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Exibitions 1996

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Index of artists, authors and curators

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OPTICA Fonds (Concordia University Archives)

Guidebooks to help in consulting the archives

Electronic Reproduction Fees

Florene Belmore, Rebecca Belmore, Freda Guttman, Mike MacDonald, Teresa Marshall, Daniel Poulin, Eric Robertson
From January 11th 1996 to February 17th 1996

Curators : Lise Labrie, Domingo Cisneros (publication)
Collaboration with Est-Nord-Est

The following document is only available in French :
« Métissages », avant de prendre la forme d’une exposition, c’est d’abord un atelier de création qui s’est déroulé à Saint-Jean-Port-Joli à l’été 1994. L’idée initiale était d’inviter des artistes d’une diversité d’origines, métis, autochtones ou occidentaux, à venir travailler intensivement dans un même lieu, dont le paysage est marqué par la présence de la nature et par sa proximité avec le fleuve Saint-Laurent. L’entrecroisement s’était fait dès les premiers moments de l’élaboration du projet, lorsque le choix s’est tourné vers deux artistes, eux-mêmes issus d’un métissage culturel, pour agir à titre de commissaires.

« Métissages » est la rencontre de différents milieux culturels, celle aussi de territoires géographiques, de langues, de récits, de mythes, de légendes, de traditions, de savoir-faire... Il s’agit aussi d’une exposition interdisciplinaire, une coïncidence de disciplines diverses : la sculpture, la photographie, l’installation, la performance, les images et les écritures vidéographiques. Pour les artistes, « Métissages » représente bien plus qu’une seule histoire, qu’un seul moment ou qu’une seule expérience : ce fut l’occasion de rencontres avec d’autres artistes, mais aussi avec un lieu inconnu et avec des matières, des formes, des médias nouveaux et parfois même inédits à leurs pratiques.

Ce projet, devenu une exposition où c’est maintenant aux œuvres de parler, de s’exposer, voulait aller au-delà de la reconnaissance bien connue de l’art comme hybride pour questionner l’identité comme quelque chose de « métissée ». C’est un nœud qui se noue autour de l’épineuse question de l’identité, de l’héritage qui lui donne forme. L’idée d’un tel métissage comme étant à l’origine des fondements de l’individu s’avère une position délicate, surtout lorsqu’elle est tenue d’un lieu d’autorité, mais néanmoins nécessaire. Cette exposition glisse donc vers un projet critique et politique. Si dans l’histoire le métis est identifié comme quelque chose d’impure et que c’est à partir de cette impureté que se joue l’exclusion, alors aujourd’hui il faut reconsidérer la quête de spécificité et interroger ses enjeux et l’autorité qui s’y cachent derrière.
-Communiqué de presse (Optica)

Janet Cardiff
From February 22nd 1996 to March 24th 1996
To Touch

Speaking of Touch

"Sounds can drench our imaginations with vivid associations, just as images can reverberate sonorously. This merging of the aural and optical is echoed in Janet Cardiff’s audio installations. She indulges several senses, resisting contemporary culture’s privileging of the visual – a sanction which leaves the corporeal body undeservedly neglected. Relinquishing this illusory entitlement, your body is summoned to touch, to listen, to enter a theater of desire, to cross the threshold of voyeurism and enter the imaginary. By listening in on Cardiff’s intonations, your imagination contributes to an underlying visual component. You are lured by the dramatic lighting and seduced by expectations of narrative fulfillment; only to be suspended among her fugues. There is never one point of view disclosed in these tales of lust, loss and conflict. Her sentences seek to grasp the sensory world through a commitment to language and the sundry essence of experience. Relationships are rewritten in terms of giving and receiving, listening and voicing. Listening pervades Cardiff’s productions as intimate, and potentially erotic, encounter. Thechnology is divertedto accommodate our desires rather than dictate or detect them."
-Laurel Woodcock, catalogue essay Janet Cardiff, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, 1994.
- Press Release (Optica)

Janet Cardiff was born in Brussels, Ontario. She received a B.F.A from Queen’s University and an M.V.A at the University of Alberta. Her installations have been exhibited at many galleries including, The Power Plant Gallery, The Edmonton Art Gallery, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, The Nickle Arts Museum, YYZ, Western Front, The Walter Phillips Gallery, and Randolph St. Gallery (Chicago). "To Touch" was recently exhibited in Zurich, Switzerland. She will be producing a site specific piece for the Louisiana Museum in Denmark in May ’96. Cardiff lives and works in Lethbridge, AB.

Louise Wilson
From February 22nd 1996 to March 24th 1996

"Six healthy human subjects will participate in this seven-day experiment. On each day, gaze stability measurements will be obtained before and repeatedly after 30 minutes of "Torso Rotation". The measurements consist of recording eye and head movements while the subject is actively shaking: a) his head while wearing a neck brace; and b) his head. Active head / body shaking will be done in the dark, matching movements to an auditory cue (frequency range 0.3 – 3.0Hz)."

From The role of Vision and Neck Inputs during Adaptation to Motion Sickness, Aerospace Medical Research Unit, McGill University, Montreal.

At the end of 1994, I participated as a subject in a week-long study into motion sickness. This study examined the effects of what were termed "provocative, self-generated movements". Recording devices – which will eventually be used on board the Space Shuttle, were attached directly onto my body (to monitor neurophysiological changes) in addition to those "fixed" obliquely, since for the most part, the experimenter would be viewing me on a video surveillance system in an adjoining room. A series of repeated movements were played out in the dark, with my body moving in time to an electronic beep – a controlled shaking, fixed-gaze performance intended to provoke the physiological state of motion sickness.

These self-generated movements have since come to seem to me like gestures of denial or resistance. For these movements, electrodes and other recording equipment acted as supervisory agents. Only when the computer data was analyzed was my awkward performance fully assessed. The video documentation of this session is comical. Shot in the dark using infra-red light, the imagery is curious and unrooted. Gender, age and other characteristics are indistinct and vague. Ironically, in this (ideological) lab space, being female was simultaneously irrelevant and incongruous. The fixed gaze was directed towards a memory of the target seen before and on viewing the documentation a posteriori, one mentally adds the sound of electronic ticking to the silent screen image.
-Press Release (Optica)

Louise Wilson is a British artist currently living in Montreal where she is completing a MFA in Studio Arts at Concordia University. Her work has been exhibited in Britain, France, Germany, Slovakia and Canada – most recently in Rx at the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre, Kingston and at ISEA 95 in Montreal. Published writings include "The Electronic Caress" (Public #13, 1995) which explores her experience as a test subject in medical research.

Sonia El Eini, Péter Forgács
From March 21st 1996 to April 11th 1996
Les vidéos que nous aimons

A selection of Nelson Henricks
OPTICA, a center for contemporary art will present "Les videos que nous aimons", the first series of on-going events focusing on Montreal video artists and the work which have informed their practices. This evening’s programme will be hosted by Nelson Henricks, who has decided to present two recent videotapes from Hungary.

The writings of psychiatrist and poet Roland D. Laing (translated into Hungarian knots) provide the basis for "Why Did the Peacock Scream?" (1993), a humourous made-for-television work by Sonia El Eini. Why are we here? What are we made of? What, perhaps whom, do we eat? And why? The answers to these questions come from children, who with their innocence and severity, throw some light on the most profound philosophical questions concerning existence.

In "Meanwhile Somewhere...1940-43: An Unknown War (III)" (1994), award-winning director Péter Forgács has created a lyrical work built entirely from home movie footage shot during the first half of World War Two. Scenes of everyday life in Holland, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France and Hungary are compiled in order to propose a private history of Europe during war. Forgács confronts us with the banality and brutality of life during wartime in a manner that is both subtle and poignant.
-Press release (Optica)

From March 28th 1996 to April 13th 1996
Événement bénéfice

The following document is only available in French :
Défilé de mode / performance «Rêve d'un soir»
Du 28 mars au 13 avril 1996, la galerie Optica organise son événement bénéfice annuel où un défilé de mode / performance se tiendra le jeudi 28 mars à la galerie même. Nous organisons un événement éclaté, olé-olé et un peu fou. Des artistes, des conservateurs, des critiques et des directeurs de galerie d’art soit une trentaine de personnes dont Sylvie Tourangeau artiste de la performance, Marie Cardinal écrivaine, Jean-Philippe Côté comédien, André Martin photographe, Pierre Pilotte du CIAC, Colette Tougas de la revue Parachute, Rose-Marie Arbour historienne de l’art, Christine Ross historienne de l’art, Samuel Lallouz galeriste, Ghyslaine Charest photographe, David Liss photographe du Centre Saidye Bronfman, Freda Guttman artiste multidisciplinaire, Bastien Gilbert du RCAAQ, Alexandre Rémi personnificateur féminin, Bernard Bilodeau de la galerie Oboro, Luc Boulanger du journal Voir sont jumelés à des designers montréalais tels que Marie St-Pierre, Dénommé Vincent, Maryse Roy, Philippe Dubuc, Karl Denis, Michel Robidas, Martine Bertrand et Giovanni D’amico pour parader des vêtements ou vêtements objets qu’ils auront choisis. Ils choisiront des vêtements qui ne correspondent pas à leur personnalité, qu’ils ne porteraient pas dans la vie de tous les jours et devront les mettre en valeur sous la forme qui leur conviendra. Chaque modèle prendra de 30 secondes à sept minutes pour performer son ensemble.

Ces invités paraderont sous la musique de leur choix et le tout sera animé par un DJ qui se chargera de la logistique musicale de la soirée. De plus, Myra Cree (animatrice de l’émission l’Embarquement à Radio-Canada FM) agira en tant que commentatrice du défilée. Suite au défilé, un party aura lieu à la galerie pour célébrer cet événement et la venue du printemps.

Pour la durée de l’événement, les vêtements paradés le soir de l’ouverture seront exposés en galerie jusqu’au 13 avril. Durant cette période, nous invitons les gens à venir pour une séance d’essayage ou pour un défilé privé en galerie où un-e employé-e vous assistera pour vous offrir diverses possibilités de métamorphoses. Vous aurez aussi le choix d’être photographié durant tout le processus d’habillement et de parade. Les photographies vous seront vendues pour une modique somme. Tous les vêtements seront mis en vente durant le défilé de mode et pour la durée de l’exposition.

Par cet événement, nous souhaitons créer une forme de symbiose et de rapprochement entre les communautés artistes et de rejoindre un public varié qui sera invité à prendre part avec le milieu des arts visuels.

Le défilé débutera à 20h00 et le prix d’entrée sera de 20$ et 15$ pour étudiants ou un don suggéré de 50$ et plus. Les billets seront en vente à la galerie à compter de 12 mars.
-Communiqué de presse (Optica)

Barbara McGill Balfour
From April 18th 1996 to May 15th 1996
m mélancolie et mélanome

A few years ago, I had a mole surgically removed from my back. It turned out to be benign, but I have never been able to relate to my other moles and freckles without some underlying suspicion.

This exhibition brings together the psychological and somatic states of skin cancer and melancholy, linked etymologically to the word melanin. Melanoma is characterized by the potentially malignant presence of this substance, whereas black bile, one of the four humours, was once considered the cause of sadness. Depression, distinguishing marks, and mortality are intersecting vectors in this print / installation and artist’s book, "m melanomata & melancholia". – B.B.

The prints, sequestered beneath glass, reference cell slides. The glass makes evident the active agency of optical interventions: when put under the microscope, the cells are flattened for better viewing, the expansive surface of the skin broken into manageable squares to better observe the distribution of disease. "Melanomata" transforms our relationship to this skin, just as medicine alters our view of the body : by enlarging its contours and highlighting its patterns. As spectators, we are engaged in the experience of being miniaturized in relationship to our own self-image, our sense of scale inverted as we look at the surface at our feet. We are at once brought closer to the body and made more distant.
Kim Sawchuck from "Enlightened Visions, Somatic Spaces : Imaging the Interior in Art and Medicine", in the catalogue Rx:Taking Our Medicine.
-Press release (Optica)

Raised in Montreal, Barbara McGill Balfour attended Smith College in Massachusetts, where she majored in French literature. Her Junior Year Abroad was spent in Paris, where she attended the Sorbonne (Paris, IV) and l’École des Beaux-Arts. From 1980-85, she studied at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, then pursued and M.F.A degree in Printmaking art at Concordia University in Montreal from 1985-88. For five summers, she printed for artists such as Robert Indiana, Komar and Melamid, and Leon Golub, at Vinalhaven Press in Vinalhaven, Maine. For the last six years, she has taught lithography in the Printmaking Department, and interdisciplinary Woman and the Fine Arts courses, both at Concordia University in Montreal.

Barbara McGill Balfour’s recent art production can be characterized as a hybrid form of print /installation. She has shown in Canada, the U.S.A, and the U.K.. Recent group exhibitions include the Spontaneous Combustion Collective exhibition in London, U.K., "Rx: Taking Our Medicine", at Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario, and "Drawing and Maquettes by Sculptors", at galerie Samuel Lallouz in Montreal. Upcoming exhibitions include a survey of artist’s collectives at Mercer Union (Toronto, April 1996) and "les Occupantes", an exhibition with the Venus Fly Trap Collective (Montreal, May 1996).

Jacques Marchand
From April 18th 1996 to May 15th 1996
Installation sculpture

© Page couverture l Book cover, Penser l’indiscipline : recherches interdisciplinaires en art contemporain / Creative Confusions : Interdisciplinary Practices in Contemporary Art, 2001.

Lynne Bell, Joan Borsa, Mark A. Cheetham, Heather Dawkins, Annie Gérin, Amy Gogarty, Mireille Perron
From May 4th 1996 to May 5th 1996
Semer le trouble dans la New Art History

Strathearn Intercultural Centre
Coordinnators : Lynn Hughes, Marie-Josée Lafortune
Moderator : Christine Ross
Respondents : Maria L. Brendel, Curtis J. Collins, Jean Dubois, Andrew W. Elvish, Alanna Hildt, Bernard Lamarche, Daniela Relja

Optica, a centre for contemporary art presents "Messing with the New Art History: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Art History" from May 4th to 5th 1996. This conference gathers together seven scholars from across Canada who are broadly representative of new research directions in art History. All of these researches bring to their work new interdisciplinary perspective and have been chosen for this conference because their practice is particularly relevant to contemporary art. In some cases their choice of historical material and the terms of its analysis mirror concerns in contemporary art discourse and practice; in others contemporary art is the direct object of their research. The focus on perspectives sensitive o contemporary practice in the arts is a deliberate one. Current questioning of the traditional tenets and canons of art history, and the recontextualization and redefinition of the objects and methodologies appropriate to it, has been influenced by contemporary art production. In turn, new approaches in art history which include insights from, for example, feminism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, cultural theory and the social history of art, have had an obvious impact on artists.

The conference will be structured so as integrate Art History and Studio Art graduate students from the four Montreal Universities. The afternoon seminar mini-sessions will be co-ordinated by these graduate students who will lead the response to the formal papers presented in the morning.

For twenty-four years, Optica has sponsored a wide range of related activities including research, production, exhibition, curating, documentation, and publication. We look forward to stimulating contact between these provocative researchers and the local community of students and contemporary artists during this conference project.
-Press release (Optica)

Go to publications catalogue.

May 31st 1996
Lancement de la publication Marie-France Brière

Curator & author : Sylvie Parent

Marie-France Brière, S. Parent, Montréal, 1996.
ISBN : 2-9805010-0-X

The following document is only available in French: Lancement publication 31 mai 1996 18h00 à 20h00
À l’occasion de ce lancement, l’artiste présentera deux œuvres commentées dans la publication n’ayant jamais été exposées à Montréal.

La publication comprend un essai de Sylvie Parent portant sur le travail réalisé par l’artiste ces deux dernières années. Un intérêt particulier est porté aux œuvres montrées lors des expositions « Lac », à la galerie Axe Néo-7 de Hull en 1994, « Détroit », à la galerie Optica en 1995, et « Sculptures récentes », à la galerie du centre culturel de l’Université de Sherbrooke en 1996.

L’essai crée des liens entre les différents moments de la production récente de l’artiste et propose des avenues de réflexion sur un travail, dit formel, qui prend appui sur des références liées à un matériau, la pierre, engagé dans une exploration nouvelle de la sculpture.

Le catalogue inclut également une traduction anglaise du texte ainsi que six reproductions en noir et blanc et 3 reproductions en couleur.
-Communiqué de presse (Optica)

Alan Dunning
From September 5th 1996 to October 12th 1996
Rapture - Scattered Bodies

"Rapture – Scattered Bodies" comprises a five hour long, computer – driven digital projection and audio work, objects and hundreds of images of scent molecules grouped on the walls to form visual equivalents of smell landscapes. The work explores ideas surrounding the breakdown of the ego-boundary. Using the central image of a deep-sea diver the work presents a tangle of images and texts to build a synaesthetic world inside the brain of a diver experiencing the ego-boundry breakdown known as rapture of the deep.
-Press release (Optica)

Alan Dunning has been working with complex site-specific installations and artist books for the past two decades, using the computer as a tool for generating images, textual fields and real-time interactive environments. He has exhibited in more than 60 shows since 1980, including solo shows at The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, The Water Phillips Gallery, Banff and Rutgers University, New Jersey and recently at The University of Maryland where is virtual city, The Lost Dimension, was part of the international exhibition, "The Digital Village", which showcased interactive computer-generated artworks. His work Einstein’s Brain will be included in the 4th St. Petersburg Biennale in Russia this fall. He is represented in many collections including The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He currently teaches sculpture, painting, inter-disciplinary and media courses at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Alberta.

Mindy Yan Miller
From September 5th 1996 to October 12th 1996
Leningrad 1996

Mindy Yan Miller’s work has consistently dealt with issues surrounding mortality, memory and labour. Her work has typically been labour-intensive and repetitive, and has utilized potent materials such as used clothing and human hair.

The work presented here diverges from this pattern both in its production and its materiality. Industrially fabricated from stock materials, "Leningrad" takes the form of an "agit-prop" and re-presents a textile pattern created during Russian revolution ( "a time when artists could still believe that a productive interaction between art, industry and the masses was possible" – M.Y.M). The image of a mechanically tilled field also reminds us of a time when social progress was conflated with mastery over nature.

As a kind of updated but stilted propaganda machine "Leningrad" works both as an appeal to politic engagement, and a reflection on its terms.
-Press release (Optica)

Born in 1958 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Mindy Yan Miller studied textile design with Naoko Furue. She operated a sucessful design business for several years before returning to Nova scotia College of Art and Design to complete her MFA in 1990. She now lives in Montreal.

Yan Miller has participated in numerous exhibitions across Canada and abroad. Recent exhibitions include "Bereft" (1996) at Hallwalls in Buffalo N.Y., "Définition, situation, expiration" (1995) at the Centre d’art contemporain de Basse-Normandie, "Papa" (1995) a solo video installation at B312, Montreal, "I Killed Jesus" (1994) at W139 Amsterdam, "Justice in the Flesh" (1994) group show curated by Stephen Horne, at Articule, Montreal, "Textiles, That is to Say" (1994), at the Textiles Museum in Toronto and the OR Gallery, Vancouver and "Mindel (every word their name)" (1993), a solo exhibition at YYZ in Toronto.

© Page couverture l Book cover, There was and There was not (Kan ya ma Kan), 1996.

Jayce Salloum
From October 31st 1996 to December 7th 1996
There was and there was not


October 24th 1996
Artist talk
Concordia University

Novembre 1st 1996
Artist talk

This installation, serves to examine the representation of Lebanon, and its history as constructed in our collective and individual psyches. Lebanon has been used as a metaphor, as a site serving the real and imaginary for various visitors throughout its history. It has been a ground for continuous claims, discursive texts and acts of re-construction. It has become an adjective for the nostalgia of our past and the fears of future. We have come to understand so very little in spite of the massive amounts of information we have received regarding Lebanon, that for one to even mention the name all sorts of images come to mind.

"(Kan ya ma Kan)/ There was and there was not" is a transposition of a working studio and found archive, presenting the resources and artifacts necessary to re-construct an understanding of the mediated process inherent in the definition and perception of a culture.

This installation examines the use of images and representations of Lebanon Beirut both in the West and in Lebanon itself, focusing on specific points in the history of and issues in its representation by various inhabitants and visitors, and situating one’s own subjectivity in relation to the issues at stake and the fixations and instability of identity existing wihin a diverse culture and the displacement between cultures.

The installation incorporates arrangements of objects collected in Lebanon, photographs, videotape loops, texts (the artist and others’), documents, maps, other reproductions, light boxes, and archival materials, to call into question our notions of history and research methodology and the rules in the effacement of histories and the layers involved in depiction / representation and understanding of another culture. Here the viewer is part of the process, being forced to make decisions and to take responsibility for re-constructing her / his own cultural perceptions.

"(Kan ya ma Kan)/ There was and there was not", has been exhibited at American Fine Arts, Co., New-York, New Langton Arts, San Francisco, Western Front-Vancouver, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien-Berlin, the Shedhalle-Zurich and Update ’96 – Copenhague. In late 1996 it will be continued to be exhibited and produced as an ongoing research & exhibition project at Optica Gallery – Montreal and YYZ Artists’ Outlet-Toronto.
-Press release (Optica)

There was and There was not (Kan ya ma Kan) (pdf version)

Go to publications catalogue.

Jayce Salloum has been working in installation, video, photography and mixed media since 1975, as well as curating exhibitions, conducting workshops and coordinating cultural events. His works deals with a variety of contexts critically engaging itself in the representation of cultural manifestations and other cultures. Salloum has shown at numerous institutions throughout North & South America, Europe, the Middle East and other regions, including venues such as American Fine Arts, P.S.1.-New York; LACE, LACPS – Los Angeles; The Wexner Center- Ohio, Walker Arts Center; A Space, YYZ, National Film Board – Toronto; Oboro, Articule, Optica Gallery – Montreal; Western Front, Contemporary Art Gallery, Video In – Vancouver; Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography – Ottawa; Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, The American Centre, Institut du Monde Arabe – Paris; Kunstlerhaus Bethanien-Berlin; Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, Fotoptica Int’l Video Festival – Sao Paulo; American University of Beirut and Theater de Beyrouth- Beirut; and broadcast on DUTV-Philadelphia, Independent Focus/WNET-New York, KBDI-TV/Colorado and The 90’s Channel/Free Speech TV.

Karilee Fuglem
From October 31st 1996 to December 7th 1996
Nothing Between