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Q&A: CUJAH conference addresses art, technology and mobility

February 16, 2019
By Katharine Stein

Student panel speaking at the CUJAH Conference. Photo by Eleni Speal. Student panel speaking at the CUJAH Conference. Photo by Eleni Speal.

The Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History (CUJAH) hold their 8th annual conference February 16th and 17th. The conference, organized around the title (dis)location: Art in a Mobile Age, provides a platform for undergraduate students to practice speaking in a conference setting, and also features workshops and a professional panel.

Katharine Stein spoke with conference coordinator Alisa Haugen-Strand about the theme, upcoming workshops, their keynote speaker Dr. Charmaine Nelson, their catalogue, and more.

Q: Talk to me a little bit more about the theme that you came up with.

Alisa: The theme is called (dis)location: Art in a Mobile Age. I guess I was just thinking about wanting to come up with a theme that felt relevant to Concordia and Montreal specifically. I was thinking about the issues that are at play in Montreal right now, and also just Concordia as a university – the fact that we live in a really multicultural city and we have a lot of international students. I was thinking about those sorts of issues, ideas of accessibility and diversity, and a lot of the issues that have been coming up recently within art history about appropriation and that sort of thing. We spoke a lot about this idea of place and of specificity within the locality of Montreal and Quebec, but then also about ideas of mobility and how, with the developments in technology that have taken place over the last century and especially more recently, that has made the art scene a lot more international, and in some ways has created new platforms and digital spaces for people who were left outside of the canon in the past and continue to be marginalized.

Q: How does that theme come out in some of the events that you’ve organized?

CUJAH Conference Coordinator Alisa Haugen-Strand. Photo by Eleni Speal. CUJAH Conference Coordinator Alisa Haugen-Strand.
Photo by Eleni Speal.

A: I know people find conferences kind of intimidating, and one of the goals with CUJAH is to create a platform for students to learn how to present their ideas in that sort of setting. I come from a dance background, and so the only conferences I’ve been to have been within that field, so I was interested in how we could make things a little bit more interactive, to create more open discussion. We decided to organize two affiliated workshops along with our panels. One that I’m really excited about is called Queer Orientations, and it’s a collaboration between Lucas LaRochelle and Be Heintzman-Hope. Lucas came up with the Queering the Map project, so I initially reached out to them because I was interested in this idea of mapping to go along with the theme that we had this year. We had initially spoken about the idea of doing a walking tour, and visiting the different sites on the map that were around Concordia, but then Lucas had this idea of collaborating with a dance artist named Be Heintzman-Hope, who’s a Concordia alumna from the dance program. They work with a technique that they’ve created called wombcxre, which is a somatic technique, and a lot of their workshops are based in queer identity. The two have come up with this workshop where participants register beforehand and are asked to anonymously submit a story of a queer experience they’ve had related to place. Then participants are going to be working with movement and voice in the workshop and interacting with these stories and doing a mapping on the body through these somatic exercises.

Q: And you also have Dr. Charmaine Nelson as the keynote, I noticed.

A: Exactly. That was very exciting because she is very established within the art history scene. She’s very busy, but she agreed to come and be our keynote. So we’re really excited to hear her speak. She’s going to be presenting her paper about fugitive slave advertisements which she’s looking at as a form of portraiture.

Q: Are you planning on making any kind of conference publication?

A: We have a catalogue that’s going to print this week. It has all of the presenters, their abstracts and bios, the professionals and workshops, the itinerary, and there’s a place in the back for notes. Annie Dutremble is our conference graphic designer, so she did our catalogue and designed all of the posters and any of the graphics that we used for facebook events.

To register for the workshops, email

Visit the conference website for more information.

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