The Memorialist: Keynote Address

FREE ADMISSION -- Limited Seating

The Memorialist: Keynote Address is a performance that accompanies the exhibition The Memorialist by D’Arcy Wilson. Departing from the lecture hall as a traditional site of knowledge exchange and academic research, Wilson employs the podium to deliver a lecture about the first public zoo in North America: Andrew Downs' Zoological Gardens. Yet, facts break down into storytelling, oscillating between truth and whimsy, while addressing Andrew Downs’ early ideals of wildlife conservation. The hour-long PowerPoint is comprised of imagery and new media created and collected by Wilson, that laments the colonial mistreatment of nature, presenting narratives of conflicting care and harm that fueled the artist’s research.

The performance will be followed by a reception in the Gallery, with a community welcome to Laura Ritchie, Director/Curator of MSVU Art Gallery. (8:00-9:30 PM)

Refreshments will be provided, as well as a cash bar. Free Admission.

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D'Arcy Wilson: The Memorialist

18 January to 14 April

Andrew Downs’ Zoological Gardens opened in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the edge of town in 1847. Stretching over one hundred acres in the area adjacent to what is now known as the Armdale Roundabout, for more than 20 years the Gardens housed regional and exotic animals in sprawling wooded enclosures. The proprietor, known to care deeply for the animals in his keep, was also a master taxidermist, supplying specimens to the world’s leading scientific institutions of the time. Downs’ Gardens was the first public zoo dedicated to the study of nature in North America, and yet, these gardens also signalled the broken bridge between colonial settlers and the natural world, becoming a “living museum” of wildlife in a patch of forest just off the Halifax Peninsula.

The Memorialist—a term with which Downs self-identified in his practice—departs from this story, following the undercurrents of colonialism that permeate Western Culture’s understanding of nature, while retracing the complex geography of care and harm that characterized nineteenth century efforts to collect and preserve natural specimens (and occasionally their habitat) under the context of an expanding dominion. In this installation of her ongoing research driven project, D’Arcy Wilson presents a combination of still photography, video projections, a 14-ft diorama, a selection of museum and archival objects, and performances that tease out the contradictions at play behind the preservationist impulse and the museological framing of the natural world.

ACCESSIBILITY: Dalhousie Art Gallery is wheelchair accessible by elevator through the main entrance, 6101 University Avenue. Although there is no parking on University Avenue, there is 3 hour, metered accessibility parking around the corner on Seymour Street. The second floor (above the gallery) has a gender-neutral, wheelchair accessible washroom with a change table.​



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