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Leila Sujir

Professor Emeritus, Intermedia (Video, Performance and Electronic Arts), EV1-631, Studio Arts


Leila Sujir

Areas of expertise

Intermedia, Video Art, Performative Video

Leila Sujir is an artist and professor emeritus at Concordia University in the Intermedia (Video, Performance, Electronic Arts) area. She is working on new video projections: one on the forests near Port Renfrew on the west coast of Canada that she has received a Canada Council for the Arts Concept to Realization grant (2022), for forest! documents. She is also continuing her focus on migration.

forest! documents, a stereoscopic 3D video installation in-progress, places the viewer in a forest of pixels; it is in process, towards an upcoming exhibition in 2025, with  a recent publication on this body of work in Journal of Transcultural Studies, March 2021.

A large format video art commission, Aerial, an artistic experiment with IMAX technologies, commissioned by curator Janine Marchessault for Outer Worlds, with the work of four other artists (Oliver Husain, Lisa Jackson, Kelly Richardson, and Michael Snow) and supported by a Canada Council New Chapter grant, launched in Toronto April 18, 2019 at the Cinesphere IMAX at the closing night of the Images festival, was exhibited in Montreal Fall 2023, as part of "Thinking Allowed" project (Thursday, October 19th, at the Montreal Science Centre IMAX theatre) and next screens at Queen's University in Kingston, March 7, 2024 @ 6:30 pm with a panel following the afternoon of March 8th, 2024. During the summer, it will screen at a music festival, Westben, in Northumberland, Ontario (July 17 evening, 2024).


Leila Sujir is the principal investigator of a SSHRC Connection grant, "Thinking Allowed" (2022).  The "Thinking Allowed" project launched March 13, 2023 within the Sustainability Conference, continued June 12-16 at 4th Space Concordia and October 19-21, with 4th Space Concordia, the Montreal Botanical Garden, and the Montreal Science Centre for an IMAX screening Thursday, October 19 of the artists' projects Outer Worlds (with curator Janine Marchessault, York University)Previous SSHRC grants include a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, Elastic 3D Spaces: Bodies and Belonging (2016-2019).


From 2017 to 2022, she was chair of the Studio Arts Department, in the Faculty of Fine Arts.


In 2005-2006, Sujir was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Calgary, a one year research position as an artist in the Interactions Lab in the Department of Computer Science. Starting in 2011, she began working with Montreal-based Janro's Sandde 3D drawing tool, as the lead researcher on two grants investigating its potential as a performance, drawing, and sculptural tool (CINQ/Mitacs). She has been an artist in residence at the Bath School of Art, at Bath Spa University in the UK (2014-2015) where she developed a stereoscopic video projection for a building facade, Elastic City Spacey (January 2015). She was also an artist in residence at the Sydney College of the Arts at the University of Sydney, Australia (June 2013) where she presented at the International Society for Electronic Arts (ISEA), and was an artist in residence at the National Art School in Sydney, Australia (July 2012), as well as being an artist in residence at the Banff Centre (Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 and Summer 2023).

 

Sujir’s video works have been shown in group shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate Gallery in Liverpool, U.K. as well as galleries and festivals all over the world. New Republics, a group exhibition out of the U.K. toured Canada and Australia 1999-2000 (in Australia to Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts; University of South Australia Art Museum, Adelaide; Canberra School of Art; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; in Canada to Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton; and beginning in the U.K. at Canada House, London). A solo exhibition that has toured galleries in Canada, Luminous Stories, initiated by the Art Gallery of Peterborough, covering ten years of her video art production, toured to A Space, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Southern Art Gallery and University of Lethbridge Art Gallery.

 

Select publications on Sujir's art work include the following:

-India Hearts Beat and Forest Breath from the Surrey Art Gallery, TechLab: Experiments in Media Art 1999-2019 (2022).

-Peacock Dreams in a book on Indian art, Moving Focus: Art From India Since 1900 (2022), edited by Mortimer Chatterjee, a guide to Indian modern and contemporary art, featuring over 250 works chosen by a carefully selected group of 50 curator/contributors, each creating a list of five works.

-an essay by curator Haema Sivanesan in Journal of Transcultural Studies, “Unsettling the Picturing of the Canadian Old Growth Forest: Consent, Consultation and (Re)conciliation in Leila Sujir's Forest!" (2021):

https://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/journals/index.php/transcultural/article/view/24248/17987

 -essays by curators Nancy Tousley and Haema Sivanesan in Rebellious: Alberta Women Artists in the 1980’s, a book from the Art Gallery of Alberta, edited by Lindsey Sharman (2020).
-a chapter of a book by curator Nancy Tousley, "Leila Sujir’s forest of pixels,”  in  Intertwined Histories: Plants in Their Social Contexts from the University of Calgary Institute for the Humanities (2019).

 -curators Sunil Gupta and Steve Evans' book from the Houston, Texas Fotofest Biennial: India: Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art  (2018). 
-curator and editor Srimoyee Mitra’s book, Border Cultures (2016).  
-curators Katherine Ylitalo and Nancy Tousley, with editor Melanie Kjorlien’s book, Made in Calgary: An Exploration of Art from 1960 to the 2000’s (2016).

 

NEWS 

-Screening at Queen's University of Aerial, in Outer Worlds experiments by artists, March 7th evening, 2024, followed by a panel the afternoon of March 8th, 2024; screening at the Westben music festival in Northumberland, Ontario, the evening of July 17, 2024.

-Exhibition screening of Peacocks Dream (2018) in the group show, "Those That Came Before Us," curated by Anastasia Ferguson, June 15 - September 2023, MacKenzie Art Gallery.

-Thinking Allowed: a series of public panels, screenings, events and publications taking place March - October 2023, funded by SSHRC Connection, with the support of Concordia University and the Elastic Spaces network and partners that include: UQAM; Montreal Botanical Garden/University of Montreal; York University; Queen's University; Emily Carr University of Art Design; Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee; and the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.

-Taking place for a week starting June 12, 2023, on CFMDC, as part of Thinking Allowed, the streaming of the 2021 series, SuperWomen: Conversations with the Real Action Figures is a collection of interviews with seven astounding women who have an extensive history of working in film and video. During the first wave of identity politics, multiculturalism, and at the tail end of the second feminist wave in the late 1980s/early 1990s, there were an increasing number of women artists and filmmakers who explored media production as a creative tool to tell their stories. Across genres, in front and behind the camera, these global voices firmly established an independent filmmaking foundation whose spirit has continued to inspire the next generations.

-Exhibition screening of Forest Breath (2018) March 13, 2023, 1 pm, EV Black Box, S3-845, as part of the Sustainability Conference:

https://www.concordia.ca/cuevents/artsci/loyola-college/2023/03/13/forest-breath.html

-Panel: "Climate Change Across Disciplines," March 13, 4th Space, 2:00- 4:00 pm as part of the Sustainability Conference:

https://www.concordia.ca/cuevents/artsci/loyola-college/2023/03/13/climate-change-across-disciplines.html

https://www.youtube.com/live/8yMiMG6maac?feature=share

-Panel:"West Coast Rainforest Activist Movements: current moments and reflections on decades of activism," March 14, 2023, 4th Space, 1:00 pm - 3 pm as part of the Sustainability Conference:



Teaching activities


Studio Arts, professor emeritus:

  • supervising graduate students


Research activities



Publications

Research Activities

          

  1. RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS OVER THE LAST SIX YEARS

Published proceedings, book chapters, contributions to a collective  work:

-Sujir, Leila, with Anthony Head, “Exploring art, technology, research methodologies and the human in virtual, augmented and mixed realities or: how a research project, Elastic 3D Spaces, emerged from an outdoor projection event,” Practices of Projection (editors: Gabriel Menotti & Virginia Crisp), Oxford University Press, 2020.


-Sujir, Leila, Sudhir Mudur, Behnam Maneshgar and Charalambos Poullis, “Automatic Adjustment of   Stereoscopic Content for Long-Range Projections in Outdoor Areas”, ACM Digital Library, 2017.


Creative outputs – art projects: 

2024  in-progress, forest! documents, 63 minutes, stereoscopic 3D video installation, in an experimental prototype research stage with an artist, along with community screenings (2018-2020 with the PFN [Pacheedaht First Nation]), with plans for  presentation 2025-2026 in a solo exhibition.


2019, Aerial, a 9 minute video IMAX artwork, commissioned for a series of large screen artistic IMAX experiments by curator Janine Marchessault for a Canada Council New Chapter project; the project uses a large format drone simulating the flight paths of a hummingbird through the South Walbran old growth forests (8k camera with ambisonic sound and cablecam rigging to take ambisonic microphones into the forest canopy).


2018, Peacocks Dream, Elastic City Spacey, a 2-channel stereoscopic 3D video projection, for exhibition with curators Steven Evans and Sunil Gupta at the Houston FotoFest Biennial: India — Contemporary Photography and New Media Art  (March – April 2018).


2018, Forest Breath, a stereoscopic video lightbox, for exhibition with curator Haema Sivanesan in the group exhibition, ”Supernatural: Art, Technology, and the Forest,”  at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (May 18-September 30).

       

Solo exhibition:

2025 upcoming, TBA


Solo screening:

2017 For Jackson: A Time Capsule from his two grandmothers, Art Gallery of  Greater Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia (February).

        

Group exhibitions:

-2023 “Those That Came Before Us,” MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (June - September [Peacocks Dream]).

-2021 “Super Women: Conversations with the Real Action Figures,”  in the Breadth of symposium commissioned by Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, Toronto, Ontario (April [The Dreams of the Night Cleaners]).

-2019 ”Rebellious: Alberta Women Artists in the 1980's,” Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta (November 9 - February 17, 2020 [India Hearts Beat, 1988]). 

-2019 “The Garden in the Machine,” Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, British Columbia (September 21 -  December 15 [Forest Breath]). 

-2019 ”XL Celebrating the Canadian History of Imax,” at The Cinesphere, Ontario Place, Images Festival, Toronto, Ontario (April 18, [Aerial]).  

-2018 ”Supernatural: Art, Technology, and the Forest, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia (May 17 – September 30) [Forest Breath]). 

-2018 Houston FotoFest Biennial: India -- Contemporary Photography and New Media Art, Houston,  Texas, USA (March – April [Peacocks Dream]).


Group screenings:

-2024 “Outer Worlds IMAX experiments by artists,” at Westben Music festival, July 17 evening [Aerial].
-2024  "
Outer Worlds IMAX experiments by artists,” at Queen’s University (March 7 evening, with panel March 8 afternoon [Aerial].

-2023   “Outer Worlds IMAX experiments by artists,” in Thinking Allowed, Montreal Science Centre IMAX theatre, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec (October 19) [Aerial].

-2019 From the Archive of Media Arts, ”Longing and Belonging: 1990's South Asian Film and Video,” Doxa Festival, Vancouver Cinematheque, Vancouver, British Columbia (May 9th [The Dreams of the Night Cleaners]).


Presentations as guest speaker – conferences and workshops: 

-Presentation on a panel, “IMAX by artists,” Thinking Allowed, October 21-23, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, 2023.

-Presentation on a panel, Remembering Practice & Policy (30 to 40 years ago), in the Media Arts in the UK and Canada,” Thinking Allowed, June 12-15, 2023, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, 2023.

-Presentation in a workshop, “Besides the Screen: Transitional Tactics for Moving Image Research,” Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS), Transitions: Moving Images and Bodies, University of Palermo, Italy, 2021.

-Interview and Screening, Dreams of the Night Cleaners (1995), in  “Super Women: Conversations with the Real Action Figures,”  in the Breadth of symposium commissioned by Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, Toronto, Ontario, 2021.

 -Presentation on a panel with Jorge Zavagno, ”Forests Drawing Close,” LASER 9 (Leonardo Art Science Engineering Research), UQÀM, Montreal, Quebec, 2020.

-Presentation with Anthony Head, ”Practices of Projection Book Launch,” University of London, London, UK,  2020.

-Presentation at “Sentient Circuitries,”  Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey, British Columbia, 2020.

-Presentation on a Panel, Doxa Festival, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2019.

-Presentation on a panel, ”XL, Outer Worlds, ”Images Festival, Toronto, 2019.

-Presentation with Paul Landon, ”Cybercorporéités: subjectivités nomades en contexte numérique,” Symposium, University of Quebec at Montreal, Montreal 2018.

-Presentation with Santiago Tavera, and Jorge Zavagno,” Entertainment Technology Summit China Canada International Film Festival,” Montreal, 2018.


Publications - writing and reviews of Sujir’s artwork:

-Mortimer Chatterjee (ed), Moving Focus: Art From India Since 1900. ACC Art Books, 2022 [Peacocks Dream].

-TechLab: Experiments in Media Arts 1999-2019, Surrey Art Gallery, 2022 [India Heart Beat and Forest Breath].]

https://www.surrey.ca/sites/default/files/media/documents/SurreyArtGallery_TechLab.pdf

-Sivanesan, Haema. “Unsettling the Picturing of the Canadian Old Growth Forest: Consent, Consultation and (Re)conciliation in Leila Sujir's Forest!” Journal of Transcultural Studies, vol. 11, no. 1, 2021 [Forest!, Forest Breath and Aerial]. https://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/journals/index.php/transcultural/article/view/24248/17987

-Tousley, Nancy and Haema Sivanesan, Rebellious: Alberta Women Artists in the 1980’s. (Edmonton, Art Gallery of Alberta, 2020) [India Hearts Beat].

-Cummings, Jesse, “Outer Worlds,” Canadian Art, May 23rd, 2019 [Aerial]. https://canadianart.ca/reviews/outer-worlds/

-Tousley, Nancy, “Leila Sujir’s forest of pixels,” Intertwined Histories: Plants in Their Social Contexts (Calgary: University of Calgary Institute for the Humanities, Spring 2019) [Aerial and Forest Breath]. https://prism.ucalgary.ca/bitstream/handle/1880/110196/9781773850917_chapter13.pdf?sequence=15&isAllowed=y

-Suleman, Zool, “Longing and Belonging: 1990’s South Asian Film and Video,” Rungh for Doxa Festival, May 2019. https://rungh.org/projects/longing-and-belonging/

-Shrumm, Regan, ”Report on Forest Breath: a portrait in progress,” Art Gallery of Greater Victoria magazine, September 1, 2018 [Forest Breath].

-Luna, John, ”Into the Woods: a review of 'Supernatural: Art, Technology and the Forest,'” Canadian Art (June 6, 2018) [Forest Breath]. https://canadianart.ca/reviews/into-the-woods/

-Glenzter,  Molly, ”Four of FotoFest’s dazzling displays focus on Indian portraiture,” Houston Chronicle (April 13, 2018) [Peacocks Dream].

-Gupta, Sunil, curator, FotoFest International 2018 Biennial: INDIA - Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art, (Houston: Fotofest and Schindel), 2018 [Peacocks Dream].



Participation activities

Outer Worlds, "A new touring project of commissioned IMAX shorts pushes the boundaries of a medium usually reserved for commercial, action cinema." From Canadian Art, May 23, 2019

https://canadianart.ca/reviews/outer-worlds/

"Into the Woods," a review by John Luna, Canadian Art magazine, June 6, 2018, on the exhibition, Supernatural: Art, Technology and the Forest

https://canadianart.ca/reviews/into-the-woods/

"Four of FotoFest's dazzling displays focus on Indian portraiture," by Molly Glentzer in the Houston Chronicle, April 13, 2018, a review of the FotoFest Biennale India Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/entertainment/arts-theater/article/Four-of-FotoFest-s-dazzling-displays-focus-on-12833095.php

Blog post from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria for community screening in port renfrew, August 2018

https://aggv.ca/forest-breath-a-portrait-in-progress/

Blog post from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria on screening of "For Jackson"

http://emagazine.aggv.ca/aggv-honours-black-history-month-documentary-leila-sujir/


Exhibitions

The Dreams of the Night Cleaners (1995)

The work was in the  traveling exhibition "New Republics," with artists from Canada, South Africa and Australia, initiated in the U.K. by curator Sunil Gupta for OVA [For Leila Sujir, the video, The Dreams of the Night Cleaners, 1995].
It was most recently part of the Doxa festival in Vancouver, May 2019, in the program, 
Longing and Belonging: 1990s South Asian Film and Video, curated by Zool Suleman.
 
https://www.doxafestival.ca/essay-longing-and-belonging-1990s-south-asian-film-and-video
 

The Dreams of the Night Cleaners

* The Dreams of the Night Cleaners (excerpt), 1995.

Video, 46 minutes, Collections: The Glenbow Museum and Archives, and the National Gallery of Canada.

A road trip, a journey, a voyage through history and memory. A complex weave of drama, archival footage and animation in a fable format to explore the public mythologies in our culture which have had devastating effects on public policy, public attitudes and individual lives. "Dreams" uses storytelling, humour, magic and history to sweep away the misconceptions which haunt the lives of its characters.

Took 6 milliseconds
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