Antioch: on having necessary conversations

Talisman Theatre’s new creation raises questions on representation of non-Western identities

Antioch is a digital theatre performance presented by Talisman Theatre. The show is a translated adaptation of the French text Antioche by author Sarah Berthiaume. The English version, directed by Sophie El Assaad, is driven by a desire to provide a more accurate representation of the Middle Eastern characters in the play through a story that details the communication struggles between an immigrant mother and her daughter. Presented on YouTube, the work is also an exploration of new digital possibilities for live art creations. The result is a powerful immersive theatre reading that invites viewers to engage with the performance while being comfortably seated and wearing a pair of headphones.

Antioch tells the story of Inas, her daughter Lily, and the archetypal figure of Antigone. Nora Guerch plays Inas, an immigrant and single parent troubled by her past. Interviewed by phone, Guerch explained that she was profoundly touched to play this multi-layered character. The actor described Inas as “a complex women who is profoundly full of a memory that she doesn’t want to face.”

Lily, played by Mona Maarabani, constantly rethinks the society and the world she lives in. Full of frustration, the teenager shares her thoughts with her friend Antigone, who died 2,500 years ago in her own Greek tragedy. They criticize the world together. Cara Rebecca plays a version of Antigone, who wears her toga despite the modern era she exists in, while also eating gummies. The character narrates the interactions between Lily and Inas . Lily also develops another relationship, this one through the internet. She chats with H, played by Ismail Zourhlal, a guy who lives on the other side of the world and shares her anger towards the system.

Lily and Inas live in the same reality, but it is shaped by their own experiences: Inas immigrated to North America to find a better life, and sees it as a place of opportunity while Lily suffocates in the Western lifestyle. Antioch examines their contradictory visions and how they can finally come together.

The line between fiction and reality is blurred, letting the viewers decide for themselves what is real or not. The abstraction present in the work is complemented by the visual identity created by Emily Soussana and Andrew Scriver’s multimedia company potatoCakes_digital. For Antioch, they created different settings where the action takes place. Throughout the work, digital effects are implemented and add layers of meaning to the text.

Jesse Ash is the sound designer for the piece. He also worked in collaboration with music consultant Skander Cherif to develop sound propositions that are truthful to the Middle Eastern characters of Antioch. When listening to the piece, viewers are encouraged to wear headphones to fully experience the sonic ambiance. The soundscape was created in a way that allows the  listener to feel as though they were in the room with the actors.

For Guerch, this experimental reading is a rich experience. She believes that digital theatre propositions like Antioch birth new possibilities for live art . “Arts evolve with time and that is an outgrowth of theatre that was born. It is not theatre. It is a child of theatre. […] It comes from theatre, but it unfolds through listening to the moment’s necessities,” she said.

The mission of the Talisman Theatre company is to translate Quebecois theatre pieces in order to make them accessible to an anglophone audience. For this project, they went beyond simple linguistic translation. They also worked with director Sophie El Assaad to adapt the text to make it closer to the Middle Eastern realities it depicts.

El Assaad has worked in the theatre field since 2015 and focused mostly on costume and set design. Antioch is one of her first directing experiences. Prior to working as the director of the piece, she did a lot of research related to the themes tackled in Antioch. For El Assaad, who is Lebanese and grew up in Bahrain, a country in the Persian Gulf, this work also relates to her personal artistic research.

“It is rare that I get to work on shows that pertain to my culture, and as an artist, in my personal practice, I am actively researching ways in which I can bring in aesthetics and ways of working that aren’t necessarily Western. I want to learn more about my identity, and I want to bring that in through my art, so doing the research for this project allowed me to do the research for my own practice,” she said.

For El Assaad, the project is also about having conversations that do not happen often enough. “We are all learning how to exist as a multicultural, diverse community, and so I saw this project as a way […] of having these very important discussions that don’t happen enough,” she said.

The showing is followed by a roundtable discussion featuring five artists. El Assaad is accompanied by Fuad Ahmed, Ghassan Zakarya, Hoda Adra, and Aquil Virani to discuss the issue with representation of non-Western realities by Western playwrights based on their reading of the original version of Antioche, as well as their personal experiences.

This conversation adds to the multiple layers of meaning present in Antioch. The profoundly touching theatre reading is described by El Assaad as a story on the power of vulnerability.  This openness gives Lily and Inas the opportunity to come together while trying to understand each other.

“For me, this piece isn’t about strength in the typical way, but it is about seeing how being vulnerable is actually being strong, and actually being able to compromise, and being able to let your guard down, and being able to let your weaknesses show. That’s so strong and that’s what power is,” El Assaad said.


Photo courtesy Surah Field-Green


What Will Come: a chaos inspired by boxes

Sébastien Provencher and Julia B. Laperrière’s new dance duo explores categorization and chaos

Sébastien Provencher and Julia B. Laperrière met over 10 years ago when they studied dance together at UQAM. While the artists both have their own projects, they have created together sporadically since their university days. They have been working on What Will Come since 2016. At the beginning of the creation process, one of the first objects that inspired them was a cardboard box that they found in a studio where they were rehearsing. The duo developed movement propositions related to explorations they did with the box which led to the start of the dance piece. The project evolved until it became its 2021 version, a dance duo examining the themes of categorization and chaos.

The performance begins with Provencher and Laperrière moving on a stage full of black and white objects. Boxes of different shapes and sizes are meticulously placed  around them. The floor and the back wall are white. The identity of the performers is unclear. They seem to be searching around the space, discovering the objects and each other with active gazes.

Laperrière explained that her inspiration for What Will Come came as she was reading a biology philosophy book that explained the development of categorization in the human brain. Her research evolved into reflections with Provencher on modern society’s obsession with categorizing everything. While the artists’ take on this theme is related to gender identity, they believe it can be linked to many different spheres.

“It is probably a survival mechanism to understand the world around us. So, we were interested in questioning the overcategorization of the things that surround us and how sometimes it can prevent us from being open-minded. But we are not judging it either, those categories can also be necessary to our personal emancipation,” said Provencher.

The choreographers explained that they often draw inspiration from the objects that they discover in spaces where they create. “Sébastien and I, we often work with materials, with objects, it is something that stimulates us a lot,” explained Laperrière. For this piece, the boxes that they use influenced the way they move during the performance. “My physicality became the physicality of the box,” explained Laperrière, who added that they looked at how “these objects contaminated [them].”

As the performance goes on, the organization of the setup on stage dissolves gradually. Touches of pink start appearing amongst the boxes and the lighting becomes more colourful. Laperrière explained that a second concept they worked with was entropy. This is a thermodynamic term that examines the notion of disorder and measures the disorganization of a system.

For the duo, this concept created an opposition with the overcategorization they were exploring. They saw the idea of chaos and loss of control in these principles. Provencher explained that they asked themselves “What happens when chaos emerges from this order that was created? Is there a second order that can be created? Is there something that can emerge afterwards?”

This chaos emerges on-stage as the movement changes, becoming more energetic, with the objects being thrown around, displaced, rearranged. For Laperrière and Provencher, this chaos came to life through accidents that occurred on stage. “In What Will Come, the notions of chaos, of disorder, and of accident are important. Therefore, it is important that if an accident happens it is a real accident. We react [to] the moment on stage and that brings the energetic increase, the accumulation,” said Laperrière.

Since these accidents are not planned, unpredictability is an important part of the dance piece. The performers operate with what they call “open compositional structures.” They know the tasks they must accomplish, but the way that they will complete them remains open to improvisation. “We are always looking for strategies to keep the work alive for us and for the audience,” said Laperrière.

The collaborators are also actively involved in the show with the interpreters. Composer Bráulio Bandeira is on stage with them. Bandeira reacts in real time to their movements, so the music is coordinated with the action and participates in its evolution. A similar principle is used for light design. Nicola Dubois adapts the duration of the different light ambiances to the action happening on stage.

This energetic piece is left open to interpretation for the audience to derive their own meaning from it. The choreographers developed occasionally absurd propositions to cultivate an ambiguity around their actions and the place where they happen. The work invites the audience into an unknown universe full of colours and geometric shapes. The dancers progress in this visually striking space towards a new organization of the objects and bodies on stage. For Provencher and Laperrière, the dance piece examines the idea of control. “We try to control our environment, but in fact we never know when our environment will take over,” said Laperrière.

What Will Come is presented at Tangente until Dec. 5. Tickets are available on their website.

Photo courtesy Denis Martin


Dancing in public: Danse Danse’s outdoor program presents Caroline Laurin-Beaucage’s work

How Danse Danse brought the performance to you

The Place des Arts Esplanade became an exploration space this weekend for performers in the dance creation titled Habiter nos mémoires by Caroline Laurin-Beaucage. The performance was part of Danse Danse’s outdoor program called Hors les murs kicked-off their fall season. On Friday and Sunday — Saturday had to be cancelled because of the rain — each of the eight performers spent an hour in an open cube that had been set up for them in the public space. The performances lasted from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for passersby to watch.

This performance followed Laurin-Beaucage’s solo piece that was initially titled Habiter sa mémoire. The artist’s idea was to bring the rehearsal space closer to the audience. Laurin-Beaucage said that her goal for this project was, “to bring my dance studio outside, to give me a new challenge and to explore what it means to work outside while generating an authentic dance.”

For Habiter nos mémoires, the artist shared her process with eight women aged between 25 and 60. Carol Prieur, Brianna Lombardo, Angélique Willkie, Ariane Levasseur, Susanna Haight, Marie-Reine Kabasha, Claudine Hébert and Marine Rixhon wore red clothing and started each moment in the cube by recording their voice. The improvisation that followed aims for the dancers to connect to the way their bodily sensations inspired them to move in that moment. Each hour was concluded by  recorded personal messages recalling what happened during the last hour.

Sound creator Larsen Lupin created a soundscape for the performances putting together the artists’ voice recordings. Visitors were able to access the soundtrack while watching. For Laurin-Beaucage, this was an important part of the presentation. She discovered that “the way we speak seems to fit the rhythm of our dance and it actually works, the soundtrack of our voice really accompanies our movements.”

Laurin-Beaucage’s process in the initial version of the project also included the same open cube and voice recordings. Laurin-Beaucage admitted that there is a kind of vulnerability that comes with presenting non-prepared movement propositions in front of an audience. She explored that vulnerability a lot as she presented the improvised outdoor exploration 32 times in the last five years in different locations and countries. Each event lasted approximately four hours, like a typical dance rehearsal would. She transmitted the knowledge she had gained in that process to the eight performers of Habiter nos mémoires when they were preparing for the event.

Habiter nos mémoires is one of the three dance pieces that are being presented by Danse Danse in the public space this fall. For Danse Danse’s artistic co-director and director of development Caroline Ohrt, the Hors les murs programming “gives audience members the freedom to wander […], it grasps the attention of people who do not necessarily come in the theatre.” The dance diffuser hoped to present an outdoor program last year, but the COVID-19 restrictions changed their plans.

Hors les murs started on Sept. 24,, with choreographer Sébastien Provencher’s piece Children of Chemistry presented in the windows of the 2-22 building on St-Catherine Street. Habiter nos mémoires followed on Oct. 1 and 3, alongside Sylvain Émard’s work Préludes, which was presented in the afternoon of Oct. 3. Émard’s outdoor presentation preceded his new show Rhapsodie, which is coming up in February 2022.

For more information on all of the pieces, please visit Danse Danse’s website.


Photo courtesy of Thomas Payette   


Collective 4891 launches their inaugural zine

Making art accessible and inclusive for all

Founded by Concordia Communications students Hannah Jamet-Lange and Shin Ling Low, Collective 4891 aims to foster a safe space for artists to create, regardless of their artistic medium.

“Our goal was always to create a safe space for people to share their art in,” said Jamet-Lange, adding that they wanted to make room for people who perhaps didn’t yet have the confidence to sign up for open-mics or more professional performance settings. “We felt like everyone was doing so many cool things, so many cool art projects, and we really wanted to see it in a context outside of school.”

The group initially organized art events in Jamet-Lange’s apartment. In fact, the collective is named after their old apartment number. In order to provide a platform for emerging artists to expand their practice and experience, the collective often took photos and videos, giving the creators a chance to add to their portfolio. However, despite being titled a collective, the team only consists of Jamet-Lange and Low, both of whom do everything from hosting the events to assembling their zines.

“We would love to make the collective a more literal sense of ‘collective,’” said Low, adding that they are interested in expanding their team in order to continue producing and hosting community projects and events.

“During [the open-mics] people would oftentimes build confidence during the event, after hearing other people perform and then decide on the spot ‘Hey, I’m going to perform something after all,’” said Jamet-Lange. “If people have the confidence and want to perform something they should have the availability to be able to do so.”

However, when the pandemic hit, they had to restructure the format in which their events were delivered, all while staying in line with their mandate of making art accessible to all.

Therefore, they decided to start a zine. The Community Care Edition of the Collective 4891 Zine features the work of over 20 creatives. In addition to serving as an art project to showcase the work of emerging artists, the zine also doubles as a fundraiser for Black Lives Matter.

How so? In order to obtain a copy of the zine, those interested are encouraged to make a donation to the cause of their choice — going local is highly encouraged — and submit proof of their donation. In return, those interested will receive their order by mail.

The zine features everything from paintings to poetry, giving people a chance to display what would have otherwise been placed on a wall or performed at one of the collective’s open-mics.

To accompany the launch of their inaugural zine, the collective will be hosting a virtual artmaking event and launch at the end of April. Here, artists who contributed to the zine will be able to share their work, in an effort to allow people to connect with the art and artists who contributed.

For more information about Collective 4891 and their upcoming launch event, follow them on Instagram or Facebook. Those interested in receiving more details on obtaining a copy of the zine or donating to a cause, visit this website.


Photos by Matilda Cerone.


How live art adapts to social distancing

Montreal’s 14th annual OFFTA festival has rethought its programming

An annual artistic event created in conjunction with the Festival TransAmériques (FTA), the OFFTA is a Montreal-based festival dedicated to avant-garde creation in live art. Produced by LA SERRE — arts vivants, a non-profit creation platform which works year-round to support local emerging performance artists, the festival will feature live art performances to be presented both online and outdoors, in an effort to adapt to social distancing.

This year, the festival will take place from May 22 to 32. Yes, you read that right. Another day, May 32. Similar to the reorganization that we are currently facing in our daily lives as a result of the pandemic, this new day was imagined to create a deceleration and allow for a new relationship with time. This edition brings together necessary artistic voices that tackle the idea of time, thereby inviting the public to reflect upon different realities.

“We wanted to give people more time to take in other temporalities, lending another rhythm to what might seem inevitable to us,” writes Vincent Repentigny, LA SERRE’s artistic and general director, in the editorial published on their website. “We tried to create new time, draft new calendars, imagine new interstices that we can fully occupy, coordinate widespread deceleration and abandon ourselves to this force that we cannot control.” 

Amongst the fifteen live art creations that will be part of the festival, interdisciplinary artist Mélanie Binette will present her latest work. She is the co-founder of Milieu de Nulle Part, a collective interested in site-specific creation. The original version of her work, Errances, was created in memory of her father, who died of a heart attack at Theatre Maisonneuve in 2002. The interactive piece consisted of leading one person at a time, by the hand, through a walking tour of the underground corridors and the esplanade of Montreal’s Place-des-Arts.

In an effort to adapt to the current situation, Binette will not take participants by the hand for the OFFTA. Instead, to experience what Errances has become, they will be invited to go on self-guided walks in their respective neighbourhoods, while listening to an audio guide narrated by Binette.

To preserve the connection between the artist and the public, as one would have in the one-on-one experience, Binette invites participants to book a phone call with her to discuss their encounter with her work. The worldwide crisis we are going through is making mourning a part of our daily lives. Thus, Binette’s work proposes an opportunity to reflect on issues we are facing, both individually and globally.

While Binette’s piece takes the public outside, other performances will take place online. Hugo Nadeau’s work, Nous campions loin des endroits où la mort nous attendait, will be presented via Twitch Livestream. The audience will be invited to watch commentary of a video game created by Nadeau himself. Titled Nous aurons, the game is based in a post-apocalyptic world set in the year 2197.

Moreover, Toronto-based artists Andrea Spaziani and Matt Smith will present a rethought dance partition.  Spaziani’s choreography explores the archetype of Venus, which she describes as an ensemble reconstruction of the feminine persona of Venus, displayed through aquatic behaviour. Titled Silver Venus Redux, this creation has been transformed for the OFFTA festival as a dance score to be watched, or listened to, with headphones. The audience will be able to listen to the recording of the sound of the six dancers performing the choreography, and to view images of the cinematic landscape of Silver Venus Redux by Alejandro Fargosonini.

In addition, OFFTA will be offering a series of five artist-driven round table discussions organized by Montreal-based interdisciplinary artistic collective PME-ART, titled Vulnerable Paradoxes. These discussions between artists and professionals will address questions, and raise issues, regarding the place of performance art in society and the relationship between performance artists and their audience.

Through its multifaceted interdisciplinary programme, the OFFTA will be an experimental laboratory for the artists and the public alike. Alone at home, participants will be confronted with their own thoughts, distractions, and maybe even with boredom.

“If we don’t know yet what will remain of the world that we are now leaving behind, or what to expect next, we make the daring gamble to invent a deconfined festival,” writes Repentigny, in a statement published on the OFFTA’s website. “We invited the artists to present original artworks, thus allowing their necessary voices to reach you.”

Via performances, balcony parties, discussions and interactive projects, the festival has planned various events to create a sense of community. The goal is ultimately to preserve the precious link between artists and their audiences, in whatever form it takes, despite the challenges that may arise.

In an effort to make the event as accessible as possible, people can choose to pay what they can through a variety of pass options.  For OFFTA’s full program and schedule, and for further information, visit


Who was Mileva Marić?

Marić at the Lake casts a shadow on Einstein

Did you know that “Einstein” or “ein stein” means “one stone” in german? “Ein” is “one,” and “stein” is “stone.” Mileva Marić (say, Mil-ehva Marrritch), is a slavic name, with a less obvious meaning. Some search results show that “Mileva” means “favourite,” others show that “mileva,” or “милева” is bulgarian for “mile,” and “Marić” can be broken down into many things. “Mari,” in french, refers to “husband,” but in romanian, “mari” means “big.” “Marić” could also just so happen to be a common name in Serbia, like “Smith” or “Boucher,” which allude to the profession of the family’s ancestors. One particularly interesting website (, states, rather negatively, that “Maric” is the name of an ambitious, work-oriented, introverted person who is logical, motivated, aggressive and uncompromising.

Mileva Marić (1875-1948), Albert Einstein’s first wife, seems to embody all of the above, or at least, the way Concordia’s theatre department portrayed her did. With the spotlight shining ever so brightly on the physicist who defined the theory of relativity, one of two pillars of modern-day physics, Marić fell in his rather large shadow. But, as they say, behind every man is a great woman一only popular culture can’t seem to define how great a woman Marić was.

There have been continuous, inconclusive debates about her potential contributions to Einstein’s work, which serves as the foundation for Marić at the Lake. The play, a collaboration across programmes in the department of theatre, is a reaction to the 1976 opera, Einstein on the Beach. Composed by Philip Glass and directed by Robert Wilson, this five-hour opera was epic and magical, though it focused entirely on Einstein’s genius. Concordia’s rendition to this painstakingly long number was equally brilliant, speculative, much more inclusive, and only 75 minutes long.

In director Cathia Pagotto’s notes, she writes, “despite Marić’s hardships, we choose to believe she may have observed the patterns in her life with poetic objectivity, that she would have seen the absurdity, tragedy, and poignancy of her surroundings, and embraced the beauty of a life that appeared to have fallen on the wrong side of relativity.” Pagotto, the cast, production and design team, did just that.

With a cast playing rotating roles, everyone got a chance to portray Einstein and Marić in their own way. The devised play was created through collaboration, improvisation and trial and error. Marić at the Lake brought together design, acting and performance creation students from across the department of theatre.

Design and performance creation come together in the fall for a six-credit class where they began to workshop ideas for a show that will take place in March or April. Once the script and storyboard are lined up, actors apply for a three-credit course that will select them for one performance or another. What made Marić at the Lake a particularly unique experience was the visual script. Ideas had to be represented in movement according to the actors’ own strengths, talents and abilities.

The actors, part of the theatre departments Acting for the Theatre and Performance Creation programmes, had the rare opportunity to perform non-verbal roles. Their storyline was carried instead through movement, similar to a dance or silent film. Some students in the Design for the Theatre program came together in a performance creation class to layout the visuals for the play, ensuring every element was striking enough to speak for itself.

Þórhildur Sunna Jóhannsdóttir designed the play’s many costumes, ranging from traditional Serbian-inspired garb, suits, dresses and giant bubbles. Not only did they situate the time and mood of the piece, but they added just an extra bit of humour, speaking volumes to a clouded story.

Jóhannsdóttir’s Marić claims the stage as her own, diminishing Einstein. This is Marić’s story.

The set design, by Anna Toneguzzi, was kept rather simple, with a slavic-inspired rug, symbolic of Marić’s ties to her family and culture, and clouds up in the sky, for Einstein’s air of importance.

Einstein and Marić work together, and at opposite ends of the room, furiously scribbling away. The two physicists met at a university in Zurich, and took to each other immediately. During school holidays they would exchange letters, some of which are the only proof of Marić’s role in Einstein’s discoveries.

From Scientific American magazine,

In August 1899, Albert wrote to Mileva: “When I read Helmholtz for the first time, it seemed so odd that you were not at my side and today, this is not getting better. I find the work we do together very good, healing and also easier.” Then on 2 October 1899, he wrote from Milan: “… the climate here does not suit me at all, and while I miss work, I find myself filled with dark thoughts – in other words, I miss having you nearby to kindly keep me in check and prevent me from meandering”. 

Whether the piles of books on Marić’s head were proof of her own commitment to mathematics or just a burden she was carrying remains unclear. Considering these debates, Pagotto gave justice to Marić’s story, telling it beautifully. 



Photos courtesy of Antoine Saito.


Happening in and around the white Cube this week…

Can construction and art overlap?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Feeling, touching, and hearing performance art

Art is and, for the most part, always has been a feast for the eyes. It is delightful to look at a painting and recognize the emotion in the subject’s facial expression, to experience a multicoloured light show at a concert, and to watch costumes glittering as dancers sway and leap during a performance. But what if you could not see? How does one experience art if they cannot see?

Blindfolds are required throughout the performance and audience members are directed through the performance, through touch, music, and narration.

This is a question that Audrey-Anne Bouchard wants to answer. Bouchard is a multidisciplinary artist, performer, and professor at Concordia and the National Theatre School of Canada. Her latest show camille: un rendez-vous au délà du visuel is currently being presented at Montréal, Arts Interculturels (MAI) in the Plateau.

“I asked myself, what do people who cannot see at all retain from a dance performance or theatre?” said Bouchard. “They were telling me that they are always aware that [they are] missing a part of the show, so I came up with the hope of creating a piece where they wouldn’t be missing anything.”

camille: au délà du visuel, a performance piece which tells the story of a loss of friendship, aims to create an immersive, multi-sensory experience.

“I knew from the very beginning that [the show] was going to be immersive,” said Bouchard. “For me, it meant that the spectator would be immersed in the set of the piece; they would be able to understand through space, touch, sound, and texture, the environment in which it takes place.”

Inspired by her own disability, Bouchard created au délà du visuel, or beyond sight, a project aiming to enable a new audience-one who normally wouldn’t be able to access theatre and dance shows-to experience performance art.

“[The loss of my eyesight] came very progressively,” explained Bouchard, who suffers from Stargardt’s disease. “I started losing sight when I was around 17 but it took several months before they could find out what the origin of the problem was.”

Bouchard, who has always worked within the performing arts, noted that it only occurred to her about 10 years after the fact that her practice is very visual.

“It’s interesting because I created a job for myself where I can work with my eyes closed; I created a context where my disability is not a disability at all,” she said. ‘“I did a lot of research on the visual aspect of theatre and dance and I realized that this is kind of a paradox, that I’m losing sight and working with such a visual discipline.”

This inspired Bouchard to further her research and discover what it is that artists share through their art that does not necessarily have to be shared through sight.

“It was obvious then that the piece had to be immersive,” explained Bouchard. “To share with people, I need to be close with my performers.”

camille: au délà du visuel allows for the spectator to be fully immersed in the set, alongside the performers. Blindfolds are required for those without any visual impairments and audience members are directed through the performance, through touch, music, and narration.

“We also welcome people who have different kinds of disabilities,” said Bouchard. “We can guide you through a show if you’re in a wheelchair.”

Bouchard noted that the distance between the stage and the audience is what makes performance art very visual, by default.

“If we eliminate that distance then we have access to all of [the spectators’] tools,” she explained. “[We had to find out] how can you share the performance of an actor when you don’t see him.”

The development of the project took over three years and was very theoretical. “We created a new creative process methodology with this project,” Bouchard said. Through working with people who are visually-impaired and through research, Bouchard created a new way to work.

“To share with people, I need to be close with my performers,” explained Bouchard.

This new process methodology inspired Bouchard and the team of performers and artists she works with to develop a series of workshops.

“We designed a workshop to teach students or other artists how to work that way,” Bouchard said. “I think that now we have to keep working and creating work altogether for an audience living with visual disabilities and other disabilities that we would like to address as well.” Bouchard’s workshops, which will be both interactive and theoretical, are in the works and will be further developed over the course of the upcoming year.

“I see a desire from the arts consult to encourage more accessibility […] to all kinds of audiences who don’t normally have access to the arts,” said Bouchard. “It is becoming more and more present, and it’s changing. I’m benefiting from it, but I’m also hoping to help make it happen in the future; I hope that my work is also a great example of how the creative process that we use everyday works, but that there are so many other ways to create art that can be explored.”

camille: un rendez-vous au délà du visuel is being presented until Sept. 22, at Montréal, arts interculturels, at 3680 Jeanne-Mance St., suite 103. Further details regarding showtimes can be found at


Photos courtesy of Laurence Gagnon Lefebvre


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Mesmerizing. Ingenious.

Those two words come to mind when thinking about Ragnar Kjartansson’s A Lot of Sorrow. I’ve visited the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) to see it three times. I’ve never seen the whole thing (it’s six hours long) – so every time I go it’s at a different part. Kjartansson, an Icelandic performance artist, convinced The National, an American band he was obsessed with, to perform their song “Sorrow” for six hours straight at the MoMA PS1 in New York City in 2013. The recorded footage, now property of the MAC, is exhibited every three years or so.

With each repetition, new sounds are heard. Whether it is just you paying attention to different notes or the band experimenting, I couldn’t say for sure. The room is big and dark, walled with black curtains and a long comfy stool, or perhaps it’s a couple of smaller stools pressed together, existing in the centre of the space. People sit and lie there, watching. They also sit or lie on the floor, some for a couple of minutes, others for hours to watch the endless concert.

The song loops perfectly, a consistent light drumming tying it all together. By now I’ve memorized the lyrics too, but they were my own. I know the actual ones too, they just evolve after each listen. “Cover me in ragan balm,” it’s rag and bones, “and sympathy…” “It’s in my honey. It’s in my bed,” it’s in my milk. Everyone in the room hears something different. Some are smiling, laughing quietly to themselves, others look solemn, they feel the sorrow, a whole lot of sorrow.

In an article by The Art Newspaper, Kjartansson is quoted saying, “the notion of melancholia creates something that makes me happy, in creating.” Wallowing in sorrow rarely stays as such, especially when listening to The National on repeat. It’s silly. It’s beautiful. It’s tiring.

The band’s exhaustion sets in, their suits disheveled, sweaty, hungry, and drunk. The stage becomes littered with bottles, water and wine, platters of fruit, candy… I would have stayed all six hours too if I could eat and drink in the exhibition hall.

The concept is simple enough. The song is the right one.

A Lot of Sorrow will continue to loop at the MAC until Oct. 6. Admission is $7 for students, half-price on Wednesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m and free on the first Sunday of the month for Quebec residents.


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Theatrical release: Dérive

What does it take to make a film? After 13 years of planning, writing and filming, Concordia film production graduate, David Uloth’s feature film was finally released in theatres on March 8, International Women’s Day. A drama, Dérive showcases the strength of a mother and her two daughters navigating a recent loss in the family.  

For showtimes, consult


FARR Art Book Symposium

The Fine Arts Reading Room (FARR) is a library resource at Concordia University which offers residencies, computer access and printing services. The symposium will consist of a series of events and workshops. On March 26, Tommi Parrish will lead an artist talk at 3 p.m., followed by a zine-making event. At 3 p.m. on March 27, Taylor of Bookbinder’s Daughter will lead a binding workshop, and on March 28, the symposium will end with a zine fair from 12 to 5 p.m. and a publication grant finissage from 5 to 7 p.m.

  • When: March 26-28
  • Where: EV Junction (EV2.785)
  • All events are free and required materials will be provided



apəTHē/, or “apathy” is a play created and written by the students of PERC490, Performance Creation Mainstage, a year-long theatre production class. Sara Jarvie-Clark, FASA general coordinator, theatre student and musician (who performed at Somewhere Shared’s event, Somewhere Inside), and Scarlet Fountain, intern at Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR) and artist behind the Rope Project, are among several students involved in the production.  

  • When: March 27-30
  • Where: F.C Smith Building, The Cazalet Theatre (Loyola Campus)
  • For show times and tickets visit
  • Tickets are $12 for general admission and $7 students and seniors.
Conversations in Contemporary Art presents Andréanne Abbondanza-Bergeron

Andréanne Abbondanza-Bergeron is a Montreal-based artist, teacher, Concordia alumna and current artist-in-residence at Concordia University as the 2017 recipient of the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Fellowship in Contemporary Art. Abbondanza-Bergeron is inspired by architecture, working with sculpture and installation to “point out the disparities between inside and outside, as they point out to various forms of built and social structures of control; dictating access or rejection into a specific structure or relationship,” as described on the event page. For more information about the Conversations in Contemporary Art talk series, visit

  • When: March 29 at 6 p.m.
  • Where: de Sève Cinema, McConnell Library Building (LB-125).
  • The event is free and open to the general public

Drawing a line between truth and fiction in marketing

Drib spins an original tale with a truthful core by embellishing the details

Amir Asgharnejad is a Norwegian Internet performance artist. Or, at least, that’s what he calls himself. He’s more of a provocateur who likes to see how far he can push boundaries.

His videos, in which he instigates physical conflicts with people who are usually much bigger and stronger than he is, typically end with him getting beaten and bloodied.

His Internet fame led to him being called by an advertising and marketing company to help promote Drib, an energy drink. Drib, directed and written by Kristoffer Borgli, tells the story of the events that followed. Facts and embellishments intermingle to create a hilarious docu-fiction that brings the audience right to the middle of the pretentious L.A. marketing world. The film premiered at the South by SouthWest Festival in Austin, Texas on March 12.

In the film, Asgharnejad, who plays himself, agrees to become a spokesperson for this international, American-based ad agency. To him, this becomes the stage for his next great performance. To them, it means capitalizing on the Internet trend of stupid stunts going viral. Their target market is boys aged 13 to 17, and they are positive that Amir holds the key to this demographic. Creative director Brady Thompson (Brett Gelman) has a vision for the energy drink campaign. Describing energy drinks as something that loosely keeps a balance between immortality and collapsing from exhaustion, he flies Asgharnejad over from Norway to take part in the project.

The film makes a farce of the marketing agency and the God complex of creative director Thompson, who keeps insisting Asgharnejad is not ‘part’ of the corporate world—his line of work just happens to be ‘in’ it.

The story is a meta-satirical analysis, poking fun at the unglamorous reality of marketing, but also poking fun at itself. It is a movie filming people filming people, told from Asgharnejad’s point of view. Because of this, there is a slight slant in the ridiculousness, as the characters involved are all over the top. The clients are hard to deal with. The actors are finicky. Thompson’s protectiveness over his creative work is overwhelming. Drib tries to not take itself too seriously, yet the ‘seriousness’ of the situation is what’s funny.

One of the challenges of the film was working with Asgharnejad—a point made clear by breaking the fourth wall to let the audience know. Whenever he felt Borgli’s vision was taking the film in a direction he didn’t agree with, Asgharnejad would improvise and change his lines or actions—the outtakes of which are included in the film. This makes Drib not only a movie about Asgharnejad’s experiences, but his stubbornness as well. It also serves to remind the viewer that, although the core story is true, there were creative licenses taken.

For more information on Drib, visit their website.


Steel and canvas – the art of body modification

In the world of expressive art forms, painting is one of the longest standing practices used to showcase the beauty of nature, humans, architecture and religious ideology.

Photo by Jocelyn Beaudet

The concept of body modification, while not new by any means, has garnered a significant degree of popularity as the new millennium unfolded.

No longer was the generation gap between those seeking to become a canvas for their artistic venture stuck in the single digits. The young, the old, men and women have all begun participating in this tribal rite, giving the culture of body modification a new medium through which to display its endearing, exotic allure.

But what happens when old practice meets new? When painting and body art fuse together?

One of the answers to this can be found at Jennie Philpott’s art exhibit titled Modified. With canvas renditions of various people and parts donning unconventional and controversial tattoos and piercings, some may be shocked at the lengths that some individuals would go to in order to reach a sense of satisfaction with their body image.

One thing that Modified does particularly well, is go beyond the notion that beauty is skin deep.

The 10-part exhibit covers piercings from facial to labial, and illustrates beautiful, vivid colours that evoke the emotion and power that these acts of modification mean to their owners.

These bright depictions help captivate the eye and focus on the finer details that each brushstroke has provided to these canvases.

What sets Modified apart is how boldly it approaches the subject, foregoing subtle touches to ease the viewer into the sight of these new depictions.

What remains is a raw, unchained presentation that begs to be recognized, but also distanced from its modern peers. It challenges the notion of beauty through traditional agendas and discards the normative stereotype associated with external charm.

When stepping into the gallery, you are greeted by three smaller paintings, two that are re-renditions of a larger, more prominently displayed painting at the end of the room. These harbour a different colour scheme and are portrayed with different textures and brush styles.

When reaching the open, brightly lit center of the room, one is greeted with several, much larger canvases.

These give context to the gradual evolution of the art form and help create a timeline to guide oneself by.

The large canvases at the center present a varied selection of colours and palettes and showcase a spectrum of styles, from the realistic, proportionate, painting of a man with several plugs, piercings and a pair of goggles, to a closeup of an earlobe adorned with an eyelet and several captive bead earrings.

Philpott’s centerpiece, though, is the closeup of a model wearing a mask, and sporting bright green plugs in her earlobes.

While one may think that this is the representation of the exotic, the piece represents a piercer, wearing her trademarked protective mask.The choice of cool colours and sharp edges help bring out the details of the piercer’s beautiful features, and ties the exhibit together in one thematic display.

Regardless of your stance on body modification, or whether or not you harbour any of them yourself, Modified is an exhibit that sends a very strong message – it will reset your standards on the topic of beauty, and dispel prejudice you may have had about piercings and tattoos.
You can check out the exhibit, Modified at the Rats 9 Gallery – 372 St. Catherine W. Suite #530 until Nov. 23.

 See our photo essay here.

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