Six Tales of Peace and War: Audio Walk for the Musée des Beaux-Arts Montréal
Six Tales of Peace (and War) / Six histoires de paix (et guerre) transports the second floor (Baroque and Enlightenment Era) of the Pavilion for Peace into a place of historical memory and imagination, exploring the human desire for peace even in the midst of wars both Napoleonic and contemporary. The audio guide includes commentary from humanitarian and peace activist, Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire; recent Syrian immigrant George Arbaii; specialist in the Spanish enlightenment, Jesus Pérez-Magallon; and museum guide Louis Pelland. Developed and written by artists/graduate students Gianni Berretta, Arianna Garcia-Fialdini, Karlene Goffe, Emily Keenlyside, Bonnie Klohn, Carly McAskill, Trish Osler, Treva Pullen and Christine Suarez, this audio guide is available in both English and French.
These audio guides were created under the supervision of Kathleen Vaughan, Concordia University Research Chair in Socially Engaged Art and Public Pedagogies, in collaboration with audio artist/sound engineer Phil Lichti, as part of Concordia University’s partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Production of the audio guides received financial support from both institutions.
YMX: Migration, Land, and Loss After Mirabel - Cheryl Sim (2017)
Though open for less than half a century, the Montréal-Mirabel International Airport, designated by the IATA code YMX, sits at the nexus of many narrative lines. From its opening on October 4, 1975 until its eventual demolition after years of economic hardship in May 2014, it connects parallel stories of displacement and forced migration. Montréal artist Cheryl Sim’s installation YMX: Migration, Land, and Loss after Mirabel, curated by Danica Evering and Matt Soar and Treva Pullen, breathes life into these archival narratives and brings them into willful consonance and dissonance. In Sim’s exhibition, a darkened room holds a labyrinth of classic airport belt stanchions, normally used as queuing guidance and crowd control, but here re-purposed as a winding path for reflection. This path leads to the voices of Pierre Nepveu, a celebrated Québécois poet whose book Lignes aériennes relates his farming family’s displacement during the expropriation; Prem Sooriyakumar, who along with his mother and sister sought asylum at Mirabel from the civil war in Sri Lanka; and author Kim Thuy, whose Governor General’s Award-winning novel Ru echoes a vivid account of her own arrival at Mirabel from war-torn Vietnam. These memories—both exproprié and refugee—are complicated by archival footage of the airport and the land surrounding it. On the wall, news documentation in French and English highlights the Canadian government’s refusal to engage with Kanehsatà:ke’s stewardship of the land. In the middle, Nepveu’s Lignes aériennes lies flat on the soft glow of the airport’s luggage carousel signs. And there, at the heart of the labyrinth: two bright yellow Solari split-flap displays, formerly serving a more functional purpose as Gates 46 and 48 at Mirabel, now mutter to one another about land, policy, resistance, home, flight, and politics. Instead of an archive that complies with narrative definition, we propose that the embodied experience of an art installation allows for a more willful archive with multiple accounts converging and conflicting through many voices: visitor, artist, curator, media, Kanien'kéha:ka, refugee, archive, exproprié, airport, machine, and the land itself.
Co-curated exhibition with Danica Evering and Matt Soar. Image courtesy of Danica Evering.
The machine is a working system that functions to facilitate human life. As we influence machines through production they reciprocate by informing and influencing our daily lives. In the 1970s OCA (now OCAD University) was a catalyst in the development of new media and electronic art through the Photo Electric Arts Department. The students and faculty have employed an aesthetic that transcends time and unifies the work of students, professors and alumni from the 1970s until today. Influenc(Ed.) Machines celebrates a do-it-yourself mechanical aesthetic and a sense of liveliness inherent in the machine or mechanical object. The themes of this exhibition are inspired by Caroline Langill's seminal research into the early days of new media art in Toronto emerging in the 1970s. Influenc(Ed.) Machines has been curated by the students of Professor Jennifer Rudder’s class Criticism and Curatorial Practice: International Collaboration Studio; Robin Goldberg, Matt Kyba, Kate Murfin, Tak Pham, Treva Pullen, and Renée Stephens.
The exhibition Influenc(Ed.) Machines encompasses work spanning the period between the 1970s to today that have been produced at or by OCAD (OCA) faculty and students from the present and past. The works of Doug Back, Judith Doyle, Kate Hartman, Layne Hinton, Michael Page and Norman White represent a spirit of humanness as they move, project and engage with the viewer. Accompanying the work is ephemera that offers a visual narrative of the lives of such objects and the process of their creation and function. Influenc(Ed.) Machines borrows and subverts the title of the landmark exhibition curated by Jeanne Randolph for YYZ Artists' Outlet in 1984, Influencing Machines, in order to unpack a new relationship of machines to human subjects. The machine has agency and is influenced by the artist as much as the artist is influenced by it.
Tel Quel/As Is: Recent Acquisitions from the Montreal Signs Project
The Montréal Signs Project started at Concordia University in 2010 when Matt Soar, a professor of Communication Studies, and Nancy Marrelli, archivist emerita, began saving old signs from around the city. Not just any old signs, but ones with local, cultural significance: Warshaw, Bens Restaurant, Monsieur Hot Dog, Monkland Taverne. The collection has since grown to around twenty signs, covering airports, butchers, bookstores, boots, bicycles, cinemas, news media, poutine, restaurants, and vacuum cleaners.
Every sign in the collection is imbued with a deep connection to Montreal's everyday past: the memories of those who grew up or have lived in their shadow or their glow. Each layer of wear, tear, and patina offers clues as to how and when the signs were made, why, and for whom. This exhibition is a rare opportunity to view several well-known signs recovered or donated in 2016, in more or less the condition they were in when we picked them up.
Visitors to this temporary exhibition are warmly invited to explore the permanent collection, also in this building. We suggest taking the elevator to the 5th floor and walking back down. Many of the signs are visible in the main corridors.
Co-curated by Dr. Matt Soar and Treva Michelle Pullen.
Whimsical Bodies: Agency and Playfulness in Robotic Art
A thesis paper presented to OCAD University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories, 2016.
This thesis examines issues related to agency, playfulness, and behavioral design in robotic art. Using the term ‘whimsical bodies’ (inspired by artist Steve Daniels’, Whimsy, 2008) as an evocative metaphor for the playful ecology and creations of robotic art, I take up historical and contemporary case studies as entry points to a multi-faceted discussion of human-machine engagements through the lenses of philosophical, art historical and curatorial methodological research. Robotic art’s whimsical bodies are also explored through references to new media scholarship, object-oriented-philosophy, metaphysics and speculative theory. In assessing characteristic features of the art form, such as its playfulness, use of humor, and critique/reconfiguration of wonder as a mode of critical engagement, this thesis aims to move robotic art from the periphery to the center of new media art as a lively and unique field of research.
Ultimately, “Whimsical Bodies” reimagines and reanimates cybernetic objects as they break from their role as passive recipients of traditional modes of museum/gallery spectatorship by providing insights into their hidden lives and potential.
Lively Objects brings together artworks that vibrate with mechanical, digital, and magical forces. Installations hidden throughout the Museum of Vancouver's history galleries awaken our fascination with objects that come to life.
The artworks in Lively Objects take a variety of forms—gloves, tables, figurines, machines and projected images. Visitors can hunt for them or drift through the galleries and take their chances. Some works hide in plain sight, speaking only to those who stop to listen. Others deliberately pull focus and make a ruckus. Read more about the individual artworks here or download the brochure.
In Lively Objects, artefacts do not quietly await our appreciation. These enchanted artworks disrupt traditional museum categories and presentation techniques. They start surprising conversations with neighbouring objects and invite visitors to reconsider the museum experience.
Lively Objects is curated by Caroline Seck Langill, and Lizzie Muller. The exhibition features works created by faculty and alumni of OCAD University and Emily Carr University of Art and Design: Wendy Coburn, Steve Daniels, Judith Doyle, Kate Hartman, Garnet Hertz, Simone Jones and Lance Winn, Germaine Koh, and Norman White. It is part of The Living Effect, a SSHRC-funded project that investigates notions of “aliveness” in media arts objects.
Caroline Seck Langill is a Peterborough-based writer and artist. She has curated new media art exhibitions for various venues including SAW Gallery, the Ottawa Art Gallery, and InterAccess. Caroline Seck Langill is Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at OCAD University.
Lizzie Muller is a curator and researcher specializing in interdisciplinary collaboration, interaction, and audience experience. She is Director of the Masters in Curating and Cultural Leadership at UNSW Faculty of Art and Design, Australia.
Lively Objects is an associated exhibition of the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art: ISEA2015.
Treva Michelle Pullen was assistant curator to Dr. Caroline Langill and Dr. Lizzie Muller for this exhibition and the Lively Objects symposium at the Banff Centre.
#NATURE was a temporary installation by Sean Martindale, held at OCAD University's Graduate Gallery in tandem with the #trending conference.
Sean Martindale is a Canadian artist and designer currently based in Toronto. He holds a Master of Fine Art from OCAD University, Toronto, and a Bachelor of Design from Emily Carr University, Vancouver. Sean’s playful works question and offer alternatives for existing public spaces, infrastructure and materials found in the urban realm. His work activates public space to encourage engagement and prompt conversation and interaction.
Martindale’s body of work includes public interventions, works for exhibitions and festivals and more recently community-based projects. His work has appeared in galleries and museums, festivals and on the streets worldwide in cities such as Berlin, Hong Kong, London, New York, Montreal, Paris, Shanghai, Toronto, and Venice. He works with Katzman Contemporary in Toronto.
Martindale is most well know for his public art installation practice, however, we asked him to develop an installation for a interior site, a more traditional white cube gallery. In collaboration with Martindale, and the community, we were able to create an installation that calls to the potential artificiality of urban nature-scapes, and to figure out how we can embrace, work within, and on, such spaces in positive and productive ways.
This exhibition was curated by Treva Michelle Pullen and funded by the office of graduate studies at OCAD University.
Conservation Piece for Catastrophe
The sculpture is comprised of 10 resin cast ‘specimen’ samples of natural materials I forged around the downtown area of Montreal. Conservation piece for catastrophe looks to a future imaginary of life after the Anthropocene. Species Fictions, for me, reflects the speculative story I have tried to create about a damaged future in which we look to preserved plant and animal species as sacred objects, around which a host of fictions about the past are formed and circulated to keep hope alive.
This work is an imaginary artifact for the future after it has been desolated by humans. Though this may seem dystopian, it is rather a call to action for us to imagine the Earth’s future if we continue to damage the planet, versus, if we begin to live responsibly and ethically in the present. This future imaginary is meant to rethink myths of progress (rather than positing a sleek and technologically advanced future or a completely desolated and dystopian one), as Jussi Parikka suggests media archeology must also do, and does not make value judgements regarding a linear future that is inherently better or worse than our present. In attempting to ‘stay with the trouble’ of our present condition, and consider the real possibility of much of the Earth’s living creatures ceasing to exist, Conservation piece for catastrophe is a fake future artifact of preserved flora and fauna from the 21st century that will be seen by a future audience (post-Anthropocene with virtually no remaining organic life). Imagining a future landscape that is completely desolated, my sculpture is a fictional prototype for preserving nature. Natural materials such as leaves and flowers are encased in plastic, a human made synthetic compound that is toxic and will not biodegrade. Perhaps it is a contradiction to preserve natural materials in a toxic compound in order to save them for the future, however, I see this more as a troubling that calls into question what will outlast living matter post-Anthropocene.
Threshold is an ephemeral activation of Boxcar Studio. Through the pairing of photographic works from Rino Noto’s Crepuscolo series with drawings and paintings from Dermot O’Brien’s Ambisinister series, the studio is enlivened and transformed for one night.
Noto’s Crepuscolo series draws on the phenomena of disappearance or abstracted perception that occurs at dusk. His work focuses on the merger of the real and supernatural realms as the viewer is transformed into an ulterior space blurring the lines of reality and imagination. Representational forms and figures temporarily emerge from Noto’s haunting photographs moving the viewer before disappearing from consciousness.
O’Brien’s Ambisinister series examines the violent and oppressive characteristics inherent in the constructed image of patriarchal masculinity. Larger than life, conjured male figures charge the space with a palpable tension. Informed by feminist discourse and life experience, the works emerge to confront and challenge the viewer.
Threshold explores binaries of perception such as withdrawal and emergence, representation and obfuscation, creating and undoing. Noto alludes to transformation while O’Brien serves up confrontation. Collectively, their works bracket this space to create an affective assemblage that acts upon the viewer as part of an immersive and emotional experience.
Curated by Treva Michelle Pullen.
Animacies: Performative Poetry
Performative Poetry session, inspired by Mel Chen's Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering and Queer Affect. The 'Animacies Poetry' was a curated selection of words, chosen to mobilize language disruption and the animacy hierarchy that constructs and limits our use of language. The poetry was enacted though a workshop/performance given at McGill University, here are the results of the poems produced in collaboration with workshop participants.
#trending: mobilizing art and culture
The influence of trends is undeniable in contemporary culture, but rarely are its implications fully fleshed out. How can a trend mobilize or call others to action? As scholarship in contemporary art, design and new media becomes increasingly focused on networked lives, the digital platforms through which we communicate, interact, and share information demand academic and social inquiry. This interdisciplinary conference looks to the topic of #trending in its myriad meanings as it produces and affects subjects and citizenship, social and political change, visual and material culture. We must consider the longevity, impact, and relevancy of cultural work and research as the implications of cultural trends, their makers, and media are nuanced and complex. Are trends disposable or lasting? How should scholarship respond to trends -- by defining them or following them? What can trends tell us in their sequencing, forecasting, and analysis?
A conference managed and organizing by Treva Pullen, with support from the 2016 cohort of the Masters in Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories at OCAD University.
Speculations on the Body
An exhibition at OCAD University's fishbowl gallery, celebrating the launch of a new specialization in the Drawing and Painting major program in the Faculty of Arts called 'Life Studies'. The intent of the Life Studies specialization is to examine new opportunities to expand concepts of the figure, but also the body...or bodies.
This exhibition demonstrates a range of approaches to figurative and narrative practices from fourth year students studying Drawing, Painting and Print Media. The exhibition includes work by Tiphaine Leonard, Claire Tatengelo, Meaghan Julia Barry, Yana Verba, Dermot O'Brien, Martin Godin, Diego de la Rosa, Jovana Todorovic and Samantha Pedicelli.
Co-cuarated by Natalie Waldburger and Treva Michelle Pullen.
Look Inside 2014
Work from a select group of students from the 4th year Advanced Drawing and Painting studio displayed for the Look Inside: Open House at OCAD University. Nineteen Advanced Studio students showed work of varying media on the walls of the 4th floor Drawing and Painting wing hallways in 100 McCaul Street. The selected works represent varying themes relevant to current student of OCAD University. Themes include representations of memory through artistic production, mixing media in order to expose the materiality of two-dimensional artwork, subversion of classical landscape painting techniques, expressions of personal suffering and more.
Exhibition curated, and works selected by Treva Michelle Pullen.
A small selection of work from a series of paintings that have been in development since 2012. Through explorations of colour and form this body of work calls to a rethinking of 'landscapes' that suggests we look outside of the traditional and find new ways to quantify and understand landscapes, their boundaries and what we might consider land outside of normative conceptions. Can the body be a landscape, how and for whom? Where do boundaries lie, how can we break them productively and equitably? For what and whom are landscapes marked and consumed?
Bacterial painting on silk. This work was developed during a collaboration with Nurit Bar-Shai at the Speculative Life Laboratory. Live microbes are used as bio-regenerative paint; combining traditional and DIY laboratory techniques with painting and printmaking techniques. Living designs and drawings were created using harmless bacteria, including bacteria with natural- pigments as well as genetically-engineered bacteria with a selection of fluorescent colors.