An exploration of surrealism and cruelty

Theatre students’s production aptly depicts the gamut of human emotions

The curtains open. An empty stage, save for a single geometric structure to the right of it, and glowing stage lights, the otherworldly feeling already present in the theatre. The narrator steps out, and the show begins.

As one of their fall productions, the Concordia Department of Theatre presented their interpretation of Animals In Paradise from Nov. 7 to 11. Written by British playwright Howard Barker and directed by Jean-Frédéric Messier, the play details the story of an endless conflict between the Swedes and the Danes. Through this context, the complexities of humanity and the human condition are explored.

The play’s storyline is filled with cruelty, which is not a surprise given its focus on a timeless war. However, with dark humour and complex emotional representations of human behaviours, the play presents a multi-dimensional exploration of humanity, with diverse and well-developed characters who are talentedly expressed through the theatre students’s impressive portrayals.

Caroline Mawhinney, a third-year theatre student at Concordia, delivered a notable performance as Mrs. Norris, a woman who is consistently pregnant and believes that having children is the only importance in life. Mawhinney’s character provided comedic relief to the dark nature of the play, while also serving as a symbol of the greater societal beliefs present within the play’s context and setting.

Another student, Gregory-Yves Fénélon, portrayed the character of Taxis, a ruling king who appears to be void of empathy and enjoys the suffering of others. Yet, as the story unfolds, Taxis shows his complexity and emotional vulnerability as he falls in love, has a daughter and experiences loss. Fénélon expressively performed this character’s transitions and complexities, allowing the audience to get lost in the imagined world, following Taxis’s experiences and personal growth.
Although it followed the original format of Barker’s Animals In Paradise, this performance had a surrealist tone, with characters who appeared otherworldly and outrageous. As explained in the Concordia production’s program,“Barker’s writing […] is not bound down by the constraints of reality,” according to the director, Messier. “Part of his genius is to write such improbable scenes in a way that makes them seem truer than life.”

Adding to this production’s detailed interpretation of Barker’s work were the amazing costumes, provided by the university’s costume shop. Extravagant and intricately detailed, the stylistic elements of the characters’s wardrobes helped fully transport the audience into the otherworldly realm of the production.

Other small details, such as the repeated motif of several figures circling on bicycles, and blowing whistles and noisemakers,added to the production, emphasizing the unsettling, surrealist nature of the setting.

Throughout the entire play, Animals In Paradise creates a complex and, at times, confusing image of the world. Amid themes of love and loss, the production contrasts cruelty and animalistic behaviours with relatable, humanistic emotions and reactions. Despite being decisively removed from the context of the contemporary everyday, the play and its characters are still connected to the audience and the global experience of emotions. All of these aspects, along with the talented cast and crew, created an interesting, complex performance that took the audience to a place of surrealism while still connecting on a humanistic, empathetic, emotional level.

Graphic Ana Bilokin.


Transcending the realms of reality

Corrupted Portal reshapes interdisciplinary points of view

Navigating the conceptual realms of reality and the otherworldly, the VAV Gallery’s current exhibition, Corrupted Portal, explores the spaces and complexities between the everyday and the mystical, the exhibition features a diverse mix of interdisciplinary works, ranging from painting to sculpture and performance art. Within each work, there is a distinctive style and form in how each artist interprets the exhibition’s theme. Each one creates a complex, diverse space for exploration and, by extension, new ideas are brought forth.

When first entering the gallery, the viewer’s eyes go directly to the collection of large paintings and prints on the walls. There is a visual theme in Corrupted Portal of bright, unnatural neon colours, which contributes to the overall concepts of the untraditional and the spaces between reality and the surreal. Sculptures showcased in the exhibition also use materials that explore the untraditional, and question otherworldly realms through their forms.

Juliana Delgado’s olfactory sculpture references recent events in Brazil, where a fire at the National Museum destroyed many invaluable items and works. The sculpture uses a mixture of scents to recreate the smell of the fire and the burning of these special artifacts and artworks.Taking a conceptual approach and including various sensory components, the reference of the very real fire is considered in a new, conceptual form.

Through the works, it is apparent how each artist personally interpreted the connections between the everyday and the otherworldly, and how that translates into their art. Themes and focuses explored by the respective artists include witchcraft, technology, institutions and structure in conjunction with the sublime. Themes of nature and the environment are also prominent in the varied artworks. The exhibition creates a space for viewers to explore all of these different realms and ideas, developing diverse and complex understandings of the relationship between reality and the mystical.

Zachary Potvin William’s painting, Crack of Dawn, uses bright, eye-catching colours, fluid forms and detailing. According to the artist’s statement, Williams is inspired by mythical aspects of botany and nature. As the statement shares, although Crack of Dawn explores “the subject of obscenity and perversity in a humoristic manner, formally it is a search for radiant light.”

IV Phases of the Salt Moon (I – IV) by Xan Shian is a quadriptych (four-piece series)made from digital collage and photo manipulation. The works focus on the moon and its phases, and create intricate textures through the digital work. As Shian explains in their artist statement, “the images query the nature of perceived reality, truthfulness in the digital epoch, and the reliability of memory.”

Corrupted Portal also includes a weaving performance by Scarlet Fountain as part of her ongoing work, Rope Project. Fountain is a Concordia theatre student exploring the boundaries between different disciplines, including performance art, visual art and theatre, which Rope Project considers through its form.

According to Fountain, the project began last year and was inspired by her volunteer work at the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR). The project considers the life cycle of materials and how communities can be represented through the waste they create and the materials they throw away. Fountain’s project also connects to concepts and allegories of diversity. By incorporating various mediums and binding them together to create a unified structure, Fountain mirrors the diversity of our communities.

Corrupted Portal will be at Concordia’s VAV Gallery until Nov. 9. Scarlet Fountain’s Rope Project weaving performances will take place every Monday from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the gallery, for the duration of the exhibition.


Happening in and around the White Cube this week….

Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Gráfica Abierta

Curated by Santiago Pérez Garci, the director of the Museo Nacional de la Estampa in Mexico City, this exhibition focuses on the practice of printmaking. Featuring nine artists and their works, Gráfica Abierta looks at the growing interdisciplinary focus on contemporary printmaking, and challenges traditional models of the practice. This group exhibition is showing at several artist-run centres in the Belgo Building.

When: Now until Dec. 1
Where: The Belgo Building, 372 Ste Catherine W.
Admission is free.


HTMlles Festival Opening Night

Since 1997, this festival has focused on media arts and digital cultures, while exploring it from a socio-political and feminist perspective. HTMlles will feature a diverse range of events, such as exhibitions, performances, workshops and panels. The festival has a strong mandate to provide a platform for women, trans and gender non-conforming artists, and to create an anti-oppression environment. Following its opening party, the festival will be holding events until Nov. 5 in various locations around the city.

When:  Nov. 1, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Where: 4001 Berri St.
Admission is free.


Stratification Vernissage

Art Mûr is welcoming several new exhibitions, including Laurent Lamarche’s Stratification, which uses interdisciplinary mediums and sculptural forms. Lamarche’s work looks at the connections and tensions between past and present, organic and futuristic. With the use of a 3D printer for some works, as well as other mediums, Lamarche presents an interesting collection of works for viewers to explore.

When: Nov. 3, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Art Mûr, 5826 St-Hubert St.
Admission is free.


Zei Gezunt // Porte-toi bien // Keep Well

Focusing on the journey of a refugee during World War II and the role of everyday objects throughout this journey, Zei Gezunt looks at the life of Lejb Pilanski and his experiences during this time period. The exhibition features the improvised household objects Pilanski had throughout his journey, and explores the deeper significance of these items in their historical context. Other constructed items, personal materials, audio and video and photographs are included in the exhibit, adding to the exploration of displacement within everyday, seemingly insignificant items. This exhibit is in connection with the Museum of Jewish Montreal’s series, Movements and Migrations, which considers all forms of mobility, from physical to emotional, and the presence of displacement, loss and belonging within these themes.

When: Now until Jan. 20
Where: Museum of Jewish Montreal, 4040 St-Laurent Blvd.
Admission is free.


Graphic by Ana Bilokin.

Phenomena Festival transcends convention within art, through Theatre d’image

Exploring the avant garde and untraditional

Considering unconventional practices of art, invoking mystery and disconnection for the viewer, and having meaningful conversations through artistic form—Phenomena Festival once again traverses the avant-garde.

The festival is an annual multidisciplinary arts event that showcases diverse art practices, and is presented at various performances and locations throughout the city. Phenomena began in 2012 as an annual event presented by the creative company Les Filles électriques, which was founded by artist D. Kimm in 2001. The festival focuses on interdisciplinary works that challenge traditional styles and forms of art. This year’s theme, “Théâtre d’image,” highlights art that uses poetic images and transcends traditional theatre by leaving mystery and interpretation to the viewer to navigate and consider, according to D. Kimm’s curatorial statement on this year’s festival.

Artist Jesse Orr’s performance, Learning How To Steal, was presented at La Sala Rossa on Oct. 17, followed by Nadia Myre and Johanna Nutter’s collaborative performance of A Casual (Strikethrough) Reconstruction. Both pieces focused on themes of Indigenous and colonial relationships and identities, and the navigation through these specific topics. The respective works by Orr, Myre and Nutter also connected to the theme of “Théâtre d’image,” using a mixture of media within the performances. Different narratives intertwined throughout the projects, creating complexity and allowing the audience to explore and consider more deeply what the artists were presenting.

In a conversation with The Concordian, artist Jesse Orr shared that since first becoming involved in the festival several years ago, she has seen how Phenomena and D. Kimm have worked to further include the greater Montreal arts community in the festival. Some of these community connections include collaborations with Patsy Van Roost, also known as the Mile End Fairy, who works around the city, creating urban projects and art activities that involve the community. Another project at Phenomena this year is the photography series, Portraits of Lao Women On Imaginary Landscapes, in connection to Quebec’s Laotian community and the Santisouk co-op, which works to help Laotian immigrants integrate into Quebec.

Learning How To Steal was inspired by Orr’s position as a white settler in Montreal. It approaches the conversation of identity and belonging within Canada. Using puppetry, movement, theatre and image projection, Orr navigated through her family’s history and her personal current interactions with events focused on the Indigenous communities and rights. This included the recent vigil and march for missing and murdered Indigenous women, which Orr included in her performance. Through the intermittent use of contrasting media—paired with the switching narratives of the work, from family history to present day interactions—the complexities, grey areas and intertwined nature of the relationships and conversations about colonialism are further acknowledged and explored.

In the same realm and with a similar focus, Myre and Nutter’s A Casual (Strikethrough) Reconstruction discussed the complexities of identity in connection to indigeneity. During their performance, the artists invited six members of the audience to read the transcript of a conversation Myre had with five others discussing their Indigenous identities as culturally mixed individuals. Through the work, the audience was invited to hear explicit and honest descriptions of the individuals’s feelings, understandings and experiences. Furthermore, through the participation of the audience members with differing cultural identities, a greater narrative on the aspect of identity and the relationships between settlers and First Nations was explored.


Portraits of Lao Women On Imaginary Landscapes will be showing at the Maison de la culture du Plateau-Mont-Royal until Oct. 28.



The Art Hive is a safe space for all

The Art Hive is dedicated to students’ creative expression, without judgement

Creation, self-care, and skill-sharing—Concordia’s Art Hive provides a serene environment where everyone can create. Run by the school’s creative art therapy students, this space provides students and the university’s community with a place to relax, decompress and work with a variety of creative materials. The Art Hive works to provide an inclusive space for the community, with the intention to connect, share skills and create.

There are a variety of Art Hives located across Montreal, which provide community connection and artistic resources to varied neighbourhoods throughout the city. Concordia’s very own Hive is free, open to all, and wheelchair accessible. It also works with the university’s Centre For Creative Reuse (CUCCR) to provide recycled and reused materials, creating a sustainable foundation for art-making.

This space is dedicated to students’ creative expression, without judgement, whether they have previous experience with the arts or not. Students use it for self care in periods of academic stress, to work on creative school or community projects, or to meet other people from diverse backgrounds around a constructive activity.” – Rachel Chainey, Art Hive Network national coordinator.

Its location within a university arguably heightens the significance and value of the Art Hive’s mandates and resources. In an academic environment that generates a lot of stress, intensity and focus on productivity, the Art Hive provides a space for people to remove themselves from that environment and take time to relax, be creative and work without an agenda or a deadline.

The Art Hive is for people of all disciplines, whether fine arts or any other department of study. Artistic spaces can often be intimidating and may appear or act as an exclusive environment, deterring some from becoming involved. The Art Hive is a resource specifically for the community, and its mandates work to make sure it is inclusive, accessible and comfortable for all.

For those who are experienced in fine arts, the Art Hive provides a more relaxed space to create and practice a craft, contrasting with the typical academic format of deadlines, critiques and specific criteria. Instead, students can create without these pressures and perhaps find further inspiration for their other work. In studying fine arts and creating work exclusively for a curriculum to be graded, the magic and joy in art can be lost, to a certain extent. By providing an environment specifically for the wellbeing of the community, with no structure or need for a specific finished product, fine arts students can once again find their passion and inspiration, or just create artwork in a space focused on providing peacefulness and freedom for all.

With ties to art therapy, the Art Hive uses creation as a therapeutic practice. Along with its regular scheduling and space, the Art Hive also offers a Pop Up Art Hive at the Zen Den in the university’s Counselling and Psychological Services department space. The space works to give visitors a calm, comfortable environment to decompress and practice mindfulness, while also having support and staff on-hand for those who are struggling or simply need some support.
The mental wellness aspect of the Art Hive is another major component of the organization and what it can provide to the community. As students, mental health—which can be affected by stress, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed—can be a prominent concern. It’s not always easy or accessible for students to reach out or receive help for these concerns. It is also often difficult to acknowledge the need for extra support. This space has direct ties to therapeutic practices and removes some of the potentially daunting aspects of reaching out for help, while still working to provide a form of relief or aid through its format. The accessibility of the Hive comes into play here-everyone is welcome.

The Art Hive is also just an enjoyable place to be. While there plenty of benefits tied to wellbeing, mental health and student life, the space also provides an environment to create, experiment and connect with others. With its inclusivity, accessibility and flexibility, the Art Hive truly provides a great space for the community. It can be a wonderful resource for students, addressing and acknowledging a variety of needs and working to provide a comfortable space for all.

The Art Hive is open on Mondays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the 5th floor of the EV building. The Pop Up Art Hive at the Zen Den is open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every other Tuesday.

POP takes over the Mile End

POP Montreal is an annual multidisciplinary music and arts festival, taking place in various locations across the city from Sept. 26 to 30. In a takeover of the Mile End and some of the neighbourhood’s most prominent venues, more than 400 artists, musicians and filmmakers participated in a vast number of events.

Under the umbrella of the festival, there are several subsections, such as Film POP, Art POP and Puces POP, focusing on music-related film events, visual arts and crafts respectively. This year, events under these branches included talks by filmmakers Alanis Obomsawin and Allan Moyle of Empire Records, outdoor film screenings, diverse art exhibitions and site-specific performances across the city. POP Montreal also put on a variety of panels and symposiums, discussing a range of topics in relation to the arts and music community, from gentrification within the arts to the relationship between music and astrology.


Film POP

Kicking off Film POP was a free screening of Betty: They say I’m different. The documentary reveals the bold and enigmatic Betty Davis as she burst into stardom and, just as quickly, disappeared from the limelight.

Now, more than 30 years later, she is ready to tell her story—her transformation from a “bright, orange bird” to the dark and powerful “crow.” The latter encapsulated the musician’s Nasty Gal stage persona. With the subsequent loss of her beloved father, the crow disappeared from her heart, and she from the stage.

POP Symposium

Fail Better: Learn from the Pros’ Mistakes featured successful music managers and publishing administrators Mark Kates, Molly Neuman, Nancy Ross, Jeff Waye and Tom DeSavia who spoke about their mistakes in the industry and how they’ve since bounced back. From debates surrounding exposure and payment, to growing your network and being true to your art, the panelists exposed a different side to the music industry.

Historical Erasure of Queer Spaces: Shakedown and Beyond featured musician and artist Elle Barbara; community organiser, activist and artist Jodie-Ann Muckler; hip hop artist, entrepreneur and community organiser Lucas Charlie Rose; and Montreal-based DJ and designer Tati au Miel. Together, the panelists led an empowering discussion that questioned true inclusivity. They spoke about building trust and relationships among QTBIPOC to better foster safe community spaces and encouraging environments for performers and party-goers alike. They also indicated the importance of properly documenting and archiving these community organizing methods for organisers to come.“The work I’m doing will help the people after me,” Tati said. “We don’t realize how lucky we are to be safe enough to document these events.” In the past, documentation was high-risk. Now that it’s safer for the queer community to do so, their stories must be told and non-POC must help be their microphone.

Find POC organizers and give them money,” suggested Muckler. “Hire QTBIPOC performers, not because they’re people of colour but because they’re qualified. Don’t tokenize; give it to them because they need it more.”

Gentrification: The Role of Artists in Changing Neighbourhoods was a collaboration between Concordia’s Fine Art Student Alliance (FASA) and POP Montreal. The panel discussed the presence of gentrification in the arts community, and took place at Piccolo Rialto. Moderated by Robyn Fadden, a Montreal-based writer, editor and broadcaster, the panel featured Faiz Abhuani, Gregory Burton, Fred Burrill and Cathy Inouye. Who all have unique experiences and personal connections to the arts, and its relationship to gentrification within Montreal, through their respective careers, practices, and experiences.


Whispering Pines

California-based video and performance artist Shana Moulton created Whispering Pines as an ongoing project to define the virtual environment of her alter-ego and avatar, Cynthia. A hypochondriac and agoraphobe, Cynthia searches for harmony and unison in her surrounding environment, both indoors and outdoors. She is obsessed with the kitsch and New-Age, avant-garde home decor and consumerism. Projected onto the gallery walls, Whispering Pines transports viewers into the artist’s mystical, kaleidoscopic world and Cynthia’s pop culture-obsessed subconscious.

Where: Centre Clark, 5455 Gaspé Ave., suite 114
When: Now until Oct. 13
Admission is free.
Miniature turtlenecks cover the wall in Portable Closets. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.
Portable Closets

Kyle Alden Martens is a Montreal-based interdisciplinary artist working with sculpture, textile and fashion design. The miniature garments in Portable Closets were attached to or, in some cases, fitted within ready-to-wear articles of clothing and wooden sandals. Accompanied by a video to further explore Martens’s project, the installation includes strange sculptures, tiny turtlenecks, T-shirts and pants. “Don’t look for fixed meanings here, you won’t find them,” wrote Concordia’s art history PhD student, Mikhel Proulx, in the gallery’s pamphlet.

Where: Centre Clark, 5455 Gaspé Ave., suite 114
When: Now until Oct. 13
Admission is free.

Òu sommes-nous?

This multidisciplinary exhibition is showing at the artist centre OBORO and features the works of Judith Albert, Nik Forrest, Katrin Freisager and Dana Claxton. The exhibition focuses on connections and relationships with nature. Featuring works in the media of photography, film and moving images, the works also invoke feminist and postcolonial themes and perspectives. The exhibition and the artists’s respective works provide a diverse mix to look at and interact with, yet are cohesive and connected through these central themes.

Where: OBORO, 4001 Berri
When: Now until Oct. 27
Admission is free.

Showing at the Ellephant Gallery in Quartier des spectacles, Cité-Jardin features the work of artist Sabrina Ratté, a Concordia graduate with a master’s degree in film production. The exhibition presents works in video projection and 3D printing, and transforms the gallery space into otherworldly, imaginary, ephemeral landscapes. The exhibition considers and explores connections between the physical and virtual realms. In addition to the exhibition, an interview with the artist will be broadcast every day by XX Files Pirate Radio at Rialto Theatre.

Where: Ellephant, 1201 St-Dominique St.
When: Now until Nov. 3
Admission is free.

What you missed…

Photos by Mackenzie Lad.


Emotion, representation and identity

Painting is a medium with a complex yet polarizing history; how does one contemporize it? Le Salon, an exhibition featuring works by Gabriela Avila-Yiptong and Florence Yee, focuses on the medium of painting in history and within the contemporary world.

Many of the works in Le Salon feature landscapes—a subject matter very prominent throughout the history of painting, specifically in Canada. This was popularized through the works of the Group of Seven, a group of artists who were very successful across the nation for their paintings of the untouched Canadian landscape and wilderness.

Thought to be distinctive of Canadian art, the genre of landscape painting brought up many contemporary concerns and critiques. Most prominently, there are serious issues of representation, national identity and exclusion in defining a nation’s artistic identity based on the paintings of the Group of Seven, which was exclusively made up of white male artists. Other issues arise in the depiction of bare landscapes, with no human or industrial presence. This often ignores the presence of Indigenous peoples and communities on the land.

Yee, a recent Concordia fine arts graduate, is now attending Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) for her master’s in interdisciplinary art, media and design. Her work, which has been displayed around Montreal and at Concordia, focuses on themes of diaspora within her identity, issues of representation, the colonialist and patriarchal history of the art world and art canon.

Finding Myself at the MMFA III depicts Yee standing in front of landscape paintings, with her figure blending into the artwork.
Photo by Mackenzie Lad.
Finding Myself at the MMFA IV depicts Yee standing in front of landscape paintings, with her figure blending into the artwork.







Yee’s pieces in Le Salon include Finding Myself at the MMFA III and IV. These self portraits were completed with oil paint and depict Yee standing in front of landscape paintings, with a projection of the painting covering her figure. Quite literally, Yee paints herself into these historically celebrated works.

Another work by Yee, Oh Canada, consists of embroidered yarn on canvas and recreates a Group of Seven landscape through the patterns of threading. Displayed in a glass case, the viewer can see the back side of the piece and further discover the detailing of a red flag, with the design of the U.K.’s flag in the upper left corner. This ensign on the back of the landscape can be considered as a way to remind viewers of the colonial presence across Canada’s lands, along with the patriarchal nature of the history of landscape painting.

Avila-Yiptong‘s works in Le Salon focus primarily on landscape. Florida Motel and I Could Die Here display idyllic landscapes in soft shades, featuring details of the sea and rainbows. The images are realistic yet dreamlike, as if they are a fantasy.

Through these works, contrasting with Yee’s focus on identity and ethnicity, Avila-Yiptong aims to remove the narrative and influence of culture and race, according to the artist statement on her website. Instead, she focuses on personal and emotional relationships with nature, through featuring places she has visited, and mixing styles of realism and abstraction.

This in itself also addresses the patriarchal nature of painting, by representing resistance against normative ways of viewing art and artists; white male artists do not have to fight for representation or opportunity within the medium, while women and artists of colour often do, historically and in today’s art world. By removing the focus on identity and race, and looking at the emotional relationship to landscape, Avila-Yiptong reclaims painting from these normative structures.

Avila-Yiptong’s work focuses on places she has visited, mixing styles of realism and abstraction.
Photo by Mackenzie Lad.
Avila-Yiptong’s work focuses on places she has visited, mixing styles of realism and abstraction.
Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Early in their respective practices, both artists discovered an interest in painting and the subject of landscape, but experienced racialized discussions and reactions to their work, as discussed in “Keeping Painting Contemporary: Inserting New Perspectives in an “Old” Medium,” a gallery text by Ariane Fairlie. The significance of painting and the landscape depictions within Canada are very much promoted through university art classes, which adds to their relationship with painting. These aspects of personal experience and representation through academia influence the artists’s respective work. A conversation emerges from the way the artists react, reclaim and find influence from these experiences and historical representations.

While both Yee and Avila-Yiptong look at different themes within their respective works, both question and explore the presence of painting within a contemporary context. Both artists are concerned with how the history of the medium and the subject of landscape can be contested. They are spaces that require much consideration, critique and change.

Le Salon is showing at Articule until Oct. 14. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.



Reclamation and resistance at play in exhibition “Among All These Tundras”

Exploring contemporary focuses of circumpolar communities and identities

Language, land, sovereignty—how do these concepts and areas of focus play out in the regions of the circumpolar arctic? How do topics of identity and colonialism define themselves in these communities? Such is addressed and explored through the art of 12 Indigenous artists from this region in the exhibition Among All These Tundras.

Curated by Heather Igloliorte, Amy Prouty and Charissa von Harringa, Among All These Tundras showcases works exclusively by artists from the circumpolar arctic, whose respective works address and explore contemporary and historic focuses of this location, including language, colonialism and sovereignty. The variety of pieces span many mediums, including film, sculpture, photography, textile and performance, creating a diverse collection of work.

The title of the exhibition is drawn from “My Home Is In My Heart,” a poem written by Nils-Aslak Valkeapää. Valkeapää is a well-known Finnish Sami poet, known for his writing, music and eight collections of published poems. The poem is written in Sami. In it, Valkeapää addresses and connects to different realms of Indigenous life and knowledge, while highlighting aspects of decolonization. He uses language as a form of resistance, which gives greater significance to the title of the exhibition. Connected to this, in viewing the works of Among All These Tundras, it is necessary to recognize that the presence of colonialism has touched, and is prominent within, every artwork shown. Viewers can further consider these ties and the reclamation and resistance explored within the artworks.

Sami Shelters #1 – 5 (2009 – ) by artist Joar Nango consists of several hand-knitted wool sweaters of various shades, designs and patterns.
Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Sami Shelters #1 – 5  is an ongoing project by artist Joar Nango. It consists of several hand-knitted wool sweaters of various shades, designs and patterns, hanging at different lengths near the entrance of the gallery. The designs on the sweaters depict landscapes—architecture and nature—of the region of Sápmi, the artist’s place of origin, in Norway. Nango, who also works in architecture, questions and explores Indigenous identity through his art. This is seen within Sami Shelters, which provide a visual representation of the artist’s home and his identity.

Artist Allison Akootchook Warden’s We Glow The Way We Choose To Glow (2018) is a sculptural piece consisting of 3D-printed figurines of polar bears, displayed on a glow-in-the-dark filament. The figurines are positioned in a pattern and the bright shades of pink and purple from the filament are distinctive and eye-catching. Warden is Iñupiat, from Fairbanks, Alaska, where she witnessed the impact of colonization, which has influenced her artwork. By including her identity and culture within her work, Warden also addresses ideas and issues of climate change and the current political landscape.

Tusarsauvungaa (2018) by Taqralik Partridge, is a series of five hanging elements made up of beading, fishing lures, coins and other material components. Each element is distinct—one consists of an image of a fish with beading at the bottom and coins attached to the central part of the piece. Another, using the material of a thermal emergency blanket, connects Canadian dollars through gold detailing. The artist is also a writer and spoken word performer from the community of Kuujjuaq, the largest Inuit village in Quebec.

The exhibition showcases a diverse range of artwork from a large selection of artists from  circumpolar regions. Collectively, the works explore general themes, issues and aspects unique to these areas. Yet with the diverse forms and subject matters of each respective work, further complexities, ideas and personal/specific focuses are considered.

The exhibition provides representation, along with space for discussion and consideration of circumpolar life and identity, specifically that of Indigenous peoples of this region. Perhaps solidifying this even more are the backgrounds of the curators—Igloliorte is from the region of Nunatsiavut and is a professor in Indigenous studies at Concordia, along with her curational work in various galleries across the country, while Prouty and Harringa are both art history PhD students at Concordia with specializations in Inuit art.

Addressing indigeneity and the presence of colonialism (along with the impact of climate change and politics), Among All These Tundras provides representation and resistance. It encourages greater consideration, knowledge and awareness of circumpolar communities and identity, along with the specific complexities and significance within the region.

Among All These Tundras is on display in the Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery in Concordia’s LB building until Oct. 27. The gallery is open 12 to 6 p.m. from Tuesdays to Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.



Breaking down walls and heightening accessibility

Redefining Montreal’s urban landscape in Surfaces

Montreal is alive with street art, from huge murals and intricate details, to vibrant colours and distinct graffiti. In artworks across the city, there is a re-understanding of the landscape and surrounding environment. Traditional ways of viewing and accessing art are challenged.

Surfaces, on display from Aug. 23 to Oct. 28 at the Promenade des Artistes in Quartier des Spectacles, is a multidisciplinary urban exhibition showcasing works

from some of Montreal’s most successful street artists. Displaying 14 works by 16 artists and collectives—including Miss Me, Omen, Zek One and Shalak Attack—the exhibition features distinctive and varied works.

The exhibition’s pieces are primarily displayed on large, individual panels, paired with signs that provide information about the respective artists and their practices. Two sculptural works are also displayed; one made of individually detailed concrete cubes and the other is a car, decorated with writing. There is diversity and variety in the distinct style of each artist, which showcases the versatility of the street art format and provides something for every viewer.

Miss Me, a prominent figure in Montreal’s urban art scene, is known for her explicitly political and feminist art. At Surfaces, the artist’s panel consists of five mostly nude female figures, all with their faces covered by a ski mask with cartoon-style mouse ears. The bodies are adorned with drawings and statements, including “IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU” and “Stop blaming women for the misbehaviours of men.”

Cedar Eve is an Anishinaabe artist and a Concordia fine arts alumna, having graduated in 2012. Her piece in Surfaces depicts brightly coloured, surrealist figures in spaces of transformation and metamorphosis. The work is connected to her First Nations identity and is inspired by stories shared with her as a child.

In the case of both these artists, the political and the personal are explored and shared through their work. Taking up space in a city and displaying these powerful messages is also arguably a political move.

Accessibility is a regularly discussed and dissected issue within the art world. Who can access art? How does privilege and class influence accessibility? Institutions, such as art galleries and museums, often appear as exclusive spaces for select communities, and are not always physically accessible for all. Further boundaries can be found in the realms of academia. Art is often not accessible in this way either, as many viewers often feel discouraged by the potential condescension within the artistic community.

Street art explores and challenges these questions and the normative institutions of viewing art. Painting on structures and areas within the city also fights the concept of ownership and select viewing, heightening accessibility for all. This aspect was clearly considered by the curators of Surfaces, who aptly display the 16 works in a public, outdoor space rather than inside a gallery.

Surfaces will be on display at the Promenade des Artistes in the Quartier des Spectacles until Oct. 28. The exhibition is outdoors and open to the public.


Diversity, creativity, and community at Montreal Pride’s Drag Superstars

Through the reality TV nature of Drag Race, viewers get an inside look and understanding of the talent, effort and significance within the art of drag, yet arguably through a selective lens. While the names and success of the show’s stars remained evident at Pride’s Drag Superstars, the event also provided a clear representation of the performing queens’ talent. The event showcased the core nature of the of the art of drag and its significance within the LGBTQ+ community—sharing the true art, spirit and meaning of drag.

The three-hour-long show took place on the TD Stage at Parc des Faubourgs on Aug. 16. Hosted by Bianca Del Rio, the winning queen from season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the show consisted of individual lip sync and musical performances by a large number of queens from the television show, along with local Montrealers. The show was a fun, poignant event, due to the artistic individuality, the encouragement of local queens and the open discussion of serious subjects related to the queer community, such as the stigma surrounding HIV.

The show was opened by Ongina, a contestant on season one of RuPaul’s Drag Race. During her time on the show, Ongina shared with her fellow contestants and the judges that she was HIV positive. Since becoming the first queen to publicly announce her status on TV, Ongina has gone on to be an HIV activist, and other queens in later seasons have followed her path by sharing their experiences and diagnoses with the illness. As Ongina spoke to the Montreal crowd, she shared this story and spoke about how Drag Race helped her openly discuss her status and the illness. Ongina used the platform of Drag Superstars to share her experience, and used the art of drag and performance as a form of activism; a way to spread awareness on important matters prominent to the queer community and its history.

The distinctiveness and creativity within the realm of drag was showcased through the individual performances by the various queens at Drag Superstars. This individuality was shown through their painstakingly crafted visual appearances — with details distinct and individual to each queen — along with their performances and interactions with the crowd.

Miz Cracker performed a mash-up of pop songs interspersed with movie and advertisement clips, creating a surprising, comedic performance.

Highlights of the night were found in the short lip sync performances by the queens — a performance form long connected to the art of drag. Miz Cracker, a New York queen who placed fifth in the most recent season of Drag Race, performed a mash-up of pop songs interspersed with movie and advertisement clips, creating a surprising, comedic performance.

Adore Delano threw herself into the audience, creating a deep and loving connection between herself and the crowd.

Adore Delano, runner up on season six of the show (and also previously a contestant on American Idol), performed her own songs live and threw herself into the audience to crowd surf while singing her song “I Adore U.” This further created a deep and loving connection between herself and the crowd.

Aja, a New York queen from both season nine and All Stars 3 of Drag Race, also performed her own work, coming out with a fiery performance of a multitude of her successful rap songs. Other queens added their unique spin to the performances through impersonating famous musicians. Kameron Michaels, a top four contestant on Season 10, lip synced “Believe” by Cher.

Shangela, a contestant on season two and three as well as All Stars 3, closed the show with a mix of Beyonce songs. While dressed and made up in the singer’s likeness, the queen performed the singer’s famous dance moves which showcased her immense talent as a performer.

Drag Superstars also included local queens, furthering the concept of community, acceptance and diversity. In the middle of the show, queens Rita Baga, Miss Butterfly, Manny, Michel Dorion, and Franky Dee — all Montreal performers — each took the stage for their own lip sync set. Bianca Del Rio, spoke about this, encouraging support for local and up-and-coming queens and reminding everyone that all Drag Race queens were at this place once too and needed local support to help get them to where they are now.

In showcasing the diversity of styles, talents, focuses, and the diverse representation and intense range of creativity and styles, this brought a greater theme and consideration of the meaning of Pride in the first place. These aspects of the event showed a celebration of the queer community, and messages of acceptance for all, especially in this community that faces bigotry, exclusion and violence.

The differences within the queens’ styles and performances promote messages of acceptance and support. Looking at the significance of representation, especially in media, these messages can provide reassurance and encouragement for future generations to pursue true authenticity of the self. This representation provides access to explore ideas of gender, identity, presentation, sexuality and the complexities and fluidities within.



Interdisciplinary exploration through collective knowledge

Concordia alumna Sandra Volny speaks about her latest project

Concordia graduate Sandra Volny explores concepts of sound and space through forms of collective knowledge and shared skills in her recent project, Sound and Space Research.

Volny is a multidisciplinary artist who splits her time between Paris, France and Montreal. A MFA graduate from Concordia University, she recently completed her PhD at La Sorbonne in Paris this past December. Through her work and research, Volny focuses on exploring concepts of sound and space, as well as their dualities and complexities. This can be seen in her video installation, where does sound go, where does it come from, which was exhibited at Concordia’s FOFA Gallery last fall.

Sound and Space Research continues Volny’s investigation of aural and spatial awareness, with the added component of collective knowledge and concepts of shared intelligence. This is done through the collaboration of interdisciplinary forms and shared learning experiences. Throughout her career, Volny has collaborated with other artists of various disciplines, each participating and bringing their specific expertise to a project and to their collective work.

Where does sound go, where does it come from, which focuses on the use of sound, specifically sonar in small fishing villages in Chile, was a collaboration through Volny’s collective, Triangular Project. Volny and two fellow artists, Florine Leoni and Macarena Ruiz-Tagle, traveled around Chile together and worked in tandem on their specific focuses and artistic practices within the theme of aural and spatial awareness.

Sandra Volny’s where does the sound go, where does it come from (2016). Photo by Richard-Max Tremblay.

It was with Triangular Project that Sound and Space Research first came to fruition in 2017. The project, in collaboration with the Ionion Center for the Arts and Culture in Greece, is an artistic research platform for participants of all expertise and disciplines.

Sound and Space Research is a week-long experience. Each day involves diverse activities and exercises, providing participants with a range of mediums to practice and explore. As part of the focus on shared knowledge, participants practice a wide range of primarily fine arts-based disciplines, including dance, music and visual arts, as well as architecture, wellness professions and anthropology. The project is not focused on participants’ previous accomplishments, but rather encourages and facilitates further growth on a personal and collective level. Participants come from all over the world, and do not require a particular level of education or experience to participate. Last year, however, about 60 per cent of participants were Concordia students or alumni, according to Volny.

Sound and Space Research is a very intense experience, with all of the participants living together, working together and sharing the same spaces. According to Volny, this intensity encourages and creates something special. Participants have to push themselves; each day consists of different activities in different forms and disciplines. This aspect ties into Volny’s own work process, in which she immerses herself in new environments and works in collaboration with other artists, such as her travels in Chile for where does sound go, where does it come from. This was a very intense experience for Volny, because she was meeting new people and exploring different facets of her research in a new environment, while also creating new work born from these experiences and interactions.

At the end of the program, there is a collective exhibition for the participants to showcase work they have created during the week. This final showcase is open to the public, as a component of the partnership with the Ionion Center, to encourage interaction between the artists and the community. This accessibility is important to Volny and for the participants, as it allows further connection with the community.

In mid-May, Sound and Space Research will once again take place in collaboration with the Ionion Center for the Arts and Culture. It will be organized by Volny, alongside sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard, who will work as a mentor in the program.
Sound and Space Research works outside of academic institutions, and a university degree or a specific level of expertise is not required to participate in this project. The project does have connections with academic spaces, though, and Volny said there are plans to expand it internationally, and eventually to Montreal.

More information about the Sound and Space Research project, including how to apply to this year’s session, is available on its website.

Feature photo courtesy of Sandra Volny


Exploring sound, space and sculpture

The three latest additions to Concordia’s FOFA Gallery incorporate various mediums and themes, yet all showcase the talent of Concordia alumni.

Among these works are Jerry Ropson’s the distance between outstretched arms (deadflag), Digital Erratics by Elisabeth and Tim Belliveau, and Sandra Volny’s Where does sound go, where does it come from.

The Belliveau siblings use a mixture of sculpture and video installations in their joint work, Digital Erratics. Tim recently completed his master’s at the university—this installation is part of his thesis. Elisabeth also attended Concordia where she completed her master of fine arts.

In the FOFA Gallery, the Belliveaus have displayed their respective pieces together. The common theme of exploration within the mediums of sculpture and moving images ties the vast installation’s components together. Digital Erratics includes sculptures from different materials, including glass, wood, ceramic and paper, among others. Video projections manipulate and experiment with moving images, stop-motion animation as well as the properties and aspects of colour. Digital Erratics thoroughly explores and experiments with its mediums, in traditional and contemporary ways, providing viewers with plenty to discover and consider.

Siblings Tim and Elisabeth Belliveau contributed their mixed media installation titled Digital Erratics to the FOFA’s current collection. Photo by Kirubel Mehari

Jerry Ropson’s the distance between outstretched arms (deadflag) is displayed in the York Corridor Vitrine of FOFA. The site-specific work is eye-catching, detailed and provides a new take on traditional viewing of art—the work is within the gallery, but only viewable outside of the space. When installing the piece, Ropson worked in the public space for several days, interacting with the audience and environment around him, further challenging the traditional forms of displaying art.

This installation focuses on the form of the flag, as a structure and material—a concept Ropson has focused on periodically since 2002. This piece also explores the conceptual and historical meanings behind the motif, including connections to both colonialism and concepts of nationality. “The meaning or specific connotations and uses of the flag have changed and morphed continually over the years,” Ropson said. “With origins deep-rooted in nautical history, warfare and land claiming, flags stand as just one more uneasy signifier of colonial history. The idea of the iconoclastic use of the flag is an important distinction.”

For Ropson, exhibiting in the FOFA Gallery was especially significant because this is his first exhibition in Montreal since leaving the city in 2009. This exhibit was also special for Ropson, as he and Elisabeth Belliveau worked on and completed their respective MFAs in fibres at Concordia at the same time, and previously exhibited at FOFA together in 2007. “It was so great to return to Montreal and see so many familiar faces at the vernissage, but also during the installation of the work,” Ropson said.

A variety of materials and mediums, including twine, ink, fabrics, vinyl and sculptural elements, were used in this project. The choice of materials and the placement of the individual pieces were important in this work. “I spent a lot of time considering the layout of the objects, and what went where and why,” Ropson said. “I also make very specific choices in the materials I work with. I utilize everyday materials that suggest the interrelations of social, cultural and economic structures.” His installation, the distance between outstretched arms (deadflag), also explores the flag’s ability to signify place and assert ideologies in a relatively conceptual way. There are a lot of complexities attached to such a simple material form, which Ropson aims to deconstruct in this piece.

the distance between outstretched arms (deadflag) by Jerry Ropson, a graduate of Concordia’s master’s program in fibres. Photo courtesy of Jerry Ropson.

Sandra Volny’s Where does sound go, where does it come from consists of a video installation accompanied by audio. The work focuses primarily on the subject of Chilean fishermen and their relationship to sound in the form of sonar. Volny, a Concordia MFA graduate, recently spent time in Chile with her art collective, Triangular Project, traveling the diverse landscape of the country and looking at the relationships different communities have with surrounding spaces.

Volny participated in a month-long residency while in Chile, and it was there that the majority of this art piece was formed. Volny had specific interest in sonar, and she looked at how it is used in the sea, both by animals and humans, in her artistic practice. The fishermen Volny centred the work around use traditional knowledge passed down through generations to navigate the sea.

The focus on the sea as a primary subject matter also addresses environmental issues. The piece highlights the contrast between traditional fishing and its more commercial forms, and depicts the ocean as one of the most fragile ecosystems in Chile. Volny’s main message for this piece is one of awareness and being present in one’s environment. “It’s about how you can navigate a space through sound, and about bringing an awareness to what’s around you,” she said.

With the addition of these new exhibitions, the FOFA Gallery connects with the Concordia community to provide diverse and exciting content, and showcases the talent of the school’s artistic community. The three exhibits explore varied and interesting themes, mediums and concepts, assuring the gallery holds something for everyone and provides students with a place to explore new insights, ideas and understandings.

These three exhibitions will be on display until Dec. 8. The FOFA Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. Admission is free.

Feature photo: Sandra Volny’s Where does sound go, where does it come from (2016). Photo by Richard-Max Tremblay.

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