Master your Photo Skills with the Concordian

Photography is as easy as one, two, three!

Are you ready to switch out the average camera on the phone in your pocket for a more professional camera? The team at the Concordian put together a simple guide to help our fellow photojournalists out with some advice based on journalistic situations you would find yourself in.

To start things off, before you even start fiddling with your camera settings, set your camera to Manual mode. This will give you full control of the camera versus other default settings where the camera might automatically adjust settings based on the situation.

Understanding the basics of your camera – 

Now that your camera is in Manual mode, you have to understand the interaction between light and the camera, also known as the exposure triangle. The exposure triangle balances three elements: your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. 

Think of shutter speed as curtains for a window. Your shutter is the curtains that close inside the camera when you press the button to take the picture. It essentially opens and closes the shutter to either slow down or freeze movement. 

Imagine you open and shut the curtains at 1/500 of a second. Not a lot of light can get in during the short time it was open, right? You maybe get one brief glance out your window due to how fast the curtains shut, but not the whole scene. However, if the curtains closed at 1/30 a second, think of how much more you could see. The longer the shutter stays open, the more information the camera takes in. Longer shutter speeds can lead to motion blur, while faster shutter speeds freeze motion.  

Up next is your ISO, which is essentially light sensitivity. This concept goes back to the film days—each film had its own level and amount of light it was able to process. Think of it as a scale of light with 100 being a full sunny day and 3200 being nighttime. You can use this as wiggle room on your shutter speed or aperture. 

One more thing to keep in mind is higher ISO also comes with a bit more noise, or grain, and the camera would work harder to capture the scene.

The final component of the exposure triangle is the aperture. A camera is basically a hole that opens, lets light in, and then captures it in its simplest form. The aperture allows you to decide the size of that hole—it can either be wide open and let lots of information in, or tiny and only let a little bit in. This determines how much of your image will be in focus. 

Let’s say you just want to capture the foreground—whatever element is closest to your camera. You would use a smaller aperture of around F/2.8. For something like landscapes, where you would want everything in focus, we would suggest a wider aperture of F/14. 

Different journalistic situations –

As long as these three elements balance, you can conquer a lot of the photojournalistic scenarios you’d find yourself in. Are you on the news beat? In a lot of situations, you’ll be taking portraits of your subjects for a visual. In these types of situations we would suggest:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/100 or faster
  • Aperture: F/1.8 – F/5.6
  • ISO: 100-400
  • Focus: Auto (AF)
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Single Shot

Student leading the climate protest in downtown Montreal on September 23, 2022. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN.

Do you like to capture the action of athletes on the field during a game? We would suggest the following settings for sports photography:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/500 at a minimum to ensure the movement is captured
  • Aperture: F/2.8 – F/5.6
  • ISO: 400
  • Focus: Auto (AF)
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Continuous/Burst 

Photo by Catherine Reynolds / The Concordian

Maybe you prefer to photograph the emotion and excitement of a concert. This can be a little trickier with all the crazy lighting typical to shows. One important thing to remember is that red light is the hardest to photograph in. Here are some settings that we would suggest to elevate your concert experience:  

  • Shutter Speed: 1/250 or faster (pro tip: try lower for some artsy motion blur) 
  • Aperture: F/1.8 – F/4 ( preferably as low as it can go!)
  • ISO: 1600 – 3200
  • Focus: Auto (AF) as well as spot-metering 
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Continuous/Burst

Photo by Catherine Reynolds / The Concordian

Long story short, this little guide does not cover every situation you’ll be faced with. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for you and we hope above all that this is a good start for your photography adventure!

Ar(t)chives Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: 10,000 gecs – 100 gecs

100 gecs returns with an album that’s pure fun

It doesn’t take long to see why 10,000 gecs, the newest project from experimental pop visionaries Dylan Brady and Laura Les, is one of the most thrilling releases of the year. The duo’s 2019 debut album 1000 gecs was a landmark in helping to define the relatively new genre known as hyperpop, with singles such as “money machine” making waves over social media. Coming four years later, it’s safe to say there’s been anticipation for a new record, and luckily this album does not disappoint.

Within the span of a single minute, the opener “Dumbest Girl Alive” begins with the signature THX Deep Note theme, transitions into an overblown guitar solo, and follows that up with a beat reminiscent of Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.” It is wonderfully bizarre and sets up a 10-track run that only gets stranger as it progresses. The album triumphs as an exercise in throwing so many ideas at the wall that the wall crumbles down.

If there’s one constant running through the entire twenty-seven minute record, it’s silly fun. 10,000 gecs feels like an album extracted from a late night Discord call — a bit too much caffeine in everyone’s system, each person trying to one up the other with jokes. It’s an experience that you laugh with, not at.

Take the song “757,” for example. Its intensely processed vocals emit such high energy that at a certain point they just start muttering gibberish and it still works. Later, the song takes a turn, and the lines “I smoke the trees when I’m in Colorado / Interior gas station McDonalds” play over a methodical, distorted snare and kick drum combo. Do these lyrics make sense? Not particularly. Does it go hard? Very much so.

Going from track to track is akin to playing musical roulette. From a violent encounter sparked by two friends with an equally violent instrumental (“Billie Knows Jamie”), to a ska song recounting the painful aftermath of a trip to the dentist (“I Got My Tooth Removed”), to relaxed verses explaining one’s questionable life choices (“The Most Wanted Person In The United States”), 10,000 gecs runs the gamut of genres and topics. 

The philosophy of short-but-impactful material is applied to most of the songs on the album, as they all fall within the two-to-three minute range. This is not an issue on its own, but it’s hard not to want a few extra tracks to flesh out the record a little more. Singles “Hollywood Baby,” “mememeandDoritos & Fritos are clear standouts, and the album would’ve benefitted with one more banger along those lines (though it is telling how good a project is when the only issue is that you want more).

10,000 gecs is the kind of album that gets you excited about music. There is so much bursting at the seams in this collection of tunes. It overflows with creativity and is a testament to the power of friendship, comradery, and cranking the volume up to eleven. It also happens to have a song titled “Frog On The Floor.”

Trial Track: “Hollywood Baby”


Ar(t)chives Arts

Love: an evening of art, song, poetry, and cocktails

OPTIMISTA’s third event of four in a series of hope-themed cinéconferences

Love was presented by the non-profit arts and activism-centered Yellow Pad Sessions (YPS) in February at the Maison de la culture de Verdun. The event was part three of four in a unique series of hope-themed cinéconferences titled OPTIMISTA.

The evening included a live performance by vocalist and Cirque du Soleil artist Laur Fugère, and a live conference and spoken word performance from Innu poet Joséphine Bacon. It also included a screening of the feature film Je m’appelle humain and an exhibition of five oil paintings by former Concordia student Hannahleah Ledwell.

Fugère’s live music performance was spiritual, sensual, and entirely improvised. She kneeled onstage, surrounded by lit white candles and crystal bowls.

The performance began with the ringing of a bell, followed by a sigh. Each sound cut through the near-complete silence of the audience. Gradually, Fugère incorporated sounds from a rain stick, crystal singing bowls, and a flute. Her voice was ethereal and at times transcendent, ranging from soft breaths to near-sobs.

“There is something that I feel like I’m tapping into,” Fugère said. “And it makes me very emotional […] it brings me into this state of awe for being able to be a channel of what wants to come through.”

Bacon entered stage left, wearing red and white socks with no shoes. She began to read her poetry in Innu-aimun, and then in French. Her calm, earthy voice was layered over the otherworldly song of Fugère’s singing bowls, and the two women looked at one another and smiled. The intimacy of this moment was extraordinary.

“[Bacon] embodies simplicity, and she embodies the heart, and she entrains us in her world of connection,” said Fugère. “Just dancing with her words and with her eyes […] it was wonderful. I loved it.”

“Dis-moi que je suis ton au-delà, / Dis-mois que tu es mon au-delà, / toi, l’animal blessé, / tes ancêtres t’ont conduit à moi / pour me raconter les images / de tes rêves” (tell me that I am your beyond, / you, the wounded animal, / your ancestors led you to me / to show me the visions / of your dreams) Bacon recited. Even when the language could not be understood, the steady flow of the performance was compelling and had a beauty of its own.

Photo by Maryse Boyce

Fugère and Bacon were joined onstage by two Indigenous children: a boy and a girl. “Ça va?” (How are you doing?) asked Bacon. She took a seat in the middle of the stage and the children sat on either side, passing a microphone between themselves.

“Ç’est quoi, l’amour?” (What is love?) asked the girl.

“C’est son grand-père, c’est ta grand-mère. C’est ton père, ta mère, ta sœur. C’est tout le monde,” (It is his grandfather, it is your grandmother. It’s your father, your mother, your sister. It is everyone) Bacon responded. “L’amour, c’est aimer nos origines. L’amour, il est grand.” (Love is to love our origins. Love, it is great.)

The screening of Je m’appelle humain followed a brief intermission and brought with it a sense of love and hope. Directed by Abenaki filmmaker Kim O’Bomsawin, the film is a biographical piece of visual and aural poetry in exploration of Bacon’s life and raison d’être.

The film opens with a picturesque view of rock sculptures in formation along the ocean shore. “To me, poetry is intimate moments like this one,” said Bacon. “The word ‘poetry’ does not exist in Innu. I don’t think we needed the word in our language because we were poets simply by being with the land.”

Bacon writes her poetry in both Innu-aimun and French. “My dress is called lichen / My headdress is called eagle / My song is called drum / I am called human,” she recited. She spoke of the importance of preserving and knowing her language. 

“When the elders are telling a story and you understand all the words, you join them in their story and see what they’re seeing,” she said.

She dreamt about living as her elders did. She spoke about her time in the residential school system, though briefly. “It hurts to talk about it,” she said.

When she reaches the ancestral land of Papakassik, she is overcome with emotion. “I live in the present, the past of my ancestors,” she said. “This is an ancestral land. You can feel their presence […] I am free on the land of Papakassik.”

Throughout Je m’appelle humain, Bacon takes us through the lands she knows: the streets of Montreal and the Innu territories of Pessamit and Natashquan. “When we got to Montreal we were pretty much homeless,” she said.

Je m’appelle humain is at once the story of Bacon and the people she loves, and a fight against the loss of her language, culture and its traditions. The film ends with Bacon whispering her gratitude to a dead caribou she will presumably eat. “I embrace you,” she whispered. “The caribou is a nomad, just like the Innu.” What is left after the closing scene is a sense of simultaneous hope, loss, vulnerability, and strength.

Ledwell’s ongoing exhibition Anthromorphe was meditative, erotic and intimate, painting an exploration of the various forms of love. “For me, my work is all based in memory, reliving moments and going back into a kind of muscle memory. And a lot of [those moments] end up being intimate moments because those are moments where we feel a lot of complex emotion,” said Ledwell. “I go back into those moments when I’m painting. Usually blast music, dance a bit, and I think that’s what creates a lot of the movement in my paintings.”

Love is part of OPTIMISTA’s Fall 2022-Winter 2023 premiere and Yellow Pad Sessions’ latest endeavour to leverage the power of art and persuade social change. 

“OPTIMISTA is really born out of a response to the pandemic,” said executive director and co-founder of YPS Grace Sebeh Byrne. “We used to put on more traditional film festivals, but we saw that clearly there was a very big shift in perspective, generally speaking. There was a lot of hopelessness, despair.”

“We wanted it to be more of a festival of hope,” added Patrick Byrne, co-founder of YPS.

OPTIMISTA’s last event of the series, Community, took place on March 4.

Ar(t)chives Arts

The displacement and forced assimilation of thousands of children in North America: Daughter of a Lost Bird film review

The film explores the ongoing cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples specifically through adoption policies

The feature documentary Daughter of a Lost Bird, directed by Brooke Pepion Swaney,  centers the story of Kendra Potter as she reconnects with her biological mother. Growing up in a white family with a white culture, she knew she was adopted, but it was only later in life that she learned she had native blood. 

Daughter of a Lost Bird is Swaney’s first feature documentary. She is from the Blackfeet nation, which was cut off from the border forming process. Swaney is most known for helping produce the first season of the All My Relations podcast, along with Matika Wilbur and Adrienne Keene. 

The term “Lost Bird” refers to native children that were adopted out of their nations, mostly by force, and never returned.

This film explores Potter’s search for her mother, understanding the forced adoption of her mother, and coming to terms that she is a direct product of forced assimilation in the ongoing cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples across Canada and the US. 

“When someone says you are Lummi, I can’t wrap my mind around that, I don’t know what that means,” states April, Kendra’s mother in the film. She was raised far from her nation, so though she finds identity in being Lummi she cannot quite comprehend it. 

The film took seven years to make, between concretely finding Potter’s mother April, breaks for mental health, and the actual shooting of the film. 

Though the film is set in what is known as the US, adoption policies and methods of Indigenous erasure were very similar to those that transpire in Canada. 

The Q&A was composed of the Swaney and Na’kuset. Na’kuset has been the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal since 1999, and is from Saskatchewan, Treaty 6. 

Q&A of Brooke Swaney Pepion and Na’kuset, MEG ACOSTA/@city__ghost)

“Because it’s an American film, the assimilation policy that they had was named differently than it is in Canada, but the harm is the same,” Na’kuset noted. 

The assimilation of Indigenous peoples in Canada was known under the name of the Adopt Indian and Métis Project (AIM) project. On record, there were 20,000 children displaced, but as noted by Na’kuset, “the numbers are larger than that.” 

Swaney and Potter met when Potter was cast as an actress in one of Swaney’s films. It was through learning more about her adoption story and the policies of forced assimilation that Swaney wanted to produce a documentary film about Potter’s life. 

It is noticeable that Potter is a capable actress in certain scenes, as she is very comfortable as she stares directly at the camera. This has the effect that the audience almost feels like she is seeing past the camera, past the spectators, as if daring the audience to judge her.  

It’s in moments of reunification with her mom that the audience feels they are seeing a real version of Potter. She is not as aware of the camera in scenes reuniting with family members she’s meeting for the first time. 

When moving back to Montana after finishing her studies in New York, the filmmaker was able to reconnect with her family. 

“My mom and I grew up off-reservation, it was nice to come home, but also complicated; I have family members who are struggling with addiction, and I have nieces and nephews who are out there in foster care.”

Moving back to Montana let Swaney gain the knowledge that, “all of these topics are close to every Indigenous person, it’s not one’s own personal experience.” It’s a series of colonial policies that have constantly tried to erase and assimilate Indigenous folks. 

This film served to raise awareness about adoption programs in the US, and their direct impact on people’s identities and cultural losses. 

Crowd at Cinema Politica screening, DAVID BEAUDOIN/ @3.2.888

“Where I feel like there’s a huge difference is between our societies, is the native voices are so much more present and louder in Canada than in the States.”

Swaney’s commentary throughout the film provides context to the story. She comments on her discomfort at times of almost projecting what she wants Potter to feel with her mother. She ends the film by stating that Daughter of a Lost Bird is ultimately Potter’s story. 

In her closing notes, Na’kuset discusses one of the projects Native Montreal is working on. It’s a new project for housing women that seeks to offer supportive housing. In relating it to the film, she says: 

“This is how we get our children back.” By supporting native women who need housing, there is the possibility to return forcibly adopted children to their families and cultures. 

Ar(t)chives Arts

Nighthawks portrays urban ennui and isolation

Edward Hopper’s famous painting displays a scene at a late night diner, depicting life in the city as an alienating experience despite being in the constant company of others 

When Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks reached the public eye in 1942, many art critics observed two common themes: isolation and apathy. The painting, on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, is one of the best examples of Hopper’s fascination with American realism. To this day, it remains one of the most well-known paintings of the 20th century. 

The painting features a small diner, lit up by abrasive fluorescent lights that spill out onto the dark and desolate streets of New York. Inside the diner are a young waiter, a man and a woman who may (or may not) be a couple, and a mysterious man who faces away from the viewers. The scene, at first glance, resembles something a late night passerby might observe in the latest hours of the night. But when we start to look a bit closer, the scene is unsettling.

While Hopper admitted that isolation wasn’t a key theme he had in mind when he created this painting, he explained that “unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.” In 1942, many were grappling with the devastating effects that WW2 was producing. Some have speculated that a newspaper rests beside the faceless man, one that may have announced ample amounts of tragic news taking place during the time. This would also explain why the diner’s occupants appear so glum. 


Hopper, perhaps unknowingly, managed to do a spectacular job of capturing the feeling of urban ennui and loneliness with Nighthawks. Through the diner’s large window, we are granted a glimpse into a world where interactions appear strained and the subjects are more preoccupied with their thoughts or worries than they are with one another. They share the same space, but they appear worlds apart. 

Life in the city has a way of both uniting and alienating people, especially in the darkest hours of the night. The man and woman who sit together in this painting are a prime example of this: despite sitting very close to one another, their body language emits a palpable distance. They both appear reluctant to talk to one another or meet each other’s gaze. The woman’s attention is focused on something green that she holds in her hand, while the man stares straight ahead, looking bored. Have the two been in a fight? Have they both received some bad news? Is one of them thinking of ending the relationship? Are they even in a relationship? For years, questions like these have plagued Hopper’s fans.  

Another key feature of the painting lies in the exterior of the diner. The dark streets are desolate, and without the diner’s fluorescent lights, the exterior would be completely dark. Across the street stands a building, with the bottom floor occupied by what appears to have once been a store. The storefront has been cleared out, with only empty shelves serving as proof that a store ever existed here. Additionally, above the store, there are several apartment units. In one of the apartment windows, there is an eerie figure that is barely distinguishable from the dark. Many have argued that it could be a human or a cat, though on closer inspection, it resembles neither. Some have concluded that it could also be the reflection of a street light. 

Despite Nighthawks’ enigmatic nature, many have resonated with this painting for its accurate depiction of what life in a metropolitan setting is like, even if Hopper never meant for viewers to interpret the painting this way. 


Visuals courtesy Taylor Reddam & Edward Hopper


Do StudyTok hacks really help?

Too much time on TikTok can actually have productivity benefits


I know I spend too much time on TikTok. I tell myself that it’s mainly for journalistic research, which is at least partially true, considering that this article, as well as many others of mine, are inspired by videos I see while scrolling through my TikTok feed.

While the majority of my For You Page is riddled with Taylor Swift conspiracy theories, cute thrifted outfits, and cool new restaurants to try, a study hack sometimes slips into the mix (maybe that’s the algorithm telling me something…).

Because I have a pretty intense week of schoolwork coming up, I decided that this would be a perfect time to test out some of the tricks that I’ve saved over time and see if they actually work for me.

Textbook heaven

The first one I tried is a true game changer. Maybe I’ve just been living under a rock, but I was completely excited to see that something like this exists. is a free textbook library that gives you easy access to textbooks and research material, which is particularly helpful when the university libraries don’t have what you’re looking for or when you want to save some cash. I was writing a paper and needed a specific book that was already signed out from the university library. To my pleasant surprise, it was on z-lib and I didn’t even have to go in to get a copy!

Too good to be true

The next tip was definitely too good to be true. I saw a TikTok boasting about the “TLDR” Chrome extension that summarizes long readings into bullet points to save time. I have an absurd amount of reading to do this week, so I was stoked to try it.

I probably should have known that it wouldn’t actually work, but I was still quite disappointed when it spewed out gibberish that honestly confused me more than the reading itself. There were two settings: short/concise and detailed/section-wise, but they both came up with the same useless summaries. I also tried with another academic article in case the one I had was the reason it wasn’t working — spoiler alert: it didn’t. I still had to read a million pages on top of the wasted time trying to figure out how to use the extension. Serves me right for believing in things.

Racing to the finish line

I must say that I was very apprehensive about listening to the Mario Kart soundtrack while writing an assignment. Still, I’d seen tons of TikToks claiming that it helps give you a sense of urgency (as if the looming deadlines aren’t enough), so I figured that I needed to be open-minded and give it a try. I also don’t generally listen to music while writing, unless it’s a dark academia classical Spotify playlist to calm myself down when I have tight deadlines. They also help me convince myself I’m much smarter than I actually am.

I was pretty sure that the Mario Kart wouldn’t really have the same effect, but, after listening for a little while, it’s safe to say that working with these tunes was much easier than trying to stay on Rainbow Road. At first, the fast-paced tunes were stressing me out, but after a few minutes, the words were flowing from my hands almost faster than my brain could keep up. My assignment was done within the hour — I highly recommend it.

Tomato timers

Though not an exclusive TikTok hack, I definitely saw some videos preaching the Pomodoro method, which consists of allotting yourself specific amounts of study and break time to increase productivity. The most common time frame is 25 minutes of work to every five-minute break, a pattern that you repeat until you’ve finished your tasks.

I did two cycles of the Pomorodo method and found that it didn’t really work for my way of studying. Setting the timer definitely helped me actually start writing, which is often the most challenging part for me, and I appreciated knowing that I would get a break after 25 minutes. Once the 25 minutes was up, however, I was in a flow state and didn’t want to stop at that moment. For the sake of the article, I continued with the method (you’re welcome), and then took the five-minute break, which definitely didn’t feel long enough. But, I had the same challenges after the second cycle as well.

That’s not to say that the Pomodoro method, or any other study hack mentioned in this article or on TikTok won’t work for you (though if you do figure out the reading summarizer extension PLEASE message me). Everyone has different ways of learning and aspects of doing school work that are more challenging for them — that’s why it’s so important to personalize your habits to what works for you.

Overall, TikTok seems like a great place to look if you’re trying to figure out the best way to get through your schoolwork. Just be weary of “hacks” that are simply too good to be true. And plagiarism. All my homies hate plagiarism. Happy(?) studying!


Visuals by James Fay

Ar(t)chives Arts

Habitat 67: Moshe Safdie and the influences behind his work

An architectural innovation with Marxist undertones

Approaches to architecture vary from one architect to another. Some approaches are based on design aesthetics personally favoured by the architect, while others arise out of deeply rooted ideologies based on specific movements, socioeconomic contexts, and or even childhood memories that affect the architect. This creates a structure with a defined purpose that will stand the test of time. 

Habitat 67 was designed by Moshe Safdie, a McGill University alumnus that had some radical ideas — for the 60s — about housing and architecture. Safdie self-identified as “kind of post-Corbusier”; he employed a human-centric perspective and design that reimagined living spaces. Safdie was deeply concerned with how to achieve a balance between privacy and community, as well as communal work and individual work. 

Additionally, we can observe how Safdie’s cultural heritage and upbringing brought Habitat 67 into being, and influenced all of his later designs. In a discussion regarding his influences, Safdie stated that his “own work has been dominated by five personal themes: gardens, steps, sites, building blocks, and ritual and procession.” Safdie’s architectural design has always been driven by a passionate belief in a better environment and by a kind of architectural socialism that saw him adopt Buckminster Fuller as his political mentor. But also, rub shoulders and exchange ideas with Louis Kahn, Nicholas Negropont, and many members of the Metabolist movement. However, one of the most important things Safdie mentioned were his philosophical influences around how architectural design of living quarters interacts with the experience of the resident of the particular living space. His views on living space were centered around community, self-sufficient building-cities, and a holistic consideration of the living experience. These views were the foundation for the final design of Habitat 67, and although not fully realized, they permeate the structure and its surrounding locale.

Safdie’s convictions on community and building-cities, along with Fuller’s architectural design ideologies, shaped the finished design of Habitat 67.  Safdie described his political mentor (Fuller)  as — an American theorist, architect, and inventor— as a kind of Marxist thinker in the realm of design. For Fuller, architects should always have to try and do more with less, not for aesthetic or stylistic reasons, but so as to provide people with more design usability and practicality. He argued that the welfare of humanity is about doing things efficiently with minimum means to maximum effects, further citing his upbringing. “[I was] brought up in the socialist nirvana of the collective movement and the kibbutz, which were extremely radical communities based on the idea that ‘we live as a community, we own everything and we share everything equally’. […] The kibbutz was really one of the most utopian constructs ever developed, […] especially now that I am living in ridiculously inegalitarian North America.”


The latter is reflected in his work, and is particularly apparent in Habitat 67. The staggered layering of houses/pods and the intention to have a variety of facilities and amenities — i.e. a garden for each apartment, open space, parking, and easy access to the city. The aforementioned were  available to Habitat 67 residents, and it created a city within a city as well as a suburban feel within an urban locale. This was akin to what Safdie’s life was like in the kibbutz. Safdie wanted to stray away from nationalism in the design by creating a shared pavilion for all the different countries’ athletes, but that proved impossible at the time as the countries wanted their own private spaces.

This information and some key identifying markers in his design, could link Safdie to the Marxist ideology of social architecture. Regardless of whether Safdie nurtured Marxist ideologies regarding the built environment, his connection and activism towards a type of social architecture is evident throughout his work on Habitat 67. His desire to create living spaces and residential architecture that relates to his life back in Haifa in the kibbutz, and to his fascination are prevalent throughout his architectural designs.

Visuals courtesy Taylor Reddam and Wikimedia Commons

Ar(t)chives Arts

Glimpse into Wifredo Lam’s ‘The Jungle’

Despite Lam’s extensive collection of works, one particular painting persists as his most memorable

Without any context, Cuban-born artist Wifredo Lam’s The Jungle could be perceived as a wild fever dream, where surreal creatures are intertwined with the jungle’s flora. Stare at this piece for long enough, and you might convince yourself that you’re able to make sense of the jumble of limbs as you attempt to figure out which foot belongs to which creature. Or, stare at the piece for too long, and you might become more and more confused. 

Many people appear to be equally mesmerized and stumped by this painting, mainly for its unruly blend of cubist-style shapes and its restrained colour palette, with its cool blues and tinges of red and orange that aid in concealing Lam’s creatures. None of the beings in this painting clearly resemble humans, though they do share several human characteristics, such as feet, hands, and eyes. 

If one starts to examine The Jungle in all of its painstaking detail, they might find some things that appear out of place. Take for instance, in the top right corner of the artwork: a hand grasping a large set of shears. Or if we examine the jungle’s trees closer, we’ll find that their trunks resemble something else entirely: sugar cane stalks. While these two details could easily be skimmed over, they’re important hints in regards to Lam’s inspiration for this chaotic piece.

Cuba, with its history of slavery and colonialism, served as a catalyst for The Jungle, with Lam explaining, “I wanted with all my heart to paint the drama of my country,” Lam explained, “to disturb the dreams of the exploiters.” The shears and sugar cane stalks can be perceived as a commentary on the colonizers who arrived in Cuba during the sixteenth century.

Much of Lam’s work sought to celebrate Afro-Cuban spirituality and culture, and also served to change the ways in which people viewed colonized countries. Lam’s work offers an insight into the country’s diverse cultural background, and instead of focusing solely on the role that colonizers played in the country’s history, he manages to reclaim western notions of Cuba being a primitive country, utilizing them in his art to create engaging, abstract scenes. Although Lam produced an impressive variety of works throughout his career as an artist, The Jungle persists as one of his most complex works to date.


Visual by Taylor Reddam

Ar(t)chives Arts

The art of suffering: a glimpse into the work of Marina Abramović

Since the 1970s, the bold performance artist has pushed her body to extreme lengths for the sake of her art

Picture this: you’ve decided to spend 12 days in an area consisting of three small rooms. A bedroom, a kitchenette, and a living room. You’ve denied yourself food, limited yourself only to water, are unable to speak, and don’t have access to any sort of entertainment to help pass the time. There are three ladders connected to each room, allowing you the opportunity to simply walk away. The rungs of the ladder, however, have been replaced with butcher knives. Oh, and on top of that, you are completely exposed, having dozens of strangers watch your every move. This might sound like a type of challenge that results in one’s endurance being rewarded with a cash prize or the like. But this is nothing of the sort. This is one of Marina Abramović’s most famous endurance art pieces titled The House With the Ocean View. 

Self-dubbed as the “grandmother of performance art,” Abramović has rarely shied away from the spotlight. In fact, at its very core, her work is built on suffering. Born in 1946 in Belgrade in former Yugoslavia, the artist experienced a difficult childhood, living with strict expectations and erratic behaviour from her parents. At the beginning of the 1970s, the artist’s career soon took off while studying at Belgrade’s Academy of Fine Arts. Over the years, she has created countless performance pieces that never cease to shock and engross audience members.

For some, The House With the Ocean View will seem like child’s play in comparison to her other works, such as Rhythm 4, where she knelt in front of a high-power industrial fan, attempting to test her lung capacity by breathing in as much air as she possibly could. It wasn’t long before she was rendered unconscious during this performance.

In her extremely controversial and disturbing work titled Rhythm 0, the artist took on a passive role as she essentially allowed audience members to do anything they wanted to her body. She laid out 72 items, with some as harmless as feathers and honey, to those that were meant to inflict pain, such as whips and knives. Initially, the audience members did not engage with her body in a harsh manner, but near the end of the six-hour block Abramović had dedicated to her performance, people began to get violent.

While it’s best to spare the details (feel free to do your own research, but be forewarned of the disturbing content you may find), the main objective of this piece was for Abramović to see just how far people would be willing to go when they were relieved of any consequences. Some chose a pacifist stance, while others chose to act on violent urges.

In many ways, Rhythm 0 was a genius (albeit terrifying) social experiment, one that demonstrated both sides of the spectrum when it comes to how humans could act given absolute free will and the assurance that their actions would have no consequences. While no doubt disturbing, Abramović’s work has contributed massively to the endurance art realm, pushing multiple boundaries that other artists had not dared to do at the time in order to explore the relationship that the artist shares with the audience.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

Ar(t)chives Arts

Melvin Charney’s history of Sherbrooke St.

1976 saw Sherbrooke St. becoming an arts venue, but only until the city’s mayor decided otherwise

The city of Montreal welcomed the Olympic Games in 1976. Along with the sporting events, art pieces were showcased and organized throughout the city. Corridart was one of them: an urban exhibition displayed on a long portion of Sherbrooke St. going from Atwater Ave. to Pie-IX Blvd. Curator Melvin Charney led the organization of the event, which presented various installations, exhibitions, and performances. He was interested in the history of the street, and the historical value of its buildings.

The event saw a variety of artistic creations. Pierre Ayot presented the sculpture La croix du mont Royal, a large illuminated replica of the mythical Mount Royal cross. Another piece entitled Mémoires de la rue was composed of scaffolding structures on which images and art pieces would be placed. Large red plastic hands pointing at different elements of the urban landscape, such as buildings or streets, were also a notable element of the exhibit.

Politics quickly took a large place in the evolution of the event as the exhibition was dismantled less than a week after it was launched, ordered by Mayor Jean Drapeau. This occurred during the night of July 13, four days before the start of the Olympics. Drapeau believed the artworks did not fit the aesthetic standards that would properly represent the city for this international event.

Charney had not aimed at presenting a clean and perfect Montreal. On the contrary, according to art history professor and researcher Johanne Sloan’s analysis of the event in the book The Other Architect: Another Way of Building Architecture, the curator’s approach was to “insist on the cultural value of domestic and vernacular architecture, and of streets themselves.”

Charney had done extensive preliminary research for this project. He analyzed the history of the buildings, the sidewalks, and their placement in the public space. Therefore, the location where the artworks would be placed was meticulously chosen so that the architectural heritage of the city would be integrated in the exhibit. The goal was to make art accessible to pedestrians and encourage them to engage with it.

For Charney, the street was itself a representation of the city’s cultural background. “The physical traces of the streets define a bond between people and the city as a collective, public artifact that subsumes individual buildings,” he wrote in 1977 as published in the book On Architecture: Melvin Charney, A Critical Anthology.

The presented artworks tackled themes related to the history of Montreal, its urban development, and activism in the community. Artist Françoise Sullivan presented a creation titled Legend of Artists. This piece featured archives of meaningful art movements in Montreal. They were displayed in large boxes placed on top of steel legs, and each contained objects, texts, and photos recalling a specific artistic practice. Those mini-exhibitions were placed in arts venues as well as in front of the homes of artists who inspired Sullivan, such as Paul-Émile Borduas and Émile Nelligan.

Legend of Artists reached passersby and accompanied their walk on Sherbrooke St. while providing a historical background on cultural events related to the site. Charney’s creation for the exhibition also touched on historical features, but through one monumental work. Entitled Les maisons de la rue Sherbrooke, the piece was a life-size imitation of an apartment building’s facade. The empty lot where it was presented was previously occupied by Victorian style buildings that had been destroyed by the city.

Charney’s installation replicated the aesthetic of the new modern buildings that were built in the neighbourhood. The piece engaged with reflections on the treatment of the city’s architectural heritage.

Despite its short existence, Corridart is still recognized today for its ideas regarding the reappropriation of everyday urban spaces by pedestrians. According to Sloan, Charney was “proposing a theory of the street itself as the site of urban knowledge.”

Following the destruction of the exhibition, a group of artists who had participated in it sued the city of Montreal for $350,000. The controversy around this project became famous and the plaintiffs eventually received a total of $85,000 12 years later through a settlement agreement with the city.


Visuals by Taylor Reddam


Ar(t)chives Arts

A brief look at artist Emily Carr’s totemic paintings: innovation or appropriation?

The well-known Canadian artist’s work has sparked debates for quite some time when it comes to her paintings that depict Indigenous art and communities

The work of Emily Carr has no doubt captured the attention of Canadian art connoisseurs throughout the years, and many have hailed her work as innovative. There’s perhaps no other artist who has represented British Columbia’s wilderness and its people so diligently and vividly as Carr. Born on Dec. 13, 1871 in Victoria, Carr spent the majority of her life living among breathtaking mountain ranges and verdant forests. Her early work demonstrates a clear fascination with Victoria’s landscape and its vegetation. Despite her education leading her abroad to Europe for a considerable period of time, Carr eventually returned to B.C. not only with refined artistic skills but also with an even more profound appreciation for her homeland.

It was a trip to Ucluelet, a municipality on the west coast of Vancouver Island, that initially piqued Carr’s interest in Indigenous art and culture. She began depicting totemic art and people she met in Indigenous communities in her work during this time. Despite being immortalized as one of Canada’s most talented artists, Carr’s work has also sparked debates by some who view her paintings featuring Indigenous life and totemic art as prime examples of artistic appropriation.

A major turning point in Carr’s career that led her to pursue Indigenous art as her subject matter was a trip in 1907 to Alaska, where she spent the majority of her time immersing herself in the life of the Indigenous community she was staying in. A few years later, in the summer of 1912, still inspired by her trip to Alaska, Carr set out on a trip to Haida Gwaii, an archipelago located 100 kilometres west of the northern coast of B.C. She began working on a collection of paintings, and as Ian Thom writes in Emily Carr Collected, “The primary goal of this large body of work was to document the villages and totems of First Nations people, which Carr, like most Euro-Canadians of her generation, believed were destined to disappear.”

While Carr’s own writing and records from those who were close to her suggest that the artist was dedicated to her subjects’ preservation, there are still some who wonder if Carr really knew enough about these Indigenous communities and their forms of art to make them her focus. Some speculate she was simply caught up in the romanticization of Indigenous life, and was simply emulating their art through her own work. In an article from Canadian Art titled The Trouble with Emily Carr, author Robert Fulford writes, “Did Emily Carr understand native culture in the way she understood, say, the British-colonial Victoria in which she grew up? Or did she understand it in the way a diligent scholar may come to know a single foreign culture after years of study?”

With all of this in mind, Carr still had an undeniably keen eye for important details when it came to all of her pieces. She managed to capture totemic art like no other white, Canadian artist had before. As an artist, her distinctive style showcased the West Coast’s abundance of natural wonders in a manner that is simply inimitable.

Although Carr may or may not have understood Indigenous traditions or a community’s way of life, her paintings depicting totemic art still appear to demonstrate a considerable appreciation for what she witnessed during her time in B.C. — even if only from a superficial standpoint. Many still, and probably always will, remain torn between their admiration of Carr’s haunting work and the ethical questions that arise when we begin to ask, who reserves the right to depict certain subject matter in their art, and who doesn’t?


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

Ar(t)chives Arts

Gordon Matta-Clark’s unique vision of urban space

American artist Gordon Matta-Clark is well known for his technique which involved cutting shapes into buildings

Gordon Matta-Clark was an American artist who specialized in architectural interventions and photography during the seventies. He is best recognized for his transformation of abandoned buildings through holes and shapes he cut in their walls and floors.

Matta-Clark’s conceptual art was based on his concerns and critique pertaining to the urban reality of New York. One of his first outdoor interventions, created in 1972, was titled Dumpster Duplex. The artwork was composed of an opened garbage dumpster with home furniture, walls and doors placed in it. This piece of art was featured in the neighborhood of SoHo in downtown Manhattan. Through this work, Matta-Clark critiqued housing challenges that the poorest communities of New York were facing at the time.

Matta-Clark also opened the restaurant Food in SoHo with artists Carol Goodden and Tina Girouard. This restaurant was a place where artists could gather to eat and work. Despite only being open from 1971 to 1973, Food is considered to be one of the first restaurants of the area. In terms of Matta-Clark’s work, this restaurant added to his process of investing in and rethinking urban space.

His vision was also transmitted through his Reality Properties: Fake Estates project. He bought 15 plots of land for prices ranging from 25 to 75 dollars between the years of 1973 and 1974. They were small and often unusable due to their location. The artist took pictures of the micro plots. He created collages combining the photographs, maps of the area and his property deeds. The project aimed to critique the unaffordability of real estate in New York.  While he visited most, Jane Crawford, Matta-Clark’s widow, explained that the artist never got the opportunity to see one of the plots he owned since it was surrounded by private buildings.

One of Matta-Clark’s best known projects, Splitting, highlights his iconic building cuts. These art interventions consisted of pieces of a built structure being taken off through strategic cuts with a chainsaw, which transformed buildings into a deconstructed space. The artist described his work as “anarchitecture,” a play on the words anarchy and architecture.  Created in 1974, Splitting consists of restructuring large cuts that were taken out of a house that was supposed to be demolished. Matta-Clark and his team created separations and holes in the dwelling’s structure. The walls were deconstructed to create new spaces between the different rooms. They also performed a cut that went through the house, beginning from the roof and ending in the basement. The artist documented his work through photos, which he gathered in a book titled Splitting. These photographs echo his work on the house. He made collages with the photos, cut them and combined them together to imagine even more modifications to be done on the house.

Matta-Clark continued to perform his building cuts, making them more spectacular. A notable one is titled Conical Intersect. This work of art was created in Paris in 1975. Matta-Clark made cuts in two buildings that were going to be demolished by the city. The round holes he created granted pedestrians access to a look inside the 17th century buildings. The circular cuts left by this art intervention started a pattern for the artist. He created similar round holes in other structures during the following years.

Matta-Clark called his creations on abandoned buildings “non-uments.” The artist’s on-site interventions did not remain, but his photographs and notes were conserved after he died in 1978. His work presents an awareness of architecture, which is still pertinent today as more humans live in cities and are surrounded by dynamic, ever-changing urban environments.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam

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