Making theatre accessible for all

Autodidactic Concordia Theatre challenges typical structures of theatre through total inclusivity

How can the arts become more accessible? The Autodidacts Concordia Theatre (ACT) club works to remove hierarchy in theatre and prove that it is truly for everyone.

ACT was started in 2016, when a group of students arrived at Concordia, and couldn’t find anything doing what the club hoped to do—provide theatre for all, no experience needed. The founders, Alexander Luiz Cruz, Dexter John Lavery-Callender, Matias Rittatore, and Zoë Bujold, met at Dawson College, where they participated in a project similar to ACT. This provided a safe, comfortable and inclusive space for those who were interested in theatre, but not studying it.

The club provides a space for community and connection, promoting shared passions for theatre, regardless of background or experience. ACT provides an alternative space for people to be creative and perform theatrically, unlike more intensive, hierarchical performance environments. Here, the competitive nature sometimes found in the arts is removed, and everyone is given an equal opportunity to perform and participate.

ACT holds performance workshops the fall semester, and works on a production during winter semester. The group funds itself through CSU grants and by holding events like bake sales, to cover costs of location and materials. Participants, however, are not required to pay to take part in ACT—it is truly open to all. As for ticket sales during the run of the annual show, all proceeds go to the Theresa Foundation, a charity based in Montreal, that supports families of AIDS victims in Mnjale, Malawi.

In the workshops, participants practice a variety of styles and techniques, including improv, scene studies and monologues. In the winter production, auditions are open to the public, and not only for acting roles—the club also auditions for writers, directors and people working behind the scenes.

The club is currently working on their annual winter semester production, Only Human. This is ACT’s biggest production yet. Only Human centers around the character of a former child star, now grown up and hosting a talk show. The show is focused on demonic possession, with three guests sharing their respective, alleged experiences with possession. At its core, as Cruz and Rittatore shared, the play navigates themes of desire and how far one would go to get what they want. This production is more within the genre of horror, rather than the comedies and dramas that the club has presented in the past.

As the founding members and executive team graduate from Concordia in coming years, and move on from ACT, they have hopes for the future of the club. “Essentially, our goal is to create a space for people who don’t necessarily have any experience to try theatre. The club provides some sense of community and some experience,” explained Cruz and Rittatore. The founders want this to remain the core of the club, but also hope that in coming years, ACT will continue to grow, through innovating, pushing and challenging itself within the realm of theatre.

Only Human will be showing from May 1 to 4 at the Mainline Theatre, located at 3997 St. Laurent Blvd. The club is open to the public, and will be hosting workshops in fall 2019. Find out more about the club on their Facebook  group, The ACT Club.


Love, life and death, through the eyes of female friendship

Clean Slate shared the significance of support through the complexities of life

Following a close group of six women as they experience one incredibly significant night together, Clean Slate, a play shown at LaChapelle from March 18 to 30, navigated friendship, love, sex, life and death. The Talisman Theatre’s production took the viewer through an emotional journey, witnessing the love and intensity of emotion present in female friendships, and how the women journey through the constant complexities of life.

Clean Slate was written by Catherine Chabot, translated from French to English by Jennie Herbin, and directed by Leslie Baker (a part-time professor in Concordia’s theatre program). Baker incorporated corporeal, visual and aural components within her performances. She chose a physical approach, playing with improvisation and using viewpoints, a technique which focuses on characters’ reactions to one another. This shone through in how the characters interact with one another physically, being seen in several moments of dance, moving in unison with one another.

The six central characters are close friends on stage, and in real life. Played by Gita Miller, Julie Trepanier, Rebecca Gibian, and Concordia alumnis Cleopatra Boudreau, Michelle Langlois-Fequet, and Kathleen Stavert, their characters’ challenged each other, displaying a strong connection and history of their shared pasts.

The relatability of the storyline and the characters’ relationships with one another was contrasted with aspects of surrealism within the production. Other details, such as the set design and lighting, played into this. The design for the stage was minimalist and futuristic; the lighting and use of technical props added to a subtle level of uncertainty as the story progressed and eventually reached its resolution.

As the story progressed through topics of birth, life, sex and death. Serious discussions related to the body, as part of the women’s constant dialogue with each other, included talks of illness and eating disorders, and brought the focus back to the physicality of the self. The concept of the body, it’s autonomy (or lack thereof) appeared as a thematic detail, a central theme throughout the production.

As the women related their lives and experiences, sharing their emotions with one another, the characters attempted to control their respective emotions, and how those emotions affected their lives. They also tried to control one another, fighting over opinions and actions, contemplating how their time together should be spent.

The show, despite having unrealistic elements in certain details, held a relatability in its core, allowing the viewer to see themselves in the positions of the characters, and empathize with their journeys and emotions.


Questioning memory and connection

Hannah Claus’s new exhibition takes inspiration from the McCord Museum’s archives

How do we create relationships with the past? How does history continue to influence our connections in the contemporary world? These are questions that Hannah Claus’s work considers as artist-in-residence at the McCord Museum.

The exhibition contains multidisciplinary works, incorporating beading, sculpture and installation to navigate themes of memory and connection, and the relationships between past and present. The exhibition was created during Claus’s time as an artist in residence at the McCord Museum.

Hannah Claus is a multidisciplinary artist, based in Montreal, and of Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and English heritage. Her works look at themes of Indigeneity, memory and transformation in its various forms.

Claus was inspired by various sources to create this exhibition. Claus was able to go through the archives of the museum and find artifacts and register books, which influenced the thematic elements present within this exhibition. Other works displayed in the exhibition, in a vitrine, include Indigenous beading works, such as cradle board covers, and register books from the fur trade.


The legibility, or lack thereof, of the fur trade registers’ writing and documentation stood out to Claus. This lack of clear communication over trading not only speaks to the impact of colonialism and how it affected Indigenous communities, but also provides greater insight into the fur trade and its impacts.

Claus explains, in a short video for the museum, that the title of there is a reason for our connection, “evokes the interactions between people when they meet.” The artist shares that she is specifically interested in personal stories and archival documentation, rather than universal recounts and artifacts.

In the centre of the exhibition, a circular plinth is covered in teacups and leaves, all made from beeswax. The cup structure was inspired again by Claus’s journey through the museum’s archives, where she found china and ceramics, made from porcelain. However, for the cups in her exhibition, Claus took molds from her mother’s personal china collection (which Claus herself helped polish when she was younger). There are berries and leaves within the pattern of the cups, which are also made from beeswax. The leaves and berries find significance in that they are often used to make Indigenous teas, which are medicinal and healing.

Claus is well-known for suspended installations, and one such work is also present in there is a reason for our connection. The piece, titled fancy dance shawl for Sky Woman, consists of small, circular pieces, connected by string and hung in a linear formation. At the bottom of each string, there are metallic, reflective strips of material, which create light and reflections across the wall and on the ceiling. The piece also has movement, and gently sways as viewers move around the gallery.

The piece is inspired by a Haudenosaunee creation story, about Sky Woman, which is passed down through oral tradition. The artist describes the work as connecting the earth and sky through thread, while also connecting the past and the present, with this tale of creation, to the contemporary world.

On one of the walls of the exhibition space, four grey blankets are presented. At closer inspection, viewers can see subtle patterns created by copper pins. These patterns are inspired by traditional Indigenous designs on Wampum belts. Wampum refers to tubular beads to create ornamental, ceremonial and commercial pieces. While the copper designs are arguably the focus of this piece, the presence of the blankets should not be overlooked. Through the themes of connection, and settler and Indigenous relations, the blanket holds potent symbolism. As an object that brought disease and death to Indigenous communities at the hands of colonialism, the blanket is not just an object, but also a reminder of the past. However, these can also be viewed as sources for warmth and comfort.

The multiplicity of this materiality shows the varied interpretations present in there is a reason for our connection, while also connecting past and present. The specific relationships between settlers and Indigenous people are prominent throughout the exhibition, but the concept of connection also finds a voice in the relationship between earth and sky, in fancy dance shawl for Sky Woman. Claus finds connection to her family and community through the teacups.

there is a reason for our connection will be showing at the McCord Museum (690 Sherbrooke St. W.) until Aug. 11. Interactive introductions for the exhibition will be taking place on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in French, and at 8 p.m. in English. Find more on the McCord’s website.


Digital reflection in an unexpected place

Eric Pickersgill’s analog photography showcases human relationships with technology

As part of Montreal’s Art Souterrain 2019 festival, running until March 24, artist Eric Pickersgill is showcasing a photographic series, titled Removed. The collection of black and white photographs focus on the constant presence of cell phones and technology in contemporary life. Connecting to the festival’s theme, Pickersgill’s project considers the significance of technology as a navigation of what is true, or false, and the way it influences one’s perception of the world and relationships to others.

In their opening statement on this year’s theme, the festival discusses how “art is, in essence, an illusion of reality, a way of, in turn, representing, denying and questioning.”

Pickersgill is an American artist, based in North Carolina. He works primarily in analog photography and finds a connection between education and art, influenced by his teaching experience with Teach For America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilising future leaders. In his photography work, there is consideration over how images can reflect a greater society.

Each image of Removed shows a subject in their everyday life and looking at their cell phone. Yet, upon closer inspection, the viewer realizes there is no phone. While the subject is positioned as if they are holding a mobile device, their hand is actually empty and they are staring at a blank space.

Pickersgill was inspired to create this project after following his own routine of scrolling through his phone in bed, before falling asleep. He was woken by his phone falling, yet found his hand in the same position, as if he was still holding it. From there, he began to take photographs of those around him, such as friends, strangers on the street, and even audiences at a TEDx Talk that Pickersgill presented at, speaking to relationships with devices.

An aspect of Removed that directly connects to Art Souterrain’s True Or False, is the viewer’s own interpretation and questioning of Pickersgill’s images. As one views these images, it is difficult to decipher whether or not there is editing involved, especially with the removal of the phone. Did Pickersgill simply edit out the device which the subject is holding and staring at? Yet, there is no editing to these images—the artist describes them as performances, in which the subjects of the photos act as if they are holding a device, and often find a space of reflection as they stare at their empty hand.

The lack of clarity as viewers wonder about the reality of the image further connects to the ideas of truth in a digital age. The artist also considered the prominence of fake news and how most people now receive all of their information and news from an online source. Through this, there is a complex navigation of faith, questioning and confusion around information gained online.

Removed is exhibiting in the Palais des Congres de Montreal, at 1001 Jean Paul Riopelle Pl., near Chinatown. It is showing in a passage connected to the Place d’Armes metro, as a space that is industrial and does not necessarily appear like somewhere art would be showcased. Yet, this detail plays an important role for Pickersgill in connection to his work. In considering the focus on devices and technology, these objects in expand the accessibility one has to art. For those who stumble upon these works by accident, a greater reflection of their own relationship with technology is encouraged, as they pass by and interact with these works in an untraditional art space.

The work encourages questioning of editing and reality both within the image, and in a broader context of contemporary society, while reflecting back to the viewer a very common sight—someone deeply engaged with their cell phone. These aspects work together to create art that challenges and encourages viewers to situate themselves within the works, and invoke greater consideration of the relationships between physicality, the digital, and human connection and truth within it all.

Removed will be showing until March 24, and is accessible through the underground tunnels at Place Des Arts.


The search for truth in a digital age

Art Souterrain considers honesty, technology and accessibility

Annual Montreal contemporary arts festival Art Souterrain is gearing up for its 11th edition, with this year’s theme being True Or False. Considering the relationship between the digital world and easy access to information, the festival is focused on looking at how that influences a navigation of the truth. In its opening statement on the festival and this year’s theme, Art Souterrain considers that: “Indeed, art is, in essence, an illusion of reality, a way of, in turn, representing, denying and questioning.”

This year, Art Souterrain

Head in the Sand by Brendon George Ko

will be taking place from March 2 to 24, hosting a large number of varied activities and featuring a mixture of both local and international artists, in various locations across the city. The underground passages across the city will be a central location for many of the events, which includes the launch of the exhibition during Nuit Blanche, on March 2. A central focus of the festival this year is accessibility and diversity, by including more activities for families and children, along with a more diversified itinerary overall.

The festival is free, which plays into its focus on greater accessibility. The events are all held in public spaces, such as the underground tunnels, and Cinema du Parc, and the Cultural Institute of Mexico in Montreal. While art galleries around the city will also be hosting these events (including Concordia University’s VAV Gallery), the use of public and untraditional art spaces aims to challenge traditional structures of viewing and interacting with art, as well as some of the exclusivity that can often be present in these environments.

Stuffed Kitsch, Florence Yee.

The festival includes Concordia alum and multimedia artist Florence Yee’s exhibition, Stuffed Kitsch, which will be showing at Complexe Guy-Favreau, from March 2. Stuffed Kitsch consists of fleece objects, with polyester stuffing, appearing as blue and white porcelain ceramics. The work navigates the nuances and histories behind these objects, in the context of 17th century relations between European consumers and East Asian aesthetics. Diaspora, truth and falsity are considered through Yee’s work.

6 Times Cameras Caught Molly Soda Off Guard is another exhibition that is showing during Art Souterrain, also at Complexe Guy-Favreau. The artist behind this work is Molly Soda, a visual and performance artist from Puerto Rico, based in the United States. Soda’s work is often online only, and explores themes of identity and connection, along with online culture. Social media platforms are often the medium that she translates these focuses through, creating work that promotes cyberfeminism using the digital to navigate humanity and human feelings.

Some of the other events include a tour of the underground tunnels, and family friendly events that encourage participants and viewers to also create art. On Saturday, March 9, a guided tour titled At The Edge Of Reality brings participants along three different thematic routes of Montreal’s underground tunnels. The event provides participants with greater knowledge of these tunnels, through sharing information about their structure and purpose.

As part of the family focus of Art Souterrain, the festival will be offering a special drawing workshop, in collaboration with the Place Ville Marie Observatory. On Wednesday, March 6, families will be able to draw and create a piece of art inspired by Alexander Pilis, whose work will be displayed in the observatory.

Pilis is an artist based in both Montreal and São Paulo, Brazil. His work considers the Architecture Parallax, which challenges ideas of vision as the only, and complete, verification of reality. Through this, Pilis has created a multimedia project that navigates the complexities of architecture, concepts of reality, and sight and vision.

Adding to the unique take on this workshop held in the observatory, Pilis will also be present for the event, along with an animator to help facilitate the event. The location of the event will provide participants with a stunning panorama view, connecting specific aspects, such as vision and view, architecture, and interaction with art.

Over the first three weeks of March, True Or False will be pushing traditional art-viewing boundaries and sharing a diverse range of activities and events with Montreal. Showcasing different mediums, different themes, and different locations, there is something for everyone, when considering the ever-present ideas of truth in a digital age. To find out more about Art Souterrain and this year’s events, visit their website:


Using photography to illuminate contemporary issues

Consumerism and the environment in conversation with Maya Bergeron

Issues of consumption and ideas of challenging societal structures and norms are central focuses of local artist Maya Bergeron’s photography practice. Bergeron, who grew up in multiple places around Canada, but is now based in Montreal, is a self-taught photographer. In addition to using her passion for colours, travel and plants as subjects for her practice, Bergeron’s photography is also concerned with issues of human rights, women’s rights, and environmental exploitation and justice—influenced by her studies of Environment and International Development at McGill University. Using photography as a medium to challenge and explore these focuses, she incorporates a dialogue centred around contemporary life, consumption, and capitalism into her work.

Bergeron is currently showing her photography in the Hive Solidarity Co-op, as part of a group exhibition. While You’re Out Getting Wasted shares photographs from Southeast Asia, China, Latin America and North America. Bergeron has been working on this project for several years, as she has travelled to a number of countries and locations, documenting the visual results of consumerism and capitalism in various cultures. She hopes her practice will encourage viewers to consider these subjects further, and work to promote change.


How did you get introduced to your art practice?

MB: I have always loved to travel and have done a lot of solo travelling and volunteer exchanges. When [I was] younger, around 12 and 13 years old, I started to love photography and would take photos of plants, leaves, and flowers—especially on my father’s farm on the Sunshine Coast. As I grew older, and through travelling, photography became very important as a way to capture moments. This was especially prominent, as I travelled alone and met so many people and saw so many places. Then I became drawn to more political and controversial topics, especially related to travelling itself. I am especially interested in issues like women’s rights, environmental issues, tourism, consumption, religion and exploitation. When I’m home, I photograph much less—which is something I’m working on.

What influences and inspires you?

MB: I’m really inspired by photojournalism and the kind of photography that tells stories about real people and their experiences. I want photos to make people think, question themselves, see the world differently, and change their habits. I’m inspired everyday by photographers around the world and I always want to see more places, either in person, or through other photographers’ work and storytelling. Photojournalists, documentary photographers and street photographers are those that inspire me most. One of my favourite photographers is [American photojournalist] Steve McCurry.


What mediums and themes are present within your art?

MB: Right now I shoot with Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, but before I used Nikon D3000, which was really old, kind of bulky and indiscrete for travel photography. I like styles of photography such as documentary, macro and street photography. Present themes in my work would be things in relation [to] bright colours and details, especially plants and flowers. However, I also love to show differences and similarities between cultures, juxtaposing North America with other [places]. Political themes are often present alongside others—for example, I have a project centred around plants in religious locations, and my current project in The Hive Co-op is related to the issue of waste and our consumer society. I’m also currently working on a project looking at the impact of tourism on women in different parts of Asia.

In future works and projects, is there anything you are hoping to navigate or challenge?

MB: I’m hoping to have the opportunity to continue to meet interesting people that have stories to tell. I would also love to get more involved in the Montreal community and do photo stories on important issues here in the city, or in other parts of the province. I hope to tackle contemporary issues and create social change.


Bergeron’s series, While You’re Out Getting Wasted, is currently on display alongside Alex Hill’s abstract paintings in the Hive Solidarity Co-op, on Concordia’s downtown campus. You can also view Bergeron’s work at


Finding catharsis and connectivity

Abstraction in conversation with artist Alex Hill

Working without a concept, yet finding influence from emotions and periods of time in history, Alex Hill’s work is not only striking and beautiful, but it also encourages a further interrogation of what is represented within the paint strokes. Influences of history, intuition, and emotion are translated into visuality through Hill’s vibrant, expressive, abstract paintings.

Almost exclusively through acrylics on wooden panels, Hill follows her intuition as she creates paintings that incorporate an interesting mixture of fluid and fixed structures and movements upon the canvas.

I think my paintings are probably fairly accurate windows into my psyche at the moment that I’m painting them—aggressive, or serene, or methodical, etc. But beyond that I don’t work with much of a concept or theme in mind,” said Hill.

“These works are generally abstracts that juxtapose organic forms and ‘automatic,’ gestural marks with rigid and uniform geometry. This use of juxtaposition loosely explores how the contradictory relationship between these forms mirrors the relationship between the man-made and the natural world, but like I said, I’m not usually consciously thinking about themes or ideas like this while I’m painting.”

Originally from Victoria, B.C., Hill completed her undergraduate degree at University of Victoria (UVic) in Slavic studies and Soviet history, before moving to Montreal in September 2017. Her creative practice was a part of this move, as Hill explains, “After graduating, I moved to Montreal to focus on painting, and because it’s really a ‘right of passage’ for Victoria kids to move out here.” Currently, Hill isn’t in school, but a future enrolment as an independent student at Concordia is in the cards, especially since, as Hill explains, “I already spend four days a week on campus, working at The Hive!”

Hill was an avid painter throughout high school, even considering pursuing art in university, but ultimately found her path in studying history, which lessened her time and focus in practicing painting. However, completing her undergraduate degree changed this, and painting became prominent once again. “When I graduated from UVic in 2016, I was hit with anxiety that came along with no longer being a student for the first time in my life and being unsure of my direction and identity from thereon out. Getting back into painting at this somewhat turbulent time was extremely cathartic and exciting.”

These previous studies, along with the influence of baby-boomer parents, find presence in Hill’s artwork. She explained the influence from these two major sources has led to Hill always feeling drawn to mid-century styles and movements, whether it be art, fashion or music. “My paintings are definitely inspired by the works of many of the abstract expressionists.  From a very early age I was drawn to abstraction by its emotional and intuitive nature. I particularly love the vibrancy, colours and general sensibility of painters like Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning.” she said.

Being in Montreal has influenced Hill and her art practice to a degree as well. “Since moving to Montreal, I’ve been able to devote considerably more time and energy to my art as well as having the opportunity to get more engaged within an artistic community—including meeting many artists at Concordia—and visiting local galleries,” Hill said.

I really feel that the connectivity throughout the artistic communities in Montreal has helped me to feel like I’m no longer working in a little bubble. I love knowing what other painters in my demographic are up to.”

Community connection through art plays a part in Hill’s practice, as her move to Montreal has displayed. Yet, ideas of academia in connection to the abstract genre are less important to Hill, and are something she challenges within her work. “Although abstract art can get intellectualized and wrapped up in layers of theory I don’t think it is an inherently elitist and intellectual art form. I don’t think you should need a university degree to appreciate and enjoy beautiful colours or emotional intensity or satisfying balance and composition. These things are pretty universal and definitely what I aim for in my paintings.”

As for future works and projects, Hill is looking forward to seeing how things turn out, while continuing on her current path and art practices. “My work is still very much just in the experimental stages and every time I sit down to paint, the outcome is very different from what I could have expected, so I really can’t predict what direction it’ll take,” she explained. “I would like to eventually return to doing some more semi-representational work but who knows.”

Hill’s work is currently showing in The Hive Solidarity Co-op in the Hall building until April 10, along with work by artists Maya Bergeron and Nora de Mariaffi. A selection of her works are available for purchase. You can view more of her work on Instagram: @alexhill_painting.


Finding intimacy and community through art

Somewhere Shared challenges traditional art viewing spaces

How does physicality and space influence the way we view art? How can challenging traditional structures of art viewing, such as galleries, influence intimacy and community?

These are some of the questions that local art collective Somewhere Shared considered in creating their recent event, Somewhere Inside: A Cozy Wintertime Show.

Somewhere Shared is a Montreal based art collective, created by Concordia students and artists Rachelle Alexandra Fleury, Erica Hart, Olivia Deresti-Robinson, and Maggie Hope. Created in the summer of 2017, the collective has held several events that showcase work by local artists. The group focuses on creating spaces and opportunities for local artists, and transforming everyday environments into spaces for art sharing.

Somewhere Inside: A Cozy Wintertime Show took place on Feb. 2, at the Art Loft, in the Plateau. In organizing the event, the collective began with a thematic focus, which then influenced the space the show would take place in, and the art that would be featured. The show focused on ideas of intimacy, the home and the domestic space. The collective’s overarching themes of community building were also incorporated. Keeping this in mind, the collective searched for comfort in the Art Loft, which is both a home and an event location. While the venue serves as a living space for several, it also regularly turns into an event space for local music and comedy shows. The event’s environment exemplified the focus on accessibility and community that the collective values—the live music and film screening further challenged traditional gallery spaces, and removed the seriousness that is regularly present in more traditional gallery settings. It appeared that community connection was just as big a focus as the art was, as for most of the evening, everyone mingled, talked, and interacted with each other and the art.

Lindsey Lagemaat’s Earring considers the connection between capitalism and intimacy, or lack thereof. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

While going through the submissions, it was important for the collective to try to feature as many different perspectives and interpretations of the themes as possible. This was to make sure that, overall, the work being shown would be diverse and complex, adding to the overall concept and the viewer’s understandings and interactions with the show.

Somewhere Inside featured a variety of works, including sculpture, film and live music. Artists featured included Lindsey Lagemaat, a Concordia fibres student, who’s pink, textural, hanging sculpture considers the connection between capitalism and intimacy, or lack thereof. Artist Tiana Atheron, who studies fibres and crafts at Concordia, showcased an interactive work, titled How To Be A Good Hostess, which questions traditional feminine gender ideals, through reimagined domestic objects, such as a broom and a duster, and having instructions for viewers for how to interact with the artwork. As the venue for the event was an apartment and living space, already decorated with art on the walls, the collective worked to find diverse pieces, many that weren’t to be simply hung on the wall, but instead be interacted with by the viewer.

Merival performing at Art Loft for Somewhere Inside. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The event also held a sit-down film screening and live musical performances from Sara Jarvie Clark, Merival, and Yum! Jarvie Clark is a Concordia theatre student, and a folk-americana-classical musician. Merival is the name of Toronto singer-songwriter Anna Horvath’s musical project, which draws inspiration from ideas of vulnerability. Yum! consists of Concordia students Tyson Burger, Nathan Walsh and Eddy Jackson, who create music that draws from folk, house and punk genres.

In June 2017, Somewhere Shared held an event in an apartment shared by three of the creators, to showcase artwork, music and merchandise created by the collective and their friends. This event looked at generating revenue for the artists from their work, and led to the collective working on future art events. These events continued to focus on their values of supporting local artists, and challenging traditional norms of how we view and interact with art. The collective also finds importance in community building, fostering both connection and intimacy through art.

In June of 2018, Somewhere Shared held its second event, Play. For Play, Somewhere Shared also collaborated with local collective Dress Up Montreal, whose mandate expresses their focus, in being; “an initiative aimed at encouraging self-expression through fashion.” The show took place in an artist’s apartment and rooftop, and featured many local artists, interactive pieces and live music. The event was centered around the concept of playing, or finding freedom, nostalgia and innocence through interacting with art.

Looking to the future, Somewhere Shared hopes to continue to curate different experiences, with a possibility of another show taking place this coming summer. Meanwhile, each of the members of the collective are continuing to practice and create their respective crafts and art practices.


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Drama Hive: Miniature Worlds Edition

Similar to the Art Hive, Concordia’s Drama Hive provides a safe and fun space to create! Through drama practices, participants can get creative, experiment with materials, interact with others, and relieve stress. For this edition of the Drama Hive, the focus will be on miniature worlds—participants can create their own miniature environment, evoking their imagination, and translating this into physical, material form.

Drama Hive will be taking place on Jan. 29, at Concordia’s Art Hive (EV 5.777), from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.


Interlacing: Fibres Student Association Lacemaking Event

Concordia’s Fibres Student Association is hosting a day long event, centered around lace-related activities. The day will include a workshop, a talk and a lunch. The lunch will allow participants to interact and mingle with one another, the guest speaker and workshop facilitator. The workshop, led by MFA fibres student Etta Sandry, will look at bobbin lace, which will be followed by a talk by artist Veronika Irvine. The talk will focus on digital lace making, based on Irvine’s practice in creating lace patterns, through the use of bobbin lace techniques and computer algorithms.

Interlacing will take place on Jan. 30, from 12:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., in various locations in the EV and VA buildings. Admission is $15—contact the Fibres Student Association at if you want to attend, but can’t afford the fee!


Moving Gender: The case for home museums in Israel and Germany

How do home museums, specifically in Israel and Germany, incorporate gender into their art, and how are they influenced by it? In a presentation by Dr. Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi, this question is considered, based on research in nine home museums in the two countries, over the span of three years. Dr. Vinitzky-Seroussi is a sociologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who studies collective memory and commemoration. In this presentation, she considers the nuances of the private and public spheres in connection to home museums, and how gender plays into this relationship.

The presentation will be held on Feb. 1, from 12 p.m. to, at LB 671. Admission is free.


Interested in visiting some of the galleries around Montreal, and learning about their art, in depth? Gallery Day Montreal is providing a day of free art focused talks around the city, given by Canadian Art Magazine’s editors and contributors. Each talk is approximately thirty minutes long and each gallery visit is about an hour. Participants can make their own itineraries, and drop-ins are welcome. At the end of the day, there will be a launch for the Winter 2019 issue of Canadian Art Magazine, which is also open to the public.

Gallery Day Montreal will take place on Feb. 2, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and will occur at various art gallery locations around the city. It will conclude with the Canadian Art launch party at Parisian Laundry (3550 Sainte-Antoine St.), from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. More information can be found in the Facebook event.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin.


Culture as a political and personal influence

Jasmina Cibic considers national identity through art and architecture

How do governments instrumentalise culture for the formation of national identity and representation?”

This is a question that Jasmina Cibic’s art considers through her multidisciplinary, multi-room, site-specific exhibition, Everything That You Desire And Nothing That You Fear. Showing in DHC/ART Gallery, the exhibition explores the themes of national culture and its production. Curated by Cheryl Sim, the collection of artworks look explicitly at the former nation of Yugoslavia. and concepts of borders and nationality connected to this country that no longer exists.

DHC/ART is a vast gallery, with many floors and rooms. Everything That You Desire And Nothing That You Fear is exhibited in the entire space, with each room dedicated to a different art piece that compliments and connects to the other works. Certain details tie the rooms together in a cohesive way, such as a subtle inclusion of the same pattern, or colour palette, in every room. The artworks shown in these spaces include short videos, dance performance videos, an in-progress tapestry and a large mural.

Walking through the gallery’s distinctive rooms adds excitement to the viewing experience, and further solidifies the themes and ideas of national culture and identity that Cibic presents. Through the focus on a nation and a national identity that don’t exist anymore, having been separated into new, distinctive nations within new borders, Everything That You Desire And Nothing That You Fear considers how the political and the personal connect and intertwine within cultural identity.

As explained in Sim’s curatorial statement, this interdisciplinary, site-specific exhibition uses the subject matter of Yugoslavia and its political and economical history as a lens, “through which to study the employment of art and architecture… in an attempt to achieve the ultimate display of dominance for (inter)national audiences.” The development of the exhibition addresses the contrast between private and public spaces, which also ties into greater themes of the exhibition. Everything That You Desire And Nothing That You Fear considers how art and architecture—and more generally, culture—can be used politically to construct perceptions and formations of national identity.

A workshop titled A Dance Of Symbols will be held in connection to the exhibition. It is organized and run by Leisure—a creative, conceptual, artistic collaboration between Montreal-based artists Meredith Carruthers and Susannah Wesley, who have been involved with exhibitions and creative projects all over Canada. Working together through Leisure since 2004, the group describes their focuses and practices as engaging “with cultural and historical narratives through research, conversation, published texts, curatorial projects and art production.”

For A Dance Of Symbols, Leisure takes inspiration from Expo 67. The Expo, which took place in Montreal in 1967, encouraged different countries and nations to represent themselves through the way of pavilions. The pavilions featured events, performances and art, which aimed to share respective national identities. It is from this that A Dance Of Symbols takes influence, along with the general aesthetics and style of the 1960s. In the workshop, participants can create, through a series of stations, a personal symbolic object. It incorporates details like gradients, stamps and stencils, participants can create these items, which will then work as props for a live dance-inspired composition

The overall exhibition shares a dimensional, dynamic view of the history of Yugoslavia. Through various mediums and forms, Cibic investigates many different complexities of the relationships between borders, identities, and the political and personal. Deploying these through art and architecture creates impactful work that allows the artist and viewer alike to further explore the ties between national and personal identities, cultures and borders.

Everything That You Desire And Nothing That You Fear is exhibiting at DHC/ART until March 3.

A Dance of Symbols is available to groups with a reservation. For the general public, the workshop will be available during the Family Open House on Jan. 26, from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.


The material and the mystical

In conversation with student artist Teddy Desmarais…

In experiencing Teddy Desmarais’s artwork, viewers are transported into a mystical, surreal world, one in which puppets, castles, and costuming are everywhere. Creating vivid, intricately detailed characters and a world of the surreal, Desmarais shows expansive imagination within their art, while reimagining reality and their personal environment.

Desmarais is a multidisciplinary artist, who grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, and moved to Montreal two years ago. They are in their second year at Concordia, studying fibres and film animation, through which their practice explores concepts such as personal queer identity, organically made and handmade art, and materiality. These themes are considered through the use of recycled materials, along with a central focus on puppetry and costuming. Their practice includes amazingly detailed fibre works that invoke a sense of the surreal and mystical—a recent work includes a puppet dollhouse castle. The castle, decorated with different fibres and intricate detail brings together puppet and costume forms. It’s complete with a spot for Desmarais to put their face into the form, incorporating the artist’s physical presence into the work.

Exploring different mediums and finding influence from their environment, not to mention their own experiences and identity, Desmarais’ art truly stands on its own.


Currently, what are some of the main focuses, mediums and themes within your work?

“I’ve always been very multidisciplinary and multi-medium based, but for the most part I tend to use a lot of recycled materials for 3D work (fabric scraps, magazines, cardboard, plastic). I do 2D work as well on a regular

basis, but I wouldn’t say it’s the focus of my practice. Right now, I’m trying to make my work a little more meticulous. I’ve been compelled by effortlessness and intuition for a while, but I really want to learn as much as I can—while I’m here in school—about the materials I can use and get better with them or even venture into realms of other mediums I normally shy away from, like resin and moulds and organics.

“I really believe that handmade objects have inherent magical qualities, and I love the idea of creating something from start to finish myself.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

I’m on a little bit of a quest to build enveloping costumes and environments either through film with stop motion and performance, or with live experiences. This, as the root of my practice, is inherently an expression and exploration of my own queer identity and how I feel I genuinely interact with the world and its speed of demand and explanation. I really believe that handmade objects have inherent magical qualities, and I love the idea of creating something from start to finish myself, especially as industrial habits grow incredibly against that. Puppets really combine all those aspects to me: a melting pot of costume, performance, character design, sets, and movement. So fibres has been definitely excellent for that. I was very starstruck first learning how to hand-dye things and embroider and quilt!”

Have you worked in other mediums and focuses? What was the transition and process to get to your practice now?

“I have always been so absorbed in too many things and ideas that by the time I applied for university it was very difficult to narrow down what I really wanted to do, until I began hyperfocusing my attention on stop motion, puppets and costumes. As far as art-based mediums go, I was always a really good knitter and felter as a kid. I’ve been highly sensitive all my life and I remember wanting to make things that felt sentient and fantastic and captivating. Although I was always obsessed with costumes, sets and decorating, my practice in itself used to be very heavily limited to drawing, ceramics, painting and occasionally silkscreening. Then, I slowly started integrating cartoons and collages and eventually moved to watercolours. I took a sculpture course in fall 2016 and a ceramics course in winter 2018 and I think that was what really started to push me in the right direction. I made a wizard costume in January 2017 and my first puppet in spring 2017, right around when I went down a wormhole of revisitin

g James and the Giant Peach, The Neverending Story and other beautifully handcrafted puppet-based films. I have been in love with exploring puppetry, set building and costumes, and combining the two ever since. My most recent costume, a puppet dollhouse castle that I wear with my face sticking out the middle and my legs out the bottom, is a sincere expression of this growing infatuation with exploring this self-sustained medium.”

How have Concordia and Montreal, vs. B.C., influenced your work, if at all?

“Growing up in Victoria was fulfilling in a mystical way, considering how spiritually charged the environment is, and how a lot of weird stuff happens because of that, but it was also, hilariously, a lot of being bored and creating your own fun. Which lead, curiously, to spending a lot of time with friends galavanting around in costumes, taking photos and sneaking about. This kind of carefree, goofy,

creative habit and attitude is definitely something I feel like inherently exists in Montreal, which makes it a prime stomping ground for authentic exploration and fun, something I feel is a vital piece to the puzzling growth of my work.”


“I have been in love with exploring puppetry, set building and costumes, and combining the two ever since.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

In general, what are some influences within your work?

“I think the things I’m most drawn to are always in flux, but I’m attracted to things that feel like a mirror to my subconscious, and things that appear as endearing surprises. This can be anything that dips into unlearning censorship and encouraging mischief and chaos and involuntary tomfoolery (but coming from a place of tenderness of course!). Specifically, I’ve always been very inspired by goofy medieval art, as well as absent-minded scribbles and children’s drawings. Recently I’ve been really getting into enchanting environmental facets like shadows and lightning and rainbows and old memories and bugs. And I’ll always be in love with teeth and wind chimes and secret passages and antiques and old things in general too! Fairy tales, things that are poorly sewn together, towers and cobwebs and dreams are in my heart and 100 per cent unavoidably evident now as an influence in my practice. I think a lot of things that influence me too are ultimately based on what connects the most to how I see and feel things, trying to understand the foam bubbling in my brain. It’s likely why I’m so attracted to odds and ends that are magically charged, anything that tugs at the intuitive heart strings in my chest is something I try to learn from and pursue.”


Desmarais has participated in several local art shows in Victoria, B.C. More of their work can be found at @goodknight_ted on Instagram.



A platform for creativity and healing

The personal and the political, the individual and the communal, the historic and the contemporary are all explored and considered within Hyper Real. In a collaboration between the VAV Gallery and Art Matters, the month of November has welcomed a range of events related to contemporary black art. With an interdisciplinary art exhibition, a film screening and a healing workshop led by Sisters In Motion and Shanice Nicole, these events celebrate November as a month of black history.

As stated by the VAV Gallery in their description of the three events, Black History Month in February can leave artists overworked and with a lack of support and exposure during the rest of the year. The VAV and Art Matters hope to change this by making November a month to celebrate the work of artists of colour and provide a platform for exploration, creativity and healing.

Made up of a range of complex and dynamic artworks from nine of Concordia’s undergraduate artists of colour, the work featured in Hyper Real ranges from video and photography to painting, print and sculptural installation. Each work explores a distinct theme within the overarching focus of black culture, identity and history. The varied works play into each other, creating a full, dynamic and overall emotional exhibition.

Artworks on display included a diptych by David Durham, titled Hidden Figures. The two works mix acrylic paint, mixed media collage and coffee to create striking images of two ambiguous figures. The paintings find ties to the history of coffee and the significant role it played in the slave trade and colonization. With the continued presence and consumption of coffee today, the works acknowledge this history, while also considering its role and presence in the contemporary world.

Braids, by artist Theran Sativa consists of a series of woodcut and and wood burned prints on stained paper. As explained in the artist’s statement, Sativa, who specializes in print media and fibres work, looks at black identity and black culture while also incorporating her own experiences. Meaning is found in every aspect of the artwork—the artist draws a  connection between the intricate process of printmaking and the act of braiding or twisting hair, through the time and care spent on both practices.



On Nov. 22, in connection with Cinema Politica, Hyper Real also hosted a film screening as part of the Black History Month. This screening featured three films, all directed by women of colour: Black Men Loving by Ella Cooper, Yellow Fever by Ng’endo Mukii, and Ninth Floor by Mina Shum.

The screening began with Black Men Loving, a film that questions the typical representations of black fatherhood while talking to black Canadian fathers. Made invisible by these negative representations, this film and the fathers featured can reclaim the stereotypes often placed on black men by society.

Yellow Fever incorporates mediums of poetry, dance and movement to address ideal beauty standards for women, specifically those related to colonialism. Colonialist history and actions perpetrate these ideals, particularly those of skin-lightening and hair-straightening.

The feature documentary film, Ninth Floor, looks at the anti-racist protest of 1969 at Concordia (then Sir George Williams University). The film highlights the ties still present between the protest and the contemporary context of the racist allegations made towards the university by splicing footage of the event with recent interviews.

As part of the VAV and Art Matters Hyper Real event series, the He(art) Healing Workshop scheduled for Nov. 29 will be led by Sisters In Motion and Shanice Nicole, a feminist educator, writer and spoken-word artist. The workshop will provide a safe space for people of colour, women and femme-identifying people to share their stories and heal. It is open to everyone, however priority will be given to black students, with 15 spaces reserved specifically for BIPOC students.

The He(art) Healing Workshop will take place in the VAV Gallery on Nov. 29, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Spots are limited. Those interested can register online.

Hyper Real will be exhibited in the VAV Gallery until Nov. 30. The gallery is open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Monday to Friday.




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