Arts and Culture Exhibit

Wandering eyes behind the mask

Shary Boyle is a Toronto-based artist whose imaginative approach cultivates her unique world-building abilities. The fantasy worlds that Boyle fashions through painting and sculpture are unsettling and sophisticated, surreal and theatrical. Boyle provokes the curious minds of the visitors through her multimedia and multi-dimensional works. She invites us all to discover our inner imaginative self. Her exhibition Vesselling is now on view at the Patel Brown Gallery.

Curator and writer Anaïs Castro’s accompanying exhibition text explains that Vesselling, at its core, refers to “the act of holding space for a vulnerable community, a safe and contained environment to share and reflect on complex or difficult realities.” Boyle conjures this notion through her unique craftsmanship, complexity and world-making to guide the audience’s experience. The works within the exhibition creates a space that invites the viewers to take a journey to a mystical reality, in which the materiality, their nature and their relation to reality is being challenged.  

Upon entering the gallery space, a long podium displays several sculptures that are shaped and entangled in twisted forms. The podium provides the viewers with the ability to walk around the sculptures to explore each angle of their disproportionate bodies. 

A two-coloured sculpture is placed in the center of the podium, displaying two pot-shaped bodies entwined in a close and intimate embrace. The larger, dark figure spreads its legs, inviting the smaller, white figure to fill the space between them. The figures constitute an abstract, continuous shape—their relationship is dynamic and romantic. 

“Dysfunctional ceramic vessels serve as metaphors for human connection and receptacles for human values—contained forms that embody the complex processes of personal, and societal, relationships,” Castro explained. 

The series of paintings that hang around the periphery of the gallery space is entitled Grafters. The collection seems to represent As a collective, it seems as if all the paintings are frozen moments of a mystical puppet show or a ritualistic ceremony that can be compared to  theater plays, television shows or everyday chores that we witness in our surroundings. Traditional painting canvases display figures with ceramic masks covering their faces. Some paintings incorporate everyday objects such as ribbon, hair, jewelry, buttons and so forth.

These paintings play with reality and imagination, bringing up curious, mystical,  dreamy and metamorphic narrative within different visual frames. The ceramic masks, on one hand, function to prevent the viewers from seeing who is underneath. This may prompt the viewers to curiously look closer to see the set of eyes behind the mask. On the other hand, the masks give the paintings a sense of liveliness as if they are emerging out of the painting to confront the viewers with their tangible presence in our world. In Castro’s words, paintings in Grafters series “function within the logic of a double-performance.”  

In one of the paintings, titled The florist, Boyle depicts a mysterious space with the main figure in the center holding two flowers—Anthurium and pink Gladiolus. Even though the ceramic mask covering the florist’s face emphasizes the ambiguity of the work, the irises penetrate through the mask and follow you, establishing the figure’s presence in the moment. The flowers, along with the smooth painting technique and the decoration of the upper part of the painting, offers a soft and feminine setting. In contrast to the softness of the work, there is a hidden violence that is projected via the appearance of a knife.

Vesselling will be on view at Patel Brown from Feb. 29 to April 20.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

Trevor Baird’s Sunkissed at Pangée

Embracing age-old methods to create new work that feels ancient.

Trevor Baird is a Montréal-based artist with a BFA in ceramics from Concordia University whose works have been exhibited domestically and internationally. His current exhibition Sunkissed is now on view at Pangée, a gallery located inside a historic 100-year-old building, formerly known as the Czech Consulate. The gallery directly overlooks Mont-Royal park, making it a favoured destination for the art community of Montréal. 

Upon entering the building, a fluorescent sign bathes the entrance in warm, red light and directs visitors upstairs into the gallery space. The bright and sunlit space smells of fresh oil paint, initially gravitating the visitors toward Delphine Hennelly’s whimsical exhibition, Behind the Scenes.

In the adjacent room, Trever Baird’s exhibition features a long podium in the centre of space which displays a collection of wood-fired stoneware works. This new body of work marks a significant departure from his previous method of working, for Baird is embracing a new approach to ceramics. “It’s been a while since I’ve shown and have completely rethought my entire practice since Covid,” Baird wrote in a recent post on Instagram, “moving away from a more technical practice to an intuitive one took a long time to understand, but I’m so much more satisfied with this work than I have been in the past.”

Trevor Baird’s Arca Mundi, 2023, Ash Glazed Stoneware. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

The collection overall has the distinct, rustic quality of archeological discoveries, leading the viewer to question whether they are looking at contemporary artworks or antiquities. In the poignant words from artist Rebecca Storm’s accompanying exhibition text, “Tarnished, at times seeming to have surrendered to erosion, or to the slow creep of lichen, [the ceramics of Trevor Baird] bear ciphers of antiquity, teasing the viewer into speculation. Have I been newly created, they ask, or have I been found?”

For example, the repeated motif of the ribcage (Arca Mundi, 2023) may remind the viewer of fossilized human remains, preserved by the earth. “Ribs are the artist’s interpretation of the alchemical concept of the vessel as the symbol for the soul,” Storm wrote. The rib cage both protects and metaphorically imprisons the heart—the presumed locus of the human soul. Baird’s “remains” are imbued with a sense of the spirit of the body they perhaps once belonged to. 

Sunkissed will be on view at Pangée from Jan. 20 to March 2.


Finding Urban Nature exhibit showcases unique green spaces in Montreal

The exhibition co-hosted by Concordia, McGill, and urbaNature celebrates the biodiversity and community spaces found in areas around the city.

On Tuesday, Jan. 16, groups and individuals came together to celebrate the urban nature spaces in Montreal. The one-day exhibition focused on four urban nature spaces and dived into their histories, uses, and biodiversity. 

The event was coordinated by Ashley Spanier-Levasseur, a Concordia student in the Loyola College of Sustainability and Diversity, in conjunction with McGill and urbaNature Education. 

This exhibition drew attention to the uniqueness of spaces like Champ des Possibles, which is an abandoned-rail-house-turned-communal-green-space in Rosemont. Other spaces acknowledged in the exhibition included Falaise St-Jacques (a stretch of forested cliff located south of NDG), Parc-Nature MHM (a large site made up of wetlands, meadows, and woodlands in Hochelaga), and Technoparc Montreal (a high-tech industrial park near the Montreal-Trudeau airport).

“They are not parks. They are not these manicured, perfectly maintained spaces where you can have baseball diamonds—they are nature,” said Morgan.

Concordia political science professor Amy Poteete had conducted research studying the use of these spaces and their environmental and ecological impacts. Maps charting the community use of green spaces, graphs comparing the daily temperatures inside and outside of them, and infographics about the uses and histories of the spaces were displayed.

The artistic contributions to the exhibit were made from various communities and independent artists. The contributions included; wish flags from a summer camp in NDG, photography from community members, and videographic ‘portraits’ of the urban nature spaces from photographer KWP Morgan.

Interactive elements like audio recordings of birdsong and bat calls were set up around the exhibition for attendees to listen to with headphones, and 360 degree video portraits of the four spaces were projected on a screen in the centre of the room. Video navigation was controlled by a mouse on a podium in the middle of the room, and those involved with the creation of the exhibit encouraged attendees to use the mouse to “look around” the spaces. 

One hope of the exhibit was to bring awareness regarding these spaces to those who may not know they exist. 

“Surprisingly not everyone knows that these places exist,” said Morgan. “To a degree [our hope for this] was that we want people to know these spaces exist, and also we want people to know that these spaces are important.”

Another hope was to bring together a mix of organizations and individuals who worked in similar contexts around urban nature. 

“We wanted to not leave out the community partners who have been working, protecting these spaces and advocating for the continued community uses of these spaces for many years before Concordia got involved,” said Spanier-Levasseur about the importance of collaboration with and between the different organizations and individuals who contributed to the exhibit.

Poteete added, “We know that the community groups are also producing knowledge. They know their sites better than anybody else does and they have a lot of knowledge about the history of their spaces.”

The exhibition ran from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., with a Q&A panel held at 4:00 p.m. A turnout of over 100 people was reported, as a steady stream of attendees had been exploring the exhibit.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit Student Life

Artist spotlight: Princex Naveed

Artist, poet, and “critical pedagogue”, Princex Naveed’s recent showcase “Jarring Lots” exhibited four multimedia installations that constituted the creation component of their MA thesis in Concordia’s INDI program.

Between Jan. 17 and Jan. 19, “Jarring Lots” was exhibited in Concordia’s MFA basement gallery in the Visual Arts building. Upon entering the gallery space during the opening night, visitors were met with a warm welcome with wine and refreshments from the artist, whose clear intention was to create a comfortable and open environment. Galleries are notoriously stuffy, quiet, and riddled with unspoken rules for proper behaviour, however, it was integral to Princex Naveed’s showcase that care was taken to resist these norms. 

View of the gallery, Princex Naveed’s “Jarring Lots,” Concordia MFA sub gallery. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

The gallery was filled with rich, ambient sound—an untitled, immersive soundscape work by Ghent-based filmmaker and poet, Helle Monne Huisman. The white-noise quality of the sound was a welcome rupture in the more familiar radio-silence of an exhibition space.

The central work in the gallery was their mixed-media installation titled “Tea, Sis!” A rectangular table was set up in the middle of the space, and was filled with red Solo cups—each with an individual tea bag. A small pile of didactic handouts were laid on the table for visitors, on which the artist had printed a statement about the work and the scholarly research that informed it, notably, the work of French writer and poet named Édouard Glissant. 

Detail of Princex Naveed’s “Tea, Sis!” 2024, mixed-media installation. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

Tea, Sis! intends to counteract the sterility of the white cube by offering you a hospitable space, creating the potentiality for care_ful encounters between visitors and me,” the handout read. “The white cube” is a direct reference to Brian O’Doherty’s highly influential essay, “Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, which offers criticism of the aesthetic of the gallery space as a pristine white void, and how this space impacts the viewing and value of art. 

Lining the gallery walls were 9 printed photographs which documented a performance inspired by Canadian performance artist Sin Wai Kin. According to Princex Naveed, the performance “calls into question mainstream definitions of nationality and culture as well as their underlying gender norms.” Born to a Polish mother and an Irani father in northern Germany, and now based in Canada, Princex Naveed’s own personal history traverses numerous nations and identities, and this performance celebrates that state of flux. 

Lastly, a cozy video installation titled “but i’d rather be a pickle than a cyborg-goddess” was situated in the corner of the gallery. The short video offered an intimate glimpse into the artist’s performative transformation into a dill pickle. 

Princex Naveed, “but i’d rather be a pickle than a cyborg-goddess,” Concordia MFA sub gallery. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

“It was both mundane and highly meaningful to me, as it has emerged convergently in multiple ecologies I call home (Turtle Island, Eastern Europe, the Middle East),” Naveed said.

Arts Exhibit

Yea I made it up, Yea it’s real: Examining digital culture, social media, and the meme-sphere

Concordia students and alumni adopt internet aesthetics to explore the human experience in the digital age in new exhibition

On Feb. 17, artists Edson Niebla Rogil and Dayana Matasheva hosted the vernissage for their exhibition Yea I made it up, Yea it’s real out of their shared Plateau studio.

The show featured 12 artists, including Niebla Rogil and Matasheva, whose works address the effects of the internet on the human experience through mediums ranging from AI-generated audio to livestreaming-inspired video compilations.

For Matasheva, who graduated from film production in 2020, the internet represents an aesthetic endeavour. “I think aesthetically, no one is using the visual vernacular of the internet. We are interested in its aesthetics specifically, rather than just its subject matter.”

After noticing a lack of representation of internet subject matter within traditional gallery spaces, Niebla Rogil and Matasheva issued an open call for like-minded artists.

“There’s a really big focus on technology as a medium, but there’s very little about the cultures that are growing online and changing the landscape of how people interact with each other,” said Concordia intermedia major Liz Waterman, whose sensorial TikTok-inspired video projection Doom Scroll was featured in the exhibition.

“I think that it’s shaping culture and psychology in a way that’s really interesting, and we don’t see enough work about it.”

Yea I made it up, Yea it’s real is the first exhibition organized, hosted, and curated by Niebla Rogil and Matasheva, but the pair have ambitions to move future exhibitions out of their studio into larger spaces, and to continue to host their networking event The Net Worker.

“It’s a recurring event where people shamelessly network and there’s no other purpose to it,” explains Matasheva. “People come together, exchange DIY business cards, they wear business attire and everything. It’s a little bit performative, but it actually is serving a purpose for artists.”

Information about upcoming exhibitions, networking events and more can be found on Niebla Rogil and Matasheva’s Instagram profiles.

Arts Exhibit

[espace variable | placeholder]: experience art in a post-pandemic flux

Concordia students and alumni open a new online art exhibit in regards to adapting to a world affected by COVID-19

La Centrale galerie Powerhouse hosted the vernissage of their new exhibit [espace variable | placeholder] on the evening of Feb. 2. The online gallery was created, in part, as a statement that the world of art has shifted to the internet. 

It was created out of inspiration from a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg: the third place. Third places are the spaces where people can spend time in between their first place (home) and second place (work). As of recently, the world’s third place is the internet.

The exhibit is divided into four categories: Read, Observe, Listen, and Interact. 

Read, the first category presents texts reflecting artists’ experiences involving themes pertaining to third places, place-making, technological presence, and artistic subversion. 

Observe, the second category, displays the interdisciplinary approach to the concept of placeholding. 

Listen, the third category, involves audible artwork alluding to memory, transmission and reciprocity. 

Interact, the last, is a space which provides literature for readers to further their understanding and research of third places.

This exhibit explores navigation through third places as well as artists’ “(re)telling” of stories about finding a voice, or making a place, of those who have been demeaned by racial injustice.

One of the installations at the vernissage was from artist-in-residence rudi aker of the Byte-sized Sound Creation Residency. “This work, a bird in the hand, is what feels most appropriate to share with a larger public from those recorded conversations,” explains aker in their artist statement. The audio piece is “a move to safeguard our personal and familial histories from the often prying and exploitative consumption of Indigenous oral histories.”

My Little thingliness (SCRUB-A-DUB-DUB-BEBOP), another creation presented at the vernissage, is a spoken-word/sound immersion performance written and performed by Faith Paré. The piece thrashes you into the world of generational forced labour and abuse that Black women succumb to in order to survive white supremacist society. Because of this, Black women of today have the choice and opportunity to work with their minds instead of their hands.

Art history and studio arts major at Concordia India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner was the Artistic and Community Alliances Coordinator of [espace variable | placeholder] for some time. Through La Centrale, Upshaw-Ruffner met the Publications and Communications Coordinator Lital Khaikin.

During the creative progress of [espace variable | placeholder], the two developers contacted Paré, who Upshaw-Ruffner had discovered through a project she did at Concordia. Paré knew rudi aker through a class that they took together as well. The [espace variable | placeholder] ex-coordinator met rudi aker through a class on indigenous curatorial methodologies they had together. It goes to show that networking at school is important!

If you want to frequent an art exhibit but hate walking, you can now experience it from your own home. Click here. To access La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse’s website, Click here.


Exhibit Review: Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains in Montreal

Every brick in the wall of Pink Floyd’s successful legacy revealed

The Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibition welcomes Montreal fans into the world of Pink Floyd from Nov. 4 to Dec. 31 at the Arsenal Contemporary Art Museum. This 60- to 90-minute-long experience transports visitors into the wonders of Pink Floyd, diving into the core of the rock band’s creativity and incredible legacy.

Whether you are someone who barely knows the surface of who the band is, or if you are a hardcore listener, any opportunity to visit the exhibition is worthwhile.

It is an interactive experience that gives new meaning to the artist-and-fan connection. Visitors are given headphones to watch exclusive interviews of the band members, studio recordings, original songs, and the creative minds who brought their famous album covers to life. The atmosphere is silent yet powerful as all eyes are drawn right to the band talking through little screens, revisiting moments from their career. Some of these moments have never been known before.

As soon as you walk into the museum, a black wall filled with images of the band’s past concerts in Montreal catches the eye, and Roger Waters in a Montreal Canadiens jersey right in the middle is impossible not to miss. Walking through the legacy of Pink Floyd starts with the band’s creation in 1965 by the late and great Syd Barrett, his fellows Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason, and ends with their later projects in the 2000s.

The sections are dimly lit, letting the artifacts take the centre stage. The guitars, basses, drum sets and keyboards on display are the originals used by the band members. The scratches on the guitars are faint yet surreal to spot upon closer inspection. It is worth taking the time to observe the details on the instruments, to point out the marks and have that they-really-played-these moment. It is even more surreal watching Roger Waters or David Gilmour strumming on that exact guitar on video, as if you’re right there with the band. 

I have always been intrigued by Pink Floyd — by their style, psychedelic experimentation, musical textures, and storytelling through their art and music. Their strange yet beautiful experimental combo manifests into every single album they released.

Each section of the exhibit represents an album of the band, namely The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Division Bell. Oversized images of the album covers are hung on a white wall, allowing the colours to pop and make a statement. Right beside them are the framed original images of the covers. 

The Wall’s section was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Enormous inflatables from their previous albums floated above, watching everything unfold below. Cages with more guitars and archives of Roger Waters, who is simultaneously heard describing the struggles the band had with the inflatable pig for the Animals album, were eye-catching and humorous. With The Wall being one of Pink Floyd’s most successful albums, it is incredible to find out that the idea came to Roger Waters during a concert at the Olympic Stadium back in 1977 — a reason why Montreal is a special place for the band. 

Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains is a breathtaking exhibit and a must-see for anyone who enjoys and appreciates their music. I was able to appreciate the band in a way that I have not in the past. The magic in the silence created by the exhibit is intoxicating — it’s just people looking, admiring, listening, and traveling through time with Pink Floyd that makes the experience so memorable. 


Exhibition review: Outside the Palace of Me

Shary Boyle’s exploration of the connection between society and the individual

This is a special show — the Toronto-based artist Shary Boyle has designed her exhibition on a stage setup at the Montreal Museum of Fine arts.

The moment visitors walk into the exhibition, they are standing in the middle of a huge stage. This implies that each individual not only observes society, but also participates in it. Shary Boyle’s artwork exposes a variety of phenomena in this society that we choose to ignore, which poses complex and sometimes paradoxical questions to visitors about our understanding of human nature.

The first sculpture visitors see is “The Potter”. It depicts an image of an artist’s process of making porcelain. However, the interesting thing is that this artist does not have a head, and there are six different porcelain pieces stacked up in front of them. Upon closer inspection, each piece has a different style that represents a different country. From the bottom up, they are China, Ghana, France, Greece, Peru, and Egypt.

Boyle is also very strict in the selection of materials: terracotta, porcelain, underglaze, china paint, luster, and brass rods were all used in her installation.

The headless artist of “The Potter” is captured making a gesture of lifting the porcelain as if they are trying to put these civilizations on their own head. This is a reflection of us being in a culturally diverse society. It also represents the ideology of each culture within society.

“Oasis,” another piece on display, is a woman sculpture that has both male and female sexual attributes. Although her face is covered by her hair, she is sitting sideways and presenting her sexuality in a confident pose. 

The idea of gender nonconformity created by this sculpture explores the people who break the gender norms that are expected for them. Her sexual organs look slicker than other parts of her body, because Shary Boyle uses luster as a representation of the gender stereotype, which is a beautiful and fragile material. This work poses the question to the viewer — why should the gender stereotypes in our minds be so solid?

Moving to the right side of the stage, visitors see a huge white statue sitting on the right side of the room, named “White Elephant”. Its whole body is painted and dressed in white. It is staring forward with no emotional expression on its face.

In a flash, its head suddenly turns around. Many viewers were shocked by this art installation, while others did not even notice its movement. According to Boyle, the title is inspired by the proverb “elephant in the room,” which refers to the phenomenon of people ignoring a very obvious fact. 

Shary Boyle sarcastically illustrates the whiteness of society, in which many politicians are aware of history of genocide, and the white privilege but choose to ignore it. The white elephant stands out in this dimly-lit exhibition room. According to my personal understanding, white has the ability to embrace any colour, just as this society can embrace any distinct being.

Community Culture

Our Mountain: Memories of Mount Royal Review

Check out this new exhibit commemorating the historic mountain located at the heart of our city

Out of all the iconic landmarks, one could visit in Montreal, I could list out a whole bunch off the top of my head: Orange Julep, St. Viateur Bagels, Mount Royal, etc. 

In terms of history, Mount Royal is as rich as it is stunning. An exhibit recently launched at the Musée des Hospitalières de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal called Our Mountain: Memories of Mount Royal recognizes the storied history of the mountain. 

This exhibit launched on Nov. 15 and runs up until Aug. 31, 2024. The location is 201 Pine Ave, W.

The exhibit mainly focuses on issues that contributed to the mountain’s initial development, and the current preservation efforts that are being undertaken.

Walking through this exhibit, you can learn about many different things, including some background on the park’s architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, the same architect behind the famous Central Park in New York City.

The exhibit focuses on the history of the park as a landmark in a growing city. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, over the course of the 19th century, Montrealers bought large pieces of land at the base of Mount Royal. Those pieces of land were used as orchards or farms.

The turning point was when the city kept growing in population and the large pieces of land at the base became a cause of congestion. That’s when citizens started a petition to protect the mountain and turn it into a park for the public to enjoy. 

It was in 1874 that the city hired the famous Olmsted to design the layout of the park. Afterward, the park was officially opened to the public in 1876. 

The exhibit also makes a point of describing the mountain as a geographical territory. Mount Royal is composed of three summits, with its highest summit measuring 233 metres high. 

Walking through the exhibit, I noticed a space that was titled Mount Royal in 50 years. Visitors could write their predictions of what Mount Royal might look like in half a century. Now with the history of Mount Royal in mind, I leave the question with you — what do you think Mount Royal will look like 50 years from now?

Photographs by Dalia Nardolillo/The Concordian


Ji zoongde’eyaang opens with a strong heart

Mother and daughter dig up old works to tell a story on Indigenous heritage in new MAI exhibition

Montréal, arts interculturels, or MAI for short, opened Ji zoongde’eyaang on Oct. 22. The exhibition features work from Lara Kramer and Ida Baptiste, an Anishinaabe Oji-Cree mother-daughter duo. The title, in Anishinaabemowin, means “to have a strong heart”.

Baptiste is a visual artist, traditional pow wow dancer and Ojibwa language teacher based in Rama, Ontario. She is a member of the Berens River First Nation, Treaty 5 territory. Many of her works, consisting of oil on canvas, weaving and printmaking, were famously shown between 1975 and 1990 in Ontario.

Lara Kramer, her daughter, is a performer, choreographer and artist of many disciplines from Oji-Cree and settler descent. Her work is grounded in intergenerational relations, intergenerational knowledge and the impacts of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada. 

Most of the pieces in this exhibition touch on generational practices as well as experiences involving memory, loss and reclamation. Some of the works by Baptiste are from the early ’90s and have never been seen before, representing her experiences from her time at Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba.

Baptiste worked as an Ojibwa language teacher at Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Elementary School in Rama, Ontario from 2011 to 2019. “There’s a big language component in all of these works and it’s reflected here with the audio recording of them learning together, but the exhibition of all of these blankets actually started during the pandemic,” said MAI head of communications Jaëlle Dutremble-Rivet.

Much of Baptiste’s works consist of oil paint on canvas. Many of these paintings depict young Indigenous children superimposed over backgrounds thematically tied to residential schools. 

In addition to the language component of this exhibition, Kramer and Baptiste collaborated to gather several trade blankets representative of Kramer’s memories growing up and connecting with her Oji-Cree culture. “Gorgeous Tongue,” one of the blankets on display, represents Kramer’s memories of growing up in poverty. She also touches upon sentiments of rebirth and family lineage. 

“Emily” is a trade blanket that represents Kramer’s relationship to her lineage. She speaks of her “nookomis,” her mother’s mother, and the brief relationship they had. Kramer recounts witnessing her nookomis’ anguish through a series of seemingly paranormal interactions. The piece has heavy tones of generational trauma and the ways in which they shape intergenerational relationships. 

The trade blanket has a lot of meaning. It was used during colonization, spreading smallpox to indigenous communities — a devastation in the genocide against Indigenous people. The blankets were also used in trade between different communities. Kramer and Baptiste are reworking and tasking that symbol, adding regalia from traditional jingle dresses and beading work. 

“The paintings were an addition because at the beginning it was only supposed to be the blankets and a projection,” said Dutremble-Rivet. For instance, the painting titled #64 is a triptych of a young child on a swing set, with a background composed of different numbers. 

“All of the children in residential schools were given numbers, and 64 was Ida’s number,” said Dutremble-Rivet. “There’s a lot of residential school history in Ida’s work. [Ji zoongde’eyaang] is a really important work to show, especially that it was truth and reconciliation day a month ago, so it’s the real history.” 
For more information about the exhibition, please visit the MAI’s website.


Public Intimacy—discovering the margin between the public and the private

The interactive piece kicks off the reopening of the Museum of Jewish Montreal

There is a line drawn between public and private spheres. In our lives, everyone has a limit as to what is kept personal and what we want to display to the public. As of Oct.13, art enthusiasts have the chance to explore this idea through the creation of Berlin artists Sophia Hirsch and Johannes Mundinger titled Public Intimacy, showcased at the Museum of Jewish Montreal until Jan. 22. 

The installation is composed of a plethora of curtains hung from a tall metal framework. Curtains of different materials, densities, and colors, are meant for the public to wander through and reflect upon. It’s a maze, and it provides the chance to close each participant off from the rest of the public, allowing them as much intimacy as they desire. 

“The curtains are second hand, they all come from a regional context that has a history with the Holocaust, the contemporary rise of neo-fascism,” said Stokvis-Hauer. “I don’t think that the exhibition is only about that, either. There are a million different things that public privacy can be associated with, it’s such a broad topic.”

The installation’s walls are occupied by immense photographs of mysterious residential windows, accompanied by existential and thought-provoking questions. 

The curtains were found around the Berlin area in historic places. Some were found in abandoned buildings previously occupied by German Democratic Republic government officials, some belonged to Mundingers’ grandmother, and others were found on the street. 

In 2019, the two artists were called in by the Museum of Jewish Montreal to present a project on-site. However, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down any works in progress, and the Museum of Jewish Montreal was shut down. 

This is the first exhibition since the museum’s reopening and the first Montreal-based project for the artist tandem. In this new space, the artists found even more room for freedom of discovery.

There certainly is an element of the exhibition that harkens to the past and present and leans towards elements of “Jewishness,” according to the museum’s artistic director Alyssa Stokvis-Hauer.  Themes of racism, xenophobia, and possibly other matters relevant to a broader community than the Jewish. 

“We aren’t Jewish ourselves, but we have history with the culture,” said Mundinger. The artist had been invited to participate in an exhibition at the Galicia Jewish museum located in Kraków in Poland. Hirsch had gone as far as spending three years with a concentration camp survivor to create his biography in the form of a graphic novel. The work is not yet published through an official company.

In terms of an exhibit, the museum’s staff team saw Public Intimacy as a connection of interest to the Jewish community in Montreal. For the team, there’s a wide range of interesting questions that are relevant to the Jewish community, and further relevant to other communities. 

“What’s so great about Johannes and Sophia’s work is that it asks infinite questions,” added Stokvis-Hauer. “It invites everyone to think about where the line is between public and private on the macro and micro scales.” This piece, she emphasized, is meditative.

If you want your brain and heartstrings tugged on, all while experiencing the essence of a homely yet conflicted culture, you should visit the installation in the Mile End before it closes on Jan. 22. You can read more about the event on the Museum’s website.


Queer Love exhibit challenges heteronormative notions of love and celebrates queerness

Early on a Monday afternoon, as I intently observed Giulio Cuccagna and his team place various works of art on the white walls of a beautifully worn-in gallery on St. Catherine St. that belongs to Smarkt, I began to wonder what exactly it takes to bring together an art exhibit like the one that was currently being set up in front of me. For Cuccagna, the process was trying at times, but he managed to carefully sift through dozens of submissions, choose a venue, and arrange the exhibit program in a matter of three months. And during a pandemic, no less. 

The Concordia Fine Arts student is in his third year, studying art history and film, with a minor in interdisciplinary studies in sexuality. Cuccagna grew up in Italy, where he recalled never being exposed to queer love stories. It wasn’t until he moved to Montreal that he began to see and experience differing expressions of love. “These experiences have driven me to curate an exhibit that would not only showcase these representations, but also bring the community together,” reads Cuccagna’s artist statement. The Queer Love exhibit, which took place on Valentine’s Day, featured works from 10 different artists, all in varying mediums. These works included paintings, sculptures, and more. Additionally, during the evening, there were live performances from Anna Justen and Monsieurmadam, and delectable food from Maison Choma to enjoy. 

The first step in the process of bringing together the Queer Love exhibit was a call-out for submissions from artists. “It was one of my favourite parts of the curation,” said Cuccagna. “I posted an open call on my Instagram, announcing that I was going to curate an exhibit on queer love and for those interested to submit their work to my email.” Within two weeks, Cuccagna received at least 50 submissions. “It was so heartwarming seeing that many people wanted to participate. My criteria was very simple. I wasn’t just looking for artworks that would fit the theme. I was looking for diversity and uniqueness. I wanted to showcase works that would represent queer love in all forms, shapes, gender, and ethnicity.”

Cuccagna believes that art dealing with identity, especially those that engage with personal struggles and emotions, helps artists progress and initiate social change. He admits that he often struggled with low self-esteem in regards to his future and career prior to this exhibit. “Now, I feel like this is the first time in my life I’ve done something ‘big,’ professionally and artistically speaking. As many of my peers [also felt], these past two years have been hell,” said Cuccagna. “We’ve all felt extremely down and unmotivated. I was so tired of waiting and being scared of the future, that I just told myself to do it. I’m also very lucky to be surrounded by the most supportive people, which have pushed me so hard to follow this dream of mine.” 

Cuccagna offers some advice for fellow artists and Fine Arts students looking to take on a similar project: “Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. Finding an affordable and available venue will be hard, so I would say to go through that research months in advance. I wouldn’t say you have to be the most organized person, but definitely write down all your ideas, make layouts and be patient!” Cuccagna also encourages artists to anticipate and be receptive to feedback, as it’s the most helpful part of the process. “There will be conflict and struggles through it, but you have to manage to stay positive because the outcome will be such a rewarding and amazing experience.”

Photos by Catherine Reynolds 

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