Jennifer Cherniack, The History of Art According to my Archives, 2010 – present.
Courtesy of the artist.
Simon Brown, After Speak White (petite annonce), 2011.
Courtesy of the artist.
Chris Boyne, sans titre, de la série blueberry hill, 2011.
Courtesy of the artist.
Brian Virostek, Reflecting Them and Their Icons Together in Waves, 2011.
Courtesy of the artist.
Karen Kraven, This is a Place to Wait Out the Rain, 2011.
Courtesy of the artist.
Sandra Volny, SONAR, 2011.
Courtesy of the artist.
Étienne Tremblay-Tardif, Propositions pour l'intégration verticale des strates média-historiques de l'échangeur Turcot, 2011.
Galerie Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery.
Photo: Paul Smith.
Jennifer Cherniack, I’m Sorry, Jackson, 2010.
Courtesy of the artist.

IGNITION is an annual, curated exhibition that features new work by students enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts degree in Concordia University’s Studio Arts program. 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. MFA students work directly with Gallery staff to produce an exhibition that places an emphasis on critical, innovative, and experimental work engaging in an exploration and consideration of diverse media and practices. This year IGNITION features seven artists whose practices include print media, photography, sculpture, audio and video installation.

Chris Boyne explores the complexity of memory, identity and place in his work titled blueberry hill. His combination of still images, text and film reflect the sentiment of storytelling and its relationship to his birthplace of Nova Scotia. Simon Brown’s practice as an artist and writer involves subtle and obscure conceptual works that often infiltrate public media formats such as radio or newspaper want ads. Here, he presents a piece based on Michèle Lalonde’s famous 1968 poem Speak White. Jennifer Cherniack’s work plays with the authority of the art historical canon by injecting it with her own personal narrative. The History of Art According to my Archives lists hundreds of potential subjects of inquiry based on the artist’s own experience in the art world. In her second installation, I’m Sorry, Jackson, the artist mythologizes her past connection to Jackson Pollock’s work, and its imagined effect on the course of art history. Karen Kraven is interested in how hand-made, provisional architecture can affect people’s perception of reality. Her sculptural installation This is a Place to Wait Out the Rain, works with sound and optical illusion to create a space of tension and uncertainty. Étienne Tremblay-Tardif‘s installation titled Archéologie de l’échangeur Turcot : journal de recherche imprimé, presents his ongoing research into Montréal’s infamous Turcot Interchange, symbol of Montréal’s modernist urban renewal of the 1960s. Through a confluence of prints, videos, artifacts, publications and found objects from the interchange site, we confront the multiple layers of its historical evolution, its current state of degradation, and the controversial plans for its renewal. Brian Virostek presents a dual video projection titled Reflecting Them and Their Icons Together in Waves. Images and sounds gathered along a river as it cuts through the city reveal people’s connection to it through myth, pollution, leisure and urban development. SONAR, by Sandra Volny, is an audio-visual portrait of the Harting family, a group of blind siblings who are regularly encountered busking in Montréal’s metro stations. Through a series of interviews and performances, SONAR weaves a poetic and sensitive discourse on the meeting of voice and the act of listening in a resonant space.

The Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery’s contemporary exhibition program is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. The Gallery and the artists gratefully acknowledge Hexagram for its technical support.

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

The work featured in this edition of IGNITION was selected by the independent curator Alissa Firth-Eagland and Michèle Thériault, Director of the Ellen Art Gallery.


Chris Boyne

Chris Boyne holds a BFA from Ryerson University in Toronto and is currently completing his MFA at Concordia University in Montréal. His work has been exhibited in Ontario and Québec and he is the recipient of several awards including the Omer de Serres Award for Excellent Achievement in Visual Arts and the Dick and Gretchen Evans Fellowship for Photography.

I use my own history to explore the complexity of memory, identity and place. Through storytelling I subtly invite my audience to share a sense of self exploration. My work is about nostalgia, regret, and reminiscence.


blueberry hill, 2011

This project is about sentiment – the sentiment of story telling. I have combined messy little bits of story and memory with fiction to create the work. These bits have been carefully considered. Running aground sailing with the Liston’s in Mahone Bay or eating Blackberries on Blueberry Hill. Holding breath and thunderstorms and masturbation. All of these bits come together and they are connected through me because they are partly mine.


  • The relationship that exists between image and the types of meaning that this creates;
  • Memory, its role in this work and the ways in which the work addresses it.


Simon Brown

Simon Brown was born amongst cows, grew up amongst trees and now lives amongst people, buildings and machines. His interest is sparked by the most banal aspects of life as well as the most abstruse manifestations of its essence.


After Speak White, 2011

WANTED : Caucasian man with English as mother tongue, from affluent background, preferably with family roots in Montreal, to read Michèle Lalonde’s 1968 poem, Speak White. To be used in art piece at Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery. Remuneration negotiable. Please contact simonatthebrown@gmail.com


  • The significance inherent to reactivating Michèle Lalonde’s Speak White, particularly in a gallery setting;
  • Performance and its role in the realization of this work.


Jennifer Cherniack

Jennifer Cherniack is a Montréal-based artist pursuing her MFA at Concordia University. She holds a BFA from the University of Western Ontario and has since worked as an administrator and educator for InterAccess, Gallery 44, the National Film Board of Canada and several other organizations in Toronto. Recent exhibitions include LIVE / AFTERLIVES at La Centrale Powerhouse, Montréal, and It takes everyone to know no one at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto.

My practice combines art history, popular culture and personal experience to create narratives that fall somewhere between fact and fiction. I use popular knowledge about art and culture to reorganize, rearrange and retell well-known stories and ideas. In a humourous and self-reflexive way, my projects speak to ideas around history, mediated technologies, authority, and artistic egos.


The History of Art According to my Archives, 2010 – present

The History of Art According to my Archives is a list of over 500 suggested titles for chapters or subjects in art history based on personal experience. The project is ongoing and available in a variety of media. It currently exists as a downloadable pdf, a handwritten list, buttons, vinyl wall text and a slide projector installation.

I’m Sorry, Jackson, 2010

I’m Sorry, Jackson is an installation based on a lie that I told about a Jackson Pollock painting during a guided tour at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in 2004. The installation takes interest in the authority of cultural institutions, and speaks to the implications (and the exciting potentials!) of when someone goes off-script.


  • The artist’s use of humour and consider what this might be subverting;
  • Narrative and the relationship that this establishes between artist and viewer.


Karen Kraven is an MFA candidate at Concordia University where she holds the Dale and Nick Tedeschi Fellowship. In 2009, she participated in the artist’s residency Reverse Pedagogy in Venice. She has also attended residencies at the School of Visual Arts, New York, and at The Banff Centre. Recently, she completed a project with DARE-DARE in Montréal.

The physical space around us is haunted with what it used to look like and burdened by what it wants. Walls go up and come down. Regardless, we feel compelled to believe in the space around us. I am fascinated by the transformative effects small, handmade and temporary architectural structures can have on people. Saunas can make you hallucinate. Fishing huts can make you have visions.


This is a Place to Wait Out the Rain, 2011

As in cinema, a simple technique for achieving the illusion of rain is not to pour water directly onto the surface of the faux window in a set, but to pour water on an angled plane, so that the drips slow down. Fake effects in film often look more real than what filming during a real rainstorm would look like. Our mind already knows what we think rain should look like.

It was a dark and stormy night, strangers lurked, waiting for you to arrive. Snaps of intimidation and snaps of tension become endless drops of water.


  • The effect of transformative interventions in our surrounding environment;
  • Notions of illusion and reality.


Étienne Tremblay-Tardif

Originally from Isle-Aux-Coudres, Étienne Tremblay-Tardif has been based in Montréal since 2004. After completing studies in Cinema, Art History, and Visual Arts, he is currently pursuing an MFA at Concordia University. He was awarded a SSHRC Master’s Scholarship for 2010-11, and was the recipient of the Prix Albert-Dumouchel in 2007. Tardif-Tremblay’s works are in numerous private collections.

Rooted conceptually in the idea of place and physically in Québec’s geopolitical landscape, Étienne Tardif-Tremblay initiates trajectories and displacements. He reflects upon sites where personal and collective identity intersect with cultural objects whose sources are architecture, cinema, and print.


Propositions pour l’intégration verticale des strates média-historiques de l’échangeur Turcot, 2011

My work on the Turcot Interchange involves shifting focus from questions of vehicular traffic to an exploration of memory and its relationship to historical research, documentation of the Interchange structure prior to demolition, and the development of possible alternate histories around this subject. The work presented in this exhibition offers an ideological proposal in opposition to Transports Québec’s tabula rasa plan, a plan essentially representing a repetition of Montréal’s modernist expansion.


  • The ways in which this work alludes to cultural identity how it is constructed;
  • The role of the artist and how he positions himself in this questioning of identity.


Brian Virostek

Brian Virostek was born in London, Ontario. He attended Bealart in London before moving to Montreal to complete his BFA. He moved to South Korea in 2001, continued to work with film, played in The Immediate Orchestra, and started a family. He returned to Montreal in 2008, and is pursuing an MFA at Concordia University.

I work with film in the unrehearsed world. I have to be attuned to the timing of things happening around me. I select and begin drawing connections as I walk. I am seeking pathways to deeper memory and consciousness. In doing so, I am catapulted into an unanticipated future, releasing the potential of person and place.


Reflecting Them and Their Icons Together in Waves, 2011
Music: The Immediate Orchestra (Hyun-Ju Lee, Martin Miller, Brian Virostek).

I traveled along the river in the city I was living in. I imagined this river cutting through our civilization like it cut through the rock. The camera and microphone recorded the strata of myth, trash, festival, leisure, encroaching nature, and encroaching development. I looked for the extreme tension and release in people’s bodies. I was interested in their connection to the river.


  • Time and the connections made with one’s physical surroundings through time;
  • The ways in which concepts like time and one’s connection to place can be represented visually.


Sandra Volny

Sandra Volny works in Paris and Montréal. Her interdisciplinary research explores the interaction between the body, space, and sound via the concept of “auditory consciousness”. Her videos, performances, and sound installations have been exhibited in Canada and in France. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

My research deals with interactions between the body, space, and sound. We inhabit spaces in which sound vibrates, resonates, and then agitates our bodies. We develop in auditory environments that affect our emotional and behavioral experience of our surroundings. I am interested in resonant surfaces, beyond the visible, that organize and delimit the real. Through sound and listening I reflect on our perception of time and our relationship to memory.


SONAR, 2011

Based on interviews and performances with the Hartings, a family of blind singers, the experimental documentary SONAR weaves a sensitive and poetic narrative about the meeting point between voice and hearing in a resonant space. I explore the phenomenon of “human echolocation,” the ability to orient oneself in space through sound. SONAR functions both as sonar, a technique employing underwater sound propagation that allows boats to navigate and detect other vessels, and as a metaphor for the act of remembering. Searching our memories, we emit a sound pulse into space. What does the returning sound pulse tell us about our surroundings and ourselves?


  • The ways in which this work investigates the relationship between sound, space, and the body;
  • The conclusions that result from this investigation.