March 26 – June 5, 2022

Nave (2022) is an immersive multimedia installation by Camille Turner that explores the entanglement of colonial Canada in the transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans through links between the nave of a church, the hold of the ship, the tomb, and the womb of the world. In this artwork, a time traveller from the future Age of Awakening— performed by the artist—visits a church in the Age of Silence, circa 2021,to perform a ritual connecting with ancestors of the past. An ancestor emerges from the sea and stands on the coast, dedicating song and dance of resistance and victory. A church is called forth, in and out of view, a constant reminder. Shipwrights were some of the first builders of towns on the eastern seaboard. Looking up into the nave of the church is like looking down into the hold of a ship.

In 2019, Camille participated in the Bonavista Biennial, an experience that allowed her to conduct research and engage with Atlantic Canada’s role in the construction of slave ships (of which there are records for nineteen constructed in Newfoundland). In early conversations around the commission for the Toronto Biennial in 2022, Camille spoke of the silence left behind by the mass deforestation of trees devoured through the eighteenth-century shipbuilding industry and the stories held by the ballast of these ships—stones from Newfoundland used to weigh the ships, unloaded on African shores, were then replaced with enslaved adults and children for the return trip. The oceans surrounding Newfoundland breathe, heaving heavily, echoing those who were taken.

Nave situates the viewer within the context of memory embodied by the ocean. Atmospheric sounds combine with sung and spoken fragments of song bringing together past and future narratives.

This work draws on strategies from Camille’s ongoing Afronautic Research Lab project, a futuristic reading room that straddles media, social practice, installation, and performance art, allowing participants to encounter silenced evidence of slavery and its ongoing legacies in Canada that began with trade between Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and the North Atlantic seaboard.

Commissioned by the Toronto Biennial of Art and made possible with the generous support of ArtworxTO, the City of Toronto, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Women Leading Initiative. Accommodations generously provided by The Drake Hotel.

Camille Turner is the recipient of the 2022 Artist Prize, awarded to recognize an artist’s outstanding contribution to the Biennial.

Audio Didactic:


Camille Turner (born in 1960, Kingston, Jamaica; lives in Los Angeles, USA) is an explorer of race, space, home and belonging. Her work combines Afrofuturism and historical research. Most recently, she has been unsilencing the entanglement of what is now Canada in transatlantic slavery. Her interventions, installations and public engagements have been presented throughout Canada and internationally. Camille graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design and York University’s Master in Environmental Studies program, both Toronto, where she is currently a Ph.D. candidate.

Camille Turner is the recipient of the 2022 Artist Prize, awarded to recognize an artist’s outstanding contribution to the Biennial.

Participated in the “Rabbit Hole: Pod Theory” Residency, 2020.

Exhibition Site

Small Arms Inspection Building

Inside view of Small Arms Inspection Building

1352 Lakeshore Road East
Mississauga ON
L5E 1E9