Approximately 20,000 Concordia students, teachers and staff cross through the EV building’s Ste-Catherine and Mackay Street entrances on a monthly basis. That’s not to mention the countless Montrealers seeking refuge in the warmth of the building, trying to take any possible shortcut from the cold. The ritualized pattern of walking head-down, oblivious to the surroundings, that has become second nature to daily passersby will be challenged by the FOFA Gallery’s exhibitions on display this month.
Unlike the many Ste-Catherine storefront windows displaying commodities, FOFA’s Ste-Catherine and York Corridor Vitrines expose a different product of human designâ€”installation art. Site-specific, this form of three-dimensional work is meant to alter the viewer’s perception of a space.
The silhouettes of Christopher Moore’s two projects on display dance across the York Corridor’s floor and capture the attention of pedestrians. At first, the military-coloured camouflage background and recruitment desk seem more like an exhibit from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, but if you take a second longer to stare, you will notice something strange about the pictureâ€”the camouflage is patterned with cute dogs. Taking that into account, the rest of the exhibit’s magenta-painted toy guns, artillery, planes and soldiers’ faces reveal a satirical contrast between war and peace.
Cuddle Commandos and Passive Passive Pink were projects Moore designed to address the hyper-masculinity in the military and to promote an army of “citizen anti-warriors.” An assistant professor in design and computation arts at Concordia, Moore believes this art plays with notions from pop culture and twists its meaning.
“One day I was flipping through the television and I caught a glimpse of a designer runway show that was using camouflage in the costumes. It really struck me how out of place that was because camouflage traditionally is used in the military and the decontextualization of this fashion statement got me thinking. How can I subvert that subconscious association of war and introduce more passive elements into that camouflage?” said Moore, who has also designed kitty and bunny versions as part of his Cuddle Commandos collection.
The other vitrine that faces Ste-Catherine manages to captivate shivering pedestrians despite the cold weather. Concordia art education doctorate student Maria Ezcurra has her eyes fixed on her live model. Holding bobby pins with her teeth, she examines the garment worn by her model. After a few moments of eyeing and groping the material, the designer begins to cut the garment with scissors and make adjustments to the newly-cut material. As onlookers curiously watch what will happen next, Ezcurra nails the garment to the wall and the dress takes an angelic design of its own.
The project is called Abiertas (Open). “In Spanish this term is used for opening a window,” explained Ezcurra. “It’s connected to sharing and showcasing and I’m doing that with these garments.”
This process isn’t entirely without risk, as both Ezcurra and her models are exposing themselves to the public. “It’s the first time I perform this project in front of a window. When I got this space, I wasn’t sure what to do. I was walking by it and wondering how most places around here are fancy stores selling particular clothing and accessories. Every store tries to sell this idea of being unique based on what you buy, but how can someone be unique if millions of other people are buying the same thing?” said Ezcurra, who wanted to make people think about their relationship between clothes and themselves.
After the holidays, it’s very easy to get sucked into the class-break-eat-class-study cycle. So next time you’re walking through the EV building, be sure to stop and check out the FOFA Gallery’s new exhibitions.
The Cuddle Commandos and Abiertas (Open), as well as 1 Restoration and How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore are on display at FOFA Gallery (first floor of EV building) until Feb. 3. The vernissage is on Jan. 12 at 5 p.m. For more information, visit fofagallery.concordia.ca.