Murals at Concordia: the University’s first student-led public art initiative

New faces appeared on the Hall Building’s walls last spring

A project initiated by the CSU financed two murals that were painted in May. Artists Monosourcil and Teenadult were invited to embellish the downtown campus. Colourful and detailed, the artworks’ aim is to represent all aspects of campus life. The student group who initiated the project were finalists for the Forces AVENIR provincial awards in the Arts, Letters, and Culture category.

The seventh floor of the Hall Building is always full of life. During the day, students chat and study while others wait in line for a meal at The People’s Potato. In the evening, a completely different crowd, and groups of dancers gather, in the open space. 

Cristobal Perez-Boudon comes to campus almost every day after work to practice breakdancing. “People come to dance here all the time. Sometimes we are more than 30 people. There are the K-pop dancers and the B-boys,” he explained.

Perez-Boudon witnessed the production of the murals, and for him, they added new energy to the space. “Since they are here, it feels like having our own studio. Before it was just an empty white space, you could think it was a cafeteria, but now there is something more.”

Plain, white walls are what stayed in Christopher Vaccarella’s mind when he started studying at Concordia in 2017. “Everything was the same colour, no life, no personality,” he said. When he became a councilor for the CSU, adding art to the campus walls was one of the projects he wanted to propose. 

Former  CSU coordinators, Shivaane S. and Camina Harrison-Chéry both joined forces with Vaccarella to secure the funding needed to produce the murals. 

Their goal was to feature female and BIPOC artists. “We all wanted the same thing where it focuses on diversity and people you don’t often see at festivals,” said Vaccarella.

Art on campus 

Painted beside the CSU office, Maxilie Martel-Racicot’s mural reflects the artist’s unique style while integrating elements from Concordia’s faculties. Depicted in contrasting shades of colour, the detailed work presents a large group of characters. Their identities are unclear, neither human nor animal. 

Under her artist’s name, Monosourcil, Martel-Racicot created a world of her own in which she mixes sci-fi inspirations with references to everyday life. For the muralist, the themes of coexistence, tolerance, and multiculturalism are always central to her work. “We are all humans, social animals, so it’s this idea that I represent, that we live in a group and in a community in a certain way,” she said.

On the CSU’s Art Nook walls, artist Kezna Dalz (who also goes by Teenadult) replaced the seventh floor’s light grey walls with a creation full of flowers and butterflies. Dalz included the words “art heals” in her work. In the center are two black faces, as the artist aims to include diversity in all her creations. 

With this specific one, Dalz also wanted to create a positive atmosphere in the space. “The faces are tilted upwards, so it’s about being confident, and just feeling good and creating in a space where you are feeling yourself,” she explained.

“People gravitate towards colour,” said former CSU coordinator Shivaane S.. She sees this addition to the Art Nook as a way to make the space even more inspiring for students, and to “cultivate more student-life as well.”

For more public art

This is the first public art initiative to be fully student-led at Concordia. As the University is currently developing a new public art policy, the colourful murals engage a reflection on what art can add to life on campus. The new policy should be delivered this fall and then implemented in winter 2023. 

Even though the project’s organizers have now left the CSU, the initiative is to be continued. A new mural should embellish the ceiling of Loyola’s G-Lounge this winter. 

Loyola’s new CSU coordinator, Sabrina Morena, believes art is meaningful to campus life: “To me, it means that we are not just here to study, we are also here to create a culture of care, and community.” She hopes to have even more murals painted at Concordia this year.


Visual arts and performances come together at the Sensitivity exhibit

Nine Concordia students will be presenting their work at this 4-day event

Concordia’s Painting and Drawing Student Association (PDSA) is wrapping up the winter semester with a multidisciplinary exhibition. For this event, they decided to collaborate with Studio 7, a club from the university’s contemporary dance department. The organizers selected artists from both disciplines who will be presenting their work at Galerie 2112 from May 3 to 7. 

Titled Sensitivity, the exhibition brings together work from five visual artists and four dance creators. “The goal was for two different art forms to meet in an exhibition to create a dialogue between the artworks, but also to create a dialogue between the art pieces and the theme,” said Justine Bellefeuille, events coordinator for the PDSA. For Bellefeuille and the other organizers, the theme of sensitivity came about because it related to both art forms. 

The theme of sensitivity is interpreted in many different ways by the artists submitting their work. For Bellefeuille and the PDSA team, it was “about touch, about textures, everything that is related to the senses.” But the event organizer also saw a link with the current context. “I think that it is also unavoidable to mention the pandemic. It created an atmosphere in the arts field that makes everything more precarious, more sensitive.”

One of the selected artists, Elyanne Desaulniers, decided to apply to the Sensitivity exhibit because the theme really spoke to her practice. She describes herself as a multidisciplinary artist who mixes several mediums in all her creations. Desaulniers left Trois-Rivières to start a degree in Studio Arts at Concordia this year. While she currently focuses on painting, collages, drawing, ceramics and photography, poetry is often central to her work. 

Desaulniers relates to the theme of sensitivity as it informs her creative process but also the way she sees her relationship with the audience. “My goal as an artist is that people who look at my work feel an emotion, a sensation, resentment, anything,” explained the artist, adding that “if someone is completely indifferent while looking at one of my artworks, I did not complete my mission.”

The artist will be presenting a diptych titled I am a wandering vessel 1 and 2. Desaulniers was inspired by her experience as a newcomer in Montreal. She created the arts piece based on poems she wrote on her way to school. The work speaks to the feeling of being a stranger in this city that is her new home. “The city is really strange for me and it’s not the place where I’m most comfortable, so I tried to reverse this by giving attention to the most interesting details instead,” said the artist.

On the performance side, Santiago Lopez will be presenting a solo performance inspired by paintings he created. A first-year theater student, Lopez centres his artistic practice on dance, film, and theatre creations. For the exhibition, the emerging choreographers perform A letter to my multiple existences, a piece based on a painting that has been recreated. Lopez first made the artwork when he was 13 and painted a new version of it last year using his latest life experiences as inspiration for the adaptation.

“This is basically a solo I made in order to create this kind of sensitive bridge as I call it between my past identity and my possible future identity,” explained Lopez. The dance solo he presents is inspired by the shapes and lines on the newest painting.

The artist also wishes to encourage the audience to take on a journey similar to his, exploring the differences between their past and present selves, and embracing the transformation we all go through in life. 

For Éléonore Emond, coordinator for Studio 7 and dance curator for the exhibition, the event answers to a need for more collaborative work between Concordia’s Fine Arts departments. Studio 7 organizes performances every month at the contemporary dance department. They invite students from all arts disciplines to participate. This year particularly, the team wanted to encourage a variety of performances to be presented, therefore the event was an opportunity to fulfill their larger mission.

The PDSA is a Concordia club dedicated to all Fine Arts students who are interested in painting or drawing. The group organizes events all year long including talks with artists, workshops, and exhibitions.

Five visual arts pieces by Desaulniers, and artists Dan Yang, Maurane, Darius Yeung, and Aimée Lebeau will be showcased from May 3 to 7. At the vernissage night on May 4, all four performances will be showcased. This includes the solo performance by Lopez, and a solo improvisation by Marie-Laurence Deschênes who will be inspired live by another artwork in the space. There will also be duos by Kristina Hilliard and Bronwyn Robert, as well as Eva Myers and Xdzunúm Danae Trejo Boles. Each performance will also be presented on one other night. The PDSA published the performance schedule on its Instagram page. The Sensitivity exhibition will happen at Galerie 2112 at 2112 Atateken St. 


Visuals courtesy Justine Bellefeuille and Elyanne Desaulniers


An interview with Justine Bellefeuille

The studio arts student sat down with our assistant arts editor to discuss ceramics, working with chicken flesh, and more

Multidisciplinary artist Justine Bellefeuille is in the process of obtaining her BFA in studio arts at Concordia, where she previously completed the contemporary dance major program. Her practice revolves around the themes of feminism and violence against women, ideas she explores in both of her preferred artistic mediums. Bellefeuille is currently working on the dance piece OVERLOAD, which will be presented at Tangente from April 9 to 12. The choreographer first created this piece for five dancers in December 2019, and will now present an evolved version on stage.

Comfortably seated on a wooden stool, with her elbows resting on the marble counter top of a café, Bellefeuille shared her current passions and fascinations with The Concordian. 

The Concordian: How would you describe your artistic practice?

Justine Bellefeuille: I do dance, as a choreographer more than a performer. I am also a visual artist. I work a lot in painting, oil painting more specifically. And recently, I have started to work with ceramics. 

TC: How did you decide to develop those two artistic practices?

JB: It was really instinctive. In CEGEP, I studied visual arts. When I completed my degree, I wanted to study dance and to dive into this other medium, but visual arts was always in the back of my mind. I really liked it; I was very passionate about it. So, it is passion that led me to mix both. I think they inform each other. I don’t necessarily use visual arts objects in my dance projects, but in the movements’ aesthetic and in the costumes I create, my visual arts background appears. On the other side, movement can be very present in my paintings, and in my sculptural pieces. 

TC: Have you created projects that mix both disciplines?

JB: I think both disciplines are omnipresent in one another, but my ultimate goal would be to purposefully combine them. For instance, [for] my piece Pulpeux, which I created in March 2020, I started with painting. My goal wasn’t to work with dance, it was to create an image. Finally, after talking with a friend who is a dance performer, I realized that we could use [the painting] to create movements. Movement appeared from the shapes, the in-between spaces, the negative spaces that were created between the shapes and lines of the painting. The performer really followed those shapes to create other shapes in her body.

TC: What themes are you interested in?

JB: More and more I’m developing a feminist approach. Currently, I’m interested in violence against women, be it extreme aggressions or imperceptible daily aggressions. Recently, I also started to question myself about my own relationship with my body as a woman. I am questioning myself about if we perform our femininity, what defines this femininity, what is it exactly. Is it influenced by the pressure of men’s gaze, or is it a pressure that we constantly put on ourselves?

TC: You are currently working on the dance performance OVERLOAD. How does your feminist approach appear in this work? 

JB: For this piece, I am interested […] in the violence against women, how we experience this and how we perceive this personally. Some of the performers in the piece may have experienced such violence, others may have only witnessed it. But to be a witness is also something that is very hard to deal with. […] In the dance piece, each of the performers explores what this means to her. There is a lot of rage that comes out, there are a lot of contraction movements, spasms. During most of the piece, the performers are grouped together, which brings forward this idea of solidarity. They are a group, and they are [in] solidarity, but they also all live different things. 

TC: How would you describe your creative process for this dance piece?

JB: For OVERLOAD, the initial idea was rage. I was looking at harassment at first. With the performers of the initial piece, we worked a lot with improvisation. There were more sensorial improvisations and more formal ones related to images. We tried to represent something, harassment for instance. It slowly diverged towards something more minimalist, more abstract. That was the beginning of the process. Now at the start of every rehearsal, we sit together to chat. We share situations that we have witnessed, information we have seen, statistics related to violence against women. 

TC: Can you tell me about your recent discovery of ceramics?

JB: There is a very physical and tactile aspect to ceramics that I really like. There is also the aspect of reconnection with nature. I am currently taking a class during which we talk about the origins of clay, and where it comes from since it’s a material that comes from nature. Working with this material and knowing where it comes from creates a connection to the body, and to Earth. It’s very physical. Also, with ceramics, there are no limits. I can create what I want. It is a very fluid material. I can work however I want. And the glazes give me even more options. I am interested in the texture of chicken flesh. Therefore, I work with glossy glazes that can give a flesh-like effect. I had been looking for a long time for a material that could create this kind of effect and now that I’ve found it, I explore it. 

TC: How did you start working with chicken flesh?

JB: I have been working for a long time on this and I still question myself about it. It started with a project I did with chicken flesh in 2020. I took pictures of a raw chicken. I used these photographs to edit and cut them in Photoshop. I then recreated this new image in a painting. Since then, I [have been] fascinated with it, for its colour, for its connotation. I titled this first piece Cocotte. There was a connotation, a critique of women’s place in society. Through my current explorations, I try to understand why I’m so fascinated by chicken flesh. I think it is very, very visceral. There is something cruel, since it is raw, it is dead. I think there is something very violent also. It is sensual and delicate, but also violent. 

TC: Do you have artistic projects in mind for the future? 

JB: I want to rework Pulpeux. I would like to go back to this creation, there is really something to explore there. Also, the ceramics aspect was recently added to my explorations. I would like to combine dance and ceramics. Ceramics also have a historical aspect related to women and their work and I would like to do more research on this side and to see how it can articulate itself in a more formal manner. 


Photos by Catherine Reynolds


FIFA returns with a focus on dance films for its 40-year anniversary

The closure of theatres encouraged dance companies to turn themselves towards digital creations

For its 40th edition, Montreal’s International Arts Film Festival (FIFA) presented a varied program inspired by the pandemic context of the last several years. In particular, they showcased a large number of dance films. So many, in fact, that they organized a seven-hour projection event titled La Nuit de la danse to show the majority of them. Following this event, the movies will all be available on their website.

Among the dance films, Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother: The Final Cut kicked off the event. The 36-minute movie features nine dancers in different settings. They moved together in a group, with filming techniques making them look like a large, agitated crowd. Depending on the space, their identities seemed to change; in one scene they wore dresses and suits in an empty reception hall, while in another they were dressed in all-beige outfits in a dark room with walls made of brick and stones. The rhythmic music used drew viewers in from the start. Throughout the film, Shechter alternated between using sound effects like drums and the electric guitar, along with a low voice. 

Shechter created this film when the presentation of his show on stage was cancelled due to the pandemic. The Israeli choreographer is a major figure in the contemporary dance scene. Founded in 2008, his company tours internationally. Shechter’s recognizable style, including large arm movements, intricate sequences and synchronous choreographies, is present in Political Mother. Seeing the choreographer’s work on screen gives a different access to the movements’ details and the interpreters’ facial expressions. The smooth-moving camera also gives life to the work, almost assuming the position of another character in the story. 

According to Jacinthe Brisebois, 60 per cent of FIFA’s screendance programming comes from Quebec. The list includes two solo pieces choreographed by Margie Gillis and produced by Louis-Martin Charest. Titled When Dreaming Molly and Crow, they both take place in dark minimalist spaces, focusing on the interpreter’s movements with a precise use of lighting.   

Louise Bédard and Xavier Curnillon presented Démesure, created in Quebec City’s fine arts museum, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. Architectural details and playful movements merge in this 11-minute film, where a black and white visual aesthetic complements the museum’s immaculate white environment. Using the museum’s large, curved stairs as one its main settings, the film explores depth and freedom through group sequences, duets, and solos. The closeness to the dancers created by the camera balances the immensity of the arts institution. 

Dance and the pandemic

22 dance films were presented at La Nuit de la danse, while two longer screen creations are part of the festival’s general programming as well. Brisebois explained that FIFA’s selection committee received a particularly large number of dance film submissions this year, therefore encouraging the programming team to organize an event dedicated to them. 

For Brisebois, those creations were a way of presenting dance differently, as more than simple footage of a show on a stage. “When we see those films, it is completely different from what we would see in a live art show and that, we think, is really creative.” 

Pandemic measures prevented dance shows from happening during different periods over the course of the past three years. To support the dance field, arts councils dedicated specific budgets to digital projects. The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec’s 2020-2021 budget report notes that they granted $3.5 million to digital projects in addition to their regular funding programs. Similarly, the Canada Council for the Arts states the support of “the ongoing digital transformation” as one of their priorities “for a strong rebuild of the arts sector.”

In the 2021 text Virtualised Dance? Digital shifts in artistic practices, researcher Marie Fol analyzed the needs of dance artists when adapting their work for the screen. The study was inspired by the growing number of digital live art productions in Europe amidst the pandemic. For the researcher, dance films are a rich creative avenue that deserve to be explored further. “The democratisation of screendance has the potential to welcome greater imagination and creativity in this art form,” wrote Fol. 

While the reason for this sudden boom of dance on screen was first linked to a need to feed connections between artists and their public, it has the potential to remain an important part of dance companies’ work. “By appropriating digital tools, by playing with or hacking them, artists create new codes, rituals, and rules,” noted Fol.

Even though dance films have always been part of the festival’s programming, Brisebois recognized that they never had so many films as they did this year. The programmer was particularly impressed by this year’s submissions. “It is an art form that is refining its mode of expression through movements, so it gets to say even more things. It’s fascinating,” she said, stressing the link of this type of creation with the viewer’s feelings.

While the creation of screendances might decrease now that venues are welcoming shows again, films like those presented at FIFA’s La Nuit de la danse testify to the inventiveness with which artists adapted to closures. 

FIFA will present around 200 art films this year. They are available online through the festival’s website. Access to the programming is included in festival pass purchases. There are also in-person screenings in different Montreal theatres. This event is happening until March 27. 


Visuals courtesy International Festival of Films on Art



Words and projections at the Dazibao art gallery

The duo exhibition plays with the audience’s perceptions to reflect on the place of disability in the arts

Artists Amalle Dublon and Constantina Zavitsanos come together in Dazibao art gallery’s current exhibition, Flux Incapacitor. The show features collaborative works as well as individual creations from both artists. 

Emma-Kate Guimond, coordinator of exhibitions and special projects for Dazibao, described the show’s main theme as “the creation of abundance.” This idea relates to notions of dependency and debt explored in the exhibition, which the artists link with the reality of individuals living with disabilities.

Guimond explained that the gallery was first interested in Dublon and Zavitsanos’ collaborative work titled April 4, 1980. The audio-visual creation is presented on a screen at the entrance of the gallery. When putting headphones on, viewers hear a robotic voice. Because the voice is garbled and difficult to understand, the captions projected on the screen become essential in their understanding of the work.

The dependence on the words being displayed on the screen emulates the reality of individuals who struggle with hearing disabilities, allowing visitors to experience to a degree what these individuals go through. The artists also play with the idea and necessity of captions “Captions are broadly considered an obligatory add-on or even an aesthetic annoyance,” reads the description of the work.

All the time, created by Zavitsanos, also plays with words on screens. The work engages with the physical presence of users. On the bottom of a large screen, two texts are projected simultaneously. When seen together, they are hard to distinguish. But when visitors approach the screen, the system adapts the projection so that only one layer of text appears, making it readable. Guimond related this work about holograms to the larger theme of the exhibition, explaining that, “when you split a hologram, you’re not creating two halves, you’re actually doubling. So by taking away, you’re making more.”

“This relates to people with different abilities, whose lives depend on more care or different devices..[…]  So this is where the theory of debt comes in: it’s not by needing more care [that] you create a debt, by needing more care you’re generating care,” added Guimond.

Placed at the end of the gallery, Zavitsanos’ Girl there’s a better life is another screen projection. The video features two texts overlayed on top of each other. New symbols compose the resulting image, creating a hypnotizing experience. During the projection, the images evolve, becoming out of focus at times, with a blue background suddenly appearing behind the transformed words. Headphones made available to visitors play cheerful songs during the video. The marriage of a familiar music beat with intriguing visuals creates a new language that misleads the viewer’s senses and offers a unique experience.  

A piece created exclusively for the exhibition, Known Donor Agreement by Dublon and Jordan Lord, is a revisited version of a sperm donation contract. Visitors can read the contract on paper and listen to it through headphones. The work explores notions of mutual consent and care through reflections on friendship, connection, and parenthood. The sensitivity and openness transmitted through the work adds to the reflections enabled by the other artworks in the space. 

Guimond described Dazibao’s mission as “to disseminate and present contemporary image-based practices that deal with issues of social importance.” For her, Flux Incapacitor totally fits into this mission, as it delves into reflections about disabilities and their representation in the arts. 

Dublon and Zavitsanos’ innovative approach to the themes of abundance and debt shed light on the necessary theme of inclusion and accessibility. The gallery’s website features La Viewing Room, a page presenting the texts from the exhibition as well as background information about the artists’ past works and studies. This initiative allows the public to deepen their knowledge of the context behind the art pieces. 

Flux Incapacitor is presented at Dazibao art gallery, located at 5455 de Gaspé Ave., until April 2.


Visuals courtesy Marilou Crispin



Sam & Angèle: a comforting performance

The performers invite their audience to explore the harshness of daily life and the softness of boredom

In a cozy atmosphere, on a stage filled with fabric objects, Samantha Hinds and Angélique Willkie perform the comforting Sam & Angèle. Initiated by choreographer Sovann Rochon-Prom Tep, the 50-minute creation confronts the ideas of work overload and self-care.

Warm light bulbs illuminate La Chapelle’s theatre. They enlighten Mestari’s fabric creations. These include a large pair of glasses composed of multiple patterns, a large microphone, and a phone. From the start, the performers’ complicity is palpable. The show marries text, the singing, and movement. The performers’ voices are the only sound filling the space. They sing together, creating harmonies. Hinds starts dancing, and Willkie observes her in a benevolent way. Roles are then switched. 

The duo establishes their dynamic through eye contact and smiles. They share the stage but also the energy of the space. As the performance evolves, different themes emerge. 

“Work overload is one of the themes of the show. It didn’t emerge because we wanted to do a show that talked about work overload, but because in the discussions we had as a team,” explained Rochon-Prom Tep.

This idea came about through songs written by the team. During the performance, Hinds and Willkie repeat “On travaille trop,” contrasting the monotony of the word repetition with their luminous voice tone and energy. They later sing an ode to boredom, inviting the audience to reflect on self-care. The caring energy between the performers culminates at the end when Willkie gradually fades the lights down to complement Hinds’ relaxation on stage. 

The creator explained that he hopes seeing the performers taking care of themselves will inspire audience members to dive into introspection in their own lives when it comes to self-care. The welcoming atmosphere created by the organization of colourful props and lights on stage enhances this calming journey for visitors.

The creation process first started with Rochon-Prom Tep’s interest in creating a project based on an encounter between artists. The choreographer organized meetings with Hinds and Willkie so they could start creating together. A singing session sparked the inspiration for the project. “I was really touched by this vocal improvisation and I thought there was something to do with that,” said Rochon-Prom Tep. From their discussions and improvisation sessions, the performers built a creative connection that led to the creation of Sam & Angèle

Laïla Mestari also collaborated on the project as the creator of the colourful stage set. Rochon-Prom Tep explained that when he first encountered her work, he was inspired by “the complexity of idea juxtapositions, of shapes, of images, of mediums.” Their collaboration led to the development of a unique visual identity for the show.

Rochon-Prom Tep described their creation process as an inspiring collective project. “We crafted together with words, voices, bodies, and materials to get to know each other. The creation built off this, through the time we spent together, the discussions that emerged. It created a collective imagination where our different identities and our different interests, our different lifestyles came together in certain places even though they are completely different in a lot of ways,” he said.

Hinds, Willkie, Rochon-Prom Tep and Mestari created the impression of a reset, a kind of self-care to get ready for new beginnings. “The show features a lot of softness and attention, a show that touches the poetry of the collective and individual creative worlds of the different team members,” said Rochon-Prom Tep.

La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines is located at 3700 Saint-Dominique St. They present Sam & Angèle until March 11. Tickets for the showare available on their website.


Visuals courtesy David Wong and Vanessa Fortin


Artist of the week: Tong Zhou Annie Lafrance

Tong Zhou in their friend’s studio. Photo by Paulina Bereza

The artist’s work engages with Chinese culture and aesthetic

I first met Tong Zhou Annie Lafrance in an art history class in 2019 where we were seated beside each other by chance. I remember being fascinated by the proportion of little drawings in their notebook compared to the small quantity of notes. We ended up working together for the whole semester on a project about artist Françoise Sullivan. The project gave us the chance to discover each other’s artistic styles. Now that we have both graduated, I was interested in learning more about where their artistic practice had taken them.

Living between Montreal and Quebec City, Tong Zhou is a multidisciplinary artist. They graduated from Concordia’s Studio Arts department in 2021. As a Chinese adoptee, they now nurture the dream of pursuing their studies in China. Our discussion revolved around their desire to explore the traces left by adoption through the different projects they are involved in.

The Concordian: How would you describe your artistic practice?

Tong Zhou Annie Lafrance: I am a multidisciplinary artist. That means I really enjoy doing more than one discipline, it is stimulating for me. I’ve been doing performance, installation, drawing, and fibre arts. Currently, since I’m learning Mandarin full-time, I’m trying to put this type of learning into my visual explorations, such as how I learn the language, and then put it into codes or symbols that I can refer to in my visual language. For example, now I’m doing mostly photo weaving [relating] to Chinese culture.

TC: Why did you choose to focus your work on Chinese culture?

TZAL: I think it’s a very personal choice for me because I was adopted from China. I’ve always been fascinated by Chinese culture and its visual aesthetic. However, I think there is a cultural and linguistic boundary that is really present in how I can understand the visual language. And since I’m visibly Chinese there’s also this pressure of performing “Chineseness.” For me, that is something that is quite fascinating to explore in fine arts, to explore my identity and how it expresses itself in the space with coherence and incoherence that makes it more diverse and truer to who I am.

UP CLOSE, a work by Tong Zhou and An Laurence

TC: Can you tell me about your experience with performance art?

TZAL: I got into performance when I started university. I felt like I needed to explore something that goes beyond the visual space, the two-dimensional space. Most of my classes were painting, drawing, fibres, and textiles, but I wanted to work with the gesture. Emphasizing the gesture would emphasize my search for identity. Through the body you can really do that, and it’s clearer, it’s rawer. I got into performance because I was not satisfied with the medium I was working with. Coming from a visual arts background, that’s not something we are necessarily pushed towards.

TC: You mentioned the gestures in your performances. Do you also think about those gestures when you create? For example, when you work on photo weaving? 

TZAL: Definitely. I think photo weaving is a simple gesture, but what makes it complex is the result at the end. Sometimes, I feel like through repetition, through simplicity, we can highlight more complex results at the end. Through repetition, there is also this sense of meditation that I’m really trying to think about creating. 

TC: Can you tell me more about your photo weaving series?

TZAL: What I love about photo weaving is this idea of deconstructing an image, and then trying to redo the same image, just like a puzzle. I always really enjoyed doing puzzles, so for me it is this simple task of redoing what has been undone.    

TC: How do you choose the photos you are using?

TZAL: A lot of the pictures were taken by my mother. She was always very interested in capturing the steps of our childhood, but also the process of adoption. So for me, it’s a mix between my pictures and her pictures. I think that if I want to tell my story in the right order, I need to start with the pictures of my mother first and include mine after. My pictures are more about my own subjectivity and how I see the world, which is different from my mother, but it very much replicates some angles that she used. She was doing this more as a hobby, but for me it’s transforming this hobby into an actual arts practice. 

TC: What about the zine you have worked on recently?

TZAL: It was a really nice collaboration I did with An Laurence. There are so few artists that are interested in exploring the theme of adoption. What An Laurence and I have in common is that we want to show a different aspect, an aspect that hasn’t been told yet. That’s what we were doing in our zine. We were trying to make our two art practices collide, and see what the similarities are, what are the differences between our practices. An Laurence is a performer, she has a music and multimedia background, where I am more into visual arts, so then it was really interesting to collaborate on this little piece.  

TC: Can you describe the zine a little bit more?

TZAL : The zine is really short. It is a small booklet of around 20 pages, with […] excerpts of interviews. We did a cross-interview, so we were asking questions to each other. I chose some pictures that could fit coherently with what we talked about. So, I was responsible for the design and An Laurence was responsible for the narrative that it would have.

TC: What place would you say collaborations occupy in your practice?

TZAL: The zine highlighted the fact that I needed to collaborate more in order to understand the precise visual language I want to use to talk about adoption. Since there are so few artists that are talking about this subject, it’s really important to collaborate with other people in my community. Now, I’m more interested in seeing how my own community can express themselves. I think that one of the good things that the pandemic has done is that we are more aware of the important aspect of sharing feelings with others, of understanding ourselves through others. Right now, I am collaborating with other Chinese adoptees, and we are working on a collective of researchers and artists that are based in Quebec. This collective called “Soft Gong” will be about creating a community between Quebec, Canada and China as well as seeing how it can bloom into other collaborations. We also hope to [help improve] the post-adoption services, including learning the language, learning the culture, learning the biological background. So, it’s a mix between community, arts, and research. 


Bridging the gap between English and French theatre at the Wildside Remix Festival

Étienne Lepage’s renowned work takes the stage of the Centaur in a new English version until March 5

Wildside Remix Festival is taking place at the Centaur Theatre until March 12, where they are currently presenting the English translation of Logic of the Worst, a theatre piece by Étienne Lepage and Frédérick Gravel. The duo first created this show in 2016. The performance, involving five interpreters, features a compilation of small stories and philosophical reflections. 

Absurdity is central to the show from the start. In a simply furnished environment consisting of only one bright green couch, a table, a chair, and microphones on stage, five characters recount events that happened to them. These stories are dramatic, bigger than nature, and surreal – sometimes even flirting with the limits of disgust. As the action evolves, they start sharing thoughts about life, about their relationships with others. They compare their experiences, competing to see who is the worst friend, the worst boyfriend, the worst son, and the worst human. Throughout the show, the absurdity remains, but anecdotes leave room for existential questions. 

Lepage was first inspired by the book Logique du pire by Clément Rosset. He describes his own creative work as a “really free and really personal reaction to this Nietzschean vision of the world, that we are all dancers, people who need to find absurd answers to an absurd world.” 

As explained by Lepage, humour always takes an important part in his works. “I always find that there is an enormous, profound sense to say ‘that is reality, it is a difficult reality, but it is a reality in which the comical [nature] of our existence is saving us a little bit.’ Also, it gives us an excuse to be bad or it gives us reasons not to worry. I think there is an important philosophy in humour,” he said.

As a way of acknowledging that reality, the performers on stage play their own roles and use their real names. Audience members witness them changing the music throughout the evening. Only one member of the cast, composed of actors Jon Lachlan Stewart, Yannick Chapdelaine, Marie Bernier, Marilyn Perreault and Philippe Boutin, is anglophone. All the others assume their French accent and incorporate it into the performance. This adds to the humour, confirming the fact that they are not taking themselves seriously. 

Lepage worked in collaboration with choreographer Frédérick Gravel. Gravel’s work adds physicality to the show. While the performers do not purely dance on stage, the way they interact with objects and with the music transmit rich physical states. 

Since its premiere at Festival TransAmériques in 2016, the French version of the piece has been presented for a long time, both in Quebec and internationally. Lepage and Gravel were then invited to translate it. For Rose Plotek, curator of the Wildside Remix Festival at the Centaur Theatre where the play has been showing, this new version has the potential to reach new audiences in the English community – a core mission of the festival.“We’re introducing really incredible artists to a community that’s going to be less familiar with them and hopefully some of the audience that is familiar with them will come to the Centaur and see that it is a place where they are welcome as well,” she said.

For its 25th edition, the Wildside Remix Festival presents three shows, including Logic of the Worst. The 10-day event aims to bring the French and English theatre communities together  through a collaboration between La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines and Centaur Theatre. 

Another goal of the event is to showcase experimental works. According to Plotek, “[the festival’s] ethos has always been to present and support work that one would not normally see on the main stage at the Centaur.” The curator added that this could include “work that is happening in different kinds of performance modes, like dance theatre or theatre that feels closer to performance art or just forms that are different.”

Therefore, the festival plays a part in the Centaur’s larger goal of expanding its reach to broader audiences and a larger diversity of artists. For Plotek, their scope can be expanded through language backgrounds, but also through artistic disciplines and approaches.

“My little personal mission has been to say, ‘Hey performance community, the Centaur can be a home for you.’ It doesn’t need to be just a home for a kind of more classical English theatre artists. It can be a home for many kinds of artists with both francophone or anglophone or like cultural diversity, or just performance background, people who make work that is more experimental wouldn’t think of the Centaur as a theatre that could be a home for them, but actually it can,” said Plotek.

The Wildside Remix Festival presents Logic of the Worst until March 5. .The following week, they will showcase 1,2, Maybe 3 by performance artists Jean + Syd. Tickets are available on the Centaur Theatre’s website.


Visuals courtesy Denis Farley & Gunther Gamper


Art for the ears: podcasts and other sonic experiments

Through the audio medium, artists can develop a new relationship with their audience 

Audio experiences provide artists with the opportunity to explore a unique type of storytelling, since podcasts and binaural experiences create a particular sense of intimacy with the audience. Creators have been using this medium to explore new possibilities for theatrical works. Notably, Montreal’s Phi Centre recently opened an exhibition dedicated to audio experiences. As well, theatre company Singulier Pluriel shared its new podcast with the public on Feb. 16. 

Theatre without a stage

Julie Vincent first presented her play The Doorman of Windsor Station in 2010. Initially written in French, the work is set between Montreal and Montevideo. Audience members follow the story of Francisco, an architect who came to Montreal after he left Uruguay, and Claire, a piano player. Vincent was presented with the opportunity to translate her play into English in Toronto several years later, but the plan had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Instead, a podcast version was created. In this iteration, the producers paid special attention to the rhythm of the words. 

For Vincent, the podcast was a great opportunity to experiment with the relationship between words and music in a theatre work. The writer collaborated with producer Michel Smith to create a suitable soundtrack that would tell the story without its visual elements. The actors also adapted their interpretation to the music. 

Early in the creation process, the interpreters were encouraged to work with the rhythm of the play’s soundtrack so that the story would take life through their voice. Vincent explained that the actors had to work on internalizing their interpretation of the piece to be able to transmit emotions through spoken words only. For her, “this work puts us in tune with the listening experience of the listeners.”

Vincent believes the strength of the podcast lies in its proximity with the listener. She described this medium as a way to explore new sensitivities in the special relationship it creates with its audience. “We are in the invisible […] we are in another dimension, we are in a certain intimacy with them and we try to touch their interiority.”

New audio-immersive technologies

Phi Centre’s new programming also explores this avenue for theatre creations. On Feb. 17 the arts centre opened new exhibitions focused on audio experiences. “We don’t want to be where people are waiting for us. We want to surprise the audience. That is why the idea of presenting an exclusively sonic and immersive programming came to be,” said Myriam Achard, the chief of new media partnerships and public relations at Phi Centre. This show marks the centre’s 10th anniversary. It features three creations: Lashing Skies, Eternal, and The Disintegration Loops

While The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski is a music room where visitors can sit to enjoy music, the two other creations require visitors to wear headphones. Multidisciplinary artist Brigitte Poupart used poems written by Madeleine Monette to create Lashing Skies. The texts recount the stories of five fictional characters on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Visitors are invited to listen to the 45-minute audio experience in a setting replicating the destroyed landscape that followed the 9/11 events. This interactive piece aims at making users reflect on where they were when the disaster occurred.

Eternal is a 20-minute audio immersive journey created by the U.K. studio Darkfield Radio. Visitors lie in a bed in the gallery space with their eyes closed and headphones on. They are invited into the narrator’s room through the story he tells them. The piece shares reflections on the possibilities of an eternal life. It uses technology that creates the feeling of  360-degree audio. “It is a very powerful experience,” said Achard.

Achard first encountered Darkfield Radio’s work during a festival, before the pandemic.  In the various art events she attended all over the world, she witnessed a tendency towards audio experiences. “In the past years, there is an increasing presence of audio immersive experiences, be it spatialized sound, be it binaural sound […] I think we are in an important moment for immersive sound creations,” she said.  

Achard also explained that the inclusion of theatre elements was really important in this audio-themed exhibition. “We wanted to bring people in this theatricality. The encounter between the sound medium and theatre create really strong experiences,” she explained.

This strength described by Achard relates to Vincent’s work with The Doorman of Windsor Station podcast. These creations reach the audience in a very particular way that offers new opportunities for theatre works. 

Transistor media’s diverse propositions

On the French side, the podcast producer Transistor Media proposes a different series of artistic endeavours. They produce Signal nocturne, a podcast hosted by Julien Morissette. For each episode, Morissette meets with an artist at night. The audio work integrates excerpts of texts written by the artist with interview segments.  

They also co-produced Néon Boréal with the Théâtre du Trillium and Sous la Hotte. The four-episode series is a play adapted for radio. Written by Louis-Philippe Roy and Josianne T Lavoie, it explores stereotypes associated with the American dream through the stories of characters, such as a Hooters waitress. The realistic sonic environment of the work complemented by energetic pop music enhances the story.  

Podcasts and audio immersive experiences are unique mediums that have the capacity to introduce new possibilities within the realm of performance art. Their omission of images leave the viewer with the poetry of words, the tone of a voice, and the soundtrack. These specific audio creations are only a few of the many works available for you to listen to. 

The Doorman of Windsor Station podcast is available until Feb. 28 on Singulier Pluriel’s Facebook page. Phi Centre presents its audio-themed exhibition until May 15.


Graphic by Lily Cowper


Eastern Bloc’s strong comeback showcases interactive technologies

Technology fuses with physical interactions in Eastern Bloc’s most recent exhibition titled Techno//Mysticism. The show features four works from emerging artists who explore new possibilities for technology in their artistic practices. It is the first event to take place in the art gallery’s new space. 

“Ultimately, technology may never provide the transcendence we seek, instead operating as a pixelated reflection of our enduring quest for meaning, both inside and outside of the digital realm,” reads the opening statement of the exhibition. This excerpt sets the tone for a show that leaves visitors with unanswered questions and reflections on their relationship with the digital world. 

Located on Louvain St. in the industrial area of the District Central, the Eastern Bloc gallery is not exactly the type of business that one would expect to come across in the neighbourhood. With windows offering a view of the surrounding concrete buildings and parking spaces, the art hub feels like a little world of its own. 

Catherine Averback, production coordinator for Eastern Bloc, described the pieces of the show as “very physical, both in terms of their actual scale, and in the way that the audience is asked to interact with them.” Xuan Ye’s work ERROAR!#1, placed beside the entrance, particularly speaks to this statement. The piece is a large-scale representation of an artificial intelligence brain that has been printed on a two metre square vinyl sheet. 

The artist was inspired by the defeat of one of the most talented players of the board game Go, Lee Sedol, against an AI adversary called AlphaGo in 2016. The piece presents the immensity and complexity of AlphaGo’s brain. Ye invites visitors to get close to the work and even walk on it. A QR code grants access to an augmented reality website. Visitors are then able to experience the work and see words appear on top of it through the platform. 

By this point, visitors might have noticed constant rumbling sounds playing in the gallery. They get louder and louder when approaching the work titled O )))) Ghost Echoes ; Where Pathways Meet. The high tower-like creation features small windows to look into. To see what is presented, one must step on the sand surrounding the piece. The closer visitors get to the installation, the more the volume increases. 

Marilou Lyonnais A. created this sound installation with Etienne Montenegro. O )))) Ghost Echoes ; Where Pathways Meet is equipped with a system that detects human presence and distributes sound accordingly. The videos featured in the art creation present internet archives gathered by the artists. As explained in the presentation of the work, the piece considers the relationship individuals have to technology since it “evokes the echoes of virtual solitude and media feedback,” reads the text accompanying the art piece in the gallery.

For Averback, another aspect of the show is that “all of the works in there physicalize technology in a way that the visitor […] becomes very aware of the container and not just the content.” This reflection especially relates to Baron Lanteigne’s work, Nature Morte 7, which first shows the insides of an electronic system to the audience. 

Lanteigne assembled seven screens in a visually striking sculpture. The main piece hangs from the ceiling. Viewers first see its electronic inner workings highlighted by fluorescent lights. It features colourful digital videos at the front of the exhibit, and on the floor six illuminated screens are placed on top of a pile of cables. An abundance of bright green plastic leaves complements the work. Their presence enhances the piece title’s play on words, being Nature Morte 7, as digital representations of nature are contrasted with fake physical plants.

The Scryer, an intriguing art creation by Nicolas Lapointe, also requires visitors to get closer to experience it fully. A long and thin white marble piece catches the eye. On it are minuscule inscriptions. A microscope slowly scans the line of the text which is transmitted on a screen beside the work for viewers to read. Lapointe’s creation presents excerpts of advertisements on Kijiji that were engraved with a laser on the marble. The art piece presents an interesting duality between the meticulous work of the creator and the absurdity of the words featured in the work.

Lapointe’s work, The Scryer, features a marble piece engraved with kijiji advertisement retranscritions. VERONIQUE MORIN/The Concordian

In Techno//Mysticism, Eastern Bloc has brought together a small group of artists who all question the place given to the digital aspects of our society. As explained by Averback, the show reflects on “the ways that technology and our lives are sometimes confusingly interlinked.”

This exhibition also speaks to Eastern Bloc’s larger mission, which is aimed at supporting emerging artists and their experiments with science and technology. The art hub’s new spaces provide creators with more possibilities for workshop spaces and artistic residencies.

With this new show, the gallery offers a unique experience by balancing discoveries, curiosity, and absurdity.

Techno//Mysticism is presented until Feb. 26 at 53 Louvain St. W.


Visuals courtesy Véronique Morin


Art Volt guides alumni through the brouhaha of artistic careers

The platform aims to support students graduating from all nine Fine Arts departments              

Since March 2020, Concordia Fine Arts alumni have had access to a platform that guides them into the not-so-certain reality of working as an artist. Entitled Art Volt, the project offers services such as mentorship, training, and artistic residency opportunities. They plan to expand their reach this spring with the launch of their arts collection, meant to showcase student works. The Concordian met with the coordinators of the project, Fannie Gadouas (Coordinator, Art Volt & Special Projects) and Camille Bédard (Head, Art Volt Collection).

Both alumni of Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts themselves, Gadouas and Bédard are familiar with the reality of starting a career in the arts. Through the Art Volt platform, they hope to help students in their last semester at Concordia and up to five years after they graduate to navigate the ups and downs that come with jobs in the arts, which are often unconventional.

The general alumni support offered by Concordia is really great in terms of how to write a CV, or skills for an interview, but those are not necessarily the realities of those graduating from the dance department or people trying to make it in the film industry, or being performance artists or visual artists. So, Art Volt was designed to fill that gap and address the very particular realities of folks graduating from Fine Arts,” said Gadouas.

A donation from the Peter N. Thomson Family Innovation Fund kicked-off Art Volt. Since it first began in 2020, the platform has had four main components. The project’s website features a toolbox available for free to anyone. This page offers varied resources regarding funding for artists, project planning, but also self care advice in their section titled “Health & Wellbeing.” Art Volt also coordinates a mentorship program, which pairs established artists who graduated from Concordia with more recent alumni. They get to meet together several times over a period of one year to talk about their artistic practices.

The professional training section of their website features upcoming workshops. Facilitators and art centres host these events, which explore subjects ranging from grant writing to anti-oppression in the arts. Alumni can also apply for artistic residencies through Art Volt. 

While Gadouas was Art Volt’s first employee, Bédard joined her last fall to coordinate their most recent initiative: a new arts collection.

Steps forward

The Art Volt Collection will be inaugurated in May. Overseen by Bédard, the project will gather works from Concordia artists who are about to graduate as well as recent alumni. Through a website, potential art collectors will have access to the pieces and be able to rent or buy some of them. 

“The Art Volt Collection is there to help recent alumni to launch in the professional art market,” explained Bédard. This experience will be complemented by “financial compensation for their creative production,” she added.

Art advisors will support collectors in their search for the best creations to decorate their spaces. Installation and delivery services for the sold artworks will also be provided.

Supported artists

Georgios Varoutsos graduated with a degree in Electroacoustic Studies from Concordia  in 2017. Today, he is completing a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. As a freelance sound artist, he benefited from different professional workshops offered by Art Volt. For him, the platform provided great insight on subjects such as budgeting, freelancing, and social media promotion, amongst others. He also had the opportunity to showcase his work at Art Volt’s Soft-Launch in 2020, an event that presented the work of 23 artists.  

Varoutsos explained that the platform gave him valuable resources. “It’s things that I didn’t study, it’s not things that I thought about, I just thought about doing the art. […] Art Volt was able to provide a tool kit of this information and help,” he said. 

Jeannie K. Kim is an alumna of the Arts Education masters program at Concordia. Upon graduating, Kim participated in the TEMPO residency, helping develop tools for Faculty transitioning to Teaching, Making and Performing online.. Now the education coordinator at the Art Gallery of Burlington, she retains good memories of her work with the program. “It’s been definitely a really rewarding experience to be a part of contributing to the Art Volt Toolbox,” said Kim.

In fact, the artist explained that she would have hoped to share such a resource with her students when she was teaching at Concordia. “From time to time, I actually revisit the Toolbox, for my own professional development,”said Kim. “I also shared it with my colleagues and within Concordia but also outside.”

Working for the community

While Art Volt offers a large variety of services, its challenge is to answer the needs of the nine Fine Arts departments at the undergraduate and graduate levels. To this day, the program’s professional training has reached 300 participants according to Gadouas. 

Gadouas and Bédard expressed their gratitude for the support they received from the Faculty of Fine Arts. “There is really a commitment to this project, to make it work, because it serves our community, ” said Bédard.

Bédard also stressed the importance of resources for those launching an art career, such as  those being offered by Art Volt. “Artists are really struggling in [getting] their name out there, in having access to resources, [such as] financial, material, time resources. So, if you can have access to some […] of the training beforehand and start doing this early on in your career, then it becomes easier,” she said.


Photo by Catherine Reynolds



we move, just shifting: exploring slowness through photography

An invitation to discover subtleties in everyday moments

Brandon Brookbank’s new exhibition, we move, just shifting, is being presented in the second room of Centre CLARK until Feb. 12. A series of photos of different sizes complemented with small objects and clothes fill the space. The artworks are part of the Master’s research-creation project Brookbank is completing at Concordia University.

we move, just shifting features photographs of food, body parts, and objects. The art pieces are placed in the luminous room so that visitors have the chance to appreciate each of them one at a time. The varied frame sizes leave spaces of white wall between each work, creating room for reflection. There are photos on the walls, objects on the floor, and a colourful column in the centre of the space.

The closest piece to the entrance, We move, is a still life presenting a glass with yogurt traces in it. Blurred fingers are at the foreground of the image, playing with the viewer’s perspective. Placed beside it, just shifting features the same concept with the out of focus presence of a foot in the forefront. Wishbones stand on top of the wood frame of the second photograph. These small objects return throughout the exhibits.

Brookbank described his show as a “poetic exploration of narrative, of connection.” The artist started working on this series in April 2020 during the first lockdown. The situation affected his studies and his creative process. The resulting photographs build on the explorations of the artist’s connections with others. Brookbank also looked at the traces left on objects over time, such as old clothing.

Slowing down

Brookbank focused on slowness for this project. This concept manifested in the artist’s creative process for we move, just shifting series, by way of taking more time to create each of the photographs. This gave him the opportunity to discover and capture subtle movements and moments.

Reflections on time also come into play in the artist’s thoughts regarding relationships. In previous artistic explorations, Brookbank looked at the fast pace of digital connections. For this exhibition, these connections are slowed down.

“There is an expedited way that we interact with each other, so I’m trying to think about it in a way of slowing down and a way of looking at the subtle gestures and the subtle moments that are happening in my own relationships,” explained Brookbank.

Sculptural objects

While photography is the basis of Brookbank’s practice, sculpture is also an important part of his work. Therefore, different objects were integrated in the show throughout the creative process. For the artist, they are related to the idea of translation and transformation. The twist ties that are placed in the space, on the frames of some photographs, as well as in the pictures, speak to this idea. Shaped in different ways, these little objects can also be seen in very, very, very, much. This intimate photograph, one of the largest ones of the exhibit, shows the side of a neck with three twist ties placed on it.

Brookbank used a similar principle when showcasing Sorry, heels. A round piece of glass stained with red liquid and accompanied by two brown socks and dried figs are the subjects of this still life. In front of the photograph, on the floor of the gallery, the viewer can see these same socks and figs.

Clothing pieces make up an important part of the show. Brookbank created a column of t-shirts composed of old garments the artist collected from his friends. “It is trying to bring various bodies into the space,” he explained.


Two opposing themes can be observed in the exhibit: touch and intangibility. The notion of touch can be seen in the manipulation of the twist ties, the cream that is rubbed on the skin in one of the pictures, or the irregular surface of Along, which was altered by the artist using paper and rope.

Intangibility comes into play in the artist’s reflections and is particularly depicted in A Room, a central piece of the show. Placed on an elevated wood frame on the floor, the photograph shows the sun with a purple background. For Brookbank, the sun “feel[s] grand and subtle,” since “we don’t really understand it, but we do deeply understand it.”

“There is a subtlety in all of my work, there is nothing extravagant,” said Brookbank. This attention in capturing precious small moments and gestures is present throughout the exhibition. we move, just shifting is an experience where attentive viewers will always discover new details. Brookbank’s poetic exhibition offers an intimate look at the beauty of ordinary moments.

we move, just shifting will be presented at Centre CLARK, located at 5455 De Gaspé Ave, until Feb.12.


Photos courtesy Paul Litherland and Brandon Brookbank


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