Introducing Bloody Boats, an art installation by Akshata Naik

January 23, 2023

'Bloody Boats’ is an art installation about deconstructing and dismantling the symbol of the traumatic journey that immigrants experience. This piece is as dynamic as an immigrant's journey. The journey of a settler is not only a physical transition, but also a cognitive and social transition that revolves around multiple socio-political narratives. The repeated symbolic shape of a boat on a large scale resonates with the journey of an immigrant who moves for a better life, safe space, or a refugee whose displacement is the result of natural calamity or invasion. 

To the artist, this installation represents a personal experience as an immigrant and seeks to echo several voices like hers through similar unsettling journeys which resonate with a large global population of migrants and refugees, both locally and globally. The subject is inspired by narratives illustrating how humans are struggling to strike a balance between virtual life and reality, full of economic distress and devastation, resulting in conscious migration decisions.

By reproducing and redesigning this piece exclusively for Billy Bishop Airport, the artist also highlights the site's relevance—an airport on an island, and travel by boat being a crucial component of visiting this location. The airport has historically been a place where many travellers have travelled through in transit, and everyone of these travellers has a distinctive experience to share. The repeating visual of a paper boat as a symbol conveys both the disparities, complexities and commonalities between all of the diverse stories tied to one another in this location, time, movement and space.

Akshata originally from India where the social and cultural fabric is complex in terms of caste, colour and politics, however being a woman of colour in Toronto, she found herself in a comparable position. She establishes a conversation between concepts of inclusion, dignity, consumption and subjectivity by discussing internationally generic problems in the form of symbolism and the multiplicity of all images that challenge viewers with the concept of challenging culture and the environment. Her research continues to explore the fantasy notions of travel in the future and co-existing in both the physical and the virtual world at the same time.

The Artist - Akshata Naik

Akshata Naik is a contemporary visual artist. Born and raised in Mumbai, she is a newcomer to Canada. Her works reflect upon her lived experiences of moving homes, cities and countries through a lens of immigration, violence, displacement, home and belonging. She works towards co-creating with her viewers an immersive experience and interactive art installations which consists of digital drawings, paintings, videos, ephemeral temporary sculptures and art in virtual reality. Her work has been exhibited locally and internationally at institutions such as THEMUSEUM, Kitchener (2021) Nuit Blanche Toronto, Gladstone Hotel (2019) Gallery Espace, Delhi (2020) Artcore Gallery, UK (2016) and Cloverdale Hub for the City of Toronto’s Year of Public Art curated by Claudia Arana (2021-22)


Instagram: akshata.naik

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