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Eye of Silence



A meteorite floating above volcanic sand.


Freezing time the moment before cataclysmic impact, a floating meteorite suspends not only the laws of physics, but also the laws of private property. Legally, a meteorite–even though it is a celestial body–is owned by whomever owns the land upon which it rests. By never touching the ground, the body defies such claims to ownership. Such claims are highlighted in particular by the stories behind the artwork, which is based on the historic meteorite "Manitou Asinîy" or "Iron Creek." Manitou fell to the Earth unknown eons ago and is a sacred object to several First Nation communities in the Canadian Prairies, but in 1866 Manitou Asinîy was stolen from the land by a Methodist missionary who saw “how significant Manitou Asinîy was to Indigenous peoples and thought that bringing it to the mission would draw people to Christianity.” The meteorite was eventually moved to the University of Toronto and then the Royal Ontario Museum’s collection. It has since been returned to Alberta for temporary stewardship while a new interpretive centre is being built nearby to safeguard the stone under an open sky. It is the world's first repatriated meteorite, and award-winning Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal is designing its new home at the original impact site. The sculpture is based on a scientific model from the Royal Ontario Museum, and was first installed in Alberta at the Contemporary Calgary gallery’ atrium as part of the exhibition The Desert Turned to Glass. The installation was made with the assistance of local Indigenous caretaker Steve Crooks and then put under his stewardship during the exhibition.

The artwork references both a sacred entity and a scientific object essential to understanding the origin of our solar system: two stories – that while might be different – can coexist if we suspend our excluding narratives and allow the meteorite to float in space as a unifying act.

See an interview between architect Douglas Cardinal and artist Charles Stankievech about this meteorite in The Desert Turned to Glass.