Arts and Culture Student Life

Get to know AHGSA!

Concordia’s Art History Graduate Student Association hosted their first meet-and-greet of the academic year.

Concordia University’s Art History Graduate Student Association (AHGSA) kicked off the school year with a casual meet-and-greet for incoming and returning graduate students in the art history program. 

The Concordian spoke to AHGSA’s PhD representative Timmy Chandler about the executive team’s goals for this year. He emphasized their focus on fostering collegial relationships through activating social spaces and providing access for students to networking and career-building opportunities. “AHGSA acts as a liaison between art history graduate students and each other, the department/faculty/other art history student groups. There is a large scope of what projects and activities the team can propose and make happen,” said representative Margaret Lapp.  

Building a sense of community on campus in a post-lockdown world has been an enduring challenge for many student associations. AHGSA’s purpose in the past has been to organize and facilitate their annual symposium for graduate students to present their academic work and gain professional experience. 

Their latest symposium, Thrivance | Le Fleurissement, was held in April 2022. Current MA students have mixed feelings about the symposium’s hiatus during the 2022–2023 academic year due to several unfulfilled leadership positions, but this was also a reflection of AHGSA’s shifting priorities.

Chandler pointed out that this past year, the association’s funding was allocated toward smaller and more frequent social events like workshops and pop-ups, rather than one large, intimidating conference. This was an effort to make the association more accessible and approachable in order to encourage students to be more regularly involved and thus feel more connected to their peers. 

This year, the team hopes to strike a balance and continue to host small, engaging social events while also bringing back the symposium. So far, it has been a successful endeavour for the association. The meet-and-greet bustled with anecdotal stories of long-term friendships and connections being born at AHGSA’s events, such as their BYOB Park Frolic picnic, their maxed out Frigo Vert Grad Mixer, and their interdepartmental networking event hosted in collaboration with MFASASA (the Master of Fine Arts Studio Arts Association). 

AHGSA is always seeking new members and students can stay up to date with their programming by following their instagram page @ahgsaconcordia. Their profile also shares flyers for upcoming events around Montreal’s art scene within and beyond Concordia, making it a great resource for new and returning students to get involved. Be sure to check them out and stay tuned for the results of Monday’s general assembly and fall election!


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Happening in and around the White Cube this week… should art history roll over and die? 

During the Art History Graduate Student Association (AHGSA) Symposium, keynote speaker, Lindsay Nixon, spoke about their current work with Indigenous memes and digital futures. They spoke of the ethics of the dissemination of information and Indigenous knowledge and how apps like TikTok allow Indigenous youth to connect with communities across Turtle Island and the world.

But how does this bridge the gap between artist and influencer? Where does art history come into play?

Nixon, who graduated with a Specialization in Women’s Studies from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, and has completed their MA in Art History at Concordia, places the ethics of making first. The maker, the artist, before the art. Meaning over aesthetics.

While TikTok videos and memes are not always works of art, Indigenous TikToks and memes are a different category. They have the power to create a community and disseminate Indigenous knowledge, objects and experience in a way that was almost impossible earlier in the century. Nixon highlighted artists, like Dana Claxton and Fallon Simard among many others, who work in these ways and pull apart notions of what Indigenous art is.

When speaking about Indigenous art and memes, Nixon opts for “Indigenous digital humanities,” as opposed to contemporary art and art history. And when their talk was finished, a member of the audience raised their hand and said, “Art history should roll over and die.” Nixon, who is also the Indigenous Editor-at-Large for Canadian Art magazine, laughed and agreed.

Art history is definitely rooted in colonial notions of high art, and while craft practices come into the art historical discussion, Indigenous art cannot be looked at in the same way. Art history contends with an institutionalized space that Indigenous digital humanities tries to dismantle.

In Indigenous Art is so Camp, an article in Canadian Art from earlier this fall, Nixon wrote, “Art became my career. Somewhere along the way, I lost the joy of Indigenous art, of art generally, and the initial emotions that drew me to the gallery became conflated with the day-to-day grind of contending with an industry.” Indigenous art, unlike many art historical and anthropological thought, is not limited to a series of symbols and narratives but shares a universal love for camp, and all that is theatrical and truly extra.

These narratives—think of Kent Monkman’s paintings and his alter-ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle—surpass western knowledge and notions of art history.

Art history is, like so many other fields of study, one that should “roll over and die.” There’s still a lot of work to do to redefine the art world and beyond.

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