Associate Professor, Intermedia (Video, Performance and Electronic Arts) and Chair, Studio Arts
Areas of expertise
Intermedia, Video Art, Performative Video
Leila Sujir is an artist and associate professor 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 just received Canada Council support (2022), forest! documents, and one continuing her focus on migration.
forest! documents, a stereoscopic 3D video installation in-progress, invites the viewer to walk into 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.
Leila Sujir is the principal investigator of a new SSHRC Connection grant, "Thinking Allowed" (2022), and a Partnership Engage Grant, "Elastic 3D Spaces: the old growth forest as 'home' space with an emphasis on land, healing, home, communities" (2019) with the research team Elastic 3D Spaces, and previously received a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, Elastic 3D Spaces: Bodies and Belonging (2016-2019).
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 at the Banff Centre (Fall 2013 and Winter 2014).
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:
-inclusion of her artworks India Hearts Beat and Forest Breath in a book from the Surrey Art Gallery, TechLab: Experiments in Media Art 1999-2019 (2022):
- inclusion of her artwork 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);
-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).
-Newly published essay by Haema Sivanesan on Leila Sujir's "Forest!" project, in the Journal of Transcultural Studies (March 2021):
-Taking place throughout the month of April 2021, CFMDC enlisted 10 curators/artists to contribute to a symposium, "The Breadth of".This symposium used the CFMDC collection as a starting point to explore themes of challenging dominant historic narratives of art and activism, and examining how our collective histories of media art have been written.
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.
MFA Program Studio Arts:
- upcoming Fall 2022: ASEM 620, "Artist Manifestos and Studio Methodologies," Seminar
- upcoming Winter 2023: IMCA 611/613, Intermedia Studio / Seminar
Anthony Head and Leila Sujir,"Researching Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities, or How the Elastic 3D Spaces Project Emerged From an Outdoor Projection Event," Practices of Projection:Histories and Technologies (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-RangeProjections in Outdoor Areas,” ACM Digital Library, 2016.
2019, Aerial, a 9 minute video IMAX artwork, a series of 5 artworks for large screen artistic IMAX experiments commissioned 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, 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).
2016 - in progress, forest! documents, a body of works, with video installation and artist book series, with community screenings for the public, to be presented within a solo exhibition exhibition February 2023; the work is in an experimental research stage.
2014 Chorus of Lungs, Centre A Gallery for Contemporary Asian Art, Vancouver, British Columbia (November 2013 – January 2014).
2017 For Jackson: A Time Capsule from his two grandmothers, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Victoria, British Columbia (February).
2021 “SuperWomen: Conversations with the Real Action Figures,” with curator Midi Onodera, in the Breadth of symposium commissioned by Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, April [The Dreams of the Night Cleaners, 1995].
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, Vancouver, British Columbia (September 21 - December 15) [Forest Breath, 2018].
2019 -"XL Celebrating the Canadian History of Imax," at The Cinesphere, Ontario Place, Toronto (April 18, Images Festival [Aerial].
2018 "Supernatural: Art, Technology, and the Forest," Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (May 17 – September 30) [Forest Breath].
2018 -Houston FotoFest Biennial: India — Contemporary Photography and New Media Art (March – April [Peacocks Dream]).
2019 - "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 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, via Zoom Italy, 2021.
Interview and Screening, Dreams of the Night Cleaners(1995), in “SuperWomen:Conversations with the Real Action Figures,” withcurator Midi Onodera, in the Breadth of symposium commissioned by Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, via Zoom Toronto 2021.
Presentation on a panel with Jorge Zavagno, "Forests Drawing Close," LASER 9 (Leonardo Art Science Engineering Research), UQÀM, Montreal, 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, 2019.
Presentation on a Panel, Doxa Festival, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2019.
Presentation on a panel, "XL, Outer Worlds," Images Festival, Toronto, 2019.
Presentation on a panel 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.
Presentation with Anthony Head, Elastic Spaces 3rd International Symposium at the Bath School of Art, Bath, UK, 2017.
Presentation of work in progress, Forest!, International Visual Literacy Association Conference, Concordia University, Montreal, 2016.
Presenter with Charalambos Poullis, Entertainment Technology Summit, China Canada International Film Festival, Concordia University, Montreal, 2016.
Presentation with Michael McGuffin, Mat'Inno series, Quartier de l'innovation and Printemps Numérique, Montreal, Montreal, 2016.
Presentation with Anthony Head, "Elastic 3D Spaces," Besides the Screen, Coventry, UK, 2016.
Presentation, "Time Travel inVirtual Elastic Spaces, Augmented & Future Realities: an exploration of the spatialization of narrative," Elastic 3D Space colloquium, Concordia University, Montreal, 2016.
publications - writing and reviews of sujir’s artwork
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].
Jesse Cummings, “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
Zool Suleman, “Longing and Belonging: 1990’s South Asian Film and Video,” Rungh for Doxa Festival, May 2019 [The Dreams of the Night Cleaners]. https://rungh.org/projects/longing-and-belonging/
Regan Shrumm, "Report on Forest Breath: a portrait in progress," Art Gallery of Greater Victoria magazine, September 1, 2018.
John Luna, "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/
Molly Glenzter, 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].
Interview for series of podcasts for the South Asian Visual Arts (SAVAC) Archive project, Not a Place on the Map: The Desh Pardesh Project (Fall 2017). https://www.savac.net/collection/desh-pardesh/
Mitra, Srimoyee (ed), Border Cultures (London, UK: Black Dog Publishing / Art Gallery of Windsor, 2016) [Tulipomania].
Kjorlien, Melanie(ed), Made in Calgary: An Exploration of Art from 1960 to the 2000's (Calgary, Alberta: Glenbow, 2016) [Tulipomania and My Two Grandmothers].
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
"Into the Woods," a review by John Luna, Canadian Art magazine, June 6, 2018, on the exhibition, Supernatural: Art, Technology and the Forest
"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
Blog post from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria for community screening in port renfrew, August 2018
Blog post from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria on screening of "For Jackson"
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.
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.