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At the FOFA: revolutions and red dresses

The gallery sets its sights on social change in the Americas for Concordia's Encuentro conference
May 21, 2014
By jake moore

Jaime Black, from The REDress Project Jaime Black, from The REDress Project. | Photo courtesy of the FOFA Gallery

The Encuentro is coming to Concordia — and art is set to play a big role in it.

From June 21 to 28, the university will welcome more than 750 artists, academics and activists, who will participate in a sprawling series of workshops, discussions and exhibitions centred on the conference’s theme: Manifest! Choreographing Social Movements in the Americas.

As part of the event, Concordia’s FOFA Gallery will display films, photographs, installations and more by artists from across the Americas over the course of the week. We spoke to jake moore, the gallery’s director, about what to expect.

What is the exhibition’s connection to the Encuentro, and how will it manifest itself in the art on display?

The FOFA Gallery is one of the many spaces that will be activated for the Encuentro, and, along with the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, is one of the few sites that will be fully open to the public.

The FOFA Gallery is ordinarily the place for making public, or publishing, what the Faculty of Fine Arts does. When the university as a whole engages in a project like the Encuentro, it puts into service all of its dissemination sites.

Printemps érable student strike of 2012
Film still from Insurgence, Groupe d'action en cinéma Épopée / CA / 2013. | Courtesy of the FOFA Gallery

How many works will be exhibited, and how were they selected?

There will be 18 distinct projects occupying all of the FOFA Gallery sites — even the cloakroom across the hall from the gallery!

Unlike our usual jury process, in which individual works are selected, the FOFA Gallery Selection Committee chose to support the project as whole before it knew what the specific works were. The individual selections were made by a group of Concordia’s Encuentro participants — both faculty and staff — and members of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, the organization behind the Encuentro.

I’ve been allowed to curate our spaces, working directly with the producers on the ground, Shauna Janssen from the Department of Art History and Stephen Lawson from the Department of Theatre.

When visitors enter the FOFA Gallery, what can they expect to see, hear and experience?

Projects that run the gamut of contemporary art practices — from film and installation to performance art — all produced across the Americas. These works will be put in dialogue with each other, but also with our communities.

The works begin on a visceral level, with many symbols and sounds of the Printemps érable student strike of 2012, the Occupy movement and actions for the missing and murdered aboriginal women of Canada.

What are the works pictured here, and what particular role do they play?

When people enter the York Corridor, they will see Jaime Black’s REDress Project suspended high above them. The work is literally red dresses, though these are intended as stand-ins for the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada, a problem so endemic that a political movement is building around it.

This latent presence of First Peoples within the corridor is in dialogue with a remarkable photographic work by Julio Pantoja, Mujer, maíz y resistencia, which will be featured on the FOFA Gallery Image Grid in our courtyard. 

Pantoja is an Argentinian artist and a long-standing participant in the Hemispheric Institute’s programming. He has a very large body of work addressing the cultural role of corn within South American people’s creation myths, livelihoods and political realities. Corn becomes symbolic, a mediating object, a place to begin a discussion between multiple cultures.

Julio Pantoja, from Mujer, maíz y resistencia Julio Pantoja, from Mujer, maíz y resistencia. | Photo courtesy of the FOFA Gallery

While Pantoja’s project includes over 50 images, here we will feature two as large banners and show the remainder online.

The York Corridor Vitrines will also feature works by Tina Carlisi, a Concordia PhD candidate. She will be excerpting a project she developed in response to the student strike of 2012, called école libre. It was originally presented at Gallery Nowhere in 2013 as part of Carlisi’s thesis work in the Department of Art Education.

The idea behind the installation is to find a throughline between the different student movements that have taken place in Quebec, and internationally, by reflecting on what happened in 2012. Carlisi saw the strike as fertile ground for experimental art and pedagogy.

This is just a small selection of the works we will be hosting, but it offers some idea of their breadth.

Learn more about Encuentro 2014.


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