This Drowning World – artist talk and panel discussion – May 25, 2014


This Drowning World: Questioning Who We Are and Where We Are Going

Panel Discussion with Leading Thinkers / Tour and Talk by photographer Gideon Mendel

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PATTISON Onestop in partnership with Cape Farewell, MaRS Discovery District and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival celebrate the first major Canadian exhibition of Drowning World with an open invitation to an onsite exhibition Tour and Talk by London-based, South African photographer, Gideon Mendel followed by a panel discussion, This Drowning World: Questioning Who We Are and Where We Are Going, with leading thinkers on Sunday May 25, 2014.

For a timely and crucially important discussion that addresses the fundamental questions of ‘who we are’ as a species, as humans, in relation to our place on this planet, please join Professor Dennis O’Hara, Director of the Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology, St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto; award-winning journalist, author and playwright Alanna Mitchell whose most recent book, Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis, claimed the Grantham Prize for environmental reporting; green entrepreneur Tom Rand, founder and Director of VCi Green Funds and Cleantech Lead Advisor at MaRS Discovery District; award-winning, social documentarian Gideon Mendel; and moderator Catherine Wright, PhD(c) Christian Ethics and Ecotheology, whose writings concentrate on ecotheology, contemporary ethics.

The onsite tour at Toronto’s Queen’s Park subway station led by photographer Gideon Mendel will begin at 1:00 p.m. followed by an artist talk by Mendel and a panel discussion, This Drowning World: Questioning Who We Are and Where We Are Going at 1:45 p.m. at MaRS, 101 College Street, CR-3.

Contacting Toronto 2014: Drowning World transforms Toronto’s Queen’s Park subway station into a unique exhibition space with over 40 of Mendel’s Drowning World photographs – portraits of people whose lives have been devastated by floods, images of submerged landscapes and personal spaces, as well as excerpts from hisWater videos which play non-stop on PATTISON Onestop digital screens.

Drowning World Tour, Artist Talk and This Drowning World Panel Discussion are FREE of CHARGE. Space is limited. Please insure a spot by confirming your attendance to the Artist Tour, Talk and Panel at Queen’s Park Station and MaRS

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Date – Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • Location – Toronto’s Queen’s Park subway station
    • 1:00 p.m. – Tour with photographer Gideon Mendel and curator Sharon Switzer
  • Location – MaRS, 101 College Street, Discovery District CR-3
    • 1:45 p.m. – Artist Talk by Gideon Mendel
    • 2:30 p.m. – Panel discussion: This Drowning World
    • 3:45 p.m. – Reception to follow, graciously provided by Mercatto, MaRS location

This Drowning World is a Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival event and part of PATTISON Onestop’s ongoing Art in Transit programme.

Participant Bios

Gideon Mendel (Photographer)

Gideon Mendel is known for his politically committed, intimate style of image making. Work from different phases of his 28-year career has been shown in major galleries and publications around the world.

Born in Johannesburg in 1959, he studied psychology and African history at the University of Cape Town. Following his studies he photographed change and conflict in South Africa in the lead-up to Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. In 1990 he moved to London, and shifted his focus to global social issues. He began photographing the impact of AIDS in Africa in 1993 and his groundbreaking work over twenty years on this subject has been widely recognized.

He has won six World Press Photo Awards, first prize in the American Pictures of the Year competition, a Canon Photo Essayist Award, the Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography and the Amnesty International Media Award for Photojournalism. He has worked for many of the world’s leading magazines—among them National Geographic, Fortune, Condé Nast Traveller, Geo, Guardian Weekend, L’Express and Stern.

His first monograph, A Broken Landscape: HIV & AIDS in Africa, was published in 2001. Since then he has produced a number of photographic projects with campaigning organisations such as The Global Fund, MSF, Treatment Action Campaign, The International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Action Aid, The Terrence Higgins Trust, Shelter, Leonard Cheshire Disability, UNICEF and Concern International.

He has established a global project about the impact of flooding on individual lives entitled Drowning World as a way of addressing climate change. Photographs and a video installation from this project were part of the ICP Triennial in New York where it was selected for the Picture Windows installation series in the 13 large windows of the institution on 43rdStreet. The work was featured as a public display in the Chobi Mela Festival in Bangladesh. There have been two solo exhibitions of the project in London at Somerset House in 2012 and recently at Tiwani Contemporary. Mendel’s Water, part of the Drowning World project, will screen as part of the inaugural exhibition at the Sackler International Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington D.C. in May 2014.

Dennis O’Hara  (Eco Theologian)

Prof. Dennis O’Hara began his career as a chiropractor and naturopathic doctor, both as a practitioner in private practice as well as an educator at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.  He has been a consultant and facilitator for the Natural Health Products Directorate of Health Canada, and was a co-investigator in a 5 year research project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to establish the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research.  He has drafted a description of the naturopathic profession for the World Health Organization.  In 1988, he began his theological studies, eventually completing master and doctoral degrees as well as a specialization in theology and ecology at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.  Since 2000, he has been an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College, and the Director of the Elliott Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology.  He is also an associate member of the graduate faculty at the Centre for Environment at the University of Toronto where he has co-taught courses on environment and health.  Since 2004, he has been a core faculty member of the certificate programme in Corporate Social Responsibility at the University of St. Michael’s College and is currently co-developing a course on corporate social responsibility for the United Nations that links the Millennium Development Goals with business, environmental and ethical concerns.

Dr. O’Hara regularly delivers popular and academic lectures in both Canada and the United States on health care, ethics, ecological spirituality, and ecological theology.

Alanna Mitchell  (Journalist/Author/Playwright)

Alanna Mitchell is an award-winning journalist who writes about science. She likes to focus on the big picture and on how the planet’s systems work. Her most recent full-length book is Sea Sick: The global ocean in crisis, which is an international best seller and won the U.S.-based Grantham Prize for environmental reporting. She has done research with scientists in the field on all seven continents and many parts of the global ocean. Antarctica was a particular highlight. She worked for 17 years in daily journalism, first at the Financial Post as a banking and real estate reporter and then at The Globe and Mail writing about social statistics, the West and earth sciences.

She’s been independent for 10 years and now makes freelance documentaries for CBC radio shows including The Current and Quirks & Quarks. She also does freelance science writing for many Canadian magazines and several publications in the U.S. She recently turned her book Sea Sick into a one-woman play, which she performed in Toronto and Montreal.

Tom Rand  (Cleantech Investor, Advisor, Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur)

Tom Rand is a global thought leader with a recognized record of extraordinary achievement in the promotion of a low carbon economy. A green entrepreneur, investor, advisor, public speaker, and author, Rand’s ambition is to help bring clean technology to life. Tom is: the Cleantech Lead Advisor at MaRS Discovery District; the founder and director of VCi Green Funds; Managing Director of MaRS Cleantech Fund I L.P.; a co-developer of Planet Traveler, the “greenest hotel in North America”; and the author of Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our World.

Tom started his career as a software renegade in high school. Then he went legit, and founded Voice Courier Inc. (VCi) in 1991 to service the emerging Interactive Voice Response market. Tom led its expansion to over 100 employees in three countries, with revenue in excess of $20 million US annually. The VCi Group of Companies was profitable for each of the 12 years it was under his control, and was sold in the spring of 2005.

Tom holds a BSc in electrical engineering from the University of Waterloo, a MSc in philosophy of science from the University of London / London School of Economics and an MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto. Tom is an Action Canada Fellow.

Tom speaks publicly about the issue because it is his belief that we have yet to have a serious, public conversation about the threat of climate change, and the economic opportunities afforded by the global transformation to a low-carbon economy.

Tom sits of the Board of the Cape Farewell Foundation.

Catherine Wright (B.Sc, B. Ed, M.Div, PhD(c) in Christian Ethics and Ecotheology)

Catherine Wright is a doctoral student at Regis College at the Toronto School of Theology and a participant in the Elliot Allen Institute for Theology and Ecology. Her writing concentrates on ecotheology, contemporary ethics, and spirituality and her thesis is entitled “In the Darkness Grows the Green: The Promise of a New Cosmological Horizon of Meaning within a Critical Inquiry of Suffering and the Cross.” Currently she is teaching interdisciplinary courses for the OECTA Religious Education Program specializing in Moral Theology, Sacraments and Prayer, and Eco-Spirituality and in the fall she will be joining the Religion and Philosophy department at Wingate University in North Carolina.

Sharon Switzer (Curator / Artist)

Sharon Switzer is the creator of Art in Transit and the National Arts Programmer and Curator for PATTISON Onestop, producing temporary public arts projects throughout the year on PATTISON media and networks including the Toronto Transit System, the Edmonton transit system, shopping malls across Canada, and digital billboards. Annual projects on the TTC include the Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF); the site-specific Contacting Toronto exhibition for CONTACT; DRIFT, an experimental video project for Nuit Blanche; and a range of unique projects throughout the year. Other arts projects Switzer has created for PATTISON include Dear City Canada, a national billboard project of tweeted urban love letters, and Poetry in Transit bringing 15 of Canada’s best poets to busses across Canada. Switzer is also a video artist who shows with Corkin Gallery and an active participant in the contemporary art community in Toronto.

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