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Participants and Abstracts
 

All presentations will take place in the York Amphitheatre (EV 1.605)
 

Concordia University, Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Art Complex
 

1515 Ste-Catherine St. W., Montreal


Francesca Balboni

M.A. Candidate, Art History

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Lothar Osterburg’s Imagining New York: A Social Feeling

PERSPECTIVE: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM

In his 2008 essay on the affective potential of art, Ernst van Alphen explains: “[Affect] is often used in such a way that it means something general like ‘personal’ or ‘subjective.’ But…affect is the opposite of personal: it is social.”

Expanding on van Alphen’s scholarship, this paper not only suggests that the viewer’s affective experience of an art object is primarily social, but that her “discernment” of that experience may also be social. Working from Teresa Brennan’s psychoanalytic conception of affect—an un-nameable, physical sensation resulting from an external interaction between the individual and others around her, van Alphen’s suggests that objects can transmit affects to the viewer. If an artwork prompts the viewer to sense forms rather than to perceive them through cognition, then the viewer enters into a social relation with the object.

For Brennan and van Alphen, the “discernment” (acknowledgement and signification) of that received affect will be personal, dependent on an internal comparison with one’s memories. However, this paper posits that Lothar Osterburg’s (b. 1961, Germany) photographic series, Imagining New York, offers shared experience as the foundation for discernment; its formal constellations call for sensory experience, but they also invite the viewer to trace and detangle their historical antecedents, fostering the creation of social, rather than purely individual meaning. The mélange of historical sources for Osterburg’s New York City and its aesthetic representation—from the Hindenburg to German trams, American Pictorialism to Weimar cinema—situates discernment in the realm of a past visual culture. The melancholic feel of these images therefore arises within a recalled experience of images and design that is shared, most likely generationally. Consequently, these works question privileging the personal in affective experience, highlighting the degree to which the individual is constituted within the social.


Francesca Balboni is completing a Masters in Art History at the University of Texas, Austin. Her research focuses on American and European art and visual culture since 1930. She credits a background in film studies for her interest in photographic theory, notions of receptivity, and gender and sexuality studies. She is currently engaging the former two topics in her Masters thesis, which examines a series of recent photographs by Lothar Osterburg (b. 1961, Germany).




Camille Bédard

M.A. Candidate, School of Architecture

McGill University, Montreal, QC

Maille à Part: Weaving Ritual Protests in Public Spaces”

LOCALITY / LOCALITÉ: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM

A reference to the 2011 Arab Spring (“Printemps Arabe”), the 2012 student strike in Quebec was named the “Printemps Érable” (“Maple Spring”). The strike began on February 13th, after Quebec Prime Minister Jean Charest announced a 75% increase of higher education tuition fees over a five-year period, and lasted until September 7th after the election of the Parti Québécois.

In the same vein as May 1968, the Printemps Érable stimulated artistic creativity and collaboration. This paper focuses on the UQAM-based yarnbombing collective Maille à Part and its artistic interventions realized in the context of the student strike. At the core of Maille à Part’s philosophy is the reclamation of public space, a long-debated question in urban theory and spatial justice. Compared to graffiti, which is a male-dominated artistic practice, yarnbombing is a feminist reclamation of space. The choice of Maille à Part to sign its interventions as a group illustrates the negotiation between individuality and community within the yarnbombing collective. The anonymity of the collective’s members is preserved, thereby allowing Maille à Part to recruit other participants for more ambitious yarnbombing projects. Such projects not only connected members of several communities together, they also generated a peaceful environment for discussion and creative expression, much needed in this tense political climate.

This paper examines three specific interventions of Maille à Part fulfilled during the Printemps Érable: a series of knitted red tags, the yarnbomb of Place Marguerite-Bourgeoys and the red squared quilt. I argue that such interventions reclaim public space through ritual protest, a terminology borrowed from Setha M. Low as detailed in On the Plaza: The Politics of Public Space and Culture (2000). Through ritual protest, Maille à Part’s yarnbombs revealed that the urban fabric is not impersonal: its true meaning lies in the collective engagement of devoted individuals.


Camille Bédard completed her BFA in Art History at Concordia University in 2011. Her research focuses primarily on historical movie theatres, the affective experience and role of moviegoing in urban sociability. Camille is completing her Post-professional Master’s at McGill University’s School of Architecture, examining three Canadian atmospheric movie theatres, and the architecture of the imagination. Her professional experiences include, among others, internships at the Tomi Ungerer Museum – International Centre for Illustration, Strasbourg, and at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in the Department of Architecture and Design. Passionate about Montreal, Camille is also a guide for Heritage Montreal’s ArchitecTours.


Daniel Fiset

Candidat au doctorat, Histoire de l’art et Études cinématographiques

Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC

“De l’image-objet aux images-choses : la photographie d’art actuel en régime de pluralité”

PHOTO-PÉRFORMANCE: Friday, March 7, 2014 at 3:00PM

Dans After Art, David Joselit affirme que la capacité des images « à se recopier, à circuler, à se disséminer » indéfiniment leur garantissent un grand pouvoir dans nos sociétés (2012, XIV). Une des premières valeurs de l’objet d’art serait celle de l’assemblage, caractérisée entre autres par l’interaction efficace de l’objet avec une constellation d’acteurs humains ou matériels et par la construction d’architectures numériques - réseaux sociaux, blogues - qui ont pour fonction de rendre publique l’image artistique. Dès lors, l’image, prise dans un réseau de médiations dont elle dépend pour être publique, n’a plus de site unique ; dématérialisée, étendue, tentaculaire, manipulée, elle devient une monnaie d’échange démultipliée pour et par les divers acteurs du monde de l’art (Joselit 2012, 14).

Ces rapports dans lesquels se trouve l’art actuel laissent envisager, selon Bruno Latour et Peter Weibel (2005), une transition dans l’étude des représentations et de leur médiation de la « Realpolitik » (la politique des objets distincts) au « Dingpolitik » (la politique des choses assemblées ou Ding, au sens heideggérien). Nous aimerions, dans le cadre de cette conférence,  réfléchir les liens dialogiques entre la photographie produite et diffusée dans le réseau circonscrit des arts visuels et d’autres types de photographie, que l’on aurait tendance à qualifier d’amateure, mais qui testent de plus en plus les frontières poreuses de la singularité de l’œuvre d’art en régime actuel.

Nous proposons une étude de An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar de Taryn Simon, un assemblage photographique de 2004-7 qui pose des questions importantes sur la fonction publique de l’œuvre d’art et la singularité artistique. Nous comparerons ensuite ce cas-type avec d’autres pratiques photographiques non-institutionnalisées qui partent du même thème. Ces deux corpus formeront une nouvelle pluralité par laquelle nous pourrons réfléchir aux portées et aux visées actuelles de la représentation photographique, toutes catégories confondues. Est-il toujours possible de distinguer la représentation artistique de la représentation extra-artistique? Cette nouvelle réalité de l’image est-elle nécessairement exclusive au contemporain?


Daniel Fiset est doctorant et chargé de cours au département d’histoire de l’art et d’études cinématographiques de l’Université de Montréal. Boursier du CRSH et du FQRSC, il s’intéresse dans ses recherches doctorales à la photographie d’art contemporain et à ses rapports avec la culture visuelle élargie, sujet qu’il traite par le biais des études médiales et de la question de la technologie. Il s’intéresse également à la préservation et la mise en place des projets d’art public au Québec et aux pratiques éphémères et furtives en art actuel.





Radhanath Gagnon

PhD Candidate, Communication, profil recherche-création

Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC

“Les dynamiques au sein d'un laboratoire de création collective cinématographique”

LOCALITY / LOCALITÉ: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Pour cette présentation, je vais aborder le laboratoire de création collective cinématographique, qui a fait son apparition au Québec il y a une dizaine d’années à travers des regroupements de réalisateurs tels que Kino (Ellis, 2005) et coïncide avec la mise en place des FabLabs (FABrication LABorator) du Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Certaines valeurs promues par le mouvement GNU/Linux, par le Copyleft et par la Culture Libre font partie de la même mouvance qui entoure celles partagées au sein des laboratoires de créations. Les formes de collaboration et d'innovation qui émergent d’un laboratoire m’apparaissent particulièrement adaptées à l’ère des réseaux de l’information et d’une économie de la contribution (Stiegler, 2009).

Ce type de laboratoire permet de créer un espace éphémère de quelques jours regroupant des artistes amateurs et professionnels, facilitant l’échange, la collaboration, la construction de nouvelles connaissances dans le but commun de réaliser des films selon une approche de création non conventionnelle. J’ai constaté que cette forme de création prenait racine dans les systèmes d’échanges basés sur le don (Sennett, 2012). Par ailleurs, les créateurs abordent les laboratoires dans une perspective éthique voulant que le développement des films soit considéré à l'aune d'un droit à créer, plutôt que de répondre aux régimes de l’industrie cinématographique.

Pour terminer, je vais témoigner de mes expériences de création au sein de divers laboratoires qui ont eu lieu en entre 2011 et 2013 à Cuba au Nicaragua et au Québec.


Depuis plus de dix ans, Radhanath Gagnon œuvre en création audiovisuelle et cinématographique. Il a eu l’opportunité d’initier divers regroupements de réalisateurs tels que Kino 640, Kino Dakar et Art Partage, avec qui il développe chaque année maints projets liés au domaine cinématographique : le Festival du Cinéma de Lanaudière, Cinéma Politica Mascouche et la Course Lanaudière. Dans ses études au doctorat, il s'intéresse aux associations d'artistes qui se mobilisent autour de propositions alternatives aux formes actuelles de création audiovisuelle : le cinéma indépendant à petit budget (Dellisse, 2007) (Mak, 2007), les créations collectives (Bishop, 2006) (Jirka, 2007), la communauté auprès du cinéma (Froger, 2009) et les multiples techniques de création cinématographiques issues de l’improvisation (Mouëllic, 2011).



Rebecca Giordano

M.A. Candidate, Art History

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

“Solo Performance as Radical Being-With in Bonnie Sherk’s Sitting Still and Public Lunch”

PHOTO-PÉRFORMANCE: Friday, March 7, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Though Peggy Phalen, Moira Roth, and Lucy Lippard have investigated feminist art of the1970s as an originary scene of social practice, the early performance work of Bonnie Sherk has been crucially underappreciated for its contributions to public practices that rethink the social. Debates about social practice have naturally looked to work that features groups while overlooking the ability for solo performance to address the fundamental Being-with that enables personal and group identity construction.

While her Crossroads Community/the Farm is a better-known work of social practice directly addressing the needs of her community, Sherk’s early solo performances reveal a nuanced philosophical engagement of the relation between the individual and the public. Mobilizing the Heideggerian emphatic Being-with (mitsein) of Jean-Luc Nancy’s singular plural met with Giorgio Agamben’s call to “make use” of singularity, I argue that Sherk’s construction of a radical solitude at the physical edge of the social underscores a Being-with so stretched that its fact and fragility are centralized.  Sherk’s performance series recorded in photographs, Sitting Still (1970-1972), draws out the mitsein of the social by interrupting the public landscape with her emphatically isolated body, a moment of fractured dasein (Being-there). In Public Lunch (1971), Sherk calls into question the very possibility of communion by eating lunch in the tiger cage of the San Francisco Zoo before a surprised audience. The failed collectivity of sharing lunch with a tiger, like the solitude of the island armchair in a trash dump puddle cast observed by a faceless stream of cars, exposes the tacit construction of the social as a negotiation of the individual in participation with a never separate public.


Rebecca Giordano is a curator, writer, and artist. Currently a graduate student in the Art History department of the University of Texas at Austin, she received her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago focusing on contemporary art history and political theory. Her current research considers the intersections of radical politics and aesthetics in feminist work of the 1960s and 1970s. Giordano has written on anarchism and art, utopian architecture, and food in pop art. Her paper Black Mask and the Meaning of the Anarchist Avant-garde will be given this upcoming February at the Illustrating Anarchy and Revolution conference.



Samuel Jacobson

SMArchS Graduate, History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

“A Language of Things: Art and the Aesthetics of Networked Ontology”

NETWORK / RÉSEAU: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 9:00 AM

In 2010, conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll rotated a house in the first-ring suburban neighborhood of Sharpstown in Houston, Texas. Carroll describes the project, prototype180, as “an urban alteration that makes architecture perform.” While the rotation and relocation of prototype180 on its lot interrupts the relation of the house, its context, and existing urban typologies, it also signals the rededication of the house’s space as a zone for the investigation of aging suburbs and their futures. In 2011, activist-researchers at Rice University set up a free “Super Wi-Fi” hotspot in the neighborhood of Pecan Park in Houston. The Rice University-based nonprofit Technology for All, which installed the hotspot as part of an ongoing initiative to provide free wireless internet to the Hispanic working class neighborhoods of Houston’s East End, was granted special permission by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deploy this unlicensed technology, with government funds, on an experimental basis because of the philanthropic intentions of the project. At the moment, Carroll – who is based in New York City – is working with Technology for All to develop a Super Wi-Fi network at the site of prototype180 in Sharpstown, as well as for other projects in North and South America, East Asia, and Africa.

In Pecan Park, on the one hand, the Super Wi-Fi hotspot raises questions about the production of space through the medium of frequency (light, sound, and the information they carry). While TFA’s efforts could reverse decades of infrastructural underinvestment in the East End, and signal the emergence of that neighborhood as a territory for innovation, the interruption of FCC restrictions on the use of white space for the purposes of this project perpetuates the political marginalization of Houston’s Hispanic community, interpolating theirs as a space outside of normal regulatory jurisdiction. In Sharpstown, on the other hand, Carroll’s recent work carves performative spaces out of sites that were commoditized as privileged zones of upward mobility in their respective time-periods (mid-century master-planned suburban development and contemporary wireless networks), curating a body of utopic spatial and political re-adaptations that perform their activism in real time. While constructing the sophisticated social networks necessary for such substantial collaborative efforts, Carroll has effectively navigated between Houston’s otherwise discrete constituencies in civil society, commerce, higher education, and local government.

Both these projects enact the conditions for active spectators to visualize the performance of network architectures through the contemporary urban landscape. Therefore, this paper explores how Mary Ellen Carroll’s recent work operates across these two geographies – that of Pecan Park and Sharpstown – deploying the network as an intertextual practice with collaborative authorship, while also utilizing networks themselves as a way of generating and sustaining connections between artists and audiences, which allow for the participation of local communities and interventions in socio-economic and political systems. This paper asks: How does the artist/activist operate across political and medium divisions to produce new forms of connectivity? And, how does this serve as a new methodological model for understanding analog forms of artistic networks and global/local connectivity?


Samuel Ray Jacobson is a recent graduate of the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture section of the Architecture Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His thesis work – completed under the supervision of Professors Caroline Jones and Mark Jarzombek – is in the area of art historiography and  the specific research topic is the constative impact of literary form on architectural scholarship in the postmodern era (1980-2000), particularly focusing on issues regarding performance and conceptual art, experimental video, new media, and gender and sexuality.



Cara Jordan

PhD Candidate, Art History

City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, NY

“Joseph Beuys and Social Sculpture in the United States: Rick Lowe and Ongoing Residency”

CONSULTATION: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Identified by artists and critics alike as “social practice,” “dialogic,” and “relational,” or simply as “collaborative” or “participatory” artwork, a new form of socially engaged public art developed in the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This work is characterized by artists’ attention to disadvantaged communities, pedagogic initiatives such as mentorship between youth and community leaders, and focus on politically charged issues such as economic disparity, gender, and racial discrimination. This paper makes a case for the centrality of “social sculpture,” defined by the German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) as a social exchange between the individual artist and general public aimed at shaping society, to social practice in the United States during the Reagan-Bush era.

This paper analyzes Beuys’ reception in U.S. art of the early 1990s by focusing on the work of Houston-based artist Rick Lowe. Lowe, through his long-term collaborative initiative called Project Row Houses (begun in 1993), has merged his commitment to education, democracy, and the environment with specific local concerns to produce a model of collectively-authored activist art quite different from that which Beuys had imagined in Germany in the 1970s.  By bringing in a roster of artists such as Julie Mehretu and Sam Durant to help rebuild the community’s infrastructure, gaining political traction through educational programs, and serving as a resource for residents who wished to empower themselves, Lowe’s project has resulted in the construction of residential and communal properties, artist residencies, and a mentor and support program for single mothers. I will argue that while Lowe develops Beuys’ educational focus through mentorship and individual empowerment, his methodology differs from Beuys’ in concentrating on the built environment, seeking the involvement of artist residents and local community leaders, and combatting racial and class discrimination.


Cara Jordan is a PhD candidate in Art History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, where she specializes in post-war public art in the United States. Her dissertation, “Joseph Beuys and Social Sculpture in the United States: Suzanne Lacy, Rick Lowe, and Mary Jane Jacob,” a selection of which appears in the fall 2013 issue of Public Art Dialogue, explores the role of Beuys’ theory of social sculpture in socially engaged projects in the U.S. during the Reagan-Bush era.  In addition to her academic and teaching commitments, Cara has curated numerous public art projects in New York.



Alexandra Kirsh

Curatorial Assistant

Heritage Centre, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC

“The Other White Cube: Navigating the Politics of Hospital Art”

PERSPECTIVE: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM

The majority of contemporary scholarly material focusing on healthcare facilities consists of architectural design and environmental and scientific case studies, the objective of which is to facilitate clinical benefits for patients. The United States National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has identified a gap in such scholarship in North America, stating that “although there are many discrete studies in a variety of areas of interest to the arts in the healthcare movement, there do not appear to be many long-term follow-throughs with more studies on the same topic adding to the solid research knowledge base.” A disproportionate focus on museums and other primarily art-centered forums may explain why art historians have overlooked the hospital, an institution open to public and professional examination and evaluation.

I would like to speak to the ongoing struggles that Canadian healthcare facilities face and their efforts to represent and connect to their internal (patients, visitors and employees) and external (surrounding municipality) communities through the use of art. Art has not only an aesthetic component, but also, when positioned in a space both public and private such as a hospital, an important multi-dimensional function which may be defined in terms of its psychological, directional, and educational value. How audiences interpret and respond to these functions may be essential to their understanding of the hospital as an institution within society. Because of the fundamental practical distinction between the hospital and other venues, art in a hospital cannot be considered the same as art in a museum, and, thus, a new body of literature is necessary for us to understand and properly address this space.


Alexandra Kirsh is the Curatorial Assistant for the Heritage Centre of the McGill University Health Centre, which recognizes the significant social, artistic, medical and nursing histories of the MUHC hospitals since 1821 in the development of Montreal, and seeks to preserve and highlight an integral part of the leading edge healing environment designed for patients, their families, visitors and staff at the MUHC. She graduated from McMaster University with a degree in Fine Art, holds a Master’s in Art History from Queen’s University.



Matthew Lilko

Ph.D. Candidate, Cultural Studies

Trent University, Peterborough, ON

“The Politics of Ecstasy: Rave Culture and Nancy's Inoperative Community”

NETWORK / RÉSEAU: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Jean-Luc Nancy’s theorizing of community signifies a form of relationality that is yet to come. Originating from his rejection of organic or naturalist reductions which essentialize community, such as Marxist production or Liberal individualism and communitarianism, Nancy finds community through Heidegger’s Dasein and its characterization as ecstatic transgression towards being as both a singular and plural experience: ‘being-with’.  In my paper I clarify the significance of ecstatic transgression for Nancy’s concept of community.

To accomplish this task I locate my site of study within the artistic practices responsible for producing and performing electronic dance music [EDM]. EDM is significant in this context because of its correlation to the cultural phenomenon known as ‘raving’. As understood here, ‘raving’ is a state of being that resonates with Nancy’s formulation of  ‘being-with’. ‘Being-with’ describes a situation where self and other, you and I, or singular and plural is neither, on the one hand, a polar juxtaposition, nor on the other, a synthesis. For Nancy, ‘being-with’ is thus an ontology of sociality: the collective exposure of singularity within a space that is shared but not common.

Although Nancy’s community currently exists only along our theoretical horizons, I argue that within EDM we see artistic works conducive to an experience of a community of ecstatic transgression. As an art form, EDM’s content does not engage politics in the traditional sense that defined musical performances as reactionary (1990’s ‘gangster rap’) or prescriptive (1960’s ‘folk rock’). EDM is thoroughly cosmopolitan and is significant because of its absence from political engagement. EDM is however political to the extent that an absence of socio-historical forms of politics is Nancy’s understanding of community as infinite inclusivity. EDM does not communicate an imperative to engage particular socio-historic modes of political action. Its political function disseminates through an auditory and rhythmic medium, interpolating beings assembled within a shared space to expose their singularity through the ek-stasis of raving.


Matthew Lilko is a Ph.D. candidate in the Cultural Studies program at Trent University. His research is located at the intersection of culture and psychology as it is formulated within the emerging field of “affect theory”. His research explores the possibility of creating or altering the human political imaginary and argues that an experience of entrancement or raving is imbued with the potential to produce alternative political communities by developing spaces of existence that dissolve a firm or binary distinction between the self and other, or the I and the We.



Rebecca S. Lowery

PhD Candidate, Art History

NYU Institute of Fine Arts, New York, NY

“What of the We: Communitarian Trends in the Art of 1970s Los Angeles”

COMMUNITY / COMMUNAUTÉ: Friday, March 7, 2014 at 4:30 PM

In early 1970s Los Angeles, a cohort of young artists developed a dynamic performance art scene in which they sought, in various ways, to abandon the tradition of the lone, heroic American artist and give their work more politically cogent shape. Passionately engaged in “post-studio” practice, these artists pushed aggressively against the binary division between artist and audience; in lieu of creating objects, they sought to foster situations of experience and action that allowed, in Barthesian fashion, for the death of the single artist and the birth of the collective.

Often working collaboratively, and using strategies more or less encoded as “art,” artists explored the meanings and limits of community. The artists’ collective Asco, for example, used the streets of East Los Angeles as their studio, working in but also dialectically through their community to question its self-enforced norms of gender and sexuality and the market-driven expectations of Chicano art. The Bodacious Bugguerrilla group took their political performance and activism to state penitentiaries and Richard Pryor concerts, held political education classes, and established an educational model farm site. Students in the experimental Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts created the groundbreaking 1972 installation Womanhouse, significant not only as an installation but as a process during which participants worked through interpersonal conflict and practiced the art of open dialogue and constructive dissent.

For many, this era was defined by the trauma of the Vietnam War and seemingly endless abuses of power by the American government, resulting in the complete destabilization of ideas of “us” and “them.” This paper explores the work of these and other LA artists, who recognized—and assumed as an artistic challenge—that any concept of the “we” is dynamic and contingent, based on encounters and relationships, and never stable nor given.


Rebecca Lowery is a PhD candidate in Art History at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, where she is working on a dissertation focused on early 1970s performance in the Los Angeles area. She recently held the Graduate Curatorial Assistantship at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, prior to which she was a research assistant for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she co-authored the catalogue for Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years. She has worked at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum and taught Western art history through NYU’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies.



Kelly Marie O’Brien

Independant U.S. Fulbright Student, Fine Arts Department

Concordia University, Montreal, QC

“OFF the Wall of Femmes: Subculture, Feminism, and Protest in Montreal Street Art”

LOCALITY / LOCALITÉ: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM

In November 2010, Michelle Harazny and Lisa Sproull spray painted their first stencil on Montréal’s public walls: the image and name of Simone de Beauvoir. In the years since, these founders of the street art collective Wall of Femmes have expanded their repertoire to include the likes of Angela Davis, Jane Addams, and Therese Casgrain on walls across major Canadian cities. However, it was not until the “feminist, antiracist, anticolonial, anticorporate” OFFmuralES Festival took shape this past June in protest to the corporate-sponsored MURAL Festival that Wall of Femmes united with other artists in Montréal to make their voices heard—voices that are now the soprano tones of a defined feminist street art community in Montréal.

This paper thus seeks to analyze why marginalized groups form and how they are absorbed into the dominant culture. With deference to the theories of Dick Hebdige and Angela McRobbie, I make the case that street art has been recuperated by the mainstream, a process of commodification exemplified by the existence of events like MURAL. However, the OFFmuralES community continues to retain the argot, positioning, and style of a subculture. I therefore argue that the 2013 OFFmuralES Festival served as the catalyst for the creation of Montréal’s first feminist street art subculture, produced in direct response to the loss of the street art subculture at large. Finally, using interviews with Sproull and Harazny, I begin to articulate the legacy Wall of Femmes and OFFmuralES leave on the city’s walls, and the challenges that legacy faces for the future.

Kelly Marie O’Brien is a U.S. Fulbright Student conducting independent research in the Fine Arts Department at Concordia University. Her research is two-fold; she studies the relationship between graffiti and advertising in Montréal, specifically on the 2011 controversy between Chevrolet Canada and the Under Pressure festival, as well as subcultural gender construction and (anti-)feminist attitudes in graffiti and street art. Kelly graduated summa cum laude with a BA in cursu honorum in American Studies from Fordham University in May 2013. In her spare time, she works with the Pas de Panique theatre company and the Fresh Paint Gallery in Montréal.



Adeline Paradis-Hautcoeur

M.A. Candidate, Art History

Concordia University, Montreal, QC

“Rehausser le singulier pour tous – Une analyse comparative des portraits d’artistes de Sam Tata et Gabor Szilasi”

COMMUNITY / COMMUNAUTÉ: Friday, March 7, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Dans son ouvrage Portraiture (1991), l’historien d’art Richard Brilliant considère le portrait comme le résultat d’une rencontre entre trois entités : l’artiste, le sujet et le spectateur. Brilliant affirme que la perception d’un portrait par le public est en grande partie influencée par la conception de l’individualité à une époque précise. Ainsi, le concept d’un individu évoluant au cœur d’une communauté marque la production et la réception de l’image d’une personne. Aussi, lorsqu’un portrait fait partie d’une série d’images, l’individu unique devient une partie d’un tout. Une personne dont l’image est fixée sur pellicule et diffusée au sein d’une société détient habituellement un statut en particulier. Par exemple, les portraits d’artistes forment une longue tradition où ces images sont fortement connotées, et ce, depuis la Renaissance. En effet, les artistes jouent un rôle capital dans la constante définition d’une culture et, conséquemment, d’une société. Ils constituent un panthéon national auquel les individus peuvent s’identifier. Étant incessamment divisée entre ces racines françaises et anglaises, Montréal a-t-elle son panthéon? Si oui, comment indiquer la personnalité artistique de ces individus? À la fin des années 1970, les photographes Sam Tata (1911-2005) et Gabor Szilasi (né en 1928) ont réalisé deux séries de portraits intimistes d’artistes montréalais, respectivement intitulées « A Certain Identity », publiée en 1983, et « Portraits/Intérieurs », exposée en 1979. Tata a créé des clichés noir et blanc, où le sujet semble absorbé par ses pensées, et Szilasi a produit des diptyques : une image présente l’individu frontalement en noir et blanc et la seconde photographie montre la même pièce, cette fois-ci vide, en couleurs et vue d’un point de vue différent. Considérés comme des portraits environnementaux, les artistes ont utilisé distinctement l’espace visible pour insuffler un caractère artistique à l’individu. Les sujets participent aussi à la connotation de l’image en modifiant leur apparence pour que celle-ci concorde avec les conventions sociales établies et attendues d’un artiste. Ainsi, même si un portrait représente une personne singulière, la conception de cette image repose entièrement sur une idée de communauté plurielle.

Après avoir complété son baccalauréat en histoire de l’art à l’Université de Montréal, Adeline Paradis-Hautcoeur a entrepris une maitrise dans ce même domaine à l’Université Concordia. Réalisé au moyen d’une analyse comparative de séries des photographes Sam Tata et Gabor Szilasi, son mémoire porte sur l’influence de l’environnement sur la perception de l’identité dans les portraits d’artistes montréalais des années 1970. En cumulant les stages pour le magazine artistique esse, pour les festivals Art Souterrain et MURAL et par sa participation dans les collectifs Complot X et Collectif 363, Adeline s’est assurée de la présence de l’art dans la société et d’avoir une expérience professionnelle diversifiée.



Sophia Powers

PhD candidate, Art History

University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

“Khirkee Yaan: Love thy Neighbor?”

NETWORK / RÉSEAU: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Hidden in heart of south Delhi, the small urban village of Khirkee is home to a diverse collection of primarily working-class residents, many of whom have lived in the neighborhood for generations, and others who have just arrived from Bihar, Bangladesh, or Nepal.  Although the bustling village is connected by a dense network of narrow alleyways, many of the residents have never met.  There are, for instance, two sweatshops just a lane away and yet the workers have never spoken due to the intricate social boundaries of cast, family, and religion.

For a couple of weeks in 2006, these barriers were challenged through a contemporary art initiative “Khirkeeyaan” by the young Bombay-based artist and filmmaker Shaina Anand. The basic premise of this project was to set up a series of “open-circuit TV systems” made of old security cameras and cable TV equipment that linked members of the Khirkee community who would not generally converse despite their close physical proximity.   A series of low-fi skype scenarios, if you will.

Although Anand describes her project as a mode of social documentary, it was clear that she believed her project would promote social solidarity.  Indeed, the more these projections were thwarted, the more dogmatic her approach became.  By the end, Anand planted an actor who posed as a local bystander to intervene repeatedly and promote the anti-communalist message that she initially hoped her project would spontaneously illicit.  Moreover, in spite of Anand’s best intentions, her project exacerbated real tensions in the community that could have very negative consequences once her film crew took off.  Hence, this paper examines a single participatory art project in Mumbai that provokes a host of questions concerning how new art forms can be leveraged to promote social or political agendas, and how we should consider their ethical implications.


Sophia Powers is a PhD candidate in Art History at UCLA, where she is preparing to write a dissertation on contemporary Indian art focusing on issues of participation.  She received her B.A. from Stanford University (double major in Art History and Anthropology), and an M.A. from Columbia University (Anthropology).  Sophia has received five grants to conduct research on Chinese and Indian contemporary art, and has published more than 30 articles and reviews in China, U.S., and India based-sources including LEAP, ArtIndia, Millennium Film Journal, Take on Art, and ARTSlant.com, where she was the international editor for the India and Chinese editions from 2009 – 2012.




Rajee Paña Jeji Shergill

M.A. Candidate, Art History

Concordia University, Montreal, QC

“Acts of Consultation: Interactions with the South Asian Community of the GTA in the Development of Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts and the Museum of Found Objects”

CONSULTATION: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 2:00 PM

In  2010 and 2011, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) reached out to the South Asian community of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in regards to the exhibition Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts, a collaboration between the AGO and the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London. It was the first exhibition of its kind to thoroughly explore the life of the Maharajas (Indian Kings) and their lavishly rich culture. Simultaneously, the AGO’s Young Gallery featured the Toronto Now exhibition The Museum of Found Objects: Toronto (Maharaja and–) (MOFO), which responds to the Maharaja and seeks to examine the relationship between the Maharajas’s historic luxury objects and contemporary everyday items. For MOFO, Sameer Farooq, a Toronto-based artist, collaborated with Paris-based artist Mirjam Linschooten, to perform museological practices such as gathering, organizing, interpreting and exhibiting, amassing a collection of objects gathered from neighbourhoods in Brampton, Mississauga, Scarborough and Milton. The artists rummaged through many ethnic stores to locate and purchase objects of aesthetic interest, and their selections were based on informal social interactions with the South Asian community. The objects were placed on pedestals and museum vitrines, where viewers were invited to observe each item closely, while reflecting on their cultural value. In this essay, I explore the ways in which MOFO challenges the representation of culturally specific artifacts and artwork in museum displays by presenting low-end, unexpected and ordinary objects from the South Asian community of the GTA into a place of importance. Through close examination of the exhibitions Maharaja and MOFO, I argue that Farooq’s and Linschooten’s project acted as an intervention within the walls of the AGO by exposing the limited history that is presented in the Maharaja, by providing a contemporaneous view of certain aspects of culture that relate to South Asian Canadian identity within a Canadian multicultural context.



Rajee Paña Jeji Shergill is an interdisciplinary artist and current Master’s student in Art History at Concordia University. She has participated in exhibitions in Vancouver, Halifax, Montreal, Guelph and Toronto. Rajee’s thesis examines artworks that engage with family accounts of trauma and personal memories related to the Partition of the Indian subcontinent. She is interested in inter- and transgenerational transmission as an investigative focus within the study of historical trauma associated with the Partition.



Thea Smolinski

PhD Candidate, Institute of Fine Arts

New York University, New York, NY

“La République: The Female Body as Political Allegory in Late 19th Century France”

PERSPECTIVE: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM

In the European visual tradition, the female body figuratively represented the body of the state; this was especially true of France.  From Jeanne Hachette to Marianne, the female form had come to represent all that was right, or wrong, with the French nation. By extension, the “health” of the state was then transposed onto the perceived physical and moral health of its actual women. It was seen as not just in the best interest of the administration to control women and women’s bodies, but necessary to maintain social order and a healthy national body. In the scheme of Republican thought, bourgeois women represented a body controlled, whereas poor urban women represented a volatile body veering wildly between chaos and reform. Therefore popular depictions of the poor depict both the promise of a socially useful body, the “good” poor women represented by welfare activists who labored as wives and mothers, and the dangerous, threatening poor women, physically and morally ill, who, through their labor as wet-nurses or prostitutes, spread diseases of the mind and body.

In the late nineteenth-century, women, because of their symbolic if not actual presence in political discourse, coupled with employment options specifically or implicitly linked to their reproductive capacities, came to inhabit an unusually strong position within the French visual narrative. These images reflect the perception of the “health” of the state as it relates to the physical and moral health of women, and can be understood through changing attitudes and official stances on infant care, sexual practices, population and fertility. Looking at images as varied as Honoré Daumier’s La République, Henri-Jules-Jean Geoffroy’s La Goutte de Lait de Belleville, and popular cartoons from illustrated journals, this paper will demonstrate the complicated ways in which working-class women’s bodies were appropriated by nationalist rhetoric, Republican duty, and social reform.


Thea Smolinski is currently a fourth year doctoral candidate at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Her dissertation, which reconsiders the female body as political allegory in late nineteenth-century France through the lens of Republican social programs, is being overseen by Linda Nochlin. As a graduate student, she has had the distinct privilege of working for Dr. Nochlin on a variety of research projects, including her current work on the depiction of misère in nineteenth-century Realism. Prior to the IFA, she received a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and worked at The Wolfsonian – FIU, Miami Beach, FL.



Julynn Wilderson

M.F.A. Candidate, Interdisciplinary Arts and Media

Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL

“To Become Our Own Un-Makers: Growth through Destruction and Community through Conflict”

CONSULTATION: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 2:00 PM

The process of decay is inseparable from growth, but what does it mean to incorporate loss and destruction into a thriving art practice? This paper focuses on the C33 Gallery space at Columbia College Chicago, which was recently opened up to be curated by a group of students who decided to “become each other’s un-makers.” Eleven students from different artistic backgrounds have contributed their work to a collective pool, both online and in the physical gallery space. Any of these students are then allowed to pull from this body of work and alter it as they see fit in order to create a collective gallery exhibit. For this process, we are asked to put ourselves and our work on the line when it can be taken, destroyed, digested, and re-birthed in forms that we are not personally responsible for. We must individually and collectively navigate and participate in loss, destruction, and antagonism. We are asked to participate in a community that is implicated in our destruction and figure out how to create in spite of difference, tension, loss, and sorrow?

How does this process of creation require us to practice being precarious and vulnerable?

This paper is an examination of the vicissitudes of vulnerability in the individual and the community. Vulnerability can be an opportunity for tremendous growth and connection, but this opening can also potentially be hurtful and harmful. In this paper, I use this understanding of vulnerability as well as agonistic politics to explore how we in the C33 gallery interact as artists, people, individuals, and members of a collective. While I ultimately hope to provide a vision of community in which an individual can find a space for artistic expression and growth, I maintain that this constant interplay of individual and community is tense, individually variable, anxious, and incredibly difficult. This collaboration is a question of cultivating an inter-creativity of dynamic, fragmented subjectivities and navigating the inevitable collisions of interaction.  


Julynn Wilderson is a Follett Fellow at Columbia College Chicago, where she is in her first year pursuing an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media. She graduated from Bard College at Simon’s Rock with a BA in Cross-Cultural Relations and Dance. She is interested in temporality, ghosts and hauntingness, democratic theory, habitus, and political praxis. She has previously presented at Duke University and is the publisher of the Zine of Lived Experience at Simon’s Rock.