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IGNITION 15
Victor Arroyo, Portrait of a Nation, 2019. Installation view, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Photo: Anne-Marie Trépanier
Paule Gilbert, Untitled, 2019. Performance (painted wood objects, ebonised walnut, charcoal and paper). Photo: Anne-Marie Trépanier
Marie-Claude Lepiez, I want to scream because no matter how much I scream, no one will listen, 2019. Installation view, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Photo: Yasmine Tremblay
Wan Yi Leung, Action Follows, 2018. Installation view, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Photo: Anne-Marie Trépanier
Kyle Alden Martens, Soft Players, 2016. Installation view, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Photo: Anne-Marie Trépanier
Lauren Pelc-McArthur, From left to right: DuoSifter Snap; Liquidation Strategy to Official Space; Sprite Riot; Think, Simpson, Think, 2019. Installation view, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Photo: Anne-Marie Trépanier
Kara Skylling, Untitled, 2019. Installation view, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Photo: Yasmine Tremblay
Sanaz Sohrabi, Notes on Seeing Double, 2018. Installation view, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Photo: Anne-Marie Trépanier
Swapnaa Tamhane, From left to right: Past, 1982; Present past, 2013. Detail from the installation BIBLIOTHEK, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Photo: Anne-Marie Trépanier

To bar. To cross. To circumscribe. These are terms that might first ring of prohibition, interruption, or restriction. Yet, they also characterize a set of generative processes and concerns shared by the nine artists in IGNITION 15. In their hands, they signal sensibilities departing from a standpoint of tight and intimate proximity, from where to examine the multitude of lines outlining and intersecting an analysis of self, histories, and environments. Installing her work behind the Gallery’s main window, Swapnaa Tamhane examines how display might magnify value or serve as a lens for inquiry. Painting on a joint compound support grafted to the wall, Kara Skylling drafts geometric systems in dialogue with the surrounding architecture. This is painting against the gallery, if against is understood as being in close physical contact with. Kyle Alden Martens’s Soft Players documents a trio—possibly the titular soft players—engaged in a subdued game that’s more of an interface than a competition. Resulting from arrangements made on-line with men, Wan Yi Leung’s videos invite questions into the limits of negotiation and collaboration, public and private, and economies of exchange. Starting with an act of minor iconoclasm, Marie-Claude Lepiez commandeers a scene of Victorian friendship and steers it head-on towards queer punk solidarity. Sanaz Sohrabi adopts anatomy as an analytic method to consider images of bodies in assembly. Through editing and commentary, she makes precise incisions across historical lines leaving the body politic to spill between frames. Paule Gilbert’s on-site performance works within the imaginary space of a projected grid where Gilbert slips into the narrow border between the wall and light to improvise with a set of sculptural objects. Victor Arroyo telescopes fantasies of colonial governance and land disposition under the steady eye of a surveillance camera, accenting its duplicitous capacity to project culpability as much as it keeps watch for it. And addressing the hasty collection and consumption of art through social media, Lauren Pelc-McArthur builds the textures of her paintings up to a noisy physicality and opticality that demands viewing in person and skirts easy capture by the camera.

IGNITION is an annual exhibition that features new work by students currently enrolled in the Studio Arts or Humanities graduate programs at Concordia University. It provides an up and coming generation of artists with a unique opportunity to present ambitious, interdisciplinary works in the professional context of a gallery with a national and international profile. Graduate students work directly with Gallery staff to produce an exhibition that places an emphasis on critical, innovative, and experimental work, engaging in the exploration and consideration of diverse media and practices. IGNITION is of interest to all students and faculty, the art community, and the general public.

Projects selected by Nicole Burisch and Michèle Thériault

Nicole Burisch is Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada.

Prepared with the assistance of Hanss Lujan Torres (Curatorial Intern, 2019)

Produced with the support of the Frederick and Mary Kay Lowy Art Education Fund

Artists and works

Victor Arroyo

BIO

My art practice sits at the crossroad between cultural anthropology, documentary filmmaking, and community collaboration. Through long-term investigations and interventions on landscape and on-site social relations and tensions, I produce ethnographic works composed of visual, acoustic, performative, and other forms of experience-based knowledge that escape the realm of traditional ethnography.

WORK

Portrait of a Nation, 2019
Video, colour, sound, 22 min.

Courtesy of the artist

Support: El Colegio De Michoacan, Mexico; Mitacs, Canada; Canada Council for the Arts; Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement Supérieur, Québec

With Portrait of a Nation I examine nineteenth-century Mexican painter José María Velasco’s pastoral landscapes as instruments of surveillance and colonial violence. Using a surveillance camera and working in collaboration with Indigenous P’urhépecha participants in Mexico, I re-photograph and re-stage Velasco’s landscape paintings, situating videotape and the landscape genre as mutual technologies of violence and addressing the complexities of the political geography of race in Mexico.

EXPLORE

Colonial data. Consider the amount of visual information needed to surveil a scene compared to reproducing it.

Sound and environment. Do the field recordings change how you view the paintings and re-stagings?

FOR MORE INFORMATION

victor-arroyo.com

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Paule Gilbert

BIO

The concept of corporality in relation to the spatiotemporal is at the heart of my research. I am equally interested in the notions of the trace and friction. My strategies privilege process, structure and materiality and principally unfold through performance, drawing, and the use of fibers and video.

WORK

Untitled, 2019
Performance on April 24th with painted wood objects, charcoal and paper

Untitled, 2019
Stop motion animation, 2 min. 28 sec.

Courtesy of the artist

During this performance I open myself to the limits of equilibrium and vulnerability through a series of improvised and sincere gestures in dialogue with forms that act at once as supports, obstacles and records of action. This work emerges from a reflection on the grid, Western symbol for order and reason, which I have appropriated so to challenge and transform it. The image-by-image animation of my paper threads bears witness to this.

EXPLORE

The body as drawing instrument. How does Gilbert use surface and light to work with visible and intangible forms of mark making?

The grid. Do you see the grid as an aesthetic or practical tool? As a barrier or support? For its parts or as a whole?

FOR MORE INFORMATION

paulegilbert.ca

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Marie-Claude Lepiez

BIO

I reinterpret lost, missing, and forgotten personal memories by working with objects and material gleaned from my immediate environment. Adopting a “Do it yourself” approach, I create poetry of recuperation through tinkering with garbage in the spirit of doing it any which way.

WORK

I want to scream because no matter how much I scream, no one will listen, 2019
Plinth, wood, acrylic, found objects (aluminum wheels, bicycle air chamber, butcher twine, clamp, motor, electrical wires, papier-mâché, human hair, porcelain)
157.48 x 66.04 x 66.04 cm

Courtesy of the artist

I want to scream because no matter how much I scream, no one will listen builds off of a quote from Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front that retraces the history of Riot Grrrl. This sculpture honours this 90s queer punk feminist movement, a sort of 3D zine extolling anti-consumerism and women’s emancipation.

EXPLORE

Revolt. What is the force behind rebellion?

Empowerment. Consider the literal act of breaking the mold. How does it prepare the ground for other forms of representation?

FOR MORE INFORMATION

mclepiez.com

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Wan Yi Leung

BIO

Since January 2018 I have been documenting interactions between older men in their sixties and myself, a petite Asian woman. My photographs and videos contain a combination of documentary and playful scenarios. I place us in provocative situations to create life-like narratives. The themes of my work include dignity, aging, and gender stereotypes.

WORK

Action Follows, 2018
Video, colour, sound, 7 min. 12 sec. and leotard

Courtesy of the artist

My project Action Follows depicts the interchange of power dynamics, youth, sexuality, morality in relationships. I met Joe online. He is twenty-seven years older than me. The video was created during consensual arrangements of me beating him three times a week for three months. Joe requested subdued lighting in the video because he did not want himself or his home to be recognized.

EXPLORE

Control and vulnerability. How is control distributed between the participants? How is vulnerability exposed or maintained?

Public and private. What is the status of the video in the Gallery? Has it entered an art context or does it draw the Gallery into the original arrangement?

FOR MORE INFORMATION

wanyileung.com

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Kyle Alden Martens

BIO

Throughout my interdisciplinary practice I employ themes of anticipation, subtlety, and humour with a steady undertone of queerness. I’m interested in examining queer identity without pinpointing sex through an exploration of closeted sexuality, the display and concealment of identity, and celebration of the subversive. Each series presents a combination of friendly and fetishized objects, installations, and videos—cute yet unruly, softly rebellious.

WORK

Soft Players, 2016
Installation with ceramics, flocked fibres, rope, foam, boot liners,
Video, colour, sound, 10 min.

Courtesy of the artist

This work concerns digital and physical interactions, coupling, solitude, and cruising. Influenced by video and board games, the performers shift between people, players, and avatars in search of intimate interaction within a coded set of rules. There is a strong blur between innuendo and innocence, game and function.

EXPLORE

Gentleness. How do you play soft?

Goal. What is the intent of the game? How are the players equipped for reception?

FOR MORE INFORMATION

kylealdenmartens.com

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Lauren Pelc-McArthur

BIO

My work is a response to anxieties associated with constant streams of information. I aim to express conflicts of meaning in online image-driven culture as well as addressing the seductions and shallowness of it. In the past, my approach to these areas has been interdisciplinary including 3-D animation, net art, and installation. However, my primary focus is painting, through which I can stress the importance of physical presence in an exponentially flat-screened society.

WORKS

From left to right

DuoSifter Snap, 2019
Acrylic and oil on canvas

Liquidation Strategy to Official Space, 2019
Acrylic and oil on canvas

Sprite Riot, 2019
Acrylic and oil on canvas

Think, Simpson, Think, 2019
Acrylic and oil on canvas

152.4 x 101.6 cm each

Courtesy of the artist

In my latest paintings, visual overload, sci-fi tropes, and psychedelic flotsam and jetsam are all mediated through screen aesthetics to build imagined spaces in states of flux. Populated with cyclical imagery and allusions to humanoid forms, these spaces serve as playing fields to explore the potential for creation and annihilation amid technological and organic interconnectivity.

EXPLORE

Interface. How does Pelc-McArthur craft a digital experience on a physical surface?

Organisms. Plant-like forms are a recurring motif in the paintings. Consider the different ways they are composed. Which techniques make them appear more organic or synthetic?

FOR MORE INFORMATION

laurenpelcmcarthur.com

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Kara Skylling

 BIO

Through the creation of abstract drawings inspired by the arrangement of industrial material and the construction of architecture, I explore the patterned repetition of our built landscape. Building with line, I construct systems of form and pattern. Colour creates movement within structured lines; harmony is assembled through contrary forces, order without boredom.

WORK

Wall Drawing (Parallel Planes), 2019
Egg tempera on joint compound on gallery wall
152.4 x 23.62 cm

Courtesy of the artist

Wall Drawing (Parallel Planes) sits directly on the gallery wall on a layer of joint compound, at once mirroring the wall’s plane and depending on its surrounding structure. By drawing focus to the negative space of the work’s surface, I aim to guide the viewer’s attention toward the space behind the facing wall’s surface and the surrounding walls. The drawing is segmented to allow it to exist individually and as part of a greater, connected system.

EXPLORE

Composition. Think about the decisions made in line, pattern, and colour. What sort of rhythms do they create?

Alternation. Compare the work to the built environment. What elements of the Gallery’s architecture become present in this dialogue?

FOR MORE INFORMATION

karaskylling.com

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Sanaz Sohrabi

BIO

I do not look for the beginnings, nor do I find myself adhering to any finite resolutions. I often start in the middle. The middle ground from which one speculates, wanders, and searches for the gaps, absences and moments of rupture in the historical processes, institutional formations, and systems of power relations. I look for the visual traces, acts of viewership and their reciprocal dis/reappearances to investigate the impermanence and malleability of photographic archives and historical narratives.

WORK

Notes on Seeing Double, 2018
Video, colour, sound, 11 min. 10 sec.

Courtesy of the artist

What is the anatomy of a revolution? Masses of bodies with a collective desire? In the visual-essay Notes on Seeing Double, I take the Farsi figure of speech “temsaal” as my point of departure in considering this question. At the threshold of seeing and remembering, the work unpacks the entanglements between pre-existing images, language, and memory in different processes of visualization.

EXPLORE

Translation. How do you translate between images? How do you translate between language and images? How do you translate between memories and images?

Framework. Analyze the ways in which bodies are framed. How is framing political? What can this tell us about the conditions of image making?

FOR MORE INFORMATION

sanaz-sohrabi.com

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Swapnaa Tamhane

BIO

I work with chalk pastel and pencil on handmade paper, paper clay, as well as wood, with an aim to fuse my body – as a political entity – in the preparation and treatment of surfaces and in hand-smudging or rubbing drawing materials onto those surfaces. I also often make collages with cut-outs that are subsequently scanned because I am interested in the reproducibility and consumption of images in the capitalist extraction of culture. This extends to my research in strategies of display found in museums, as well as in acts of naming, how value is determined, and what makes into the museum.

WORK

BIBLIOTHEK, 2019

From left to right

The table that didn’t know its own future, 2018-2019
Chalk pastel on plywood, MDF
Variable dimensions

 

Supports for Unnecessary Ornamentation (made by Achim Hirdes, Exhibition Technician at Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach), 2015
29 x 43.5 cm

Past, 1982 (Photograph by Ruth Kaiser. Courtesy Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach)
11.3 x 16 cm

Present past, 2013
11.43 x 14.45 cm

A Sigh of Relief, 2017
266.24 x 142.24 cm

Lexicon, 2018
60 x 86 cm
Digital inkjet prints

Courtesy of the artist

The installation BIBLIOTHEK includes prints, a collage, and a tabletop recreated through my body’s memory, the original in the library of the Hans Hollein-designed Museum Abteiberg. I often think of this table unaware of its future: that one day it would host a woman from the South Asian diaspora via Canada to tell a story about global feminisms, or that it would be occupied by an ugly beige-grey computer. The day my contract at the museum ended the table was returned to its former self—it breathed a sigh of relief.

EXPLORE

Counter-narrative. How does the body remember? How is this memory accessed? Does the body remember outside the dominant narrative?

Display. How does viewing the installation behind a window and outside of the Gallery influence your understanding of the work? Are you drawn to see the objects and images as documents, artefacts, or commodities?

FOR MORE INFORMATION

tamhane.net

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