Sampson McFerrin: The Storytelling of a Lifetime Through Art

“I guess I’m telling my story, the experiences I’ve had, the travels I’ve endured, the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met. Also hearing other stories and bringing people together.”

Sampson McFerrin is a Montreal based artist who is currently studying his third year in Print Media at Concordia University. In April, he held his first art exhibition in which he presented to the public his work, which clearly reflects his journey as an artist.

Checarré is an exhibition that reveals the trajectory of McFerrin as an artist throughout the years. He has covered over 50,000 kilometers in nearly 30 countries. He claims that this unique experience has not only influenced his art but has also shaped him into the person he is today.

“Before I was born, my parents travelled around the world for two years, and when they had me they wanted to keep that lifestyle. I was introduced to it from a really young age and it was just how it was. Now I’ve taken it as a passion of my own, it made me the person who I am.”

Being a mixed word and at the same time denoting the creativity of the artist, Checarré signals different meanings and tonalities.The first part of this word means “checking-in” since McFerrin is in his third year and has a desire to give criticism a place in his work. The second part, carré, comes from the French and literally translates to “square” since he claims that for some reason, his works continue to end up in squares, something that has worked for him. The third and last part of this word––originally suggested by his brother––also comes from the French; the expression chez moi, denoting the reason behind McFerrin’s decision to hold his exhibition in his own apartment. This makes the spectator’s experience feel much warmer and closer to the message of the works.

How unique it is to be able to encounter the mixture of one’s oldest and latest works as is the case with Checarré. McFerrin explained that he has been painting since grade four and has been more serious about it since grade ten when he started selling his work. However, for five years, he feels that in his latest work he only notices very small differences. That’s one of the reasons why he decided to switch to print media:”I was ageing for something more or just some new technical skills to learn.”

Artists have often reflected on the role failure has played into their career’s evolution. Nonetheless, it is very difficult to define the role that failure has had when this term is so subjective. Having spent much of his life painting, McFerrin has become a very open-minded person. Proof of this mindset can be observed through the response he gave to The Concordian when asked about the role of failure in his own artistic process: “I don’t think failure has ever been an option.”

Learning from mistakes, falls and success is just part of the learning process, as the artist explained “Even if I fail, it is okay. It is what you learn from that and what you have to do to make sure you pass to the next one. Failure has never been an option, make it work! If you’re biking and the bike breaks down you’ll get a tiny moment of ‘oh no!’ But then it all is about what’s next. There is always something to do. If something does not go as you wanted, make it work in the best way for you.” That is McFerrin’s message.

His flexible mentality is noticeable in his art in which he also draws the image of his passion for bicycles––Rain Pants Party is his favourite work, an acrylic-based painting. A very personal work and even an “extension of self” as he commented.

Through Checarré, he presents his most unique side, a life experience that results in a narrative of his experiences which have not only transformed him as a person but have led him to create meaningful connections with people who can see themselves represented in his work.

Through a refreshing conversation with the artist, one can not only get an insight into his career in the world of painting and printmaking, but also an admirable glimpse into a unique lifestyle that has helped him keep an open mind, a fundamental skill for life.

After observing Checarré, it is very easy to realize that, as the artist himself said, art is everywhere. This project can precisely serve as an inspiration for youth who are doubting the veracity of the path to art so that they take the leap. “Do what makes you happy, switch to what makes you happy, don’t give up on that,” McFerrin encourages. Through his work, McFerrin sees his most recent and older work living together and admits to still learning how to use print media, which he denotes through his art the importance of patience in the art world.

Visuals courtesy Sampson McFerrin


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


Art event roundup: spring edition

By Ashley Fish-Robertson & Véronique Morin 

Here are nine noteworthy events that are worth keeping on your radar!

With the end of another school year approaching and the onset of warmer weather, more people will be flocking to the city’s cultural venues. As The Concordian wraps up their last print issue of the school year, our arts editor and assistant arts editor share nine events to kick off springtime.   

Photo by Catherine Reynolds

Infographic by Simon Pouliot


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



‘les liens’ explores relationships and queerness through entangled knitwork

Thierry Huard’s newest project is an expansive exposition on identity and the limitations of relationships 

Entering les liens feels like stumbling upon a labyrinth of knitted sweaters and yarn. The MAI’s transformed art gallery is draped in cotton strings from wall to ceiling. Warm lighting and ambient soundscapes make for a space of introspection and comfort. It’s as if the threads function as safety netting from the exterior world.

As described by the exhibit’s creator, Thierry Huard, the intention behind the exhibit is to portray “A queer and kaleidoscopic vision of friendship, of one’s relationship to the self and to others.”

The walkthrough is organized into 10 sections, each offering a new perspective of Huard’s artwork. Cushions are scattered on the floor, inviting visitors to sit and rest while contemplating concepts around relationships and identity.Multiple screens accompany the strings, showing footage of Huard and his colleague, Nate Yaffe, as they explore what is and isn’t possible while entangled in threads. They stretch together, wrestle, and suspend in time as they hold each other.

Yaffe fits into the themes of the exhibit as an experimental dancer who specializes in relational and queer-centred choreography.

While watching these individuals, I imagine they are attempting to break free from the tangled and restricting nature of heterosexual norms. Queer individuals are often tasked with unraveling these loose threads as they adjust to a world that feels new and undefined.

After recently entering my first queer relationship, I felt worried in the beginning I would have to adjust to new expectations. Eventually, I realized it was the total opposite, and found an openness and acceptance where I can be myself. I think that sentiment is what this exhibit is about.

Further to the back of the gallery hang two knitted silhouettes; their upper bodies are incomplete with loose, hanging threads. In fact, many of the handknit structures are unfinished, a testament to the continuous exploration of one’s queer identity.

The most magical part of the labyrinth is the hanging tent. Within the tent is a sleeping bag, drawings, and written prompts. While laying on the bedding with a friend, we asked each other questions like, “What would you want to be your superpower?” and “Do you believe everyone has a purpose in life? If so, what do you believe your purpose is?”

The tent has cutouts of strange symbols in it, and after further exploration, these symbols could be found everywhere – sewn into the tent, on the walls, and projected onto the floor. These hieroglyphic monograms speak a language which could only be deciphered by the two characters of the exhibit. 

Upon reading the gallery plan, it became clear that these symbols all represented themes of love, such as deep trust, self-forgiveness, and universal love.

The acrylic drawings at the gallery’s exit show two unfinished faces which seem to stare at each other through knitted bandages. Although these faces are incomplete, their gestures clearly show their affection for each other. 

Huard’s immersive experience brings forward a warm feeling. The same feeling as a loving embrace or a comfy armchair. The resulting ambience allows viewers to open their mind in peaceful reflection.


Visuals courtesy Curtis Savage



Art event roundup: February

By Véronique Morin and Ashley Fish-Robertson

Shake off those winter blues with some exciting new art events this month

With midterm season looming in the (very) near future, you might be tempted to make the most of any last-minute free time you have before hitting the books. Here are some noteworthy events that will give you a hearty dose of inspiration needed to ace your assignments. 

In-person exhibitions

  • House of Skin: Artists Sabrina Ratté and Roger Tellier-Craig present an exhibition inspired by David Cronenberg’s films at La Cinémathèque québécoise. Located at  335 De Maisonneuve Blvd. E until March 20.
  • Jouer avec le temps: Photography exhibit featuring circus artists presented at TOHU. Located at 2345 Jarry St. E until March 13. 
  • An Exhibition by Marven Clerveau: Visions Hip-Hop QC: Exhibition of works by painter Marven Clerveau which gives an overview of Quebec’s main hip hop figures at the Phi Centre. Located at 315 Saint-Paul St. W until March 26.
  • Lashing Skies : Audio experience presenting five original stories related to events in New York City on 9/11. Located at the Phi Centre from Feb. 17 to May 15.
  • The Disintegration Loops: Living Sound presents this immersive installation featuring works from composer William Basinski. Located at the Phi Centre from Feb. 17 to May 15.
  • JJ Levine – Queer Photographs : Artist JJ Levine presents his photography work at the McCord Museum this month. The museum will also host an online opening of the show on Feb. 16. Located at 690 Sherbrooke St. W from Feb. 18 to Sept. 18.


  • NFB Film Festival: Several special events are underway courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada to celebrate Black History Month, including screenings and Q&A sessions. This year’s theme is centred around Black Health and Wellness. 
  • Silver Screen Sundays: Cinéma du Musée and The Film Society will return with their biweekly screenings of classic films. They will be showing the cult classic Casablanca on Feb. 20.


  • 18 P_R_A_C_T_I_C_E_S: Artist and performer Andrew Turner presents a 60-minute show that offers a hearty dose of humour, moments of absurdity, and a sharp tone. Presented at La Chappelle Scènes Contemporaines, located at 3700 St-Dominique St. from Feb. 16 to 19.
  • Marie-Pascale Bélanger + Jordan Brown: This double program features the work of Bélanger, inspired by tales she was told as a child, and Brown’s choreography, structured around wool and knitting. Presented by Tangente Danse at Edifice Wilder – Espace danse, located at 1435 De Bleury St. from Feb. 19 to 22.


Visual courtesy Galerie Robertson Arès


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


RECHARGER/Unwind: an unforgettable journey

Oasis immersion’s second exhibition is a simultaneously soothing yet exhilarating immersive journey of the senses

RECHARGER/Unwind, the Oasis immersive studio’s second ever exhibition, features 10 presentations from both local and international artists that are centered around three themes: relaxation, stimulation, and reconnection.

“We really wanted to create something that uplifts somehow,” said Johnny Ranger, co-creative director at OASIS Immersion. “I think that it has a really good balance between some pieces that are strange, mysterious, and uplifting,” he added. This balance was achieved by having each room in the exhibition embody one of the three themes. In each room, various artistic presentations were projected all over the walls and sometimes even the floor.

When guests initially enter the exhibit, ethereal music transports them to a world of relaxation. The first room features three presentations that encourage visitors to unwind. First, visitors will experience Core, a cascading dance of light and sound. Then, they are treated to Migration, a moving piece of art that invites visitors into a constantly reassembling world. Multicoloured fields break apart and reform into ever-shifting purple waves.

Migration was created by Quebecois artist Ruban Mauve. “I just wanted it to be this thing that just brings you with [it] and you don’t know where it’s gonna get you, but you’re just onboard and you just enjoy the experience of travelling with this,” explained Mauve.

Next, rotating plant ecosystems spring to life. This is Floralia, a speculative future where samples of extinct plant species are preserved and displayed in a virtual archive room. Crackling sounds add a dramatic flair and unsettling ambience to the piece.

After this journey to a virtual archive, visitors step into the second room focused on stimulation. Energizing lights and sounds create a gripping and inspiring experience by stimulating the senses.

The room’s invigorating lights and sounds worked wonders for Abdullah Icuyz, a visitor who was engrossed in the experience. “[I] pretty much liked the three [rooms], but my favourite one was the second one,” said Icyuz.

Icyuz was particularly inspired by Horizon, a piece by French artist Alex Le Guillou. This piece explored the way we perceive dreams and reality. Light particles intermingle to form abstract shapes inspired by the sky and seas, including pinkish shapes resembling star systems.

This second room along with Horizon’s two other presentations, Frozen Music and Journey, are also featured. The former shows frozen structures that shift and change over time. A serpentine structure made of fine white light slowly travels along the room’s four walls, then suddenly visitors hear a ding among the airy music, and the whole structure transforms, revealing a new serpentine form. As the number of dings increases so does the music and the shape’s speed, creating a feeling of escalation among guests.

Journey, the final presentation in the second room, presents some of the most memorable visuals of the exhibition. Towards the end of the presentation, a train of light spreads on the walls speeding from one wall towards the next, as a little girl runs towards it, hoping to catch the train.

After this impressive demonstration, guests visit the reconnection room, the final stage of the exhibition. This room offers four presentations and aims to reconnect visitors with themselves, nature, and social interaction.

The first presentation, New Land  by Alex Le Guillou, presents beautiful scenes of nature while upbeat music plays in the background. White arctic forests and lush green boreal forests meld together to create a stunning intricate landscape.

The second piece, Recursive Reflections, plunges the audience into an alien world. Green tones of membrane-like figments resembling cell membranes and strains of green flesh-like figments are appear over the walls. Eventually, among gaps between the different membranes, a world seems to be revealed. The world then transforms into a variety of geometric patterns.

During the third presentation, Flow, shapes of shifting color resembling clouds float about as celestial music accompanies the piece. The clouds later expand, turning into granular waves of lights.

The final presentation, The Quiet Pond, delves into primal instincts such as anxiety and fear. Among the purple vegetation on the pond’s shore, yellow eyes appear, creating a disconcerting feeling. Occasional flashes of light and a strange child-like voice saying “hello” add to the unease of this presentation. Eventually, the eyes become bubbles of light and shift upwards as the dense vegetation transforms into a whimsical yellow and orange foliage. Later, the room is entirely underwater. Bodies fall within the water, renewing a sense of anxiety.

Despite their different styles and subjects, all the presentations have something in common. They are all generative art pieces. Generative art is art created with the use of computer coding and programming. “The whole exhibit is about using generative to feel better,” explained Mauve. “Generative process in general is this task of putting on rules and setting out barriers for the content to evolve with.”

“It is really a different type of animation, it creates variety in the way it’s building animation,” added Ranger.

In order to get the full experience, Ranger recommends multiple visits. “And some of the people I know that came to see this exhibition want to come back again to live it because it’s not something that once you see it you know. No, it’s an experience and if you come back in a month or a month and a half, it will be a different experience.”

The exhibition will run until the end of January and is open from Wednesday to Sunday.


Photo courtesy Margaret Wdowiak


Holiday art events roundup

Treat yourself to a well-deserved break as you soak up some of Montreal’s most noteworthy events

What better way to spend the holiday break than to explore some of Montreal’s unique art happenings? Our Arts Editor and Assistant Arts Editor have compiled a list of current and upcoming events that are sure to appease the senses and, hopefully, get you into a festive mood.


  • Sisters with Transistors : A film about electronic music’s pioneers, presented by Cinéma Public in collaboration with Suoni Per Il Popolo. Located at 505 Jean-Talon St. E on Nov. 26 and 28, as well as Dec. 1 and 4.



  • Awards : Theater piece mixing music and text from Collectif Tôle. 1345 Lalonde Ave. from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.
  • Je suis un produit : A play from the Simoniaques Théâtre company. Located at 4559 Papineau Ave. from Nov. 23 to Dec. 18.
    • Antioche : Online theatre piece by Talisman Theatre. From Dec. 13 to 19.
  • Jonathan: A Seagull Parable: Surreal theatre piece directed by Jon Lachlan Stewart. Located at the Fred-Barry Hall of the Denise-Pelletier Theatre (4353 Saint-Catherine St. E) from Nov. 23 to Dec.11.


  • Confessions Publiques : Solo performance by Angélique Willkie for the MAYDAY dance company. Located at 3700 Saint-Dominique St., from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4.
  • What Will Come : Dance performance by Julia B. Laperrière and Sébastien Provencher. Located at 1435 De Bleury St. from Dec. 2 to 5.
  • Pomegranate: Solo performance by Heather Mah. Located at 3680 Jeanne-Mance from Dec. 2 to 4.
  • Babel 7.16 : Online multidisciplinary performance choreographed by Belgian artists Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet. From Dec. 8 to Dec. 19.


Visual courtesy of James Fay



As I Walk showcases the relationship between memory and natural elements

Sylvia Safdie’s 12 collections of meticulously gathered natural objects are on display at Fonderie Darling until Dec. 19

In Sylvia Safdie’s latest exhibition, the 79-year-old artist, who was born in Lebanon but moved to Montreal in 1953, manages to animate the inanimate. Until Dec. 19, Fonderie Darling will be showcasing As I Walk, an exhibition featuring 12 works composed of what Safdie deems “earth fragments.” These natural objects manage to lead double lives, ones that are, according to the artist, entrenched in personal meaning. The artist explained that “There is always something behind an act or a gesture that is veiled. There is always something that comes from a hidden place in the unconscious or in our memory.”

When standing inside the gallery’s main hall and admiring Safdie’s collections, it’s difficult not to appreciate the artist’s unrelenting search for meaning in the objects around her. The hall, filled with an accumulation of rocks, branches, dried fruits, and fossils, just to name a few, feels like stepping into Safdie’s own personal museum. While many of these natural elements may carry more significant meanings for the artist than for viewers, there are many objects that display discernable human-like characteristics. Take, for example, her work titled Feet. In this piece, the artist has organized several pairs of rocks that, almost eerily, resemble varying sizes of human feet.

As only an avid collector can, Safdie has spent years of her life carefully and patiently compiling these collections of precious materials. One work, titled Heads, took Safdie a whopping 28 years to complete. This is due to the fact that the artist was constantly reorganizing and transforming her work, forming new associations between the objects and what they mean to her.

Safdie’s move from Israel to Canada and her memories associated with this move were integral in bringing together these collections. She explained that “It was an enormously difficult experience. […] Now, looking back I am able to understand the rich process of dislocation and relocation. You are able [to] bring things from your past into the present and create your own language.”

A particularly interesting aspect in bringing this exhibition together was Safdie’s process in collecting these materials. All of these natural objects were gathered by the artist during her routine walks, something that she considers an essential aid to her creative process. With this in mind, viewers may reflect on their own ventures into nature, and perhaps leave this exhibition with a deeper appreciation for the many natural elements they encounter during the day that normally wouldn’t draw much attention.

While most of the collected objects have been carefully grouped together according to their form, some works such as Inventory include a variety of items that may not necessarily belong together. This is part of the charm of Safdie’s exhibition; some groups of objects appear to adhere to a certain shape or material, while others completely disregard the need to conform.

As I Walk extends an invitation for viewers to pause and reflect on the many natural objects they come into contact with on a daily basis. It also encourages them to not only acknowledge but admire both the unity and differences among the accumulation of objects presented, serving as a reminder that memory is a powerful, and at times elusive, thing.

Fonderie Darling is located at 745 Ottawa St. For more information on As I Walk please visit the gallery’s website


Photo courtesy of Ashley Fish-Robertson


H’RIRA addresses identity and challenges orientalist perceptions of Morocco

Artist Safae Mounsif’s work presents a polarity between authentic representations of Morocco and distorted perceptions of the country

Montreal artist Safae Mounsif’s work is inherently dualistic: the very name of her exhibition, H’RIRA, refers to both the hearty Moroccan soup consumed during the month of Ramadan, as well as a Moroccan expression describing a state of chaos and anarchy. From Oct. 21 to Oct. 28, visitors were invited to browse Mounsif’s collection of 12 paintings. The artist’s work seeks to reframe and challenge outdated Moroccan notions by presenting aspects of the country’s culture through a surrealistic, chaotic approach. Identity plays a crucial role in H’RIRA; Mounsif’s work encourages the Moroccan community to take control of their narrative and reappropriate aspects of their culture that they may be stifling.

Mounsif moved to Morocco shortly after being born in Montreal. Four years ago, she returned to Montreal, where she began working as an interior designer. In 2020, she took a leap of faith and decided to quit her job, realizing that it was time to focus on painting. “For me, it was just time to take the risk,” she said. “I gave myself a year to make something out of it, because […] it was very important that if I quit my job, I need to have an alternative.”

Through the duration of the lockdown, Mounsif put her artistic talents to use and devoted her time to this project, one that ultimately took a whole year. Three months were dedicated solely to preparing H’RIRA for display. “I wanted it to be successful, so I spent a lot of energy just trying to find the right place for it. For me, it was very symbolic to do it at the Moroccan Cultural Centre (MCC) because it’s my own representation of Morocco.”

Mounsif felt that by hosting her exhibition here, it would allow for the MCC to gain more visibility, while also affording her the chance to showcase her work for free. She explained that most galleries take 50 per cent of commissions, but by hosting her exhibition at the MCC, she was able to claim 100 per cent of all painting sales. On top of holding her exhibition in a free space, Mounsif also decided to offer all of her pieces in print form. Purchasing these prints allow for visitors to support the artist while also receiving a unique work of art at a much more affordable price.

When admiring Mounsif’s work, one can discern a clear juxtaposition between many of the paintings. Most works are grouped into pairs, which helps to accentuate the clear differences between one work and the other. Take for example her two paintings titled QROUDA and HABIBI. Both paintings are placed on the wall, side to side. In the first one, there is a man playing a flute who is surrounded by several children and two macaques. This painting is, as Mounsif explained it, a rather accurate representation of the country as she knows it, even though this surreal version is painted in bright pastels. She also noted that, contrary to popular belief, Morocco is a colourful country. Many buildings in the country are saturated in vivid pastels and feature vibrant tile patterns.

HABIBI, contrasted to QROUDA, appears to be much more grounded, especially with its earthy tones and fixed subject. A man, perhaps the same one featured in QROUDA, lounges on a chair as he plucks at an oud, a stringed instrument. In lieu of children and macaques, this man is surrounded by four cats. He’s wearing a red tarboosh, a hat sometimes worn by Muslim men, and there is a pot of tea resting by his feet. The background of this piece is composed of several patterns similar to those found on Moroccan tiles, though much less colourful than the ones in the previous painting.

Mounsif explained that when she asks viewers, who are either from Morocco or elsewhere, which painting best portrays the country, they tend to choose the image that presents an orientalist depiction of Morocco, such as HABIBI. For her, these pieces don’t paint an authentic picture of life in the country. Instead, they seek to expose outdated notions of the country and its inhabitants.

When asked what she hopes viewers will take away from her paintings, Mounsif replied, “I think it depends on the viewers. I think for the Moroccan community, I want them to have another representation of themselves, I want them to know that we need to tell our stories and we need to be active regarding these representations.” Mounsif also hopes that her paintings will offer individuals who are not a part of the Moroccan community access to more realistic representations of the country and the Muslim community.

It is evident that H’RIRA is a deeply personal expression of the artist’s own identity while also functioning as a commentary on the enduring orientalist portrayals of Morocco. Mounsif’s paintings encourage viewers, wherever they come from, to examine what aspects comprise their own identities. Hopefully, they can learn to appreciate these aspects and create their own narratives according to who they are.

“[Identity] is something that is very important to me and I don’t think that we can just be passive about it,” Mounsif said. “I think that we cannot just endure our identity but somehow embrace it by knowing what it is made of.”

Mounsif noted that from Dec. 10 to 12, H’RIRA will be moving to La P’tite Porte, located at 1122 De Maisonneuve Blvd. Visitors will have the chance to browse Mounsif’s collection of work, and her prints will be up for sale. For more information on the artist, please visit her website.


Photo courtesy of Catherine Reynolds


Larry Achiampong’s Relic Traveller is a meditation on race, diaspora and historical preservation

The artist’s first solo exhibition in the Americas offers an immersive, thought-provoking experience for visitors

Early on a Thursday morning, I eagerly waited outside the PHI Foundation to see the new Larry Achiampong exhibition. The artist’s latest work, Relic Traveller, is a multidisciplinary exhibition that features sculptures, murals, four short films and more. Relic Traveller is the British-Ghanaian artist’s first major solo exhibition in the Americas.

Upon entering, Victoria Carrasco, one of the co-curators for the exhibition, led me through the first section. Carrasco explained to me that the relic traveller is a sort of alter ego for the artist, one that has allowed him to explore his African roots and to confront issues pertaining to race, postcolonialism and more. This exhibition, especially the films, also explores how some spaces appear to be reserved for certain individuals, namely europeans. This leaves the relic travellers to be in a constant state of movement as they attempt to find a home and to also find a place where they can leave a historical mark.

In a white-walled room with a red floor that had a clay-like texture to it, I observed seven black, faceless figures, all wearing similar navy green jumpsuits. Two of the figures were suspended from the ceiling, one with both arms positioned in front of them, and the other with one arm reaching out. Behind these figures on the wall were several flags, which closely resembled flags from existing African countries. In this room, visitors may feel as though they have been momentarily transported to space, with the two figures dangling above them, the space helmets these figures wear, and the red ground in the exhibition room bearing a striking resemblance to Mars’ sandy landscape.

The next room showcases the relic traveller in 2D form through colourful mural paintings. Achiampong utilizes every inch of this room to document the traveller’s journeys to what appears to be a land based in the future. Each wall, and even the ceiling, offers a visual narrative that can be appreciated.

The final room contained four short films, all featuring a breathtaking landscape in each one. This room was, without a doubt, the highlight of the exhibition for me. Sitting in a chair as overhead bright lights slowly dimmed to a deep red, I invested all my focus into the first film, titled Relic 0. This film follows the traveller as they wander through lush, green hills, and is Achiampong’s response to the prolonged period of time that the artist went without seeing his children due to the pandemic. In several of the films, the artist uses his two children as actors, both dressed as the relic traveller. The artist addresses his children directly, by sharing stories about their ancestry, but the film still resonates with all viewers. The pandemic presented the world with a novel form of isolation, one that won’t soon be forgotten, and this film is a stark reminder of that.

While this exhibition is deeply personal, it is also a meditation on current and past issues pertaining to race, diaspora, history and more. The pieces ask viewers to reflect on who gets to participate in the making of history, who and what deserves to be at the centre of ethnographic study, and how memories and cultural materials are (or aren’t) preserved throughout time. The very first exhibition, with its dangling mannequin-like figures, showcases a disturbance in the way ethnographic collections are presented. Typically, those who visit museums, especially ones in the West, will notice that ethnographic figures and even many objects are displayed vertically. Visitors who enter the first room will undoubtedly first notice the figures that appear upright, not the ones above them. I soon realized that the ones above head could easily be forgotten due to the fact that they do not presume the same position as the others, that they do not conform.

Additionally, in the films, the relic traveller is constantly moving, searching for a place to call home. All the while, they carry no materials with them. This makes it nearly impossible for them to leave a physical trace in history. Perhaps this is why the travellers rely so much on stories and memories, as emphasized during Relic 0 when the artist speaks to his children about ancestry. This exhibition is also, in many ways, a call to action for more Black voices to be acknowledged in cultural and historical discourses. These works highlight the racial inequalities that arise when it comes to documenting the physical and oral histories of individuals. Achiampong leaves visitors wondering, uneasily, who is worthy of being remembered?

Relic Traveller is on display at the PHI Foundation until January 9, 2022. For more information, please visit the Phi Foundation’s website.


Photo courtesy of Dahlia Cheng

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