Barbara Zeigler’s upcoming exhibition, Journey’s Junction, at Fort Gallery is an installation of large photographic prints that tackle the plight of the Fraser River sockeye salmon and the river itself. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

New art exhibit: Fraser River as seen by the salmon

In Fort Langley gallery show, UBC prof uses photos to offer unique insight into life of sockeye

An installation of large photographic prints depicting the plight of the Fraser River sockeye goes up at Fort Gallery in Fort Langley at the end of this week.

In the gallery’s upcoming exhibition, Journey’s Junction, Vancouver artist Barbara Zeigler immerses the viewer in the drama of the salmon journey up the river to their spawning ground.

Starting Friday, Zeigler’s artwork will be available for viewing.

She is a UBC visual arts professor who has long been dedicated to exploring environmental issues through her work, explained gallery manager Margaret Campbell.

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And this installation features prints on the walls and floor that Zeigler hopes will connect human and non-human bodies by giving viewers a salmon-eye view of the river.

“Created over the course of a decade, these works take on a particular urgency in the midst of two consecutive years of the lowest ever sockeye salmon returns to the Fraser,” Campbell said.

“With the future of the Fraser sockeye uncertain, Zeigler’s work challenges us to question our ‘cultural paradigms, which prioritize particular bodies and environments over others’.”

The exhibit includes a panoramic print, Critical Mass, consisting of many photographs digitally stitched together, resulting in a crowd that overwhelms the banks of the Fraser River.

“Playing on the cultural trope of the hero appearing to save the day, the crowd of Critical Mass gazes into an empty sky, suggesting that there is no hero and the work of conservation is our own,” said Zeigler.

At this junction, as “the fates of the sockeye and the many species that depend on them hang in the balance,” the artist said she’s challenging viewers to take responsibility for the non-human lives with which they share the planet.

Zeigler’s exhibit concludes a six-month program undertaken by the Fort Gallery, exploring the social, cultural, and environmental significance of the Fraser River and the gallery’s location near its shores, Campbell said.

The exhibition runs Oct. 2 to Nov. 8, at the Fort Gallery, located at 9048 Glover Rd.

The gallery is open weekends: Fridays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In the meantime, an artist talk, along with an online panel discussion on the plight of the Fraser River sockeye will be held later in October – date and time to be announced.

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