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Concordia’s Tiny Moves Festival reconnects students to campus through site-specific interventions

An undergraduate art history course culminates in a series of guerilla projects and performances
April 6, 2022
A young woman wearing a mask and sitting on bed with windows in the background, reads to an older woman lying on the bed, also in a mask.
Rebecca Duclos: “Students are both the passive users of campus spaces and at the same time they’re actively questioning what spaces are ‘theirs’ to use.”

You may have already seen the Tiny Moves Festival in action and didn’t know it. Concordia’s smallest cultural event series might look like a fine arts class — because it is — but everyone is welcome to take part.

Starting at noon on Fridays, students in Rebecca Duclos’s Museological Modes course (ARTH 298) present their guerilla art projects across the Sir George Williams Campus. They aim to provoke our senses, just a tiny bit, and encourage us to take a closer look at our surroundings.

The art history class examines art that intervenes in cultural spaces. In a blended course, students read and watched and made short videos on a wide variety of artworks. They also discussed what artists do when their interventions critique museums, galleries and other cultural sites.

A young woman raising her leg in a dance move on a city street with people watching or walking past.

“We’ve been looking at the different modes by which artists do that: parody, irony, humour, curation, collaboration — all the various techniques and modes artists use. From that, students have been researching to inform their own interventions,” Duclos explains.

For their final project, she asked her students to create something inspired by a work they studied, treating the university as their cultural site to critique. Students are now presenting their “tiny moves” across campus as a pop-up festival over the last three Fridays of the term.

“So many students have never even been onto their own campus,” Duclos explains. “I saw this as an interesting way for them to learn about their university and to find a way to intervene in those spaces respectfully and ephemerally.”

A brown dog in a T-shirt staring straight at the camera. We see the legs of the woman who is holding the leash, and the legs of another person she is talking to.

‘I’m not a performance artist, so this was a big challenge for me’

The end result has been a dizzying array of sculpture, dance, performance art, videos and photos, all of which can be found on the Tiny Moves map that pinpoints where the projects will take place.

Simone Taylor-Cape, a third-year student in painting and drawing who is taking her second class with Duclos, created the Google-powered map and is the festival’s curatorial coordinator.

“The map snowballed into a curatorial exercise. Rebecca likes to frame the class in a way that allows students to follow their own research interests,” Taylor-Cape notes. “She leaves so much room for us to bring our own ideas to the table. We have had so much fun.”

Art history student Ruiqi Gu’s video project Pandemic Paranoia reflects on his bout with COVID-19 and the collective psychology of restraint during the pandemic. Gu wrapped himself up in yellow caution tape and was filmed commuting via metro to the Concordia Library.

“I thought it would be interesting if I could bring in this tape they used in the library when it was closed and reinvent it as a medium, as a kind of reminder that we should not forget this experience,” he says. “I always wanted to create a performance. I’m not a performance artist, so this was a big challenge for me.”

‘Students have to understand something about the university and their feelings toward it’

The final Tiny Moves session will take place Friday, April 8, from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students in Museological Modes will assemble at room EV 1.605 in the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex. Equipped with their Google map and schedule for the day, they will start their campus crawl to see all the performances and exhibitions.

Duclos says she has enjoyed seeing students really connect with Concordia, maybe for the first time.

“They are both the passive users of these spaces and at the same time they’re actively questioning what spaces are ‘theirs’ to use. To intervene, they have to understand something about the university and their feelings toward it.”

Find out more about
Concordia’s Department of Art History.




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