Feminism, NASA and a Bat Cave

Endeavour Installation Makes the Case for Women in Space

Endeavour features the works of a former Concordia faculty member.

Walking into Frances Leeming’s Endeavour installation is a little bit like entering a bat cave.

The exhibit, being shown at Concordia’s Media Gallery until Oct. 15, consists of little more than a TV screen in a shriek-inducing pitch-black room.

Comprised of two 15-second film reels and an entirely separate audio track, Endeavour uses images of the Canadarm, a robotic arm used on space missions, and clothespins to make a whimsical comment on women’s roles in space.

“I’ve given the Canadarm a very pragmatic task rather than doing the important work of NASA and the space station,” said Leeming, a performance and media artist and former Concordia faculty member. “I’m generating humour through the task that I have given the Canadarm to do.”

The piece may be witty, but there’s nothing funny about the gut-wrenching horror you’ll experience before the installation actually begins.

Walking through the heavily-curtained exhibit entrance, senses seem to fail you. Then the audio track kicks in and hypnotic, screeching, otherworldly sounds fill your ears.

After a minute or so, your eyesight improves, the goosebumps settle and the screen finally turns on to display a beautifully crafted animation sequence of the Canadarm in space.

“I was interested in space as an environment in which important technologies generally take place, but I wanted to use it to create intimacy,” said Leeming about the methodology behind Endeavour. “It’s a juxtaposition of infinite space in an almost futile attempt to make it intimate. The proposition seems absurd.”

Bat cave parallels aside, Leeming managed to create a unique atmosphere that captures all the senses, and keeps you wondering if you’ll make it out alive.

Endeavour runs until Oct. 15 in the Media Gallery of the CJ Building on the Loyola campus. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Friday 9:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 06, published September 21, 2010.