The Wisdom of RuinsJanuary 17, 2020 - January 26, 2020
Curated by Michelle Beck and Dana Snow
A co-presentation with Taboo Health, the Health Design Studio at OCADU, and DesignTO
Opening Friday, January 17th from 6–9 pm
Weaving together threads of an unsilenced grief through ceramics, photography, sculpture, audio, and found materials, The Wisdom of Ruins is an installation by Toronto-based artist HollyJo that bears witness to unconventional grief and rituals of mourning.
The medieval Sicilian city of Salemi—both the birthplace of the artist’s mother, and the site of a destructive 1968 earthquake—provides an alternative framework for considering grief. In the mid 1980s, architects Roberto Collova and Alvaro Siza began public interventions to attract residents and tourists to the area. Rather than following the Italian architectural tradition of d ov’era e com’era (reconstructing exact replicas of damaged buildings) the duo created structures that allowed for the previous damage of the earthquake to be expressed. Rubble was cleared away and new public spaces were adopted; the intact ruins remaining within them as quiet witnesses to trauma in the historical fabric of a place and a people. Using the ruins as a grounding element from which to explore her own experience of mourning her infant daughter, HollyJo presents a methodology of leaning into grief through the act of witnessing. The works delicately investigate the porosity of intergenerational grief, using Sicilian tradition juxtaposed with objects that acknowledge mourning as a process of entanglement between community and familial relations. Existing outside of traditional Western funerary practices, The Wisdom of Ruins offers a holistic approach from which to begin a process of bereavement and healing. Grieving motherhood, childhood, and inherited trauma, the works help to interpret the private space between repression and radical acknowledgement.
The Wisdom of Ruins is a part of the DesignTO festival, co-presented with Dying.exhibits; an exhibition series on end of life. Dying.exhibits invites participants to think about their relationship with life and death as a process; encouraging heart-level conversations about difficult, often taboo topics. Dying.exhibits is a collaboration between the Health Design Studio at OCAD University and Taboo Health.
About the Curator(s)
About the Artists
HollyJo is an interdisciplinary artist who holds a BFA from OCAD University in Sculpture and Installation, with a minor in Ceramic Arts. By leaning into the emotional atmosphere of memory, trauma, identity, and mourning, she explores themes of intimate vulnerabilities, bodily integrity, and time travel as a source of empathic healing and honouring experience. HollyJo finds solace in storytelling through object making and forging rituals that celebrate the wisdom of impermanence.Find out more