Arts Arts and Culture Exhibit Student Life

Artist spotlight: Princex Naveed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Egyptian striptease: mummies and museography at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

A dive into the ancient Egyptians’ lives and a peek through their wrappings

Open until the end of March at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibit Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives presents the daily life of Ancient Egypt through the eyes of six individuals who lived between 900 BCE to the second century CE.

But there is more than just mummies, 3D scans of the mummies yield high-quality imagery of what is hidden underneath the strips of linen for visitors to explore.

“Exploring Ancient Lives”

The Museum of Fine Arts has put its own twist on the exhibition, originally curated by the British Museum in London, England. Each room connects to the mummy of an individual, which in turn is associated with a theme—music for a female singer, family life for a two-year-old mummified boy, religion for a priest and so forth.

Throughout each room, the public discovers the quotidian Egyptian life, from diet and religion to embalming and wigs. The exhibition showcases beautiful artifacts, mummies and their adorned sarcophaguses.

There is no shortage of historical artifacts to see at the Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition’s curators have succeeded in showing visitors what everyday life in Ancient Egyptian was like.

Room devoted to music and beauty. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives. Photo © MMFA, Denis Farley

Under the Wrappings

For nearly 40 years, researchers have scanned mummies using computer tomography (CT scan) to avoid damaging them when unwrapping their bodies. CT scanning yields 3D images of the dead and of the artifacts laying under the strips of linen.

Although non-invasive, this technique has some pitfalls when it comes to interpreting the images the computer creates. The main limitation of CT scans is that the analysis of the images only rarely enable researchers to distinguish between ante—and postmortem traumas—the latter resulting from the mummification process.

The exhibit includes a short video that shows each mummy’s digital unwrapping. Brief text boxes provide information about the discoveries made on the bodies. The six videos are very instructive, even if they’re repetitive once you have seen a couple.

This technique and its video rendering are central to the exhibition. The British Museum and the Museum of Fine Art claim that CT scanning provides a new perspective on these ancient histories. Arguably, it’s not that new.

A decade ago, the same technology was used at the Musée de la Civilisation in Québec city for another mummy exhibition. At the time, it was indeed exceptional—there was only one CT scanning rendering of a mummy, that was displayed in its own section of the exhibition.

The 3D technology is certainly informative and should reel in visitors, but it might not be the showstopper it is designed to be.

CT Scanning yields images of the body underneath the wrappings. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives. Photo © MMFA, Denis Farley

Museums in the Digital Age

Museums have embraced digital technologies and multimedia tools to raise visitors’ engagement. The Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibition is a good example of the inclusion of new technologies.

Besides the CT scanning, the Museum of Fine Arts has partnered with Ubisoft. The video games company has provided a row of computers where visitors can play an educative version of Assassin’s Creed Origins, set in Ancient Egypt.

However, there are other avenues to explore and innovate in museography.

Research shows that immersive and multisensory exhibitions are one path worth exploring to engage visitors with a topic, stimulate their interest and provoke emotional responses.

The curators of Egyptian Mummies have experimented with this immersive approach through the occasional use of ambient sounds and lighting effects. But they have not fully embraced it.

More could have been done to engage the public on a multisensory level and give visitors the impression that they are, indeed, “exploring ancient lives.” Yet, the exhibition is definitely worth a visit––you will learn a lot and there are so many beautiful and informative things to see. The Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibition is open until March 29.



Feature photo: A faux stonewall representing the entrance of a temple, lighting effects and Nile sounds welcome the visitors. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives. Photo © MMFA, Denis Farley 


Art as activism: personal and collective histories

Taking a look at Dazibao’s new exhibitions

I open the door to Dazibao and, with the exception of colour-changing neon lights emanating from the far corner of the space, it is dark. A cacophony of voices engulfs the room. As I make my way to the first video installation, I am immediately drawn into the abstract nature of the film and I tone out the other sounds.

Dazibao, an art center in Montreal’s Mile End, dedicates itself to circulating contemporary image practices, be it through exhibitions, video programs, films or public artworks. In an effort to create a space where individuals can experiment, reflect and share ideas, Dazibao collaborates with artists, curators, critics and researchers.

Their mandate, which is to promote cultural diversity as a means of enabling art to assert itself as a knowledgeable and intellectual field, is further reinforced via their three current exhibitions on view, Special Works School, New Pedestrians and Mikhail Karikis.

Special Works School by Bambitchell explores surveillance and military camouflage techniques by way of reflecting on the interconne – activity of artistic practice and surveillance technologies. The work, which consists of an installation and a film, considers surveillance as an artistic practice, invites the viewer to reflect on the various aspects of surveillance in both society and art.

Lights change from cyan to purple, and camouflage back to its natural colour, offering a metaphor for surveillance. Photo by Britanny Clarke.

Bambitchell’s work has video and sculptural components – the source of the colour-changing neon lights – which offers a multi-sensory experience. Sand appears to be rippled in a box, as lights change from cyan to purple, and back to its natural colour, the box and its contents camouflage to the colour of the lights. This offers a metaphor for surveillance and its visibility, or rather, invisibility.

Bambitchell is the artistic collaboration between artists Sharlene Bamboat and Alexis Mitchell. Since their conception in 2009, they have established their practice around notions of surveillance and nationalism, using archives and state documents as part of their work.

New Pedestrians by Julia Feyrer uses everyday objects to explore the body’s connection to various materials. As the name suggests, the film observes pedestrians as they walk. However, they are not your average pedestrians. Body parts are composed of wooden rulers, scissors and other everyday tools and objects, merging sculpture and film into one. The abstract nature of the film brings out in the viewer the sort of uneasy feeling that would arise from a bad dream.

Similarly, Children of Unquiet, Ain’t Got No Fear and No Ordinary Protest by Mikhail Karikis use this same type of bizarre construction. Although separate entities, the three films, when viewed in order, form an allegory. In Children of Unquiet, children clad in colourful masks sing at the top of their lungs as they reclaim a village that was built for workers at a geo-thermal power plant. Whereas Ain’t Got No Fear demonstrates the alternative vocation given by young people to a power plant, as a means of defying authority. Finally, along the same lines, No Ordinary Protest explores themes of activism enabling children’s voices to be heard.

Karikis uses sound and media to create immersive installations. His practice explores primarily the notion of the voice as a socio-political agent, as well as themes of solidarity in action, which he further develops by collaborating with various communities such as youth groups.

Although the works exhibited are very different in their conception and determination, Special Works School, New Pedestrians and Mikhail Karikis’ works share similar perseverance, enabling them to share personal and collective histories in abstract ways, and ultimately offer a form of activism. By making a statement about various conventional aspects of everyday life, such as surveillance, the works assert themselves and demonstrate how artistic practice can be political.

Special Works School, New Pedestrians and Mikhail Karikis are on display at Dazibao, at 5455 de Gaspé Ave. suite 109, until Dec. 21. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.



Photos by Brittany Clarke.


Reframing history with Scattered Remains

Nadia Myre contributes her work to Woman. Artist. Indigenous. at the MMFA

Influential Indigenous artist Nadia Myre’s latest exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is part of Woman. Artist. Indigenous., “a season at the museum devoted to female Indigenous artists,” according to the museum’s website.

Titled Tout Ce Qui Reste – Scattered Remains, the exhibition is a retrospective of the artist’s work, combining five of Myre’s series created since the turn of the millennium: Indian Act, Grandmother’s Circle, Oraison/Orison, Code Switching and Meditation (Respite). This selection of artworks, along with the rest of Myre’s body of work, focuses on the retelling of Indigenous history and uses traditional Indigenous art practices and found objects to challenge Western colonial narratives.

After reading the curatorial statement outside of the exhibition, viewers walk through the doorway and enter a large, dark, rectangular room. In this space, Myre’s series are nicely moulded together, with two- and three-dimensional artworks covering both the walls and floor of the room. The black walls and low lighting allow for backlighting and the white of the artworks to have an illuminating presence in the dark space.

Myre’s piece, titled Indian Act, displays the entire document covered in red and white beading. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The longer, perpendicular walls of the room are filled with large white-on-black photographic and textile pieces from Oraison/Orison (2014) and Code Switching (2017). The shorter wall to the left of the entrance features a looping video artwork as well as multiple images from Meditation (Respite) (2017). Across from this are more images from this series, works from the Indian Act (2000-2002) series and hanging sculptural pieces from Code Switching. The large installation works from Oraison/Orison and Grandmother’s Circle (2002) are spread out on the floor.

The curatorial presentation of the dark room and backlit artworks is both visually striking and thematically relevant, symbolizing what Myre intends to do in her work—repurpose Indigenous cultural objects to create light in a dark history.

The Indian Act artworks are perhaps the most explicit reference to Indigenous politics in the exhibition. Created with the help of many fellow Indigenous artists, this series of framed textile works takes on the challenge of covering up all 56 pages of the Indian Act using red and white glass beading. Myre’s piece draws attention to the legal rights of First Nations people in Canada, which are so often written over and ignored.

A tobacco-filled basket is part of the artist’s series titled Oraison/Orison. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Grandmother’s Circle is a visual depiction of the artist’s attempt to trace her heritage. She unfortunately discovered very little about her Algonquin side, due to her mother being placed in an orphanage. In this work, large wooden poles are tied and placed together to create structures in the shape of wishbones. The MMFA’s website describes them as “a barrier that symbolizes the access to ancestral wisdom that was denied to Indigenous peoples,” similar to the residential school system.

The Oraison/Orison series, made up of both print and installation works, explores the permanence of memory and the impact life events can have on our bodies. A large kinetic installation piece, made of a red fishing net, moves up and down, mimicking the action of breathing. An oversized woven basket filled with tobacco—often used in First Nations ceremonies—wafts a subtle smell throughout the gallery space. A series of prints depict the white thread stitching on the back of the Indian Act artworks, and are reminiscent of scars on one’s skin.

Another part of the Oraison/Orison series, prints of white thread hint to scars on one’s skin. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

Circular prints from Myre’s Meditation (Respite) series depict several close-up photographs of traditional meditative beadwork. These beaded designs are inspired by Indigenous spirituality and images of the cosmos, and explore the neverending properties of the universe.

Myre’s latest series, Code Switching, was produced during an artist residency sponsored by the MMFA. The artworks in this series are made of the collected fragments of European settlers’ pipes, which were historically used along with tobacco as currency with Indigenous populations. According to the museum’s website, Myre reclaims these fragments and repurposes them, using traditional beading techniques as a way of “sparking reflection and building bridges between cultures.”

Tout Ce Qui Reste – Scattered Remains will be on display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until May 27. It is located in the museum’s Discovery Exhibitions section, which is free to visit for people under the age of 31. For those over 31, entry is $15 or free on the last Sunday of every month.

Feature photo by Mackenzie Lad.


Telling Indigenous stories in cyberspace

Filling in the Blank Spaces exhibits a multimedia, interactive, cross-cultural dialogue

The Ohenton Karihwatehkwen are the words that come before all else. They call on everyone to give thanks to Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon and Father Sky. Grateful for the environment, all animals and all of creation, we acknowledge Creator, and we thank him for all he has done for us.  

Skawennati and Jason E. Lewis’ video piece titled Thanksgiving Address mimics the Ohenton Karihwatehkwen, giving thanks for contemporary technologies such as the computer and the internet. Located at the entrance of the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, this piece also greets and thanks viewers for attending Owerà:ke Non Aié:nahne: Filling in the Blank Spaces.

According to the exhibition’s description, Filling in the Blank Spaces is “an exhibition-forum on the research and creative work of the Aboriginal territories in cyberspace.” It is an exhibition that demands viewer participation. The majority of the pieces presented require interaction.

Lewis and Skawennati’s exhibition, Filling in the Blank Spaces, explores Indigenous identity through technology and art. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Five different video games are set up in the middle of the gallery’s main space. They were created by the elders and youth of Aboriginal communities during Skins Workshops. In these workshops, video games are made to explore Indigenous stories, mythology and ways of life.

Lewis is a computation arts professor at Concordia as well as an artist and writer. Both he and Skawennati, a Concordia BFA design graduate, are co-directors of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC). AbTeC is a research network based at Concordia that strives to change the world by using digital media to tell stories of the past and imagine versions of the future. The initiative encourages Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities to participate in the production and viewing of digital media and to create a dialogue between cultures.

The co-directors of AbTeC explained that their goal is to “facilitate the creation of a new generation of media producers while attempting to answer questions about how our stories are told and how these can be remediated via new media.” AbTeC also manages the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF), which often commissions works by Indigenous artists. Such works are projected onto the walls of the gallery and available as postcards.

The neighbouring room contains two virtual reality (VR) pieces, one by Scott Benesiinaabandan and another created during Skins Workshops. In these virtual realities, the viewer can explore a variety of futures and imaginary worlds.

Models of Skawennati’s avatar and Hunter, the main character of her series TimeTraveller™, on display at the gallery. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Another space documents the work done behind the scenes at AbTeC and IIF. Here, select pieces from both Lewis and Skawennati’s individual and collective bodies of work are on display. These documentations are from past projects and conferences, including work from when the couple met in Banff in the 90s. The room also includes material from The Future Imaginary symposium, an ongoing conference series that brings people together to imagine different futures.

Sketches and design plans for the VR projects are displayed beside two figurines: Skawennati’s avatar from the Second Life online virtual world, and Hunter, the main character in TimeTraveller™, a series of nine 10-minute videos which play in an adjacent room. Each episode retells historical events from the Indigenous perspective, from the life of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha to the 1969 Occupation of Alcatraz and the 1990 Oka Crisis.

The video series is followed by the new media production She Falls For Ages. In September, The Concordian visited The Celestial Tree, one of Skawennati’s installations based off of this machinima. The “machinima” approach is entirely specific to the artist’s body of work. Combining computer animation—similar to Sims graphics—and cinema, She Falls For Ages tells a futuristic, feminist interpretation of the Haudenosaunee creation story.

According to an article written by Lewis and Skawennati in Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine, “since its beginning, cyberspace has been imagined as a free and open space, much like the New World was imagined by the Europeans.”

In showcasing art that uses Euro-American technology, AbTeC and IIF hope to help Indigenous peoples reclaim their stolen identity. By expressing themselves in the creation of alternative realities, AbTeC encourages artists to create visuals of historical events, stories of the past and hopes for the future. Filling in the Blank Spaces exposes a dialogue which resonates from nation to nation, (re)learning and (re)discovering history in the process.

Owerà:ke Non Aié:nahne: Filling in the Blank Spaces will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. until Dec. 2 at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery in Concordia’s LB building.

Photos by Alex Hutchins

Student Life

Shining bright with Moment Factory

Moment Factory, a Montreal-based company, designed the multimedia components of this year's Super Bowl halftime show. Photo by Alyssa De Rosa

What started off as a company by three men and financed by one credit card is now a team of more than 60 talented individuals based in Montreal developing, designing and producing multimedia environments internationally.
They are known as Moment Factory, and they have recently attracted considerable attention for their design of this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.
In just 12 minutes, Madonna’s stage was lit up with Vogue covers, thumping speakers and a colourful, scintillating projection of “World Peace” that took up half the football field, courtesy of this new multimedia company.
Designers Tarik Mikou and Aliya Orr, who have been with Moment Factory for about two years, worked on this latest project together. “I have more of a cold style,” Orr joked. “Compared to Tarik’s [style] that’s more emotional and colourful.”
Both only had good things to say when it came to talking about SBM—Super Bowl Madonna.
“It was a huge project,” Mikou explained. “A lot of excitement surrounded the project and it was different for me because I got to work with people that I wouldn’t usually work with like animators for example, who are super talented.”
Because the installations can be so different, not all departments are needed on a single project. The 20,000-square foot studio, with its workshops and testing lab, is home to four departments: technology, design, environment and production.
Orr explained that usually, designers only get to work on the first phases of a project, but on SBM, the design team was there from “pitch to production.” “It really brought us together and was a collaborative approach,” she said.
Each department, which is run by a multimedia director, brings something different to the table. First, the technology pros are programming geniuses. The design team is composed of animators, graphic designers and motion designers and is seen as the creative hub of the company. The environment department is comprised of a group of people who define the space in which an installation can be installed and create a model of the project to scale. Finally, the production team handles all the business aspects, ensuring the right multimedia director is assigned to a project.
These departments didn’t exist when Dominic Audet, Sakchin Bessette and Jason Rodi decided to create Moment Factory in 2001. But once Cirque du Soleil got on board in 2003 and believed in the conceptual work these men were producing, the need for a bigger workspace and a bigger team was inevitable. A little over 10 years later, with some changes in management, particularly that of Rodi leaving and the welcoming of partner Eric Fournier, Moment Factory is now a household name, creating a visually interactive experience.
“A lot of what Moment Factory does can be understood in its name,” Orr said. “The ‘moment’ part of it explains the fact that we create moments for people and want them to be blown away by the experience while trying to tell a story.”
“You’re never doing the same thing twice here,” Mikou said.
That can be frustrating for some. “You feel like you want to master what you’re doing, but you never get to that confident state because you’re hit with something new,” Orr explained. “But that’s what’s so beautiful about it. That’s why I think we’re all here, because we are challenged in that way.”
Mikou also had the opportunity to work on Céline Dion’s interactive concept for her stage at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Other clients include Arcade Fire at the 2011 Coachella Festival in California, Nine Inch Nails, the Vancouver Canucks, TVA (the set of Le Tricheur) and Jay-Z’s concert at Carnegie Hall.
Moment Factory is currently lighting up their own city with La Vitrine Culturelle in Montreal’s entertainment district. They are also looking for fresh, young talent to join their team (graphic designers, animators, programmers, etc).
The company will be holding a career day at the end of March and details will soon be available on their Facebook page. You can also visit them at

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