Skip to main content

VCR hosts artists and curator residencies

Revitalization of visual collections space gives fine arts students a chance to work with Leisure and Ezra Winton
February 28, 2018
By Karly Beard

Frame grab: The Searchers, John Ford, 1956 The Searchers, John Ford, 1956

With the Faculty of Fine Arts’ new Visual Collections Repository (VCR) reaching its final construction phase in EV 3.703, artists and curators have charged ahead with a series of dynamic residencies in the new space.

VCR – the newly combined home of the Digital Image and Slide Collection (DISC) and the Moving Image Resource Centre (MIRC) – is currently hosting artists Meredith Carruthers and Susannah Wesley, and film curator Ezra Winton.

Both residencies are part of the ongoing Faculty of Fine Arts residency program, facilitated by the Strategic Directions Concordia In Residence Appointment (CIRA).

“The idea of the residencies is that students can come to this new space and work alongside practicing artists and curators. They can learn from them, talk with them, or even help them out,” says Pamela Caussy, Supervisor of the VCR.

Collaboration as a long conversation

Artists, longtime collaborators and Concordia alumni Meredith Carruthers (MFA ‘04) and Susannah Wesley (MA Art History ‘08), who work under the moniker Leisure, have a particular interest in historical women artists.

They will spend the next few months digging through archive drawers, exploring the VCR’s slide collection, which holds over 300,000 slides, covering a wide range of subjects: pre-historic cave-paintings, manuscripts, photographs, ceramics, fibre works, painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, and more.

The artists see the slides as both a strange archaism and a huge untapped resource for artists.

“We think it’s fascinating that the slide library exists,” says Carruthers, “it’s a place suspended out of time.”

They started their research with open minds, not knowing what they would find in Concordia’s massive slide collection.

“We began by pulling out drawers at random and seeing what interested each of us and looking at them together on the light box,” adds Carruthers.

“We think of our collaboration as a long conversation, and exploring these slides together is another form of dialogue.”

Investigating female artists in history

Wesley and Carruthers also came armed with critical questions about history, research and documentation. One of the key interests of their residency is exploring the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative (CWAHI).

“A lot of our practice investigates female artists in history. This got us thinking about the slide library, and about the ways that records are kept, and the choices that are made in terms of what is included here.”

Then they began to think about the role of slideshows in university art history classes.

“We are thinking about the tradition of slide comparison in art history, and the way that this format constructs a narrative,” explains Wesley.

“It’s a structured way of putting images into dialogue; it mediates how you see them.”

Leisure is working toward a slideshow performance at the end the residency that will take up this idea of the slide comparison. Students don’t have to wait for the performance to interact with the artists are up to; Leisure is here every Friday and anyone can drop by and start a conversation with them.

Animating and agitating the archives

Ezra Winton, Curator-in-Residence at VCR Ezra Winton, Curator-in-Residence at VCR

Alongside Carruthers and Wesley, the VCR is also hosting Ezra Winton (BA ‘05, MA ‘07) as curator-in-residence of the space’s film significant film archives.

Winton, a Concordia graduate who co-founded Cinema Politica and has also taught at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, says he is familiar with the VCR film archives and is looking forward to disrupting and invigorating the collection.

“I hope to not only animate the film archives, but agitate them at the same time,” says Winton.

“By “agitate” I mean to ruffle or unsettle the archives in a way that draws attention to this treasure trove of cinematic history, while at the same time drawing connections between geographically, temporally and culturally disparate works across the collection.”

Winton’s residency at the VCR is part one of a curatorial project called Agitating the Archives: Reframing Representational Ethics through the Review Mirror.  The project will look at representations of colonial histories and dynamics in film, which Winton calls “SETTLER FRAMES.”

“SETTLER FRAMES will explore shifting representational frames of space, place, identity and power as they relate to filmic representations of colonial histories and settler subjects and societies from the perspective of both settler filmmakers and Indigenous artists.”

Students can visit Winton at the VCR every Monday from 10 am to 2pm for most of the term. He also encourages students to contact him at the addresses below to learn more or to be a part of the process.

Coming soon: grand opening

The VCR is open for student use from Monday to Friday 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. and is a new academic and research resource that provides visual documentation to support the teaching and research needs of the Faculty of Fine Arts. The new space is a combination of two units, the MIRC and DISC. The MIRC collection includes over 42,000 titles, including 15,000 16mm and 35mm films, and thousands of VHS, laserdisc, and DVD titles. The DISC collection contains over 350,000 catalogued slides, making it one of the largest academic slide collections in Canada.

A grand opening for the VCR is scheduled for Spring 2018.


Ezra Winton can be reached at You can learn more about his work at and follow him on Twitter:

For more information on Leisure, visit and follow them on instagram at

The Visual Collections Repository can be found on the third floor of the EV building in EV 3.703.

Back to top

© Concordia University