Happening in and around the white cube this week…

Three years ago the white cube began as a list of art happenings in and around Montreal. Last year, the column took a turn into my own art thoughts and experiences. When the pandemic hit, and Lorenza Mezzapelle took over as arts editor, the column ceased. But now that exhibitions are back, so is the white cube. Here’s to hoping they don’t shut down these cultural institutions any time soon *wine glass emoji*.

Happening in and around the white cube this week… 


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Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery: Concordia LB Building – Bishop Street entrance.
Edith Brunette and François Lemieux, Going to, Making Do, Passing Just the Same. Until March 27.

Galerie Nicolas Robert: 10 King St.
Carl Trahan, La nuit est aussi un soleil and Ghazaleh Avarzamani Particular Good Game for Self Punishment. Until March 13.

McClure Gallery: 350 Victoria Ave.
Marie-Eve Martel (Concordia Alumni), Hétérotrophies. Until Feb. 27

OBORO: 4001 Berri St., #301
Christof Migone, Press Record. Until March 20.

Art Mûr: 5826 St. Hubert St.
Group exhibition for Art Mûr’s 25th anniversary, Terra Nova | Looking at the present and the future. Until April 24.

Bradley Ertaskiran: 3550 Saint-Antoine W.

Marie-Michelle Deschamps, Oasis, and Celia Perrin Sidarous, Flotsam. Until March 13.

Blouin Division: 2020 William St.
Group Exhibition, Quarante. Until Feb. 27

ELLEPHANT: 1201 Saint-Dominique
Group exhibition, Floating Paper. Until April 3.

VOX: 2 Sainte-Catherine E, #401
Sky Hopinka, Dislocation Blues. Until May 29.


New galleries

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Somewhere GalleryVisits by appointment. 6830 Ave. du Parc #358. Alternative gallery space set up in an office building, owned and curated by recent Concordia Fine Arts graduate, Katherine Parthimos.

  • Digital Daydream, Feb. 20-27. Featuring five emerging artists and recent Concordia graduates.
  • Upcoming VAV Gallery collaboration, yet to be announced, date set for March 17-24.

Gallery Jano Lapin: 3819 Wellington St. Exhibition space and artist studios for rent.

  • Ribboned Rainbow until March 12. Celebrated creativity during the pandemic, curated by gallery owner, Anne Janody and visual artist/recent Concordia Fine Arts graduate, Jose Garcia.
  • Upcoming: My Magic Reality. From March 28, featuring over twenty local artists. Curated by Marilyne Bissonnette


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Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA):  By reservation only.

    • Manuel Mathieu, Survivance. Until March 28.
    • Yehouda Chaki, Mi Makir. À la recherche des disparus. Until March 14.
    • Group exhibition, GRAFIK! Until July 3. 
    • Riopelle : à la rencontre des territoires nordiques et des cultures autochtones. Until Sept. 12.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC): By reservation only.

  • John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea. Until April 4.
  • Recent acquisitions, Des horizons d’attente. Until Sept. 19.
  • Group exhibition, La machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux. Until April 25.

Canadian Centre for Architecture: By reservation only. 

  • Main galleries: The Things Around Us: 51N4E and Rural Urban Framework. Until Sept. 19.
  • Octagonal gallery: Eye Camera Window: Takashi Homma on Le Corbusier. Until Aug.15.

McCord Museum: Reservation recommended.

  • Christian Dior. Until May 2.
  • Robert Walker, Griffintown – Evolving Montreal. Walking exhibition. Until March 7.


Warehouse studio hubs and artist-run-centres

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Fonderie Darling: 745 Ottawa St.

Belgo: 372 Ste. Catherine W

*More but potentially out of date information about the many individual galleries within the Belgo building available here. I guess you’ll just have to go and see for yourself! 

5445 & 5455  de Gaspé Ave:

Never Apart: 7049 St-Urbain








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Place Publique, Fonderie Darling: 745 Ottawa St. Until April 11.  Everything Merges, Emerges, then Fades Again: Selected works from artists-in-residence at the Fonderie Darling over the course of the pandemic to date.

Cinematheque québécoise: 355 De Maisonneuve E.
Jamais seul. Until April 4. Free entry to view video installation by Stéphane and Philémon Crête.
Catherine Ocelot, une année à la Cinémathèque. Until April 11. Culminating work from Ocelot’s artist residency.
Exhibition: Excursion dans les collections : l’image à la maison. Until May 23.


Vitrine exhibitions

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La Centrale galerie Powerhouse: 4296 St-Laurent Blvd.
B.G- Osborne, A Thousand Cuts. Until March 21.

Pierre-François Ouellette: 963 Rachel E.
Ed Pien, Somnambulists and Luc Courchesne,  Anamorphosis. Until March 13.

Articule: 262 Fairmount W.
tīná gúyáńí (Deer Road), k’ō-dī īyínáts’īdìsh (new agency). Closed Feb. 21. Upcoming programming available here.


Upcoming Exhibitions and Festivals

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Fondation PHI pour l’art contemporain: 451 & 465 Saint-Jean
Lee Bae, UNION. From Feb. 24 until June 20. By reservation only.

Centre Phi: 315 Saint-Paul W.
Multiple exhibitions and virtual experiences. Reopening in-person on Feb. 24. 

Projet Pangée: 1305 Pine Ave. W
Group exhibition, The ideal place is an open field. Feb. 25 until April 3.

Art Souterrain:
The 13th edition of the festival will feature the work of over 30 artists and performers, both online and in-person, from Feb. 20 to April 30. More information here.

Art Matters: More information and updates to come here



Happening in and around the white cube this week…

Changing the way we interact with each other, technology, and the way we make art

Hello, and welcome to the white cube, online version. Should this be a podcast? Maybe.

Over time, I’ve gone through waves of whether or not I wanted the white cube to be capitalised and this is it, finally: no caps. It will just be in italics, that way you know I am referring to this column and not to an actual white cube. Moving on.

I have spent more time than ever on my computer this week. It’s truly astonishing. I’ve used it for everything. Working, writing, countless emails, bingeing Tiger King, and of course, becoming a ~digital artist~. So, I’ve taught myself how to make gifs using powerpoint and a screen recording Chrome add-on and, since I don’t have photoshop, I’ve been playing around with more Chrome add-ons, like Sumo Paint. My style is painterly, naive and wobbly—oh, how I have grown to love this word over the past two weeks.

I feel wobbly. Picture a jelly bean on its back, rocking back and forth. It can only stay still on its side. It’s unstable, and that’s how I feel. I don’t feel sad or angry, nor do I feel worried or anxious. I know this current situation is out of my control, and I’m riding the waves. I’ve lost my footing and I’m finding it again. I don’t want to talk about the c-word anymore.

Instead, let’s talk about this Instagram account, belonging to Max Siedentopf, a German multidisciplinary visual artist and now apparently, my wobbly dream-come-true.

Look, I had no idea who this guy was when I stumbled upon the account (between falling asleep during Baumgartner Restorations’ Youtube videos,) but I was immediately enthralled by his Home Alone project. As I’m writing this, Siedentopf’s account is home to 50 ways to occupy yourself while you are home during this global crisis, or more nicely put, Global Crisis of Being Stuck at Home: a survival guide. Check it out. You are very welcome.

Siedentopf posts the next day’s challenges on his Instagram story, inviting followers to choose and photograph themselves doing them, for him to share in galleries on his feed the following day.

Home Alone Day 9  (March 27)

  1. Place your bed vertically
  2. Find a way to communicate with aliens
  3. Build your own indoor mountain
  4. Use your mouth to become a human fountain
  5. Sleep in your bathtub for variation
  6. Wear all your jewelry at the same time to stand out

This bit of participatory/interactive performance art almost feels like a meme. Though Siedentopf is initiating the performances, he isn’t actually doing them. His prompts are simple, yet incredibly bizarre, resulting in the uplifting content we didn’t know we needed. Siedentopf’s creative endeavour stands out against the waves of posts tagged with “isolation art club” and “quarantine art club.” There is a surreal pressure on creativity right now. With all this time we have, we’re forced to face a burst of inspiration or stagnancy, telling ourselves we have no excuse to not exercise our artistic practices and creative hobbies.

I can’t help but wonder what the world will be like post-c-word. The way we interact with each other, technology, and the way we make art is changing more and more everyday.

On Animal Crossing, some artists are even throwing together virtual exhibitions. Most recently was Brighton-based artist, Stephanie Unger, who hosted an ultra-creative exhibition on the game, inviting players from around the world to visit.

Can you taste the future isolation-flavoured art world?


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.)



Happening in and around the white cube this week…

Intro to arts writing 101 with Chloë

First thing: when I say arts writing I don’t mean art criticism. You’re allowed to have an opinion, but keep that out of it, for the most part. Who are we to judge work? Who is anyone to judge work? I don’t care how many years you went to art school for, it’s not your place.

Write about art. Tell its story, tell the artist’s story. Look and listen to what they have to say.  How do they want their name spelled? Any capitals? Make sure. Arts writing has its own quirks.

Writing about art and reporting on art is not the same. Don’t report, it’s boring and impersonal. Get personal. Talk to the artist, get sensitive, ask questions or don’t. Feel out that vibe, observe, react and research.

Take notes, sketch things out, make connections to other artists, to writers, to music, to things you learned in school. Eventually, it all mirrors itself and you’ll be able to start noticing thematic patterns everywhere you go.

Look at everything like it’s a work of art: the city, the skyline, architecture, the way windows expose an interior, how light falls in a space. Who occupies that place? How do they occupy it?

A person’s art is intimate, it’s personal, sometimes it’s a secret. Share your connections with them, sometimes a tit for tat really loosens up a conversation.

It’s important to share your perspective. Otherwise, everything is the way I see it, and that’s not very inclusive is it? We all have our biases, and it’s okay, in arts writing, to use those biases in our favour. Write about something you care about, but demonstrate that without having to use things like “I think” and “In my opinion,” those are for opinion pieces.

Be self-reflexive in the process. How did this work speak to you? Put visual ideas into words. Don’t be too fluffy, be concise. Don’t be as poetic as this text you’re reading right now.

Thank you for reading this all the way through! If you would like to give arts writing a try, email me! If not, well that’s cool too! Thank you for your time and attention.


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Happening in and around the White Cube this week… should art history roll over and die? 

During the Art History Graduate Student Association (AHGSA) Symposium, keynote speaker, Lindsay Nixon, spoke about their current work with Indigenous memes and digital futures. They spoke of the ethics of the dissemination of information and Indigenous knowledge and how apps like TikTok allow Indigenous youth to connect with communities across Turtle Island and the world.

But how does this bridge the gap between artist and influencer? Where does art history come into play?

Nixon, who graduated with a Specialization in Women’s Studies from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, and has completed their MA in Art History at Concordia, places the ethics of making first. The maker, the artist, before the art. Meaning over aesthetics.

While TikTok videos and memes are not always works of art, Indigenous TikToks and memes are a different category. They have the power to create a community and disseminate Indigenous knowledge, objects and experience in a way that was almost impossible earlier in the century. Nixon highlighted artists, like Dana Claxton and Fallon Simard among many others, who work in these ways and pull apart notions of what Indigenous art is.

When speaking about Indigenous art and memes, Nixon opts for “Indigenous digital humanities,” as opposed to contemporary art and art history. And when their talk was finished, a member of the audience raised their hand and said, “Art history should roll over and die.” Nixon, who is also the Indigenous Editor-at-Large for Canadian Art magazine, laughed and agreed.

Art history is definitely rooted in colonial notions of high art, and while craft practices come into the art historical discussion, Indigenous art cannot be looked at in the same way. Art history contends with an institutionalized space that Indigenous digital humanities tries to dismantle.

In Indigenous Art is so Camp, an article in Canadian Art from earlier this fall, Nixon wrote, “Art became my career. Somewhere along the way, I lost the joy of Indigenous art, of art generally, and the initial emotions that drew me to the gallery became conflated with the day-to-day grind of contending with an industry.” Indigenous art, unlike many art historical and anthropological thought, is not limited to a series of symbols and narratives but shares a universal love for camp, and all that is theatrical and truly extra.

These narratives—think of Kent Monkman’s paintings and his alter-ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle—surpass western knowledge and notions of art history.

Art history is, like so many other fields of study, one that should “roll over and die.” There’s still a lot of work to do to redefine the art world and beyond.


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Hidden sculpture on Mackay & Maisonneuve?

We’re all familiar with the magnificently mesmerizing sculpture outside of the Hall building. If you haven’t stopped to stare at it while it’s moving, I really recommend that you do. But that isn’t what this is about.

On the opposite corner, on Mackay St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd., nestled between the construction and M4 Burrito, is another sculpture, one that I didn’t really know existed until I read the sign covering it, protecting it from the adjacent construction. Although this sculpture doesn’t move, it is home to a clock!

Commissioned by the Bank of Montreal in 1966 to “beautify an air vent” connected to the metro, Claude Théberge’s untitled sculpture completely blends into the environment, even when it isn’t hidden for its own protection.

Théberge also has similar mural-sculptures at De l’Église metro and Viger Square, as well as several other 2D works around the city. All three pieces are made from concrete, which was poured into styrofoam moulds to determine their shape. The slabs are carved with funky geometric designs reminiscent of cubist paintings.

This untitled wall was likely only erected to decorate the surrounding area, which is filled with people bustling to and from the university’s buildings, hardly noticing its presence.

Concordia is home to many such artworks from local artists and alumni, faculty and staff. Among these are Geneviève Cadieux’s metallic leaves on the exterior of JMSB, Holly King’s chromatic print in the tunnel to the EV building from the metro entrance, which is commonly mistaken for a painting, and the bronze busts in the Hall building’s ground floor.

According to Art Public Montréal, public art is intended to be discrete, “affirming their formal, conceptual or temporal characteristics,” and can be found permanently installed outdoors and indoors in common areas, typically in relation to or in contrast with the surrounding environment.

While public art does play a role in decorating the city, and our campus, what’s the point of art that blends in? What then, differentiates public art from good architectural and urban design? 


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Ceramic student association hosts drop-in make-a-thon

You can find ceramics students nestled in the far corner of the VA building’s basement at all hours of the day. It’s a patient art. Trial and error is to be expected.

Every year, the Concordia Ceramic Student Association (CCSA) hosts a 12-hour make-a-thon where students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in handbuilding and spinning. This year, I joined them for a half hour or so, and had the opportunity to create a weird flower-like bowl, before I decided to crush it and deposit it in the clay buckets to be reused. I don’t have much experience handbuilding but I do really enjoy the act of making, once I surpass the intense feelings of frustration I associate with the medium.

“Ceramics classes are very hard to get into at Concordia, especially as a non-ceramics student,” said Fiona Charbonneau, who took ceramics in CEGEP but hasn’t yet at Concordia. “I came down to talk to people and get to know the medium more by participating in the making, it’s for a good cause.”

The funds raised from the many cups and bowls made during the make-a-thon go towards the department’s participation in the annual National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference. This year, held from March 25-28 in Richmond, Virginia, students attending the conference will have the opportunity to view demos, share techniques with other ceramicists, attend artist talks, gallery tours and buy special equipment.

According to its website, “the Visual Arts Center of Richmond […] has helped adults and children explore their creativity and make art since 1963. Each year, the organization touches the lives of more than 33,000 people through its classes, exhibitions, community outreach programs, camps, workshops and special events.”

Rooted in tactility, clay is a very therapeutic medium that teaches balance, stability and how to centre oneself. Even the act of cutting into clay has the serene power to calm me down. As someone who teaches basic handbuilding to children with very limited experience, I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff, finding freedom within the “rules” (and trying not to blow up all the pieces in the kiln because of a tiny air bubble). Within this, there are techniques that are, overall, pretty helpful in day-to-day life.



Photos by Cecilia Piga


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Looking back… what is the White Cube?

Exhibition spaces used to be crammed with art works. Large paintings would collage the walls in Paris’s Salons, where the walls would be any colour but white. The idea of the “contemporary” exhibition space, the White Cube, was developed in the 30s alongside Cubism and the rise of abstract art. In the 60s, artists began to push themselves away from this notion of showing work. Art critic Brian O’Doherty coined the term in 1976, when he published a book titled “Inside the White Cube,” where he described how the thing came to be, giving the cube credit for its ambiguity.

The cube allowed for many developments within the art world, but created entirely new hierarchies. As with anything, it isn’t perfect. And it certainly isn’t for everyone.

My column, the White Cube, has taken a turn too, evolving from Maggie Hope’s weekly “Palette.” The White Cube used to be a list of events happening in alternative and conventional art spaces somehow related to Concordia. Very straightforward, very “White Cube-ish.”

Here and there I used the White Cube to rant, namely about Banksy, and fangirl over meeting Kent Monkman. This year, I made the decision to use the White Cube as a platform for reflection, recounting my experiences in conventional and alternative art spaces to you.

I wrote about paper making and artists I have encountered, about feeling frustrated in my own practice, and my favourite works. I expanded the White Cube in a feature where I investigated financial matters in the industry at Concordia and in local institutions.

The White Cube has become somewhat of an icon to me. I went so far as to get a tattoo of a transparent cube (like those you would draw in elementary school geography) on my ankle. A reminder to stay out of the box, to seek alternative spaces and support grassroots art movements.

I’ve started my own things too, and it’s beginning to get more and more difficult to write from the outside. As I become more involved, my writing comes even more from the heart.

In 2020, I will do my best to focus solely on alternative art experiences in this column, diving into my experience in art education and material culture.


Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Happening in and around the White Cube this week: Finding balance

Writing has always been a subcategory of making for me; they are one in the same.

Hi, my name is Chloë and I am in the midst of a brain fog, of some sort, while simultaneously drowning in coursework. I’ve got one foot in Arts & Sciences (Anthropology), and another in Fine Arts. I write stuff, I make stuff, and I teach stuff. Art stuff. I like stuff – there are lots of projects.

Among all my proposals for my assignments this semester, there is one element in common: my inability to focus, and my interest in finding a balance between working intuitively with what one has, as opposed to buying new, following a strict step-by-step process. I was never one for instructions, I improvise recipes and toy with the proper ways to do things, questioning that very notion of “proper,” “authentic”… Why can’t I be… just?

Why must I do anything in any specific way? I am not trying to copy or replicate. I want to absorb what speaks to me, cycling that knowledge out it a way that is my own. I want to investigate industrial and craft practices, how they can both lead to something very well made, though higher value will be placed on that which is handmade, rather than machine-made.

Finding this balance, drawing a line between different genres of Arts writing, between making, is one I still struggle with.

I think of how power and politics lie in the way a message is embedded, in the material they’re conveyed in. Whether in paint or printed words. There seems to be a tug between that which is free, liberating, therapeutic, and that which is skilled, following a specific framing.

It may be this idea of needing to frame work that frustrates me. To differentiate between my writing for The Concordian and my writing for research projects. Why can I not write in the same tone? Why can that not become my very practice?

I hope to do that without failing my classes. It’s hard to create within your own framework… let alone a professor’s? I need clear guidelines in order to make (write) work in the way they would like. If it were me alone, making, writing, it would be easier. I hope. Otherwise… why bother? What’s the point?

I’ve found solace in my not-so-turmoil-turmoil with The White Pube, an online alternative art criticism platform with pieces like,I LITERALLY HATE THE ART WORLD,” “WHY MUSEUMS ARE BAD VIBES” and “Are White Girls Capable of Making Art That’s Not About themselves??”

In “I LITERALLY HATE THE ART WORLD,” White Pube creators, Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad write: “art doesn’t have inherent value, it’s always worth prodding […] the art in amongst all of this is hardly ever worth what we put ourselves through to facilitate it.”

I feel that GDLP/ZM, I feel that. And I don’t really know what to do.



Graphic by Ana Bilokin


FEATURE: People, innovation, or bricks, mortar and art stacked in a corner?

Happening in and around the White Cube this week… digging into the world of art & finance at Concordia and beyond

“If culture is valuable, culture works should be valued the same way, not just verbally,” said Marc Lanctôt, curator and Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC) union delegate.

According to an article in The New York Times, “wealthy donors are generally happy to contribute to construction projects – often drawn by naming opportunities – they are far less excited about subsidizing unsexy operating expenses, like salaries and benefits.”

Public spreadsheets that document and protest unpaid internships and unfair wages in the industry currently include over 4,000 entries from museum professionals all over the world, including Montreal.

The MAC is among the six Montreal-based entries on the spreadsheet. There are two active unions at the MAC, one of which is for front-of-house staff and educators. The other is for professionals: conservators, curators, education tour managers and workshop leaders, registrar’s office, art transportation, collections management, communications and press relations, etc.

MAC Pros striking during their break. Photo by Cecilia Piga.

The employees at the MAC were under a common agreement (like a contract) which expired in 2015, although the conditions are still applicable today and provisions in the contract are still applied. However, there have been no financial changes, no pay increases since 2015 and certain provisions no longer pertain to the reality on the ground. Their bosses have no incentives to make any changes.

Their employers are keeping that money, spending it on renovations and increasing their own salaries. Simply put, Lanctôt suggests the museum should not “spend on what we can’t afford if we can’t pay our people right.” He added that John Zeppetelli, MAC Director and Chief Curator, is “acting like his hands are tied, that he isn’t really the director of the museum, the government is.”

This is a multi-tiered problem […] how we organize work and labour needs to be rethought,” said Lanctôt.

“We want salary increases comparable to those granted to our bosses over the past five years,” wrote @prosdumacmontreal on Instagram on Oct. 6. The affected workers have been actively protesting since Sept. 17, doing public interventions and striking on their breaks and during peak museum hours, such as the Janet Werner opening on Oct. 30.

“We have nine more strike days up our sleeve that will be deployed at strategic times,” said Lanctôt. “Everything that has to do with culture in Quebec and Canada is highly accountable to the state and public funding, very arcane. Issues are bogged down in complicated spreadsheets and legal labour language. We don’t want the public to lose track of what’s a stake; we have to stop gauging away at cultural workers. It’s the people that matter. Otherwise, it’s just bricks and mortar and art stacked in a corner.”

The Art + Museum Transparency group has stated that “many of the most vigilant and vocal activists in the current movement are those working front-of-house positions […] gallery security officers, education, retail and visitor services staff.” These labour activists are fighting the institution’s growth, urging cuts of unnecessary expenses and “fancy” renovations in favour of protection from unjust firing, basic healthcare insurance coverage, paid parental leave, and so on.

“Pas de pros, pas d’expos!”

“Museums remain extremely hierarchical, with power concentrated in the hands of a very few who dictate benefits, wages and workplace procedures out of step with the economic realities of our time,” reads the same statement by the Art + Museum Transparency group.

Museum staff are unionizing across the United States with the Marciano Art Foundation Union (MAF), and continue to prove the viability of the field, urging institutions to embrace Graduate and Undergraduate student internships instead of pushing them out, forcing them to consider otherwise.

At Concordia, the VAV Gallery has just released its 2019-20 Year Plan. It discloses their financial constraints by breaking down their budget and emphasizing the measures being taken to remedy the issue. The slow, accumulated deficit was not noticeable in last year’s financial report. Dropping by big chunks every year due to the gallery’s ambitious developments, they were forced to downsize from last year’s programming.

This year, the VAV Gallery will host smaller shows, showing larger bodies of work from three or four artists, working one on one with them to create a tailored exhibition plan. The exhibitions – now numbered and not titled in order to avoid lumping artists together with broad themes – will be more cohesive, focusing on overlaps between individual practices.

Alexia McKindsey, the VAV’s financial coordinator, knew the decision would come as a shock to Concordia Fine Arts students, but the reality is that if these drastic measures aren’t taken, the gallery won’t be able to operate next year.

We never wanted it to come to this,” said McKindsey. “This is the worst case scenario.”

Having cancelled their winter artist call-out, three out of four Fine Arts students contacted by The Concordian, who have chosen to remain anonymous, said they would consider opting out of the VAV’s fee levy should it increase from $0.85 to $1 per credit.

“The gallery has already selected its programming for the entire year – why am I paying for something that is not giving me the opportunity to show my work?,” said one student, an Art Education major.

“Especially when last year’s programming was excellent, I see no reason why a top level fine arts undergrad university can’t have a student gallery that can offer the space for students to exhibit their work, attend events and be engaged in the Montreal arts scene,” said another student. The Studio Arts major said this in regards to the $5.6 million donation to the faculty from the Peter N. Thomson Family Trust, received last spring. “It feels like things are happening up top and the students don’t have a say, like an extension of Cafe X closing.”

The faculty received this incredible donation, but where is it? In the big hole where the VA garden used to be?

Despite last year’s incident – the tragic death of art education student and sweet child of the universe, Ming Mei Ip – there are still no basic services in the building.

No one cares about the VA. We are the smallest faculty and the most neglected building on campus,” said McKinsdey. “We don’t know enough about where our fee-levies go and how we benefit from them as students.”

FASA, we love you, we know you’re doing your best, but like, the Art + Museum Transparency group stated, these institutions – universities, museums and galleries alike – remain powerful hierarchical structures out of touch with the social and economic realities they are surrounded by.

According to McKindsey, the donation isn’t reaching the VAV Gallery or any other student-run, fee-levy projects. Concordia has a weird system when it comes to money. For anyone who has ever received an honorarium or has had to be reimbursed by the university, this isn’t new information.

Unlike the gallery’s transparency, the money donated to the university and specific faculties isn’t being disclosed to students. Rumours around student organizations is that it’s a cyclical system, hinting to a new, “innovative” project unfolding towards the end of the year.

Funding opportunities for student projects

The Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) just released their Broke Student Handbook, which provides students with accessible and low-cost options for everything from art-making materials, funding opportunities, academic services and basic necessities.

Among these services are the Regroupement des Artistes en Arts Visuels (RAAV) and L’Artisan du Renouveau et de la Transformation Écologique (ARTÉ). RAAV is an association of artists that represent and defend the interests of Quebec artists. ARTÉ is an independent company mandated by the city of Montreal to manage the reuse centres.

Not many are aware of the numerous showcasing and funding opportunities available for student projects across the university. FASA Special Project Grants, the Concordia Council on Student Life (CCSL),  the Concordia University Small Grants Program (CUSGP), the Concordia University Alumni Association (CUAA), the Sustainability Action Fund and Concordia Student Union Special Project Funding are among the many programs that will encourage eligible student projects, new clubs, publications, events and more.

Showcasing platforms outside of the White Cube

Outside of student newspapers, Concordia is home to several publications. Some journals linked to various departments, like the InArte Journal, CUJAH and others offer free range to most students. Soliloquies, Yiara and l’Organe all offer a creative platform for writers and artists. Their difference lies in the language they are diffused in: l’Organe is in French, Yiara is bilingual and inter-university, and Soliloquies focuses on creative writing, poetry and prose, bringing together creative English-speaking students across the university.

A new addition to this list is Scribbles which, unlike Yiara and the InArte Journal which accept submissions from all departments within the Faculty of Fine Arts, will accept creative work from students across the university.

The magazine’s executive team doesn’t follow the typical publication masthead, similar to The Concordians editor/assistant structure. Instead, they have a president and various VPs and coordinators, characteristic of clubs within the John Molson School of Business (JMSB). That being said, the executive team is not restricted to JMSB students. Communications, behavioural neuroscience, software engineering and creative writing are among the team’s majors.

“In addition to our publications, we have the goal of informing students about the creative world by holding conferences with actual writers, journalists, artists and so on,” said Scribbles President Sara Shafiei, BComm Marketing.

The launch of the first publication took place on Oct. 30. Attendees paid $15, giving the magazine a head start.

“Guests were able to get their hands on a copy before anyone else and simply enjoy some food and music while celebrating with the team and getting to talk with other creative students,” said Shafiei. “We are brand new, don’t have many sponsors and are still growing as a committee. We received a small amount of funds from CSU which was barely enough to get our first edition printed. The event itself had costs, as hospitality also charged us. The tickets helped us fund the event. However, our magazine itself [is] free.”

Throughout the first weeks of November, Scribbles’s first issue will be placed around campus for students to pick up.

Interdepartmental and cross-faculty pollination is what makes our projects stronger, making voices louder, as students stand in solidarity as young creators and entrepreneurs.

Projects like Concordi’art – which claims to create a space for both fine arts and business students – really just focus on commercializing and capitalizing on pre-existing ideas. The group’s recent Bob Ross paint night at Reggies, which was sponsored by Concordia Stores, charged students $15 to paint along with a projection. They did not collaborate with the Department of Art Education, who would have been more than thrilled to assist. Concordi’art did not respond to The Concordian for comment.

The VAV Gallery is looking to collaborate with other departments and fee-levy groups for their winter programming. Among these are plans to coordinate a special exhibition with the Fine Arts Reading Room, the InArte Journal, CUCCR, Art Matters and more.

Clara Micheau, FASA Finance Coordinator and representative of the Faculty of Fine Arts for la Planète s’invite à l’Université (LPSU) at Concordia, posted on the Concordia Fine Arts Student Network Facebook page on Nov. 5, urging students to vote against online opt-outs in the upcoming CSU by-election (Nov. 12-14).

“Art Matters is not the only fee-levy group we are talking about here,” wrote Micheau. “People’s Potato is one, as is Queer Concordia, Cinema Politica, Food Coalition, Centre for Gender Advocacy, The Concordian and more. They all provide life-saving services to you or your friends or that student you don’t know but who has found their support group in them. They are everywhere, supporting our community.”

Fee-levy groups can offer superb opportunities to enhance careers and build reputable references, in any faculty. For more information and to encourage fee-levy groups, visit the Vote No Facebook Event.



Graphics by Chloë Lalonde (@ihooq2)

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


Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Expressing trauma through creation, of any form, is healing – How Karina Lafayette is writing and directing her way through trauma. 

Inspired by classics like Charlie Chaplin and Stanley Kubrick, Karina Lafayette has been chasing her dreams of filmmaking since she was a teenager. Following her studies at Dawson College, Lafayette studied in Concordia’s film department until 2015, when she was forced to work full-time, dropping out for personal reasons.

She had the opportunity to create several short films, all published on her Youtube channel, Carus Productions. Among those are a series of vlogs and video diaries, tutorials, and responses to events taking place in popular culture, including a short romantic-comedy, titled A Good Man (2014) and experimental short, Give Me a Smile (2017.)

After creating a documentary about the 2012 student strikes in Quebec, Lafayette made the decision to move to Toronto. There, she began doing short term work in the industry, serving popcorn at film festivals and freelancing on various sets, where she met her now ex-husband.

It was during this time that Lafayette began writing poetry, which would eventually become her first book, Queen of Hearts. She wrote in order to process her experiences. Her relationship, once idealized, was beginning to become increasingly toxic.

Her work speaks to the emotional abuse she experienced while juggling her hopes and dreams for her career, and her relationship. 

About a year after the couple separated, Lafayette lost everything, turning to the streets and shelters with her dog.

Following Queen of Hearts, Lafayette began working on a second project to continue documenting her story. Persephone Rises, available Oct. 16, is a first-hand account of empowerment and perseverance. The name draws from the Greek myth of Persephone, the goddess of vegetation, and Hades’ wife. Persephone’s story is one of unwitting love. Hades, ruler of the underworld, set his sights on her, keeping her as his lover and prisoner in the dark depths. To keep her there, Hades feeds Persephone pomegranate seeds, binding her to him.

It was in this story that Lafayette found comfort, a character that she could relate to. Expressing trauma through creation, of any form, is healing. An article written by artist Terry Sullivan in The New York Times elaborates on four steps to use art to process trauma. Choose a medium you are comfortable with and work when you feel relaxed, don’t be hard on yourself, date and document your work to keep track of your progress and finally, be selective of who you show your work to.

If you are experiencing trauma you would like to express in a safe space, visit the pop-up zen den in the Counselling and Psychological Services room 300-22, Guy-De Maisonneuve building (1550 De Maisonneuve W.)

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