The wonderful world of work

With the fight against tuition hikes escalating, becoming more unpredictable than mid-season weather, it’s refreshing to hear that some Concordia class projects are going swimmingly. This includes the ARTX 480 (advanced integrated studio in contemporary art practices) course’s year-end exhibition entitled Work.

The course began in the fall semester and the culminating exhibition, an integral part of the class, will feature pieces from all 19 students. “We thought that it could be a great opportunity to connect outside of Concordia and represent Concordia, represent artists in [the] community,” said contributing artist Joy (Jee Yoon) Lim.

The choice of theme was crucial, as it had to represent both the subject matter and media that varied so widely between the participating students, ranging from video to installations and performance pieces.

“Because we are just an arbitrarily thrown together group of students, we wanted a theme that could be pretty flexible to us all,” explained artist Zoë Ritts, describing the different ideas within the theme, such as work in relationships, work as labour and work and the body.

Some pieces also have an element of audience interaction, as in Lim’s piece, Coffee/Tea Break, which has attachments around cups and plays with the smell on top in order to stimulate different senses.

“Usually you’re not supposed to touch the art, not supposed to go near it […] for me, the artwork itself is the experience, not the cup,” explained Lim. “So I don’t mind if the cup is ruined, as long as the person has some experience and goes home and thinks about that.”

Attendees will also have a chance to have their future divined for them through Marlee Parsons’ performance Psychic Cell Reading, which involves taking a swab of saliva from two volunteers, placing it under a microscope and projecting an image of the cells, from which she will do her reading.

The group of ARTX 480 students ventured out into the city, and chose the Grover building on Parthenais Street as the site to put on their exhibit rather than the Concordia art gallery hub, with its reigning champions being VAV and FOFA.

“The place is a former textile factory, which is really obvious when you’re looking at the architecture inside. It’s these big rooms that are now perfect for galleries […] Different generations of people such as artists have moved into the building, and so we were really interested in using this as a site, because the artists have fought to keep it [from becoming] a condo building,” said Ritts.

The exhibit reflects the interdisciplinary element of ARTX 480.

“It’s called interdisciplinary studies―interdisciplinary meaning connecting art with other disciplines, other issues around the world or community-based,” explained Lim. “So we’re basically not creating art just for the sake of making art, just to display, but […] to convey some messages through that.”

They showed their support by adorning their poster and postcards with a little red square, keeping the student strike in mind, of which they were generally in favour.

“By the time the strike started, our classes had begun to happen off Concordia campus anyway because we were in the gallery space working,” said Ritts. “So in that sense we didn’t have to cross any picket lines. Our class was able to continue within the spirit of the strike. And I think it also fell under the aspect of the strike, which is an emphasis on creating art and continue supporting each other outside of the physical university space.”

Ultimately, through Work, the ARTX 480 students are hoping to introduce visitors to taking in a different kind of contemporary art.

“For those who don’t really know art, I think we have great examples that [are] not very conventional, and that’s very interactive,” said Lim. “Usually people don’t expect that. […] Coming here, they can experience a greater range of all kinds of contemporary art.”

Work runs at the Grover building (2065 Parthenais St., metro Frontenac) until March 31. There will also be a panel discussion on the intersections and contradictions of the many kinds of labour in the lives of four invited artists and cultural workers on March 27 at 7 p.m. For more information, check out

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