Video still from Marianne Nicolson’s “The Way In Which It Was Given to Us,” new to Surrey’s UrbanScreen this fall.

Pictograph digital art lights up Surrey’s UrbanScreen this fall, starting Thursday

Artist Marianne Nicolson’s work speaks to the seizure of Indigenous lands

SURREY — As the autumn days grow darker earlier, it’s the best time of year to view Surrey’s UrbanScreen.

The large-scale digital art screen, on the west wall of Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre, clicks to life 30 minutes after sunset and shuts off at midnight.

New to UrbanScreen this fall is “The Way In Which It Was Given to Us,” an exhibit of animated images created by Marianne Nicolson.

The exhibit, which opens Thursday (Sept. 28) and runs until Jan. 7, references the pictograph “as a way of recording stories on the land,” and also speaks to the seizure of Indigenous lands.

The Victoria-based Nicolson is a linguist, anthropologist and visual artist of Scottish and Dzawada’enuxw First Nations descent. The Dzawada’enuxw people are a member tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations of the Pacific Northwest coast.

Nicolson has explored the pictograph in previous works, and some images are based on a real pictograph that exists at the mouth of the Kingcome River in coastal B.C., home of the Dzawada’enuxw people, and depicts original contact with trade ships in 1792.

“The artist’s UrbanScreen work is informed by this, as well as research into Kwantlen and Semiahmoo pictographs,” according to a post on the city’s website.

“Nicolson’s work celebrates the re-emergence of Indigenous peoples’ voices while articulating that there can be no true reconciliation between Indigenous and settler societies without an acknowledgment of Indigenous peoples’ displacement from their lands.”

• READ MORE: ‘Salmon People’ visuals swim at upgraded Surrey UrbanScreen, from October 2015

As part of the exhibit at UrbanScreen, Nicolson will be the guest speaker during a Thursday Artist Talk event at Surrey Art Gallery on Oct. 26, starting at 7 p.m. She will be joined in conversation by writer Siku Allooloo and fellow artist Roxanne Charles.

The Surrey Art Gallery-operated UrbanScreen, located at 13458 107A Ave., is billed as “Canada’s largest non-commercial outdoor urban screen dedicated to presenting digital and interactive art.” Previous exhibits there can be viewed at surreyurbanscreen.ca.

The exhibition of “The Way In Which It Was Given to Us” in Surrey is presented as part of New Forms Festival, which runs from Sept. 28 to 30 at venues in Metro Vancouver.

In the video posted below, Nicolson discusses her work in the exhibition “To refuse/To wait/To sleep” at the Walter C. Koerner Library and outside the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery:

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