminum composite. Photo by the artist.

Share Event

Rungh Cultural Society

Rungh is pleased to be a Media Partner for this Surrey Art Gallery exhibition.

Surrey Art Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition Charles Campbell: An Ocean to Livity opening on Saturday, April 15 at the spring reception. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with Charles Campbell in conversation with Phanuel Antui, Associate Professor at University of British Columbia and Canada Research Chair in Black Arts and Epistemologies. Admission is free.

From the intimacy of a quiet inhalation to the distance between continents, Charles Campbell: An Ocean to Livity brings together large-scale metal and mixed media sculptures along with immersive and participatory multichannel audio installations. Tapping into the fecundity of the Black diasporic imagination, Campbell reconstructs and reinvents lost connections, lamenting the violent disruptions of the past while constructing a home for Black communities’ strength of being.

Central to the exhibition is Black Breath Archive, an installation of breath recordings from Surrey and other Lower Mainland residents. Campbell strips away racial hierarchies and holds up Black breath as its own force—a carrier of ancestry and experience, a creator of community and something that, even in its most subtle presentation, changes the way we think, feel, and live.

Other artworks that address breath and breathing are the series Black Breath Archive Portraits, Maroonscape 3: Finding Accompong, and Breath Cycle. Campbell’s Black Breath Archive Portraits translate the transient idiosyncrasies of breath into a glowing configuration of light boxes. The five-metre tall Maroonscape 3: Finding Accompong derives its shape from the bronchial structure of a human lung as well as the forked shapes of slave yokes (forked wooden sticks used to tie captives together in a line). Breath Cycle gestures towards a deeper past, connecting the oxygen we breathe to its production in symbiotic, multispecies communities of ancient lichen. Both these latter works nod to fractal geometry and binary counting systems that originated in Africa.

These works are inspired, in part, by sites and histories of Jamaican anticolonial resistance and slave rebellion. Similarly pointing to the pasts and potential futures is a sprawling set of sculptures Ghost Islands/Mid-Atlantic Refugia that surfaces the Atlantic Ocean’s deep-sea topography to make islands of refuge for the souls lost in the Middle Passage. “Livity” is a Rastafarian word that can either mean way of life or the life force present in every living thing. The artworks in An Ocean to Livity evoke a sense of journey, worldly interconnectedness, and communal struggle against the injustices of times past and present, geographies far and near.

The spring opening reception will also celebrate Masi Medicine: Joyful Nourishment, a fusion of dance, poetry, and movement, Art by Surrey Secondary Students: Connected, a showcase of new works by talented young artists throughout the Surrey School district, and Cindy Mochizuki: Autumn Strawberry, a video installation of a Japanese Canadian dance and art performance.

On Saturday, May 13 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Charles Campbell will lead an exhibition tour that delves into the ideas, histories, and experiences that led to this exhibition of new and recent works.

Rungh is a Media Partner and The Black Arts Centre is a Community Partner for Charles Campbell: An Ocean to Livity.

About the Artist

Charles Campbell is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and curator who lives and works on lək̓ʷəŋən territory, Victoria, BC. His artworks have been exhibited widely in Canada and internationally and include sculptures, paintings, sonic installations, and performances. Campbell is the recipient of the 2022 VIVA Award from the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation and the 2020 City of Victoria Creative Builder Award. He holds an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmith College and a BFA from Concordia University.

About Surrey Art Gallery

Founded in 1975, Surrey Art Gallery presents contemporary art by local, national, and international artists, including digital and audio art. Recognized for its award-winning programs, the Gallery engages children through to adults in ongoing conversations that affect our lives and provides opportunities to interact with artists and the artistic process. The Gallery is located at 13750 88 Avenue in Surrey on the unceded territories of the Salish Peoples, including the q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie), q̓ʷɑ:n̓ƛ̓ən̓ (Kwantlen), and Semiahma (Semiahmoo) nations. Surrey Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges operating funding from the City of Surrey, Province of BC through BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and the Surrey Art Gallery Association.