The Performative Urbanism Lab for Spatial, Social, and Scenographic Experimentation (PULSE) focuses on critical performance design practices in cities and approaches performative urbanism as a mode of address for rehearsing, experimenting, and developing critical spatial practices that can be embodied across a variety of scales and enacted in the way we live, work, and play in the city. Given the uptake of urban labs and city studios within municipal planning practices, and the widespread interest in “making the city,” what critical role do spatial, social and scenographic intervetions play in the production of the urban?
In seeking to address this question and others, PULSE hosts seasonal salon events with artists and researchers engaged in acts of performative urbanism. Each salon will address a different theme with participants from diverse disciplines and fields presenting excerpts, perspectives, provocations and vignettes from their work.
Poster design: Eduardo Perez
Dr Tony Antakly
Winning the uphill fight that saved historic Notman Garden
The role of Citizen’s advocacy, art, heritage, politics, and academics
Tony is a professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at the Université de Montréal (UdeM), who also has a keen interest in environmental and heritage issues. He received two doctoral degrees in cell biology and medical histo-chemistry followed by post-doctoral studies at Columbia University and the National Institutes of Health in the United States. His main scientific research areas are in steroid hormones, and natural products with therapeutic benefits. Some of his findings have had clinical impacts, particularly in cancer and inflammation and the object of human clinical trials currently in development.
It is known that numerous chemical toxins (such as dioxanes and environmental estrogens) which are largely industrial waste products, bind to steroid receptors in the body once absorbed. However, unlike natural steroids which are essential for normal physiology, they stimulate abnormal cellular effects, including cancer and other diseases. Hence, Tony is an adept of healthy living and the importance of trees and clean air, which are a central part of fighting disease. When he saw that the Notman Garden with its magnificent centennial trees were being threatened by the construction of a condominium housing complex, he reacted by co-founding a citizen’s advocacy group to stop the project. After more than eight years of struggle, street demonstrations, political representations and art venues around the Notman garden, the Group finally won, when the City of Montreal bought the Notman Garden in 2018 to preserve this heritage and green site.
Janice Ka-Wa Cheung
The T[ ]
Janice Ka-Wa Cheung was born in Hong Kong. In 2017, she completed her studies in media art at City University of Hong Kong. Janice's MPhil research looked at the eye of the embodied spectator in interactive installations, resulting in several conference presentations and publications. Janice is currently a Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Humanities at Concordia University. Under the supervision of Dr. David Jhave Johnston, Janice continues to pursue research-creation with an interest in the notion of self in media art. Janice is eager to examine embodied self-exploration and the self-presentation of artists, and questions how artists and spectators use art to construct their own identity. For more of her works, visit her website: http://www.janice-cheung.com/
This is the Information Age, information is flowing and circulating around us in every moment. Thanks to the internet, we can try to learn, search, seek for whatever information we need remotely and instantly. However, let’s think together, when is the last time you saw your surroundings, or nature, by consciously connecting with your senses? Me, I have never touched or seen a pig in my life. The way I know pork is that it comes from a pig, which I only recognize from books, the internet, and from what my mum and teachers told me. This work will deconstruct second-hand information pixel by pixel, urging myself and visitors to directly experience a world with their own sensation.
Sunrise Commitment (Screening)
Erin Hill is a choreographer, performer and writer based between Montreal and Amsterdam. Her work gathers a multiplicity of mediums under the name of dance, attempting, via embodiment, to arouse polyphony of the senses and a noticing of this event. Through long duration practices, she works with her body as a site of experimentation; to notice habits of perception and to question how these habits are linked, historically and politically, to privilege and orientation. Tangled up in phenomenology, Erin creates spaces for tuning-in to somatic states, to disrupt what is taken for granted and to dance as a practice of redirecting dominant forces. In 2018 Hill received a Masters from DAS Theatre (NL, formerly DasArts). Her work has been presented in theatres and festivals across Canada, in New York, Amsterdam, Austria, Germany and Lebanon. Alongside her own creations, Erin works with Montreal-based object theatre and puppetry collective Café Concret.
'From April 17 2017 to April 16 2018 I told myself I would watch the sun rise; I called this decision the Sunrise Commitment. I would get up one hour before the sun was set to rise, check my heartbeat, photograph the horizon as it shifted from dark to light, write about the state of my body and the state of the sky. From this practice came the performance of the same name: Sunrise Commitment. This piece invites an audience to cometogether outdoors at a chosen eastward-facing destination, one hour before the sun is set to cross the horizon. Coffee, tea and blankets are always nice. Emerging in the distance, in repetitive flows, heating up in relation to the oncoming rays, is a dance performed by two people and the Sun. This piece was created closely together with the dancers Kelly Keenan and Rebecca Rehder. We first performed this work on May 31st 2018 in a field in Amsterdam Noord. Next, on the banks of the Rhine Canal in Amsterdam. Then, across a river and in a soccer field in a small German town called Gießen. The most recent Sunrise Commitment happened here in Montreal, in the Champs des Possibles, during the OFFTA festival. This video was captured by Sandrick Mathurin during that performance on June 1st 2019.
the sunrise is a show that won't wait for latecomers to begin
the sunrise does not promise anything spectacular
the sunrise happens everyday
the sunrise is always exactly as it should be
the sunrise watched
the sunrise listened
... and when it ended the day had already begun'
“Listening as walking”: Meditations for a slow-walk in the Notman garden
Burdock Jenkins-Crumb is an interdisciplinary artist based in Tio’tia:ke/Montréal and BFA candidate at Concordia University. Their creative research is rooted in mindfulness, embodied listening and urban ecology. They make scores as tools to compose music for the oboe, their primary instrument, and to investigate listening as an exploration of the here-and-now in the context of the urban ecosystem. These performances aim to blur the distinction between performer and audience, and between human culture and nature, thereby advocating for the personhood of extra-human beings. Through their creative practice, they hope to cultivate ecological awareness, deep listening, non-hierarchical communication, and fascination with noise. In the future they plan to further develop their creative practice through agriculture and herbalism.
“Listening as Walking” is a scored performance where listening is embodied through the actions of breathing and walking in the Notman forest. The walking meditation is meant to ground the performer in the here and the now through mindful observation of sensations in the body, and of external events which resonate within the body. When understood as mindful observation, listening is necessarily an active process which encompasses all of the senses rather than just sound. Listeners are encouraged to cultivate unconditional love and to acknowledge our impermanence and place in the urban ecosystem. By deeply listening to our own experience, we can become better listeners to all other living beings. This work is a call for us to recognize that we are active players in the urban ecosystem; and that in order to find happiness and to heal our relationships, we must give up the desire for control and instead cultivate compassionate and empathetic listening.
Lucie Lederhendler (MA, Art Education) is a Montreal-based exhibition designer, artist, and curator. Her research, which wonders how an art practice might foster mythologies and connections between humans and the non-human world, has been published in Canadian Art Teacher and Quebec Heritage magazine. Her environment-based artworks have been included in several shows. She is the director of the art collective Studio Beluga, which produces spaces for accessible exchange between emerging artists and the public.
This zoetrope is one of the outcomes of a research project that reflects on the artist-as-witness to the Falaise Saint-Jacques, a feral escarpment in South West Montreal. The artist collected information about the place over the course of a year in order to identify the mythologies that surround it. Narratives of usage and neglect connected implicated parties across millennia, while simultaneously showcasing the rapid movement of geological forms in a post-industrial, urban landscape. Originally installed at the crest of the Falaise, Crowsuperimposes a story onto the landscape about the connection between community activists and non-human users. A small, grassroots group is able to supervise the full length of the escarpment because they are sensitive to the wildlife there: the crows make a fuss when the protected boundaries are infringed on, and the people know how to listen to them.
Rooted in Coloniality: Decolonizing and De-centering Botanical Gardens
Tracy Qiu is an ornamental horticulturist and public garden professional, researching how botanical gardens reckon with coloniality while tackling issues of diversity and inclusion. Her interests in questions of access and “belonging” in botanical garden spaces have led her to a horticultural apprenticeship at the Niagara Parks Botanical Garden (Canada), an internship working with Pacific Islander indigenous plant knowledge at the National Tropical Botanical Garden (Hawaii), and travel through botanical gardens in China, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, and Australia. During her Masters of Science at the University of Delaware, Tracy explored racial diversity in public garden leadership from the perspective of critical race theory and critical museology. A recipient of the Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship, she aims to create critical and collaborative research with practical applications for the field of botanical gardens.
As living museums, scientific institutions, and curated plant collections, botanical gardens have situated themselves on the frontlines of biodiversity conservation and governance, with goals to address issues of “human well-being” aligned with conservation and environmental sustainability such as poverty, environmental injustice, and engaging underrepresented audiences. Despite these objectives, few botanical gardens acknowledge their implicit and explicit role in the history of colonialism, including the exploitation of slave labour, Indigenous peoples and epistemologies, and environmental resources. Additionally, the history of botanical gardens is interwoven with the history of scientific exploration, natural history collections, and European traditions of ornamental horticulture; all of which have a profound impact on the way green spaces are presently perceived, managed, and occupied. This presentation will make visible the role of botanical gardens in colonization and nature-based epistemologies, while asking critical questions about botanical garden futures and the different ways of knowing our environments.
Performing the Urban Garden
Tuesday September 24th, 2019
18h Notman Garden (Milton @ Clark)
18.30h @ Café Osmo
(51 Sherbrooke W/O, Entrance off Milton)
Rain or Shine!
PULSE (Performative Urbanism Lab for Social, Spatial and Scenographic Experiments) hosted its third salon entitled Nature's City: Performing the Urban Garden. The PULSE salon series reflects on artistic intervention and participation as critical praxis for engagement with urban pressing issues. Following discussions on the subjects of smart cities and gentrification, our focus shifts to investigate the urban garden as a critical site for representing aspects of nature in the built environment. This salon took place at the Notman Garden and the adjacent Osmo Café, located in a retrofitted historic building newly devoted to start-up enterprises. The Notman Garden has been recently acquired by the City of Montreal, and is a local success story for residents and community activists who organized and petitioned the City of Montreal to protect the garden from condominium development. Referred to in recent media coverage as an ‘urban oasis’, this garden contains several trees over 100 years old. The canopy of the Notman Garden is a discrete forested plot around the corner from one of the busiest intersections in Montreal (St. Laurent and Sherbrooke), and the city currently faces several major challenges in the redesign the space for public use. Reflecting from inside the garden’s terrain, how can performance offer an affective and experiential understanding of the particular challenges of this space? In what ways can the performative be deployed in the context of urban nature preservation and community activism? Artists, scholars, and local residents gave short talks and lo-tech performative interventions reflecting on these questions.
The third PULSE salon was curated by Allison Peacock.
Graphic Design: Eduardo Perez.
Street Smart Urbanism
& Performative Approaches to Smartness
Thursday, April 11th, 2019 18h00-20h00
Ethnography Lab, EV 10.625
Concordia University SGW
1515 St. Catherine St. W
How can researchers from different disciplines and practices come together to diversify and critically imagine the public discussion around Smart cities? What does it mean to invoke the term ‘smart’ in a complex urban context? In English the word ‘smart’ goes beyond the generally received definition of modish and intelligent as it relates to current trends towards connectivity, responsive and mediated urban environments, generally predicated upon a ‘digital agenda,’ wherein the privileged position of smart and intelligent technologies are being furthered.
The intention of this Salon, the second in a series facilitated by Performative Urbanism, is to invite artist-researchers from a range of disciplines and practices to contribute to a ‘performative’ inquiry of the subject of Smart cities, and the sociocultural and spatial implications of emerging ‘smart’ urban technologies. A performative approach to urbanism considers emergent (and perhaps overlooked or marginalized) expressions and practices of urbanity, the politics surrounding the ‘right to the city,’ ways that less visible and powerful urban agents are at play within cities, and the affective, critical and creative role they have to play in the design, planning, and cultural production of cities. What critical framework can the ‘performative’ bring to the spatial politics and narratives of urban change in the era of Smart cities?
Laura Acosta & Santiago Tavera
Novels of Elsgüer: Virtual and Corporeal Dislocation
Laura Acosta is a Colombian-Canadian transdisciplinary artist based in Montréal. Her creative research revolves around usingperformance as a way to observe the power that a body has to claim, create, alter, or disrupt spaces. Her practice consists of producing absurdist performances that invite the public to utilize objects, costumes, sounds, movement and speech in order to create their own narratives. Her work presents objects or individuals in a constant process of translation, conversion, or adaptation as a way to explore themes of identity, representation and belonging. Laura has exhibited work across Canada as well as in Latin America. She completed residencies in Argentina, Colombia, and Canada, in which she has worked with various groups of people in developing public performances that emerge from collaboration and improvisation. She holds an MFA in Fibres and Material studies from Concordia University, as well as a BFA from NSCAD University. www.laura-acosta.com
Santiago Tavera is an interdisciplinary Colombian and Canadian artist, based in Montréal. He explores virtual narratives of dislocation and perception through the construction of interactive and immersive multimedia installations. In Tavera’s work, a combination of videos, 3D graphic animations, sound and reflective materials place bodies in spaces of translation between the physical and the virtual. Santiago Tavera is an emerging researcher and project coordinator of the Elastic Spaces lab at Concordia University. This research-creation lab is composed of an international network that develops projects employing artist-led methodologies exploring notions of virtual coporalities in relation to the environment and digital technology. Tavera holds an MFA (Intermedia) from Concordia University, and a BA (Honors) Specialization in Visual Arts and a Major in Psychology from Western University. Tavera’s projects have recently been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the Ministry of Culture of Colombia. www.santiagotavera.com
Image credit: Abraham Mercado
Drawing Back to Leap Forward: Rebuilding the Village Together, the Case of Collaborative Housing
Cheryl Gladu, BIB, MBA is an Interdisciplinary PhD Candidate at Concordia University (Management and Design). Cheryl’s current research and professional interests include collaborative design and the creation of places and objects that encourage long-term sustainable behavior change such as collaborative housing communities.
Image credit: Cheryl Gladu
Alice Jarry & Alexandre Castonguay
Mattering Matter: Cross-disciplinary Contamination and Resilient Practices
Alice Jarry is an artist and researcher who specializes in site-specific responsive works, socio-environmental design, digital arts, tangible media, and community-oriented projects. She is faculty in the department of Design and Computation Arts (Concordia) in the area of materials, materiality, and design for socio-environmentally responsive cities. Her current works on residual matter brings concerns about sustainability, aesthetics, and politics and examine how the intersection of materials, sites, technology, infrastructures, and communities can provoke the emergence of adaptive forms and resilient relations. She is a member of Kheops - International research consortium on the governance of large infrastructure projects -, Digital Arts Collective Perte-De-Signal, Milieux Institute, and Hexagram. Her works have been presented at Centre Pompidou (Paris), Vox Centre de l’image Contemporaine (Montréal), Biennale Nemo (Paris), Leonardo Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology (Milan), Device_Art Triennale (Zagreb), Invisible Dog Art Center (New York), Mons 2015, European Capital of Culture (Mons), International Digital Arts Biennial (Montreal), and in several exhibition locations in North America and Europe.
Image credit: Alice Jarry & Marie Pontais
Image credit: Allison Moore
Allison Moore is a new media artist based in Montreal, Canada. She has participated in numerous exhibitions, residencies, workshops and events within Canada and internationally. Her recent projects involve thematic inspirationsof storytelling narratives in digital arts, video-mapping landscapes and architecture, site-specific public art andperformance. Moore's works reinterpret and rebuild the world as a metaphoric landscape in which sensitive beings are in synergy with their allegorical macrocosm.
Ambient Feedback Ecology
Nima Navab is an Iranian-Canadian media artist and designer with a professional background in Environmental Design and Computation Arts. Using a variety of mediums and approaches, he explores the different roles humans play in shaping the built environment that is ecological, political and sensory. His projects are particularly focused on spatial design, and examine the role of art and technology to enhance interactions in intimate and large-scale public spaces. His increased attention to everyday spatial interactions brings to light the importance of field research, discussion and collaboration with those occupying the space as well as the space itself, highlighting the importance of spatial experience and theoretical research, which form the basis of his creative process. His projects have been presented at Ars Electronica (Linz), Biennale Némo (Paris), International Symposium for Electronic Arts (Gwangju), Solar Decathlon (Dezhou) and more. He is currently a Research Associate at Topological Media Lab, Technical Director at Obx Labs and Master’s of Design candidate at Concordia University.
Image credit: Nima Navab
January 18th, 2019 17h00 – 19h00
4th Space, Concordia University
On the Spatial Politics of Real Estate Capitalism: The Performative Aspect of the Turcot Interchange
Victor Arroyo is a video artist working with documentary, installation and video art. Born in Mexico in 1977, and based in Montréal, Canada. He is interested in material culture, landscape and identity seen through the lenses of postcolonialism, critical theory and postmodern geography. Often, his artistic practice sits at the crossroad between cultural anthropology, documentary filmmaking, and community collaboration.
Our Environment - Ourselves - Waste As The Tide Of Urban Space
Bridging between video, performance and sculpture, Miri Chekhanovich is creating interdisciplinary works that examine the notions of decay and rebirth in our society. Miri was born in Armenia when it was still part of the Soviet Union, from the age of three she has lived in Jerusalem and today works and lives in Montreal, Canada. The diversity of her cultural background and the numerous languages she speaks serves the artist in creating new places where anything can occur and transform. In those places the artist invites the spectators to become active participants, and live a unique transformative experience. Nature is the ultimate source of inspiration for the artist, and the process of her creations involves somatic practices of dance and embodiment. The process becomes the work. The artist aims to expose and evoke discussion on the political circumstances of waste, food justice, autonomy, territory, collective consciousness natural resources and the body.
Queering the Map
Lucas LaRochelle is a multidisciplinary designer and researcher examining queerness, technology and architecture. Their practice spans graphic design, digital media, costume design and wearable technology – employing these mediums as a means of examining and manipulating the interactions between the (queer) body, technology and cyber/physical space. They are the founder of Queering The Map, a community generated counter-mapping project that archives queer moments, memories, and histories in relation to physical space. They have given talks and workshops in Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, London and Lima, and their work has been exhibited in Montreal, Boston, Amsterdam, Utrecht, London and Linz. Their work and writing has been published in Échelles, Perfect Strangers, Revistas UNAM, Accent, and ROM.
Encroachment: Embodying the Symbols of a Changing City
Allison Peacock has developed an artistic practice committed to expanding the possibilities of dance and choreography, experimenting with forms of presentation, representation, potentiality, and imagination. She holds a BA from the University of Toronto in Political Science and Visual Studies, is a graduate of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Professional Dance Training Program, and completed her MA in Solo/Dance/Authorship at the UdK/HZT Berlin. She has trained, taught, and performed works internationally, notably at the National Arts Centre, Uferstudios, and National Dance Centre Bucharest (CNDB). She is currently a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Humanities program at Concordia University, researching performance and physicality through local gardens and gardening practices.
Migratoria: Casting Montreal
Eduardo Perez trained as an architect at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) His work explores the intersection of architecture, design, performance and new media through research-creation projects and territorial actions oriented to generate critical spatial ecosystems. Perez is co-founder of the architecture collective TOMA, with whom he has exhibited his work internationally, and been awarded the Graham Foundation Grant for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in 2016. He has collaborated extensively with cultural and educational institutions in Chile, and has lectured at the Faculty of Architecture at UDLA, Santiago. Currently, he is pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Communication Studies at Concordia University in Montreal.
DIY City Repair: Strategies, Emotions, and Playfulness
Christian Scott is fascinated by the ability of people to transform cities with playful actions. With a background in urban sociology they use poetry, music, and sometimes movement as mediums of exploration; they’re currently applying to become a PhD candidate at Concordia University. They grew-up between Montreal and Guadalajara (MX), and currently inhabit the H2R 1C3 postal code.
Alex Tigchelaar is a PhD student in the Humanities. Her focus is on sex work and the built environment in Montreal. She is the research and development coordinator at the Institute for Urban Futures and an active volunteer at Stella, l’amie de Maimie. Since 2014, she has been a research assistant on Recounting Huronia, an arts-based project that connects scholars, artists and activists with the survivors of the Huronia Regional Centre. The group creates plays, workshops and speaker events that update the public record about institutional violence and people with disabilities. Alex’s academic work is supported by a Joseph-Armand Bombardier scholarship.