13 artworks, contemporary dance performances, design projects and more!
The exhibition serves to highlight the diverse talents of Concordia undergrads, including visual arts, design, dance and art writing.
This year’s USE is titled embodied urgencies. The exhibition explores ideas like urgency, labour and exhaustion. Many artworks are also explicit about social-justice issues.
Curator-in-residence María Escalona relates that opportunities in the art world sometimes come at a cost.
“The FOFA team has been thinking about the mantra, ‘There’s no such thing as an art emergency.’ Yet, we feel a constant need to produce and overwork,” she says.
“When trying to fulfill unsustainable expectations, it is hard to respect our bodies, minds and nature’s cycles.”
Many mediums, one message
The FOFA Gallery coordinates USE in collaboration with Concordia’s VAV Gallery to showcase the work of 22 participating students. Visitors are encouraged to reflect on their value systems and move toward intentional, slow and sustainable modes of creation as they engage with the various aspects of the exhibition.
“For me, an ‘embodied urgency’ is an invitation to be aware of your body and its presence in the world. It’s an opportunity to ask, ‘What are the impacts of my actions, my rhythm and my labour?’” Escalona says.
“I’m personally still learning to slow down and prioritize healthy rhythms. The exhibition embraces the possibility for seemingly opposite concepts like revolution and rest to co-exist.”
The exhibition features 13 visual artists using a variety of approaches, interactive elements and sensory experiences. Mediums include sculpture, photography, video, installation, drawing, painting, textiles and ceramics.
embodied urgencies will also feature an evening of dance performances by selected students from Creative Process III, a class in the Department of Contemporary Dance. The performances will take place during the exhibition’s closing event on February 15 at 5 p.m.
Lília Mestre, assistant professor of contemporary dance, explains that Creative Process III encourages students to step outside of the dance studio to explore how space challenges and informs dance production.
“The exhibition theme calls for thorough attention to the body and its interiority, as well as the need to reassess our value systems,” she says Mestre. “This is a wonderful and challenging opportunity to think of the dancing body and explore its relationship to collective needs for resistance.”
As for the catalogue, it contains essays on the exhibition written by undergraduate students and is being designed as part of the Design Lab class from Kevin Lo, assistant professor in the Department of Computation Arts.
For Lo, this continuing collaboration between FOFA and his Design Lab provides students with practical experience in relationship building, editorial design and production management.
“This year, the course has been moved to the winter, which provides an opportunity for much deeper engagement,” he says.
“I’m very excited to see how this will translate into the publication.”
Catalogue essays offer context and commentary
The catalogue’s essays, which will also be published online, were written in conversation with the artists. Escalona reports that the essays not only broaden and contextualize the artworks’ concepts but also draw connections between them to comment on the exhibition’s theme.
Nico Linh, a student in the Department of Art History, confides that the opportunity to write a piece for the catalogue came at an important time in their academic life.
“I’m currently in my last year of my undergrad. Though I’ve enjoyed my classes, I had lately begun to feel restricted and wanted different outlets for research and writing,” says Linh.
“I feel like I finally had an opportunity to work on something more personal and relatable.”
A team effort that reflects ‘communal care’
Escalona says she is grateful to have worked with the incredible team that helped embodied urgencies come to life. She shares that her hope is to spark wider conversations on how collaboration can provide an alternative to unsustainable ways of working.
“Producing this project together shows the reach of communal care in supporting safer art ecosystems. We are living through multiple urgencies around the world,” says Escalona.
“Think about the ways we can tend to each other while not losing sight of the fact that this is a marathon and not a sprint. There is abundance and plenty for everyone.”
“Let’s remember that no one is free until we are all free.”
Learn more about Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts.