“Walking to Know the Land” features photographic works by Khim Mata Hipol and woven photographs by Karl Mata Hipol. The exhibition takes inspiration from Ernesto Pujol’s “Walking Art Practice.” Pujol defines Walking Practice in many different terms, “Walking as flowing stillness, short walks, timeless walks, walking as decolonization, walking as a socially engaged practice.” With the same essence, ‘Walking’ has been essential for the Hipol brothers to familiarize themselves and continuously learn about their new homeland. In 2015, the two artists, their older brother and their father, immigrated to Canada from the Philippines, while their mother first crossed over from Hong Kong in 2010.
The exhibition explores the personal effects of the artists’ immigration, their current social context in so-called Canada as Filipino immigrants, how the two artists investigate decoloniality within their works, and how they comprehend their positionality in the Canadian landscape. Another meaningful gesture that this exhibition tries to address is acknowledging that the place where this project was conceptualized and the presented artists likewise are uninvited guests on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Initially Filipino nationals, the artists are aware of the heavy history of colonization here in Canada. Khim Mata Hipol photographs himself ‘as one with nature’ at various North Vancouver trails. He creates images that speak to the land and as a gesture of appreciation and acknowledgment to the new territory he resides. Conversely, Karl Mata Hipol virtually embarks on a journey historically and retraces photographs from the archival collection of UNESCO and National Geography, to name a few. Here, Hipol deconstructs and reconstructs images by interweaving Filipino patterns to offer protection and a sense of interconnection.
As a result, the photos the two artists create reflect a fresh and innovative perspective on Landscape and Nature photography. Simultaneously, the images they create encourage viewers to take their own Walk. Where will you walk? How far will your journey take you? What will you leave behind at your destination? What will you carry home from your Walk?