The Death of a Journey V

Zineb Sedira


Caught at a juncture where land meets sea along the North Atlantic coastline, a mammoth shipping vessel lies like a decaying monument. In 2003 the United Malika ran aground en route to a massive ship graveyard near Nouadhibou, Mauritania. One of the only places in the world where old vessels can be discarded without first being dismantled, the economic benefits for the local inhabitants that salvage anything of value leaves little incentive to discontinue this illegal practice. Documented by French Algerian artist Zineb Sedira, this hauntingly beautiful vessel stands as a tombstone for the skeletal remains of hundreds more abandoned ships that leak toxic chemicals into the land and sea as they corrode, resulting in an ecological catastrophe. Ironically, the rusted metal hulls have also become artificial reefs that have rejuvenated the local fishing industry.

As an extension of Sedira’s work in The Unfinished Conversation: Encoding/Decoding at The Power Plant until May 18, the mural echoes the exhibition’s curatorial intention to build “a visual vehicle that will ferry the audience across the choppy waters of memory, images, and politics to an undeterminable, obscure, and un-chartable destination, where people often meet with a fatal end.” Nouadhibou is a place marked by immigration, where people travel from across Sub-Saharan Africa in hope of boarding a boat to the Canary Islands. Others arrive at this coast from Europe, often after being rejected by society or the sea. The Death of a Journey V (2008) draws attention to the politics of migration against the backdrop of Toronto’s serene lakefront—a privileged place of tourism and recreation—and opens a dialogue about the geographical and environmental issues that collide at the water’s edge.

Presented in partnership with The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery