Somewhere, Otherwise

Deuxième volet du projet QUADrature

Curator: Ariane De Blois

Artists: Anna Binta Diallo, faye mullen, Mona Sharma, Leila Zelli


October 23, 2020 -

Opening: October 22, 2020, 5:00 pm

Pursuing its project conceived for the virtual arena, QUADrature, Galerie de l’UQAM will present the second of four acts: Somewhere, Otherwise. Curated by Ariane De Blois, the exhibition delves into connectivity at present and invites the public to discover new perspectives and ways of understanding the world through the works of Anna Binta Diallo, faye mullen, Mona Sharma and Leila Zelli. The gallery will be maintaining its fruitful collaboration with Montréal design studio LOKI, tasked with giving the look-and-feel of the QUADrature initiative as a whole.

The exhibition

At a time when we are feeling the pain of the ban on gatherings and information and communication technologies are among our only means of maintaining ties with others, questioning our ways of being in the world has become a pressing issue, particularly in light of the serious and systemic violence that many communities and populations suffer, both here and elsewhere.

In his essay Habiter le monde, the economist and writer Felwine Sarr argues that the many crises we are experiencing (climate, migration, rising extremism) are intertwined and stem from a single crisis of relationality. Despite greater global connectivity, relationships between individuals, groups and societies and with the natural world that is our home continue to be deeply marked by patterns of domination. These can, however, be replaced by a reconfiguration of narrative and visual regimes.

Like many “countervisualities,” the works in Somewhere, Otherwise poetically attempt to depict the world differently. Through personal proposals and openly situated points of view, the artists faye mullen, Mona Sharma, Anna Binta Diallo and Leila Zelli cross-explore the entanglement of temporalities and histories, and the unequal sharing of space, territory and the imaginary.

While the Internet continues to perpetuate power biases and serves as a breeding ground for extremist ideas, voices, views and stories that are too often eclipsed still manage to make their way onto the screen. By using images circulating on the Web as raw material, remixing them and staging them respectively in their works, the four artists bring out unique perspectives, countering the usual visual regime. So that from the surface of the screen to real life, there is a transfer of new affects.

About the curator

Ariane De Blois holds a PhD in Art History from McGill University and has been working as an author, researcher and curator in the contemporary art scene for the past fifteen years. The artistic director at Plein sud, centre d’exposition en art actuel (Longueuil), she was on esse arts + opinions magazine’s editorial board from 2014 to 2018. Her various curatorial projects were shown at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Havana Biennial, Stadtgalerie in Bern and the Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City.

About the artists

Anna Binta Diallo was born in Dakar (Senegal) and raised in Saint-Boniface (Winnipeg) on ​​the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. She is currently based in Montréal, or Tio’tia:ke, on the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka. She is a Canadian multidisciplinary visual artist who investigates memory and nostalgia to create unexpected narratives surrounding identity. She completed a BFA from the University of Manitoba (2006) and obtained an MFA in Creative Practice from the Transart Institute, Berlin (2013). Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in exhibitions in Winnipeg, Montréal,Toronto, Vancouver, Keuruu (Finland) and Berlin (Germany). Diallo has been the recipient of multiple grants and honours. In 2019, her work was selected as a shortlisted finalist for the Salt Spring National Art Prize.

Informed by a sculptural sensibility combining a practice of observation through gesture in a variety of media including site-specific interventions, sound installations and image-making both moving and still, faye mullen‘s practice adapts to relational contexts and is informed by community responsibilities in the capacity of le’nikónirare.  As a 2S mixed person of Anishinaabe and settler heritage, their practice reaches toward horizontality worlding queer imaginings and decolonial ways of being. faye holds a BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design (Toronto) and the École supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris, and is a recipient of an MFA from the University of Toronto and a diploma from Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains (Tourcoing, France). Their work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in Asia, Australia, Europe and across their home lands on Turtle Island. They currently situate their practice in and alongside the community of Tiohtiá:ke / Mooniyang / Montréal navigating efforts to lift the voices of kin, bridge understandings, and honour sacred silences.

Mona Sharma is a first-generation Canadian artist of South Asian descent who lives and works in Montréal. She obtained her MFA (2012) and BFA (2007) in Painting and Drawing from Concordia University. Directly inspired by tensions induced by the diverse nature of her background, her goal through art has been to foster a more critical understanding of how we form as individuals and function as a society. She has exhibited her art in galleries across Canada (Montréal, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton among others) as well as the United States, and has received numerous awards and grants such as those presented by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts and MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels).

Born in Tehran (Iran), Leila Zelli lives and works in Montréal. She holds an MFA (2019) and a BFA (2016) in Visual and Media Arts from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Zelli is interested in the relationship that we have with the ideas of “others” and “elsewhere” and more specifically within this geopolitical space often referred to by the questionable term “Middle East.” Her work has been shown, among others, at the Bradley Ertaskiran Gallery (2020), at the Conseil des arts de Montréal (2019-2020), at Galerie de l’UQAM (2019, 2015) and at the Foire en art actuel in Québec (2019). Her works are part of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts collection, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec’s Prêt d’oeuvres d’art collection and the Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul collection.

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. In the 1981 premiere, directed by the author, a beam of differently coloured light matched each performer, who in turn employed a specific set of sounds throughout the piece. The four performers were of similar height and indeterminate gender, and each wore a long, hooded tunic that shrouded their face. The first iteration of Quad originally broadcast on German television was then reproduced with slight variations, at the author’s instigation. 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.

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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