Culture | Art Still Matters

Victoria Lessard ventures to Concordia’s student art festival

In another installation of interviews, The Daily investigates the creative minds behind Art Matters, Concordia’s fine art festival.

 

Hey, Um, I’m Sorry that I Killed You: A Performance Piece of Mourning, Guilt and Disregard, 2011

Caleb Feigin

 

The McGill Daily (MD): Tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your specific area of interest in terms of medium?

Caleb Feigin (CF): I’m starting at Concordia, and I’m making up this major in Sexuality studies, so most of the work I’m doing at school is theoretical stuff and I also participate in activism and create art. I really like performance art because it’s a mixture of all those three things. This is going to be my second public performance at “Citation.”

MD: What is the performative aspect to Hey, Um, I’m Sorry that I Killed You: A Performance Piece of Mourning, Guilt and Disregard (2011)?

CF: Essentially, it’s a performance piece, but there is an installation component that people can interact with as well. There is a pool that’s filled with things I collected from people, from friends, or that I found – it’s filled with things that help them to live, or that makes living more difficult. It’s a really interactive piece, people can come and take stuff from the pool, or put things in. I’m performing at the opening on Wednesday, and on Saturday as well. What I’m doing is really an anti-performance – I’ll be dressed up in drag, and I’m just going to be standing, doing nothing; and then I will be drowning myself in the pool filled with these meaningful things.

MD: Was there a particular event that inspired your performance?

CF: The performance is about mourning. The whole process of me drowning myself is a message to a friend who committed suicide; he drowned. I wanted to make an artwork about it, I was thinking about it so much – it was a long process, he passed away two years ago. I started researching suicide prevention and techniques to stop suicide. Basically, the research I did showed that queer kids are the most prone to committing suicide, and I found this really interesting and bizarre, especially the way in which the media discusses this issue and my experience through this friend. Through my research, I saw that there were two trends to why suicide happens: the way that people talk about suicide, they always say, “Oh, this person was crazy, they had mental issues”, and obviously there are bullying and social factors as well. Both of these things are valid, but for me it felt wrong to let everyone off the hook. There was no research saying that there are things we, people, do that cause suicide – it’s not abstract. My performance is talking about that; I’m performing my feelings of guilt, and how I think this guilt is not something that just I feel. We are all guilty for making this world the way that it is. The whole point is for the audience to see the pool, and see if the representational things inside of the pool have no effect on you, or if you look closer and see that this really intense thing is happening.

MD: In honour of the mandate of the festival, tell me why art matters to you.

CF: My performance is a pretty good example of how the lines between art and politics mesh. Art matters because it has potential to change things, or make people feel differently about things in a way they couldn’t if they were just reading about it. Art makes you confront things and ideas that you wouldn’t otherwise. “Citation” is a really cool show about the body and gender, and we [the artists] all have these different approaches that are all really cool and meaningful.

 

 

 

Untitled Series, 2011

Peter Bleumortier

 

MD: Tell me a little bit about yourself – how did you decide to become an artist? What is your specific area of interest in terms of medium?

Peter Bleumortier (PM): I’m interested mainly in photography and video art, but also have been known to explore other mediums. I’ve always been interested in the arts but I think I was driven to photography mainly for documentary purposes.

MD: What is the intent or artistic conception behind your prints?

PB: It’s a typology of male nudes, mainly friends or people I know, ranging from twenty to thirty years old. I hope to play with the space between the subjective and the objective; in this work subjects appear as objects.  By looking at the male nude I aim to question the reception of the male versus female body in a gallery context – in a way, this is a feminist project. Here, seemingly objective bodies may reveal themselves as subjective reflections. Their respective stances produce cues of their subjectivity, helping to destabilize the conceptual identity of the male form.

MD: In creating a stripped down portrait of the nude, what do you feel you are revealing about perceptions of identity, especially sexual identity?

PB: These figures, stripped of almost any reference to the world outside of their bodies, begin to nod signals of who they are: a hand, an awkward posture, an oblong glance. [These gestures] reveal multitudes despite [the subjects’] stark nakedness. Here, both the comfort and anxiety of the model may reveal to us something of their selfhood. Exhibitionist arrogance and self-conscious posing alike may tell us something of their character. The slipping-off of their clothing is a corollary shedding of constructed identity: left are intensified layers of selfhood.

MD: What response do you hope to evoke from viewers?

PB: I hope that this work is somewhat confrontational or unsettling. I want to reveal something of selfhood by acknowledging the subject’s character. The viewer’s gaze may equally register as my own; the naked bodies of my [subjects] mirror my body through the camera lens. They are objectified nude men staring back to the (presumably) clothed viewer behind the lens.

MD: In honour of the mandate of the festival, tell me why art matters to you.

PB: I hate to sound preachy or cliche but, in tough economic times, art programs are usually the first to be cut, when, in reality, they are what “matter” the most. The arts aim to question and redefine history. With art we can achieve real social and political change, it is a way of not only coping, but is also a tool that will define and redefine our culture and its values by means of intervention.

 

 

Ovum, 2011

Léa Trudel

 

MD: Tell me a little bit about yourself – how did you decide to become an artist? What is your specific area of interest in terms of medium?

Léa Trudel (LT): I was born and raised in Montreal, QC. I don’t know that I ever decided to become an artist, but I believe that coming from a family of creative thinkers has contributed a lot to my artistic growth. I was passionate about photography from a young age, but my practice now also includes experimental video animation and installation.

MD: Your video and photographs evoked scientific photographs and medical videos of the inside of the body in a very realistic manner – how did you create these pieces?

LT: Ovum was made by observing various plant, mineral, and animal specimens through a microscope. Recently, I have been interested in using optical mechanisms of the sciences and extending their function to the arts. The controls of the microscope allow me to animate and navigate this world that is invisible to the naked human eye.

MD: I found Ovum really compelling, as it brings up so many different themes. I felt as though there was an exploration of the ephemeral experience of the human body. What was your artistic intention in creating Ovum? Was there a prominent issue you felt that you were exploring?

LT: I find it very interesting that you get a sense of ephemerality from my piece. It was my intention to give a certain life back to these specimens of microbiology, which are removed from their source and origin to become objects of scientific study. In a sense, photography does the same – it has the ability to negate and transform a reality into a new context. I became interested in the mediated nature of scientific study and how this might parallel the act of photographing. Also, I am fascinated by the beauty of microbiology and how it might mimic the infinite reaches of the cosmos – a kind of micro/macro relationship.

MD: In honour of the mandate of the festival, tell me why art matters to you.

LT: Art matters to me because communication is important to me. I find it exciting to be a part of a community of creative people that are passionate about expressing their ideasO


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