FOFA Gallery opens 

<em>Labouring the Land</em> returns pencils to the forest. Magnifying glass

Labouring the Land returns pencils to the forest.

When jake moore took over as director of the FOFA Gallery last May, she saw its EV Building street-front location as an open door and an open opportunity.

“This gallery has both a direct pedagogical role as well as a role within the broader Quartier Concordia Project as a citizen of St. Catherine St,” said moore in the bustle before the first vernissage of the academic year on Sept. 11.

The two shows currently in the gallery are examples of its mandate to showcase the process and results of research/creation. The gallery and black box space are the venue for What Happens When Nothing Happens, curated by Véronique Malo and Emily Mennerdahl, the Independant Study Group.

Their collaboration is the product of an exchange program between Valand Academy of Art in Gothenberg, Sweden and the MFA program at Concordia that both Malo and Mennerdahl were selected for. It was there they conceived What Happens When Nothing Happens, a look at the variety of work artists undertake before they produce their work. The exhibition was first shown at Valand after many Montréal artists answered an open call for submission. It has now returned to Montréal and brought two Swedish artists along for this next step. A series of workshops on Sept. 12 pushed that dialogue further for an audience beyond the Concordia community.

“It demonstrates how our students are informed by the program, leave it and return to extend their knowledge beyond our walls,” said moore.

Labouring the Land, a process-based work by Marie-Michelle Deschamps and Michelle Lacombe in the vitrine space, uses sharpened pencils (evoking the spirit of back-to-school) to build a forestscape.

Most museum administrators’ first year is spent delivering the programming of the previous administration. A cancellation allowed moore to program these shows about the labour, process and product of art, themes that are important to her.

In addition to the FOFA Gallery’s street front location, which can directly engage the larger community, moore is excited by the potential for the vitrine space along the York corridor of the EV Building. She points out that our northern climate makes the corridor a secondary, indoor throughway for students, faculty and staff of the university as well as downtown commuters to the metro.

For many, the gallery desk represents the first point of contact with the university and moore has reinforced that role for her staff. Over the coming year, the FOFA will host a series of shows that underscore the variety of ways it can act as a conduit between students, faculty, staff, the university and the streets around it.

The next show is a commission of photographic work curated by Martha Langford about the Grey Nuns Mother House and its presentation reflects a more formal collaboration between the university and various municipal, provincial and religious groups.

Next spring, a series of events and exchanges are planned for Congress 2010. “We will be able to emphasize the relationship between the inside and outside of the institution,” says moore, outlining the talks, coffee houses and events being planned to showcase Concordia’s research/creation to the thousands expected to attend Congress.

These opportunities allow the gallery to reach different publics and take advantage of the ongoing activity at the university.

For the first time, the FOFA will benefit from funding through the Canada Council for the Arts. The funding was secured by moore while she was interim director last spring and she is pleased to have the gallery recognized in a period of tightening budgets. She is also aware of the luxurious position the gallery holds in terms of the existing university infrastructure. Still, operating funds are low and the funding will help support broader public programming, reinforcing the gallery’s connection with multiple communities.

Over the summer, moore also worked with Career Management Services of the JMSB to get some of the work collected over the years through the Stanley Mills Purchase Prize into the new structure.

For more about gallery programming, see their website.


Concordia University