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Alumna Nicole Burisch is the new director of Concordia’s FOFA Gallery

The experienced curator returns to the university to work more closely with artists and students
August 2, 2021
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Nicole Burisch: “I want to look at how we can support creative and pedagogical practices across all areas of the Faculty of Fine Arts.”

Nicole Burisch (MA 11) starts her position as the new director of Concordia’s FOFA Gallery August 2, and the most pressing item on her agenda is bringing the gallery back into its physical space.

The Faculty of Fine Arts repurposed the gallery space during the COVID-19 pandemic as a depot for the Centre for Digital Arts (CDA), which used it to distribute equipment and course kits to fine arts students.

“I was really happy to visit the FOFA Gallery again in person,” Burisch says. “It was important for CDA to be able to use it as a distribution centre, and it was good that the gallery could adapt and help out in that way. But we’re very excited to give it some love and return the physical space to a working gallery again.”

‘I love the range of creative practices at Concordia’

The curator, critic and artist replaces Eunice Bélidor, who left in April to take a position with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as curator of Quebec and Canadian contemporary culture.

Over the course of her career, Burisch has worked with a range of organizations, including the National Gallery of Canada (NGC), Optica, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, She Works Flexible, Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, Artexte, Walter Phillips Gallery, The New Gallery, Centre des arts actuels Skol and the Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival. After almost five years at the National Gallery of Canada as a curatorial assistant and then assistant curator of contemporary art, she wanted to return to a smaller arts organization.

“I learned so much working at the NGC but I was missing the more flexible, experimental ways of working that are possible in smaller spaces,” Burisch shares.

“I have a background working in artist-run centres and with feminist art collectives, so the allure of this position was the chance to return to a more dynamic space. You can work with all kinds of artists and practices and be more responsive to what’s happening in the world and on the ground.”

Burisch also wanted to work in a gallery with a pedagogical dimension, alongside students, where there would be opportunities for mentorship and encouraging emerging and experimental practices.

“I love the range of creative practices at Concordia and that we have a mandate to be involved in all of them, to think of broader projects and in a more interdisciplinary way. I want to look at how we can support creative and pedagogical practices across all areas of the Faculty of Fine Arts.”

‘I’ve already received a warm welcome back’

As an alumna of the art history program, Burisch has good connections with Concordia and has been back frequently to lecture on curatorial practice and craft theory. She also co-curated the 2019 edition of IGNITION at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery.

Alongside her curatorial projects and focus on performance art, Burisch is known for her scholarly work on contemporary craft and craft politics. Her writing and research has been published in numerous periodicals, and she recently co-edited The New Politics of the Handmade: Craft, Art and Design with Anthea Black.

“I’ve already received a warm welcome back and it feels like a homecoming,” Burisch says. “I also know that I have big shoes to fill, when I think of the accomplishments of past directors — Eunice Bélidor, Jennifer Dorner and jake moore — I’m excited to build on the work that they’ve done.”

She also recognizes the contributions of the full FOFA Gallery team.

Woman with short hair wearing white button-up blouse and colourful black-and-floral blazer Geneviève Wallen

Exhibition coordinator Geneviève Wallen has contributed essays for C Magazine; the anthology Other Places: Reflections on Media Arts in Canada and the anthology The Politics of Spatial Transgressions in the Arts. Wallen is also part of the collective YTB Gallery; the co-initiator of Souped Up, a dinner series for racialized curators and cultural workers; a member of the Black Curators Forum; and an advisory committee member for the BLACK PORTRAITURE[S]: Toronto, Absent/ed Presence conference.

She recently joined the advisory board of the Centre for the Study of Black Canadian Diaspora. Her ongoing research focuses on the intersections of longevity and pleasure as contemplative spaces for care work in the arts.

Woman with hair tied back wearing overalls sitting in front of tall leafy plant Audrey Bilodeau Fontaine

Communications and curatorial assistant Audrey Bilodeau Fontaine (BFA 21) studied visual arts at Université de Québec à Montréal and Concordia. Her recent professional experience includes positions as events and communications assistant at the artist-run centre articule and artistic coordinator at Regart, centre d’artistes en art actuel in Montreal.

Pre-COVID, Bilodeau Fontaine was doing a curatorial research practicum at the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta. She currently also works as the communications manager at OBORO in Montreal.

‘Anxious to get back to in-person physical curation’

“This is an amazing team who have been carrying the gallery through this interim period and through the pandemic,” Burisch emphasizes. “They’ve done some really interesting projects, collected on the CU at FOFA site, like letter-writing and podcasts, which have allowed for meaningful reflections on the present moment.”

While the gallery will continue with an online presence, the team hopes it will serve and complement the physical exhibitions planned for the fall.

“We are anxious to get back to in-person physical curation — to be in the gallery, working with artists, using the vitrines and the courtyard and thinking about how we relate to our publics — within the university and beyond.”

Find out more about Concordia’s FOFA Gallery.



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