Arrivals and Departures spans the three exhibition spaces at YYZ Artists’ Outlet.  It is organized by Heather Nicol, an interdisciplinary artist whose practice involves working with people in a variety of ways. This project is a hybridization of her roles as an installation and sound artist, and a curator. She has invited six other artists to participate in an experiment wherein her sounds and sculptural elements create layers of connective tissue with new works they have created for the show. It is an opportunity for both artists and our audiences to contemplate boundaries, creative authorship, and exchange.

The artists in Arrivals and Departures examine transitional moments, from falling asleep to crossing the globe. Cycles of dislocation and relocation are ever-present, like the tides. Starting at birth, each day is a flow of movements and discoveries, entrances and exits. The moments of a lifetime can be understood as ever evolving arrivals. Yet each new instance can likewise be situated as a departure, right up until our unknowable final exit.

YYZ’s Window Space serves as a portal to the exhibition, featuring an image first made, and presently re-worked, by Simone Haeckel (Berlin). Circus animals are seen marching through Alexander Platz, Berlin shortly after the fall of the Wall. It is a potent evocation of events past, present and future.

The South Gallery, Arrivals, features work of four video artists from international creative-hub cities: Syrian newcomer Feras Azzam (Toronto), Janet Biggs (New York), Gerardo Montiel Klint (Mexico) and Sigrun Drapatz (Berlin). Working separately, each has taken up Nicol’s curatorial prompt: to explore the theme of arrival in the form of a video that responds to original music by the acclaimed piano artist Eve Egoyan.

Egoyan’s composition for augmented piano was performed and recorded in her Toronto studio. She contemplates her relationship with her Armenian heritage, her childhood in British Columbia, and the intergenerational legacies of her family’s escape from genocide. Nicol and the video artists have responded with still and moving images, animation, sculpture, AI, as well as additional sounds. Gamely, the video artists have inverted the typical creation relationship between moving images and sound; here, the audio is the first layer followed by the images. A baby grand piano has been subjected to Nicol’s sculptural gesture of being turned upside down. Its heft may serve as a reminder of the strains and losses of moving, while the music it emanates, a sign of perseverance.

The visual artists contributed additional sounds that Nicol augmented and mixed into a final audio score. Linked by the proximity of the projections and the sharing of sound, the artists are participating in a conversation about exchange and disruption, shifting the focus from mine to ours.

The North Gallery, Departures, is Heather Nicol’s multichannel audio zone that features songs sung to lull children to sleep, or songs sung at bedside or graveside for easing the passage from this world. Her immersive listening and resting zone welcomes, rather than wishes away, sonic overlaps with Paths. Over many years, Nicol has recorded songs selected from the personal histories of friends and family, performers, fellow artists, as well as refugee and immigrant youth and newcomer mothers. Through the overlapping and intersecting of such diverse voices and traditions, Departures invites critical questions about cross-cultural encounters in an age of globalization; notions of nationhood, migration and borders from the perspective of the Global South; and the roles of family traditions and caregivers.