Helloland! Art, War and the Wireless Imagination

Display Date: 
January 23 to September 26, 2021
Level 3 Art Gallery

Featured artists:
Jackson 2bears + Janet Rogers, Alan Collier, Brian Groombridge, Maureen Gruben, Marc Losier, Qavavau Manumie, Margo Pfeiff, Christopher Pratt, Reginald Shepherd, Charles Stankievech, Michael Waterman and Andrew Wright

Curated by Darryn Doull and Melony Ward

There are few better places to tell a story about wireless communications and radio infrastructure than St. John’s, NL. Famously the site of Marconi’s first trans-Atlantic wireless communication on December 12, 1901, radio has long found a home here. Indeed, the story of radio in this place is one of community, survival, education, religion and confederation. It is a story that is indivisible from the social, political, economic and military developments of a small independent country, which became the tenth province in Canada.

Marconi’s early experiments ushered in an age of wireless technology that has changed human relationships and our relationships with the land. From Morse Code to commercial radio, to radar and mobile phones, wireless infrastructure has been employed in war and colonization from the beginning. It has been a conduit for anxiety as well as scientific and artistic exploration. Wireless imagination is so fundamental to contemporary life that it is easy to forget how these invisible radio waves continue to change the world. 

Helloland! brings together artifacts, archival documents, historical paintings and the work of contemporary artists. Each uniquely reflects upon the complicated legacies of wireless communication in Canada. Their diverse nodes of exploration include communal aspects of radio broadcast, sovereignty issues, economic self-determination, environmental stewardship and geographic militarization during the Cold War. 

Tune in to voices and sounds as they echo from the past, greet us in the present and carry their waves into the future.

Visit Helloland! Notes from the curator a blog by co-curators Darryn Doull and Melony Ward to learn more about this exhibition. 

Click below to listen to Marc Losier’s interviews with local community members, curators and researchers as part of his work How Deep is the Ocean? (Narratives of Loss), which explores the events of 2014 when nine blue whales died in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence after being trapped by ice pack. Visit in gallery to see this work and hear the real-time audio stream of the marine soundscape of Bonne Bay, NL, captured with a submerged hydrophone.

Mark Engstrom, January 29, 2021 
Senior Curator and Deputy Director of Collections & Research
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON

Richard Sears, February 4, 2021
President, Mingan Island Cetacean Study 
Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, QC

Bonnie and Morris Brake, February 11, 2021
Local Fish Harvesters
Trout River, NL

Jenny Parsons, February 13, 2021
Community Leader and owner of the Seaside Restaurant
Trout River, NL

Image: Charles Stankievech, The DEW Project (installation view), Confluence of Klondike + Yukon Rivers, Yukon Territory, Canada. 64o03’ N, 139o27’ W, 2009. Courtesy of the artist.