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.