Banff Centre Announces New Exhibition at Walter Phillips Gallery: Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?

Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser, Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?, production still, 2020.

Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser, Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?, production still, 2020.

Banff Centre is excited to announce the opening of a new exhibition at Walter Phillips Gallery entitled Piña, Why is the Sky Blue? The exhibition will be on display until July 30th, and features video, virtual reality and 3D printing, and combines elements of science fiction storytelling with documentary content. The artwork centres on an omniscient artificial intelligence named Piña, a fictitious digital repository that has gained consciousness through machine learning.

“The Walter Phillips Gallery is thrilled to be presenting an exciting collaborative exhibition by international artists Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser. It’s a timely project to feature at the Gallery because the exhibition deals with themes of artificial intelligence and the potential that technology affords to imagine a hopeful decolonial future. The artists focus on matrilineal knowledge systems and the responsibilities of women as knowledge keepers and stewards of ancestral cultural practices. It draws our attention to the globally relevant conversations that we’re having in Canada right now about decolonization, reconciliation, and Indigenous ways of being and knowing.”

Haema Sivanesan, Curator at the Walter Phillips Gallery.

Through Piña, viewers meet real-world healers and activists including members of the Ciber Amazonas, a community of Indigenous organizers comprising journalists, writers and broadcasters who use radio and other forms of technology to build community and circulate cultural information. Ultimately, Piña portends the capacity to re-narrate the violence of Spanish colonialism, and to resist ongoing narratives of cultural erasure. In this way, Piña is the sign of a hopeful de-colonial future.  

About the Artists:
Stephanie Comilang is an artist living and working between Toronto and Berlin. Her documentary-based works create narratives that look at how our understandings of mobility, capital and labour on a global scale are shaped by various cultural and social factors. Her work has been shown at Tate Modern, Hamburger Bahnhof, Tai Kwun Hong Kong, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Julia Stoschek Collection, and Haus der Kunst. She was awarded the prestigious Sobey Art Award in 2019.  

Simon Speiser is an artist who conjures fictional concepts that merge nature with technology. Placing a variety of media and disciplines in dialogue with one another—ranging from writing, sculpture, and printing to video and VR installations—Speiser’s work expands the possibilities between art and science fiction. He has exhibited at the Tate Modern London, Julia Stoschek Collection Berlin, Frankfurter Kunstverein, MMK Frankfurt, CAC Quito, Oracle Berlin, and MMCA Seoul, among others.  

About the Gallery:
Walter Phillips Gallery is exclusively committed to the production, presentation, collection and analysis of contemporary art and curatorial practice. For contemporary artists, particularly those engaged in alternative forms of practice, Walter Phillips Gallery remains an essential and principal site where art is presented to an audience for critical reception. To ensure a broad and balanced representation of the different areas of research at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Gallery displays and collects painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, photography, and new media-based works.