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Studio LOBE, Berlin, 2023.

Patrick Henry, Kapwani Kiwanga, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Eve Tagny
Commisssaire/Curator: Ella den Elzen
From January 20th 2024 to March 23rd 2024
Undoing Earthwriting

Performance: Eve Tagny with Élisabeth-Anne Dorléans and Sophia Gaspard
myths and partition scores
Saturday, March 23rd, 2024
4 PM


Opening: January 20 2024 4PM - 6 PM
In the presence of Ella den Elzen, Patrick Henry, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Eve Tagny

To write upon the earth is to extract, to dispossess, to inscribe violence onto land’s surface through the displacement of soil, rocks, plants, and people. Undoing Earthwriting attends to the themes of plants and land, through an Afro-diasporic lens, specifically because of the charged history that Black subjectivity has with these materials. Plants and soil, most essentially, are life-giving and required for the sustenance and survival of all beings. Conversely, botanic and geologic matter have been cultivated and extracted on a massive scale to create the apparatuses of the plantation and the mine, co-constituted with the disciplining of forced or exploitative human labour as racial capitalism.2 Through predominantly newly commissioned works, Patrick Henry, Kapwani Kiwanga, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, and Eve Tagny consider the potency of plants as symbols, commodity, and life. Because of the ways in which soil and plants are imbued with complex histories, this exhibition looks to position these materials, alongside blackness, as a set of concrete vectors that create ruptures in space and time in relation to nature.

Curatorial Essay of Ella den Elzen; Design: Studio LOB (pdf).

Undoing Earthwriting attends to the themes of plants and land, through an Afro-diasporic lens, specifically because of the charged history that Black subjectivity has with these materials. To write upon the earth is to extract, to dispossess, to inscribe violence onto land’s surface through the displacement of soil, rocks, plants, and people.1 Botanic and geologic materials have been cultivated and extracted on a massive scale to create the apparatuses of the plantation and the mine, co-constituted with the disciplining of forced or exploitative human labour as racial capitalism.2 Because of the ways in which soil and plants are imbued with these histories, while simultaneously, at times, have resisted colonial forms of knowing or capturing, the exhibition looks to position these materials, alongside blackness, as a set of material vectors that create ruptures in geographies in space and time.

Katherine McKittrick writes about the ways in which terrestrial space becomes delineated as deep space through time, specifically in relation to black geographies as the legacy and reproduction of capitalism and its racial logics, conceptualizing deep space as the production of space that becomes organized through policy and ideology. These overlapping systems that structure our environment “organize the everyday in multiple contexts and scales—within and across homes, factories, streets, local and world banks, social services, military invasions, developing and overdeveloped nations, resistance tactics, gentrification projects”.3 McKittrick conversely emphasises the potentiality and relationality of blackness to engage with geography, due to the ways in which Black subjects are often contending with multiple overlapping temporal dimensions and historicities in place.4 These overlapping temporalities also provide an opportunity to rupture the linearity of historical time whose traces are inscribed within biologic and geologic material. While the artists presented in Undoing Earthwriting have differing relationships to geography, each presents varying refusals, propositions, and complications to the linkages between property, plants, and people.

Emerging from a place of conversation, the artists met collectively over several months to discuss the exhibition’s themes. These conversations were recorded, and excerpts of their transcriptions will later be published as a companion to the works that were developed over the last several months. Patrick Henry, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, and Eve Tagny were each commissioned to make new works for Undoing Earthwriting, informed by their practices’ ongoing engagements with botanic or geologic materials. Kapwani Kiwanga’s Flowers for Africa (2013 – ongoing) provided a conceptual grounding in which to engage with, in relationship to Kiwanga’s interests in history, the archive, the representation of flowers within Western imagery, and the movement of plants planetarily. While the work is comprised of 16 flower arrangements, three works, Flowers for Africa: Nigeria, Flowers for Africa: Uganda, and Flowers for Africa: Ivory Coast are presented here. Each work is reconstructed based on a protocol, which includes archival photographs of the independence proceedings of African nation states that illustrate the transition of power between colonial o(cials and local governments. Kiwanga sourced these photographs from various state archives. The flowers themselves are the products of trade routes and geopolitical forces that entangle their trajectories, which Kiwanga researches in conversation with florists. Through this action, she examines the slipperiness of the archive, as well as the forms of power encapsulated within its record. Over the course of the exhibition these flowers will decay, as per the artist’s protocols, symbolizing the transient nature of those initiating statehood and underscoring the fragility of certain nation states.

Patrick Henry’s cast bronze sculptures, Soi-même comme un autre, depict a hybridized fictionalized flower, based on the Jamaica (hibiscus) and banana flowers. In choosing to cast a flower which carries little commercial value as a product in comparison to the fruits the same plant would bear, Henry’s works refuse notions of productivity and domestication. The hybrid plant refutes recognizability formally, by incorporating references to Henry’s own biography through his mixing of plant species with the motif of the boxing bag. Addressing duality, specifically the unexpectedness of growth and decay in relation to time – the plant holds the potential for breath – expanding or withering depending on the positionality of the viewer as they approach the work.

Kosisochukwu Nnebe’s, the seeds we carry (bury this where the one you want to trick walks) draws attention to the way plants were used to navigate the realities of life on the plantation in Jamaica, Haiti and the southern United States, either in the form of medicine for healing, poison for revenge and protection, or abortifacient for bodily autonomy. Created by healers within the community whose ability to combine healing materials and spiritual power sometimes threatened to supplant the power and control of slave owners, these concoctions were passed along covertly in vessels of various kinds, all drawing from the same roots within West and Central African spiritual traditions. As a way of honouring these ancestors and the embodied knowledge they carried while still respecting the need for secrecy and opacity, Nnebe’s sculptures reference these vessels. She adorns them in the manner of Haitian libation bottles intended as devotional altar pieces for particular loa, spirits, or – as in this case – ancestors.

Eve Tagny, Partition scores and Mythologies de la valeur are a series of photographic works that emphasize moments of tenderness in the subjects she documents across multiple geographies, including Los Angeles, Johannesburg, London, Montréal, Toronto, and Sharjah, who occupy these cities differently in relation to class, power, and use. These photographs explore the artist’s ongoing interest in land and property, and how ongoing logics of racial capitalism are extended into the built environment through forms of segregation, red-lining, gentrification and displacement. She intentionally highlights care and intimacy between her subjects, often working through forms of gesture – in some cases re-appropriating hand and bodily gestures from Eurocentric representations of Black people in Western portraiture, Tagny aims to complicate notions of subjectivity and legibility.5

With increasing urgency, scholars assert that our contemporary climate crisis situated within the current geologic age, the Anthropocene, is deeply entangled with the legacies of colonialism, slavery, the transplantation of agrarian capitalism and the invention of private property ownership to the Americas, Africa, and Asia from Western Europe.6 Sylvia Wynter troubles this notion that we, as human beings, can be collectively understood as a singular anthropos responsible for the environmental and ecological juncture we find ourselves at historically, fashioning “Man” as a self-possessed, white / European, Western subject, who had the potential to own both people (slaves, indentured labourers, wives) and land as property.7 This framing conceptually and materially situates the “Golden Spike” or beginning of our accelerated environmental crisis in 1452, the year the first slave ship travelled from the coast of West Africa to Portuguese Madeira.8 This moment in history, Wynter argues, connects all of us Earthly beings (human, plant, nonhuman) – as this was the moment Western knowledge systems including religion, property, law, gender, capitalism all became violently transposed and transcribed onto geographies outside the West, cementing these logics as the dominant worldview.9 This shift changed the relationship between “Man” and the natural world, recasting land as property and plant as commodity. These epistemologies have disproportionately impacted indigenous and Afro-diasporic peoples most severely planetarily – both within Turtle Island / North America and beyond including Africa, South America, and Asia, and these legacies continue to unfold and impact these communities and their diaspora within Europe and the West itself. To completely undo the aforementioned legacies of colonialism, slavery, and dispossession is notably ambitious, yet the works presented here aim to push up against and unsettle these histories with the natural world.

Rinaldo Walcott makes the argument for the abolition of private property and a return back towards a conceptualization of the commons, as a way of undoing the legacies of capitalism.10 The commons offers ways of engaging in reciprocity with the natural world through forms of land stewardship, as borrowed from Indigenous practices and Marxism – for human beings to acknowledge the ways in which we are entwined with soil, plants, seeds, animals. Walcott asserts that the abolishment of property is connected to everyone’s freedom. To undo earthwriting is to unravel or contest the conceptual underpinnings of modern capitalism which are predicated on accumulation through extraction, positing an understanding of plants and land as life.

- Ella den Elzen

1. The term “earthwriting” is borrowed from Kathryn Yussof, who writes about the Anthropocene within the context of colonialism and slavery. See Kathryn Yussof, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2018).

2. Racial capitalism, as defined by Cedric Robinson, posits that modern Western capitalism has its genesis in the creation of racial categories to allow for the creation of social and economic value through racial subjugation, specifically of African and Afro-descendent peoples under slavery, as well as the economic draining of Africa under colonialism. See: Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The making of the black radical tradition (University of North Carolina Press, 2000), https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/mcgill/detail.action?docID=475202.

3. See Katherine McKittick, Demonic Grounds: Black Women And The Cartographies Of Struggle (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 15, muse.jhu.edu/book/31692.

4. By this, she explains the way in which historical violence, such as the spaces of the plantation, become overlaid with contemporaneous forms of spatial violence, for example, racially segregated neighbourhoods, later followed by gentrification and displacement, reproducing a “stacking” of space and time. See Katherine McKittick, Demonic Grounds, 1-36.

5. In many instances, the historical subjects represented in the paintings Tagny contemplates are holding an abundance of tropical fruit, signifying wealth, but in many cases were property themselves. See Charmaine Nelson on François Malépart de Beaucourt’s Portrait of a Haitian Woman at the McCord Museum: Charmaine A. Nelson, “Portrait of a Negro Slave,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Canada, last edited March 3, 2015.

6. See Heather Davis and Zoe Todd, “On the Importance of a Date, Or, Decolonizing the Anthropocene,” ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 16 (4): 761-80, https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1539. See Sylvia Wynter, “Unparalled Catastrophe for Our Species? Or, to Give Humanness a Different Future: Conversations,” in Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis, ed. Katherine McKittrick (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press), 9-89.

7. Kathryn Yusoff suggests this importation initiates “the ‘sugar-slave’ complex; “a massive replantation of ecologies and forced relocation of people”. Source: Kathryn Yussoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, 40-48.

8. Wynter, “Unparalled Catastrophe”, 9-89. The commons was collectively managed land in Medeval Europe. See: Rinaldo Walcott, On Property: Policing, Prisons, and the Call for Abolition (Windsor, ON: Biblioasis, 2021), chap. 3, ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/mcgill/detail.action?docID=6357581

Ella den Elzen would like to extend gratitude to Patrick Henry, Kapwani Kiwanga, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, and Eve Tagny for their collaboration and generosity. The development of Undoing EarthwritingUndoing Earthwriting was made possible by the Canada Council for the Arts, Le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the International Studio and Curatorial Program. Thank to Marie-Josée Lafortune, Esther Bourdages and Anne St-Louis at OPTICA, Bon matin Studio, Sarah Boutin, Studio LOB, Bonsoir Fleurs, Gervais Marsh, and Mojeanne Behzadi.

PRESS REVIEWS

HOQUE, Anna Shah. « Undoing Earthwriting — Patrick Henry, Kapwani Kiwanga, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Eve Tagny », C Magazine, March 13, 2024.

MORELLI, Didier. « Undoing Earthwriting », Esse arts + opinions, 2024.



Ella den Elzen is an artist, curator, and educator based between New York City and Tiohtià:ke /Mooniyang / Montréal. She is currently a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program and holds a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) from McGill University.

A multidisciplinary artist of Haitian origin, Patrick F. Henry explores the theme of "becoming" through sculpture, painting and installation. Through the appropriation of everyday objects deviated from their function, of reclaimed materials, his works most often unfold in the form of a site promoting relations with the viewer, which invites them to an experience of self-reconstruction.

He is an artist of Haitian origin who has been living in Montreal since 2011. Graduated of the Université du Québec à Montréal, he received the McAbbie Foundation Sculpture Excellence Grant from l’École des arts visuels et médiatiques, UQAM (2019), The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant and the Explore and create Grant from the Canadian Council for the Arts for his upcoming solo exhibition in Toronto Am I a hero? (May 2024). He is a current MFA student in sculpture at Yale school of Art. He lived in Montreal since 2011.

The French and Canadian conceptual multimedia artist Kapwani Kiwanga addresses asymmetries by placing historic narratives in dialogue with contemporary realities, the archive, and tomorrow’s possibilities. Her practice is research-driven, instigated by marginalised or forgotten histories, and articulated across a range of materials and mediums including sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance. Kiwanga has developed an aesthetic vocabulary that she describes as "exit strategies", works that invite us to multiply perspectives in order to sharpen our gaze on existing structures and envisage the future differently.

She was the inaugural winner of the Frieze Artist Award (2018); the Sobey Prize for the Arts (Canada 2018); the Prix Marcel Duchamp (2020) and the Zurich Art Prize (2022). She is a 2023 Guggenheim Fellow and was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University in 2022-23. She is currently showing her first major survey at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg as well as a major commission at the Capc Musée d'art contemporain Bordeaux. A solo exhibition will follow later this autumn at the Fundação de Serralves, Porto. In 2024, she will represent Canada at the Venice Biennale.

She is represented by Galerie Poggi, Paris; Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, Cape Town and London; and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin.
Sources : Galerie Poggi, Paris; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bozar, Bruxelles.

Kosisochukwu Nnebe is a Nigerian-Canadian conceptual artist, curator and writer working across installation, lens-based media and sculpture to engage with topics ranging from the politics of Black visibility, embodiment and spatiality to the use of foodways and language as counter-archives of colonial histories. Drawing inspiration from postcolonial and Black feminist thinkers such as Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, bell hooks, and Sylvia Wynter, at its core, Nnebe’s practice is interested in anti-colonial and -imperial world-building through acts of solidarity (human and otherwise), the troubling of colonial logics, and speculative (re)imaginings of otherwise pasts, presents and futures.

Nnebe’s work has been shown in exhibitions across Canada and internationally, including the United States and the Netherlands. She is the recipient of the 2023 G.A.S. Felllowship started by Yinka Shonibare in Lagos, Nigeria, and has been commissioned by Plug In ICA and the Mozilla Foundation. Nnebe is now based between Montreal, Canada and Lagos, Nigeria.

Eve Tagny is a Tiohtià:ke/Montreal-based artist. Her practice considers gardens and disrupted landscapes as mutable sites of personal and collective memory — inscribed in dynamics of power, colonial histories and their legacies. Weaving lens-based mediums, installation, text and performance, she explores spiritual and embodied expressions of grief and resiliency, in correlation with nature’s rhythms, cycles and materiality.

Tagny has a BFA in Film Production from Concordia University and a Certificate in Journalism from University of Montreal. Recent exhibitions include Henry Art, Seattle; Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Musée d'art de Joliette, MOMENTA Biennale de l’image, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and Centre Clark, Montreal; Nuit Blanche, The Visual Arts Centre of Clarington, Cooper Cole, Gallery 44, and Franz Kaka, Toronto. She has done live performances at the Swiss Institute, NYC; Nuit Blanche 2023, Cooper Cole and Gallery 44, Toronto. She is the recipient of the GOG Award (2023), the Plein Sud Bursary (2020), the Mfon grant (2018), has been shortlisted for the Prix en art actuels MNBAQ (2023), Gala Dynastie (2023), CAP Prize (2018), the Burtynsky Photobook Grant (2018), the GOG Award (2020) and longlisted for the New Generation Photography Award (2022).




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Atelier de création avec l'école Robert Gravel, Montréal. | Creative workshop with Robert Gravel school, Montreal. Photo: Anne St-Louis

Patrick Henry, Kapwani Kiwanga, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Eve Tagny
From January 20th 2024 to March 20th 2024
Undoing Earthwriting / Programme éducatif public

A Major New Season for the Educational Program

To coincide with exhibition Undoing Earthwriting, the educational program will be offering a considerable number of interactive tours and creative workshops for a variety of audiences over the coming weeks. Whether as part of Contemporary Laboratories, school activities or guided tours for college and university groups, the center will be very busy, allowing for group discussions, in-gallery writing workshops and creative workshops involving the use of plant and organic materials. OPTICA is also continuing for a second year its partnership with the Centre de services scolaires Marie-Victorin (CSSMV), to offer high school classes on the South Shore artistic activities and adapted support tools as part of the Voix Migrantes project.

All our activities are free!

To schedule a guided tour and/or to take part in a workshop, simply book an appointment with the Public Education Program Coordinator Anne St-Louis: mediationoptica @ gmail.com or call us at 514-874-1666.

To keep in touch with the center's mediation activities, follow the educational program on « Instagram / OPTICA jeunesse», .




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Nuit blanche 2024, atelier d'argile. Crédit photo : Anne St-Louis.

Patrick Henry, Kapwani Kiwanga, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Eve Tagny Commisssaire/Curator: Ella den Elzen

From March 2nd 2024 to March 2nd 2024
Nuit blanche 2024 : Atelier d’argile et d’impression de fleurs séchées chez OPTICA

On the occasion of the Nuit Blanche 2023, OPTICA is inviting the general public to a night of experimentation and artistic discovery on the theme of plants. Inspired by the current exhibition Undoing Earthwriting, come and enjoy a clay workshop, learn how to print dried plants and create a delicate key ring. Hot beverages and cookies will be provided. Places are limited!

7PM to 12AM

Free

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Eve Tagny, extrait de la performance as yet to be established, Centre for Cultural and Artistic Practices, Winnipeg, 2023.
Photo: daisy wu
Avec l’aimable permission de l’artiste. | Courtesy of the artist.


Eve Tagny, Élisabeth-Anne Dorléans, Sophia Gaspard
Commissaire/ Curator: Ella den Elzen
From March 23rd 2024 to March 23rd 2024
Autour de Undoing Earthwriting, performance myths and partition scores

Part of Undoing Earthwriting, which exhibition ends on March 23th, Eve Tagny with Élisabeth-Anne Dorléans et Sophia Gaspard will present the performance myths and partition scores,

**Saturday March 23rd, 2024, 4 pm**

myths and partition scores is a three person performance that will expend on questions of the navigation of natural and constructed landscapes as well as public and private spaces, contained in the visual artworks.

Working from a loose score, the performers will employ gesture as a method to bring forth various entanglements of visible and invisible borders, enclosures, labor, appropriation and ownership.

Tracing parallels between plants and racialized bodies, a myths and partition scores thus observes how the aforementioned entanglements impact, alter and influence processes of rooting as well as displacement of human and more than human life forms.



Eve Tagny is a Tiohtià:ke/Montreal-based artist. Her practice considers gardens and disrupted landscapes as mutable sites of personal and collective memory — inscribed in dynamics of power, colonial histories and their legacies. Weaving lens-based mediums, installation, text and performance, she explores spiritual and embodied expressions of grief and resiliency, in correlation with nature’s rhythms, cycles and materiality.

Tagny has a BFA in Film Production from Concordia University and a Certificate in Journalism from University of Montreal. Recent exhibitions include Henry Art, Seattle; Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Musée d'art de Joliette, MOMENTA Biennale de l’image, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and Centre Clark, Montreal; Nuit Blanche, The Visual Arts Centre of Clarington, Cooper Cole, Gallery 44, and Franz Kaka, Toronto. She has done live performances at the Swiss Institute, NYC; Nuit Blanche 2023, Cooper Cole and Gallery 44, Toronto. She is the recipient of the GOG Award (2023), the Plein Sud Bursary (2020), the Mfon grant (2018), has been shortlisted for the Prix en art actuels MNBAQ (2023), Gala Dynastie (2023), CAP Prize (2018), the Burtynsky Photobook Grant (2018), the GOG Award (2020) and longlisted for the New Generation Photography Award (2022).




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Appel à projets - Programmation / Programming 2026-2027
Call for Proposals
Concours ouvert du 12 avril jusqu'au 20 mai 2024, 11:59 PM, HAE, Heure avancée de l’Est (Québec)
Open from April 12th until Mai 20th, 2024, 11:59 PM, EDT, Eastern Daylight Time (Québec)
From April 12th 2024 to May 20th 2024
Appel à projets - Concours 2024

Every year, OPTICA presents a varied program of exhibitions, symposia, and artists’ talks, while investing in curated exhibitions on themes developed at the centre. These activities all propose a critical reflection on current issues in art, sustained and accompanied by the production of relevant publications.

The centre comprises two exhibition spaces and provides professional technical support in the gallery. Artists and curators are invited to submit projects for the gallery’s regular program. Project proposals are reviewed by the programming committee, which makes its recommendations for production.

For more informations, read this page.

Online FORM

*Please note, in the visual material section, the title of your jpg must not contain spaces, accents, capital letters, quotation marks or special characters. The information is specified in the form in red.


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Laura Acosta et Santiago Tavera, The Novels of Elsgüer, Prologue, image tirée du documentaire interactif | Still of interactive documentary, 2023. Avec l’aimable permission de l’artiste. | Courtesy of the artist.

Laura Acosta et Santiago Tavera
From April 13th 2024 to June 15th 2024
The Novels of Elsgüer [Les feuilletons de l’Elsgüer] Documentaire interactif

Opening - Launch, April 13th, 3 pm - 7 pm

Laura Acosta and Santiago Tavera are a Colombian-Canadian artistic duo based in Montréal. Their collaborative practice forges an intersection between Tavera’s investigation of video practices, along with virtual and interactive environments in relation to the body, with Acosta’s exploration of identity through performance and textiles. Since 2017, Tavera and Acosta have created a series of five immersive and interactive large scale installations which are referred to as episodes under the umbrella title The Novels of Elsgüer. Through different explorations with video, virtual reality, data visualization techniques, interactive audio-visual setups, lighting installations and sculptural elements in combination with performance, textiles, and non-linear narratives, each episode within the series submerges the audience inside surreal ecosystems that deconstruct the colonialist relationship between body and space. Through these immersive scenographies and expanded performances the lines between viewer and performer are blurred, and the notions of transformation, adaptation and fluidity become anchors of empowerment.

The interactive documentary project of The Novels of Elsgüer commissioned by OPTICA with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Now grant, invites the audience to navigate the world of Elsgüer that Tavera and Acosta have created through a virtual interactive experience and a video documentary in five parts. The interactive experience offers viewers the opportunity to visit virtual renditions of the installations, finding within them curatorial texts as well as archival images and videos of the work. Alongside this, there are five video capsules with interviews and behind the scene images of each episode, shedding light on the production process and highlighting the incredible community of Bipoc and queer artists, performers and curators that have been part of this project throughout the years. Beyond the five installations and the explorations of Tavera, Acosta and their collaborators, this documentary puts forward the powerful interconnectivity of all individuals who are considered the “other”, foregrounding the potential that transdisciplinary art has to deconstruct histories, create new narratives and expand collective knowledge.

The word Elsgüer is the spanglish pronunciation of the English word “elsewhere”. This alludes to the sensation of feeling absence while being present, a sensation felt by anyone who has experienced displacement or othering. This body of work uses this sense of dislocation/displacement as a method to create environments that ask audiences to question their own perception and position within a space.

Authors: Laura Acosta et Santiago Tavera

Credits
Direction: Laura Acosta & Santiago Tavera
Artist and Developer of virtual reality: Milton Riaño
Director of Photography: Abraham Mercado
Audiovisual Production Support, Lighting and Editing: Juan David Padilla
Sound Design and Production: A.M. DeVito
Colorist: Cedric Laurenty
Production Assistant: Bronson Smillie, Cuto Reed, Carolina Etchart, Gabriel Fuks, Carlos Bruna
Script Consultant: Muhammad Elkhairy
Performers: Aizysse Baga, Sam Blake, Phoebe Yī Lìng
Chang, Beatriz Golovan del Pino, Francisco González Rosas, Alicia Kazobinka
Curatorial texts and voice over: Claudia Arana, Nuria Carton de Grammont, Shauna Janssen, Mariza Rosales Argonza, Jamie Ross
Interviewees: Eunice Belidor, Marie-Josée Lafortune Translators: Caroline Künzle, Colette Tougas, Karla Aguilar Trejo

OPTICA, Laura Acosta and Santiago Tavera would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts, and MOMENTA Biennale de l'image, la Galerie de l'UQAM and Elastic Spaces Lab of University Concordia for the kind loan of equipment. The artists wish to thank OPTICA, along with everyone who has participated in the project, for supporting this work.



PRESS RELEASE (pdf)



Laura Acosta and Santiago Tavera’s collaborative projects have been have presented through large scale exhibitions and publications in Canada and abroad. Their most important accomplishments include solo exhibitions at OPTICA, A Centre for Contemporary Art and MAI - Montréal, arts interculturels, along with their participation in group exhibitions and screenings at Articule, SUR Gallery, Projet Casa, La Grande rencontre des arts médiatiques en Gaspésie (in collaboration with the Géoparc mondial UNESCO of Percé), MTL Connecte - Printemps Numérique in Montréal and Belgium. Internationally, they have exhibited at the Changwon Sculpture Biennial in South Korea and the International Images Festival of Manizales in Colombia. They have also presented their work abroad through artist talks at Via Farini Residency in Milan, Italy.

Additionally, they have been nominated for the Plein Sud Award for their artistic accomplishments in Quebec in 2021, and in 2023 they were long listed for the Sobey Art Award. Currently Santiago is an Artist in Residence Faculty in the Intermedia Program from the department of Studio Arts at Concordia University and Laura is starting the PhD program in Humanities and research creation at Concordia in the fall 2024.




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1. Clara Gutsche, Alice, Oliver, Bainbridge Island, 2014. (Brother for Sale / Sister for Sale : $1.00 negotiable), série | series «Siblings and Singles», 2008-2022. Épreuve à développement chomogène | Chromogenic colour print, 127 x 101,6 cm, agrandissements | enlargements. Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste | Courtesy of the artist. ©Clara Gutsche / SOCAN (2022)
2. Clara Gutsche, Sarah and Noémi, série | series «Jeanne-Mance Park», 1982-1984. Épreuve à la gélatine argentique, virage au sélénium et à l’or sur papier photographique traditionnel | Gelatin silver print, selenium and gold toning on traditional photographic paper, 40 x 50,4 cm. Collection Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.©Clara Gutsche / SOCAN (2022)


Clara Gutsche
From May 31st 2024 to May 31st 2024
Prix de photographie Banque Scotia 2024, félicitations à Clara Gutsche !

OPTICA is proud to be associated with the success of photographer Clara Gutsche, who had a solo exhibition at OPTICA in 2022 and has participated in numerous projects with the center over the years.

On May 30th, during a ceremony held in Toronto, the Scotiabank Photography Award 2024 was presented to Clara Gutsche. This award highlights the work of mid-career or established artists, allowing Canadians to become familiar with photographic art and to be aware of the issues and driving forces of our time.


Gutsche uses portraiture to explore personal relationships, while her work with urban landscapes and architectural interiors invites the viewer to reflect on cultural values.
“Over the 54-year span of my art practice, I have explored multiple modes of documentary photography in the context of contemporary art. I continue to question the theoretical and material understanding of the category through my critical writing and my subjectivity-inflected documentary projects,” she says in her artist statement.


“Gutsche’s art explores the depths of personal relationships and the intersection of culture and urban landscapes through a unique and powerful photographic perspective. At Scotiabank, we are proud to have founded this award which helps to support and elevate the arts and artists, Canada’s foremost storytellers, across the country and around the world, ” said Scotiabank’s Chief Marketing Officer Laura Curtis Ferrera.

The Scotiabank Photography Award was co-founded in 2010 by internationally-renowned Canadian photo artist Edward Burtynsky and Scotiabank with a goal of recognizing and accelerating artists’ careers as they reach the next level of national and international recognition. Gutsche receives a $50,000 cash prize, a solo Primary Exhibition during the 2025 CONTACT Photography Festival and a published book of her work distributed worldwide by renowned art book publisher, Steidl. The other two finalists are Nicolas Baier and Thaddeus Holownia.


Native de Saint-Louis (Missouri), Clara Gutsche est professeure au département des arts visuels (Studio arts) de l’Université Concordia où elle enseigne la photographie. Ses œuvres font partie d’importantes collections publiques et particulières au Canada et à l’étranger. Elle a participé à de nombreuses expositions au Canada, aux États-Unis et en Europe, principalement en Belgique, en France, en Italie et au Portugal.




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Anouk Verviers
From June 12th 2024 to June 12th 2024
Prix Pauline-Desautels 2024, Félicitations à Anouk Verviers!

Awarded by CIRCA art actuel, Anouk Verviers won the Pauline-Desautels Award for the exhibition Qu'est-ce qu'on peut construire sur un sol en mouvance, presented at OPTICA in 2023. The award ceremony took place on Wednesday, June 12th at CIRCA art actuel and was followed by a performance by the artist and a presentation of the winning exhibition.

Since 2021, the Pauline-Desautels Award is awarded annually to a committed artist whose work in sculpture or installation, relating to CIRCA’s mission, has been outstanding in the eyes of the public and the artistic community during the last three years. Pauline Desautels’ generous contribution to CIRCA has enabled the creation of this award.



Anouk Verviers engages in extensive long-term art projects revolving around discussion on collective issues. She articulates her art practice as a bicephalic entity: one head exists in the social realm, through collaborative and research-based projects, and the other exists in the art world, in artworks and interdisciplinary exhibitions. Anouk Verviers is an MFA candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London, in the UK (2021-2023), and holds a BA in visual and media arts from l’Université du Québec à Montréal (2017) in Montreal (un-ceded territory of Tiohtià:ke and Mooniyang).




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From June 14th 2024 to June 14th 2024
Programme éducatif public | saison 2023-24

The 2023-2024 public education program was a great success! To read the annual report, please consult this LINK

All our activities are free!

To schedule a guided tour and/or to take part in a workshop, simply book an appointment from September with the Public Education Program Coordinator Anne St-Louis: mediationoptica @ gmail.com or call us at 514-874-1666.

Accessibility

OPTICA pays particular attention to providing everyone an optimal and successful visit. With a constant desire to improve matters of inclusion and accessibility, the Centre steers its efforts toward responding in the best possible way to the challenges posed by contemporary issues. OPTICA is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment.

The head of the educational program received a training on accessibility in artist centres from the RCAAQ and Kéroul. In addition, remember that there is no cost to exhibition tours or to participation in creative workshops.

An access ramp is located at the north-side entrance, at 5455, avenue de Gaspé. If you have any questions or have specific needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.




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Rick, le 6e Backstreet boi, All I have to give, collage numérique | digital collage, 2021. Avec l’aimable permission de l’artiste. | Courtesy of the artist.

Rick, le 6e Backstreet boi
From September 6th 2024 to October 19th 2024
I didn't want it that way

Inspired by everyday life and popular culture, Rick, the sixth backstreet boi’s exhibition presents a set of multidisciplinary works comprising digital collages and a documentary video-performance. The artist take stock of the commonplaces that they have observed, explored, and contextualized in a queer and feminist frame of mind. According to their official agent, they uphold their art practice as a “vermicompost” in which they “reappropriate popular canons in order to create from the ruins of an egregore founded on exploitation and control.”

Exploring their non-binary gender identity, “Rick has turned out to be a real compost mushroom, digesting the toxicity of the mass-media-induced boy-band culture on which they were bottle-fed in childhood in the 1990s,” says the same official agent. From an activist and empathetic perspective, Rick’s story draws on the codes of North-American culture, analyzing Rick's own contribution to colonialism as well as their own middle-class status. This reading seeks to highlight the articulation of relationships between culture, society, and power.

For more information, please contact their official agent : arkadi lavoie lachapelle.



Rick, the sixth backstreet boi is a mushroom, an oyster mushroom, in fact. They escaped the greenhouse where they conceived to seek out a special sauce recipe, one that would best reveal his delicate, slightly licorice-y voice. Rick is an ear that cries underneath the willow trees. Seeking a new group with which they could sing, they invite us to think humbly about the industrialization of musical mycology, and about the ways in which we can create a world that is hospitable for all. In their quest, Rick wants to meet living archives, like Sonia Benezra, a woman who, through interviews with mycological celebrities, has been able to thwart our scandal-oriented monoculture and to rehumanize ‘objects’ constructed through the commodification of folklore. Stretching their foot towards other worlds, the little boi imagines that their road to recovery will inspire other living beings to sprout magnifically on the compost of their childhoods.




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Cindy Dumais, Quand je suis très seule (avec Clarice Lispector), 2021, détail, encre sur Phototex marouflé sur bois. Avec l’aimable permission de l’artiste. | detail, ink on Phototex mounted on wood, Courtesy of the artist.

Cindy Dumais
From September 6th 2024 to October 19th 2024
Garder le contact

Cindy Dumais’s installational practice dwells on objects and literature. Taking the part of a collector, Dumais gathers small memos, strands of hair, snippets from authors in her notebooks, and constitutes them into the raw material from which she develops formal and conceptual dialogues. At the heart of the exhibition Keep in touch is a quote, transposed into the space, from author Clarice Lispector: “When I am utterly alone, I don’t exist. I exist only in dialogue.” This line traverses the body of works brought together by the connection “keeping in touch,” which Dumais developed during the pandemic. The works form correspondences among each other that are reproduced in large format and accompanied by assemblages of household objects, thus offering a spatial disposition of the literary world.

Another body of work is composed of resin moulds of clothing and towels, as well as pastel and charcoal drawings. Dumais uses textiles for their material qualities: a highly malleable material that makes possible a range of actions—such as folding, assembling, piling—that reference the vocabulary of sculpture.



Cindy Dumais' research focuses on the transposition of language into material, questioning identity and reference through the experience of the body. Excerpts from literature and philosophy, recorded in her notebooks, are part of a process of questioning artistic production itself, in a dialogical form.

She has presented around fifteen solo exhibitions and participated in nearly fifty group exhibitions in Canada and abroad, the most recent of which was at Das Esszimmer (Bonn, Germany) in May 2024. Her works have been acquired by private and public collections, including the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and the Loto-Québec Collection. She was selected for a residency at Annandale Artist Residency (Prince Edward Island) in June 2023. In 2021, she received the Creator of the Year Award for Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean, awarded by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. She has held the dual role of author and publisher since 2005 with LaClignotante and has also co-founded AMV/Art-Mobilité-Visibilité.