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Index of artists, authors and curators

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OPTICA Fonds (Concordia University Archives)

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Yves Tessier
From January 18th 2008 to February 23rd 2008
Situations récentes | Recent Situations

Yves Tessier’s "Recent Situations" series comprises a body of work painted between 2001 and 2007. The casein on wood panels—that have been cut to explore a multitude of small scales—are hung fairly close together to suggest that everything we see is happening simultaneously. While two men shake hands in front of a Mosque in Central Harlem, four couples in Japan are involved in intimate group activity. And somewhere in the privacy of the bedroom, a man, a woman and a dog prepare for a good night sleep.

Ordinary, peculiar, at times humorous, these situations of people in everyday life are painted in a style spun from a vast pool of influences, beginning with early Antiquity—Etruscan, Minoan, Egyptian and Assyria—to Chinese and Aztec, then from ukiyo-e to comic book and then back 30,000 years to cave painting. As Yves Tessier states : “When I first descended into those Etruscan burial chambers adorned with frescos, I was stricken by the simplicity of their style—bold, sensitive line contours filled with colour, and no shadows. Thus began a fascination for the many pictorial cultures having this trait in common. Yet it took years for me to adopt this approach—I thought I would loose my personality if I gave up shading. Once I finally gave it up, I did loose it but it opened up everything. The simplicity enabled me to put more life into my subject. So instead I gained the playful identity of an actor who can adapt different character roles. Except that, in the painted picture, it’s not only a character—it can be a tree, a building, many pedestrians, a floor, a background or a thing—all acted out by me. And there enters complexity.”

Originally from Montreal, Yves Tessier has been living and working in Central Harlem, New York, since 2001. Tessier began exhibiting his work in 1976 and has participated in many group shows since, including : Lush (curators, Michael Merrill and Andrea Szilasi), at Articule, 1995; Systems of Exchange, The Toronto / Montreal exchange arts projects, Toronto, 1994; Peinture (curator, David Blatherwick), Clark, 1991; Small Works : Aspects de la peinture montréalaise contemporaine, Pavillon du Québec, Montreal, 1982, and Forum 76 (curator, Leo Rosshandler), Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, 1976. His last solo exhibition was held at Galerie Local 906, in Montreal, in 1995.

- Crevier, Lyne, «Instants Volés», Ici, 31 janvier - 6 février 2008, p.41.
- Delgado, Jérôme, «Une Manif et bien des doublés», Le Devoir, 19-20 janvier 2008, p.E11.
- Delgado, Jérôme, «Le Monde en 80 Tableaux», Le Devoir, 26-27 janvier 2008, p.E6.
- Redfern, Christine, «Good things, small packages», Mirror, 24-30 janvier 2008, p.46.
- Tousignant, Isa, « Arts 2007 Winter Cultural Guide, Hear Them Roar Galleries and Museums are just getting started», Hour, 10 janvier 2008, p.14.

Jessica Field
From January 18th 2008 to February 23rd 2008
Exposition solo

These video works are filmed in the style of a naturalist researching animal behaviour in the wilderness, but the subjects being researched are four robots. A robot is deterministic; it is a character without free will. Its behaviour is determined by the external control of its environment and the internal control of its program, but yet in running a robot, glitches arise that defy the confines of the program and the robot behaves in a manner not intended.

I program my robots in their language, assembler. In doing so, I am able to create a relationship of compromise with the robots, as it is easy to make a mistake. These videos visualize how a forgotten or misplaced command creates an unexpected behaviour. They also mimic organic behaviours to accentuate the discovery process I go through to understand the robot. The robot becomes its own entity through my inability to be omnificent.

The robots in their social interactions with each other are designed in their personalities to show how their ability to self-analyse, when carried to an extreme, results in an inability to function. Their obsessive tendency to self-evaluate causes their behavioural responses to act without instinct, without self-preservation.

Jessica Field works mainly with robotics and artificial intelligence to create theatrical robot plays where the environment determines the course of the plot and the robot actors play out their flaws in character. Field has exhibited in Montreal and in Toronto. She has received numerous scholarships and project grants from various art organisations such as the Canada Arts Council and the Daniel Langlois Foundation.

Sarah Jane Gorlitz, Wojciech Olejnik
From March 15th 2008 to April 19th 2008
Exposition duo

In their collaborative work, Sarah Jane Gorlitz and Wojciech Olejnik are interested in developing different strategies for describing the real, through the duration of stop-motion animation and the space of a set. In the two videos screening at Optica the passage of time is actually a sequence of moments strung together through stop-motion. Its duration is not continuous; it is based on erratic jumps and incongruities. With each passing frame this medium brings attention to its own being, to its own form, and slips away from the measure of time, away from its jurisdiction.

These videos present miniature detailed models of abandoned subway corridors and platforms—seemingly functionless and perceptibly fictional spaces. They are made not as direct replicas of actual places, but intuitively, as though from imagination or distant memory. They are constructed out of found and familiar materials, which root them in the physical world, while parallely mimicking their systems and functions. As such, these spaces are presented in situations which often fall just outside of physical reality. Each becomes a non-place, an illusion, a gap between the real and what appears to be its modelled double. Through the medium of stop-motion the water flows and ebbs, but always abruptly, irregularly. Through the small scale of the model, its tide comes in thicker, rolls slowly, like a fatty oil. It is as if within this context the water is reanimated, transfigured, no longer water but the form of water, the illusion of water.

Sarah Jane Gorlitz and Wojciech Olejnik have been collaborating on videos and sculptural installations since 2006 under the name SOFT TURNS. In 2007 they were recipients of an Ontario Arts Council emerging artist grant. They have exhibited their collective and individual work in Canada and Germany. They currently live and work in Berlin, Germany and Toronto, Canada.

- «Preview, Quebec», Canadian Art, vol. 25, no 1, Printemps 2008, p.34.

Fiona Macdonald
From March 15th 2008 to April 19th 2008
(Re)Points of View

"(Re)Points of View" (2006-2008) is part of a larger series of works (“The Remake Project 2005– ”) in which I am investigating models of conceptual practice. It forms part of an archaeology of video practice that constructs particular models of relation—performative, spectatorial and linguistic. As the title indicates, this work is both a “remake” and a translation, reconstructing Nancy Holt’s May 1974, Points of View: Clock Tower. In the original, black-and-white video, a circular disc-like image moves across a black background while two people respond in voice-over to what they see. While retaining the rigorous, quasi-scientific and experimental quality of Holt’s piece, my version overturns and reverses its original format. The camera lens becomes the analyst while the players/subjects/actors, who were fellow artists during a Banff residency in 2006, become the analysands. "(Re)Points of View" (2006-2008) proposes that we are always translating, always negotiating between what is the major or minor language of the moment.

"(Re)Points of View" (2006-2008) is a 100-minute multi-channel DVD that features the performative contributions of Victoria Scott, Scott Kildall, Natalie Loveless, Brian Goeltzenleuchter, Deidre Logue, Brian MacNevin, Nina Leo, and Todd Macyk. Script translations by Marc Orlando.

March 13th 2008
Talk with the artist
Studio Arts Visiting Artist Program (SAVAP)
Concordia University
1395, René-Lévesque Ouest (# VA_114)

Fiona Macdonald is an artist and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her practice embraces video and installation, photomedia and film, and she has worked collaboratively with artists, sound composers, writers and choreographers. Macdonald has exhibited at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art and other public galleries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and her work has been included in Ars Electronica, ISEA and film festivals in France, Italy and the USA.

Julie Beugin
From May 10th 2008 to June 14th 2008
Créer de l'espace / Making Space

In her large scale paintings of fictional spaces, Julie Beugin combines strangely coloured landscapes with architectural interiors, placing the viewer simultaneously inside and outside, on the threshold of imagination and reality. Ideas for paintings are sparked by descriptions in novels, yet the paintings are emptied of characters and story. Constructed with a theatrical artificiality, the paintings are drawn from a miscellany of image sources, including found photos, old National Geographic books and images off the internet. Romantic landscapes are painted without convincing depth, becoming backdrops for intimate creative spaces furnished with empty chairs and desks piled with papers. Image fragments suggest simultaneous realities: mental space, dream space, how memory screens over the present. Novelist Paul Auster describes these spaces perfectly: “The room he lived in was a dream space, and its walls were like the skin of some second body around him, as if his own body had been transformed into a mind, a breathing instrument of pure thought.”

Julie Beugin has exhibited in Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary. She completed her BFA at Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, and her MFA at Concordia University in 2008. She currently lives and works in Montreal.

Cheryl Sourkes
From May 10th 2008 to June 14th 2008
Webcams + Chatrooms

The images and movies in "Webcams + Chatrooms" are selections from live-stream, Internet-based cameras. During the last decade I’ve put together bodies of work with material generated by street cams, chapel cams, traffic cams, tourist cams, workplace cams, home cams and cameras mounted in cybernet cafés. I find the reading of this ephemeral imagery transforms within the reflexive context of the gallery.

While webcams record in the real world, they transmit in the virtual one. At the same time presence in the virtual realm may engender real-world consequences. In addition to the relation between the real and the virtual, I’m also fascinated by the connection between behaving and acting. It seems anyone with a webcam may become an actor,producer, exhibitionist, pornographer, cinematographer, whatever. Because webcams are ubiquitous and record continuously people don’t perform for them in the same way they do for other types of cameras. Instead, action seems to spring from some semi-conscious place between ordinary behaviour and premeditated performance.

"Webcams + Chatrooms" presents activities such as showering, sex and hanging out; without a fourth wall. "Big-brother" type surveillance plays less of a role in the realm of webcams than one might imagine, way less in fact than does self-surveillance. Snoops don’t post these images. Participants do. Webcams inspired the creation of reality television. Have they also generated a new documentary form where reality comes mixed with virtuality and day-to-day behavior fuses with performance?
- Cheryl Sourkes

Cheryl Sourkesis a lens-based, digital artist, writer and contemporary curator. She grew up in Montreal, had her professional formation in Vancouver and now lives and works in Toronto and Manchester, England. For the last three years she has curated the project space at Akau. Cheryl Sourkes is represented by Peak Gallery in Toronto.

© Page couverture l Book cover, La Demeure, 2008.

May 23rd 2008
Lancement de la publication La Demeure

Curator : Marie Fraser

Authors: Marie Fraser, Constanza Camelo, Marie-Paule Macdonald

Preface : Marie-Josée Lafortune

Artists : Kim Adams, Michel de Broin, Constanza Camelo, Claudine Cotton, Alexandre David, Marie-Suzanne Désilets, Rachel Echenberg, Marie-Ange Guilleminot, KIT + Artengine = Borderline Developments, Lani Maestro, Shelley Miller, Janet Morton, Daniel Olson, Jean-François Prost, Ana Rewakowicz, Danielle Sauvé, Steve Topping, Mary Sui Yee Wong.

La demeure presents various perspectives on contemporary issues and practices in the context of a cultural movement whose complexity we barely grasp. Now portable, mobile, and ephemeral, the dwelling is fashioned by its own quest, evincing a desire to inhabit unusual places, to invent ways of life outside the bounds of conventional architecture. Many artists are examining the phenomenon today. The dwelling is no longer merely a sedentary space of withdrawal; on the contrary, it insinuates itself in the interstices between the interior and the exterior, touches both the intimate and social space, everyday household life and the bustle and density of the city. Experienced as a mutable, nomadic space, the dwelling is a means of orienting and situating oneself in space and in the world. These thoughts lead to artistic and cultural concerns, geographic and philosophical preoccupations, that compel us to reassess the notion of home as the foundation of a sense of belonging and identity.

See the catalogue of publications

Janice Kerbel
From September 6th 2008 to October 11th 2008
Exposition solo

Curator: Marie-Josée Lafortune

Janice Kerbel made a peculiar entrance into the art world: in Bank Job (1999), she meticulously envisioned a bank heist in London, providing a minutely itemized timeline of the steps to follow, with views of the bank from various angles and plans of the building, the city, and the escape route. The methodology, with its penchant for fictionalized documents, is characteristic of Kerbel’s practice. The artist takes up conventions, period references, and recognized expertise that she applies and studies like an anthropologist, examining field samples and consulting with specialists. Quite spare and restrained, her work borrows from conceptual strategies in which language and performative text are essential components.

Three Marked Decks (1999) consists of three decks of cards— Piatnik Vianna (standard), Bicycle Riderback (poker), and Bee Club Special Diamond Back (blackjack)—, each set of which is printed onto a sheet. On first glance, the designs seem to follow their models. On closer inspection, however, one makes out slight alterations in the patterns. Practised viewers will recognize their potential, with the absence of a motif, the number of petals on a decorative rosette, or the subtle extension of a spiral indicating a card’s value. The exercise requires a certain “expertise” and, as such,encapsulates the particularity of Kerbel’s work: a perceptual phenomenon in which the viewer is the“invisible” subject. Her creations, offering the promise of an action that will never be realized, lie on the threshold of this promise, inviting us to imagine and extend what they conceptualize on paper.

Remarkable (2007) is a series of typographical posters announcing fantastic situations that Kerbel envisioned in response to the context of the Frieze fair in London, for which the artist conceived the work. The text is performative, as the size and form of typeface governs one’s reading of the work and emphasizes its event-making nature. Each poster tells of the exploits of a remarkable woman demonstrating supernatural qualities. These exploits are a series of variations on the act of seeing, of looking, of honing one’s vision so as to perceive the announced phenomenon (the work of art). Initially put up in and around the fair, the posters preserve all their immediacy and textual impact in the gallery. As in Three Marked Decks before it, this series demonstrates Kerbel’s understanding of the codes (visual and textual) and aesthetic conventions that sustain her work and allow it to balance action with thought, rationality with the imagination, abstraction with representation.

Janice Kerbel lives and works in London, England, where she obtained a master’s in fine arts from Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Her work is often shown in the United Kingdom and she participates in many international exhibitions. Apart form works on paper, her conceptual practice also comprises performances ( Ball Game , 2008), radio plays ( Nick Silver Can’t Sleep , 2006 – Artangel Interaction, for BBC Radio 3), and publishing projects ( Deadstar: A Ghost Town , 2006 – Locus+, Newcastle). She took part in Biennale de Montréal 2007.

Claudia del Fierro
From September 6th 2008 to October 11th 2008
Exposition solo

Documenting actions carried out in public spaces, the videos that Claudia del Fierro is presenting at OPTICA might first seem to recall the video work done in Quebec in the 1980s as they fudge the border line between fiction and documentary. Del Fierro favours live recording and places much less emphasis on touching up or aestheticizing the image. Social or feminist content is her main concern, imbuing all her work with a strong sense of commitment—and a touch of humour. Her videos combine visual and audio elements to delineate a social critique focusing on the climate of uncertainty, surveillance in public spaces, the vulnerability of existence, the status of women in Chile, class relationships, the media, and the role of the artist in society.

Identica (2000) is the candid illustration of an American-styled televised contest. Broadcast nationally, the contest and the fate of its winner cannot leave us unmoved. In a chaotic montage that suggests a fiction, del Fierro plays a secretary, the tragicomic heroine of the evening. This video casts a raw, unfiltered gaze on the media, especially on the stereotypes conveyed by the small screen’s Hollywoodian imitations.

Politicamente Correcto (2001) documents an action that was performed in an industrial neighbourhood of Santiago. Every day, for several weeks, del Fierro snuck into a textile factory when its many female workers were taking their break. On every visit, she wore a dress of the same colour as that worn by the workers. With little time for conversation, the women didn’t notice the artist’s presence. Imitating others’ dress code and infiltrating their space, del Fierro raises ethical and political questions on the role of the artist and the limits of art.

The gallery exhibition documenting the action includes both the video and the dresses worn by the artist. The dresses are stacked to form a column that reaches to the height of the average Chilean woman. This installation was presented at Santiago’s Museum of Contemporary Art some time after the artist’s action and the closing of the factory. This is the first time it is shown in its entirety outside Chile.

Del Fierro has since gone behind the camera to observe the environments and conditions of others: those of immigrants in The Sweet Promise (2006), and of people choosing to live in natural self-sufficiency in Wild Life (2008).
- Marie-Josée Lafortune

Works in the gallery:
Identica (2000) – DVD 3:57 min
Politicamente Correcto (2001) – DVD 3:15 min, dresses

Claudia del Fierro lives and works in Santiago, Chile, where she received a master’s in visual arts from the University of Chile. She has exhibited in Chile and participated in many exhibitions abroad—Göteborg (Sweden), Melbourne (Australia), Rotterdam (Netherlands), New York (U.S.)—, taking part in the Novena Bienal de Arte de la Habana, in Cuba, and the IV Bienal Mercosul, in Porto Alegre, Brazil. In 2008, she was artist in residence at IASPIS, in Stockholm.

Milutin Gubash
From October 31st 2008 to December 6th 2008
Born Rich, Getting Poorer

Episode 1, scene 1 (contd.)

MILUTIN (a confused and off-put expression on his face):Mom ?!?
Milutin fumbles with the door lock, looking up at his mother and down at the lock several times in quick succession.

Now he really feels ashamed and guilty. His mother lives alone, 5,000 miles away. Almost 40 years old, he is unable to offer her much comfort in her advanced years. She still gets up and goes to work every day at a shopping mall. Sometimes, he borrows money from her. When they were his age, she and Milutin’s father moved to a completely foreign land, leaving everyone and everything they knew behind. They learned to speak a new language, struggled to raise a family, all the while hoping that they would find a better life for themselves. Both her children ended up becoming artists.
Was the whole trip worth it?
Did she tell him she was coming today?
Did he just forget?
Is he that much of an asshole?
Finally, managing to coordinate the lock and the door handle in the right sequence, he begins to slowly open the door when his MOTHER pushes in.

MILUTIN (contd.) (mumbling): Hey, ummm, what are you doing here?

MOTHER (impatiently): I can’t stay in my house another minute with that man’s things still in it!

Conceived as a "sitcom", this new installation conjures the artist’s favourite themes: family, life, and death.

Only part of the work is on display in the gallery, so don’t leave without borrowing the full video episodes, available at the front desk.

Born Rich Getting Poorer – 5 episodes

Episode 1 : JENKEM? , 2008, DVD, 20 min.
Episode 2 : TO KINGSTON ON ! , 2008, DVD, 20 min.
Episode 3 : DEAD CAR... , 2008, DVD, 20 min.

Later episodes will be released periodically through the gallery commencing in the new year 2009.

Milutin Gubash was born in Novi Sad (within the former Yugoslavia), and lives in Montréal Québec. He has exhibited in Québec, Canada, the United States, and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montreal (2007), the Art Gallery of Calgary (2008), YYZ in Toronto (2007), 3015 in Paris (2007), and RLBQ in Marseilles (2008). He holds an M.F.A. in Photography from Concordia University in Montreal, a B.F.A. in Photography and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Calgary.His practice encompasses photography, video, and performance, and regularly features the participation of his family and friends. Autobiographical anecdotes, innuendo, day-to-day musings and cultural appropriation are the fact-and-fantasy material he invokes to depict the vagaries of life as an artist. Using simple means and often comical gestures, the uncertainties which lay within conventional domestic and social roles are exploited for their transformative possibilities, and we are asked to follow the artist in reconsidering our own relationship to our identities and environments.

Sylvain Bouthillette
From October 31st 2008 to December 6th 2008
Exposition solo

Curator: Jean-Michel Ross

In this installation, Sylvain Bouthillette fuses hardcore, North American punk attitude and aesthetic with Buddhist philosophy, reinterpreting their respective symbolic repertoires and iconography. His work shifts between what he calls a spiritual, internal revolution and an external revolution that he associates with the world of punk and its forms of expression. A grid composed of various, equal-sized drawings and slogans and a preposterous self portrait (in which Bouthillette is represented as a jug-eared Buddha) form an orderly and symmetrical installation whose style recalls that of a columbarium.

For the artist, these small, skull-faced characters, typically found in contemporary iconography, refer not only to the impermanence of human existence and the Dharma Seals of Buddhist tradition, but also suggest the transformation of our society and the endurance of art. This reference to “impermanence”, describing a process of change, recalls the vanitas in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Flemish painting, a reminder, that touches us still, of the overriding certainty of death. It goes without saying that skull imagery is prevalent in the punk scene as well. The slogans that punctuate the drawings like (the mostly untranslatable) “TABARNAQUE DE CRISSE D’OSTIE DE FUCK DE CÂLICE” are blunt expressions of the artist’s rage, while others, such as “LAISSER TOMBER LA TÊTE DANS LE COEUR LE COEUR DANS LE VENTRE ET REMONTEZ LE VENTRE DANS LE COEUR” (roughly : “let your head fall into your heart your heart into your belly and bring your belly back up into your heart”) testify rather to spiritual activity. Set side by side, these textual snippets reveal the importance of altruism in the artist’s work, whether internal or external revolutions are involved.

Born in 1963, Sylvain Bouthillette lives and works in Montreal. He obtained a master’s in visual arts at Concordia University, where he now teaches. Since 1987, he has developed a practice that includes graphic work, painting, photography, and sculpture. He is represented by Galerie Trois Points in Montreal, and the Clint Roenishch Gallery in Toronto. Exhibiting regularly in Quebec, Canada, and abroad, he recently participated in the exhibition Québec Gold in Reims (France), in 2008. Between 1988 and 1999, he was a base player in such bands as Rhythm Activism, Bliss, and Roughage, with whom he toured extensively across North America.