Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

Datura at Espace Maurice brings the Rust Belt to Montréal

The show features works by Alex Patrick Dyck, Cléo Sjölander, Ariane Gagné (éli del), Tom  Roeschlein, Julien Parant-Marquis, Justin Apperley, Jason Van Hoose, Dylan Weaver and Paul Jackson Burgess.

The morning after my visit to Datura, the latest offering from Espace Maurice, I was confronted with a seemingly endless stream of people walking past me in their Sunday best: puffy jackets, Arcteryx tuques, and shiny sunglasses. They all appeared to be going to brunch, dressed up in their finest to go spend more money; a sign that the capitalist machine is happily turning. 

I noticed it because it couldn’t have been more different than what I was confronted with at Datura the day before. The group show, curated by the gallery’s founder Marie Sègoléne C. Brault, a Concordia graduate, features a wide variety of artists and practices whose works are entangled with the darker side of capitalism. 

All the works in the show were made in Youngstown, Ohio, many of them as part of a 10-day residency that took place during last fall. Through their subject matter and materiality, the artworks reflect the long lasting effects felt by a city that suffered greatly from the closing of factories during the 1970s. A number of the pieces were made by reusing materials like car window frames or rusted nails. 

Alex Patrick Dyck, thorn apple (trumpet flower), 2023, Found objects, antique air horns & trunk, mother of pearl, transparency film, tattoo ink. In Datura at Espace Maurice. Photo by Manouska Larouche.

The residency came to be—thanks to Brault who, upon viewing the documentary Greyland (dir. Alexandra Sicotte-Levesque), was taken with the story of Youngstown and got in touch with one of the local residents featured in the film, Rocco Sait. This marked the start of a collaboration that resulted in the Ohio residency in which artists from New York, Montreal, the Yukon, and Youngstown gathered to create the art currently on display at Espace Maurice. The show represents a small fraction of what was produced during the residency, but it is accompanied by a catalogue that documents the works as they were installed in Youngstown at a warehouse owned by Sait. 

This show considers the lived experiences of those born and raised in the shadows of shuttered steel factories, and poses the question: What about those who stay? The answer is found in the form of sculptural works that use wood, ceramic, nails, candlesticks, wrought iron, and plastic tarps used in construction, as well as in the form of paintings that reflect on the violence bred by economic inertia.

In some ways, the show’s curation mimics the imagery of places like Youngstown or Detroit, which are all too often defined by the distant memory of economic prosperity—images of abandoned mansions in disarray dominate the visual landscape in these places. This show engages with this visual mode, but with an added level of care and intention. 

On the floor beneath a painting on one wall is a selection of carefully lined up tchotchkes, like a silver letter opener and a small heart-shaped piece of resin with nails sticking out of the top. A similar object sits atop one of the light switches along another wall. The show rewards a desire to look in unexpected places—the floor, the light switch, and the window. 

The show’s namesake flower, datura, also known as moonshade or devil’s weed, is a member of the nightshade family. It is a poisonous flower, with psychoactive effects that can induce delirium. Indeed, there is a sense of delirium in the show. One can easily get lost within the works on display, and I would encourage everyone to do so. 

Datura will be on view at Espace Maurice until Feb. 16.

Dylan Weaver, Horse on The Runway, 2022, acrylic on canvas. In Datura at Espace Maurice. Photo by Manouska Larouche.
Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

Strange memory

From the mechanical to the organic, Concordia MFA students Émilie Allard and Kuh Del Rosario’s curious sculptural works draw uncanny connections between the familiar and the strange.

Émilie Allard’s cold and metallic readymades—a manufactured object repurposed as a work of art, think Marcel Duchamp—in Point of Irony, Point of Organ stand in stark contrast to Kuh Del Rosario’s viscerally organic sculptures in Summoning Black Beach. However, the adjacent exhibits, currently occupying the two distinct gallery spaces in the Mile End’s Centre Clark, create a curious dialogue when approached as a pair. 

View of the gallery. Émilie Allard, Point of Irony, Point of Organ, Centre Clark. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Both galleries are sparsely peppered with the artists’ works that stand out against the cold white walls and concrete floors. Any didactics or titles to accompany the works on display have been excluded from the installation space, which encourages the viewer to approach the body of work as a cohesive whole, rather than a collection of individual pieces. 

View of the gallery. Kuh del Rosario, Summoning Black Beach, Centre Clark. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Each artist employs a strikingly unique visual language to engage with the familiarly unfamiliar. In other words, whether it is a set of reconfigured aluminium chair legs turned upside down and strung up with bells (Allard, “Le rêve et l’argent”) or an oozing pool of grimy water and salty, porous rocks (Del Rosario, “invocation na babayin itim”), both artists use recognizable materials to create unrecognisable, abstracted forms that call into question our ability to materialise that which only exists in our minds.  

Installed high-up on the gallery wall of Allard’s exhibit, something between a photograph and a sculpture resembles a fleshy pair of ears, but they are abstracted beyond immediate recognition—it takes a moment for the viewer to grasp what they are looking at. The manipulated organs appear to be poised to listen to the hypothetical music of the stone xylophone below them, yet the room remains positively silent. 

Émilie Allard, “Morse,” 2023, in Point of Irony, Point of Organ, Centre Clark. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

The works seem to speak to the fallibility of memory—try remembering what a pair of ears looks like if you aren’t looking at one, or try remembering what a xylophone sounds like. What do you see in your mind’s eye? What do you hear? Is it, perhaps, an imperfect, abstracted version of the real thing? Allard’s work seems to seek out what is revealed to us when our minds attempt to piece together what something looks, feels or sounds like when we cannot immediately access it.

Similarly, Del Rosario’s sculptures harken back to the artist’s abstracted memories of her homeland of Batan in the Philippines. In a statement that accompanies the exhibit, Marissa Largo asks: “How does one return to a place that no longer exists?” This recalls the artist’s memory of a journey taken with her late father to a beach that she has not been able to locate since his passing. “Summoning Black Beach proposes an alternative way to return and to reconnect with that which has been lost,” Largo wrote.

Both Point of Irony, Point of Organ and Summoning Black Beach will be on view at Centre Clark through Nov. 25. A closing reception will be held on Nov. 21 at 6 pm, which will feature readings from the artists. 

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

The simultaneous lands of dreams

“A Coin on a Tongue” is now on view at Espace Maurice.

“A Coin on A Tongue” is an exhibition curated by Marie-Ségolène C. Brault at her apartment-gallery, Espace Maurice, located on Ontario street in Montréal. The exhibition includes works by artists Adrienne Greenblatt, Dante Guthrie and Anjali Kasturi, that encapsulate their spiritual, fantastical and historical world-building visions through their unique visual languages and conceptual framing. Each piece depicts historical fractions or fantastical worlds that coexist with our universe. 

Adrienne Greenblatt, Sheol i & ii, 2023, Borosilicate Glass. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Adrienne Greenblatt’s glasswork installations occupy several corners of the gallery. The pieces offer multisensorial references to the human body, alchemy, medieval weaponry and esotericism through the use of hair, metal gates and glass. Each glossy surface draws attention to how sunlight reflects and refracts around the exhibition space. The ghostly materiality of each one urges the viewers to embrace their spiritual and historical vivacity. They welcome the presence of artifacts with historical characteristics and essence in the modern space of the gallery. 

Dante Guthrie, Bergmeister, bismuth. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

Dante Guthrie’s metal works are infused with the illusion of gothic architecture and storytelling through his combination of traditional atelier process and modern technologies. His metallic and abstracted architectural façades and frames are copiously detailed but open to interpretation in terms of conceptual vision—the frames can be interpreted as a depiction of a fantastical world, a futuristic prophecy, a medieval illusion, a talisman or a symbolic illustration of a spiritual practice.

View of the gallery, Espace Maurice, paintings by Anjali Kasturi. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

As for Anjali Kasturi’s paintings, their use of desaturated and washed-like colors, foggy depiction of space and mysterious representation of objects and landscapes convey a sense of fantasticality and fear of the unknown. The pieces invite us into the happenings and to explore the sensational atmosphere—to smell and feel the fog or the breeze. They allow the viewer to perceive the works in relation to their personal experience and capacity, focusing on the individual connection and interpretation of the space of the works. Each painting portrays an imaginary universe, a symbolic representation of an event or a dream traced back to an individual experience.

Anjali Kasturi, Gate 7, 2023, oil on canvas, 20”x24”. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

Throughout the exhibition, the various materials used in the works resemble distinct feelings and conversations that emphasize the relationship between the artists, their materials and their spiritual practices.

View of the Gallery, Espace Maurice. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian

Looking at the venue of the exhibition itself, a studio apartment, offers visitors a sense of community and movement. The continuity of the exhibition into the living space connects the works in the gallery and personal belongings. We do not necessarily know where the exhibition starts and where it ends, challenging the definition of a public space and public display. “A Coin on a Tongue” will be on view until Oct. 28.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

You are here: Tania Lara’s “Autogéographies”

Lara’s solo exhibition is open at La Centrale galerie Powerhouse.

Inside everyone’s head is a map. It tells us how to get from home to work to school and back again. Maybe it requires some nudging from Google Maps sometimes, but ultimately it guides us through our corner of the world, and it is always changing. 

“Autogéographies” by Tania Lara, exhibited this fall at La Centrale galerie Powerhouse, graciously offers its viewers a look inside the artist’s personal map. Lara questions the assumed authority of the map by carefully embroidering tapestries with parts of her own mind’s map. Her work combines textiles and personal narrative while simultaneously stitching together disparate parts of visual art, geography and philosophy. 

 A feminist, artist-run space dedicated to the dissemination of multidisciplinary artistic practices, La Centrale is the ideal locale for Lara’s project. Founded in 1973, the gallery is one of the first artist-run spaces in Canada and has a long history of putting artists first and encouraging experimentation. Their archives are housed at Concordia University and are accessible online and in person at the Vanier library on Loyola’s campus.

“Autogéographies” combines textile, installation, and video work resulting from a research-creation project undertaken in part during the artist’s time pursuing a master’s degree in visual and media arts at UQAM. 

Throughout the exhibition, Lara focuses on the idea of porous borders, bringing into question the authority bestowed upon borders and exploring the liminal space between them. The gallery has a soft, gauzy feeling created by the semi-opaque material of the flowing tapestries that take up most of the space. Displayed with videos of hand-drawn topographic lines projecting on top of them, the works are in constant flux, resisting the static display of classical maps. 

View of the gallery, Tania Lara’s Autogéographies. Courtesy of La Centrale galerie Powerhouse. Photo by Lucie Rocher.

These pieces move with the breeze of people passing by and change according to the projections. Motifs of home take the form of place-settings with knives and forks, windows, checkered kitchen floors and flowers which are peppered through the tapestries, giving the exhibition a playful feel.

The exhibition as a whole is set up on a diagonal axis, further throwing the idea of a guiding map into question by tipping the axis of the North-South cardinal points. Greeting the viewers as they enter are two textile pieces, installed side by side on a diagonal wall. 

The first textile piece, “Autogéographies 1 (2021),” is one of the smaller ones in the show.  It is a quilt showing multiple scenes including a dinner table, a moving train, a garden, a fire, and finally hills receding into the distance, all in a colour palette of oranges, blues, and greys. 

Tania Lara, Autogéographies 1 (2021). Courtesy of La Centrale galerie Powerhouse. Photo by Lucie Rocher.

The second, “Autogéographies 2 (2021)” is another quilt in grid formation with each panel showing a different map, some with handwritten interventions on top. Together the two pieces set the tone for the show by playing with the idea of a map and rendering it soft in its materiality and personal in its content.

One of Lara’s noted influences in the project is Caribbean philosopher Édouard Glissant’s theorization of opacity as a response to colonial intervention. He questions the necessity for the transparency found in Western thought, and proposes opacity—the inability to see, the unknowable—as a method of self-determination, as though to say, you don’t need to know all of me to exist with me. 

Detail, Tania Lara’s Autogéographies. Courtesy of La Centrale galerie Powerhouse. Photo by Lucie Rocher.

Glissant writes in his seminal text Poetics of Relations, “opacities can coexist and converge, weaving fabrics.” Indeed, Lara weaves together opacities, allowing for moments of both transparency and obfuscation. Mapping is always an act of translation, from 2D to 3D, from the land beneath our feet to the pixels of the cell phones between our hands. Lara’s personal map is on display, and the key to its translation is just beyond our grasp. Perhaps it will always remain that way. 

“Autogéographies” is ongoing until Nov. 9, 2023 and is free to attend.

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

When birds echo humanity: the uncanny art of Mara Eagle

Birds or humans? Eagle blurs the lines with “Pretty Talk.”

Concordia’s FOFA (Faculty of Fine Arts) Gallery has been echoing with all sorts of unsettling sounds this past week. Not to be alarmed,  it has simply been hosting Mara Eagle’s “Pretty Talk” exhibition.

Eagle, an American artist, has designed a unique audiovisual experience for her audience. Stepping into the FOFA Gallery, it is impossible to ignore the strange yet familiar sounds that pierce the heavy black curtain separating the exhibition room from the receptionist’s office. Behind the curtain, an incongruous setting is revealed: in the middle of a dimly lit room surrounded by a white picket fence, the only furnishings are two white Adirondack chairs placed on a faux grass tile. 

Viewers watching “Pretty Talk,” FoFA Gallery, Concordia University. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

On the wall facing the chairs, a 15-minute 3D animation—rendered in a disturbing, uncanny-valley-like style—is projected on a loop. On the opposite wall, a descriptive sheet indicates that the soundtrack—which sharpens once the viewer enters the space and reveals all manner of human noises such as farts, baby cries, laughter, screams and more—is in fact made up of bird mimicry. 

In the short animated film, increasingly repulsive characters appear in turn, such as a huge infant with facial and torso hair and a grandfather with shark-like teeth. They are merely pale imitations of human beings: their jerky movements, misshapen and offbeat facial expressions, grotesquely proportioned bodies, and lifeless eyes all betray their artificiality and send chills down the spine.

The soundtrack is composed of hundreds of fragments of mimicked human sounds, which combined to the visuals make for a rather horrifying experience. The superimposition of the muffled and high-pitched bird mimicry noises creates a cacophony that sounds alien. 

Mara Eagle discussed her work at the vernissage for “Pretty Talk,” FoFA Gallery, Concordia University. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.

The 3D animation and accompanying soundtrack are played in a loop until the gallery closes, allowing viewers to watch the whole thing as many times as they need to absorb the work’s weirdness. Afterwards, the audience can watch a seven-minute video about the artist’s creative process in a more intimate screening room toward the exit. 

On the screen, Eagle explains that she created the soundtrack first and foremost. The visuals were thereafter created to fit the sounds and were animated by her collaborator Calum MacConnell. Eagle explains that she spent a long while researching and collecting hundreds of hyper-realistic bird mimicry sound samples on the internet using YouTube and other platforms, for she wanted her project to be very low budget and DIY. She then collaged and organized all the bird sound samples, which ended up making a 15-minute soundtrack. She was inspired to make her project into a loop because of how repetitive bird speech tends to be. 

The bizarre, interesting and complete experience of “Pretty Talk” is not only enthralling, but it also serves a good cause. Eagle is working in collaboration with a Quebec-based organization called Perroquetsecours to raise funds towards rehoming birds that are in need of adoption. Her tote bags are for sale at the FOFA gallery for $25 and all of the proceeds will be donated to this cause.

Tote bag for “Pretty Talk,” FoFA Gallery, Concordia University. Photo by Emma Bell / The Concordian.
Arts Culture

Seeing Loud: A look at the love story between Jean-Michel Basquiat and music

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts collaborates with the Musée de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris to create the first large-scale multidisciplinary exhibition on the role of music in Basquiat’s art

Upon entering the exhibit, visitors are embraced by the first room’s black painted walls as new-wave music plays. The smell of paint lingers in the air as people gather to admire the artwork while music from punk band The Offs plays loudly in the background. 

This is how curators decided to open Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music, an exhibition centered around the major role that music — be it opera, jazz or hip-hop — played in Basquiat’s life and work. 

Spectators are propelled into the musical universe of Basquiat’s era and the New York underground scene of the 1970s and 1980s that inspired him throughout his artistic career. 

The walls are covered with colourful posters and flyers of the bands that the artist listened to and formerly collaborated with. Between his emblematic crowns and anatomical drawings, musical references start to emerge in visitors’ minds.

Musicologist and guest curator from the Philharmonie de Paris Vincent Bessières explained that the first part of the exhibit was made to give a contextual and biographical background on the importance of music in Basquiat’s life, while the second part centers on how music oriented his pictorial universe. 

From his band Gray to his appearances as a DJ, nothing is forgotten in the extensive discography that has found its way into the artist’s work. 

The scenography uses a multidisciplinary approach that reflects Basquiat’s own methods. 

Woman looking at painting – VALENTINE ALIBERT

Visitors are projected into an atmosphere by the music playing in each room while videos and archives play everywhere. 

Visitors Ismaila Diallo and Anastasi Eosforos said they particularly appreciated the exhibition’s scenography and the way the different parts were orchestrated.

“Seeing urban art in a museum was fun,” said Diallo. “You would think there’s kind of this clash between the two, but it was very well executed.”

Jazz specialist Bessières explained that, even though Basquiat was a painter of his time and was involved in a dynamic and creative environment, he brought past music to the canvas.

“Looking at Basquiat through the prism of music allows at the same time to talk about the social journey of his life but also an interpretive key that allows us to understand things about his work,” said Bessières. “Jazz is really the music that he most celebrated, quoted, and represented in his works.”

For Bassières, these visual references to African-American culture and music are part of Basquiat’s wider connection to his identity as a Black man. 

The exhibition shows how music in Basquiat’s mind connected him to the world as an artist but, more importantly, as a Black artist living in America.

Seeing Loud runs until Feb. 19, 2023. Tickets are $16 for 21 to 30 year olds while general entry is $24. For more information, visit the MMFA’s website.


Optimista kicks off

An exhibition about having courage against all odds

Saturday, Oct. 15. marked the launch of the Optimista Conferences organized by Yellow Pad sessions. Each conference has a specific theme: courage, compassion, love, and community.

The Concordian had the chance to speak with Grace Sebeh Byrne, one of the co-founders of the series of cine conferences, to get a better understanding of the idea behind the event.

“Optimista is a response to what happened during the pandemic. Before Optimista we used to put on more traditional film festivals. But then we have kids in our twenties, we mentor a lot of young people and it’s very clear that there is a sense of hopelessness and despair and mostly isolation. That’s a big horrible thing, to experience isolation,” Byrne explained.

During a time when we all felt isolated during the pandemic, Byrne wanted to come up with something that would bring back hope into the community. 

“We are very passionate about the arts. Art we know is a powerful tool for social change. We asked ourselves, what are we going to create, a nice and safe and welcoming immersive experience. People can come in and enjoy the arts and at the same time explore themes,” Byrne said.

Over the course of four cine conferences, art lovers can gather and experience various keynote speakers, performers, and photo galleries grouped together for every themed night.

On the opening night of Optimista, there was the visual artist Augustina Pedrocca exhibited her photographs entitled, Happy and Beautiful out of Spite.


Pedrocca presented an evocative series of portraits that clearly documented the loves, pleasures, hardships, and heartaches of Montreal’s Queer Community.

During the main portion of the night Diana León, a performing artist,  put on a beautiful choreographed performance. The main idea behind her performance was to put forth the idea of self-love despite the times that we live in. 

Two documentaries were shown during the inaugural night. The first was a short film entitled The Black Cop by Gamal “G” Tuwara.

Tuwara flew all the way from England just to be a part of the conference and give a talk about his documentary. 

The Black Cop follows Tuwara’s journey in the British police force. He explored his earliest memories of racial profiling and harassment in the force, as well as the homophobia he endured.

The second film of the night featured a longer documentary entitled Writing with Fire which followed the story of India’s only women-run newspaper. It was directed by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh.

The Concordian had the honour of getting to chat with Tuwara right after the screening of the film. Tuwara, or G as he prefers to be called, gave The Concordian truly inspiring advice for individuals that face adversity in their chosen career field. 

“First of all, I would say to build up your network around you and find people that you can talk to and trust. Talking and sharing the story is what makes it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know it could be scary asking for help because in your head you think that you might be failing. It’s quite the contrary, asking for help makes you stronger,” G explained.

If you can take anything away from the inaugural event, it is the following; don’t be afraid to be yourself in dark times and pursue what you believe in.

Photographs by Dalia Nardolillo/The Concordian


Art Event Roundup: February

By Véronique Morin and Ashley Fish-Robertson

Make the most of this dreary month by treating yourself to some well-deserved art outings. Feeling a bit lazy? No problem, we’ve also got some virtual events to feed your creative soul!

In-person exhibitions:

  • House of Skin: Artists Sabrina Ratté and Roger Tellier-Craig present an exhibition inspired by David Cronenberg’s films at La Cinémathèque québécoise. Located at  335 De Maisonneuve Blvd. E until March 20.
  • The Sum of Our Shared Selves: Concordia’s FOFA gallery presents its annual undergraduate student exhibition which showcases the work of 27 total artists. Located at 1515 Ste-Catherine St. W. EV 1-715 until Feb. 25.
  • Techno//Mysticism: Exhibition featuring works that explore reflections on new technologies, and is art gallery Eastern Bloc’s first show in their new space. Located at 53 Louvain St. W. until Feb. 26. 
  • Jouer avec le temps: Photography exhibit featuring circus artists presented at TOHU. Located at 2345 Jarry St. E. until March 13. 
  • les liens: Exhibition organized by dance artist Thierry Huard on the theme of power in relationships. The event, presented at the MAI (Montréal Arts Interculturels), is part of the Queer Performance Camp. Located at 3680 Jeanne-Mance St. until Feb. 26.
  • Just Semantics: Group exhibition featuring work that highlights everyday objects that have been stripped of their banality. Located at 1490 Sherbrooke W. until Feb. 11.
  • An Exhibition by Marven Clerveau: Visions Hip-Hop QC: Exhibition of works by painter Marven Clerveau which gives an overview of Quebec’s main hip hop figures at Phi Centre. Located at 315 Saint-Paul Street W. from Feb. 11 to March 26.


  • NFB Film Festival: Several special events are underway courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada to celebrate Black History Month, including screenings and Q&A sessions. This year’s theme is centered around Black Health and Wellness. 
  • Massimadi: The renowned Afroqueer arts and film festival returns for its 14th edition. Free online events will take place from Feb. 11 to March 11. 


  • 18 P_R_A_C_T_I_C_E_S: Artist and performer Andrew Turner presents a 60-minute show that offers a hearty dose of humour, moments of absurdity, and a sharp tone. Presented at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines, located at 3700 Saint-Dominique St. from Feb. 16 to 19.


Visual courtesy of Netflix (press)



we move, just shifting: exploring slowness through photography

An invitation to discover subtleties in everyday moments

Brandon Brookbank’s new exhibition, we move, just shifting, is being presented in the second room of Centre CLARK until Feb. 12. A series of photos of different sizes complemented with small objects and clothes fill the space. The artworks are part of the Master’s research-creation project Brookbank is completing at Concordia University.

we move, just shifting features photographs of food, body parts, and objects. The art pieces are placed in the luminous room so that visitors have the chance to appreciate each of them one at a time. The varied frame sizes leave spaces of white wall between each work, creating room for reflection. There are photos on the walls, objects on the floor, and a colourful column in the centre of the space.

The closest piece to the entrance, We move, is a still life presenting a glass with yogurt traces in it. Blurred fingers are at the foreground of the image, playing with the viewer’s perspective. Placed beside it, just shifting features the same concept with the out of focus presence of a foot in the forefront. Wishbones stand on top of the wood frame of the second photograph. These small objects return throughout the exhibits.

Brookbank described his show as a “poetic exploration of narrative, of connection.” The artist started working on this series in April 2020 during the first lockdown. The situation affected his studies and his creative process. The resulting photographs build on the explorations of the artist’s connections with others. Brookbank also looked at the traces left on objects over time, such as old clothing.

Slowing down

Brookbank focused on slowness for this project. This concept manifested in the artist’s creative process for we move, just shifting series, by way of taking more time to create each of the photographs. This gave him the opportunity to discover and capture subtle movements and moments.

Reflections on time also come into play in the artist’s thoughts regarding relationships. In previous artistic explorations, Brookbank looked at the fast pace of digital connections. For this exhibition, these connections are slowed down.

“There is an expedited way that we interact with each other, so I’m trying to think about it in a way of slowing down and a way of looking at the subtle gestures and the subtle moments that are happening in my own relationships,” explained Brookbank.

Sculptural objects

While photography is the basis of Brookbank’s practice, sculpture is also an important part of his work. Therefore, different objects were integrated in the show throughout the creative process. For the artist, they are related to the idea of translation and transformation. The twist ties that are placed in the space, on the frames of some photographs, as well as in the pictures, speak to this idea. Shaped in different ways, these little objects can also be seen in very, very, very, much. This intimate photograph, one of the largest ones of the exhibit, shows the side of a neck with three twist ties placed on it.

Brookbank used a similar principle when showcasing Sorry, heels. A round piece of glass stained with red liquid and accompanied by two brown socks and dried figs are the subjects of this still life. In front of the photograph, on the floor of the gallery, the viewer can see these same socks and figs.

Clothing pieces make up an important part of the show. Brookbank created a column of t-shirts composed of old garments the artist collected from his friends. “It is trying to bring various bodies into the space,” he explained.


Two opposing themes can be observed in the exhibit: touch and intangibility. The notion of touch can be seen in the manipulation of the twist ties, the cream that is rubbed on the skin in one of the pictures, or the irregular surface of Along, which was altered by the artist using paper and rope.

Intangibility comes into play in the artist’s reflections and is particularly depicted in A Room, a central piece of the show. Placed on an elevated wood frame on the floor, the photograph shows the sun with a purple background. For Brookbank, the sun “feel[s] grand and subtle,” since “we don’t really understand it, but we do deeply understand it.”

“There is a subtlety in all of my work, there is nothing extravagant,” said Brookbank. This attention in capturing precious small moments and gestures is present throughout the exhibition. we move, just shifting is an experience where attentive viewers will always discover new details. Brookbank’s poetic exhibition offers an intimate look at the beauty of ordinary moments.

we move, just shifting will be presented at Centre CLARK, located at 5455 De Gaspé Ave, until Feb.12.


Photos courtesy Paul Litherland and Brandon Brookbank


Ar(t)chives Arts

Melvin Charney’s history of Sherbrooke St.

1976 saw Sherbrooke St. becoming an arts venue, but only until the city’s mayor decided otherwise

The city of Montreal welcomed the Olympic Games in 1976. Along with the sporting events, art pieces were showcased and organized throughout the city. Corridart was one of them: an urban exhibition displayed on a long portion of Sherbrooke St. going from Atwater Ave. to Pie-IX Blvd. Curator Melvin Charney led the organization of the event, which presented various installations, exhibitions, and performances. He was interested in the history of the street, and the historical value of its buildings.

The event saw a variety of artistic creations. Pierre Ayot presented the sculpture La croix du mont Royal, a large illuminated replica of the mythical Mount Royal cross. Another piece entitled Mémoires de la rue was composed of scaffolding structures on which images and art pieces would be placed. Large red plastic hands pointing at different elements of the urban landscape, such as buildings or streets, were also a notable element of the exhibit.

Politics quickly took a large place in the evolution of the event as the exhibition was dismantled less than a week after it was launched, ordered by Mayor Jean Drapeau. This occurred during the night of July 13, four days before the start of the Olympics. Drapeau believed the artworks did not fit the aesthetic standards that would properly represent the city for this international event.

Charney had not aimed at presenting a clean and perfect Montreal. On the contrary, according to art history professor and researcher Johanne Sloan’s analysis of the event in the book The Other Architect: Another Way of Building Architecture, the curator’s approach was to “insist on the cultural value of domestic and vernacular architecture, and of streets themselves.”

Charney had done extensive preliminary research for this project. He analyzed the history of the buildings, the sidewalks, and their placement in the public space. Therefore, the location where the artworks would be placed was meticulously chosen so that the architectural heritage of the city would be integrated in the exhibit. The goal was to make art accessible to pedestrians and encourage them to engage with it.

For Charney, the street was itself a representation of the city’s cultural background. “The physical traces of the streets define a bond between people and the city as a collective, public artifact that subsumes individual buildings,” he wrote in 1977 as published in the book On Architecture: Melvin Charney, A Critical Anthology.

The presented artworks tackled themes related to the history of Montreal, its urban development, and activism in the community. Artist Françoise Sullivan presented a creation titled Legend of Artists. This piece featured archives of meaningful art movements in Montreal. They were displayed in large boxes placed on top of steel legs, and each contained objects, texts, and photos recalling a specific artistic practice. Those mini-exhibitions were placed in arts venues as well as in front of the homes of artists who inspired Sullivan, such as Paul-Émile Borduas and Émile Nelligan.

Legend of Artists reached passersby and accompanied their walk on Sherbrooke St. while providing a historical background on cultural events related to the site. Charney’s creation for the exhibition also touched on historical features, but through one monumental work. Entitled Les maisons de la rue Sherbrooke, the piece was a life-size imitation of an apartment building’s facade. The empty lot where it was presented was previously occupied by Victorian style buildings that had been destroyed by the city.

Charney’s installation replicated the aesthetic of the new modern buildings that were built in the neighbourhood. The piece engaged with reflections on the treatment of the city’s architectural heritage.

Despite its short existence, Corridart is still recognized today for its ideas regarding the reappropriation of everyday urban spaces by pedestrians. According to Sloan, Charney was “proposing a theory of the street itself as the site of urban knowledge.”

Following the destruction of the exhibition, a group of artists who had participated in it sued the city of Montreal for $350,000. The controversy around this project became famous and the plaintiffs eventually received a total of $85,000 12 years later through a settlement agreement with the city.


Visuals by Taylor Reddam



Construction sites serve as inspiration for artist Philippe Battikha

Until Dec. 19, Fonderie Darling will be showcasing the sound artist’s first major solo exhibition

Trumpet player and sound artist Philippe Battikha presented his first major solo exhibition on Oct. 28 at Fonderie Darling. Someone’s Always Listening, a kinetic installation, creates a new perception of construction materials for its viewers. Battikha has his studio on the second-floor of the art gallery. In this space filled with collected objects and on-going projects, the Concordia graduate discussed his relationship to the materials used in the work with The Concordian.

The piece is composed of blasting mats that are made up of old tires that have been woven together. They were produced by the company Dynamat, and are used on construction sites to absorb explosions that occur during building projects. Battikha first saw these mats during his time at his old studio in the Rosemont area. “I was on the second floor, so I had a vantage point on the construction site where normally you wouldn’t see that kind of explosion,” recalled the artist. “It would become all quiet because all the construction around stopped and then you would feel it […] the whole Earth would shake, and I was in the building adjacent to this particular site and you would feel it in the building. Then slowly, the construction noise would come back.”

The mats were fascinating to Battikha. “Right away I got infatuated by the aesthetics of the mats themselves. They were beautiful, beyond human size […] and to see them kind of bubble up like that from the dynamite explosion, that image stuck in my head,” he said.

Battikha placed the blasting mats in a large mass standing in the centre of the small hall of  Fonderie Darling. Sounds from construction sites permeate this dark scene, and hydraulic pumps placed under the structure move part of it up and down, as if a creature were breathing beneath it.

The movement of the pump recreates the moment of explosion under the mats. With this installation, the artist reflects on the constant shifts in the architecture found in cities and the sounds related to it. Reflections on the place and effects of sounds in everyday life are central to Battikha’s artistic practice. He is particularly interested in the idea of sounds as contaminants. “As a sound artist, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between in and out. And sound has this ability to traverse those boundaries of what is presented in the inside of things and what is on the outside,” he said.

Artist Philippe Battikha’s exhibit Someone’s Always Listening at the Fonderie Darling in Montreal, Quebec on November 12 2021. KAITLYNN RODNEY/ THE CONCORDIAN

Objects are also central to Battikha’s artistic practice. He described being particularly attracted to specific ones. In recent years, he converted an old bingo machine, a hairdresser’s chair, and an old player piano, amongst others. “I had been collecting objects my whole life, and living with them and lugging them around, and so the other avenue of my work is to recontextualize these objects to give them a new life.”

Someone’s Always Listening is the continuity of the artist’s ongoing reflections. He sees the material aspect of his installation as an anchoring point for the audience to situate themselves in an enveloping and destabilizing sonic environment. The dark lighting in the room adds to this otherworldly feeling that he aims to generate.

The exhibition acts as an invitation to reflect on the relationship we share with the urban sounds and materials that surround us every day. Instead of critiquing, the artist creates an opportunity for each visitor to derive their own meaning from the installation. “I think we need to redefine our relationship with the things and environments around us in order to move forward […] in a way that is less destructive and more sustainable for the future and that is central to a lot of the work that I am doing specifically with objects and sounds,” he said.

Someone’s Always Listening is being presented at Fonderie Darling until Dec. 19. For more information, visit the gallery’s website.


Photos courtesy of Kaitlynn Rodney


PHI Centre Hosts Venice VR Expanded for the Second Year

This exhibition features nearly 40 top-of-the-line VR works

For the second year in a row, the PHI Centre is hosting Venice VR Expanded, an exhibition that features nearly 40 top-of-the-line VR works. Montrealers have the exclusive chance to visit this unique exhibition as the PHI Centre is currently the only cultural venue in Canada to ever showcase Venice VR Expanded.

The exhibition is open to the public from Sept. 1 to Sept. 19. Each ticket affords visitors the chance to spend two hours in the exhibition. UK-based curators Liz Rosenthal and Michel Reilhac have worked hard this year to deliver innovative works that challenge previous conceptions of virtual reality environments. 

When I arrived at the PHI Centre early on a Tuesday morning, I made my way up to the fourth floor. Lingering behind a group of nine masked visitors, I waited to be seated, where I would be handed a VR headset and two remotes. Despite my weak stomach and history of unpleasant experiences with VR headsets, I was determined to enjoy this outing. Before I knew it, I was transported into several peculiar and beautiful worlds.

The first work that I decided to explore was a short film titled Caves by Director Carlos Isabel García. This 19-minute film invites viewers to follow three explorers deep into a network of tunnels that are, to say the least, anxiety-inducing. This work was absolutely thrilling and granted me a newfound respect for those who are brave enough to risk their lives in the name of exploration.

The next work I settled on was a short animated film titled Bing mei guei (The Sick Rose) by Tang Zhi-zhong and Huang Yun-hsien. The emotional 17-minute film follows a young girl who is hell-bent on bringing a magical rose to her mother, a woman who is a courageous front-line hospital worker amidst a raging pandemic. Though the film’s theme is gloomy at its core, and at times uncomfortably familiar, the secondary characters, namely a tribe of rats and a handful of demonic beings, make for a lively addition.

Finally, I decided to watch Micro Monsters by Elliot Graves. With many scenes involving larger-than-life bugs, I found myself overtaken with fascination rather than repulsion (as I was originally prepared for). Viewers are given a chance to take in every minute detail of these creatures, ones that they may normally pay no mind to. This documentary did not disappoint, and I ended up learning quite a few interesting facts. I now know that scorpions glow in the dark. 

Venice VR truly offers something for everyone, and I applaud the wide-ranging subjects that it covers. There are very few exhibitions that have managed to leave such a mark on me. 

Walking out onto Saint-Paul Street after the exhibition, I felt different. Not in a life-altering way, but I felt as though I had been presented with a special gift: the rare opportunity to briefly escape the boundaries of everyday life, where I was free to delve into the unknown, absorbing and appreciating it in 360-degree view.

One thing is certain: I will be returning next year to experience even more cutting-edge projects.

The PHI Centre is located at 315 Saint-Paul St. W.


Photo by Myriam Achard

Exit mobile version