Concordia University



First Maurice Forget Internship student works on Ursula Johnson exhibition at SBC Gallery

November 6, 2018
By Katharine Stein


Undergraduate Art History student Tina Le has been working hard behind the scenes at SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art in preparation for Ursula Johnson’s exhibition, Ke'tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings / La terre chante.

As the inaugural recipient of the Guido Molinari Foundation’s Maurice Forget Internship, they were awarded a paid in-course internship for the fall semester to work on a contemporary curatorial project with a host institution.

Johnson’s The Land Sings is a sound-based installation that bears an apology to the land for centuries of colonial harm from resource extraction and development, which is currently up at SBC. For the project, Johnson used the topographical data of Natural Resources of Canada’s maps in order to compose a songline together with local Indigenous women’s collective Odaya.

Reframing notions of geo-politics

Art History student Tina Le Art History student Tina Le

One of Le’s tasks at SBC has been to research the technical and theoretical aspects of sound art installations: Songs recorded over the course of the project’s five-year history are set up in a listening station in the gallery.

What they found interesting were artists’ diverse approaches to sound. For instance, Christine Sun Kim’s work approaches sound from the perspective of a deaf person.

“It’s really difficult because it’s something that people who hear are used to … it’s not something we think about,” says Le.

Le also worked with the curatorial team to strategize on how to host Ursula Johnson's series of apologies to the land. Songlines are an Indigenous process to demarcate territories that resist maps as colonial tools enabled by the idea of terra nullius.

 “It was vital to consider this relationship in Johnson's durational songlines, wherein topographical mappings became their musical notation. This was furthermore placed in a white box gallery, which is rife with colonial undertones," says Le.

‘It was such an enriching experience’


One experience integral to Le being awarded the Maurice Forget Internship was art history professor Heather Igloliorte’s Curatorial Approaches to Indigenous Art seminar, which Le took last summer.

“When I applied to the SBC, I mentioned this art history seminar, which was amazing. We travelled to Gatineau, we went to the INAC [Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada], we got guided tours. It was the best experience I’d had.”

And because the SBC was preparing for the Johnson exhibit, they seemed like a perfect fit.

“It panned out really well. I just mentioned that course because it was such an enriching experience.”

Like many undergrads, Le is still figuring out their future. With a double major in Art History-Studio Arts and Philosophy, they are busy juggling a full course load and developing their video and performance practice. However, they know they would like to try to work in a gallery – a goal the Forget Internship has made feel more concrete and attainable.

“It’s practical experience working in a gallery and seeing how things work. So far, I really enjoy it. It’s amazing that you can get paid doing the work that you want and for the career that you would be interested in, which is really difficult to find. This is so important because it makes it accessible to students.”

Ke'tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings / La terre chante is up at SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art until January 12, 2019.

Back to top Back to top

© Concordia University