Videos courtesy of the Ottawa Art Gallery

Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art is pleased to present:

For those who Chose the Sea

A solo exhibition by Stanley Wany

Curated by Catherine Sinclair

October 7, 2022 – January 21, 2023

The gathering of titanium souls
Standing placidly in the sand
At the bottom of the ocean
To which they ran
A safe haven only they could see.

— Ashley Parks, excerpt from In Memory of Those Who Chose the Sea, 2021

From the 16th- to the 19th-centuries, the transatlantic slave trade was an enforced and horrific voyage for millions of human beings. African peoples were shackled in the lower decks of ships, and transported like cargo by European slavers to the Americas. The effects of trauma as a result of enslavement extend through the generations, and have since become rooted in the collective psyche of descendants of the African diaspora.

Quebec-based artist Stanley Wany engages with the legacy of enslavement which permeates his identity. For those who Chose the Sea traces connections between conditions aboard slave ships and the effects of social stratification on the living relatives of the African women and men who were taken.

Wany’s multimedia installation combines immersive video footage of the Atlantic Ocean, a sculpture alluding to the confining spaces in which human beings were stored below decks on slaving ships, and mixed-media works on paper alluding to lost identities, histories, and ancestors through dreamlike washes of black and white tones in which figures emerge and recede

A disproportionate number of African-diasporic community members live in high-rise housing projects, stacked in apartments one on top of the other, similar to the lower decks of slaving ships. By showing the correlation between these spatial and hierarchical systems, Wany provokes and supports a diversity of emotional, intellectual and physical reflections about diasporic conditions, and the residual effects of violence and harm.”

French translation

Click here to book your appointment to view the exhibition 

Multi-disciplinary artist Stanley Wany (1970) lives and works in Montreal, where he is pursuing a Masters in Fine and Media Arts at UQAM. His practice includes large-scale drawing, illustration, painting, installation, and experimental graphic novels. His works reflect on representation, identity, and creolisation in relation to the experience of afro-descendant persons in Western society, and have been presented and acquired in Canada, Australia, the United-States, Finland, France, and Portugal.

Catherine Sinclair is Deputy Director, Chief Curator at the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG). At the OAG since 2006, she has curated over forty-five exhibitions of work by Canadian and international artists. She has presented at the University Art Association Conference (UAAC) and the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Conference (CWAHI), and published in The Journal of Curatorial Studies (2018, co-author) and esse arts + opinions (2019). She has participated twice in the AAMC Foundation Engagement Program for International Curators (2017-19; and 2021-22).

English Editing: Sheila Singhal
French Translation: Marie-Camille Lalande
Design: Phillip Lizotte


We are on Treaty 1 Territory. Plug In ICA is located on the territories of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Plug In ICA extends our heartfelt gratitude to our generous donors, valued members, and dedicated volunteers. We acknowledge the sustaining support of our Director’s Circle. You all make a difference.

This exhibition was realized with the support of the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as the RBC Foundation’s support of the OAG’s Connect: Artist Mentorship Program.

The artist acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council, the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council. We could not operate without their continued financial investment and lobbying efforts.

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