Sak vid pa kanpe!

Third act of the QUADrature project

Curator: Musée d’art actuel / Département des invisibles

Artists: Francisco Gonzalez-Rosas, Marie La Vierge, Yonel Charles, Anahita Norouzi, Eliza Olkinitskaya


January 14, 2021 -

Opening: January 14, 2021, 4:00 pm

Galerie de l’UQAM is pleased to present the third act of QUADrature, a series of four exhibitions conceived specifically for digital screens: Sak vid pa kanpe! (An empty bag can’t stand straight!). This edition, curated by Musée d’art actuel / Département des invisibles, brings together artists Francisco Gonzalez-Rosas, Marie La Vierge and Yonel Charles, Anahita Norouzi as well as Eliza Olkinitskaya, so as to highlight the body’s political dimension, be it by its presence or absence. Galerie de l’UQAM can once again count on the expertise of Montréal design studio LOKI, tasked with giving the look-and-feel of the project.

The exhibition

The Musée d’art actuel / Département des invisibles is a travelling museum whose mission is to spark critical thinking by presenting a plural and inclusive reading of current issues in contemporary art. As a museum for the 21st century, MAADI aims above all to be a place to reflect on the museum as a platform for social and collective liberation. Adopting the Creole proverb Sak vid pa kanpe! (An empty bag can’t stand upright!), MAADI is presenting the third exhibition from QUADrature, which highlights the political dimension of the body as a vehicle driven by the desire for social transformation. The exhibition features the artistic research of Marie La Vierge and Yonel Charles, Eliza Olkinitskaya, Anahita Norouzi and Francisco Gonzalez-Rosas in a temporality marked by the presence and absence of bodies.

Excerpt from “Manifeste des inconnus”

“We declare this place as a space for collective creation where we are all equal.

We demand, here and now, a cultural and social liberation that enhances all that we are—yes, you like me, with your unique and particular skin colour.

I am an earthling, we are earthlings. I am what you are looking at—a black man, a white woman, a red elephant, a thousand-coloured quetzal. I am Medusa, with my penetrating gaze and my coif of a thousand serpents that rattle the conscience of humanity.

We are the nobodys, the homeless, the undocumented, the temporary workers, the refugees, the artists, the racialized people who champion a Republic with myriad accents.

I invite you to join us in this sacred place to embark upon a new quiet revolution that rejects the monochromatic convenience of art.

I invite you to join us, so that together we can rewrite the history of our society, in all its plurality.

Let’s stop undervaluing difference and address the root causes of systemic exclusion in the arts.

Let’s bring about the emergence of other realities, with their cultural particularities and identities.”

About the curator

The Musée d’art actuel / Département des invisibles (MAADI) reveals interdisciplinary and intercultural artistic practices in contemporary art from Quebec and across Canada, including the plural ethnic make-up of society. A place of belonging, it aspires to celebrate the creative diversity of Montreal, Quebec and Canada, and seeks to facilitate encounters with immigrant and First Nations artists. It aims to contribute to the sharing of power in art institutions to democratize their authority and decolonize art’s historic narratives, notably through its collection. Artist Stanley Février is MAADI’s director and chief curator, and art historian Nuria Carton de Grammont is assistant to the director and curator.

About the artists

Francisco Gonzalez-Rosas is a Chilean performance and new media artist. His practice combines performance, video, sound and installation, exploring questions of representation, gender, race, sexuality, digital culture and the use of technology. He holds a BA in acting (Finis Terrae University, Santiago, Chile) and an MFA in studio arts from Concordia University. His work has been exhibited in Italy, China, the US, Poland, Chile, Canada, Czech Republic and the UK.

Born to a Haitian mother and a German father, Marie La Vierge grew up in Montreal. An artist, committed activist and translator, she studied philosophy and anthropology. La Vierge founded the Association pour la protection des espaces verts de L’Île-Bizard and Solidarité Québec-Haïti. She is also co-founder of Solidarité NABRO, a group that supports an Anicinabe community in the Abitibi region that opposes deforestation. She has worked with GRIS-Montréal (Groupe de recherche et d’intervention sociale), which fights homophobia, and participated in the Black Lives Matter movement in New York. An anti-colonial anarchist, she has been working for the past 15 years with various Montreal groups and initiatives that combat capitalism, racism, colonialism, patriarchy and social injustice, and advocate for the preservation of nature, people and peoples. She is especially passionate about the political and social situation in Ayiti.

Born in Jakmel, Ayiti, Yonel Charles has been a professional choreographer, dancer, actor and singer for more than 23 years. He studied dance with Viviane Gauthier and the Ballet Folklorique d’Haïti, as well as drama at the National Theatre in Port-au-Prince. His choreographic style combines traditional Ayitian dance, contemporary dance and theatre. Over the years, he has participated in several international events, including the Karifiesta (Trinidad and Tobago), and every edition of the Ghetto Biennale since 2008 (Jakmel, Ayiti). Charles has also been an LGBTQ+ activist for more than 20 years. He founded the LGBTQ+ dance and theatre company Marasa Rak, which welcomes people who have been expelled from their families or from other schools. In addition, he manages Peace House (Pétion-ville), a shelter for LGBTQ+ people in distress. The shelter also serves as a company and school where Charles teaches performing arts, providing the young people with opportunities to express themselves, build their self-esteem and earn a living.

Anahita Norouzi is originally from Tehran and now lives in Montreal. Her interdisciplinary practice includes installation, sculpture, photography and video. She holds university degrees in fine arts and French literature from Concordia University. For the past 10 years, she has frequently travelled between Iran and Canada to conduct research and pursue her work, which deals with problems of memory and identity from a psycho-historical perspective. She actively questions the dichotomous conditions that arise from her perspective as an Iranian citizen and distant observer of her culture of origin from Canada. Norouzi has participated in several solo and group exhibitions internationally. She has recently exhibited her work in Germany, Iran and Canada. She was a finalist for the Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Award, and her work has been exhibited at the Royal College of Art in London and in Dubai.

Eliza Olkinitskaya was born in Moscow and has lived in Montreal since 2012. With a bachelor’s degree in visual and media arts from UQAM, she is a multidisciplinary artist whose work is at the crossroads of the visual arts, film and theatre. Olkinitskaya has exhibited at Galerie de l’UQAM, GHAM & DAFE, Magasin d’Arprim, a hands-on printmaking centre, and Maison de la culture Maisonneuve. In 2018, she participated in the Chantier de recherche sur l’image imprimée et photographique, a group residency at L’imprimerie, centre d’artistes. In 2019, she spent four months in the Moscow studio Tseh animatsii during a residency at Noise-anima Lab. The performance Voilà ce qui fait ce bruit, resulting from this residency, was presented at TSTI Fabrika (Moscow) in the winter of 2020.

About QUADrature

QUADrature is inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Quad (1980), a work created for television in which four actors move laterally or diagonally in quadrangular set, according to a set of strictly determined instructions. Presented for the first time in 1981 under the author’s direction, Quad is characterised by scenic restraint, minimalism, and abstraction; actors traverse the stage in every possible permutation of their permitted movements, the four analogous figures moving from solitude to unity without ever touching each other, leaving centre stage empty at all times. The first iteration of Quad originally broadcast on German television was then reproduced with slight variations, at the author’s instigation.

Beckett’s work resonates strikingly with the global pandemic reality facing us today. Quad is confined to the television screen, its actors to a confined area; the anonymity, concealed faces, and repetitive movements will seem familiar to many of us. Likewise, QUADrature has emerged in a context of digital screens, masked individuals moving routinely in predetermined areas, social and physical distancing. Between two people, there is always already an empty space that Beckett referred to as the “danger zone.”

With the support of Galerie de l’UQAM colleagues Anne Philippon and Philippe Dumaine, director Louise Déry has conceived QUADrature as a locus in which four guest curators develop an iteration of the project, each involving four artists. The virtual exhibits in this series will be released over the course of several months, in keeping with the Beckettian dramaturgy of Quad, culminating in a final presentation of works by all four curators and sixteen artists. While QUADrature is conceived for the digital arena, the notion of shortcoming is germane to its form: it is intended as a forum for curatorial experimentation, interrogation, trial-and-error, and new beginnings. We hold out hope that under ideal circumstances, the works in this series will be shown in the physical space of Galerie de l’UQAM so that they might be enjoyed in their full, experiential materiality.

More on QUADrature

The first iteration of Quad:
Samuel Beckett, Quad I+II, 1981, Betacam SP, PAL, colour, sound, Centre Georges Pompidou Collection, France

Directed by Samuel Beckett and broadcast on Germany’s Süddeutscher Rundfunk on October 8, 1981, as Quadrat I+II (in two distinct stagings). In rehearsal, Beckett intimated that “between the two parts there is an intermission of 100,000 years.”

The text:
Samuel Beckett, Quad et autres pièces pour la télévision, followed by L’Épuisé by Gilles Deleuze. Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 106 p., 1992

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