Komogata Maru Featured in Future Memoria Exhibit at the Surrey Art Gallery

Toronto based Artist Harris Sheikh with his painting Komagata Maru is part of the Future Memoria at the Surry Art Gallery. Photo Imtiaz Popat

Surrey Art Gallery’s permanent collection exhibition Future Memoria opening on June 22 in Surrey British Columbia. The reception on July 6 features a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. with exhibiting artists Jim Adams, Miki Aurora, and jil p. weaving, moderated by Assistant Curator Rhys Edwards. The panel will be followed by an art performance from the PLOT community garden project and a musical performance by Miki Aurora. Admission is free.

Photo by Imtiaz

In Future Memoria, selections from the Gallery’s permanent collection, along with loaned artworks, embody both dystopian and utopian ideals and the concept of the future itself. They convey the role art plays in the future’s many imaginings. 

The exhibition traces the spectrum of futurity in all its tempting humours and horrors. Visitors will encounter lush fantasies of aesthetic splendour and abundance, as in the animations of Alex McLeod and Laura Lamb, as well as the spectres of nuclear apocalypse depicted by textile artist Barbara Todd or printmaker Doug Biden. Elsewhere, Daniel Jolliffe, Myfanwy MacLeod, and Vikky Alexander capture idealistic self-help programs, artificial landscapes, and the dominance of computational thinking and technological solutions. Sculptures, photographs, and drawings by Keith Langergraber, Heather Kai Smith, Sylvia Grace Borda, and Tsēmā Igharas focus on the challenges of utopian thinking in practice. Their artworks explore both the promise of a better life through the democratic nation-state and improved civic infrastructure and the hells of economic scarcity, racist social policies, ecological catastrophe, and social breakdown. The worlds of utopia and dystopia coexist, each a dark reflection of the other’s excesses. 

“Although many of the artworks address dark themes, my hope is that visitors do not leave in a state of despair,” says Assistant Curator Rhys Edwards. “Rather, the narratives on display in this exhibition convey the persistence with which we seek to imagine what a good life looks like, or a bad one. They speak to the perennial necessity of imagination as a force for change in the world.” 

Exhibiting artists in Future Memoria include Jim Adams, Vikky Alexander, Miki Aurora, Doug Biden, Sylvia Grace Borda, Marcus Bowcott, Judy Chartrand, FASTWURMS, Colette French, Tsēmā Igharas, Carole Itter, Daniel Jolliffe, Katherine Knight, Laura Lamb, Keith Langergraber, Gary Lee-Nova, Micah Lexier, Don and Cora Li-Leger, Alex McLeod, Myfanwy MacLeod, Carel Moiseiwitsch, Margaret Naylor, David Neel, Tom Nickson, David Ostrem, the PLOT community garden project, Haris Sheikh, Meera Margaret Singh, Heather Kai Smith, Jer Thorp, Barbara Todd, jil p. weaving, Anna Wong, and Robert Youds.  

There will be two events in connection to Future Memoria: a lecture and workshop about the PLOT community garden project on July 27 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and an exhibition tour co-led by Assistant Curator Rhys Edwards and Simon Fraser University professor Doctor Roxanne Panchasi on August 10 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.  

The July 6 Summer Opening event will also commemorate the closure of ARTS 2024, the annual open-juried art exhibition held in collaboration with the Arts Council of Surrey, where the People’s Choice Award will be announced.