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Arts

Interdisciplinary exploration through collective knowledge

Concordia alumna Sandra Volny speaks about her latest project

Concordia graduate Sandra Volny explores concepts of sound and space through forms of collective knowledge and shared skills in her recent project, Sound and Space Research.

Volny is a multidisciplinary artist who splits her time between Paris, France and Montreal. A MFA graduate from Concordia University, she recently completed her PhD at La Sorbonne in Paris this past December. Through her work and research, Volny focuses on exploring concepts of sound and space, as well as their dualities and complexities. This can be seen in her video installation, where does sound go, where does it come from, which was exhibited at Concordia’s FOFA Gallery last fall.

Sound and Space Research continues Volny’s investigation of aural and spatial awareness, with the added component of collective knowledge and concepts of shared intelligence. This is done through the collaboration of interdisciplinary forms and shared learning experiences. Throughout her career, Volny has collaborated with other artists of various disciplines, each participating and bringing their specific expertise to a project and to their collective work.

Where does sound go, where does it come from, which focuses on the use of sound, specifically sonar in small fishing villages in Chile, was a collaboration through Volny’s collective, Triangular Project. Volny and two fellow artists, Florine Leoni and Macarena Ruiz-Tagle, traveled around Chile together and worked in tandem on their specific focuses and artistic practices within the theme of aural and spatial awareness.

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

It was with Triangular Project that Sound and Space Research first came to fruition in 2017. The project, in collaboration with the Ionion Center for the Arts and Culture in Greece, is an artistic research platform for participants of all expertise and disciplines.

Sound and Space Research is a week-long experience. Each day involves diverse activities and exercises, providing participants with a range of mediums to practice and explore. As part of the focus on shared knowledge, participants practice a wide range of primarily fine arts-based disciplines, including dance, music and visual arts, as well as architecture, wellness professions and anthropology. The project is not focused on participants’ previous accomplishments, but rather encourages and facilitates further growth on a personal and collective level. Participants come from all over the world, and do not require a particular level of education or experience to participate. Last year, however, about 60 per cent of participants were Concordia students or alumni, according to Volny.

Sound and Space Research is a very intense experience, with all of the participants living together, working together and sharing the same spaces. According to Volny, this intensity encourages and creates something special. Participants have to push themselves; each day consists of different activities in different forms and disciplines. This aspect ties into Volny’s own work process, in which she immerses herself in new environments and works in collaboration with other artists, such as her travels in Chile for where does sound go, where does it come from. This was a very intense experience for Volny, because she was meeting new people and exploring different facets of her research in a new environment, while also creating new work born from these experiences and interactions.

At the end of the program, there is a collective exhibition for the participants to showcase work they have created during the week. This final showcase is open to the public, as a component of the partnership with the Ionion Center, to encourage interaction between the artists and the community. This accessibility is important to Volny and for the participants, as it allows further connection with the community.

In mid-May, Sound and Space Research will once again take place in collaboration with the Ionion Center for the Arts and Culture. It will be organized by Volny, alongside sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard, who will work as a mentor in the program.
Sound and Space Research works outside of academic institutions, and a university degree or a specific level of expertise is not required to participate in this project. The project does have connections with academic spaces, though, and Volny said there are plans to expand it internationally, and eventually to Montreal.

More information about the Sound and Space Research project, including how to apply to this year’s session, is available on its website.

Feature photo courtesy of Sandra Volny

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Arts

Exploring sound, space and sculpture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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