Category: News (Page 1 of 13)

Reblog – Meet Haema Sivanesan, a curator who is breaking barriers in the Canadian art world


Original Post:

Haema Sivanesan is one of the senior-most curators in Canada. She has been working as a curator in museums, at festivals, non-profit and independent contexts for more than 25 years. She is now Chief Curator at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary


To curate literally means “to care”. Most of my curatorial work is centred on the work of immigrant and diasporic artists who are asking questions about identity, society, history, histories of colonialism and their relationship to Canada as a place that is at once “home” and unhomely. 

I think of my work as two-fold: being a practice of caring for “culture”, meaning forms of artistic production as it reflects upon and inquiries into contemporary life and experience, and as a practice of thinking with artists.


Art history was my favourite subject in high school, but I didn’t have the courage to tell my parents that I wanted to pursue a degree in art history as it would have been perceived as a failure on their part. 

It was just my luck that I was able to steer my professional degree in architecture into a career as a museum curator. It’s still the only career that I want to have.


I trained as an architect, but realized mid-way through my degree that my interests and strengths were in the area of architectural history and theory. I was particularly interested in Hindu and Buddhist architecture of South and Southeast Asia and was looking for a way to make that the area of my work. 

In the midst of all that thinking, I was offered a position in the Asian Art Department at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.  

I started there as a research assistant working on a very large exhibition of Indian art for the 50th anniversary of Indian Independence. I was eventually offered a curatorial position, and have built my career from there.


A former Director of the BC Arts Alliance, Mo Dhaliwal commented  a while ago on the problem of tokenism in diversity and inclusion committees, where POC are invited to participate on these committees with the tacit expectation that they remain agreeable with the status quo. This is the larger reality in the arts. Unfortunately, colluding with the status quo won’t affect the changes that are very much needed for POC to succeed and lead.

The issue of unconscious bias as a systemic issue is barely discussed. I don’t believe that there are robust enough anti-oppression and supportive management practices in place to properly support POC in arts institutions. 

The question that you ask is complicated by the fact that we work in culture, and many of us as POC are examining issues of identity, race, immigration, diaspora — and therefore, trauma — in our work, but we are doing so within the colonialist structures of arts institutions.

I think that all of us as arts professionals have a lot of work to do to better understand and address a range of challenges. As much as the ideology of equity, diversity and inclusion is considered an important value in the arts in Canada, there is still a long way to go. 


The Glenbow is undergoing a major renovation and transformation, so the work day is not very “typical” for anyone at the museum this time. But add in the pandemic and it has been a strange time to start a new job.

My responsibilities essentially encompass setting the artistic and curatorial direction for the renovated museum, building and managing a curatorial team, strategically building the Glenbow’s collections, developing and managing exhibitions, and supporting various aspects of fundraising and donor-giving related to art work acquisitions.

My days include an interesting variety of things from delivering talks and jurying a competition to grant writing, and meet and greets.


Having worked in Toronto for a number of years, I really miss being immersed in a diverse and vibrant, urbane South Asian cultural scene. I have just not found anything like it anywhere else in Canada.

Most recently, I have been working on a long-term project with South Asian-Canadian artist, Leila Sujir, who is a professor at Concordia University, Montreal. The project will ultimately result in the creation of a 3D stereoscopic video installation that looks at the South Walbran forest as a “contact zone” between South Asian and First Nation communities. Leila is a senior artist in Canada, whose work has explored issues of immigration and race by way of autobiography. 


The professional field is very competitive and precarious. Be prepared for low pay, poor management practices, racism and various barriers. I know that does not sound very encouraging, but unfortunately that is the reality. It’s a consequence of working in an “elite” field. 

In order for the system to change, we need to see more POC in the arts – as artists, curators, arts managers, programmers, directors and such. Make sure to find strong mentors and a supportive peer network. It’s always important to follow your passion as that will ensure that you succeed!

Live Drone and Light Projects

Elastic Spaces’ member Anthony Head from the University of Dundee, has been part of these exciting projects using live drone technology, one for GreenPeace and the other for the Amnesty International 60th Anniversary. See links below!

“For the first time, 300 illuminated drones and light projections have been used to create breathtaking 3D moving images of iconic animals. The animals travel from all corners of the world and are seen descending on Cornwall, demanding that the world leaders at the G7 ‘ACT NOW’ to tackle the climate and nature crisis”.

“The aim of the project was to use Celestial’s creative technology combined with immersive cinematic photography, music and poetry, to tell a profound story of connection and solidarity, inspiring new audiences to stand up for universal human rights.”.

NECS 2021 – Transitions: Moving Images and Bodies

7 – 13 June 2021

Hosted by the University of Palermo

Anthony Head (University of Dundee) and Leila Sujir (Concordia University) participated in the workshop Besides the Screen: Transitional Tactics for Moving Image Research on Sunday, June 13th 14:00-16:00. This workshop was organized by Virginia Crisp (King’s College, London), along with Gabriel Menotti (Queen’s University), with the participation of Su-Anne Yeo (Emily Carr University) and Cornelia Lund (University of the Arts Bremen).

Reblog: One of the world’s most influential climate scientists is a Concordian

Damon Matthews ranks 266th out of 1,000 on the Reuters Hot List

May 18, 2021 By Amy Sharaf

Concordia’s Damon Matthews has landed on the Reuters Hot List, ranking him among the world’s most influential climate scientists.

Matthews, professor and Concordia Research Chair in Climate Science and Sustainability, Geography, Planning and Environment, placed fifth among Canadians and 266th globally in the Reuters list of top 1,000 climate scientists in the world. In all, only 37 Canadians made the cut.

“I recognize a lot of the names of colleagues that I know and have worked with, so it’s good company to be in,” Matthews says. “I am very happy to be recognized.”

Reuters notes the Hot List is not a measure of the “best” or “most important” climate scientists internationally but rather of influence. It ranks researchers based on a combination of factors: the number of research papers they have published on climate change–related topics, how often other researchers in similar fields of study cite those papers and how often their papers are referenced in the media, policy papers, social media and other sources.

The list’s data is provided through Dimensions, British-based technology company Digital Science’s academic research portal. The database includes hundreds of thousands of climate science–related papers, most published since 1988.

‘Not a complete list’

Matthews runs Concordia’s Climate Scenarios, Impacts and Modelling Lab and also heads the Leadership in Environmental and Digital Innovation for Sustainability (LEADS) program funded by a $1.65-million Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). He says that although it’s great to be recognized, other researchers were left off the list, and he was struck by how male-dominated it was.

“This is a nice measure of science influence, but it’s certainly not a complete list,” he points out. “There are lots of really excellent scientists in Canada who were not picked up, and of the 37 Canadians on the list, only four are women. There is obviously still work to be done to equalize opportunities for female scientists and have their research be recognized and influential.”

Matthews’s distinction comes after Concordia placed 62nd out of 1,115 institutions worldwide in the newly released 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings for its institutional commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Craig Townsend, associate professor and chair of the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, is thrilled by Matthews’s growing catalogue of accomplishments, which are drawing students and researchers to his work.

“Damon has been incredibly successful in attracting students to the department’s graduate programs, as well as overseeing numerous postdoctoral researchers from around the world,” Townsend says. “His work is impressive, and we really look forward to seeing how it evolves.”]

See original article post here:

Congratulation to duo Dimo and Sonya!

Concordia University’s MFA graduate students have recently been invited to the Arctic Circle Residency as participants of the Leadership in Environmental and Digital Innovation for Sustainability (LEADS) program.

The collaborative work of Dimo Ivanov and Sonya Stoeva took shape in 2010 as the duo IvanovStoeva following several collaborative projects in Canada and Europe. Currently they are completing their Master’s in Intermedia (Video, Performance and Electronic Arts).

During their participation in the Leadership in Environmental and Digital Innovation for Sustainability (LEADS) program, they hope to reach out to a large collaborative sphere in order to contribute to actions towards climate change and sustainability solutions. LEADS will give them the opportunity to develop their knowledge for interdisciplinary collaboration, with the goal of creating a bridge between science and society using art and digital technology.

Their proposed project will evolve during a research residency. The Arctic Circle Residency, which brings together international artists and scientists on an exploratory journey. It will start with a departure from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, and will be carried out on a sailboat travelling to the Arctic Circle. The objective of the residency program is to offer to the participants a common experience to stimulate exchange and collaboration. IvanovStoeva’s goal as researchers-artists is to inform, inspire and stimulate actions. For them, the combination of technology, science and art has great potential, and they are eager to contribute to this field. The project will help build a broader understanding of the many positive effects that the natural environment provides for us as natural beings.

Congratulations to Haema Sivanesan!

The Glenbow Museum in Calgary, AB has recently announced that Haema Sivanesan has joined the museum as Chief Curator. Sivanesan has extensive experience across a range of sectors in the visual arts in Canada and abroad, most recently serving as a Curator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (2015-2021).

Camouflaged Screams at Optica- Centre D’art Contemporain

MFA alumni and current Elastic Spaces’ visiting scholar, Santiago Tavera, along his collaborator, Laura Acosta (MFA alumni) are currently exhibiting their new work, The Novels of Elsgüer (Episode 4); Camouflaged Screams at OPTICA – Centre D’art Contemporain in Montreal.

Exhibition : April 17th – June 12th, 2021

Episode 4: Camouflaged Screams is is an interactive installation exploring the (a)symbiotic relationship between humans and the natural environment. This augmented experience incorporates large scale panoramic video projections of a recorded performance with textile pieces, along with motion sensors, enveloping soundscapes, lighting setups and sculptural elements. As the audience moves around the installation, their movements have the capacity to alter the images and sounds in the space, asking viewers to reflect on how their presence and actions have a direct effect on the environments that surround them. This project was done with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Elastic Spaces lab at Concordia University.

Click here for the Press Release text by Shauna Janssen, Associate Professor from the Theatre Department at Concordia University.

“The Breadth of” Symposium

“The Breadth of” is a free, public symposium that investigates and responds to the living archive of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC). 

This critical inquiry uses the CFMDC collection as a launching point, where we will engage, agitate and take stock, bring new ideas into consideration, and react through creative and critical dialogue. “The Breadth Of” grapples with themes of re-contextualizing and challenging the predominant historic narratives of media art and activism, while looking at what present and futures we wish to build. 

Facebook Event Here, and launches on March 25th.

SuperWomen: Conversations with Real Action Figures 



SuperWomen: Conversations with the Real Action Figures is a collection of interviews with seven astounding women who have an extensive history of working in film and video. Interviews will feature: Marjorie Beaucage, Christene Browne, Sylvia Hamilton, Maria Teresa Larrain, Michelle Mohabeer, Leila Sujir, and Zainub Verjee in conversation with Midi Onodera. 

-6pm – 8pm EST Thurs April 1 Film: “Nevis To” (limited period)

8pm EST Thurs April 1 CHRISTENE BROWNE INTERVIEW – up for month of April

6pm – 8pm EST Monday April 5 Film: “Dreams of the Night Cleaners” (limited period)

8pm EST Monday April 5 LEILA SUJIR INTERVIEW– up for month of April

6pm – 8pm Thurs. April 8 EST Film: “Dolores” (limited period)

8pm EST Thurs. April 8 MARIA TERESA LARRAIN INTERVIEW– up for month of April

6pm – 8pm EST Monday April 12 Film: “Bingo” (limited period)

8pm EST Monday April 12 MARJORIE BEAUCAGE INTERVIEW– up for month of April

6pm – 8pm EST Thursday April 15 Film: “Exposure” (limited period)

8pm EST Thursday April 15 MICHELLE MOHABEER INTERVIEW– up for month of April

Film – “Black Mother Black Daughter”

Source: NFB link to

8pm EST Monday April 19 SYLVIA HAMILTON INTERVIEW– up for month of April

6pm – 8pm EST Film: Ecoute, S’il Pleut limited period)

8pm EST Thursday April 22 ZAINUB VERJEE INTERVIEW– up for month of April

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