This art installation is taking on the Trans Mountain pipeline project


An artistic response to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project is evolving at the SFU Gallery on Burnaby Mountain.

Charlene Vickers’ new installation, Speaking with Hands and Territories, is underway at the gallery until Dec. 6.

A new art installation at SFU Gallery is drawing a connection to the Watch House at the Burnaby Mountain pipeline protest site. Photograph By NOW FILES

Vickers, who’s a Vancouver-based Anishinaabe artist, “builds on a response to the sociopolitical and environmental urgency around the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, drawing on a dialogue with the opposition on Burnaby Mountain,” explains a write-up about the installation.

As the write-up explains it, earth from the protest site on Burnaby Mountain is being brought to the gallery, and visitors are encouraged to consider their own relationship to the land – the unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish peoples – by forming the earth into a fist-sized sphere that will become part of a hearth-like structure. The hearth forms a connection to the sacred fire at the Watch House (Kwekwecnewtxw) on the protest site.

The installation is designed to continuously evolve as the public takes part in it and to help spark consideration of how we, as a society, can make a future for Indigenous lands, waterways and peoples. It’s all part of the gallery’s strategy to operate as a research centre for art and ideas “by activating the gallery as a site for collective acknowledgement and responsibility towards the land,” the exhibition description notes.

Intrigued? Stop by the gallery, Room 3004 (Level 3) in the Academic Quadrangle at 8888 University Dr.

There will also be a workshop at the gallery on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. led by Vickers and Roxanne Charles.