Concordia Students Bring Multi-Disciplinary Arts to Multiple Floors

Performance and Visual Arts Explore Domesticity and Consumerism With ‘Common Uncommon’

  • “In performance art there’s a lot of symbolism that is not narrative,” explained Koroleva. “There is a starting point and the rest unfolds from your body.” Photo Aysha White

The house looked no different than any other. Tucked neatly, almost hidden in a residential area, is an alternative art space called Peripheral Hours. On May 17 and 18, they hosted their third show, Common Uncommon. Three Concordia students invited artists to explore alternative modes of domesticity at the multi-disciplinary exhibit.

The artists were hand-picked by the curators to fit the themes of consumerism and materialism, and exploring the ways in which we make use of objects in transient and unsustainable ways.

“When we found this space, it sort of all came together,” said co-curator Alexey Lazarev. “It’s an interesting experience to be in a building that’s not a gallery, that’s not in a white cube.”

The curators sought to create an immersive experience. From hidden closet spaces to hallway nooks and crannies, they made use of every inch of the house, tucking art into every space that meets the eye.

On the first floor, Sylvia Trotter Ewens showed an installation piece that aimed to comment on the excessive production of trash. Tiny garbage bags filled with a week’s worth of her own waste lined one of the rooms, lying under under a mixture of cement, gravel and earth.

“I used it to discuss the idea of excess waste, especially over one week, the fact that waste can travel,” she said. “Kind of giving an idea of the far reaches, going further and further as the city expands.”

François Couture explored the liminal space between academia and blue-collar work. His piece, which was showcased in the kitchen and well-trafficked, made use of objects he found at his work—big blocks of rock drilled with sheets of rusted metal, bent in perplexing directions.

Sylvia Trotter Ewens’ installation piece showed tiny garbage bags filled with a week’s worth of her own waste lined one of the rooms, Photo Aysha White

The first in his family to go to university, Couture’s work explores the juxtaposition of these two worlds.

“Knowing that I was trying to go to academia, it was a sacrifice to a certain point,” he explained. “Going against my family, [going] to university. For me it was a way to make the material talk and find a way for me to talk about where I stand between my family [and] academia.”

The exhibit pushed boundaries, and often bordered the edges of discomfort; at times, it became hard to distinguish what was art and what wasn’t.

Each room held a different reality, so different from the prior. Such a blending of styles in a small space, paired with the wide mass of visitors, the exhibition’s discordance urged the guests to interact.

For Victoria Catherine Chan, founder of Peripheral Hours, located in the Chabanel District, and the organizers, the space’s informal setting allowed guests and artists to interact with the art, and each other in a new way.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, the crowd was ushered down to the basement by Lazarev for the first of the evening’s performance pieces. The audience sat on the floor, congregating around performance artist Tatiana Koroleva, sitting on a chair, her hair falling in front of her face. Four piles of hay were laid out in front of her.

“When we found this space, it sort of all came together. It’s an interesting experience to be in a building that’s not a gallery, that’s not in a white cube.” — Alexey Lazarev

“In performance art there’s a lot of symbolism that is not narrative,” explained Koroleva. “Not linked to stories and such but linked to emotions, to sensations to your body, and a more subconscious way to represent your reality. There is a starting point and the rest unfolds from your body.”

With heavy breaths and a suspended stare, Koroleva began to walk down a hay-filled path. A single black egg was revealed underneath each pile of hay. She collapsed onto her stomach and slowly crawled towards each egg, smashing her forehead against them. In each egg was a different material that exploded onto her face with a an almost violent rush of emotion.

Her performance came to an end when she reached the end of her hay-filled path, curling into foetal position on a bed of hay.

“The inspiration comes from the experience of giving birth,” Koroleva explained. “I was really linked to the struggle, but also the mystery of giving birth. But it’s also about not only physical birth, but transcendental birth to yourself, as well.”

“How do you discover yourself, how do you show it to the world, and how can you be brave enough to show it to the world?”

“How do you discover yourself, how do you show it to the world, and how can you be brave enough to show it to the world?” said Koroleva. Photo Aysha White

Under the stairs was Merlin Heintzman Hope’s installation, a memory box that lit the alcove with a deep sense of meditative nostalgia.

A hidden closet nook held Carlo Polidoro Lopez’s art—a mixed-medium piece intercepted with jarring drawings and scrawl sprawled across four levels of built-in shelves that commented on colonialism and identity.

Chan spent over a decade living in Berlin, Italy and New York City, exploring their respective art scenes before returning to Montreal to open the venue in the home her parents owned for 32 years.

“I was part of different art spaces and art collectives, running different events in a very alternative, underground, anarchistic way,” she said.

“My intention is to really share this kind of experience, because I think Montreal is missing some alternative art spaces that are more for the whole experience, the sense of humanity.”

The basement is currently in process of being renovated to be open as a space for artist residency.

“It happens a lot in other cities,” said Chan. “I think in Montreal it is still something different and new. I’m actually hoping that this event will ignite some sparks and that other people will start an art show in their house.”

A previous version of this article referred to the founder of Peripheral Hours as Chan, while it is, in fact, Victoria Catherine Chan. This version also omitted to state that Chan is the founder of Peripheral Hours, and that it is located in the Chabanel District. The Link regrets these errors.

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