co-curated by Treva Michelle Legassie and Renata Azevedo Moreira
In 1476, the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer penned the word femynynytee for the first time. A term of Middle English origins, it described one who is free from evil – free, in fact, from all independent desire or autonomous action. We reach back in time, pulling into present this term in order to address that which has been built upon and decolonize our understanding of it.
The exhibition Femynynytees reimagines the term outside of its moralistic confines, and rather, aims to explore a multiplicity of incarnations in which the “feminine" can be reframed, reworked, broken and queered. The diverse media and multiple modes of encounter between technology and art in this exhibition question what it means to be, or to have, a body that is not bound to gender. The intimacy of the works presented asks us to consider our understandings and assumptions of what it means to be feminine, to enter into the personal stories of the artists and to explore their experiences, celebrations and failures related to their own, and other’s, experiences of femininity. We invite you to consider the failings of the feminine through instances of care and violence, complicity and intrusion, celebration and critique in order to defy and bring into dialogue long standing assumptions that the feminine is inherently bound to a female identity. More than five centuries after the word first appeared, this exhibition questions; what can a multiplistic view offemynynytees become?
commissariée par Treva Michelle Legassie et Renata Azevedo Moreira
En 1476, le poète anglais Geoffrey Chaucer écrivait le mot femynynytee pour la première fois. Originaire du moyen-anglais, ce terme indiquait une qualité propre aux êtres censés être libres du mal - libres, en fait, de tout désir indépendant ou d'action autonome. En reconsidérant les racines du mot "femininity", nous sommes en mesure de le redéfinir au présent, décolonisant ses compréhensions et interprétations possibles.
L'exposition Femynynytees fait exister ce terme en dehors de ses limites morales et explore une multiplicité d'incarnations où le féminin est recadré, retravaillé, déconstruit et queerisé. Les différents médias et les multiples modes de rencontre entre la technologie et l'art dans cette exposition questionnent ce que cela signifie d'être, ou d'avoir, un corps qui n'est pas nécessairement lié à un genre biologique. L'intimité des œuvres qui nous sont présentées nous demande de considérer nos présupposés et suppositions de ce que signifie être féminin. Nous sommes invité.e.s à entrer dans les histoires personnelles des artistes et à explorer les perceptions, célébrations et échecs liés à leurs propres expériences de féminité et à celles des autres. Nous vous invitons à considérer les défaillances du féminin à travers des exemples de soin et de violence, de complicité et d'intrusion, de célébration et de critique afin de défier et de mettre en dialogue des postulats de longue date selon lesquels le féminin est intrinsèquement lié à l’identité de femme. Plus de cinq siècles après la première parution du mot, cette exposition s’interroge : que peut devenir une vision plurielle des femynynytes?
Cultured Waters: Mangling Maker Methods Through Art/Science Research-Creation
This workshop explored the complex systems of microbial life in Montreal’s Lachine Canal through an experiment in water culturing. Together we created Winogradsky columns, a simple device for culturing a large diversity of microorganisms, in order to think through the ways in which a scientific experiment for visualizing microbes can also be an artistic medium and a creative form of researching the otherwise inaccessible nonhuman life in the Lachine canal.
This workshop encouraged participants to speculate on multiple scales of life, their impact on, and the way they are impacted by, water infrastructures in Montreal. We captured a unique visualization of microbial life and environmental impacts on the Lachine canal by culturing water, and thinking through how feminist art-science lab practices, and a mangle of transdisciplinary research methods, can create new forms of knowledge around water’s social, political and environmental impact in an urban space like Montreal.
Workshop developed and facilitated by Treva Michelle Legassie for the students of COMS6715: Bricoler les médias taught by Dr. Aleksandra Kaminska and held in collaboration with the Speculative Life Biolab at Milieux Concordia.
Cultured Waters (Workshop)
Station de Pompage
An ethnographic film short by Treva Michelle Legassie.
Station de Pompage (2017) is a three minute short film documenting the Jean R. Marcotte water treatment plant in Montreal. The work was produced during a research trip with the Montreal Ethnography Lab based out of the Speculative Life Research Cluster at Milieux. The film is an assemblage of the audio and video documentation captured during the research trip.
Station de Pompage takes sensing and an immersive intuitive approach to researching and capturing a site. Overlaying inputs from multiple channels of documentation (audio recording, cell phone photography, a DSLR camera and go pro; all shot in tandem by Legassie on site) the video work offers a multichannel audio-visual representation of the site. In an attempt to rethink methodological approaches to anthropology, and specifically ethnography, by making work with visual and auditory ‘field notes’, Station de Pompage becomes a collage of research-turned-creation.
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 co-ordinated by Treva Legassie, 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 by Danica Evering and Matt Soar, co-ordinated by Treva Michelle Legassie. Image courtesy of Danica Evering.
Curatorial Research-Creation Collective
In January 2018, a group of interdisciplinary curators, artists, researchers – both from within the academy and without – came together through the Speculative Life Cluster around the proposition of the curatorial gesture in the milieu of research-creation practices. There is little writing on the subject of the curatorial within the field of Research-Creation, leading us to the question: How do you curate research-creation? It seems impossible that a traditional practice of curation is capable of holding the liveness of the in-act aloft. If research-creation is a “practice that thinks” (Erin Manning, The Minor Gesture), we understand that it will necessarily incise the curatorial, inflect it with its transversal aim: What is curation AS a research-creation practice?
(welcoming new members, please contact us at email@example.com)
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, inspired by the speculative fictions of Donna Haraway. 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.
This piece was produced in part for the COMS 876 Research-Creation course by Dr. Matt Soar at Concordia University.
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 Michelle Legassie 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.
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 Michelle Legassie, 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.
Curated by Dr. Matt Soar with curatorial assistance from Treva Michelle Legassie and Danica Evering.
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 Legassie 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 artist Sean Martindale, curated by Treva Michelle Legassie, and held at OCAD University's Graduate Gallery in tandem with the #trending conference.
#NATURE was conceived as an enclosed public space. Through Martindale's intervention the gallery space was transformed into a self-referential site for thinking though the modes in which both nature, and public spaces are manicured, manufactured, and mediated today.
Martindale is most well know for his public art installation practice. For #NATURE the artist created an installation for a interior site, a more traditional white cube gallery. In collaboration with Martindale, and the community, we were able to collectively create an installation that calls to the potential artificiality of urban nature-scapes, and to imagine out how we can embrace, work within, and on, such spaces in positive and productive ways.
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.
This exhibition was curated by Treva Michelle Legassie and funded by the office of graduate studies at OCAD University.
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 Legassie.
#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 Michelle Legassie, with support from the 2016 cohort of the Masters in Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories at OCAD University.