Curatorial Vision

What Water Knows, The Land Remembers

What Water Knows, The Land Remembers draws from polyphonic histories sedimented in and around Toronto, revealing entangled narratives and ecologies across time and space. This second edition of a two-part biennial extends and deepens concepts of relationality, envisioning an expansive form of kinship—between curators, with artists and collaborators, and with the human and more-than-human. Exhibition and programming sites for the 2022 Biennial move inland from the shoreline, following the tributaries, above ground and hidden, which shape this place. Biennial sites are grouped in relation to these seen and buried waterways, and follow the trajectories of Etobicoke Creek, the Laurentian Channel, Garrison Creek, and Taddle Creek.

As a Biennial situated alongside the Great Lakes, the world’s largest fresh water system, we foreground water to attune ourselves to its ecologies, its adaptations, its sense of time, its cycles. The earth neither gains nor relinquishes the water it harbours, and the water that composes and sustains human and more-than-human bodies and environments carries with it at least 3.9 billion years of history. It is an archive as is the land. Over long expanses of time, the bottom-most layers of earth move slowly upward, continually revealing its past to us.

Alongside land and the water as our relations, framing and guiding our collaborations, is a lexicon—a shared vocabulary including terms like ancestor, conspiracy, and inheritance—that grounds our collective thinking and processes of exhibition-making. This vocabulary is a scaffolding that holds resonant ideas and offers a way to follow threads that are both knotted and braided together over time. The terms are woven through the Biennial exhibition and programming.

The Biennial’s inaugural Curatorial Fellows, Chiedza Pasipanodya and Sebastian De Line, present projects across the exhibition and programming sites, and are a constitutive part of What Water Knows, The Land Remembers.

– Candice Hopkins, Katie Lawson and Tairone Bastien

Curatorial Introduction Audio (shortened version):

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