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2020 - 2021

Programming

Sandra Brewster
from October 3rd 2020 to February 13th 2021

Allysha Larsen, Estelle Bonetto, Jeff Morton, Jesse Fulcher Gagnon
from November 4th 2020 to December 11th 2020

Activité en cours_Art pour emporter ! / Current activity_Takeout Art!
from November 17th 2020 to February 13th 2021


from November 24th 2020 to February 13th 2021

Sandra Brewster, Nalini Mohabir, Opuscule et entretien vidéo | Sandra Brewster, Nalini Mohabir, Opuscule and Video discussion
from December 2nd 2020 to February 13th 2021

Activité inspirée de la pratique de Sandra Brewster | Activity inspired by Sandra Brewster practice
from January 1st 2021 to May 1st 2021

Laura Acosta et Santiago Tavera
from February 27th 2021 to April 17th 2021

Charlotte Clermont
from February 27th 2021 to April 17th 2021

Myriam Yates
from May 1st 2021 to June 19th 2021

Gabriela Löffel
from May 1st 2021 to June 19th 2021

MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image; Commissaire | Curator: Stefanie Hessel; Artiste à confirmer | Artists to confirm

from September 10th 2021 to October 23rd 2021

Caroline Cloutier
from November 13th 2021 to December 18th 2021

Olivia Boudreau
from November 13th 2021 to December 18th 2021




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Sandra Brewster, Untitled (Blur), 2017 – 2019.
Détail, photographie transférée sur papier archive à l’aide d’un gel acrylique, 96 photographies,
25,4 x 17,78 cm.
Avec l’aimable permission de Sandra Brewster et Georgia Scherman Projects. |
Untitled (Blur), 2017 - 2019. Detail, Photo-based gel transfer on archival paper, 96 photographes,
25,4 x 17,78 cm.
Courtesy Sandra Brewster and Georgia Scherman Projects


Sandra Brewster
from October 3rd 2020 to February 13th 2021
Works from series:
Smith
Blur

Video:
Walk on by


**IMPORTANT NOTICE**In the wake of the current context, concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, OPTICA follows the new health guidelines from the Santé publique. We would like to inform you that the exhibition is closed until further notice. Visit our website and our social networks to find out about developments in view of an reopening. By then, take care!

BOOK YOUR VISIT throught this form.


The Potential of Movement

Sandra Brewster has exhibited widely across Canada and the US, including a recent solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. She has also featured in group exhibits, such as What Carries Us: Newfoundland and Labrador in the Black Atlantic, the first diasporic Guyanese art exhibit, Un|Fixed Homeland, as well as in exhibits in the Caribbean and across the African continent – Lagos, Addis Ababa, and Cape Town. Her practice visualizes the Black diaspora, at home and abroad.

Sandra Brewster’s solo exhibit at OPTICA brings together images from Blur, its accompanying video installation Walk on by, as well as the Untitled Smith, work created over a span of eight years (2011-2019). While all these works build on the artist’s long-standing interest in portraiture, what brings these images together is a contestation of the polarized view of Blackness as either hyper-visible or disappeared.

Blur plays with the traditional notion of head and shoulder portraits; it is a series of photo-based gel transfers of Black individuals including self-portraits of the artist, whose head, hair, and body, are all captured mid-movement. Blur is the Black body in motion, both collectively and individually. The kinetic energy of the images suggests what you might miss in a blink of an eye -- a liveliness or restless motion beneath the surface.

For Brewster, born in Toronto to parents from the Caribbean, movement is many things. In these continuing times of anti-Black racist violence, movement demands we remember that change begins with political movements. The aesthetics of movement is also another way to think about migration, not as a fixed goal, but as a landing without destination (Brand, 2002). There is a potential to move forward, to return, to live in the “black and blur” between (Moten 2017), as an opening to other places. Take Kumina, a religious practice of Congolese origin practiced in Jamaica, where djembe drumbeats guide the dancers’ energetic and rhythmic motions. Miss Queenie, interviewed by scholar Maureen Warner-Lewis (1977), describes spirit possession in Kumina: “…is de ting dey call a spirit where you head ‘pin roun’ an’ you pupalick ‘pon you neck.” [Translation: is the thing they call a spirit where your head spins around and your neck does a somersault]. The kinaesthesia of Kumina is a re-orientation of the body. The spiritual possession of Kumina invoked in a ‘somersault of the neck’ suggests the power of inversions. These rapid movements and embodied connections to elsewhere are the product of diaspora and creolization. In the Caribbean, where cultures interact and – despite historical relations of dominance and subordination – potentially turn power relations upside down, orients us to the possibilities of something new. The submerged has the power to become subversive, as these gestural portraits suggests.

Similarly, the soft blurriness and timeless quality of Walk on by (recorded on a Super 8 Camera), of Black citizens simply walking in the everydayness of Toronto, implies not a recent arrival but long histories of presence that nonetheless require a navigation of invisible societal dynamics that shape movement and freedom.

Like Blur, The Smiths draws on the power of repetition. In the days of phone books, the last name Smith would be repeated in long columns, conjuring as Brewster states “sameness and invisibility.” In Untitled Smiths (Cold), multiples of Afro-silhouetted heads without faces, appear in a grid with the occasional pops of colour in clothing. In Untitled (Plain Black), the Smith characters become monotone, with white Afros and clothing, almost as if a photo negative image. Over top these white Smiths are two detailed images of young men in sports and hip hop inspired clothing from the 1980s, drawing on Brewster’s earlier portrait series Little Boy as well as Brewster’s concern for how young Black men are imaged in society. In Untitled (Whiteout), the Smiths are barely perceptible, almost completely whitewashed into the background. What are the disturbances in the embodied worlds of the Smiths (in North America) that requires Blackness to be assertive or to fade away?

Although Brewster’s art practice is grounded in the experiences of the Black diaspora, her work asks us all to interpret our own (perhaps insurgent) relations to other worlds, in the spirit and in the flesh.

Author: Nalini Mohabir

Nalini Mohabir is Assistant Professor of Postcolonial Geographies at Concordia University.

We would like to thank Georgia Scherman from Georgia Scherman Projects and Dr. Kenneth Montague from Ken Montague / The Wedge Collection.

PRESS RELEASE (pdf)



PRESS REVIEW



Sandra Brewster is a visual artist based in Toronto. Her work explores identity, representation and memory, centering on Black presence. The daughter of Guyanese born parents, she is especially attuned to the experiences of people of Caribbean heritage and their ongoing relationships with back home.

Brewster’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Art Gallery of Guelph, Or Gallery in Vancouver, YYZ Artists’ Outlet and A Space Gallery in Toronto, and in group exhibitions including Mamuzic Gallery in Novi Sad (Serbia), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Arsenal Habana (Cuba), Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, Lagos Photo Festival (Nigeria), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Art Gallery of Windsor, and Allegheny Art Galleries in Meadville, PA (U.S.). Brewster’s exhibition It's all a blur… received the Gattuso Prize for outstanding featured exhibition in CONTACT Photography Festival 2017 in Toronto. In 2018, she was the recipient of the Artist Prize from Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts and was the year's artist-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Brewster holds a Masters of Visual Studies from University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University. She is represented by Georgia Scherman Projects.





Allysha Larsen, Estelle Bonetto, Jeff Morton, Jesse Fulcher Gagnon
from November 4th 2020 to December 11th 2020

As part of Mentorat et visibilité program, le Conseil culturel fransaskois located in Regina, has developed a two-year mentoring project with a group of artists. Since spring 2019, they have been called upon to define, adapt and push artistic boundaries through regular mentoring sessions led by artist Serge Murphy.

As a partner, OPTICA has followed the development of the group of Fransaskois artists. Since November 4, 2020, le Conseil culturel fransaskois has presented the process of the project, which took the form of the creation of the exhibition ÉCHOS accompanied by six video presenting the work of the artists. The project received the support of the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations canadienne (SQRC), Direction de la francophonie, de la réflexion stratégique. The documentary videos on the exhibition ÉCHOS bring together the works of Allysha Larsen, Estelle Bonetto, Jeff Morton and Jesse Fulcher Gagnon.

Page in French

- ÉCHOS page in English

- Video on Allysha Larsen's art pieces.

- Video on Estelle Bonetto's art pieces.

- Video on Jeff Morton's art pieces.

- Video on Jesse Fulcher Gagnon's art pieces.




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Art pour emporter. | Takeout Art.
Crédit : Sandrine Côté.

Activité en cours_Art pour emporter ! / Current activity_Takeout Art!
from November 17th 2020 to February 13th 2021

Free Takeout Art creative kits are available for pick up at OPTICA until February 13, 2021. Through a series of creative activities, children can learn more about artist Sandra Brewster’s art practice, which is part of the current confined exhibition at OPTICA. Inspired by the photo-based installation Blur, the kit provides an opportunity to experiment with the gel transfer technique that the artist uses in many of her artworks. The kit includes an activity booklet, the material needed to complete your own image transfer, printed step-by-step instructions and a virtual tutorial to guide participants through the various steps involved in completing the transfer. Here is a great opportunity to spend time and create as a family at the beginning of the New Year while discovering the work of a current artist.

Takeout Art kits are available in French or English at the centre.

To reserve one and schedule a time for pickup please send an email at mediation[at]optica.ca

Watch the tutorial on our OPTICA Mediation channel.

And consult the virtual booklet throught this link.




from November 24th 2020 to February 13th 2021
Closing of the exhibition and health guidelines

We are pleased to announce that OPTICA has reopened its gallery work!
But in the wake of current events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, OPTICA is following Québec public health guidelines and implementing measures to protect both our visitors and our staff: we postponed the opening of the exbibition.

When reopened, we ask that you respect the following rules:

- reservations are mandatory for exhibition visits, use this form;

Unannounced visits may be accepted, depending on the number of visitors in the gallery spaces. We can accommodate a maximum of 10 people at a time.

- masks or other face covering are mandatory throughout the visit;
- hands must be disinfected upon arrival: hydroalcoholic gel is available on site;
- 2-meter distancing must be maintained between each person to facilitate circulation during your visit.

If you have COVID-19-related symptoms, please postpone your visit.

Welcome one and all!





Sandra Brewster, Nalini Mohabir, Opuscule et entretien vidéo | Sandra Brewster, Nalini Mohabir, Opuscule and Video discussion
from December 2nd 2020 to February 13th 2021

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sandra Brewster’s exhibition will be confined until further notice.

But as we cannot present the works in the gallery, OPTICA is launching a new publishing format in the form of a mini-catalogue, both in print and digitally, comprising an exhibition text, a selection of images, a biography, a selective bibliography, and a gallery layout. We would hereby like to share a digital version of the brochure documenting Sandra Brewster’s exhibition titled Works from series: Smith, Blur, Video: Walk on by, including a text by author Nalini Mohabir, assistant professor in postcolonial geographies at Concordia University.

Sandra Brewster, opuscule (pdf)

Also, in terms of public program, OPTICA is inaugurating a new video interview series with the aim of developing aspects of the current programming. We invite you to a discussion between Sandra Brewster and Nalini Mohabir which deals with the artist's practice, while echoing the exhibition at OPTICA. Watch by this link.





Activité inspirée de la pratique de Sandra Brewster | Activity inspired by Sandra Brewster practice
from January 1st 2021 to May 1st 2021
Currently, mediation: Digital Educational Toolkit for school groups

Due to the health crisis that is significantly reducing youth’ access to art and culture, OPTICA has developed a digital educational toolkit for school groups. The kit provides an opportunity to discover the practice of the artist Sandra Brewster whose work is currently confined at OPTICA. It also allows for students to be introduced to contemporary art and to learn more about artist-run centres in general.

The kit contains a virtual tour that can be facilitated by a teacher and an accompanying guided visit scenario is made available to help guide the visit. If preferred the tour can be conducted by a mediator from the center via a video conference platform. A downloadable and printable student booklet is also made available for use; it contains a lexicon of the themes addressed in the exhibition, a short biography of the artist and 5 educational activities that can be carried out both in class and at home. The kit also includes a creative workshop that introduces students to the image transfer technique Brewster uses in her work.

To obtain a kit and/or plan a virtual visit with a mediator, please contact Sandrine at mediation[at]optica.ca.




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Laura Acosta et Santiago Tavera,
The Novels of Elsgüer (Episode 4)
Camouflaged Screams
, 2020, installation multimédia et performance, dimensions variables. Avec l’aimable permission des artistes. | Multimedia installation
and performance, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artists. © Cedric Laurenty.

Laura Acosta et Santiago Tavera
from February 27th 2021 to April 17th 2021
The Novels of Elsgüer (Episode 4): Camouflaged Screams

With The Novels of Elsgüer, the Columbian-Canadian duo Laura Acosta and Santiago Tavera have elaborated a set of transdisciplinary installations that explore notions of representation, identity, and belonging through the creation of interactive and immersive digital environments, born by a non-linear storytelling, experimental soundscapes, textile sculpture, and performance. Each installation refers to an episode. The Novels of Elsgüer (Episode 4): Camouflaged Screams further develops the idea of embodied landscapes: the body as both an organic and a virtual site that has the capacity to influence and to create other environments. Participants are invited to actively engage, opening up a new space of dialogue on ideas about presence, adaptation, and agency.




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Charlotte Clermont, microsleeps, 2020, photogramme : image numérique transférée sur 16mm. Avec l’aimable permission de l'artiste. | Videostill: Digital image transferred to 16mm.
Courtesy of the artist.

Charlotte Clermont
from February 27th 2021 to April 17th 2021

Charlotte Clermont’s artistic approach is to explore the malleability of the moving image, using film and magnetic tapes to create complex, intimate moments and spaces. Titled microsleeps, this three-channel film installation, the images of which were originally captured on 16mm film and then transposed to digital media, combines chemically altered figurative images, monochromatic shots, and soundtracks - produced by Émilie Payeur - that derive from experimental and noise music. Several elements, such as a minimalist aesthetic, fixed shots, and looped images, borrow from structural film.




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Myriam Yates, Classic Playground, Upper West Side, Manhattan, NY, 2018, impression numérique, 35,56 x 53,34 cm. Avec l’aimable permission de l'artiste. | Digital print, 35,56 x 53,34 cm.
Courtesy of the artist.

Myriam Yates
from May 1st 2021 to June 19th 2021
Playgrounds

Myriam Yates is concerned with the relationship between places and their representation, often focused on modern sites or sites in transition, whose peculiar status raises questions about the relationship between the individual, modernity, and architecture. The artist subtly raises social and political issues that influence how we choose to promote or neglect spaces or divert them from their initial purpose. The photographic work in Playgrounds, centred around public gardens and children’s playgrounds, was produced during a stay in New York in fall 2018. Through this series, Yates questions the role played by free space in the city, notions of control, the rise of a certain conformity, and the appropriation of urban space.




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Gabriela Löffel, Performance, 2017-2018, installation vidéo, 2 canaux, haut-parleurs, 25 min. Avec l’aimable permission de l'artiste. | 2-Channel video installation, speakers, 25 min. Courtesy of the artist.

Gabriela Löffel
from May 1st 2021 to June 19th 2021
[Performance]

Gabriela Löffel’s practice is particularly concerned with those liminal areas in which meanings tend to shift. In her research, Löffel examines the systems and structures that govern the representation and interpretation of reality. With [Performance], a two-channel video projection, she analyzes the audio recording of a presentation given by the technical director of a Homeland Security corporation. This work deconstructs the spoken form and content of the speech to bring out the productive and rhetorical procedures of a language that effectively serves to advance economic and political interests. Here it is a question of examining the process of optimization and appropriation in public speech.





MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image; Commissaire | Curator: Stefanie Hessel; Artiste à confirmer | Artists to confirm

from September 10th 2021 to October 23rd 2021
Sensing Nature

The 2021 edition of MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image, titled Sensing Nature, is informed by a desire to unsettle the divide between nature and its representation. The exhibitions will be guided by the works of artists deeply invested in decolonizing strategies and examining queer ecologies to reimagine environmental politics and notions of the natural. MOMENTA 2021 will work towards decentring the often-foregrounded Western human creator of knowledge about the natural world to make room for stories that dwell in the blurred boundaries between culture and nature, weaving in different forms of knowing, both human and nonhuman. Audacious and hopeful, these “other” stories propose a shift in perception toward the sensibility of earth systems as narrators of their own logic. In turning toward nature’s own enunciations, the biennale explores new, caring sensitivities.

Curator Stefanie Hessler will explore earth systems as narrators of their own logic. The exhibitions, the publication, and all of the activities for the public will be organized around this theme.



Stefanie Hessler (Germany) is a curator, writer, and editor. Her work focuses on interdisciplinary systems from an intersectional feminist perspective, with a focus on the ocean and other ecologies.




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Caroline Cloutier, Trois plis noirs, 2020.

Caroline Cloutier
from November 13th 2021 to December 18th 2021

Caroline Cloutier is pursuing her research on spatial practices in photography. Integrated into the architecture of the places they have invested, these installations demonstrate extensions of the photographic device that specifically address the modes of interaction between image, space, and perception. Using a formalistic approach, coupled with a spare and minimal construction, Cloutier modulates and opens the space by using the artifice of lighting and mirrors to create virtual passages and trompe-l’oeil illusions. She thus produces a mise en abîme of the mechanics of the exhibition. Her new series attests to reflections based on spatial constructions, combining interlocking spaces, off-camera activation, and plays of perspectives.

Caroline Cloutier is the recipient of the 2020 Yvonne L. Bombardier Graduate Scholarship in Visual Arts from the J. Armand Bombardier Foundation.

J. Armand Bombardier Foundation
Created in 1965 by the wife and three daughters of the inventor, the J. Armand Bombardier Foundation contributes to the advancement of individuals, organizations and communities by supporting initiatives that foster social innovation and capacity building. Since its inception, the Foundation has been chosen by Bombardier as one of the vehicles through which it fulfills its social responsibility.

One foundation, three destinations: in addition to its philanthropic work, the Foundation supports the Museum of Ingenuity J. Armand Bombardier and the Yvonne L. Bombardier Cultural Centre in Valcourt, through which it promotes academic perseverance and access to the arts and culture.

PRESS REVIEW

CHOQUETTE, Emmanuelle (2020). “Caroline Cloutier, Variations," Espace art actuel, issue No. 126, Fall, pp. 96-98.




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Olivia Boudreau, L’étang, la nuit, 2020. Vidéo, 14 min 34 s. | video, 14 min. 34 sec.
Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste | Courtesy of the artist

Olivia Boudreau
from November 13th 2021 to December 18th 2021
Haut voltage

Offering experiences that engage visitors in slowness and duration, Olivia Boudreau’s practice places great importance on the representation of the female body in performance. This temporality establishes a presence that prompts a reconsideration of our relationship to the moving image. With Haut voltage, Boudreau initiates a new creative cycle, focused on the theme of reconciliation, reparations, and restoration. According to the artist, “this is probably the most important gesture we have to make at this time. The idea is expressed as much in the everyday life of our objects as in the need to rethink our relationship to the other and to the world.” Boudreau plans to produce a video installation in the form of a shot-sequence that unfolds over time, along with a performance based on a protocol by which each performer depends on the other to ensure their own well-being and safety.