SOS: A Story of Survival, Part I - The Image

A hazy watercolour painting of a seated headless figure flanked by two relaxed tigers in a jewel-toned forest
October 8, 2022 to January 22, 2023

Pardiss Amerian, James Gardner, Paula McLean, Caroline Monnet, Thao Nguyen Phan, Cecilia Vicuña

Curated by Darryn Doull

What does it mean to survive?

Within a nation founded by colonialism, we find ourselves surrounded by survivals. In the midst of an ongoing pandemic, with increasing violence and war around the world, rampant global warming and staggering levels of inequality, survival is not only a philosophical question but a reality of daily life. 

SOS: A Story of Survival is a three-part exhibition exploring what survival is, what it looks like and what it means to survive. Working from a place of cultural history in the art museum, this series begins with Part I – The Image. Like Achille Mbembe’s archive, where he locates the “the struggle against the fragments of life being dispersed,” [1] the artists in this exhibition bring images and histories together to survive in new forms and contexts. As the past mingles with the present, meaningful views toward the future come into focus. This process reveals connections between humans, non-humans and the matter of the world. Traditions, narratives and intergenerational lineages of knowledge survive with a vibrant vitality.

Part II – The Body will occur in 2023 and Part III – The Planet will conclude the project in 2024. 


Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation logo for The Musagetes Fund



This exhibition is supported by The Musagetes Fund, held at Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, and the Allan MacKay Curatorial Fund.


[1] Mbembe Achille (2002) ‘The Power of the Archive and Its Limits’, in Carolyn Hamilton et al. eds., Refiguring the Archive. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Press. 19-26.

Image: Thao Nguyen Phan, Becoming Alluvium (still), 2019. Single-channel colour video. 16:50 mins. © Thao Nguyen Phan.