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Moving with Joy by Maureen Gruben
December 22, 2021 - February 21, 2022
The Bentway Skate Trail (250 Fort York Blvd)
Moving With Joy is an expansion of Maureen Gruben’s 2019 project Moving with joy across the ice while my face turns brown from the sun, which brought together fourteen hand-built sleds that were borrowed from local Inuvialuit families for a short-duration land art piece. Gruben’s installation for The Bentway Skate Trail features seven large-scale, richly coloured sculptural sleds. These display video footage and photographs captured spontaneously during time spent at her spring ice fishing camp in Husky Lakes, part of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Western Arctic.
A montage of personal impressions from daily life, the video element in particular functions very much like memory. In cyclical, fluctuating juxtapositions, white feathers from hand-plucked wild geese float and merge with slowly melting snow; a vivid red auger opens a fishing hole; a loaded sled lashed with orange straps speeds across the ice. Sleds are created to move people from one place to another. Here, they facilitate a different kind of geographic connection by superimposing images from Arctic life and environments onto downtown Toronto.
The presence of these sculptures under the Gardiner Expressway creates a parallel to the flow of traffic above; it also offers a counterpoint as sleds work intimately with the land and ice, and don’t require the industrial intervention of roads. The installation emphasizes that joy and beauty can also be powerful critical and motivating systems. It affirms that land can sustain us while remaining a diverse and stunning biosphere, and highlights the multiple potentials that exist for relationships between people, places, and ecologies.
*Image: Moving with joy across the ice while my face turns brown from the sun (2019). Archival inkjet on Epson Hot Press Bright; 120″ x 42.5″. Edition of 3
About Maureen Gruben
Inuvialuk artist Maureen Gruben employs an intimate materiality as she disassembles and re-combines disparate organic and industrial elements. Polar bear fur, beluga intestines, and seal skins encounter resins, metallic tape, and bubble wrap, forging critical links between life in the Western Arctic and global environmental and cultural concerns. Gruben was born and raised in Tuktoyaktuk where her parents were traditional knowledge keepers and founders of E. Gruben’s Transport. She holds a BFA from the University of Victoria and has exhibited regularly across Canada and internationally. She was longlisted for the 2019 Aesthetica Art Prize and the 2021 Sobey Art Prize, and her work is held in national and private collections.
Moving With Joy will be presented on The Bentway Skate Trail as part of The Bentway’s 2021/2022 Winter Season.