Concordia’s stance on the new proposed bill about academic freedom

Newly proposed Bill 32 will protect academic freedom in classrooms, according to Quebec’s higher education minister

Quebec recently proposed a new bill that will allow any form of speech to be used in an academic context. 

Many university students voiced their concerns and anger following the recent events of professors saying the N-word in classrooms for educational purposes. 

The first incident occurred at the University of Ottawa in 2020 when professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval was suspended after using the N-word in class. A similar incident happened at Concordia in February 2021, when a Concordia faculty member also used the slur during a lecture. 

During the press conference, Danielle McCann, Quebec’s higher education minister, said these events highlight the importance of protecting academic freedom in classrooms. 

“Censorship has no place in our classrooms. It will never happen, and we must protect faculty from censorship,” said McCann. “Classes are not safe spaces, but spaces for debate,” she added.

Amaria Phillips, a co-founder and president of the Black Student Union, disagrees with Bill 32, and fears future tension in classrooms. 

“We want our classroom to be a safe space. We don’t want to have to worry about whether or not a professor is going to say the N-word and feel triggered by that,” said Phillips. 

McCann clarified that universities will not be required to warn students before any offensive content is being addressed. However, McCann reassures that professors will be able to use all words within an educational context while respecting future guidelines. 

“It is also essential to provide quality training to members of the student community in an environment conducive to learning, discussion and debate,” said McCann. 

Once adopted, this law will clearly define academic freedom in universities and its guidelines, as mentioned in the bill. 

The bill aims to promote and protect the right to university academic freedom and the right of every person to engage without any prejudices or ideological notions. 

The bill requires every educational institution to appoint a person responsible for academic freedom to collaborate and communicate through written reports with McCann. 

In a written statement sent to The Concordian, Concordia states that academic freedom is essential to a functioning university ecosystem, siding on managing academic freedom themselves rather than having any government involvement.

“We prefer not to see a law on academic freedom. We believe that the autonomy of universities is the best guarantee that academic freedom continues to thrive and that the imposition of a law by the government goes against that freedom,” read the statement.

Angélique Willkie, associate professor of Contemporary Dance and co-chair of the Concordia University Task Force on Anti-Black Racism, agrees with McCann and recognizes a university is a place for debate. 

“[The university] It is a place where in order to facilitate knowledge and nurture knowledge and nurture critical thinking, difficult conversations of all kinds need to take place,” said Willkie. 

“It’s not a ticket to just say whatever you like. I think what we are responsible as faculty members, and as an institution, is to provide a learning environment for all students,” Willkie added. 

 Lisa White, the executive director of the Equity Office at Concordia, says conversations about academic freedom and inclusivity are an ongoing dialogue in accordance with the university’s values found in the Code of Rights and Responsibilities

“There are no conflicts between ensuring that academic freedom is respected and valued and part and parcel of the university experience for all for all people,” said White. 

Photo courtesy of Hannah Tiongson

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


M. Gros: investigation games and the art world

Artistic duo Geneviève and Matthieu derive inspiration for their latest performance from investigative TV shows and movies

Artistic duo Geneviève et Matthieu will present their new creation titled M. Gros at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines theater from Oct. 12 to 15. The performers bring the audience into their universe in a non-narrative multidisciplinary creation built around the themes of investigation, identity, and the art world.

Some of the props Geneviève et Matthieu use in their new creation include  fake skin placed on stools, masks with long dark hair attached to clothes hangers, a large piece of fabric piled at the back of the stage, a cotton candy machine, a guitar that plays by itself, a large rope, and a collection of knives.

Their piece is based around the idea of the Mr. Big police investigation technique. This technique aims to solve unsolved crimes through the work of undercover police officers who use infiltration techniques to get to know the suspect. The artists were inspired by investigative TV shows and movies they love. They also thought the name Mr. Big was poetic and could correlate to many ideas, such as the chocolate bar, the body, and the rock band of the same name.

Geneviève et Matthieu have been working on M. Gros for two years now, with it constantly evolving. Improvisation is a crucial part of the performance: the artists have a script that lists the main events of the show, but the way in which they transition from one to the other changes every time.

The artists view the improvisational aspect of their work as a challenge; one that allows them to constantly try new things. “We want the freedom we are giving ourselves to show through because that is all part of playing games, when you start a game of Clue you don’t know how it’s going to end, so it’s the same for us, it’s the idea of how it will end and what shape it will take,” said Geneviève.

The duo is also accompanied on stage by a mad curator who hates contemporary art, and a visual artist who hides behind the different objects on the stage. “It is a roleplay and there are many declensions, but always under the same theme of our identity, who we are, what we hide and what we reveal,” explained Geneviève.

M. Gros is an investigation game Geneviève et Matthieu set for themselves. They are using movement, music and text throughout the performance. As the investigators, their target is specific: they are taking over the art world. The idea came to them after pondering what would be the worst thing that artists could lose. The answer to this question was their ideas. Therefore, the performance also reflects on the contemporary art world.

Geneviève et Matthieu have been working as artists since the 1990s. They also founded an artist centre in their hometown of Rouyn-Noranda called l’Écart.  The Biennale d’Art Performatif de Rouyn-Noranda performance art festival which presented its 9 edition in 2018, is another project they initiated. All the art pieces they’ve encountered influence their practice. Their knowledge enriches the show as they touch on the history of performance art.

Geneviève et Matthieu are both trained in visual arts. They are also musicians who wrote and produced five albums. The performative aspect of their work appeared later in their career, with their pieces La Jamésie and L’opéra d’or

Geneviève explained that the creation of their performances was always driven by the props they use. Also, the multidisciplinary aspect of their work is an important part of their creative process. “We always present in different contexts whether it is a theatre, an art gallery, it is really something we are looking for because it gives us the opportunity to work differently and to be influenced by the context,” said Matthieu.

After its run at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines, M. Gros will be presented in another form at the Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain gallery from Nov. 13 to Dec. 18. For them, the exhibition space gives the audience a way of interacting with the props that is different than in a performance space. “When we are in an exhibition space, we have another relationship with the artwork which includes more proximity… in the way we will install it, the work of art will have another life and the objects will interact with each other in a different way,” said Geneviève.

M. Gros is presented in partnership with the Phenomena Festival. Tickets for the M. Gros show are available on the La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines website


Photograph courtesy of Geneviève et Matthieu

Ar(t)chives Arts

Existential art: a brief look at Alex Colville’s Pacific

Pacific, one of Colville’s most well known works, challenges viewers to be inquisitive and to derive their own meaning from this complex piece of art

I first encountered Alex Colville’s work in an introductory art history class during my second year at Concordia. Our professor had us observe several works from the Canadian artist, and try to decipher the meaning behind them.

Colville was primarily concerned with realism, deriving inspiration for many of his works from his life in the Maritimes, as well as his experience serving in the Second World War. Although Colville has quite a few noteworthy paintings, there’s one that has stuck with me ever since I first saw it: Pacific (1967).

This work features a man leaning against a wall as he vacantly stares out at a tranquil body of water. However, this won’t be the first thing that viewers notice. Behind the man rests a pistol on a table, its barrel angled towards the observer. Although Colville’s work often explores themes such as the use of power, postwar anxiety, and morality, coupled with his interest in French existentialism, it appears that the artist would prefer that his audience attempt to interpret what Pacific means to them.

In several of his paintings, Colville presents a landscape that is eerily serene, where he then juxtaposes it with a chaotic subject. His pieces, especially Pacific, leave us with questions that are uncomfortable to confront: what is the man in the painting contemplating? Why is the gun angled towards the audience? Will the man end up using it?

His work draws us in, and instead of providing clear-cut answers and satiating our desire for more vibrant, serotonin-boosting pieces, these paintings demand that we be inquisitive. They expect us to dig a bit deeper, and to get into the heads of the subjects that Colville so carefully crafted.

When viewers are unable to decide on a narrative and make sense of a subject’s motives, they may walk away feeling uneasy. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Art that gets us thinking, especially pieces that cause us to ponder existential questions we may try to avoid, might help us view the world a bit differently. Sure, it can be gloomy to try and make sense of a painting like Pacific, but our own interpretations of a piece often say a lot more about how we view our society and ourselves, rather than the direct intentions of the artist.

In a world where many things tend to move at breakneck speed, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time to engage with a complex work that requires careful introspection from its observer. You might even learn something new about yourself in the process.


Visuals courtesy of Taylor Reddam

Ar(t)chives Arts

Art for a changing world

How the Harrisons’ multidisciplinary practice tackled environmental issues

Known as “the Harrisons,” Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison were trailblazers in the eco-art movement. Their collection ranged from manifestos to maps, and sculptural installations. If a viewer didn’t know, they might interpret their work as data rather than art.

The couple’s multidisciplinary practice, which ranged a variety of disciplines, explored forestry issues and urban renewal, among others. This led them to collaborate with biologists, urban planners, architects, and more.

What makes their work particularly fascinating is not solely the aesthetic aspect of it, but rather the fact that each piece could be viewed as a solution to ecological issues.

“Our work begins when we perceive an anomaly in the environment that is the result of opposing beliefs or contradictory metaphors,” they said, according to a statement on their studio’s website. “Moments when reality no longer appears seamless and the cost of belief has become outrageous offer the opportunity to create new spaces – first in the mind and thereafter in everyday life.”

In fact, in the 1960s, the couple pledged they would exclusively create art that involved environmental awareness and ecosystems.

The Harrisons offered a unique take on art and its purpose, demonstrating the ways in which society’s inclination towards beautiful things makes them more likely to care about important issues if they are exhibited in a tasteful way.

“All of the sudden people are looking at the environment in one way or another, and they’re looking differently,” said Helen in a video of their sculpture Wilma the Pig. “In other words, it’s bringing their attention in a way that is meaningful.’”

The work was displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles for their 2012 exhibition Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, a remake of one of their earlier installations titled Hog Pasture, wherein the creative duo recreated a small live pasture within the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. They had intended on bringing a hog into the space, however, the museum refused.

Among their other large-scale projects is The Force Majeure (2007 to present). The ongoing series is a manifesto for the present and the future and offers proposals to adapt to a changing world.

In fact, the Harrisons started the Center for the Study of the Force Majeure at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a research centre that enables the collaboration between artists and scientists in an effort to design projects that respond to climate change.

Despite art being often deemed unimportant, the Harrisons’ works and legacy demonstrate the ways in which art can serve as an alternative way of discussing important issues.

“Why not artists?” reads a statement on the Centre’s website. “Art is the court of last resort – and our best hope.”


Visuals courtesy of Taylor Reddam.

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