We are pleased to announce that Vivek Venkatesh has joined the Department of Art Education as an Associate Professor of Inclusive Practices in Visual Arts. Venkatesh is the holder of the UNESCO co-Chair in Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism. He is the director of the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance. He is the founder of the Grimposium festival and conference series, co-founder and director of Project SOMEONE (Social Media Education Every Day) and co-founder/co-curator of the multimedia and musical project Landscape of Hate. Formerly at Concordia University, Vivek served as Associate Dean - Recruitment and Awards at the School of Graduate Studies (2017-2018), Associate Dean - Academic Programs & Development at the School of Graduate Studies (2012-2015), inaugural Director of the Graduate Certificate in University Teaching (2013-2018) and was a tenured faculty member in the Department of Education in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (2008-2018).
We took the opportunity this Fall to ask Vivek some question by means of an introduction. Take a moment to meet our newest faculty member!
Can you give us a general description your artistic practice?
My artistic practice is grounded in an eclectic variety of multimedia creation. I make documentaries, concert films and music videos with collaborators in Norwegian, American and Canadian popular and underground cultural scenes. I am the co-founder of an improvised multimedia collective called Landscape of Hate for which I write lyrics, and in which I play soundscapes, keyboards, guitar and contribute disembodied vocal improvisations.
What is your primary area of research (or research-creation) and what sparked your interest in it?
I am interested in how art magnifies the public voice in creating online and offline spaces for pluralistic dialogue. The main catalyst for my work are my personal experiences with sorrow and loss, and my struggle to make sense of losing a loved one to a terrorist attack. My academic research and writing draws from and is inspired by finding humanistic hope in the midst of societal decay.
Tell us about some art that you read, saw, or experienced this summer.
In order to reconnect with what inspires me the most, I rewatched the Criterion Collection digital restoration of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Dekalog” – ten TV films that tackle themes of hope, love, betrayal, despair and sadness in post-war communist Poland in the 1980s. In terms of a new experience, I was very inspired when I saw the intricate mosaic work of Mexican artist Juan O’Gorman, whose Representación histórica de la cultura adorns all four sides of the library at the Ciudad Universitaria in Mexico City.
Why did the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia seem like a good fit for you?
The openness of administrators, faculty and students in the Faculty to collaborate, deliberate, speculate, create and look beyond disciplinary boundaries is refreshing.
What was the best advice you ever received from a mentor as an artist or a scholar?
“Kadå?”, which in Western Norwegian dialect means “… so what?”. To me, this translates into a great piece of advice - “get over yourself” – which I strive to live by.
What classes are you teaching this year?
ARTE498 – Topics in Media and Technology