Dear reader, the NFL is third-wheeling Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s love story

Taylor Swift’s recent appearances at Chiefs games brought many new fans to the sport, and the NFL is cashing in.

Taylor Swift was seen for the first time at a Kansas City Chiefs game on Sept. 24. By then, the rumours had been confirmed: she was there to see her new boyfriend, Travis Kelce, in action. The Chiefs’ superstar tight end scored a touchdown for the occasion. From then ensued a series of events which nobody could have predicted a few weeks before. The Swifties and football fans, who at first look have nothing in common, are now both watching Chiefs games.

Taylor Swift and the NFL in numbers

The pop star attended the Oct. 1 Sunday Night Football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets. This game shattered multiple TV ratings records. On average, 27 million Americans watched the game, with a peak audience of 29.4 million people, according to NBC. This average viewership made the game the most-watched Sunday TV show since the Super Bowl in February.

Her mere presence at the game increased the game’s female viewership by over two million compared to the previous three Sunday Night Football games. This increase was most significant among girls aged 12 to 17, at an estimated 53 per cent. The viewership was up by 24 per cent for women aged 18–24 and 34 per cent for women aged 35 and over.

The gold rush

Taylor Swift is far more popular than the NFL worldwide. For those who are skeptical, Taylor Swift has more followers than the NFL’s official pages on every major social media platform. The most blatant example is on Instagram, where the singer has 275 million followers, while the NFL has 28.6 million, as of Oct. 27.

In this context, it was clear from the start who would get the most publicity by being associated with each other. Therefore, the NFL’s marketing department was immediately ready for it and jumped on the opportunity to showcase their game to a new audience. The league regularly posts about Taylor Swift’s presence at games on their social media accounts and has even made it a game highlight on their official website.

Being one of the most famous artists on the planet, Taylor Swift naturally has a significant and very dedicated fanbase. So when she started loving Travis Kelce, the Swifties did as well. That is evident when looking at jersey sales. In September, the Chiefs’ number 87 jersey was the fifth most popular in the NFL. Its sales also increased by approximately 400 per cent in the first 24 hours after the Chiefs versus Bears game on Sept. 24. 

Taylor Swift brings the NFL more social media impressions, higher TV ratings, and increases in jersey sales. Knowing this, the league certainly hopes that no bad blood erupts between the two lovers, or else Travis Kelce may become an anti-hero in the Swifties’ eyes. Indeed, they will forever and always stay on their idol’s side. If it were to happen, it would be a treacherous situation for the NFL, as it would leave a blank space in their strategy to appeal to a new audience.


You call this a supply store?

Concordia’s art store puts the pain in painting.

The DeSerres employee is tired of seeing my face. That’s the only way to explain his eyebrow raise as I trudge into the Atwater station art supply store for the tenth time this week. He’s seen it all, from my frantic rush to find oil paints 30 minutes before my first class to the avalanche of pastels I caused in the third aisle. He hasn’t seen the last of me, though—I’m beginning to think I’ll spend more of this semester in the DeSerres than I will in the studio. 

My loyalty to the business is caused by necessity, not by choice. Professors stress the importance of well-sourced materials, but a lack of viable options forces students to take what they can get. At the start of the semester, I hoped I would be able to furnish my supply needs entirely through Concordia’s art store (for those who aren’t aware, the art store is located in the basement of the LB building, just past the bookstore) as I assumed it would be the most affordable and accessible option. A single visit proved my assumption wrong: I discovered high prices and a shocking lack of stock. With the store missing even the basics, I turned to the next logical option. 

Of course, supporting a chain store is not ideal. It is important to be proud of where your materials come from and the resources you use to create your work. Buying from smaller local shops is always possible, but many small businesses are out of the way (and therefore inconvenient for frequent visits) or overpriced. Artists—especially student artists—are short on time and money as is. “I think it’s ironic that the main resource for art supplies on campus isn’t budget friendly,” says Andrea Chenier, a third-year studio art and art history major. 

At the same time, buying required books is alarmingly easy. At the bookstore, reading material is organized in alphabetical order in sleek stacks, which makes finding books a breeze. If a book is on your syllabus, it’s likely to be at the bookstore. Used books are displayed at a reduced price, ensuring a second option for those who don’t want to spend too much. Why, then, does the same system not apply at the art store? Surely, stock should be determined by demand—and this demand is high across the demographic. With Concordia being a university well-known for its fine arts programs, and Montréal being a city renowned for its art scene, our lack of options is pitiful. 

A better-stocked art store may seem like a frivolous wish, but it would improve the artistic processes of countless students. A well-rounded art store means less stress and less money spent. Most of all, it means far less time at DeSerres. But while I’m here, should I get a points card? Might as well.


Civil House’s latest release, “Shivers,” redefines the band’s sound

Civil House is an indie pop band from Montreal made up of three best friends. Dean Dadidis, lead singer/guitarist and Aris Dadidis, the bassist, are brothers both studying at Concordia. At the same time, the drummer, Paul Laventure, is a childhood friend who moved to the U.S to study.

The three formed a band shortly after discovering their passion for music while jamming out every Sunday at church. 

While the group started with a harder sound akin to alternative rock, as seen in their first few songs like “Not Holding on” and “The Moment,” they now have slowly transitioned to a softer pop sound.

Their latest song, “Shivers,” is reflective of the music they’re going to produce. The song was written and produced by Dean, toying with elements of indie pop while adding soft and sparkling guitar notes to highlight the undertones of nostalgia.

“Shivers” is not your typical cliché love song. The song is about seeing someone you love or  used to love. Even though you know you can’t go back, it’s better for you to move on. The unmistakable feeling of love is still there.

While first love and first heartbreak can be brutal, the song emphasizes the feeling of being in love and reminiscing the good and old memories. “Shivers” is about remembering and holding on to that exciting, happy, and good feeling of being in love while forgetting about the hurt that follows the breakup. 

The song is not limited to personal experience. Dean explains his goal to reach people through music. 

“When I write something, it reignites an experience through the song, and when someone listens to that, and relates to it, there’s just an invisible connection,” he explained. 

Though not everyone can relate to the experience of being in love, this song is still worth listening to. “Shivers” stuck to me because I felt that “magical feeling” and experienced many emotions while listening to the song.

Moving forward, the band hopes to make more music together. Despite the distance between them, the band is still united. 

“They’ll always be in my life. We might get together and just produce a whole album when we can,” said Dean.  

You can listen to “Shivers” and more of Civil House’s music on their Spotify page.

For more content and information, follow on Instagram.


Art Volt guides alumni through the brouhaha of artistic careers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steps forward

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

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

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

Supported artists

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

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

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

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

Working for the community

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

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

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


Photo by Catherine Reynolds



Exploring the role of arts journalists as cultural mediators

Arts journalism should make cultural productions more accessible to the public

Commonly included at the end of a newscast or in the last pages of a newspaper, readers will often find arts journalism, a hybrid creature whose significance is, at times, forgotten. However, the capability of arts journalists to present new perspectives on societal issues makes them important mediators of culture and ideas.

Arts journalists stand between two different fields: the realm of arts and entertainment productions and the media. They can be described as intermediaries who relay information about art productions from the artist to the public. From this perspective, one could consider them to be producers of cultural meaning. Their responsibility could be defined as a mediator role, as described by scholars Thomas Hanitzsch and Tim P. Vos in their study of the different roles taken on by journalists. According to the authors, the mediators use their journalistic interventions to share ideas that are useful in creating social unity.

In the arts field, cultural mediators take on a role that can complement the idea of the mediating journalist. A cultural mediator builds bridges between pieces of art and the audience through different strategies such as guided tours or creative workshops. They also explore the social themes evoked by the artwork. Cultural mediation offers an all-inclusive approach to art, one that invites all members of the cultural field to participate in discussions and ideas related to artwork.

Arts journalists embracing this aspect of their practice is one step towards a better democratization of art. Enhanced accessibility is a good way to fight elitism within the arts field and to encourage more audience members to engage with a diversity of artistic practices.

However, not all arts journalism practices correspond to this model. Art critique writing, which has been central to arts journalism since its creation, can cultivate an inaccessibility of art. In fact, critics have often been considered as “gatekeepers,” especially when it comes to differentiating high art from low art, as defined by Finnish scholar Maarit Jaakkola.

While it is productive for those in the field to critique art productions amongst themselves in order to improve and evolve, it might not be the best approach when it comes to reaching a large audience. In fact, this approach enhances elitism and excludes certain visions and opinions.

Therefore, in order for arts journalism to play an important part in a democratization of arts and to become more accessible to the public, descriptive and analytic texts should take up more space than art critique. Since art productions are often open to interpretation, the vision of one single critique on a piece restricts the variety of meanings available to the public.

In a study by Andreas Widholm, Kristina Riegert and Anna Roosvall, the authors described an increased tendency amongst arts journalists to move towards more descriptive articles, ones that resemble typical news pieces. While an article with a deeper analysis offers broader information on the artist’s inspiration for a work of art, a shorter descriptive piece is more accessible for individuals who may be not as well versed in the arts.

Raymond Bertin, editor-in-chief for the JEU live arts magazine, explained that his publication produces long format articles for their printed publication that provide background information and analysis on complex debates. They also propose critiques that are available on their website two days after the premier of a show.

Analyses, like those proposed in JEU’s printed publications, can arguably provide new perspectives on societal issues. Scholar Chantal Mouffe argues that all artistic productions are political in the context of an agonistic democracy. This term refers to productive conflicts in the political sphere that question the current power structures in place. Arts journalists are embedded in this process as they bring forth these artistic ideas through mass media with the prospect of inciting productive discussions.

Riegert, Roosvall, and Widholm conducted a study in Sweden amongst veteran arts journalism editors from different media platforms. They interviewed them on their impressions regarding the political value of arts journalism. Their research compiled various visions which all explored arts journalism as a necessary complement to daily news. The editors that were interviewed believed this type of journalism was necessary to analyze social and political issues more deeply. Thus, most of them embraced both the objective and subjective aspects of arts journalism as it would question assumed paradigms. These visions confirmed the important role that arts journalists play as educators and mediators.

Some observers consider there to be a crisis in the current state of arts journalism. Jaakkola analyzed the published literature on this subject and discovered five main problematic poles in the current practice of cultural journalism. One of them, commercialization, is defined by Jaakkola as the simple promotion of cultural products to support the entertainment industry. The author explains that scholars are concerned that, from this perspective, journalists would be used by publicists to promote blockbuster productions.

A cultural journalist acting as a mediator would instead intend to deconstruct a work of art to delineate its political and social implications, therefore surpassing its promotion, and  highlighting thoughts and debates related to the work.

Articles produced for outlets like JEU or in the literature magazine Lettres Québécoises, aim to develop a deeper understanding of art. Annabelle Moreau is the former editor-in-chief for Lettres Québécoises and the director of the Société de développement des périodiques culturels québécois, the organization that brings together arts magazines in Quebec.

According to Moreau, one of the most prominent issues these outlets face is distribution. The association developed a distribution network for these productions to promote them among bookstores and other retailers. Nevertheless, their reach remains limited, especially in a digital era which constantly sees new individuals entering the media sphere.

Therefore, cultural magazines can be considered as a media production parallel to arts journalism produced in mainstream media. They have the freedom to offer insight on specific artistic ideas and issues, which is not always the case in larger newsrooms. While the separation of cultural magazines from mainstream media protects their independence and freedom, it also perpetuates the elitist aura surrounding the arts sphere. A more inclusive approach to longer forms of arts journalism would be pertinent to reach a broader audience and fulfill the mediator role of arts journalists.

Collaboration between mainstream media and smaller magazines could serve as a solution towards a democratization of arts through media productions which would give greater visibility to arts journalism while also making room for political and social analyses.

There is a conversation to be had between arts journalists and scholars, one that needs to foster reflection and offer different strategies in order to allow arts journalism to reach its full potential.


Graphic courtesy James Fay


Artists take the street in protest of poor working conditions

Quebec’s act regarding the status of artists would guarantee better working conditions and less contract uncertainty for the province’s artists

On Oct. 22 a group of artists took over Bleury St. to protest poor working conditions for artists. The 50 individuals advocated for a revision of Quebec’s act regarding the status of artists, which would guarantee more stable working conditions for creators from all disciplines.

The event was organized by the Mouvement A. R. T, Rassemblement Diomède and Québec Solidaire’s Front culturel. The three organizations are working together to pressure the Culture and Communications Minister Nathalie Roy to change the province’s act regarding the status of artists. They hope this revision will provide more stability in artists’ working conditions. Artists are not provided with insurance for injuries, health issues, or lost contracts. Therefore, the groups are advocating for safer working situations. They’re also asking for the value of art to be acknowledged  through an increase in salaries.

Artists were affected considerably by the pandemic due to the cancellation of working opportunities, but now that theatres are reopening, their revenues and contracts remain unstable. For Ariane DesLions, an artist who creates clown performances for young audiences and is a spokesperson for Mouvement A.R.T, the lack of a social safety net weakens the whole artistic field. “The work contracts are not protected, they are thrown in the garbage for reasons such as bad temperature, the pandemic, strikes. […] That is why we ask for more recognition of the social and economic value of all Québec artists,” she said.

As pointed out by DesLions, the government has only two parliamentary sessions left before the next elections. Therefore, she sees the revision of Quebec’s act regarding the status of artists as a pressing issue that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Statistics Canada published a report about the effect of the pandemic on the revenue of the artistic industry in 2020. Not-for-profit performing arts companies lost 61 per cent in operating revenue and 22 per cent in salaries, while for-profit performing arts companies lost  64 per cent in operating revenues and 57 per cent in salaries. The report also states that most businesses of the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors produced less than half of their revenue in 2020 compared to before the pandemic.

For DesLions, these numbers will affect the future of the art world since fewer people will want to become artists and live in this precarious state. “In 10 years, we will understand the gravity of what is happening right now. Who will want to be an artist tomorrow? You have to be convinced and carefree to start an arts career because the reality of artists is a rough road,” she said.

In February, Roy organized consultations aimed at  improving the existing legislation. Mouvement A.R.T submitted a statement during these consultations to explain their point of view on the question. Titled Être un artiste, tout un contrat!, the document summarizes the challenges faced by artists and provides recommendations to improve their working conditions. One of their suggestions is to create financial insurance to protect artists when they lose contracts. Mouvement A.R.T’s proposal has so far been ignored by the ministry.

Rassemblement Diomède has been organizing events around this issue since last summer. Since then, they have protested multiple times to advocate for the reopening of artistic venues. Their group is composed of artists from different disciplines and uses street performances  to reach the public. Last Friday, they presented a theatre text accompanied by improvised dancing.

Laura Borello-Bellemare has been participating in Rassemblement Dimoède’s protests since their first one. “It was a way to show that we were still there, that we wanted to perform, that we were essential even though we were considered non-essential,” she said. Borello-Bellemare believes that the march on Oct. 22 was necessary since, “even though theatres are open again… there are still a lot of issues to advocate for.”

Rassemblement Diomède founder and theatre artist Hugo Fréjabise also expressed his concerns. He explained that for his organization, the value given to artists by society has to be revisited. “I think there is a double paradox for artists, we put them forward as the emblems of a country, a society, and at the same time, we leave them in precariousness,” he said.

Early in October, Roy promised that Quebec’s act regarding the status of artists would be revised. At the time, the minister could not provide a clear timeline for when any changes may be made to the act.


Photo courtesy of Oona Barrett



MOMENTA Biennale de l’image explores our relationship to nature

This exhibition features 51 artists, each presenting work that examines the human connection to the natural world

MOMENTA Biennale de l’image is back for its 17th edition, taking over Montreal gallery spaces and outdoor sites to reflect on the relationship between nature and the senses. Going on until Oct. 24, the visual arts biennale features 15 exhibitions, including an outdoor garden, a virtual reality city tour and four performances.

Curator Stefanie Hessler proposed the main theme of the event: sensing nature. Along with curators Maude Johnson, Camille Georgeson-Usher and Himali Singh Soin, Hessler organized projects and exhibits related to their thoughts on this theme. One of MOMENTA’s projects this year is an urban outdoor garden created by artist T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss, and is situated on the corner of Berri and Ontario St.. Titled TEIONHENKWEN Supporters of Life, the work brings together a large variety of ancestral plants such as raspberry, corn, tobacco, and basil. They stand as a little herbal island in the middle of downtown Montreal’s cacophony, filling the air with smells of flowers and herbs.

Wyss has a practice of creating such gardens in places where urban life has taken over and plants do not grow easily anymore. The multidisciplinary artist and ethnobotanist chooses plants that would originally grow at the place where the garden will be situated. TEIONHENKWEN was created with a desire to showcase ancestral plants, and allow communities and animals to be in contact with them.

Another MOMENTA presentation is exhibited at the Fonderie Darling. Curated around the work of six artists, the art event is titled Worldmaking Tentacles. The curators imagined a post-apocalyptic world taking place in 2071. For Jessica Sofia Lopez, the cultural mediation and audience development coordinator at MOMENTA, this exhibition is particularly rich as it is “very political — it’s very charged and really it invites us to take agency of our own ignorance.”

When entering the space, Julien Creuzet’s three art pieces are the first to be seen. The French artist presents a hanging sculpture made of diverse materials collected over time, a printed collage, and a short film. The psychedelic video touches on the problem of Kepone pesticide found in banana plantations in Martinique and Guadeloupe. Jamilah Sabur’s Mnemonic Alphabet follows, and includes three brightly-coloured canvases. The artist creates a new language, putting forward the idea that languages might fail to represent the world accurately.

Tejal Shah’s Between the Waves speaks to the exhibition’s theme in video form. The artist created a world in which creatures wearing white plastic outfits with insects on them and ballet shoes live in two settings. On one screen, the audience can observe them exploring a dumping ground set amidst a town. On the other screen, the creatures move in a deserted landscape.

In Sandra Mujinga’s work, clothes are the central subject as the artist presents three laminated leather outfits, which are meant to invoke thoughts on the invisibility of marginalized communities. Mujinga also presents video experimentations with images coming together to create abstract creatures.

Tabita Rezaire’s INNER FIRE series is displayed at different places in the room. The five hanging works of art explore ideas of the “multiple identities related to archetypes of the Black woman,” as explained in the exhibition’s program. Rezaire layers images and references to the body, nature, and spirituality in appealing creations.

Charlotte Brathwaite’s video project completes the show with a reflection on past and future realities shown through video clips and excerpts from texts. Bringing together the thoughts, hopes and beliefs of 51 artists, this year’s MOMENTA exhibit presents a rich tapestry of programming that promises to remind each visitor of the strength of nature.


Photograph courtesy of Jamilah Sabur


Groundwater explores the bond between memories, home, and natural elements

Groundwater, an exhibition stemming from the imaginative minds of four Concordia grads, took place from Sep. 15 to 19. Alexey Lazarev, Manuel Poitras, Loïc Chauvin, and Constantinos Giannoussis each presented their own unique installation, while also collectively adhering to a specific idea. Lazarev explained that “though the projects are all different, in one way or the other, we deal with processes that are hard to be seen. We came up with the name ‘Groundwater’ as something present, important, but hard to see.” The exhibition also places importance on exploring the permeability of borders. Whether these borders are geopolitical, conceptual, or physical, they vary for each artist.

The first installation is Lazarev’s Memory Fabric III. This work features images from his family archives in St. Petersburg, as well as photos he acquired from the St-Michel Flea Market. These photos are presented as an installation of woodblock prints that have been meticulously pressed onto several rolls of 60-foot paper. It is evident that Memory Fabric III was an intricate project for Lazarev to take on. He explains that some rolls of paper took approximately eight hours to produce. Observing these prints, the viewer is overcome with a certain nostalgia. While these memories do not belong to the viewer, there is something hauntingly familiar about the faces that stare back. When it comes to creating art, Lazarev is inspired by the themes of finding oneself, finding one’s place in the environment, feeling out of place, and dealing with different types of anxieties.

The next installation in the exhibition is titled DIY Flood: the reading room from Poitras. This work features several pieces of furniture and décor that are upended, dangling over a carpet. On the carpet rests a small table that showcases several books, all of which share a common theme: capitalism. Although the sound of running water is soothing to many, this certainly isn’t what the artist was going for when he crafted this piece.

“The installation is relaxing, but also discomforting, because of the water’s contact with these objects, which we usually assume to be safe,” explained Poitras. The artist also notes that his work tends to explore the natural world and environmental processes, especially regarding climate change. Fraught with anxiety, this piece confronts the often turbulent relationship that humans share with the natural world.

This work evokes an unsettling feeling: water tubes weave through the furniture and decor, serving as a stark reminder that our own materials and lives could very well be reclaimed by natural elements. It’s difficult for the viewer to not reflect on their own relationship with their environment, while also reflecting on how much they rely on the materials around them.

Next in the exhibition is Chauvin’s Ellipse. Chauvin’s work seeks to explore the connection between creation and destruction in both the natural and cultural world. This installation may look unsuspecting at first glance, but with careful examination, viewers can discern a subtle image amidst the grain of the laser engraved wood panel that the artist uses. The scene depicts a clear-cut forest. Next to this work is Produit Dérivé. In this work, Chauvin presents a small piece of wood that has been, as he explained, “put back into circulation in nature as plastic simulacra of the original object.” The piece of wood is accentuated by a light grey background that is reminiscent of a serene body of water.

Finally, there is Giannoussis’ 740 Avenue 80 Laval. This installation introduces a garden, recreated from Giannoussis’ memory of his grandfather’s. There are plum pits scattered in a patch of dirt, which are juxtaposed with wooden boxes arranged in a square and feature delicate paintings of ripe plums. There is a feeling of loss that arises when observing the discarded pits among the dirt. In Giannoussis’ artistic statement, the artist explains that despite his grandfather’s recent move to a new location, he still exhibited “an awkward but benevolent devotion to this now-lost space.” This work exhibits the deep ties that both the artist and his grandfather share when it comes to their idea of home. The vibrant purple of the painted plums offers a sense of vitality to the piece, and is a tender attempt at keeping the artist’s important memories alive.

Groundwater offers an intimate glance into these four artists’ notions of home, culture, and the natural world, as they encourage viewers to reflect on the environments they now inhabit, or may have in the past.


Photographs by Ashley Fish-Robertson


Les Encans de la quarantaine: from small project to big success

A collective shows how beneficial it is to support local artists

It all started as a small initiative to provide local artists with a source of income during the pandemic. Now, les Encans de la quarantaine has become something bigger. The outcome was unexpected.

Sara A. Tremblay, a Concordia alumna who graduated in Photography in 2014, launched the initiative in late March. The initiative is a virtual platform that promotes works from Canadian-based artists and offers a source of income to them by connecting them to potential buyers. When the project began, Tremblay looked for artists that wished to sell their artwork; it instantly became a success. Tremblay has received many artworks since the opening of the collective. Many came from artists attending universities, like Pardiss Amerian, an Iranian-Canadian visual artist who is currently completing her Master’s in Fine Arts at Concordia.

“I was constantly overwhelmed by the size of the collective. It became bigger than I thought,” Tremblay said.

Although Tremblay resides in the Eastern Townships, she was able to connect with Montreal’s artistic community easily online. Since the beginning, Tremblay has been working on the collective remotely with other members that reside in Montreal.

“It’s great to be able to work with the artistic community of Montreal and not live in the city,” continued Tremblay.

Little by little, Tremblay found people who would be willing to help her manage the collective. Tasks include drafting press releases, helping conceptualize the initiative, and managing the collective’s Facebook page and Instagram account. At first, applications were sent to her personal Facebook account. Instead, she redirected applicants to an email linked to the collective.

Over the course of the summer, lots of work started to pile up on Tremblay’s desk. In response to the collective’s growth, Tremblay decided to register the collective as a non-profit organization. She has an advisory committee from the artistic community to guide her with grant applications, and is in the process of creating an administrative council.

Since July 13, the collective has asked for a contribution of between $20 and $30 from both artists and buyers after each time a piece is sold to help fund the collective.

“That gives us a little money,” Tremblay  said. “It’s not much for now, but eventually we will be raising funds.”

As a result of the first call for applications, 425 artworks were received, of which 275 were selected. The collective took up the challenge of selling 96 per cent of the works chosen from the first callout. Most artists have many artworks, which gives them a chance to reach a wider audience.

For the second call for artworks, Tremblay wants to attract more of an audience of seasoned collectors, and will do so by increasing the quality and maintaining a tighter selection of works.

“The success that the initiative has generated proves that it was necessary to distribute, for free, the work of artists who are not represented by art galleries,” said Tremblay. “At first, we did present the work of artists that were already represented, but we had to clarify our mandate to not interfere with art galleries. Now, we represent independent artists that can be spotted by galleries.”

Tremblay will be teaching an introductory digital photography course at the University of Sherbrooke this fall and will participate in an online residency project called 3 fois 3 from le Centre d’exposition de l’Université de Montréal on Instagram. In order to stabilize her other projects, she has delegated some of the collective to other members of the team.

“My purpose is to promote artists that don’t yet have a platform. This can be a first step for them,” she said. “The people who follow us on social media have an interest in discovering new talents. Not all of the artists are new in showing their artworks, but they may not be represented by an art gallery. My team and I circulate art and that’s my goal.”

Les Encans de la quarantaine’s second call for applications is open until Wednesday, Sept. 30.


Photo credit: Pardiss Amerian


How album sequels have changed over the years in rap

Can album sequels contribute to a greater legacy or tarnish a masterpiece?

Album sequels are often a dice-roll. Sometimes, an artist will bounce off the momentum of their previous album and deliver a worthy follow-up. Other times, though, they’ll be a lazy cash grab to capitalize on the success of the first entry just to boost first-week album sales.

The purpose of a direct sequel is to revitalize the themes explored in the first entry and create a unique body of work that both echoes its predecessor and pushes it forward in an innovative way.

JAY-Z’s classic The Blueprint became its namesake for a lengthy series in which its sequels became watered-down versions of what made the original so good. The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse was a far lengthier album than the first, while The Blueprint 3 might be one of the worst of his career. The albums came out within a few years of each other so neither of the sequels was considered to be overdue or absolutely necessary; they just came to be.

Conversely, an artist like Raekwon can drop one of the best albums of the ‘90s in Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and then drop its sequel a decade later. In this case, it can certainly be argued that the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 was better than the first.

But what separates JAY-Z’s sequels from Raekwon’s?

Well, it depends on what the series is based on.

Cuban Linx is a mafia-inspired album, where the themes and lyrics are heavily lifted from the lifestyles of those involved in organized crime. The sequel was no different. When comparing the creative processes of both albums, they couldn’t be more different.

In the first entry, Raekwon only used RZA-produced beats while the second featured production from 15 different producers. However, when listening to them back-to-back, it’s clear that the albums are similar in concept.

These days, sequels are different. They come faster and they don’t necessarily represent the same idea they once did. Roddy Ricch’s Feed Tha Streets series came out within a year of each other. They sound similar only because Roddy’s hunger never left. His newest release, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial, is a clear step away from that series in favour of sounding more like Future and Young Thug.

Kanye West is also teasing the release of Jesus is King II, the potential follow-up to his Christian-rap album from 2019, and if his statement is true, we’ll be getting it sooner rather than later.

Then there’s also Wiz Khalifa who dropped Rolling Papers 2 far too late, when no one cared about Wiz Khalifa in the same way anymore.

Rappers aren’t trying to make movies with their albums anymore. Now more than ever, the sequels feel less like a narrative follow-up and more like a successor used to bank on the momentum and popularity the first entry created. 


Graphic by @sundaeghost.

Student Life

Collective intervention is needed

Everyone, especially artists, are economic agents for deregulation and gentrification

In a dimly lit basement, at the end of meandering halls beneath the performance hall of the Rialto Theatre, an eclectic group of concerned citizens gathered to openly discuss the nexus of artists, real estate inflation and shifting cultural demographics.

Gentrification: The Role of Artists in Changing Neighbourhoods took place on Saturday, Sept. 29 as part of a collaboration between POP Montreal Symposium and Concordia’s Fine Art Student Alliance (FASA). The array of panelists included both artists and those who work with non-profit social housing organizations and as community organizers in neighbourhoods affected by gentrification.

Cathy Inouye, a musician who has fought against many issues related to housing and poverty for more than 10 years, opened her segment by saying that an important thing to remember when talking about gentrification is that human beings are losing their homes or being evicted from their apartments. Faiz Abhuani, the co-founder of Brique Par Brique, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create affordable living spaces for marginalized people, agreed.

“I think it’s important to start with that baseline,” he said. “The reason why we’re talking about this is because there are real effects on real people.”

Gentrification is a multi-faceted issue that “happens across the city, not just in areas where artists are moving,” Inouye said. Abhuani contextualized the historic development of gentrification with artists and the North American economic shift over the last century from industrial labour services to cultural forms of production.

“People thought: ‘I really need to be around the people I’m like’ … and ‘I need to be close to places where culture is produced,’” Abhuani said. He explained that this economic shift prompted those with sufficient financial means to migrate to urban centres. These ongoing demographic migrations, from a capitalist-marketing standpoint, continue to justify urban development in regions that push people from lower-income brackets out of their homes.

“The people who benefit from these changes and from these large economic forces are the people who have means,” Abhuani said. “And the people who don’t [have financial means] are the ones who end up biting the bullet [and] having to move around.”

In gentrification, the role of artists—in this case, referring to individuals with the social status and capital to make a career from their art—lies in the fact that mass migration to more affordable neighbourhoods creates economic speculation, explained Fred Burrill, a Concordia PhD student who currently works with local non-profit organizations to fight for the right to housing in Place St-Henri.

“[Speculation] is a very intentional, state-driven process of changing the ways that [housing] investment is configured,” Burrill said. Speculation increases the property value in a community, and the demographic shift brought by artists provides local governments with a marketable, discursive framework that justifies their desire for urban development in alleged “up-and-coming” communities.

According to Burrill, the goal of speculation is to “turn the housing market from something that is based on supply and demand to something that is essentially a concrete manifestation of the stock market.” He used Griffintown in Montreal as an example. “[Artists] are all actively part of an ideological apparatus that’s used to justify deregulation.”

Artists often positively frame their contributions to the cultural fabric of a neighbourhood as genuinely representative of that community and reflective of their deep connection to its residents. However, Abhuani said this is a dangerous mentality because artists with social status are able to sell this culturally appropriated art and capitalize on it, while those without esteemed social status cannot. “So, maybe you shouldn’t do that, number one. Number two, why are you [in that neighbourhood]?” asked Abhuani. “You’re not there in a vacuum … You’re not just trying to create. You’re not just trying to survive. You’re trying to get ahead.”

All of the panelists agreed that the presence of artists in low-income neighbourhoods brings systemic gentrification to the community through selective state investment in development projects because cities want to support cultural hubs. Although artists may also be affected by rental increases and have to leave the neighbourhood, Abhuani explained, many of them not only have the social capital to relocate, “but they like doing that; they want to be on the forefront [of living] in certain neighborhoods.”

Inouye shared an observation from when she lived in New Orleans as a tuba player in 2012. “You could really see the mostly white kids from New York or from San Francisco moving in,” she explained. “You could see this hunger that people had to kind of own that beautiful magic that exists in New Orleans, and you could see them really wanting to connect with the community that had been there—the community that had lived through Katrina … You could really see this process unfolding, and it was so similar to colonialism.”

Inouye added that while it isn’t bad to want to connect with a given community, it is necessary to keep in mind how different people occupy the space in that community and how social and physical capital change the way people interact with that space.

Most concerned artists will ask themselves, “What can I do, as an artist, to fight against gentrification?” which, Burrill explained, is the wrong question. Artists and people in general should simply ask what needs to be done, without placing the individual at the epicentre of change. While the panelists agreed that gentrification can be throttled through the acquisition of real estate and income disparity can be bridged by wealth redistribution, concrete plans to combat these systemic issues still aren’t being enacted.

Despite some differences of opinion between the panelists, they all seemed to agree that one of the first steps to combating gentrification is community mobilization. Burrill explained that there tends to be an element of individualism when talking about the housing market and gentrification, with arguments such as encouraging better knowledge of tenant rights to avoid eviction and to fairly rent out living spaces.

“What actually needs to happen is that we need to intervene collectively in the [housing] market,” Burrill said. This would entail the city buying empty lots, removing them from the realm of speculation and reserving them for social housing projects, he explained. That, or artists can literally make their neighbourhoods more ugly, he said as a joke. “Beautification of neighborhoods without collective intervention in the housing market is simply a tool of development.”

Main photo by Alex Hutchins


What’s hiding in your closet?

Alternative exhibition space live-streams Concordia students’ work

Are you tired of the traditional gallery setting? Do you just want to stay home in bed until summer arrives? Then Concordia photography student Phil Mercier and his partner, Lisa Theriault, designed the Closet Gallery just for you!

The couple—both artists originally from New Brunswick—were frustrated with the lack of exhibiting opportunities available for emerging artists and decided to create an alternative space in their own Montreal apartment. Mercier and Theriault set up the first show inside their closet in 2017. All shows in the Closet Gallery are self-produced and live streamed.

Lisa Theriault and Phil Mercier in their apartment studio. Photo by Marie-Lyne Quirion.

As is the case at most galleries, the curators of the Closet Gallery email newsletters about upcoming shows and share them on social media. When the gallery first opened, many of the featured artists were friends or acquaintances of Mercier and Theriault. Although some artists prefer to only have their exhibits streamed for a few days, the gallery began with week-long live streams running everyday from Monday to Friday.

Today, only emerging artists from Concordia’s BFA programs are invited to submit their project proposals. Mercier and Theriault recently applied for and received a Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) grant to fund their initiative. The grant covers materials and equipment needed for the live streams, as well as artist honorariums.

“We really strive to support artists financially, to remove barriers and respect the work that artists do,” Mercier said. The FASA grant allowed them to form a jury to select projects to be featured in the gallery. The jury includes Erandy Vergara, the art director of the Eastern Bloc gallery, and Camille Larivée from the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective.

Once selected, the artists visit the couple’s home to get a sense of the space they will be working with. They may run a test stream to see how the work looks ahead of time. Mercier insisted that the process is collaborative and that selected artists must be open to possibilities, as live-streaming can change the way a work is perceived.

“Ultimately, we want to give tools to artists to help something fun happen,” he said. The Closet Gallery recently had artist Georgia Graham perform an interpretive piece alongside her artwork in the closet. A Self in Constant Movement was streamed from March 5 to 9, with Graham’s performance on the final day. The stream can be accessed in the gallery’s archive at

Juliana Delgado’s ice sculpture being installed in the Closet Gallery. Photo courtesy of Phil Mercier.

Three Unattending Moons, a sound and ice sculpture installation by Juliana Delgado, was streamed from March 29 to 31. The title of the piece was inspired by Two Evening Moons, a poem written by Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Delgado and Garcia Lorca share a love of water and the ocean. The ice sculptures, one of a bride and groom and another of two dolphins, were streamed melting under changing coloured lights over three days, with audio looped in the background. Delgado edited the audio recordings to include a mixture of readings meant to induce an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). These include poems by Garcia Lorca, Renata Pallottini and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, with layered sounds of crackling and water in the background.

“There are recordings of small, constrained spaces to mirror the space of the closet—people talking in elevators, sounds of a shower, muffled recordings taken inside my bag,” the artist explained. “The sounds of myself talking are echo-like, distant and eerie.”

Delgado works with themes of nostalgia, grief, longing and the passage of time. She said the Closet Gallery was the ideal space to show this installation, as she is intrigued with place-based art and “working within the constraints of the small space rather than against it.” The idea to work with ice was inspired by the time constraint of the live-streaming process. The artist embraced the Closet Gallery’s method in the creation of her sculptures, showing something that was evolving and changing.

Delgado is currently in her second year of painting and drawing at Concordia, and will be participating in the Celine Bureau residency, with a focus on audio projects, in the spring.

The Closet Gallery will be occupied with artist Alejandro Barbosa’s work from April 3 to 6. It will be live streamed on

Exit mobile version