'Why I came to Concordia … from Argentina'
Alejandro Barbosa came to Montreal in search of new photography subjects and to experience more extreme weather conditions than in Buenos Aires.
After falling in love with the city, Barbosa enrolled at Concordia.
The third-year photography student was a jury member at the VAV Gallery in 2015 and an exhibiting artist at the Art Matters festival last year. In November, Barbosa received the Faculty of Fine Arts Development Fund scholarship and plans to pursue graduate studies after earning their undergraduate degree.
‘I have a responsibility to engage the world through art’
Why did you choose Concordia?
While it is possible to take photographs of people wearing toques, gloves and scarves around Buenos Aires, the weather is very mild. In December 2014, I set off for Montreal for two and a half months because I wanted to get to know the city and to experience a real winter. And I did — that winter was record-breakingly cold!
I already had a degree in photography, but I wanted to go back to school to push my practice further. When I asked everybody about the programs offered in the city, all of them agreed that the photography program at Concordia was the best option.
What are the top three things you like about Montreal?
First is the city’s food culture. Not only is the Jean Talon Market my favourite place to go to on a Saturday morning, it also helps me eat well and stay healthy. The quality and variety of restaurants in Montreal is amazing!
The second aspect I appreciate is the urban experience. Montreal is big enough to offer something for everybody but it never feels alienating. The city hosts phenomenal cultural events all year round, including biennials, festivals, and concerts. For all the night owls out there, Montreal never sleeps!
Finally, I love the weather in Montreal because every season has its own charms. The summer brings barbecue-in-the-park season and is very warm. Mount Royal is a must-see during the fall. The winter is full of fun activities like ice-skating, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing — morning coffee tastes much better between December and February! My favourite season is spring — having a cup of tea on a terrace with the sun warming up your body is a feeling that is hard to match.
What do you hope to gain from your degree?
My experience at Concordia has not only shaped my ideas but also the ethics behind everything I do and make. I hope my degree gives me the opportunity to contribute innovative ideas that our agitated world needs.
I genuinely believe in the value academia can bring to the role of art in contemporary Western societies. As a South American non-binary person with a fine arts degree, I have a responsibility to engage the world through art, and I want to explore how I can do that.
In the long run, I see myself developing a career focused on art practice, art instruction and curation.
What are your top three pieces of advice for international students at Concordia?
- Stay in Montreal as much as possible! Moving to another country to pursue a degree can make you very homesick at first, but I promise it passes. Spending the breaks in Montreal really helped me to identify with the city and bond with my classmates.
- Embrace your accent. What makes you different also makes you unique.
- Your point of view can make an important difference. The innovative ideas that the contemporary world needs come from intersecting your ideas with the knowledge you are exposed to at school.
What is your favourite spot on campus, and why?
The Digital Image and Slide Collection, even if it’s just for writing my morning emails. Not only is the space beautiful and full of natural light, the staff are super kind.
It’s also a quiet place that’s perfect for studying and writing. I love to spend my breaks going through their art history slide collections. Over time, I can’t imagine how much creative thinking has come out of looking at those images.
What are your impressions of the International Student Office (ISO)?
The staff there is phenomenal. It's the first place I go whenever I need help with something. On a more personal note, I'll never forget ISO staff member Jenny Calder, who retired last year. She kept me afloat during some hard times in my first year.