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LACUNA-LACUNE exhibition showcases raw materials and natural shapes

On Oct. 1, Andréanne Abbondanza-Bergeron’s LACUNA-LACUNE opened at Concordia’s FOFA gallery. The solo exhibition features a series of photographs displayed in the gallery’s vitrines, and two other installations in its main space. In her work, the artist contrasts the use of industrial materials like rope, steel, and glass, with references to nature and organic patterns front and centre.

The exhibition concludes a long creative process for Abbondanza-Bergeron, one that started before the pandemic. LACUNA-LACUNE was supposed to be presented last year, but the delay impacted the artist’s creative process. The photographs that are now part of the exhibition were taken during the pandemic, when the artist began to take walks in the forest. These photographs present human waste in natural spaces. One of them shows pieces of blue glass invading a natural environment that is composed of moss, grass, and rocks.

Abbondanza-Bergeron’s creative process is usually inspired by architecture, but it evolved in a different way this time. Nature became a central element of the show, influencing the final exhibition and the main installation. “This piece has something that has shifted a lot more towards the organic, towards […] something that for me is more influenced by the natural form,” she said. The artist explained that nature has always inspired her, but never in a way that was expressed in her art pieces.

The main space of the FOFA gallery is filled with a steel installation. This massive piece is composed of multiple steel ribbons, which are usually used to tie pallets together. The bands of steel are attached to the walls of the gallery and come down to the floor in an undulating fashion. Visitors are allowed to walk under the installation to appreciate it from another perspective.

Abbondanza-Bergeron explained that prior to creating this piece, she envisioned the tension that the large creation could put on visitors who looked at it from the front. When it was completed, she discovered that looking at the work from underneath managed to conjure the opposite feeling. “The interior became something quite different, more enveloping, more of a relief from all that tension,” she said, adding that it results in the viewer “actually just feeling protected and embraced.”

Lighting is also an important part of the main installation. The soft lights being used add texture to the steel. Under the installation, the ribbons’ shadows are interlaced, creating straight and curved lines on the floor. For Abbondanza-Bergeron, light is always an important part of her work, using it here to create a sense of weightlessness. She found a way to use light to reveal “the volume and the different stratas, the different cascading waves and […] to make that mass become more three-dimensional.”

The FOFA gallery’s black box, a closed room painted in black where artworks requiring dark lighting are presented, showcases another installation by Abbondanza-Bergeron. The art piece is composed of window screens hanging from the ceiling. Two panels of the thin screen-like material are put together and sway as the air in the room pushes them from side to side. Here, lighting also plays a crucial role, since the screen fabric under light produces wave-like patterns as it shines through the material. For Abbondanza-Bergeron, this work of art is a bridge between the photographs showcased in the gallery’s vitrines, and the larger installation piece, since it is made of industrial screen material while being “related more directly to natural shapes and the natural world.”

The catalogue of the exhibition will be launched on Nov. 4. “For me, having a catalogue is really nice to keep a piece alive a little longer,” she said. This exhibition and its catalogue are the conclusion of the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Fellowship in Contemporary Art research fellowship that was granted to Abbondanza-Bergeron in 2017. The LACUNA-LACUNE exhibition will be open to the public until Nov. 5.

 

Photograph by Véronique Morin

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Happening in and around the white Cube this week…

Can construction and art overlap?

I’ve always been obsessed with abandoned and dilapidated buildings in “safe” neighbourhoods, and the way construction sites just pop up out of nowhere, only to leave a big mess. Nothing is more beautiful to me than a building’s skeleton up against a flat blue sky. I walk around the city taking photos of the tops of buildings against such a blue sky, sometimes I turn them into drawings, but I’ve never really thought about it much.

Last week, I was walking up the stairs in the library to return a book and was taken aback by what I thought was construction taking place on the wall facing the stairs, where people tend to sit on the floor and finish their uncovered drinks and snacks. I noticed that it was in fact, not a two-person construction crew, but a conservation team updating the public art piece that extends from LB’s lobby throughout the building.

But what made this seem like construction? It could have been a performance piece. You never really know unless you talk to the artists.

Not long afterwards, I was passing by the FOFA Gallery in the EV building and noticed they were installing the new exhibition. Large pieces of drywall leaned against the vitrine and the floor was covered in plastic and spotted with buckets. A team was busy working away, patching walls and removing the old work. I thought about how interesting that was, them installing in the vitrine. They could be the art.

I wasn’t too far off with this. As a couple days later, I passed by again and noticed the large slabs (now covered in pink sludge,) plastic and buckets were still there, and the gallery was open.

It didn’t take me long to accept the piece as an ingenious—although highly wasteful—installation. The slabs of drywall were bare before. The pink sludge was spread across the surface specifically for this work. Would the artist reuse these panels in another exhibition? What would happen to the pieces?

MFA student, Lauren Chipeur’s s e e p a g e / s u i n t e m e n t came to be from a similar wavelength. After a happy accident in her studio, when Chipeur’s fridge leaked onto a material exploration, the artist began her infatuation with the removal (and spread) of one substance with another.

I like this kind of process-based work, when the act of making and that of installing becomes a performance in and of itself. And there is no good reason it shouldn’t be. (I later found out that Chipeur’s installation seeped out through the vitrine and into the carpet on the other side—amazing. And her website is still under construction, also very on brand here.)

 

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Translating visual art into movement

Every year, undergraduate fine arts students are presented with the opportunity to participate in what they call the ‘FOFA Gallery project,’ otherwise known as USE, or Undergraduate Student Exhibition. The annual, year-long project gathers students from all fine arts departments, encouraging them to collaborate, learn and create in an interdisciplinary context.

The process begins with artist applications and a jury. Once selected, art history students, choreographers and dancers are paired with visual artists. From that point onward, they must respond to the piece they are working with. The final essays written by the art history students are then published in the exhibition catalogue, and the dancers perform their choreographer’s piece during two performance nights throughout the duration of the exhibition.

From the department of contemporary dance, Si Yu Lin has worked with dancer, Xdzunúm Trejo and artist Paule Gilberte, while Fia Grogono worked with dancer Eva Myers and artist Florence Tremblay. The process is not an easy one, as they must respect not only the artist’s piece, but the dancer’s body, needs and limitations.

Drawn to Gilberte’s paper installation by references to the human body, Lin chose to choreograph a performance that focuses on torsion and the idea of leaving a trace, referring back to Gilberte’s own manipulation of paper and her body. Origami will be performed by Trejo at the FOFA on Jan. 24 and Feb. 7 at 5 p.m

Grogono, on the other hand, is interested in the intimate activities that happen when no one is watching. Tremblay’s silkscreen prints depict snapshots of what looks like security camera footage, stripped apart and reassembled to create a new image. Her work aims to question identity and alienating factors that may alter it. From this, Grogono isolated moments of intense emotion to be performed by Myers in front of the FOFA virtrine between two panes of glass.

The movements in Insider are so absurd and extreme that, upon rehearsal, passersby stopped the performance to ask questions about the dancer’s sanity, thinking she was having a tantrum of sorts.

A gallery is a rather different setting for most of these performers, as they are typically held in dance studios or performance halls. “In the dance studio, we roll around, scream, express all sorts of wildness and it is supported and valued as important aspects of human expression,” explained Grogono, “but when we take this freedom out into the world, it is very apparent how heavily societal norms and expectations weigh, and how squashed and repressed ‘craziness’ is.” Working in an art gallery allows these artists to practice out of their comfort zones, seeking out and interacting with a new audience.

The ‘FOFA Gallery project,’ now titled Material Trace,“expresses the prevalent tendency in the selected artworks to give a physical form to ideas by collecting, recording, logging, documenting and archiving,” according to the gallery’s statement. Performance evenings will be held at 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 and Feb. 7, and the exhibition will be up at the FOFA Gallery until Feb. 22. Admission is free.

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A call to arms turned into art

MFA students, Janina Anderson and Rebbecca Munce sew their way to revolution

All over the FOFA Gallery’s window-display are newspapers, however their headlines and photos are blocked off. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the headlines are interrupted by sewing thread, leaving the images only partially concealed. The newspapers each feature articles about the 2016 United States presidential inauguration, and the imagery features none other than Donald Trump.

Displayed in the Ste-Catherine St. vitrine, Objects of Resistance showcases the work of Janina Anderson and Rebecca Munce. “This work was executed the day of the Women’s March in 2017,” said Anderson, a Concordia MFA student in fibres and material practices. “The idea came to me really fast. I don’t even remember how, it just came to me the day before the march.”

Photo by Chloë Lalonde

Anderson chose to use newspapers, of all material options, to make her statement. She stitched the newspapers in a public space, as a collective event to encourage people to participate on this revolutionary day.

“Newspapers have always been kind of interesting to me because they’re tangible objects you can hold in your hands, and it’s basically history,” she said. Rather than work on these art pieces alone, Anderson sought help from Munce, a close friend and classmate, because of their shared opinions concerning feminist and political ideals.

“Rebecca’s medium is drawing,” Anderson explained. “She has a sophisticated knowledge of line work, and she’s really talented in that area. And I always thought of the sewing machine as a way to draw.”Traditionally deemed a delicate feminine craft, sewing is seldom associated with revolution.

“When you have the sewing machine, and you really put the pedal all the way to the ground, it shakes,” Anderson said. “It sounds like a rifle. It was nice to use something the day of the Women’s March that’s considered soft and feminine for something so aggressive.”

Anderson made sure the headlines and Trump weren’t completely covered. Wanting it to be fairly obvious who the subject of her protest was, her intention was to have the viewer face the unpleasant reality: Trump isn’t going anywhere, at least, not yet.

Despite being crafted a year prior to the exhibition, Anderson said the piece has been dubbed “still relevant” on many occasions. The artist has already been approached by people saying her work has encouraged and inspired them to join her call to arms.

“Protest art changed the way I think about my audience,” Anderson said. “It sort of renewed my belief in art and its powers to change the way a person feels. Some of the best works I have seen fill my heart and make me clench my fist at the same time.”

Objects of Resistance will be on view in the Ste-Catherine St. vitrine of the FOFA Gallery until Dec. 14.

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When it comes to Ellen Belshaw, art imitates life

How an alumna’s internship in Mexico blurred cultural boundaries

“I purposely went to Mexico without a curatorial concept in mind, so that I wouldn’t be trying to make the art that I found fit into my preconceived ideas,”  said fine arts graduate Ellen Belshaw. Instead, “my ideas would be shaped by both my experiences in Mexico City and shaped by the works of the artists I met with.”

Belshaw spent three months last spring interning at SOMA, a non-profit contemporary art education organisation in Mexico City. SOMA is an eight-week program conducted in English for international artists, curators, critics and art historians. It introduces participants to the dynamic art scene of Mexico City through visits to museums, openings and artists’ studios.

Through a series of seminars and workshops hosted by famous Mexican and international artists and curators, Belshaw came to know five artists: Marcela Armas, Daniel Monroy Cuevas, Lorena Mal, Armando Rosales and Rogelio Sosa. She selected these artists to be a part of Lo que sabíamos pero no pudimos decir,  or What we all knew but couldn’t articulate, currently displayed in Concordia’s FOFA Gallery.

“The staff at SOMA were a big help in connecting me with artists who I was interested in visiting at their studios,” Belshaw said. “Following each of the studio visits with different artists, I asked them to recommend me at least one other artist who they thought I should meet with, based on what we had connected on. That way I was more likely to get a wider range of artists, not just one social circle, but rather branching out into different circles, more like a web.”

The exhibit’s welcoming art piece is Rosales’s Actual State. At first glance, viewers may be confused by the several half-spheres of concrete scattered across the floor. By taking a closer look, the objects become clearer: they are sandals, which the artist invites viewers to wear.

Rosales suffers from bouts of dizziness and vertigo. His aim is to convey a personal story and a beautiful message… when people put the shoes on and attempt to stand up straight, they experience a loss of balance.  Furthermore, if people try to walk alone in these shoes, they will eventually fall, but if they request assistance or if others choose to help, they will succeed.

“The main theme of the exhibition lies somewhere in the space between connection and disconnection,” Belshaw explained. “How things can seem to be connected or disconnected at different moments, and the factors that create those apparent divisions. Often, the difference between disconnection and connection isn’t something concrete (pun intended), but other times it can be very substantive. In a way, I would argue that the desire to connect is what fuels many human drives.”

According to Belshaw, other common themes between the works in this exhibition are tension, movement, borders and a range of sensorial perceptions, but that does not mean viewers can’t draw their own conclusions.

An echo of the border and tension themes would be Armas’s Resistencia. The installation is made up of several metal wires, positioned in a way that alludes to the border between the United States and Mexico. At first, one only sees white dots delimiting the border. However, the viewer is separated from the artwork by yet another metal wire which could burn the viewer if touched.

When asked what inspired her to put on this specific exhibit and name it as such, Belshaw said her personal experience in Mexico played a significant role.

“My experience as a non-Spanish speaker in Mexico and how I was often able to find ways to communicate with many non-English speakers who I encountered also helped form the concept for this exhibition,” she said, adding that she started “thinking about how language is so important to interpersonal connection, but isn’t the only way to engage with others and what else allows us to connect.”

It wasn’t until Belshaw was back in Montreal that she took the time to step back and think about her internship in Mexico City. She started to realize the common threads across the different artworks and began forming the concept for Lo que sabíamos pero no pudimos decir.

“Different things attracted me to each of the selected artists in the exhibition,” Belshaw said. “Seeing their work and talking to them about each of their practices brought me that satisfying sense of this is why I do what I do. These are views that I want to help them share; a raison-d’être in such a crazy world where sometimes it’s hard to justify putting energy into art production and administration.”

***

A detailed essay on the connections between the artworks will be available at the FOFA gallery on Oct. 18. The exhibition is open everyday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Oct. 19.

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Happening in and around the white cube this week…

Happening in and around the white cube this week…

Slāv  Resistance Collective discussion

As part of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) DisOrientation series, the Slāv Resistance Collective will be discussing the cancellation of Slāv, created and produced by Betty Bonifassi and Robert Lepage. The theatre production was cancelled in June in response to the demands of protestors and critics, who argued that Slāv was created out of cultural appropriation. The discussion will expand on why the show was cancelled, what it meant for the production team and what can be done to avoid similar instances in the future.

When: Tuesday, Sept. 18, 6:30 p.m.

Where: QPIRG-Concordia, 2100 Guy St., Suite 204

Admission is free.


CULTURE

TOPO, a digital arts and technology laboratory in the Plateau, will be showcasing the work of art duo Et tu, Machine in their vitrine until Oct. 13. CULTURE celebrates the legalisation of the recreational use of cannabis and aims to foster a discussion about the social stigma surrounding cannabis use. According to TOPO, “Et tu, Machine is concerned about the opportunism of corporate production and distribution companies in collisions with the state.”

When: Now until Oct. 13
Where: TOPO, 5445 Gaspé Ave., Suite 107-B
Admission is free.

Darling

Toronto artists Keight MacLean and Moira Ness combine their interdisciplinary backgrounds in Darling. MacLean’s modern take on historical portraiture is juxtaposed with Ness’s handwritten text to express notions of love, loss and longing.

When: Now until Oct. 14
Admission is free.

What we all knew but couldn’t articulate

Featuring Marcela Armas, Daniel Monroy Cuevas, Lorena Mal, Armando Rosales,
and Rogelio Sosa, What we all knew but couldn’t articulate marks the closing of a year-long curatorial internship between the FOFA Gallery and SOMA México. The project aimed to foster cultural exchange between Mexico City and Montreal, and the exhibition showcases the engaging artworks of the five artists that explore this [lack of] connection.  According to FOFA, “What we all knew but couldn’t articulate seeks to bridge the space between the gallery, the university, and the city, while also weaving connections and blurring the boundaries between Mexico, Canada, and the neighbour these two political entities share.”

When: Now until Oct. 19
Admission is free.

 

 

Graphic by Ana Bilokin.

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It’s a matter of time and place

What do impressionist-inspired paintings, sculptural pieces about political language and a film exploring cultural identity have in common? They’re all featured at the FOFA Gallery’s ongoing exhibition, Matter of Place.

Matter of Place is this year’s edition of an annual undergraduate exhibition which aims to represent the diverse art practices and research interests of students in Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts. This year, the mediums used in the exhibition vary greatly, from paintings, photography and ceramics to videos, textiles and audio art.

In addition—as is the case every year—students from several other departments contributed their talents to the exhibition. Concordia professor Angélique Willkie’s contemporary dance class was invited to participate by choreographing performances inspired by the exhibition’s artworks, and a number of art history students were tasked with writing essays about each piece in  Matter of Place. These essays have been published in a catalogue created by Concordia design students, which is available to view and purchase at the gallery. The exhibition’s interdisciplinary approach welcomes the viewer into an immersive and multifaceted experience.

***

Florence Yee studies painting and drawing, which she described as more traditional fields of art. Her installation at the exhibition, This is Not Photorealism, is a collection of seven paintings hung together salon-style in the vitrine of the FOFA. Most of her paintings reference Claude Monet, a 19th century French impressionist artist who painted water lilies he imported from Japan. Monet even bought land in the French countryside so he could build a large, Japanese-style garden and paint the flowers in their quasi-natural habitat.

“I always liked Monet’s paintings as a child,” Yee said. “As I grew older, I realized that many people associated me with water lilies because I’m an Asian woman and I’m sweet like a lotus flower. Sometimes, it can be a good association, and other times, it can feel like a stereotype.” Yee said she was interested in how these Japanese symbols came to represent French nationalism. She reproduced original Monet paintings to look like blurry photos taken by tourists, including a timestamp at the bottom to indicate when she made each piece.

***

Chris Mendoza is a third-year studio arts major with a minor in art education. His sculpture and performance pieces were inspired by the 2016 American presidential election. Mendoza said he finds political language fascinating.

“I was just really interested in language and how it affects the way we perceive the world around us,” he said. “The performance that I submitted was a bit of an exploration of that.”

According to Mendoza, the sculpture is elevated by his accompanying performance. The objects of his sculpture are arranged in a certain configuration, and his performance adds meaning or use to the objects.

Given that such a small number of students are chosen to participate in this exhibition, Mendoza said he feels it is definitely an accomplishment to have his work included.

***

Although one of Kevin Jung-Hoo Park’s latest films was selected for the exhibition, the piece, titled Letter(s) from a Gapping Zone, is unfinished.

“It started out with following my father’s oldest memory—when he went up to the mountain with his father to bury his one-year-old sister,” the film production student explained. The film has since evolved into “an autobiographical fiction of a filmmaker who fails to find home.”

For the purpose of the film, Park tried to pinpoint the exact location in South Korea where his aunt was buried. This search was also done in the hopes of reconnecting with his roots, because Park said he has always struggled with his Canadian identity.

While editing the footage, Park said he realized he was just hurting himself by delving into his family’s past. The film takes place in the village where his grandmother lives and where his father was born, yet Park said he felt like an intruder. Since the villagers aren’t used to being filmed or photographed, they were constantly staring at Park while he worked.

Eventually, Park said, he hopes to develop Letter(s) from a Gapping Zone into a longer documentary piece by adding voice-over narration about his experience making the film.

***

Camille Lescarbeau’s piece, titled Doux Labeur (2017), is comprised of a hand-typed book and a tape recording. Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

Born in Gatineau, Camille Lescarbeau moved to Montreal five years ago. She studies art history and studio arts at Concordia, but is currently travelling in Iceland. Her contribution to the Matter of Place exhibition is a hand-typed book on a shelf with a tape recording. The piece, tiled Doux Labeur, was created last year in her Art X class, a course that emphasizes “critical and conceptual thinking over medium-specific creation,” according to the university website.

When asked what inspires her to make art, Lescarbeau said it is often her creative friends. “I was a dance teacher in high school, so I have been surrounded by people who dance and do music. Many of my friends write poetry, so their writing also inspires me.”

Matter of Place runs until Feb. 23 at the FOFA Gallery in Concordia’s EV building. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The performance evenings run until Feb. 8, each starting at 5 p.m. Entry is free. More information can be found in the event section of the Concordia website.

Feature photo by Kirubel Mehari

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Exploring sound, space and sculpture

The three latest additions to Concordia’s FOFA Gallery incorporate various mediums and themes, yet all showcase the talent of Concordia alumni.

Among these works are Jerry Ropson’s the distance between outstretched arms (deadflag), Digital Erratics by Elisabeth and Tim Belliveau, and Sandra Volny’s Where does sound go, where does it come from.

The Belliveau siblings use a mixture of sculpture and video installations in their joint work, Digital Erratics. Tim recently completed his master’s at the university—this installation is part of his thesis. Elisabeth also attended Concordia where she completed her master of fine arts.

In the FOFA Gallery, the Belliveaus have displayed their respective pieces together. The common theme of exploration within the mediums of sculpture and moving images ties the vast installation’s components together. Digital Erratics includes sculptures from different materials, including glass, wood, ceramic and paper, among others. Video projections manipulate and experiment with moving images, stop-motion animation as well as the properties and aspects of colour. Digital Erratics thoroughly explores and experiments with its mediums, in traditional and contemporary ways, providing viewers with plenty to discover and consider.

Siblings Tim and Elisabeth Belliveau contributed their mixed media installation titled Digital Erratics to the FOFA’s current collection. Photo by Kirubel Mehari

Jerry Ropson’s the distance between outstretched arms (deadflag) is displayed in the York Corridor Vitrine of FOFA. The site-specific work is eye-catching, detailed and provides a new take on traditional viewing of art—the work is within the gallery, but only viewable outside of the space. When installing the piece, Ropson worked in the public space for several days, interacting with the audience and environment around him, further challenging the traditional forms of displaying art.

This installation focuses on the form of the flag, as a structure and material—a concept Ropson has focused on periodically since 2002. This piece also explores the conceptual and historical meanings behind the motif, including connections to both colonialism and concepts of nationality. “The meaning or specific connotations and uses of the flag have changed and morphed continually over the years,” Ropson said. “With origins deep-rooted in nautical history, warfare and land claiming, flags stand as just one more uneasy signifier of colonial history. The idea of the iconoclastic use of the flag is an important distinction.”

For Ropson, exhibiting in the FOFA Gallery was especially significant because this is his first exhibition in Montreal since leaving the city in 2009. This exhibit was also special for Ropson, as he and Elisabeth Belliveau worked on and completed their respective MFAs in fibres at Concordia at the same time, and previously exhibited at FOFA together in 2007. “It was so great to return to Montreal and see so many familiar faces at the vernissage, but also during the installation of the work,” Ropson said.

A variety of materials and mediums, including twine, ink, fabrics, vinyl and sculptural elements, were used in this project. The choice of materials and the placement of the individual pieces were important in this work. “I spent a lot of time considering the layout of the objects, and what went where and why,” Ropson said. “I also make very specific choices in the materials I work with. I utilize everyday materials that suggest the interrelations of social, cultural and economic structures.” His installation, the distance between outstretched arms (deadflag), also explores the flag’s ability to signify place and assert ideologies in a relatively conceptual way. There are a lot of complexities attached to such a simple material form, which Ropson aims to deconstruct in this piece.

the distance between outstretched arms (deadflag) by Jerry Ropson, a graduate of Concordia’s master’s program in fibres. Photo courtesy of Jerry Ropson.

Sandra Volny’s Where does sound go, where does it come from consists of a video installation accompanied by audio. The work focuses primarily on the subject of Chilean fishermen and their relationship to sound in the form of sonar. Volny, a Concordia MFA graduate, recently spent time in Chile with her art collective, Triangular Project, traveling the diverse landscape of the country and looking at the relationships different communities have with surrounding spaces.

Volny participated in a month-long residency while in Chile, and it was there that the majority of this art piece was formed. Volny had specific interest in sonar, and she looked at how it is used in the sea, both by animals and humans, in her artistic practice. The fishermen Volny centred the work around use traditional knowledge passed down through generations to navigate the sea.

The focus on the sea as a primary subject matter also addresses environmental issues. The piece highlights the contrast between traditional fishing and its more commercial forms, and depicts the ocean as one of the most fragile ecosystems in Chile. Volny’s main message for this piece is one of awareness and being present in one’s environment. “It’s about how you can navigate a space through sound, and about bringing an awareness to what’s around you,” she said.

With the addition of these new exhibitions, the FOFA Gallery connects with the Concordia community to provide diverse and exciting content, and showcases the talent of the school’s artistic community. The three exhibits explore varied and interesting themes, mediums and concepts, assuring the gallery holds something for everyone and provides students with a place to explore new insights, ideas and understandings.

These three exhibitions will be on display until Dec. 8. The FOFA Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. Admission is free.

Feature photo: Sandra Volny’s Where does sound go, where does it come from (2016). Photo by Richard-Max Tremblay.

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New exhibition occupies indoor and outdoor space

Experience four distinct installations in the FOFA Gallery’s La Rentrée

Like reading through someone’s journal or overlapping streams of thought, the Faculty of Fine Arts (FOFA) Gallery welcomes students back to school with La Rentrée, featuring the work of four Concordia artists and a local poet in four distinct installations.

Corina Kennedy, a graduate of Concordia’s studio arts program, contributed her piece, titled Tender for All. It features carved characters that mimic the way lettering is traditionally carved into the marble walls of old-fashioned banks. The artist explores “limited, disjointed and repetitive language” in an imitation of the way debt collectors communicate with their clients. Kennedy’s insulation foam installation is massive, occupying the entirety of  the York Corridor Vitrine, by the entrance of the gallery.

After having shown Tender for All in a studio space in New York, Kennedy found that tailoring the insulation foam to fit the York Corridor Vitrine was a new challenge. “The sheer length and foot traffic around it is gratifying enough,” Kennedy said. “But seeing it behind that glass is really delighting [to] me because insulation foam is something that is supposed to get hidden behind a wall. So the glass is just the opposite of that.”

Since graduating in 2007, Kennedy has accumulated her share of student debt, so she wanted to express the stress associated with that. She added that the struggles of “many viewers […] with student debt” may be reflected in this work. The artist imagined passersby will only stop at her piece for a moment before moving on, because so many people put off confronting their debt.

Inside the gallery, Concordia painting and drawing professor Adrian Norvid’s collection of drawings and paper sculptures dominate the space. Sprawled across the walls, The Bejesus explores Norvid’s thought process during his creative endeavours in a crude, comical way. His other piece, The Black Bumhole Opera is at the centre of the installation, and explores the “dirty” and “grimey” culture surrounding heavy metal music.

In a separate room from Norvid’s display, Erin Weisgerber’s piece, Minerva’s Owl, explores a variety of film processes. By capturing New York’s Kodak tower through three different types of film, the Concordia graduate intended to show her viewers a raw, playful approach to cinematography. One example of this is Weisgerber’s decision to keep all glitches with the camera and film in the piece. The film loops through cycles of day and night, which are projected onto a wall. The space between the projector and the wall is divided by three mesh screens, enabling the viewer to walk between them and experience the different film techniques to interpret the piece.

Outside the gallery and spanning the facade of the Engineering and Visual Arts (EV) building is Andrew Forster, a part-time studio arts teacher, and Erín Moure’s contribution. Paraguayan Sea presents an excerpt of Brazilian writer Wilson Bueno’s book of the same name. The large, yellow banner of text stretches across the outside of the building, catching the viewer’s eye as they walk past.

Andrew Forster and Erín Moure’s contribution to the exhibition is called Paraguayan Sea (pictured here). Photos by Kirubel Mehari.

Bueno’s original text was written in three languages: Portuguese, Spanish and Guaraní. Moure, a local poet and translator, incorporated the original Guaraní text into the piece and translated the Portuguese and Spanish parts into English and French. By doing so, not only did Moure make this beautiful text available for English and French speakers, but she also emphasized the diverse cultures within Montreal.

The creative process behind the project was twofold; Moure provided the translation of the text while Forster designed the final product. In his colleague’s words, Forster became “intrigued by the text and by the nature of a polylingual text as ‘skin.’” Forster then took this idea and decided to bring it to the public by “laminating it to architecture.”

Paraguayan Sea interrupts the noisy advertisements on Ste-Catherine Street and explores public speaking, surface, depth and the utility of art in a public space. The text itself has been described by the artists as “a murmur heard in the streets of a city at all times.” The translated version of Paraguayan Sea has been published and will be available for purchase at the FOFA Gallery on Nov. 9 during a discussion panel of the artists’ work. Both Forster and Moure will be present at the event.

The indoor exhibitions at the FOFA Gallery are open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Oct. 20. Paraguayan Sea is open 24 hours and will be up until Dec. 8. Admission is free.

Feature photo by Kirubel Mehari

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Students make space at the FOFA Gallery

Making Spaces brings together works from multiple disciplines

The theme of this year’s Undergraduate student exhibition at the Faculty of Fine Arts (FOFA) Gallery is space, which was given to the students to interpret in whichever way they found suitable. The show displays the collaborative efforts of students from the departments of fine arts, art history, design and computation arts, and this year’s new addition of contemporary dance.

Subjects such as outer space, queer space, physical space, political space and the space between a performer and the audience are explored in the exhibition, titled Making Spaces.

The artists, writers, designers and dancers involved vary in levels of professional experience, age and artistic medium.

Shawn Christopher, a visual artist and studio arts student, contributed his piece Toxic, a striking collection of metallic grey ceramic sculptures. The piece consists of a heap of carefully placed bodies, heads and limbs, each contorted in a way that conveys struggle and discomfort. In the centre, a few bodies emerge from the pile and reach toward the ceiling.

Euthymia, 2015, Kaja Levy, Wolski, Charlie Twitch

Christopher said he has wanted to make something worth being displayed in the FOFA for a while, and that his piece happened to work well with this year’s theme.

While it took Christopher some time to understand the motivation behind his piece, he said it’s about creating “spaces for people who are invisible.” Having dealt with challenging obstacles in his life, the artist added: “It’s more about allowing myself to occupy a space fully, with those demons that I don’t even want to talk about. So it was a sort of coming out in a way.”

Laura Horrocks-Denis, a recent graduate of the studio arts and English programs, was chosen to be part of the exhibition with her piece Inside Out. The sculpture is part of her sculptural series called Inside Out, Outside In, which she began creating in 2012. When she heard of the exhibition’s theme, Horrocks-Denis said she felt her piece would fit quite well because it explores the idea of an emotional space.

“The whole structure itself is echoing the shape of the human body, and at one point the body is within it… it’s one of the materials. When [the body] eventually comes out and finds its release, it points to a transformation,” said Horrocks-Denis of her work, which is a metal outline of a body in the fetal position. Red strips of metal curve over the frame, leaving space for a performer to curl up and lie inside the sculpture itself.

“Even when the sculpture is left vacant, that itself adds a whole other meaning to the piece—this idea of negative space. It retains the memory of the body… of this emotional state. I’m hoping that it inspires the viewers, that it’s possible to overcome your barriers.”

At first glance, it may seem like the performer’s body is being kept in a cage, but Horrocks-Denis was quick to say that the strips of metal could also be seen as emotional emanations, radiating from the body.

Jordan Beaulieu’s piece, Land of Plenty, addresses the theme of space through comic illustration and descriptive poetry, a genre the artist referred to as “comic’s poetry.” Originally from Prince Edward Island, the fourth-year studio art and art history student said she related the concept of space to her upbringing and familiarity with open landscapes, the ocean and the coast.

Her piece contains many illustrations of nearly-empty rooms and open landscapes. “It’s all about a feeling of absence within a large space and about distance between people, and about the threshold between mental space and physical geography,” said Beaulieu. “The way that landscape can kind of reflect the landscape of the mind.”

Toxic (2015-16), Shawn Christopher. Photo: Guy L’Heureux.

The comic begins with the narration of a PBS special on the Dust Bowl, a series of dust storms that took place across the prairieland of the United States and Canada in the 1930s. Clouds of dust spill over the beginning pages, which then transition to images of a female protagonist having a phone conversation with a friend. “[They’re talking] about this feeling of not really doing that much, but kind of being idle and trying to move forward,” said Beaulieu. By the end of the comic, the female character is able to shed the haze of uninspiration and uncertainty to achieve clarity in her mind, just as the prairies were swept clean of clutter and left barren.

Elizabeth Sanders, a second-year art history and film studies student, was chosen to be one of the writers for Making Spaces, and was given the task of analyzing and discussing Beaulieu’s piece in an essay published in the exhibition’s catalogue. Although she admits to being slightly intimidated by the task at first, Sanders said the coordinators of the show were extremely helpful in guiding the writers in their approach, while also giving them space to write something meaningful that would do justice to the artists’ work and their interpretation of the theme. She also expressed her appreciation toward the undergraduate student exhibition, not only as a way for students to gain experience and improve their skills, but also for “giving undergraduates a voice.”

The Making Spaces exhibition runs until Feb. 17. Accompanying dance performances are held in the gallery every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the last of which is on Feb. 16. Apart from performance evenings, the gallery is open every weekday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Featured image: “Inside Out” by Laura Horrocks-Denis.

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Arts

What to do in Montreal this winter

A quick look at what’s happening in the city this semester

Winter might have its cold, cold claws firmly clamped down on the city, but that doesn’t mean Montreal’s vibrant arts and culture scene is any less interesting. With winter festivals and activities taking place both inside and outdoors, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s tastes and preferences. Here’s a quick look at some of the things you can look forward to this semester.

Montreal en lumière

Back for its 18th year, the Montréal en lumière festival will once again offer a unique program, consisting of outdoor activities, performing arts and gastronomic discoveries. The festival runs from Feb. 18 to March 11, and is one of the largest winter festivals in the world. You won’t want to miss the festival’s biggest event: Nuit blanche on March 4. With more than 200 activities spread out over 100 sites, this Montreal staple will be sure to warm up even the coldest of nights with its eclectic mix of musical and artistic performances. Mother Mother, Regina Spektor and Matt Holubowski are some of the artists set to perform. Not to mention, the metro is open all night, so you can enjoy all manner of activities until the break of dawn.

The FOFA Gallery

As Concordia students, we are lucky to have our very own in-house exhibition space. The Faculty of Fine Arts Gallery, located in the EV building, routinely displays pieces from Concordia students and faculty. Admission is free. The gallery has an interesting line-up of exhibitions for the winter semester, starting with Making Spaces, the annual undergraduate student exhibition running from Jan. 16 to Feb. 17. The exhibition, featuring works by Faculty of Fine Arts students, will include performances from Concordia’s department of contemporary dance.

Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery

Sovereign Acts II, an examination of indigenous cultural dances, will be presented at the gallery from Jan. 21 to April 1. This work delves into the way indigenous dances and practices were performed for international and colonial audiences. It looks at how these performers were faced with the conundrum of maintaining their traditional cultural practices, while also using them as performances intended to please the colonial gaze.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

If the winter blues have got you down, then the next exhibition opening at the MMFA will cheer you up. Chagall: Colour and Music will be on display from Jan. 28 to June 11. Four hundred of Marc Chagall’s paintings, stained glass works, illustrations, photographs and maquettes will be on display. The exhibition will not only show the Russian-French artist’s legacy, but will also examine the role music played in Chagall’s art, acting as his inspiration and muse for his modernist works.

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Arts

Parachutes and politics: New at the FOFA Gallery

Both new exhibitions encourage viewers to question the world as we see it

Politics as performance art and parachutes as wedding dresses. These two exhibitions at the Faculty of Fine Arts (FOFA) gallery ask us to be open-minded, and challenge how we perceive the world.

Although the two works are very different in nature, they revolve around the same theme of reshaping the familiar. Kim Waldron and pk langshaw both accomplish this in their work using different mediums.

“While these two exhibitions are distinct and have different conceptual frameworks, both [Waldron] and [langshaw] have ambitiously transformed the spaces which they occupy,” said Jennifer Dorner, director of the FOFA gallery.

For her exhibition, Superstar, Waldron documented her experience of running as an independent in the 2015 federal election. The photos, video fragments and portraits featured at the exhibition offer a look into her campaign, which in reality was a year-long performance during which she effectively became someone else. Waldron used her status as a professional artist in order to frame herself as a credible candidate.

Kim Waldron ran for public office while pregnant, a fact reflected in her campaign photos.
Courtesy of the FOFA Gallery

The exhibition toes the line between art and documentary work. To the casual observer, the photos and videos in the exhibition space would seem to document a serious political campaign. Upon closer inspection, however, we see that each piece was part of an intricate performance.

Waldron was pregnant during the campaign, a fact reflected in her posters, as we see her swollen belly. This is a stark contrast to the posters of other party candidates, which Waldron believes reek of corporate branding.

“Women candidates definitely don’t run using such an image, as people tend to focus on trivial things in regard to women, like the outfit she is wearing,” said Waldron. “The fact that I started out pregnant and ended up with a one-year-old baby also became a commentary on the ridiculous length of the campaign.”

The second exhibition, the parachute unfolds: follow the thread by pk langshaw, on the other hand, uses reclaimed WWII parachutes to question how we associate meaning with objects, and how this meaning evolves as the shape of the object evolves. Langshaw is the department chair of design and computational arts at Concordia, and is interested in how garments carry different meanings.

The dresses are not cut or snipped, but reshaped—therefore, they are still parachutes. This exhibition poses interesting questions about the attribution we give to certain materials and fabrics. Accompanying the wedding dresses is also a video and an entire parachute, continuously ruffled by a wind machine in the vitrine.

“Visitors will be inspired by the beauty of these works,” said Dorner. “They will also be provoked to think differently about the social spaces that surround us.”

The exhibitions at the FOFA are ongoing until Oct. 21. The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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