Tackling questions of identity in a digital age

The work of eight Concordia students put on display in the current VAV exhibition, Ctrl_Alt_Del_. Photo by Mackenzie Lad

Concordia artists experiment with new media and the body in Ctrl_Alt_Del_

Concordia’s Visual Arts Visuels (VAV) Gallery described its current exhibition as “a glimpse into the ways in which global communications have changed” in the age of the internet — and the name truly does catch you off guard. Ctrl_Alt_Del_ is a collection of various works, ranging from installations to paintings to performance pieces that, simply put, sum up the millennial digital age.

Featuring Concordia students Maxime Brown, Sophie Heyen-Dubé, Gabrielle Hoole, Caroline Kinkead, Jessica Sofia Lopez, Alejandra Morales, Diane Roe and Raphael Sandler, the exhibit’s eight pieces explore politics, identity and the process of identifying oneself as an artist and a physical being. Through experimenting with new media and exploring the raw movements of the body, the exhibition takes shape, allowing many forms of art and thought to coexist.

The role of women in history is a prominent element of the exhibition. It explores binary and nonbinary interpretations of ‘feminine’ traits: how women should dress, how they should act and carry themselves, who they should vote for and how to identify themselves.

Morales’ piece, Your Attention is Not Enough, subtly juxtaposes women with unconventional birds, like the ostrich and the rooster, contradicting traditional female stereotypes of being small, frail and free.

Hoole’s cardboard piece — which I truly believe is the highlight of the exhibit — exposes the hypocrisy in white feminism. In the exhibition pamphlet, Hoole quotes political commentator Christina Greer, writing, “You don’t need men to have the patriarchy, white women hold up the patriarchy as well.”

Those Trump Girls balances on one leg, with four arms and two heads. This piece is meant to illustrate the educated white women under 30 who voted for Trump. In Hoole’s words, as a white female artist of privilege, “summing up the insidious nature of being a white woman in our current era … the contemporary white woman finds herself straddling the dichotomy of privilege and sexism.”

Emerging out of a country living a silenced war, alternative facts have become a dreadful norm, the exhibition’s pamphlet explains, and the process of moving on becomes a “sweet cyber dream, a network interruption, the blue screen of death.” Lopez’s piece, No HD, is a low-definition video of a contemporary dance that takes the viewer on a raw journey of self-discovery. Accompanied by the sound of a beating heart and panting breath, the audience watches Lopez as she moves to “reconnect with her roots and become her own friend.”

Ctrl_Alt_Del_ is, for me, a way of saying, ‘F**k it!’ And I love it. I said to myself, it’s time. This is me, raw, in pain, true and, yes it hurts, but I decided not to be colonized by fear,” Lopez said. “Instead, I am riding the wave.”

Ctrl_Alt_Del_ is on display at the VAV Gallery until Sept. 8. There will be a finissage with a live performance by Heyen-Dubé on Sept. 5, from 6 p.m to 8 p.m. Admission is free.

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