Arts and Culture Exhibit

Wandering eyes behind the mask

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit

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

Trevor Baird’s Sunkissed at Pangée

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit Student Life

Matrilineal Memory: Celebrating Métis heritage through generations of women

Juliet Mackie paints motherly love and female power in her latest artwork.

Shé:kon Gallery is currently hosting Matrilineal Memory, an exhibition showcasing the work of Juliet Mackie. She is a visual artist from Métis origins, currently residing in Montreal. Through her beadings and paintings, she embraces her heritage and pays tribute to the women of her lineage. 

Mackie is a PhD candidate in the iIndividualized iProgram at Concordia University as well as a holder of a BFA in painting and drawing. The exhibition’s curator, Alexandra Nordstrom, is a PhD student in the inter-university doctoral program in art history at Concordia University. Nordstrom and Mackie have previously collaborated on another exhibition, Braiding our Stories, at VAV Gallery.

Juliet Mackie, Kineweskwêw, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

Matrilineal Memory is hosted at Shé:kon Gallery, which belongs to the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA). BACA is a non-profit organization launched in 2012 which promotes Indigenous artists’ artwork. The Gallery was opened in 2021 and is in function all year-round, and is described as a “space dedicated to emerging Indigenous artists and curators from Quebec.”

Juliet Mackie, Jaymie, 2023. Beadwork on felt. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

Starting with her great-great-great-grandmother and ending with her mother, Mackie has recounted the lives of her female ancestors. The women in the portrait collection share unequivocal family resemblances, such as dark hair and large brown eyes, as well as beadings of floral figures, which both represent Mackie’s connection to nature and embody femininity.

Juliet Mackie, Greta, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

The portraits and beadings are vividly colourful. In the paintings, some women are pictured in traditional Indigenous clothing, whereas others are painted wearing  dresses and pearls. There is a family portrait called Trapline Girls where a woman wearing furs is seen smiling accompanied by three children, presumably girls, which might be the representation of tradition being passed down from generation to generation. 

Juliet Mackie, Trapline Girls, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

Another painting, Granny Oak, shows an elderly woman holding a young girl in her arms, surrounded by pink flowers. This portrait particularly exudes maternal love and feminine energy. The background of some paintings includes flowers, trees and eagles—yet another reminder of the artist’s love of nature as well as the Métis’ connection to fauna and flora. 

Juliet Mackie, Granny Oak, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

The artist’s great-grandmother, Evelyn Oak, is a central figure of the display. She was a Métis woman from the community of Fort Chipewyan, in Alberta. She, as well as her daughter Greta, inspired the artist through their journey of self-acceptance, resilience and courage as Indigenous women during the 20th century. As she embraces her family history, Mackie also embraces her own identity, reconnects with her origins, and celebrates tradition. Unapologetically feminist, Matrilineal Memory is an intimate encounter between the artist and the women who shaped her way of being.  

Juliet Mackie, Evelyn of the North, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Shé:Kon Gallery. Photo by Michael Patten.

Matrilineal Memory will be on view until Dec. 22.

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 Exhibit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Student Life

Scenes from a Climate Strike

Pictures and sounds: An up-close look at the annual march for climate justice, Fridays for Future

What does a climate March sound like?

Somewhere Gallery combines curation and care

Concordia grad aims to create a welcoming and inclusive space for Montreal’s emerging artists

Katherine Parthimos, founder and lead curator of Somewhere Gallery, has long, wavy-curly teal hair — as though a mermaid wandered into the city and started working in an art gallery.

In reality, Parthimos graduated in the middle of a pandemic, from Concordia University, with a Studio Arts degree; ready to start a career in a severely impacted industry. She spent the summer finding and figuring out what to do with the space on Park Avenue now known as Somewhere Gallery.

Since September, Parthimos has produced four vernissages highlighting the emerging arts community — alone, during a lockdown. The gallery’s fifth exhibit, Archiving Identity, a collaboration with the VAV Gallery, will feature the work of five Concordia artists. It’s the only in-person show of the VAV Gallery’s programming this academic year, though they have had online-only ones.

“For me it’s more about filling the needs of the emerging artist community,” says Parthimos, which she defines as artists in their last year of a relevant program, up to six years post-grad. The gallery doesn’t have the equipment to display digital works yet, and COVID is responsible for halting performance art, but pretty much every other medium is welcomed.

For the entire time Parthimos has run the gallery she’s always had to comply with the stricter regulations that provincial guidelines have required for public safety.

Suffice to say, Parthimos has been busy.

She began dabbling in curation during her final year of school, mostly collaborating with other students. Parthimos explained that while the Studio Arts program offers classes on topics like grant writing, there isn’t a clear track to pursue to become a curator.

“This is just as much of a learning opportunity for me as it is for the artist exhibiting at the space, so I think it’s an interesting conversation to have, emerging artist and emerging curator together,” she said, noting that the roles can create power imbalances.

“I consider this an art initiative over an art institution,” said Parthimos. Many commercial galleries take a commission of 40 to 50 per cent, which artists accept for the chance to show their work to a larger platform. Parthimos takes 25 per cent, which sustains the gallery but doesn’t make her a profit.

She does everything herself, from mounting the exhibitions, collecting the artist statements, creating the virtual tours, learning graphic design along the way, receiving visitors who have scheduled appointments, and then taking everything down to start again.

[blockquote align=”right” author=””]”Being an artist myself it was always just a jab in the gut to have to go to a gallery and have an exhibition, where if you sell your work you lose half your profits. That was always something that didn’t sit right with me,” she continued.[/blockquote]

“The concepts that I incorporate into my own painting and sculpture are based on community and people’s relationships. That’s a direct parallel to my focus in curation which is a focus on unifying community and bringing people together,” said Parthimos.

Nesreen Galal, a Concordia student double majoring in Computation and Studio Arts heard of Parthimos’s work at Somewhere Gallery through friends in the artistic community. She exhibited a series called Destruction in Digital Daydream, Somewhere Gallery’s fourth exhibit, in February. Galal contributed five Polaroid photos, rendered abstract through physical manipulation, similar to Photoshop editing made analogue.

“It’s the idea that art surprises me or that I have a mutual connection with art,” said Galal, a self-described perfectionist, also used to working with the control digital media provides.

“The [analogue] object itself has as much power as I do, so it surprises me and controls me and I control it too, and I feel like it’s a different relationship with art as well,” said Galal.

Galal used a variety of household products and objects, including bleach, to plan a few month-long experimental projects, which led to the production of colourful, expressive abstract forms bursting out of the classic white square Polaroid picture frames that were displayed at Somewhere Gallery and titled Destruction.

“It was my first ever [physical] exhibition, and it was awesome to showcase with different artists,” said Galal.

The traditions of art gallery openings, free wine and close conversations with the other artists weren’t possible because of government regulations, which Galal understood but was disappointed about. “I feel like considering COVID-19, [Parthimos] did a really good job with the reservations of two people. The process was very smooth,,” she said.

A number of the Polaroids, priced individually at $50, sold quickly.

“I was in awe. It felt surreal. [Parthimos] told me, ‘you sold some of your pieces!’ She knew it was my first physical exhibition. It got a very good reaction despite COVID. A lot of people were really interested to go and see the work,” continued Galal.

Destruction was unframed, like many pieces that have been displayed in Somewhere Gallery. This is worth noting  — art gallery conventions prescribe white walls, glass, matting and custom-cut frames to display the works.

But smaller, less established spaces like Somewhere Gallery, have the opportunity to reject or play with tradition. The gallery is small but sun-filled, measuring 15 by 9 feet, with one wall completely occupied by a window, which has an expansive view of Park Avenue’s cheerful chaos.

“My main goal is to have a unified and cohesive show to go through. Aesthetically I do try to find works that flow into each other, especially in such a small space. Putting together the show to make it physically unified, the size of artwork in relation to everything else, colour. In the past a lot of the shows I have put together have a colour palette that is apparent. Sometimes subtle colours, sometimes pops of colour. Formal artistic qualities like  [those ones] really offer a cohesiveness,” explained Parthimos.

“I try to incorporate the space as much as possible,” she continued.

An example of this was a 7-foot-tall painting by artist Trevor Bourke that was placed on the floor leaning, instead of hung up traditionally in the November 2020 exhibit, Current Location: Undefined. 

“Just little things like that are so interesting, because it kind of turned a wall piece into more of a sculptural thing,” said Parthimos. “Having a work that large in this space [provides] a different interpretation of the work than having it in a larger gallery where it seems like it fits the size of the wall. You wouldn’t feel it’s presence there in my opinion, as much as you would here. So that was something I was interested in playing with.”

The arts world, falling under ‘Culture’ was one of the worst affected industries in a 2020 StatsCan report on the Canadian economy in relation to the pandemic, which further detailed the increased disadvantages faced by women and young workers during this time.

“There is a lot of opportunity for you in school through the Concordia gallery and various festivals but once you leave school, you fall in this grey zone. You’re not really supported by the school anymore but you’re too emerging to be accepted by the artist-run centre community. That develops later on,” said Parthimos. “I think it’s really important to continue having these opportunities and continuing to exhibit your art to grow and to have that dialogue with people.”

Parthimos tries to create a warm, personal, experience for guests, rather than the sometimes sterile, faceless, environments big galleries have fostered in order to advance the idea of art as a commodity.

“I’ve always been really interested in community building initiatives and I was also part of the Fine Arts Student Alliance [at Concordia],” said Parthimos. “That really brought into my mind the significance of integrating communities, and offering back to the community you’re a part of.”

Archiving Identity is on display at Somewhere Gallery at 6830 Park Ave. #358 until March 25. Visitors can reserve an appointment by emailing


Photos by Kit Mergaert


Marie-Claude Marquis presents her solo exhibition Dancing Contradictions

Exposing sincere messages on delicate materials

In her newest solo exhibition Dancing Contradictions, presented at Galerie Robertson Arès, Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist Marie-Claude Marquis showcases a collection of 97 vintage plates and eight velvet embroideries.

Everyone is experiencing the pandemic differently; it has proven to be the most unsure time of our lives, as the future remains uncertain. To that end, the series depicts the hardships and successes that the world has gone through during this period of time.

Marquis’ artistic practice revolves around porcelain plates and embroideries. She reuses objects to give them a second life. The vintage plates were objects Marquis recycled, giving them a new meaning. Also, every instance of writing was hand-painted or embroidered by herself.

Dancing Contradictions exposes fragility and strength as the pandemic has shown to be a rollercoaster ride of events and emotions.

The collection is set around the gallery. One wall is dedicated to Marquis’ velvet embroideries. Each piece has a different design and message inscribed. The messages are either written in French or in English, and feature familiar expressions that can easily be recognized. Marquis inserted curse words and Quebec expressions that one may hear once in a while, but also quotes that one may have read on the internet, such as in You’re overthinking again (1/3), (2021)

At times, some messages may sound cheesy; some may be funny and relatable. Some of them can also bring a sense of comfort as there are words that may reflect one’s state of mind, or may simply be words of encouragement. Still, they are honest and are there for the audience to engage with.

For the velvet embroideries, spectators can admire works such as Faut pas croire tout ce qu’on pense (3/3), (2021), Oh, baby baby it’s a fucking wild world (3/3), (2021), Focus on what you can control (3/3), (2021), and more. These velvet embroideries evoke a vintage aesthetic with the different prints and colours Marquis used in her work.

The embroideries are square shaped, inspired by silk squares, also known as silk scarves, that are mostly worn by women, and became popular during the post-war years. According to  Rampley & Co, a British clothing company, silk scarves became a symbol of glamour, power and independence during that time. Marquis incorporated the styles of silk scarves, as her embroideries are made with vivid and sharp patterns.

As for the vintage plates, they remind the audience of porcelain plates they may have in their homes, hidden in their kitchen cabinets as they are used less frequently.

It could be hard to pick your favourite vintage plate as they vary in shape, structure, pattern and colour. For example, Riding Dirty, (2021) is a plate depicting Off to School (1920), a painting made by Norman Rockwell. Lots of things happen for no reason at all, (2021) is a floral plate, like Osti de mélancolie, (2021)

Marquis has found a way to bring comfort, humour and honesty to her work. As there are many art pieces, it seems like there is a message for everyone. While there may be some straightforward words, compared to others that may sound softer, they can depict sentences one may not think out loud, or comforting words one needs to hear.

The pandemic brought uncertainty to everyone. It also brought change into our lives. With new hobbies, new life goals, and unexpected events, the pandemic allowed everyone to grow in a certain way. While Marquis’ main concern is the impact of isolation on mental health, she made sure to expose these expressions that people unconsciously carry with themselves.

Dancing Contradictions encourages spectators to engage with the artwork, express their feelings towards them and remind them that everyone is in the same boat. Hopefully, the exhibition can uplift some in these weird times.

Dancing Contradictions is on display at Galerie Robertson Arès, at 1490 Sherbrooke St. W, until March 27. The gallery is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m Monday to Saturday, and Sunday by appointment. Viewers can check out some of her art pieces here.


Photos courtesy of Galerie Robertson Arès.


Cercanía: All the different ways to bring people together

Rafael Lozano Hemmer’s newest exhibition is all about human connection

I entered Arsenal Contemporary Art on a sunny September day looking for a refreshing escape from reality during this pandemic, and that is exactly what I got.

Arsenal’s imposing building swallows you whole and spits you out after giving you a new experience. At least, that has happened to me every time I’ve visited, and this time was no exception.

When I entered the gallery space, there was no room for small thoughts, small artwork,  or small expectations. It was the perfect setup for an exhibition of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s work.

Blinded by the sunlight that illuminates the main hall of the gallery, my transition to the temporary exhibition was abrupt and numbing, in a good way. The entire right wing of the giant building is dark and furnished with Lozano-Hemmer’s artifacts, inventions, creations, innovations, tricks and treats to the senses. In other words: Art (with a capital ‘A’).

I made sure to take a picture next to the title of the exhibition: Cercanía. Through this souvenir, I can later savour the delicacy of that specific word in Spanish. The word literally translates to ‘proximity’ or ‘closeness’ but cercanía is much more than that, and denotes a sense of human connection beyond physical presence that is untranslatable. It is intimacy, vulnerability and honesty. And that is what the exhibition is all about.

Cercanía has been very judiciously adapted and created around COVID-19 protocols. Even though every piece is meant to be experienced while adhering to the two-metre social distancing rule, I felt connected to everyone that has passed through it and those who will pass later.

I walked to the main room where different rays, projections, screens, and spotlights created light and played with the senses. One of them had sensors that followed and projected my steps and shadows, combining them with those of other visitors. Another took a picture of my face and overlapped it with the faces of others creating new identities, connections and funny faces.

Another one captured my heartbeat through a camera — I didn’t even need to touch a thing — and placed me in a virtual space where I could communicate with other heartbeats around the world.

The piece in the corner translated data from people murdered by guns in North America into an inverted noose that vibrated every ten seconds. I wished it wouldn’t move at all.

The installation in the other room ephemerally recreated my portrait on water mist in the most magical way. I did it at least five times until I noticed people waiting in line behind me. My misty portrait stayed for others to see, so, actually, it is not that ephemeral.

The big work blinded me, in a way that was different from how the sun does. There were movement sensors that detected me approaching the two giant screens filled with random letters. As soon as I walked, they followed me. I lay on the ground facing this “tableau vivant” and let letters arrange, move and fill the space before me, under me, next to me and above me, until I saw sentences form and disappear in the same way they had come. I stayed until I got dizzy.

My favourite piece, Field Atmosphonia,  welcomed me to lay on the ground again and look up at over 2000 speakers (2304 to be exact) suspended from the high ceilings of the Arsenal. I didn’t care that the ground was cold because I heard the ensemble of arranged individual sounds coming from each one and it was mesmerizing. The experience was visual, audible, presential, intuitive, interactive, confronting and vulnerable. I wouldn’t expect less from Lozano-Hemmer.

I left the space while the speakers behind me resonated with the sounds of waterfalls, birds, children laughing and a breeze rustling through trees. As I walked away and increased the distance between me and Cercanía, I thought about the ways in which we can be close while being apart.

Due to government safety measures, Cercanía has been suspended until further notice. Learn more about Cercanía and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s work at


Photos courtesy of Jean-Charles Labarre.


Sharing archival material to make Black existence visible

A Harlem Nocturne presents the reflection of an Afro-Canadian artist Deanna Bowen

Consisting of research compiled in Vancouver and Toronto over the last four years by interdisciplinary artist Deanna Bowen, A Harlem Nocturne brings elements of the past to light that are still relevant in today’s society.  Bowen exposes material that reveals Black experiences that tend to be forgotten via video footage, archival documents, and even some of Bowen’s own family experiences, which she shares through personal videos and photographs. The exhibition is held at three artist-run centres on 4001 Berri St.: OBORO, Ada X and Groupe Intervention Vidéo (GIV).

Curated by Kimberly Phillips, a Vancouver-based educator and curator, the exhibition is divided into two different spaces. Each space shares elements of Bowen’s research work to the public. When entering the building, the sound of a trumpet can be heard; immediately visible is a projection named A quick riff, 2020 that was produced in residency with OBORO, an art production centre, with the help of Charles Ellison who specializes in Jazz Studies at Concordia.

On the second floor is Ada X, a bilingual feminist artist centre. This area presents three different choreographic transcriptions, Gibson Notations 1,2 and 3, 2019 , exhibited in lightboxes on the walls. Each one displays a different dance that was created by dancer and choreographer Leonard Gibson. These dances were originally performed in CBC’s 1955 variety show Eleanor. The show was hosted by famous jazz singer Eleanor Collins, who was the first Afro-Canadian woman to host a national broadcast television series.

These three choreographic transcriptions can be visualized in the darker space of the gallery alongside Gibson Duets, 2018. Reproduced by Vancouver-based dancers Justine A. Chambers and Bynh Ho, the piece is a re-animation of Gibson’s original dances that were performed on the show.

“[Bowen] was quite interested in trying to pull [the choreographies] out of the archives and have them live in another form,” said Phillips.

OBORO is located on the third floor. A small room in front of the entrance displays a four-channel video installation named On Trial The Long Doorway, 2017/2019. The piece is a re-creation of a 1956 CBC tele-drama The Long Doorway, the story of a Black lawyer who represented a white student from the University of Toronto that was charged for assaulting a rising Black basketball player.  Bowen’s great uncle, Herman Risby, played a supportive role, but no recordings of the tele-drama were found.

Fortunately, Bowen was able to use the original script and invited five Black Toronto-based actors to reinterpret the story. Viewers can see the actors engage with the script as they rehearse.

Moving on to the next larger room of the gallery is more of Bowen’s research. The room shows multiple works displayed on each wall, every single one of them informing the public about the presence of Black bodies in a settler colonized land. Some of these works exhibit Bowen’s own family experiences, where some family members were part of the entertainment industry.

A cast photograph of Vancouver’s Theatre Under the Stars from Finian’s Rainbow, circa 1953 depicts Bowen’s great uncle Herman Risby, and Risby’s first cousin Leonard Gibson. Both can be seen on the second row to the right in the company of jazz singer Eleanor Collins in the first row on the right.

“The photograph serves to remap places where Black people performed and make them visible in this community,” said Phillips.  

Give Me Shelter, 2011/2019 is a workbook transcribing an interview with Bowen and her mother, where her mother speaks of her experience with racial violence growing up in Vancouver. A picture of Bowen’s grandfather can be viewed in the open book. Bowen’s grandfather was a preacher who once had to give spiritual guidance to a young Black man who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death; an uneasy situation for him.

Another interesting work is a screen print titled The Promised Land, a reference to an episode from a 1962 CBC television series called Heritage, that told the story of a Black community that escaped racial violence and segregation in the United States who settled in northern Alberta at the beginning of the 20th century, only to experience the same anti-Black racism in Canada.

“She reminds us that even seemingly insignificant documents can be rich repositories for unintended readings, and for questioning who has been charged with writing our histories and why,” said Phillips. 

The exhibition provides visitors a map of the exhibition with descriptions of each work that are numbered. Reservations can be made online.

A Harlem Nocturne is on display by Ada X, Groupe, Intervention Vidéo (GIV), and OBORO at 4001 Berri St. until Oct. 17, 2020.


Photos by Alannah Morrison


The Broken Hearts Gallery: The art of holding on (and letting go)

The Concordian staff discuss what items they’d include in the Broken Hearts Gallery

Lucy is, to be quite frank, a hoarder. Every imaginable surface of her room is covered with a bauble or an ornament. She sees everything as a piece of art: her bookshelf is lined with trinkets — so much so that you cannot really see her books — and a selection of random items are taped and pinned to her walls. These items, however, are not as random as they may seem upon first glance. They all have one thing in common: each item is a souvenir from a past relationship.

I guess you could say Lucy has some trouble letting go.

Directed by Natalie Krinsky, The Broken Hearts Gallery follows a New York City gallery assistant, Lucy Gulliver (Geraldine Viswanathan), as she curates an exhibition consisting exclusively of mementos, souvenirs, and knick knacks from past relationships.

While by no means a cinematographic masterpiece, and despite its ending being obvious within the first 15 minutes of the movie, it’s predictability lent itself to being a somewhat comforting, feel-good film — in the same way that most cheesy rom-coms are.

That being said, its exaggerated attempt at creating a romantically-inclined protagonist, alongside the incredibly loose and ill-defined use of the word “relationship,” led many questions to cross my mind throughout the duration of the film.

Among them, how is Lucy able to fill her room with mementos from all the people she has dated? And why is she heartbroken after seeing someone for a little over a month? Ultimately, leading my cynical self to think: No wonder she is miserable and if she is always that devastated after only a few weeks … maybe she shouldn’t be dating.

Despite these shortcomings, the film did yield many relatable moments which offered opportunities for a good laugh. Subsequently, this made me forget the apathetic questions I’d been asking myself throughout its duration, and the irritation I often felt towards Lucy’s overt optimism.

One question, however, did remain at the back of my mind: What item would I include in the Broken Hearts Gallery?

Here is The Concordian staff’s very own Broken Hearts Gallery:

Lorenza Mezzapelle, Arts Editor

I only have one item remaining from past relationships: a stuffed toy duck. My two dogs use it as a toy now. Do with that information what you will. Depending on how loosely we are applying the term “relationship,” I have a roll of unused black and white film that was gifted to me over a year ago… it’s probably expired. I guess the toy duck is what I’d exhibit, chew marks, drool, and all.

Elyette Levy, Assistant Commentary Editor

Maybe the matching phone case I got us on a whim one day. We were both very spontaneous people, and I think that’s a bit what that represents to me: having fun by doing things on impulse. I also really like to tell people I got it for $8 at Lionel-Groulx metro.

Chloë Lalonde, Creative Director

I’ve been in a relationship for the past seven years. But from before that, I’m pretty sure I have a stuffed Spider-Man somewhere in my parents house (too iconic to get rid of). And if deep, ex-friendships count, I have a pink flowery mug and a little wooden tray that goes along with it, which still hurts to look at. There used to be a spoon and a little teapot-shaped infuser, but the spoon broke and I lost the infuser. That would be what I’d exhibit, I think.

Michelle Lam, Social Media Manager

My partner and I recently separated. For my birthday last year, he gave me a necklace that I’ve been wearing ever since. Maybe one day, if I have it in my heart to take it off, I will include it in the Broken Hearts Gallery.

Hadassah Alencar, News Editor

I’ve been with my partner now for 10 years, married for eight of those years, so I really had to dig around my house to find something for this gallery. After all my Marie Kondoing last year the only memorabilia I can find is a hard cover, comic book version of The Little Prince, given to me by an ex in the beginning of a relationship that just wasn’t meant to be.

Christine Beaudoin, Photo Editor

I’ve been in a relationship for the past three years. Before that, I spent several years as a single lady. During that time, I moved a lot, so all I have left from my past relationships are Facebook photos taken with Mac’s photo booth application. Applying rainbow-coloured filters, we made weird faces and kissed in front of the screen. For this gallery, I think I would have one of those printed and framed.

Lillian Roy, Editor-in-Chief 

I have a USB-key full of pictures from my first serious relationship that I couldn’t bring myself to permanently delete. While I could care less about looking through it now, I hope to stumble upon it one day as an old lady. I’ll spend a lovely afternoon getting tipsy and looking back on old memories.

Rose-Marie Dion, Graphics Editor

Last semester, I was in Melbourne, Australia for a student exchange and sadly had to come back earlier than expected due to the current situation. While I was over there, I went on a date to see a movie at this cute movie theater down the street from where I was living. I kept the movie ticket and put it in my travel journal. Everytime I see it, the first thing that comes to my mind is: aahh, what could have been.

Maggie Morris, Head Copy Editor

I ended a three-year-long relationship a couple years ago when I went back home to Ottawa for Christmas. When I got back to my apartment in Montreal a month later, I got wine drunk and took down all the photos I had framed and hung around my apartment of the two of us. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out, and wanted to keep the memories (just, not on display to look at every day) so I bought a pretty box and filled it with the photos. I keep it on a bookshelf; there if I ever need to reminisce.

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