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The Jean Berger Project

April 30 – May 25, 2012

Vernissage + David Romero Performance: Sunday, April 29, 7–9 p.m.
Finissage + Catalogue Launch: Wednesday, May 23, 6–8 p.m.

Exhibition description

Jean Berger always claimed to be a painter in front of his judges. Beyond these statements, no evidence exists of his works or artistic career. Instead, the breadth of historical information surrounding his life originates from court documents chronicling his many problems with the justice system and the resulting masterful avoidance of punishment that culminated in his escape from prison to New England around 1710. The attempt to construct Berger’s history proves to be a challenging one, but from all recovered traces of his life, his missing (art)work stands out.

The Jean Berger Project will explore the inevitable gaps that determine historical research and knowledge. This project envisions the absence of knowledge about Jean Berger as a space for productive interpretation and creation to be filled in by the imagination of the artists. This “blurred” knowledge will make room for intersections between art, historical research, artistic practice and curatorial strategies.

About the artists

Stephanie Coleman grew up in a very small town in B.C. called Clearwater and is of Romany descent. She has been making art and playing music since she was very young, and moved to Chicago, IL at 18 to play in a rock band called The Colemans for six years. She has lived a transient life, moving city to city, and has a varied art practise working on everything from fashion merchandising and theatre sets to improv piano and wedding cakes, on top of her current studio practise in painting and fibres. She is now in her third year of undergraduate studies in Studio Arts and has shown work at Diagonale for the Fibres Undergraduate Exhibition in 2011, Ctrllab for Art Matters 2011, and had a painting featured in the January 2012 issue of Interfold Magazine. This spring she will be showing her fibres work at the exhibition Out of Place, held at Yellow Fish Art Gallery as a part of the En Avril festival.

As an artist Wahsontiio Cross explores the line between personal creative expression and addressing broader cultural concerns. As a Kanien’kehà:ka (Mohawk) woman, it is her role to bear as a keeper of the culture, and combining her artistic practice and research is one of her method's. Through writing, drawing, print and mixed- two-dimensional media, she likes to fuse research with history, culture, philosophy and aesthetics. Her work addresses her own identity as Kanien’kehà:ka both within and outside her own own cultural boundaries.Wahsontiio Cross recently completed an M.A. in Art History at Concordia University. She is currently completing an internship in museum practices at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Laura Findlay’s work focuses on absence, nostalgia and memory; on people and events from the past, and the veracity of recollection. Through painting, photography, and video her work examines a larger framework of both traditional and contemporary art, especially still life, portraiture, and documentary. She gathers inspiration from personal histories – her own as well as those of friends and strangers– and then distills these into images. Laura received her BFA from Concordia University in 2011. She lives and works in Montreal.

Joanna Lemon is a M.A. candidate in the department of Art History, at Concordia University in Montreal. She has been a graphic and textile designer, and her artistic practice has included watercolour, graphite, and pen and ink since childhood, when she studied with local landscape artist, Renate Heidersdorf. Recently she has realized that other skills she learned as a child, such as embroidery and beadwork, hold a much stronger appeal for her. She finds the very personal contact her hands have with these kinds of media, and that the tactility of the process enables a connection with the work that she has never experienced with other media. She is only starting to develop her new practice, and is very excited to see what the future has in store for her. In all her work, she seeks to break the stereotypes of fibre production as a frivolous feminine obsession, or as simply useful. She also seeks to counter the perfection of machine production by introducing the occasional random element or pattern in her work.

Julian Peters is a cartoonist and illustrator living in Montreal. In the last couple of years, he has focused primarily on adapting classic works of English, French and Italian poetry into comics. His adaptations of poems by Arthur Rimbaud and François Villon will appear in The Graphic Canon (Seven Stories Press, 2012) an upcoming anthology of graphic interpretations of classics from the canon of world literature. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in Art History at Concordia, where his studies focus on the early development of the graphic novel. Since child-childhood, for reasons which are somewhat of a mystery even to him, Julian has also had a bizarre obsession with the history of costume, and will occasionally slip out of the house in eighteenth-century clothing.

David J. Romero was born in Mexico. He moved to Montreal in 2001 where he works as a visual artist. Romero is interested in staged and narrative based photography. His artistic formation was very influenced by the film industry and the world of contemporary photography. His work has been exhibited and published both locally and internationally, including Europe, USA and Mexico. His work addresses issues of the vulnerable self, sexuality and cultural appropriation. Romero travels around the world staging mundane moments like stills from a movie and performing events that all together create narratives of lost battles and hopeful endings.

About the curators

Jessa Alston-O’Connor has recently completed her Masters in Art History here at Concordia. Her research interests focus on issues of multiculturalism, race, and cultural identity as they are constructed and negotiated through Canadian art and curatorial practices. She also has a keen interest in institutional narratives of histories of racial oppression and slavery in Canada. Her thesis explores the relationships between Asian Canadian identities and food culture as a means of negotiating cultural identity in the works of Karen Tam and Shie Kasai. Jessa has a background in gallery public programming and curatorial projects at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, and as a member of the Board of Directors of Studio Beluga, a collaborative residency and exhibition space in Montreal. She has contributed essays to the Canadian Heritage Information Network’s Virtual Museum Project Canada’s Got Treasure, Palimpsest III and the Vancouver Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.

Lindsay Cory is currently a candidate in the M.A. Art History program at Concordia University in Montreal and also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with great distinction from Concordia. Her research interests include the appropriation of architecture, graffiti, and issues of agency in public space.  Her current M.A. thesis explores the alternative yet productive use of public art and space by the homeless in Square Viger, Montreal. As a proponent for a socially inclusive history, this project aims to acknowledge the agency of the homeless within public space and how public art has enabled that agency. She continues to be involved in curatorial projects at Concordia as the programmer for the Art History Department exhibition space with past shows including: Situated Knowledges: Montreal’s Public Urban Landscapes, and The Montreal Graffiti Project.

Corina Ilea is a Ph.D candidate within the Interuniversity Doctoral Program, Concordia University, Art History Department. Her current research focuses on contemporary Romanian photography and video art produced after 1989 and on politics of representation in contemporary photography. Since 2008 she has been Part Time Faculty member at Concordia University. She curated exhibitions at Karousel Gallery and Assemblage Contemporary Art Gallery, Bucharest. Her essays have been published in Ciel Variable, Terra Nova Magazine and Cultura Magazine.

Maya Soren is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Art History programme at Concordia University (2011). She wrote her Master’s thesis on the Eaton’s Ninth Floor Restaurant in Montreal. Maya’s thesis contributes to the growing discourse of feminist architectural history through her assessment of the restaurant’s social and cultural value as a gendered space. Maya received an Honours Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Art History and French from the University of Toronto in 2008. She spent the summer of 2010 restoring the façade of the Church of Santo Gemine and surveying the Church of San Giovanni Battista at the International Institute of Restoration and Preservation in San Gemini, Italy. Her research interests include historic building and cultural heritage preservation, urban exploration, feminist architectural practices, gendered spaces, and public memory in the built environment. She has written essays for the Canadian Heritage Information Network’s Virtual Museum Project, the Canada Agriculture Museum’s permanent collection catalogue, Palimpsest III, and the International Journal of the Constructed Environment.


Sunday April 29, 7–9p.m.

Performance - The Service

by David Romero "The Young Artist"

FOFA Atrium + York Corridor Vitrines, EV 1-715

The Service is a multimedia performance as part of The Jean Berger Project.

The Service is offered in loving memory of all memories: in memory of all those absent in our lives, dead or alive.  The Service will be held under a quarter crescent of the growing moon on Sunday April 29th in front of the vitrines of the FOFA Gallery in the York Corridor.

The Service will begin at 8 p.m. The Young Artist will welcome his guests with one minute of silence. The reveal of his latest work Altarpiece Variation No. 2 (Love Live) will follow, featuring That Which Becomes Me by Sophie Edell and TRAMONTO, a musical piece composed by Ana Paola Santillá Alcocer and directed by Dr. Alexandra Fol.

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