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Francisco Gonzalez-Rosas, Audiovisual Jungle: Latino Bodies and Exportation Fruit, 2017. Video still (detail). Courtesy of the artist

The 13th edition of IGNITION features the work of seven artists. As a collection, these works were not selected to fulfill an overarching thematic. Rather, the exhibition provokes an engagement with performative, materially and conceptually diverse practices, inviting viewers to make their own associations with the kinds of experimental gestures that create immersive, cartographic, theatrical and photographic spaces for unexpected encounters between bodies and virtual environments, objects and storytelling, personal histories and fiction, the city and subjectivity, and more.

Collectively, each of the artists’ works are tethered to broader intersecting themes. Francisco Gonzalez-Rosas and Zinnia Naqvi query gender norms and colonialism. Boris Dumesnil-Poulin’s interactive installation plays with the performativity of virtual reality. The preservation of cultural heritage practices and notions of im/permanence are the focus of Annie Katsura Rollins and Naghmeh Sharifi’s installations, and Marion Lessard and Brett Barmby’s work explore the systems of information and the circulation of capital. All the works respectively resonate with questions and contemporary processes of archiving, narrativity, and documentation.

Commentary by Shauna Janssen

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

Compiled and formulated with the assistance of Chiara Montpetit (Curatorial Intern, Winter 2017).

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 for IGNITION 13 selected by Shauna Janssen, Artist in Residence, Department of Theatre and Studio Arts, Concordia University and curator, and Michèle Thériault, Director of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery.

Shauna Janssen

In practice and research, Shauna works across and in between the disciplines of architecture and performance studies, spatial theory and oral history, drawing from a mixture of discourses about the relations between contemporary art and historical architecture, theories of the city, and contested urban spaces. Drawn to the historical and cultural agency embedded within precarious and unresolved urban conditions, Shauna examines the potential interim urban landscapes have to stage and spatialize creative responses. An urban activist and independent curator, Shauna founded Urban Occupations Urbaines (UOU, 2010), a platform for facilitating creative engagements and collaborations with urban environments in transition and decay. Shauna is an artist in residence teaching in the Departments of Theatre and Studio Arts at Concordia University.


Brett Barmby

My practice stems from my experience as a bicycle messenger in major cities throughout Canada. During my extended exploration of urban and industrial spaces, I’ve catalogued the variations in the numerous banal and inconsequential contexts I’ve encountered. I’m interested in how the recreation of these sites in painting, drawing, and sculpture can reveal possible associations with major developments in art and architectural history.


2017-04-21-EllenGalleryIgnition-022_pistesReception, 2016-2017
(1130 Sherbrooke Ouest), 2017
(1440 Sainte-Catherine Ouest), 2017
(1000 Sherbrooke Ouest), 2016
(Aberdeen Square), 2017
(625 Sainte-Catherine Ouest), 2017
(1 Place Ville-Marie), 2016
(Place Desjardins), 2017
(1200 McGill College), 2017
(1250 René-Lévesque Ouest), 2016
(1004 Sherbrooke Ouest), 2016
3D printed plastic

2017-04-21-EllenGalleryIgnition-029_pistesSummer Abroad2016
76 digital inkjet prints on paper

Courtesy of the artist

Summer Abroad is a series of seventy six drawings each representing a day at work as a messenger in Montreal. Contrary to the aimless paths of a dérive, my routes through the city are directly informed by the exchange of information and capital between major corporations. The series of maquettes titled Reception are miniature copies of security desks in major office towers, their reduced scale drawing attention to their eerie and near totalitarian designs.


  • How the mapping of delivery routes diagrams the daily circulation of commodities and information;
  • The typology of the reception area: How the scale of the models permits a study of the power, fortification, and surveillance at play in corporate architecture.


“Corporate Curation Summation.” Bartelby Review 36 (June 2015).

Dumas, Nicole. “Graffiti Buff.” Vandocument. February 15 2015. <>

Hendrick, Adam. “7343 Brett Barmby @ Avenue.” Les Artefact. January 25 2015. <>

Boris Dumesnil-Poulin

Boris specializes in futile endeavours. Full of the spirit of adventure, he lives for bold gestures that harbour the dream of the future. He juggles with mystery and humour to talk about very serious stuff, to slip in-between what is real and what is imaginary. His work is all about teleportation and fictional places. For him, art is a gift, a supplement of ideas and shapes for living beings to share.


2017-04-21-EllenGalleryIgnition-055_pistesNo Man is an Island, 2017
Teleportation device and episodic fiction performance
Video projection, sound, camera, software, green screen, costumes and accessories

The installation is activated by the artist from April 19 to May 12, Wednesday to Friday, starting at 1 pm

Courtesy of the artist

With No Man is an Island, a virtual island in a cinematic apparatus, I channel a strange, synthetic sense of engagement through storytelling and roleplaying. Its open-endedness is an invitation to participate. As the piece evolves the viewers and myself are embodied in the politics of performing an absurd and escapist fiction, entering a vanishing point that allows for withdrawal from everything else.

No Man Is an Island (then written as “No man is an Iland” and now modernised as “No man is an Island”) is a famous line from Meditation XVII in Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, a 1624 prose work by English poet John Donne:

No Man is an Island

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Old English Version

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man; is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.


  • The artist’s role as both creator of and explorer within his own narrative and virtual environment;
  • How as a gallery visitor you are invited to project your own fantasies and share in the planning of an escape into a utopian world.


Francisco Gonzalez-Rosas

Through video, sound and performance I explore questions of gender, ethnicity and sexuality in relation to technology and digital media. This work comes from my own experience: my interactions, affections, presentation and re-presentation. It is through my racial and sexual subjectivity that I link to the macro social-political landscape.


2017-04-21-EllenGalleryIgnition-132_pistesAudiovisual Jungle: Latino Bodies & Exportation Fruit, 2017
Multi-channel video installation, colour, sound, looped
Video projection: 8 min. 08 sec.
LCD screens: 5 min. 23 sec.; 5 min. 40 sec.; 9 min. 02 sec.; 8 min. 27 sec.; 4 min. 56 sec.; 7 min. 34 sec.; 5 min. 16 sec.; 3 min. 33 sec.

Courtesy of the artist

Audiovisual Jungle is an immersive environment blending selfie sessions of Latinos with advertisements for Chilean fruit exports, telecom sounds, electronic music samples and screen captures of Google Earth. Through this audiovisual stimulus I aim to expose the tension between the globalized presence of fruit and Latino bodies, at once exoticized for white consumption on dating apps and facing social and political exclusion in the North American context.


  • The double standard subjected upon Latin American bodies: visible when objectified as being sexually available and invisible when undertaking cheap labour necessary to the maintenance of a neoliberal economy;
  • How mobile technology is used as a frame wherein images of racial, gender, and sexual stereotypes are juxtaposed with those of the global circulation of produce.


Marion Lessard

Marion Lessard is a collective of artists consisting of Claude Romain, Élisabeth M. Larouine, Jean-Nicolas Léonard, Alice Roussel and Marie Cherbat-Schiller whose practice in literature, drawing, video, performance, non-intervention and paradoxes revolves around an axis, pursues goals, plays with codes and raises questions.


2017-04-21-EllenGalleryIgnition-007_pistesCartography of the Odonymic Essence of Parc-Extension, 2016

Rue Jarry, 2016

Rue Hutchison, 2016

Rue Saint-Roch, 2016

Rue de Liège, 2016

Pencil on archival paper, text on paper and vinyl lettering

Courtesy of the artist

With this series of drawings and texts Marion Lessard reinvents the history and nomenclatural imaginary of the Park Extension neighbourhood by way of a heuristic cartography in which its elements and structure appear at once illogical and inexplicably well-measured. The irruption of fiction and improprieties within the scientific authority connoted by the map and diagram bring to the fore a human dimension, a subjective and poetic experience of a locale, that draws attention to the reader-spectator’s role in the discernment of information delivered through forms that carry all the signs of objectivity.


  • How the associations between proper names generate poetic and semantic slippages to reveal hidden elements and possible spaces within the mapped space of the city ;
  • The act of decoding the artist’s referential language by means of the bilingual yet distinct texts.


Zinnia Naqvi

My work is based in a documentary practice where I employ a combination of photography, video, archival footage and installation. It is across this range of media that I aim to question the relationship between authenticity and narrative, while dealing with larger themes of post-colonialism, cultural translation, language, and gender.


2017-04-21-EllenGalleryIgnition-037_pistesDear Nani, 2017
Digital inkjet prints, silver gelatin prints, digital prints on adhesive vinyl, vinyl lettering, wooden shelf and book

From left to right:

Nani in Garden, 2017
Digital inkjet print

Nani with Wall (1), 1948
Silver gelatin print

Nani with Wall (2), 1948
Silver gelatin print

Nani in White Shirwani (1), 2017
Digital inkjet print

Nani in White Shirwani (2), 2017
Digital inkjet print

Legs (Self-portrait as mystery child), 2017
Digital print on adhesive vinyl

Nani with Jinnah Hat, 2017
Digital inkjet print

Nani in Safari Hat, 2017
Digital inkjet print

Children’s Dictionary, Volume 1. The Standard Literature Co. Ltd., Edited by Harold Wheeler. Circa 1930’s

Self-portrait as Nani, 2017
Digital print on adhesive vinyl

Nani with Mustache, 2017
Digital inkjet print

Nani Portrait, 1952
Silver gelatin print

Nana Portrait, 1952
Silver gelatin print

Courtesy of the artist

Dear Nani is a project that utilizes found family photos demonstrating an act of gender play between husband and wife in the newly realized nation of Pakistan in 1948. By presenting these images and accompanying narrative I aim to confront readings informed by a Western feminist and colonialist gaze. While these photos occupy a particular moment in the history, culture, and society in which they were made, they also show a disconnection between generations of a single family.


  • The role of fiction: How when studying family photographs that cannot answer all her questions, Naqvi scripts a conversation between herself and her grandmother;
  • The act of reinterpreting: How in photographing herself the artist investigates her own subject position, situating herself within and testing the same postcolonial and feminist methods she applies when looking at photographs of her grandmother.


Konadu, Luther. “A Conversation with Zinnia Naqvi.” This is Public Parking, 15 Dec. 2016. <>

Vashist, Indu. “Family Photo Album.” Art Asia Pacific 95 (September 2015).

Annie Katsura Rollins

For the last nine years I have dedicated my artistic and academic life to the practice and research of traditional Chinese shadow puppetry and its shifting utility from a 1500-year old folk performance tradition to an archival relic. My artistic work is an expression of the central question in my research: what remains when a live performance form is preserved?


2017-04-21-EllenGalleryIgnition-079_pistesImmaterial Remains, 2017

Shadow Ghost Box 1, 2017
Wood, fabric and leather
Video: 22 sec.
Can you archive a shadow?

Shadow Ghost Box 2, 2017
Wood, glass, paper and watercolor?
Is preservation death or perpetuity?

Shadow Ghost Box 3, 2017
Wood, glass, paper and watercolor
Are shadows traces or are traces shadows?

Shadow Ghost Box 4, 2017
Wood, glass, paper and watercolor
Is the ghost of a shadow all that can remain?

Courtesy of the artist

As the practice of Chinese shadow puppetry languishes, the traditional shadow puppets are dying by the thousands: neglected to ruin, strung up, misunderstood or framed in permanent silence in the name of ‘preservation’. Soon these static shadow bodies will be the only traces of the living form that remain. With Immaterial Remains I aim to capture a glimpse of this ghostly Chinese shadow puppet future.


  • What is revealed and what is concealed when the boxes are front- or back-lit? When are the puppets viewed as artefacts on display? When is their capacity for ‘liveness’ activated?
  • The gallery as a site of preservation. What does it mean for tradition to be put on display? Is it then frozen in history or does the gallery space open up future possibilities for the ‘dying’ art form?


Rollins, Annie Katsura. “Ancient Old Things – Annie Katsura Rollins.’’ No More Potlucks 41 (2015). <>

Naghmeh Sharifi

My work is focused on the human form and psyche. By placing the body in ambiguous situations I explore it in relation to itself and its environment. Through experimentation in disparate mediums I dream of the diverse worlds I have inhabited. I invite the viewer into these non-places that permeate boundaries as much as they help build them.


2017-04-21-EllenGalleryIgnition-045_pistesPeuple dilué, 2016-2017
10 inks and watercolors on paper

Courtesy of the artist

With Peuple dilué I investigate transient identities, those that are fluid and born from impermanence. Initially inspired by the Romani population of the Shutka region in Macedonia, I explore the notion of a people versus a nation and, taking a step beyond region specificity, consider the body as a universal form in suspension against a background absent of depth and dimension.


  • The different readings of dilution: Dilution as a property of ink, as a way to describe mixing and a change in properties, as a denigratory statement, or as a weakening of purity;
  • The ways of representing community and individuals in flux.