E.7 Graduate Student Lightning Talks

E.7 Exposés éclairs des étudiant·es de cycles supérieurs

Fri Oct 22 / ven 21 oct / 9:00 – 10:30 PDT
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chair /

  • Benedict Fullalove, Alberta University of the Arts

For the first time, UAAC-AAUC is proud to feature Graduate Student Lightning Talks. The session is composed of 5-minute presentations of current graduate student research in the form of summations, case studies, or methodological approaches. This is an excellent platform for graduate students to discuss topics they are studying, practice presenting these topics, and engage with the broader academic community.

Pour la première fois, l'UAAC-AAUC est fière de présenter des exposés éclairs des étudiant·es de cycles supérieurs. Cette session est composée de présentations de 5 minutes sur les recherches actuelles des étudiant·es de cycles supérieurs sous forme de résumés focalisés, d'études de cas, ou d'approches méthodologiques. Il s'agit d'une excellente plate-forme pour les étudiant·es de cycles supérieurs de discuter des sujets qu'ils étudient, de s'entraîner à les présenter, et de s'engager auprès de la communauté universitaire au sens large.

Dr. Benedict Fullalove received an Honours BA in History from the University of Calgary in 1989 and subsequently studied at the Medieval Institute of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He completed his PhD in Art History at Duke University in Durham North Carolina in 2003. Ben's research is focused on questions of wilderness, landscape, and identity, specifically in the context of western Canada. He also has research interests in medievalism and in the politics of museums and collecting. Dr. Fullalove has taught at ACAD since the fall of 2000 and is an Associate Professor and Chair, School of Critical + Creative Studies.

E.7.1 Iterative Installation. Performative Conservation and Curatorial Praxis in the Canadian Art Museum

Mariah O'Brien, Université de Montréal

An examination of installation artworks and their associated documentation, my thesis project describes the co-production of meaning through material and discursive means and highlights the performative nature of curatorial work. Regularly acquired by Canadian art museums for more than two decades, installations challenge those charged with their care to re-examine institutional norms related to permanence, materiality, and authorship. Even in instances where artists offer explicit instructions for re-installation, the subjectivity of the interpretive task and the transposition of artworks into novel contexts leads to variations between presentations. This inquiry seeks to expose the forces that shape future presentations of a piece and hypothesizes that the ability to re-actualize installation relies on an understanding of both the conceptual framework established by the artist and the material properties of the artwork. Drawing on performance studies and post-structuralist theory, this project highlights the ways in which conservators and curators co-construct meaning and examines the practices that enable the perpetuation of installation. This "lightning" presentation will rapidly characterize installation art and situate my project within the larger context of museum collecting and the institutionalization of the medium. It will illustrate the performative nature of conservation and curatorial practice and emphasize the value of conceptualizing installations as iterative structures.

Mariah O'Brien (she/her) is a PhD student in art history and museology at the Université de Montréal. Examining contemporary installation art in Canadian museum collections, her research focuses on the scope of curatorial practice and the performative nature of conservation work. Prior to undertaking doctoral studies, Mariah completed a Master's degree in museology and studied collections management. She is a recipient of the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Award and currently works with the CIÉ/CO Research Group investigating new uses of museum collections and the Canada Research Chair in Citizen Museology.

E.7.2 Project Starjoun: An Exploration of Interactive Visual Storytelling

Tristan Olivier Balmokune, University of Windsor

The aim of this art project, Starjourn, is to investigate the correlation between traditional 2D film and immersive experiences. For the purpose of this discussion, a traditional 2D film is a fictional film with a pre-recorded, immutable narrative containing a beginning, middle, and end. The term immersive experience is used here to describe a visual fiction with an interactive and flexible narrative. Project Starjourn is comprised of two artworks, one being a traditional 2D animated short film and the other a companion digital immersive experience. Project Starjourn compares and contrasts two iterations of a visual narrative: a traditional 2D animated short film and its companion digital immersive experience. This project explores the role of the artist in accommodating two types of audiences: the traditional passive spectator and the immersive experience participant. It is necessary here to clarify exactly what is meant by a passive spectator or immersive participant. The first type of audience is a passive spectator commonly associated with traditional 2D films. A spectator cannot change or influence pre-recorded film narratives. The second variety is an immersive participant who is expected to be active and change or influence interactive narratives. This project accentuates the different artistic mindsets and techniques required to create a traditional 2D short film versus an immersive experience. Minimizing distractions helps stay focused on the necessities of the two separate audiences. Project Starjourn will use the same assets and plot for both works of art. Elements such as graphics, foley, music, art style, 3D models, and computer-generated characters will be identical. The project will evaluate the outcomes and any new questions that may arise.

Tristan Olivier Balmokune / I am an Ontario-based visual storyteller exploring the realms of immersive and interactive narratives. Graduated from ACAD in 2006 with a BFA in Media Arts and Digital Technologies, I have since been producing short films, commercials, animations, motion graphics and interactive installations. Now I am a master's candidate for Film and Media Arts at the University of Windsor. I have been investigating the correlations between traditional film narratives and immersive interactive experiences. My work often incorporates the humour I found growing up north in the Yukon in an immigrant family from Mauritius. Though trained as a filmmaker, I find myself more drawn towards animation and computer-generated imagery. I use a combination of cinematography and design aesthetics to create narrative environments rich with wonder and mystery.

E.7.3 Negotiating Seamlessness

Frank Jing Zhang, OCAD University

Seamlessness in traditional airbrushing reflects a pursuit of utopian perfection. Since the 1990s, the digital revolution and the cultural shift have shattered airbrushing as a popular art form in both commercial and fine art production. Today, airbrush practice becomes a peripheral discipline in the technology-driven, consumer-based and institution-controlled economy. Instead of working for the mainstream, airbrushing survives in customization and subculture aesthetics. The retreat of airbrushing from modernity poses the questions of how to extend this art form into contemporary art practice and how to redefine the social and cultural meaning of seamlessness in the current digital age. Exploring the social implication of seamlessness in airbrush art from its popularity to the periphery, and ask what is the connection between the smooth gradient in airbrush art to Jeff Koons' slick sculpture and the frictionless iPhone, this paper proposes to re-exam the meaning of seamlessness that Byung Chul Han describes as smoothness in our contemporary social-technological- economic contexts. In the light of a reassessment between Nicolas Bourriaud's discussion in Relational Aesthetics and Claire Bishop's criticism in Antagonism, this paper investigates what lies beneath the consensual harmony in participatory and socially engaged art practice, focusing specifically on the conflict and mediation in which antagonism, agonism and negotiation are the inherent part of the democratic process and social dynamics. Taking the art gallery as the arena to engage theory and praxis, this research explores the artworks that trigger conflicts and negotiations in the ambience of the gallery. It investigates the blurred boundaries between consensus and conflict, between center and periphery, and between inclusion and exclusion. Lastly, through theorizing and redefining the meaning of seamlessness from the aesthetic, social and cultural aspects of airbrush art, my research aims to question the inclusivity of art institutions in social and cultural production.

Frank Jing Zhang is a commercial artist who specializes in airbrush art and custom design. He graduated from Ontario College of Art and Design University in Illustration and received his MDes from York University. His practice ranges from illustration, graphic design, airbrush art and community teaching. Frank is currently studying at OCADU as a MA student and focusing on his interest in participatory and socially engaged art. His research theorizes the meaning of seamlessness in airbrush painting in connection with contemporary art discourse of Relational Aesthetics and Antagonism. His artwork explores the process of negotiation as a social dynamic that mediates conflicts toward public consensus. Using participatory methodology, Frank is working on creating socially engaging artwork that brings conflict and negotiation to challenge the conventional gallery space. His work explores the possibility of using art to stimulate active social imagination and participation through interactions and activities.

E.7.4 AGHAST Museum

James Grau, University of Denver

AGHAST is an approach that proposes hybrid methodologies and a new breed of cultural institution. Far from being a roadside attraction, the AGHAST Museum would facilitate cross-disciplinary discussion and research, and support creative and professional development for those engrossed in the expressions and topics depicted therein. AGHAST methodology would seek to expand upon six "categories" of art, and within those categories feature works of art that may be deemed by mainstream museums as too inappropriate, "low," or taboo for the public, whilst also connecting such artworks, their categories, and themes to the art historical canon. AGHAST would endeavour to develop theory and parameters within each of its six categories while also embracing certain aesthetic themes, which may be perceived as disturbing. Furthermore, works curated under the AGHAST methodology will often exhibit overlap between categories, thus expanding narrative possibilities exponentially. The six categories of AGHAST are: art of the Arcane, Grotesque, Horrific, Atavistic, Scientific, and Traumatic. Partly, the concept stems from the author's response to art historical research on the "grotesque," a category that seems to be an ever-expanding receptacle for art that is otherwise difficult to address. Furthermore, the author estimates there to be significant, unharnessed potential in bridging AGHAST-featured works with public awareness, civic engagement, and community health. If successful, AGHAST's socially redeeming value combined with its curious and often thrill-seeking audience from a broad spectrum would hopefully reshuffle the deck in who connects with museums and how.

James Grau / Filmmaker, audio producer, and Art History and Museum Studies MA student with extensive international relations and military background and near-native German fluency. Focused on founding a museum (AGHAST Museum) that uses themes such as the art of the Grotesque, Scientific, and Traumatic by which the institution may re-approach public awareness and engagement. Also focused on further establishing the Denver metro area as a hub for AGHAST-oriented arts through education, programming, and facilitation of creative projects.

E.7.5 Prejudice and Generalization: Museum Establishment History in Nigeria

Titilope Salami, University of British Columbia

Nigerian museums were established and interpreted by the British colonialists, the same people who historize Nigeria's art and culture. During the colonial period, Africans were seen as retarded and uncivilized; therefore, the Europeans who went to Africa were there with the intention of changing them and teaching them how to live in a way that was deemed acceptable by the Europeans who presented themselves as superiors. They created a narrative about Africa which was dominated by their Western perspective and experience as visitors. Unfortunately, African museums, with a specific focus on Nigeria, have continued to uphold the same history attached to their establishment with little or no change. How might we rewrite Nigerian museum histories to reflect the locals' accounts and understanding? With the use of Foucault's idea of Dispositif, I will examine the history of museums in Nigeria, explaining how ethnicity, class, and educational and professional backgrounds have continued to influence the discourse and practice in the museums.

Titilope Salami, an artist and curator, is a lecturer of visual art at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Her group exhibitions include: Jubilation (2014), Diversiform (2018), Strength of Women (2019), On and On (2019), and she participated in Red Day (2017) performance with Jelili Atiku. She also facilitated a curating class with an exhibition — Inception (2018). She is guest curator of the exhibition: Sankofa, African Routes, Canadian Roots (MOA 2021) and is currently conducting her PhD research in the history and policies of West African museums at the University of British Columbia, Canada. She is a recipient of SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2021–24), Four Year Doctoral Fellowship (2021–24), and Graduate Support Initiative (2019–21).

E.7.6 Structures of Crisis: A Study of National Museum and National Monument of Pakistan

Varda Nisar, Concordia University

My doctoral research investigates the history and narrative of two national structures, namely the National Museum of Pakistan, Karachi (1970) and the National Monument of Pakistan, Islamabad (2007), in relation to the local, regional/global narratives prevalent at the time of their conceptualization. Conceived and patronized by military dictators, my research aims to reframe these national cultural sites as structures of crisis. This crisis should be understood as a multidirectional phenomenon that existed for both the military regimes and the various ethnic-linguistic minorities within Pakistan. The creation of these structures then should be seen as a way of presenting the nation as a homogenous, fixed entity — a narrative that was revived to undermine the demands of equality and justice by these ethnic minorities. Furthermore, my research aims to establish how the narratives and even the way the Pakistani nation has been conceptualized has its root in the colonial knowledge formation which took place in the South Asian colony. As such, both the narratives of the nation-state and the military regime should be seen as nothing less than colonial legacies themselves. However, it remains critical for this research to discuss those sites of resistance that have continued to challenge these legacies. The research, therefore, will foreground the alternate spaces that present a counter-narrative to that of the state. My presentation for this conference will be a brief summation and will focus on highlighting the context in which these structures came to be conceived (Cold War, modernization, decolonization, 9/11, and War on Terror) and how they have come to define the nation to ensure that the interest of military regimes, or our new colonial masters, were not disturbed.

Varda Nisar is a PhD candidate in the Art History Department at Concordia University. Previously, she headed the Karachi Biennale's Educational Program, as well as established a Children's ArtFest. She was a 2015–16 Fellow for Arthink South Asia; in 2012, she participated in a Cultural Heritage Workshop, organized by Smithsonian, University of Wisconsin, and American Institute of Pakistan Studies. Currently, her research is focused on national narratives in national institutions in Pakistan and the role they play in creating a hegemonic identity for the postcolonial nation-state. Her previous research on the Silawat Community — the original stonemasons in her city of Karachi — has been presented in a number of conferences.

E.7.7 Constructing and Responding to Antiquity: Emotions and Assemblages in the Ludovisi Collection

Tyler Rockey, Temple University

This project is a step towards a greater study of the role that the senses and emotions play in the arranging and experiencing of antiquities collections and the decisions that influence the restoration efforts of ancient sculptures in the early 17th century. Looking at the Ludovisi collection, formed mostly in the early 1600s, we find no shortage of heavily restored works. But three of them could be considered more 17th-century creation than ancient artefact, with interventions that create identities and narratives from the assembling of disparate fragments. Furthermore, all three of these works appeal to the emotions and ask for a reciprocal engagement with a viewer. The ambiguity of embodied rhetorical appeals is central to the ill-defined subject of a statue group at times identified as a Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, and at others a Cupid and Psyche, which I believe to be precisely the point when examined in its immediate context of display, juxtaposed with representations of similarly entwining figures that demand an emotional judgment and a mental engagement on the part of the viewer to supply a finale to the narrative of either pleasure or sexual violence. The assembling of this "17th-century antique" and its placement within this context may potentially indicate an essential organizing factor of theatrics and different connotations of the sense of touch. Similarly, the interventions creating two Apollo Kitharoidoi create new antiques that participate in the emotive power of music, and as likely the first statues in the loggia of the Ludovisi Casa Grande, they implore a viewer to experience the subsequent works of the collection beyond the obvious sense of sight.

Tyler Rockey is a PhD student studying the Italian Renaissance. His research pursuits are the labile conceptions of temporality and originality in works "after the antique" and the physical and semiotic instabilities of classical sculptures and fragments in early modern antiquities collections. Underpinning these are interests in Renaissance philosophy and theories of art. He received his BA in Art History from Penn State University, with a minor in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, followed by a MA from the University of Massachusetts.

E.7.8 Visual Ethnography of India in the 18th Century: Collection of Comte de Lally-Tollendal (1755)

Aditi Gupta, Jawaharlal Nehru University

In this 5-minute presentation, I would like to present an album that constitutes a part of my primary sources called Arts et Métiers de l'Inde. Commissioned by the famous Comte de Lally-Tollendal in 1755 in South India, this album contains 100 illustrations depicting castes and major occupations of Indians at the time. It also illustrates the costumes of different Indian communities. I would like to argue that this album might have marked the start of visual ethnography in 18th century India. Among the nine collections of South Indian paintings housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris that were commissioned by several French military officers, Arts et Métiers stands out for its use of dull colours, its meticulous organization of occupations and castes, and finally its wonderful attempt at depicting the "Self" for the "Other."

Dans cette communication, j'aimerais présenter Arts et Métiers de l'Inde, album de peintures indiennes qui fait partie des sources primaires de ma thèse de doctorat. Commandé par le célèbre comte de Lally-Tollendal en 1755 en Inde du Sud, cet album contient cent illustrations représentant les castes et les principales occupations des Indiens de l'époque. Dépeignant également les costumes de différentes communautés indiennes, cet album pourrait avoir marqué le début de l'ethnographie visuelle dans l'Inde du XVIII siècle. Parmi les neuf collections impériales conçues en Inde du Sud conservées à la Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Arts et Métiers se distingue par son utilisation de couleurs ternes, son organisation méticuleuse des métiers et des castes des Indiens, et enfin sa merveilleuse tentative de dépeindre le Soi pour l'Autre.

Aditi Gupta / Doctoral student at the Centre for French and Francophone Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, I work in the interdisciplinary field of cultural studies that engages in literature, visual studies and history. In 2019, I submitted my MA dissertation titled L'Inde imagée dans la collection impériale de Jean-Baptiste Gentil. Since then, I have been working on my doctoral dissertation focusing on the Indo-French cultural relations during the 18th century. Recently, I've taught a course in History and Civilisation of Early Modern France to 3rd-semester students of BA (Hons.) French at JNU for one semester.

E.7.9 Asian Collections in Canadian Art Museums in Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Sisi Li, University of Regina

Asian collections have been interpreted, represented and displayed in different types of Canadian museums. This project emerges at a critical moment, when museums are grappling with new models designed to make museums more accurate collection positioning features, more flexible development of research directions as well as accessible and inclusive of the diverse communities to which the collections are related. My project divides Asian collections into three categories for research in Canadian museums: art (visual art), culture (material objects), ethnographic (works other than visual art and material objects). Each Canadian museum has a relatively preferred Asian collection theme, and these themes can correspond to the above three types of Asian collections (art, culture, ethnographic), respectively. I classify and analyze Canadian museums according to the above three types of Asian collections and then select the most representative museums for case studies. According to the case studies of these three types of Asian collections, it is possible to analyze how Canadian Asian collections follow the evolution of ideas in Canadian art history and how the interpretation of Asian collections in Canadian museums has changed in order to be more inclusive and to demonstrate awareness of diverse communities, audiences, perceptions, and expectations. The ultimate goal is to understand the unique status of Asian art in Canada and the significance of Canadian museums in the world and provide theoretical help for the Canadian Museum to establish a more complete collection system.

Sisi Li is a doctoral student of Art History in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance at the University of Regina. The focus of her research and publications is the material and cultural exchanges between Asia and the West, especially the Asian collections in the Canadian Museums. Her most recent paper, "The Western timepieces in China from the late Ming to the middle of the Qing Dynasty," is published in Cross-Cultural Communication (2021), and her most recent co-authored book is Visual Information Design (Peking University Press, 2017). She is now participating in a project (2020–23) to build an international curriculum supported by the Ministry of Education of China, and the course will target countries in need around the world.


Much gratitude to the sponsor of this session.

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