Sam & Angèle: a comforting performance

The performers invite their audience to explore the harshness of daily life and the softness of boredom

In a cozy atmosphere, on a stage filled with fabric objects, Samantha Hinds and Angélique Willkie perform the comforting Sam & Angèle. Initiated by choreographer Sovann Rochon-Prom Tep, the 50-minute creation confronts the ideas of work overload and self-care.

Warm light bulbs illuminate La Chapelle’s theatre. They enlighten Mestari’s fabric creations. These include a large pair of glasses composed of multiple patterns, a large microphone, and a phone. From the start, the performers’ complicity is palpable. The show marries text, the singing, and movement. The performers’ voices are the only sound filling the space. They sing together, creating harmonies. Hinds starts dancing, and Willkie observes her in a benevolent way. Roles are then switched. 

The duo establishes their dynamic through eye contact and smiles. They share the stage but also the energy of the space. As the performance evolves, different themes emerge. 

“Work overload is one of the themes of the show. It didn’t emerge because we wanted to do a show that talked about work overload, but because in the discussions we had as a team,” explained Rochon-Prom Tep.

This idea came about through songs written by the team. During the performance, Hinds and Willkie repeat “On travaille trop,” contrasting the monotony of the word repetition with their luminous voice tone and energy. They later sing an ode to boredom, inviting the audience to reflect on self-care. The caring energy between the performers culminates at the end when Willkie gradually fades the lights down to complement Hinds’ relaxation on stage. 

The creator explained that he hopes seeing the performers taking care of themselves will inspire audience members to dive into introspection in their own lives when it comes to self-care. The welcoming atmosphere created by the organization of colourful props and lights on stage enhances this calming journey for visitors.

The creation process first started with Rochon-Prom Tep’s interest in creating a project based on an encounter between artists. The choreographer organized meetings with Hinds and Willkie so they could start creating together. A singing session sparked the inspiration for the project. “I was really touched by this vocal improvisation and I thought there was something to do with that,” said Rochon-Prom Tep. From their discussions and improvisation sessions, the performers built a creative connection that led to the creation of Sam & Angèle

Laïla Mestari also collaborated on the project as the creator of the colourful stage set. Rochon-Prom Tep explained that when he first encountered her work, he was inspired by “the complexity of idea juxtapositions, of shapes, of images, of mediums.” Their collaboration led to the development of a unique visual identity for the show.

Rochon-Prom Tep described their creation process as an inspiring collective project. “We crafted together with words, voices, bodies, and materials to get to know each other. The creation built off this, through the time we spent together, the discussions that emerged. It created a collective imagination where our different identities and our different interests, our different lifestyles came together in certain places even though they are completely different in a lot of ways,” he said.

Hinds, Willkie, Rochon-Prom Tep and Mestari created the impression of a reset, a kind of self-care to get ready for new beginnings. “The show features a lot of softness and attention, a show that touches the poetry of the collective and individual creative worlds of the different team members,” said Rochon-Prom Tep.

La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines is located at 3700 Saint-Dominique St. They present Sam & Angèle until March 11. Tickets for the showare available on their website.


Visuals courtesy David Wong and Vanessa Fortin

Ar(t)chives Arts

The art of suffering: a glimpse into the work of Marina Abramović

Since the 1970s, the bold performance artist has pushed her body to extreme lengths for the sake of her art

Picture this: you’ve decided to spend 12 days in an area consisting of three small rooms. A bedroom, a kitchenette, and a living room. You’ve denied yourself food, limited yourself only to water, are unable to speak, and don’t have access to any sort of entertainment to help pass the time. There are three ladders connected to each room, allowing you the opportunity to simply walk away. The rungs of the ladder, however, have been replaced with butcher knives. Oh, and on top of that, you are completely exposed, having dozens of strangers watch your every move. This might sound like a type of challenge that results in one’s endurance being rewarded with a cash prize or the like. But this is nothing of the sort. This is one of Marina Abramović’s most famous endurance art pieces titled The House With the Ocean View. 

Self-dubbed as the “grandmother of performance art,” Abramović has rarely shied away from the spotlight. In fact, at its very core, her work is built on suffering. Born in 1946 in Belgrade in former Yugoslavia, the artist experienced a difficult childhood, living with strict expectations and erratic behaviour from her parents. At the beginning of the 1970s, the artist’s career soon took off while studying at Belgrade’s Academy of Fine Arts. Over the years, she has created countless performance pieces that never cease to shock and engross audience members.

For some, The House With the Ocean View will seem like child’s play in comparison to her other works, such as Rhythm 4, where she knelt in front of a high-power industrial fan, attempting to test her lung capacity by breathing in as much air as she possibly could. It wasn’t long before she was rendered unconscious during this performance.

In her extremely controversial and disturbing work titled Rhythm 0, the artist took on a passive role as she essentially allowed audience members to do anything they wanted to her body. She laid out 72 items, with some as harmless as feathers and honey, to those that were meant to inflict pain, such as whips and knives. Initially, the audience members did not engage with her body in a harsh manner, but near the end of the six-hour block Abramović had dedicated to her performance, people began to get violent.

While it’s best to spare the details (feel free to do your own research, but be forewarned of the disturbing content you may find), the main objective of this piece was for Abramović to see just how far people would be willing to go when they were relieved of any consequences. Some chose a pacifist stance, while others chose to act on violent urges.

In many ways, Rhythm 0 was a genius (albeit terrifying) social experiment, one that demonstrated both sides of the spectrum when it comes to how humans could act given absolute free will and the assurance that their actions would have no consequences. While no doubt disturbing, Abramović’s work has contributed massively to the endurance art realm, pushing multiple boundaries that other artists had not dared to do at the time in order to explore the relationship that the artist shares with the audience.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


M. Gros: investigation games and the art world

Artistic duo Geneviève and Matthieu derive inspiration for their latest performance from investigative TV shows and movies

Artistic duo Geneviève et Matthieu will present their new creation titled M. Gros at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines theater from Oct. 12 to 15. The performers bring the audience into their universe in a non-narrative multidisciplinary creation built around the themes of investigation, identity, and the art world.

Some of the props Geneviève et Matthieu use in their new creation include  fake skin placed on stools, masks with long dark hair attached to clothes hangers, a large piece of fabric piled at the back of the stage, a cotton candy machine, a guitar that plays by itself, a large rope, and a collection of knives.

Their piece is based around the idea of the Mr. Big police investigation technique. This technique aims to solve unsolved crimes through the work of undercover police officers who use infiltration techniques to get to know the suspect. The artists were inspired by investigative TV shows and movies they love. They also thought the name Mr. Big was poetic and could correlate to many ideas, such as the chocolate bar, the body, and the rock band of the same name.

Geneviève et Matthieu have been working on M. Gros for two years now, with it constantly evolving. Improvisation is a crucial part of the performance: the artists have a script that lists the main events of the show, but the way in which they transition from one to the other changes every time.

The artists view the improvisational aspect of their work as a challenge; one that allows them to constantly try new things. “We want the freedom we are giving ourselves to show through because that is all part of playing games, when you start a game of Clue you don’t know how it’s going to end, so it’s the same for us, it’s the idea of how it will end and what shape it will take,” said Geneviève.

The duo is also accompanied on stage by a mad curator who hates contemporary art, and a visual artist who hides behind the different objects on the stage. “It is a roleplay and there are many declensions, but always under the same theme of our identity, who we are, what we hide and what we reveal,” explained Geneviève.

M. Gros is an investigation game Geneviève et Matthieu set for themselves. They are using movement, music and text throughout the performance. As the investigators, their target is specific: they are taking over the art world. The idea came to them after pondering what would be the worst thing that artists could lose. The answer to this question was their ideas. Therefore, the performance also reflects on the contemporary art world.

Geneviève et Matthieu have been working as artists since the 1990s. They also founded an artist centre in their hometown of Rouyn-Noranda called l’Écart.  The Biennale d’Art Performatif de Rouyn-Noranda performance art festival which presented its 9 edition in 2018, is another project they initiated. All the art pieces they’ve encountered influence their practice. Their knowledge enriches the show as they touch on the history of performance art.

Geneviève et Matthieu are both trained in visual arts. They are also musicians who wrote and produced five albums. The performative aspect of their work appeared later in their career, with their pieces La Jamésie and L’opéra d’or

Geneviève explained that the creation of their performances was always driven by the props they use. Also, the multidisciplinary aspect of their work is an important part of their creative process. “We always present in different contexts whether it is a theatre, an art gallery, it is really something we are looking for because it gives us the opportunity to work differently and to be influenced by the context,” said Matthieu.

After its run at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines, M. Gros will be presented in another form at the Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain gallery from Nov. 13 to Dec. 18. For them, the exhibition space gives the audience a way of interacting with the props that is different than in a performance space. “When we are in an exhibition space, we have another relationship with the artwork which includes more proximity… in the way we will install it, the work of art will have another life and the objects will interact with each other in a different way,” said Geneviève.

M. Gros is presented in partnership with the Phenomena Festival. Tickets for the M. Gros show are available on the La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines website


Photograph courtesy of Geneviève et Matthieu


Nuit Blanche: Thoughts en lumiere, a rush into a green utopia

We didn’t do Nuit Blanche together, but we might as well have. Two arts writers vs Nuit Blanche. The apathy is real. We were slightly amused. And we’re still thinking too much about the colour green (and outer space?

Chloë Lalonde, Arts Editor, etc., The Concordian 

Nuit Blanche only really came onto my radar when I was in CEGEP, I guess some would consider that a late discovery. My best friend and I visited the Musee d’Art Contemporain (MAC) for one of their fantastic nocturnes. We had special drinks, I don’t remember much of the exhibition (it might have been David Altmejd) and exited the museum directly on Ste-Catherine Street. Little did we know of the wonderland that waited for us outside. Ah, a time when you didn’t have to book your slide/ferris wheel/zipline experience in advance… It was the best surprise.

Since then, Nuit Blanche has been lackluster, ridden with food anxiety, too much beer, long lines and the wrong activities (yeah, I’m talking about “wand-making” at Lockhart).

This year I decided I would spend my Saturday evening after a long day of teaching and laying out the arts and opinions sections of the paper, visiting as many galleries as I could manage with my sister. We met up quite early at the Belgo building (372 Ste-Catherine St. W.), before things were popping, and managed to pass by every gallery that was open, before stopping by the very crowded MAC, UQAM’s art gallery, a surprise performance we weren’t expecting and finishing off with Le Livart.

The Belgo is unassuming, if you didn’t already know it was home to 27 galleries, several artist studios, savvy startups and dance studios, it would be hard for you to find out. The exterior isn’t necessarily inviting, neither is the lobby and the adjacent cafe (I found a hair in my crepe and they gave me a free latte.)

It was my sister’s first time there and she had no expectations, but I didn’t want to disappoint. I did force her to cancel her unmade plans with her friends to hang out with me, after all. We rode the elevator up to the fifth floor (which is truly the sixth), and wove our way in and out of galleries uninterested until I started to notice a grand theme. Every gallery featured some kind of moon print. Drawings or lithographs, etchings, paintings––like craters on the moon––everything felt geographical, alluding to the earth and the landscape.

AMER, an artist from Montreal, paints with rust in their exhibition at Galerie Luz, using hydrogen, oxygen and carbon—what AMER considers among the essential elements for the appearance of life. Their work returns to the origin of the medium, with natural hues and industrial materials to reference ancient cave paintings and transmit modern messages over time.

Past a wall separating Galerie Luz in two, lived fibre works that felt entirely alien to AMER’s practice. White and fluffy, interrupted by copper threads and plastics, Mariela Borello’s tapestries connect to the body.

Later, at UQAM’s art gallery, the moon prints returned. Only this time they were in the forms of massive paper tapestries and sculptures disappearing into the floor. These rooms of earth and stone, on until March 21, compiled the incredibly similar practices of Michel Boulanger and Katja Davar.

Boulanger’s Girations, Rouler 1 was absolutely mesmerizing. A jeep-esque vehicle sinks and resurfaces, only to sink again, creating new landscapes with each dip. Davar’s drawings resonate on the same frequency. Each piece is like witnessing the plans for a new earth, land and soil.

The theme this year was “vert,” and events and exhibitions generally referenced the colour, sustainability and the environment throughout. Green is symbolic for many things, most notably, growth, whether natural/environmental, economic or personal, it’s said to be healing and inspire creativity.

Some works were all too literal; Le Livart had an exhibition up the whole month of February based solely on the colour green, and others were just flat out unrelated and overpopulated (collection exhibitions at the MAC).

Oh, and I can’t forget the performance we walked into on our way home, which was, arguably, my sister’s favourite part. Mourning of the Living Past, performed by Inflatable Deities, Canadian artists Jessica Mensch and Emily Pelstring, shook their futuristic “organic sparkly energy” all over UQAM’s Judith-Jasmin pavilion. It truly infected my 18-year-old sister. She danced along with them (behind the crowd) as I filmed her. She also changed her Instagram bio to “organic sparkly energy,” which I’m pretty sure is what the glittery duo chanted into their electronic amplifiers.

Sophia Arnold, Contributor for The Concordian and CUJAH Editor-in-Chief 

For the past five years, since I moved to Montreal, Nuit Blanche has been something to look forward to in the depths of your depressive episodes at the height of winter, mostly because the metro is open all night and the thought of riding public transit at 4 a.m. is overwhelming for a green-minded, uber-despising person. It gives a cosmopolitan New York vibe that Montreal aspires to everyday but can only afford to cave into twice a year (the other night being New Years Eve).

Nuit Blanche attracts all kinds of people: those who have kids and want to take them on the mini Ferris wheel at Place des Arts before retiring after “doing Nuit Blanche,” tourists who are just happy to be wherever they end up (admittedly, me the first two years…), and Montrealers who know where to be and will not give you the time of day if “you’re not from Montreal.”

My night started at Le Livart. I had been there a few times before but never on Nuit Blanche, although my partner had and was enamoured with the basement dance floor. The layout of the place reflects its roots as an old residential home, and still allows for artists-in-residence to use the upstairs rooms as studios. For Nuit Blanche, they had many artists exhibiting their works on the ground floor, and opened the upstairs, inviting you to speak with the gallery’s resident artists.

The exhibition went through all the various interpretations of this year’s theme, green, in all its facets. Livart expanded on the ideas presented in Vert, Histoire d’une couleur by Michel Pastoureau, who highlights green as a central colour in the role of art history. As you enter, Renaud Séguin’s green, ‘cabinet of curiosity’ style room welcomes you into a literal green space. Filled with found objects, from candy wrappers to paint colour samples, and some iconic references, like a picture of The Green Lady (@greenladyofbrooklyn), it’s like entering a commodity forest; our new image of green.

Other rooms in the gallery welcomed the interpretation of ‘green’ to be detourned headlights,  bricolage wreaths placed on the ground and large-scale photography. Due to the variety of mediums included, when you left Le Livart you were very aware what role the colour and ideology of green plays in contemporary art.

Next stop was Palais des Congrès, where we saw some of the works featured in this year’s Art Souterrain underground exhibitions, running until March 22. The piece we spent the most time with was the automated metro doors in sequence that opened as you walked through the hallway of them. It was an unexpected yet retrospectively predictable surprise seeing as the delapidated metro cars are the subject of many interactive installations throughout the city, highlighting the history and development of an iconic feature of Montreal daily life.

Next on the agenda; Phi Centre. I don’t really know where to begin with this one. As a self identifying ‘antenna,’ Phi Centre hosts a variety of events showcasing the latest tech developments, and this night was no exception. The show, Simulation/Acceleration, was built on the premise of human connectivity, digital capitalism and environmental degradation, exploring the topic with Virtual Reality (VR), augmented reality and a green screen interactive performance. DJ sets also took place throughout the night with visuals.

Life on the green screen was the highlight of the show. Mesmerized by the piercing gaze and dynamic movement of the performers in an array of outfits and positions, it was an ominous presence that rarely broke—apart from when viewers were invited to enter the green screen setup and the rare drunk guy did a peace sign. The screen showing the results of the green screen performance embodied the premise of the show, deconstructing the commonplace ideas of humans as apart from the environment and autonomous players in a hyperconnected world.

After a necessary food detour, we headed to Places des Arts, which was a short stop. Eying it through the crowds of people, we decided to skip it this year as it has an overdone, commercial vibe that we weren’t looking for (signified by the giant maple syrup cans).

Final stop: Eastern Bloc. The event aimed to create an urban oasis and safe space for freedom of expression and being, which it did through Allison Moore’s installation, The Enchanted Woods and various DJ sets with a dance floor in the usual exhibition space. Running until 4 a.m., it felt like a liberation from winter and greyness, taking you out of time and space to a utopic non-place—even though they ran out of drinks and you had to wait 30 minutes for the bathroom, which kind of brought you back down to earth.

All in all, it was an extensive, involved and jovial evening. But, we wish this programming was accessible at a substantial level throughout the year. In one evening, you go to four events before your corporeal limit is reached and you miss events that cannot be experienced again. In an ideal green utopia devoid of money, the metro would run 24 hours a day and every night would be an opportunity to engage with your local and international communities in such a monumental way, like the way you can on Nuit Blanche.





Graphic by @sundaeghost

Photos by Chloë Lalonde and Sophia Arnold.


ONE KIND FAVOR: Working together for a clear picture

Collaboration and kindness do not always go hand in hand

Two figures stood in translucent neon shirts, a third stood beside them in your average button-up, blowing pink spotted feathers. On their feet were sequined slippers, and around their wrists or in their shirt pockets hid sequined eye masks.

ONE KIND FAVOR, performed from Jan. 21-25 at Montréal, Arts Intercultural (MAI), brought together three very different artists. With a background in West African dance, Karla Etienne is Zab Maboungou / Nyata Nyata Dance Company’s administrative director. Her movements were poised, controlled and professional. Choreographer George Stamos received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in contemporary dance and performance art in Amsterdam and went on to continue his graduate studies in communications at Concordia. His background in performance comes through in his theatrical and expressive manner of movement in ONE KIND FAVOR. Lastly, moving simply and naturally is Montreal-based Omani musician, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh.

“Experience, have faith in discomfort,” said Moumneh in the Q&A following the final performance at MAI on Friday, Jan. 24. “Discomfort doesn’t always mean it’s wrong, leads to trust and surprising results.”  

While Etienne and Stamos slid across the floor in their sequin slippers and blinded by their sequin masks, Moumneh sang in Arabic; some understood, some didn’t, but feelings of nostalgia and kindness were transmitted nonetheless. Behind them, on the black wall in chalked Arabic, Moumneh wrote;

رائحة الهواء بعد المطر

رائحة البحر بعد المطر

The smell of the air after the rain 

The smell of the sea after the rain  

This set the tone for the performance to follow.

Designing such an intimate group performance requires harmony. The collaborative process, led by Stamos, wasn’t always a kind one. It was frustrating, they had to be patient with each other and trust that it would flow smoothly. 

There is an evident risk taken in moving blind, “c’était pas évident comment on passait d’un état à une autre” said Etienne, “Le bruit, on le fait, on l’entend.” Which translates to, “It was not obvious how we passed from one state to another, the noise, we make it, we listen.”

Forcing to make things fit sometimes just doesn’t work. Stamos made it his goal to remove boundaries.

“Nothing really connected without an audience, the show didn’t click, there was no one to be kind to,” said Moumneh, who was the most out of his comfort zone, claiming that he doesn’t really know how to place his body in the context of dance.

Moumneh used elements from his own work, based on excerpts from Stamos’ initial text, which was removed from the performance to balance “cohabitation.” First, based on Stamos’ personal story, he saw the need to create space for his fellow performers’ voices. Most choreographers approach dancers as blank slates, but Stamos wanted to meet them in dance without changing them. Instead, he invited Moumneh and Etienne to come as they were, heavy with their own stories, cultural background, artistic practices and languages.

“Le text, c’est ressentie. Communiqué, pas de traduction,” said Moumneh. 

They recited words and acts of kindness in English, French and Arabic, and transcribed them onto the stage’s wall and floor.

Kindness among the performers lay in their commitment and their limits, what they could each take on before going into an unhealthy place. They moved erratically with each breath, marking them with a harmonica stuck between their lips as they shook their shoulders, chests, and eventually their whole bodies.

“On part avec ce qui compte pour nous, c’est une manière d’être,” (we take away what we choose, it’s a way of life”), said Etienne.


For more from these artists, visit

and Radwan Ghazi Moumneh on Youtube, Google Play or deezer.


Accessibility, experimentation and self-determination

Open Action Night offers artists a safe space to share their work

Full disclosure: When Lorenza Mezzapelle (Assistant Arts Editor) pitched Chloë Lalonde (Arts Editor) her story ideas for this week, saying she wanted to reach out to the students who started Open Action Night, Chloë laughed – the exact text reads “Omg I am ded. I started open action night.” 

Painting, sculpture and film are prominent in the Montreal art scene, but where does one go to casually watch or engage in performance art?

Concordia students Merlin Heintzman Hope and Chloë Lalonde are hoping to change that with a new series called Open Action Night. Similarly to an open mic, participants are invited to sign up and perform anything.

“I think a lot of people want to see performance happening,” said Heintzman Hope, adding that most often, with the desire to perform comes an intensive application process, documentation, propositions, and juries, or alternatively, grading. “It’s not for visibility but rather, ‘oh I have these ideas, I have this live art work that benefits from being in front of people, and I want to be able to showcase it somewhere.’”

“Community-based and socially engaged artwork is a big focus for us,” said Heintzman Hope. “We started working together because we wanted to have more of that.” 

With a focus on building a community around performance, Open Action Night aims to be accessible and inclusive. “We want to emphasize the child-friendliness of [the space],” said Lalonde.

“We think about age accessibility and would like that to be more of a thing, where art is for all people, where it should be,” said Heintzman Hope. “It should go for much older folk, it should go for children.”

While there are no confines as to what one can present, performers are asked to be mindful of their work, in an effort to create a safe-space.

“People should be considerate,” explained Lalonde. “They should think about what they would feel comfortable having a child witness.” Moreover, performers are expected to trigger-warn their work.

 “There’s a space out there where you can feel at liberty to try things in front of a supportive community,” said Heintzman Hope.

As practicing artists, Heintzman Hope, a Painting and Drawing student, and Lalonde, an Art Education and Anthropology student, aim to draw inspiration from, and bring their practice into, the live sessions.

“Accessibility has been a consideration of mine, which ties into my practice in a few different ways,” said Heintzman Hope. “I’m a student-parent and the range of events that I can go to with my family is pretty narrow, particularly at school.” Heintzman Hope aims to share this personal experience, towards allowing for a more accessible and community-oriented space.

On the other hand, Lalonde aims to further her practice through observation. “I’m synaesthetic and I get a lot of sensation in colour, so it’s an experiment for me,” said Lalonde, who is interested in drawing sounds and movement. “If there’s nobody there, there’s also that idea of drawing the sounds of silence.” Synaesthesia is a trait that merges multiple senses, for example, someone with synaesthesia may be able to hear colors or see sound.

Described by Heintzman Hope as a space for artistic determination, Open Action Night creates an environment for performers to experience live art, or experiment with their own practice. Artists are invited to alter space, test out a new piece, or reperform an old one.

“It’s a real try space,” said Heintzman Hope. “If people want to show something rough, try something completely new, or if they don’t have a piece but they have a method of working.” He added that performers are welcome to work with instructions, in the dark, or to create a no-talking zone.

But there’s more to the project than just Open Action Night. Lalonde and Heintzman Hope have upcoming performance-related projects in the works.

“Should they know what it leads to?” asked Lalonde. “Is it too soon?”

“They should know that there are secrets,” added Heintzman Hope. ”It’s called Sessions Aléatoires, and we’ll find different ways to rope in artists into different risky schemes that have children involved.”

The next Open Action Night will take place on Dec. 12, beginning at 6 p.m., at the old Cafe X (VA-229), in the VA building. Further information about upcoming projects can be found on Facebook and Instagram (@sessions_aleatoires.) 


Feature photo: Balancing a spoon – Philippe Tremblay.

Photos by Cecilia Piga.


Finding strength in simplicity: reading and redefining dance

Needle and Thread is an ode to those who were lost

Every stitch, every letter spelled out during Needle and Thread retrieves the memories of 600 Holocaust victims. “We’re not going for spectacle,” Mindy Yan Miller said. “But authenticity, experience, feeling…”

Needle and Thread is a collaborative, commemorative performance by Mindy, a professor in the department of fibres and material practices at Concordia, and her sister-in-law, Suzanne Miller. Suzanne is a contemporary choreographer and dancer, whereas Mindy works primarily in installation and sculpture with used clothing, cowhide and human hair.

In this performance, Suzanne uses her body to spell out the names of the 600 Holocaust victims, wearing a long, patchwork skirt, which Mindy is tirelessly adding to. The massive garment is composed of many shirts, dresses, skirts and pairs of pants joined together with a simple blanket stitch. The names of the victims are recorded in the “Pages of Testimony” submitted to Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.

Mindy is the ground, my anchor, the base note [of Needle and Thread,] and I am the air,” said Suzanne.

Suzanne trembled, sweat gleaming off her chest, as she embodied the very lives and the stories behind the names she spelled. Her movements are not that of conventional dance, but of a gestural language that can only be understood through witnessing.

She reaches in, towards her chest, falls on the ground, covers her eyes with one, then two hands. She looks back, then up, she twists, clasps her hands, touching her elbow to her side.

Mindy stitches, never looking up, she is static. Only moving to reach into her tool pouch to thread a needle.

The names are spelled on a blackboard, as a man whispers them to the writer. She writes quickly, the name is spelled out, on the board, and by Suzanne. The writer erases, and moves on to the next. This takes 10 seconds.

“It’s not about provoking,” Suzanne said. Needle and Thread is jarring. The power of their actions resonate with the audience.

The sister-in-laws were invited to perform this piece in the Musée d’Art Contemporain as part of Off Parcours Danse, a dance conference that took place from Nov. 25-29 at Place des Arts. Needle and Thread was developed last year at “Jews and Jewishness in the Dance World,” part of a series of Jewish arts conferences held at Arizona State University, and has since been performed close to Jewish sites across North America and Europe. Each time, something changes, is lost or added, effectively creating a different experience for viewers. The skirt grows, bit by bit.


Photo by Britanny Clarke.


Anne-Audrey Remarais and the art of healing

How a Concordia student is using art to help people be kinder to themselves

Anne-Audrey Remarais is a Concordia student, studying Performance Creation. Prior to her current major, she studied theatre at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, where she got her first taste of performance art. Later, she went on to pursue a Bachelors in Social Work at McGill University.

That kind of academic background is one of the many things that inspires her pursuing a current career in art. Since Nov. 16, two of her visual art installations, Miwa, I … and Seeing and Be-Coming, have been on show at the VAV Gallery as part of the No.03 exhibition. Remarais is part of the many artists showcasing their pieces in the exhibition.

Seeing and Be-Coming is a beautiful interactive installation, a video projection with the words “Will you move with my shadow?” standing out. It shows two figures struggling to find a rhythm, as if they can’t seem to trust enough in each other to come together.

Seeing and Be-Coming.
Photo by Youmna El Halabi

Miwa, Iis not for the faint of heart. The installation is simple, a mirror, with headphones hung right next to it, in an empty room, but the emotional effect on the viewer is intense. Imagine standing in front of your reflection, with the words “I AM ENOUGH” written on the mirror, listening to words stemming from self-doubt, and insecurities, daring you not to sob.

“Performance comes in different ways,” Remarais said. “People in the creative space become the performers. I’m changing the way I view performance and realizing that a story can be told without the need for a script. It can be through lighting, through visuals, and I wanted to explore the different types of storytelling.”

What inspires Remarais the most is her own life and the highs and lows that come with it. 

“The past few years, I’ve been on this healing journey and throughout the year I’ve had a better understanding of what it means to be vulnerable, realizing through therapy that I needed to focus on that,” she said. “Building the foundation and routine of taking care of myself for real and being able to speak kindly to myself — I want to commit to it. Art helps me with that and including people with me like ‘let’s do this together, I don’t wanna do this alone.’ I feel like this is something we can all share, you know?”

Remarais first experienced a sense of unity and security at a visual arts installation in New College, at the University of Toronto, on April 7, 2018.

Song for the Beloved was an interactive performance honouring those who have died from urban violence in Kingston, Jamaica, linking these experiences to other forms of violence in communities around the world.

“It was an intimate healing experience,” Remarais said. “A space where we can come together, quietly. I remember thinking about my uncle even if we didn’t talk very much. I remember crying and being so touched by what I was seeing. To me it really was … it really fed my soul.”

As a person of colour, Remarais has dedicated part of her installation, specifically Miwa, I … , to the black community, and the suffering they have experienced throughout history. When asked if she ever felt a sort of political burden as a black artist, she shook her head.

“I feel like I haven’t done enough to have that identification in art,” she confessed. “But I’ve seen other people go through it. Especially people of colour — it’s like, people always ask them ‘how do you feel about the political state of the world?’ It’s ridiculous to focus on that and to give a person the responsibility to represent a whole community cause we’re all unique individuals. Yes, I’m black but it’s a subjective experience, even if it’s political.”

In Remarais’ words, her art can be summarized in three actions: healing, seeing, and dialogue. She wants people to feel comfortable enough to have a healthy dialogue with themselves, and others, about their suffering.

“[Art] gives me life,” she said. “It allows me to dig deeper into myself. I see it as an outlet.”

Remarais had planned on hosting a workshop called ”A spell for my healing,” dedicated to the black community to find their voices and create personalized loving mantras, prior to the exhibitions finissage. However, due to unforeseen infrastructural issues, VAV Gallery was forced to cancel both events, and close their space on Dec. 9. It will open again early mid-January.

Nevertheless, Remarais plans on making a pop-up workshop in the new year, and both Miwa, I … and Seeing and Be-Coming are up until Dec. 6 at the VAV Gallery.


Feature photo by Britanny Clarke.


Àbadakone: Global Indigenous artists at the National Gallery of Canada

Concordia students attend the annual art history bus trip to Ottawa 

On Nov. 9, Concordia students who attended the art history bus trip to Ottawa had the opportunity to visit the new exhibition Àbadakone / Continuous Fire / Feu continuel, currently on at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC).

In an enclosed room off to the side of the main gallery space at the NGC, visitors observe a video of an Indigenous woman washing a white woman in a metal bathtub. Both are silent; all that is heard is the loud sound of dripping water as the Indigenous woman gently washes the white woman’s face, hands, arms, legs and feet with a white cloth. The process is slow and methodical, each movement is careful and tender. It is not until the Indigenous woman begins to cry that visitors are removed from their comfortable state of observation and subsequently inserted into a place of pain and profound suffering.

Touch Me (2013), a video produced by Métis, Cree, Tsimshian and Gitksan artist Skeena Reece speaks of Indigenous trauma and centers on the connecting processes of healing between settlers and Indigenous women. This soothing act with water serves in releasing painful memories and ensues a silent restorative experience shared between the two women.

Reece is one of more than 70 contemporary global Indigenous artists taking part in the exhibition Àbadakone / Continuous Fire / Feu continuel  presently on at the NGC. Àbadakone, Algonquin for “continuous fire,” is the second exhibition to be held at the NGC that features Indigenous artists from around the world; the first being Sakahàn, Algonquin for “to light a fire,” which was held in 2013.

The works cover all mediums, including photography, beadwork, drawing, painting, digital installations and sculpture, and span across almost a dozen rooms. Àbadakone presents the works of Indigenous contemporary artists from countries such as Canada, the United States, Guatemala, South Africa, Finland, and Japan. Some of the artists featured in the exhibition are Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou, Sarah Sense, Barry Ace, Rebecca Belmore, Marja Helander and Dylan Miner.

Àbadakone’s curators have framed the exhibition in accordance with the themes of relatedness, continuity and activation. Wall text in the gallery reads: 

“Relatedness is the view that all things on the earth are our relations. This idea is fundamental to Indigenous worldviews. Relatedness – from the intimate to the global – reminds us of the responsibility inherent in art making to all living things as manifested in what is conventionally understood as the ‘art object.’”

“Continuity is relatedness across generations, histories and our futures. It helps us see that art is not static in time, but is in a constant cycle of change and renewal.”

“Activation is about presence: how an artist animates a space, an object or an idea through performance, video or viewer engagement.”

Other themes the exhibition explores include decolonization, Indigenous sovereignty, land-based knowledge, food insecurity, gender and identity, legacies of trauma and colonization, and practices of healing.

Many of the exhibition’s artists employ methods of ‘re-historicization’ and ‘re-narration’ to subvert and disrupt colonial histories and discourses. One such artist, Will Wilson, aims to dismantle the racist undertones embedded within colonial and ethnographic photography. His ongoing portrait series CIPX (Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange), that imitate the portraits of colonial photographer Edward S. Curtis, sees a disturbance of the colonial ethnographic gaze and consequently functions in reclaiming Indigenous agency and sovereignty.

During the upcoming months, Àbadakone will feature performance artists such as Peter Morin, as well as host workshops, film screenings, talks and other events.

The annual Ottawa art history bus trip is put on by Concordia’s Ethnocultural Art Histories Group, Concordia’s Undergraduate Journal of Art History, the Art History Graduate Student Association and the Department of Art History. In addition to visiting the National Gallery of Canada, other visits included the Ottawa Art Gallery and Carleton University Art Gallery.

The exhibition is on display at the National Gallery of Canada, at 380 Sussex Dr. in Ottawa, until April 5, 2020. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. 


Photos by Kari Valmestad.

Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Happening in and around the White Cube this week: Carrion

What does it mean to be human in an era where our destructive influence on our planet is quickly redefining the laws of nature? Justin Shoulder, an interdisciplinary artist from Sydney, Australia, questions just that. 

His main body of work, Phasmahammer, is a collection of personas developed from queer ancestral myth, embodied by their own distinct gestures and carefully crafted costumes.

Phasma, referring to spirits, and hammer referring to the German word, wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosity, are conjoined to give a name to Shoulder’s body or cosmology of spirits.

The name, which sounds like it could be a metal band, uses recognizable symbols from popular culture to make it accessible to all audiences.

Working with traditional cyborg archetypes, Shoulder uses his body to forge connections between queer, migrant, spiritual, and intercultural experiences.

Carrion is one of many such shapeshifting creatures navigating a post-Anthropocene world, trying to survive. Carrion, the name meaning rotting meat or flesh, begins as a tardigrade, a small microscopic organism that can survive extreme temperatures and transforms into various life forms throughout the piece.

Moving away from club scenes, short performances and installation work, Carrion will be performed at Monument-National over Halloween in Montreal, as the last stop after a four-week long tour throughout Europe.

In such a setting, Shoulder’s work brings together worlds requiring a theatre space to see into its narrative language of spectacle, cabaret and opera.

Unlike club spaces with overt symbols and competing stimuli, the audience is able to witness the becomings and all the in-between moments of liminal transformations. There will be no changing behind the curtain, pushing the function of multiple objects, removing all artifice, and revealing Carrion’s bare bones. Like a chimera, everything is reconfigured.

In Australia, Halloween is not the same cultural phenomenon as it is in North America. Though it has become more and more an applied celebration, mostly for commercial reasons, but also drawing in individuals to the potential to work with horror and community interaction. That being said, Carrion is not your typical Halloween party, nor is it your Rocky Horror Picture Show. Instead, it taps into ideas of horror, ritual and community spectacle, giving us something to see, something to witness, and something to think about.

For tickets and more information visit


Spotlight on Concordia Fine Arts at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema

The Concordian attends an art show put together by Concordia fine arts students for the Festival du Nouveau Cinema.


One of the shows depicted in the video is Vertige, a short film and live performance by Eva Myers and Mark Durand, and performers Candice Riviera and Olivia Jean Flores. 


Video by Calvin Cashen

Feature photo shows dancer Olivia Jean Flores performing in Vertige


Trueisms, actions without climax and dog training

“It’s a series of actions, really simple actions, focusing on the body,” said Emma-Kate Guimond about her performance at VIVA! Art Action,  a bi-annual ‘vibrant’ action-based performance art, social practice, and public intervention festival.

Before she begins, she warms up the topography of her body with a series of simple movements and stretches, like jumping jacks or simply standing on two feet, to become aware of her skin, her muscles… 

With a BFA in contemporary dance from Concordia, Guimond chose to pursue visual and performing arts in her postgraduate studies, focusing on presence (or the lack of it) in body-based exercises. She refers to the acts she performs as “trueisms,” actions that aren’t mundane, nor are they exciting. They simply have no punchline, no trick. Allowing decentralization to happen and refusing to be present during her performance, defining limits based on absolute “no’s.”

Guimond completed her MFA at UQAM with a project called Possible Performance. A script of actions at heart, Guimond wrote in the second person, addressing different types of impossibility – “you try to jump, but you also try not to jump”, “you hold the slab,” a giant silicone sculpture, “as long as you can.” She wrote about 30 of these and invited others to come to her studio to perform them.

“It was based on the economy of friendship,” she said. “A collective negotiation of how they could be in the space. I think the most intimate way of showing somebody a performance is by having them do it themselves.” 

With open individual sessions lasting for approximately 45 minutes, her final footage of the performance was six hours long. Her participants wore specific textured clothing, colour-blocked and vintage costumes selected by Guimond to resonate with her installation. She became fixed on the idea that, no matter how close you can get to someone, you can never become them, never know the inner workings of their minds. Her participants became scripted versions of herself – avatars.

“There’s a threshold there, of togetherness and aloneness,” Guimond explained. “One of the tags of my thesis was ‘Rehearsing being alone together,’ this idea of things being side by side but not necessarily integrated. It’s how I structure my performances.”

Guimond’s newer work, not entirely separate from her thesis project, breaks down these ideas into categories, rules to continue structuring her work.

“I adopted a dog in December and in dog training, they introduce this approach called the 3-Ds, distraction, distance and duration. I thought it was a really interesting structure for thinking about performance. Distraction is something I have worked on in my thesis, talking about decentralising attention within a performative space and at the same time, not having a protagonist, not having a hero and not having one thing happening at once, no focal point or narrative,” said the artist. 

Distance, on the other hand, refers to putting space between yourself and your dog, giving them a treat, leaving the room, and expecting them not to have eaten it yet. In dog training, distance is characteristic of obedience, which she decided to replace with deceleration.

“The best way to get over what we are going through as a society is to accelerate its process, a dangerous idea,” she continued. “Deceleration is this idea of anti-productivity. I kept thinking to myself, what is the performance I could do and keep going my whole life?”

Action-based performance can be quite chaotic; a series of things occur, a transformation happens that surprises the audience, but this isn’t what Guimond is putting forward. Her climaxless, ultimately pointless movements, are based on endurance, working with those ideas of duration, deceleration, distraction, and difficulty.

Difficulty is a thing that I work with a lot. Difficulty and possibility… the body having a hard time doing things…”

Whether clutching her ankles in a one-woman human triangle on top of a refrigerator or rolling stiffly and painfully slow across an uneven asphalt floor in a sculptor’s rented-out studio, Guimond’s performance art is surely strenuous, yet not impossible.

On Sept. 28, Guimond opened VIVA!’s final performance night of the Biennale with a projected video of her dog. “My dog for the duration of a cigarette,” said the artist into a microphone. She lit a cigarette, dropped it on the floor and removed her heeled oxford shoe, revealing a nude fishnet sock. Her foot blocked the smoke for a moment before stepping it out. “Tricks for the duration of a bone,” she continued, her actions intriguingly bizarre. “The pace required for the urine inside the plastic bottle to remain still as the bottle rolls.” Guimond wore a neon yellow dress and translucent, dirt-coloured raincoat. She removed a massive clump of neon yellow putty, slapped it to the floor and planked, pushing her face deep inside it. It’s form kept as she rose to her feet.

To see documentation of Guimond’s past work, visit




With files from Emma-Kate Guimond and VIVA! Art Action. Feature photo by Paul Litherland.




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