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Ways of Thinking is designed for anyone interested in exploring contemporary art and its exhibition frameworks.

It offers contextualizing information on the concepts of the Gallery’s exhibitions and programs, the artists and the works featured. You can find a general presentation, areas of inquiry and ideas to reflect upon as well as suggested Internet links and bibliographic references that allow you to gain a general understanding of the artist’s approach to artmaking, the works featured and the curatorial framework adopted. It also offers a forum in which “ways of thinking” can be shared and compared: Within the ongoing program of the Gallery, and amongst the artists, curators, writers, and other contributors and participants including visitors. This takes on facets of physical and virtual forms, all of which are being collected here. Together, they form an information database and research repository that is accessible to students, teachers and anyone interested in the Gallery’s programs. This archive is an active one, because it renders the meeting points between the individual parts of the Gallery’s programs tangible.

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Ways of Thinking is designed for anyone interested in exploring contemporary art and its exhibition frameworks. It offers contextualizing information on the concepts of the Gallery’s exhibitions and programs, the artists and the works featured. You can find a general presentation, areas of inquiry and ideas to reflect upon as well as suggested Internet links and bibliographic references that allow you to gain a general understanding of the artist’s approach to artmaking, the works featured and the curatorial framework adopted. It also offers a forum in which “ways of thinking” can be shared and compared: Within the ongoing program of the Gallery, and amongst the artists, curators, writers, and other contributors and participants including visitors. This takes on facets of physical and virtual forms, all of which are being collected here. Together, they form an information database and research repository that is accessible to students, teachers and anyone interested in the Gallery’s programs. This archive is an active one, because it renders the meeting points between the individual parts of the Gallery’s programs tangible.

In the No Longer Not Yet
James Nicholas Dumile Goddard, what do we take for granted, 2020. Courtesy of the artist

Seizing upon pervasive end-times anxieties,In the No Longer Not Yet positions the apocalyptic not as an event to come but as crises since past and underway. Working in film, video, sound, performance and sculpture, the exhibition’s artists reveal, narrate and examine the ends and subsequent afterlives instantiated by racial capitalism, settler colonialism, and overexploitation.

In this section you’ll find: the curator’s essay summarizing the history of apocalyptic discourse, thinking with radical and political calls for the end of the world, and introducing each artist’s work; keywords rooted in questions around apocalyptic effects and feelings; artists’ biographies; and a bibliography.

CURATOR

Julia Eilers Smith

Julia Eilers Smith is the Max Stern Curator of Research at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University. She earned a master’s degree at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College and a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Université du Québec à Montréal. She has previously held curatorial roles at the ICA London and the Hessel Museum of Art in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and was Exhibitions Manager at SBC Gallery of Contemporary, Montreal.

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ESSAY

With a View on the End

Eschatological visions of the end, in particular those concerning the advance of human-made climate catastrophe and imminent ecological and/or geopolitical collapses, have resurged in the twenty-first century, to say the least. Feeding off of present (if suppressed) anxieties, apocalyptic foreboding and its politically and moralistically minded applications saturate our news feeds and media intake, not only in literature, television, and film but also advertising. It pervades current rhetoric and popular imaginary, wherein we see and hear the term “apocalypse” used loosely to address crises of various magnitudes and applied to a wide range of phenomena with varying degrees of seriousness, its meaning distorted, banalized, and co-opted along the way.

[…]

The complete essay can be viewed on the exhibition’s page and downloaded in the Texts and Documents section. A printed version is also available at the Gallery.

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KEYWORDS

Breakdown

To the far end of the main space sits Goldberg’s Stomach, a three-sided recess collecting a cluster of bowls draped in plastic. Pockmarked with pools of water, littered with fist-sized celeriac spiked with half-spent matches, padded by a soiled bed skirt, Stomach lays out a site for breakdowns.

Keeping in mind the body’s ways of breaking down, consider other forms of breakdown in the exhibition. Listen for social and political breakdown in Goddard’s audio vignettes, for the work of maintaining bonds under the stress of collapse. Compare this to Ware’s interlinking network of activists and his activation of the Gallery’s outward facing wall. Remember that stomachs too have walls. Where Goldberg’s digestive system seeps into the Gallery, consider Simard’s studies of environmental breakdowns, the effects of political, atmospheric, and chemical contamination on social, psychological, and physical health. Listen again and read for communication breakdowns and the stories that surface amid fragmentation and crises in Charles’s uneasy dramas. Watch for Szlam’s collapsing of time as the speedy advance of photosensitive film meets the deep geological time of a landscape heavy with minerals and history.

Think of breaking down as an analytic process that cuts to the marrow, or as an economic process tallying the costs. As salvaging and scrapping, breakdown leads to the recuperation of material needed after a stoppage, a strike, or abandonment. As an exit from rigid structures, breakdown signals an entry into or a new sense for fragility.

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Possession

The equation follows that possession is guaranteed through dispossession. As accumulation at the service of so-called progress, possession advances through acts of theft and deprivation. Under settler-colonialism the aim is to steal Indigenous land, break relations, and erase knowledge, a stripping that then continues through occupation and resource extraction.

Are there ways to think of possession outside of and against this exploitative and exclusive bind? In his video Land Becomes Ghost, Simard suggests that forced encroachment on Indigenous lands, always in excess towards profit, produces another surplus by way of haunting. Without forgetting the violence that instantiates it, dispossession returns as possession. Carrying loss and traumas, it returns to collect debts against profits gained by dispossession. It haunts denial.

And what of self-possession? There’s the idea that to be propertied is also to own one’s self, in particular, to freely own one’s capacity to labour. Under racial capitalism, dispossession—through slavery, forced labour, or debt bondage—reduces individuals to their labouring capacity. It bars selfhood, relegates people to objects, as instruments of extraction to be used to the limits of exhaustion and death. In face of this, radical calls to self-possession imagine other means and boundaries of the self.

Return to Goddard’s hanging speakers, where do you locate self-possession amid the collective clamour of political action and debate? What forms of possession are imagined when asking: “How will we hold onto each other?” Facing Szlam’s projection, crossed by its deep drones, how do you measure yourself against the scale of her multilayered landscape? Compare this to Goldberg’s sole human-like figure. What remains of individuality when energy is weak and life thin?

To be possessed is also to be consumed by thought and emotions. Watch for the affective and psychological dimensions of Charles’s films, where people and communities are taken over by obsessions and internalize catastrophic events. And what of Ware’s wall of activist portraits? At once one side to an enclosure, a barricade, and a display: What sort of property or properties, what means of possession might Ware’s wall lay claim to?

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Anxiety

As the exhibition argues, attempts towards drafting global climate policies to offset mass extinction take place against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic reality. Outside the theatre of these punctual meetings is a growing and persistent sense of anxiety.

Deeply sceptical of a solution led by the powers in place, anxiety can be seen not as nervous panic with an eye on the horizon, but as a reckoning with the un-eventfulness of the end of the world. Anxiety can be framed as a form of foresight, yet, its fixation on the uninterruptible advance of collapse puts to question the myths of progress and development. And unlike suspense, which lingers in a space of anticipation of what will eventually arrive, anxiety cedes to the resolve that there is no outcome.

Looking in from the atrium, could Ware’s self-reproducing pattern allow us to think of the unstoppable in other ways? What does Ware’s wall honouring grassroots activism surround? What does it enclose? What might it grow to cover? What does it stand up to? With space in mind, think again of Szlam’s expansive scale of a world sensed another way.  Note Charles’s exclusion of direct visual evidence and her use of repetition in Three Atlases. Where do these oblique views on change, crisis, and irresolution lead you as a viewer? Compare the sound of Simard’s high-pitched tone in Land Becomes Ghost to the silent distortions in Connected to Air, Terra Nullius, Mercury Poisoning, and Carbon tax. Watch for the uneventful processes of decay and growth in Goldberg’s sculptures. How does this action operate within the spaces of abandonment Goldberg maps out?

Within the Gallery, can you then elaborate a form of anxious navigation and questioning? A route and inquiry into loss that, as Goddard proposes, starts by asking: “What do we take for granted?”

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Complementary resources

Bibliography

Badger, Gina, ed. “Survivors and Survivalists.” Fuse 36, no. 3 (Summer 2013)

Barad, Karen. “No Small Matter: Mushroom Clouds, Ecologies of Nothingness, and Strange Topologies of Spacetimemattering.” Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts of the Anthropocene, edited by Anna Tsing et al., 103–120. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017

Ferreira da Silva, Denise. Toward a Global Idea of Race (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007)

Ferreira da Silva, Denise. “An End to ‘This’ World: Denise Ferreira da Silva Interviewed by Susanne Leeb and Kerstin Stakemeier.” Texte Zur Kunst, April 12, 2019. https://www.textezurkunst.de/articles/interview-ferreira-da-silva/

Haraway, Donna. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

Jemisin, N.K. and Jessica Hurley. “An Apocalypse is a Relative Thing: An Interview with N. K. Jemisin.” ASAP/Journal 3, no. 3 (September 2018): 467-477

Mbembe, Achille. Necropolitics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019

Sharpe, Christina. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016

Timofeeva, Oaxana. “The End of the World: From Apocalypse to the End of History and Back.” e-flux journal 56 (June 2014). https://www.e-flux.com/journal/56/60337/the-end-of-the-world-from-apocalypse-to-the-end-of-history-and-back/

Williams, Evan Calder. Combined and Uneven Apocalypse: Luciferian Marxism. Washington: Zero Books, 2011

Yusoff, Kathryn. “White Utopia/Black Inferno: Life on a Geologic Spike.” e-flux journal 97 (February 2019). https://www.e-flux.com/journal/97/252226/white-utopia-black-inferno-life-on-a-geologic-spike/

— — — — — “Geologic Realism: On the Beach of Geologic Time.” Social Text 37, no. 1 (March 2019): 1-26

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Artists and Works

Miryam Charles

BIO

Miryam Charles is an experimental filmmaker and film producer based in Montreal. She has produced and photographed several short films as well as the feature films; Le pays des âmes and Nouvelles, Nouvelles. She is the director of Fly, fly sadness, Towards the coloniesA FortressDrei Atlas, and her latest Second Generation. Her films have been shown at various film festivals around the world. She is currently working on her first feature film Within this house.

 

WORK

Three Atlases, 2020
3-channel video installation, 16mm/HD video, colour, sound: 16 min. 16 sec.

Courtesy of the artist

 

CREDITS

Fly, Fly Sadness, 2015

Director: Miryam Charles
Script: Miryam Charles
Cast: Josue Mésadieu, Wenda Mesadieu, Hélène Mesadieu, Myrta Mesadieu, Edigh Charles,Milca Charles et Miryam Charles
Director of photography: Miryam Charles
Sound: Miryam Charles et Luc Boudrias
Editing: Miryam Charles
Artistic Director: Josue Mesadieu, Milca Charles
Original score : Miryam Charles
Production: Cheminée Deux
Productors: Miryam Charles and Michael Yaroshevsky

 

Towards the Colonies, 2016

Director: Miryam Charles
Script: Miryam Charles
Direction photo: Miryam Charles
Sound: Miryam Charles
Editing: Miryam Charles
Original score: Miryam Charles
Production: Cheminée Deux / Miryam Charles

 

A Fortress, 2018

Director: Miryam Charles
Script: Miryam Charles
Cast: Eve Duranceau, Annie Darisse, Florence Blain M’Baye, Matthew Rankin, Maxime DeCotret and Mariola Camillien
Director of photography: Miryam Charles
Sound: Miryam Charles
Editing: Miryam Charles
Original score: Miryam Charles
Production: Miryam Charles / Cheminée Deux

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

La Distributrice de films

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James Nicholas Dumile Goddard

BIO

James Nicholas Dumile Goddard (b. Nov. 14, 1986) is a Ndebele-Canadian sound artist, story-teller and experimental saxophonist. He currently lives and works in Montréal, QC. His work explores themes related to race, the speculative and economics. He performs solo, in the duos NYON & Platitudes and as part of the Egyptian Cotton Arkestra. His saxophone playing has been featured in recordings by indie rock outfit Ought and live with Godspeed! You Black Emperor. He’s worked in community radio, concert promotion and non-profit administration – these experiences inform an interest in non-hierarchy within his creative practice. He currently works with Suoni per il Popolo.

 

WORK

how will we hold onto each other, 2020
5-channel audio installation for public address system and hanging directional speakers. Duration of each audio segment: 31 min. 40 sec. (drone); 1 min. 53 sec.; 2 min. 3 sec.;

1 min. 33 sec.; 2 min. 15 sec.

 

Courtesy of the artist

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Skin Tone

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Rochelle Goldberg

BIO

Rochelle Goldberg’s (b. 1984, Vancouver; lives/works: New York) sculpture and installation asks how we can extrapolate beyond the assumed boundaries between living entities and objects. In her work, the material and conceptual distinctions between natural systems and the built environment collapse, synthesize and reform.

Goldberg’s notion of ‘intraction’ represents an in-between space, where the boundary between one entity and another is destabilized, and where the remains of encounters between multiple material and conceptual realities are articulated. Summoning historical, ecological, religious and poetic subjects, the range of her articulations has comprised ceramics, invertebrate shells, steel, celery roots, gold, carpets, chia seeds, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Egypt, brass, bronze, fish skeletons, plastics, polished metals, human hair, steam trains, pelicans, burnt matches, electrical switches, crocodile and snake skins, fibre optic light strands, and crude oil.

Goldberg was awarded the Battaglia Foundry Sculpture Prize #03 by the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, Milan (2018) paired with a solo exhibition (2019). Previous significant solo exhibitions include The Power Station, Dallas, USA (2019); Casa Masaccio Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea, San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy (2018); Miguel Abreu, New York (2017); GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy (2016); and SculptureCenter, Long Island City, USA (2016). She has also been included in numerous group exhibitions, recently at A plus A Gallery, Venice, Italy (2018); Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver (2018); Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard, Paris (2017); Whitney Museum, New York (2016); Dortmunder Kunstverein, Dortmund, Germany (2016); The Artist’s Institute, New York (2016); and Swiss Institute, New York (2015). She was Artist in Residence at The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas (2018); previous residencies include Atelier Calder, Saché, France (2017); and Thun Ceramic Residency, Bolzano, Italy (2016).

 

WORKS

Stomach, 2019
Glass bowls, water, cast bronze matches, celeriac, plastic sheeting, bed skirt, dispersion paint, polyester fabric, rebar
31 x 300 x 224 cm

Courtesy of Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver

 

Trigger: Towards everything they’ve ever wanted, 2019
Ranch fencing, batteries, LED fairy string lights, polyester curtain, aluminum light switches, cast bronze matches, copper wire
130 x 130 x 112 cm

Courtesy of Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver

 

Intralocutor: can you trigger the switch?, 2018
Brass light switches, cast bronze matches, dispersion paint, shellac, celeriac, chia, acrylic medium, steel, batteries, LED fairy string lights, polyester carpet, resin, glazed ceramic
182 x 276 x 279 cm

Courtesy of Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Rochelle Goldberg at Catriona Jeffries

 

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Fallon Simard

BIO

Fallon Simard’s memes and videos capture the conflicts created by colonialism, land, politics, and capitalism. The Anishinaabe-Metis artist makes moving and still images as an embodied and visceral response to Indigenous identity that dispels current tropes of Indigenous art. By contrast, Simard investigates intensity and burden as products of injustice(s), human rights violations, and colonial violence. In his videos and memes, Simard illustrates bad feelings and harms from different Indigenous contexts to reveal new modes and effects of colonial-capital-racial policy. Simard’s work mobilizes grief, intensity, and trauma as mitigation tools to colonial-capital policy.

 

WORKS

Prayers for Dreamy Boys, 2018
Video, colour, sound: 5 min. 20 sec.

 

Connected To Air, 2016
Video, colour: 3 min. 8 sec.

 

Terra Nullius 2000, 2016
Video, colour: 1 min. 7 sec.

 

Mercury Poisoning, 2016
Video, colour: 1 min. 11 sec.

 

Carbon Tax, 2017
Video, colour: 1 min. 33 sec.

 

Land Becomes Ghost, 2016
Video, colour, sound: 1 min. 31 sec.

Courtesy of the artist

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Artist’s website

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Malena Szlam

BIO

Malena Szlam is a Chilean artist and filmmaker working at the intersection of cinema, installation, and performance. Her practice explores the relationship between the natural world, perception, and intuitive process. The poetics developed through her time-based works and in-camera films engage the material and affective dimensions of analogue film practice.

Szlam’s work has been featured in numerous international showcases, including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, TIFF’s Wavelengths (Toronto), the New Directors/New Films (MoMA, Lincoln Center, New York), the Edinburgh International Festival, the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Norway), and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark). Solo screenings have been presented at Los Angeles Filmforum, San Francisco Cinematheque, and FICValdivia (Chile). Her latest film ALTIPLANO received numerous awards and was chosen as one of TIFF’s Top Ten Canadian Short Films of 2018.

Szlam currently resides in Montreal and is a member of Double Negative, an independent artists’ collective.

 

WORK

ALTIPLANO, 2018
35 mm/Video, colour, sound: 15 min. 30 sec.

Courtesy of the artist

 

CREDIT

Image and Editing: Malena Szlam
Sound Recording: Carlos Arias, James Benjamin, Susannah Buchan, Jacob Kirkegaard, Clive Oppenheimer and Ben Russell
Sound Design & Mix: James Benjamin, Mamo Koba and Malena Szlam (Breakglass Studios)
Producers: Oona Mosna and Malena Szlam
Colour Grading: Marc Boucrot (Film Factory)
Film Lab: Colorlab

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Vimeo

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Syrus Marcus Ware

BIO

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture, and he’s shown widely in galleries and festivals across Canada. He is part of the Performance Disability Art Collective and a core-team member of Black Lives Matter – Toronto. He has won several recognitions including the TD Diversity Award 2017, “Best Queer Activist” NOW Magazine 2005, and the Steinert and Ferreiro Award 2012.

 

WORK

Activist Wallpaper Series #3, 2020
Printed vinyl
400 x 1040 cm

Courtesy of the artist

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Artist’s website

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