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http://www.concordia.ca/content/shared/en/news/main/stories/2014/01/15/-the-encuentro-isaprovocation.html

‘The Encuentro is a provocation’

6 Concordia academics deconstruct this June’s high-profile politics and performance conference/festival
January 15, 2014
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By J. Latimer

Encuentro 2014
The Encuentro — part-conference and part-preformance festival — speaks to Concordia’s emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. | Image courtesy of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics


Wondering what the Encuentro is, exactly? This biennial conference and festival draws in more than 700 scholars, artists and activists for a series of discussions, workshops and exhibitions that explore the intersection of performance and politics.

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics holds each event in a different city in the Americas. And this June, for the first time, it will take place in Canada — at Concordia.

This year’s edition of the popular series is called Manifest! Choreographing Social Movements in the Americas, and is set to run from June 21 to 28.

Stephen Lawson, a visiting artist in the Concordia Department of Theatre, is the Encuentro’s Montreal producer. “We have so many departments working in an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary way,” he says. “This makes Concordia a natural choice for the Encuentro, with our university’s reputation for linking new technology to art, and with 2012’s Quebec student protests being linked with street protests in Argentina and Chile.”

Mark Sussman, associate dean of Academic and Student Affairs in the Faculty of Fine Arts, welcomes the exposure the Encuentro will bring Concordia. “It fits the school’s strategic research plan of cross-faculty collaboration by increasing the visibility of performance-based scholars in many departments. This is a chance to see who’s doing what in different faculties, then in different countries.”

While most Encuentro sessions will only be open to delegates, the festival includes special events for the public: cabarets, media installations, gallery shows, street art showcases, urban interventions, Quebec political dance performances and Cinema Politica screenings. The main-stage performances, which will be held on the evenings of June 20 and 28 at Théâtre Outremont, are free and open to all.

To get a better sense of what the Encuentro has in store, we spoke to six Concordia faculty members who will be taking part.


Krista Geneviève Lynes, assistant professor of Communication Studies

What does the Encuentro mean to you?

Krista Geneviève Lynes: It’s an encounter across practices of thinking, making and acting. There is something that emerges in this space that is greater than the sum of its participants.

Krista Geneviève Lynes
All researcher images by Concordia University.

What role will the conference and festival play in your research?

KGL: My research is centred on the contacts between feminist struggles in the context of globalization and the transnational circulation of goods, culture and people. The Encuentro is the perfect forum for pan-American discussion, engagement, performances, activists and artists.

How does the Encuentro relate to Concordia?

KGL: Concordia has a rich history of supporting both socially engaged research and interdisciplinary research. Many of my colleagues across the university are working in radical ways, thinking about how we might generate knowledge differently, in collaboration with others.

What does your working group hope to accomplish?

KGL: We aim to think about the strategies for “trespassing” — how defiance has been enacted, and enacted performatively through gestures and demonstrations in public space. 


Alice Ming Wai Jim, associate professor of Art History

What does the Encuentro mean to you?

Alice Ming Wai Jim: It’s not about producing a deliverable, but about discovering and workshopping.

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What role will the conference and festival play in your research?

AMWJ: It’s especially timely for me because I’m the co-editor of a new journal, the Journal of Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, to be launched in winter 2015.

How does the Encuentro relate to Concordia as an institution?

AMWJ: Encuentro is a wonderful bridge for our many students of Latin American descent. Also, there’s a cross-faculty synergy at Concordia, with our interdisciplinary flagship programs, which makes the university very fertile ground for Encuentro.

What does your working group hope to accomplish?

AMWJ: To examine historical and present-day converging art and social movements and cultural activism of Asian diasporic communities across the Americas.


Monica Eileen Patterson, postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence

What does the Encuentro mean to you?

Monica Eileen Patterson: It’s a nurturing space, but the Encuentro is a provocation, too, because of its unique structure.

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MEP: All participants in our group are engaged in work relating to past violence and contemporary injustice, addressing inequality in contemporary society. I’m interested in exhibits that explore the intersections of memory and violence in postcolonial Africa. The theme this year is Manifest!, and I see exhibits as manifestations, as we break from the scholar/curator-as-expert model.

How does Encuentro relate to Concordia as an institution?

MEP: One of the Department of History's strengths is public history, so the public nature of the event — street art, performance — makes Concordia a natural host site. Our school is also in a city with interesting politics around language, finance and religion.

What does your working group hope to accomplish?

MEP: Our task will be threefold: to collaboratively produce a sourcebook of pertinent curatorial examples, to workshop one another’s (potential) exhibit projects and to build a lasting community whose members will continue to collaborate.


Tagny Duff, assistant professor of Communication Studies

What does the Encuentro mean to you?

Tagny Duff: It’s a way to engage research with an open structure in our workgroups, which is quite rare.

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What role will the conference and festival play in your research?

TD: My field, biological art, is very new here in Canada. I’m investigating how life performs on a micro scale and questioning the way we privilege the human subject. Encuentro allows us to talk about bio art in the Canadian context, which I rarely get a chance to do.

How does the Encuentro relate to Concordia as an institution?

TD: Encuentro is fully in keeping with the research-creation model that Concordia is known for internationally.

What does your working group hope to accomplish?

TD: Because bio art is so new, we need to build a network here in Canada and learn about each other’s research interests.


Arseli Dokumaci, postdoctoral researcher at the Mobile Media Lab in the Department of Communication Studies

What does the Encuentro mean to you?

Arseli Dokumaci: It’s an untraditional mixing of performance and politics in unforeseen ways.

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What role will the conference and festival play in your research?

AD: My research is focused on disability and everyday performances, including film and video capsules. Encuentro allows me to further my work by meeting academics and disability rights activists from other countries.

How does the Encuentro relate to Concordia as an institution?

AD: Concordia’s Mobile Media Lab, where I work, is an interdisciplinary research unit with projects directly related to Encuentro’s workgroup topics of disability and mobility, aging, technology and accessibility in the city.

What does your working group hope to accomplish?

AD: To discuss how performance and disability intersect while exploring issues of the body, disease, representations of disability and accessibility in a city’s public spaces and at home.


Liz Miller, professor of Communication Studies

What does the Encuentro mean to you?

Liz Miller: An Encuentro is the act of creating a place to explore commonalities over time and across disciplines.

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What role will the conference and festival play in your research?

LM: My own research is about using films and transmedia projects to explore new and critical perspectives on social movements, and media around issues such as migration, climate change and gender violence. I have been exploring how a Nicaraguan feminist group is using mainstream television to stop gender violence, while a performance group from Bolivia is doing similar work using theatre, and a group from Argentina is using social media strategies.

How does the Encuentro relate to Concordia as an institution?

LM: Concordia researchers think beyond disciplines and beyond borders, and are particularly interested in praxis. An Encuentro brings researchers, artists and activists from across the Americas to explore new methods, so it’s a perfect fit!

What does your working group hope to accomplish?

LM: We have outlined some parameters around how groups across the Americas are combining new media strategies with diverse forms of organizing and public performance. From there, the next step is to let go of expectations and let the group move the agenda forward.


Learn more about Encuentro 2014.

 



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