Benjamin Da Silva & B.G-Osborne
Jes Dolan & Raphaële Frigon
If the voice of refusal is a shrill harpy, does claiming that space involve a commitment to embodying excess? What about widening the accepted register of emotional intensities? Instead of flattening, what could be included?
(Cassandra Troyan, The Body Always Remembers)
In Anne Carson’s essay, The Gender of Sound, she writes that “every sound we make is a bit of an autobiography. It has a totally private interior yet its trajectory is public. A piece of inside projected to the outside”. She goes on to elaborate that our patriarchal culture divides us into two camps: “those who can censor themselves and those who cannot” which is to imply that self-control is gendered. Women, trans folks, POC, people with disabilities, and poor people are often characterized as hysterical in our anger, our grief, and even in our joy and pleasure. However as curators we argue that engaging in the depth of our emotional lives is a reasonable response to an extremely unreasonable world.
To quote rapper, author, artist, and meme-maker Bunny Michael’s Instagram account,
Me: I’m so sensitive. I really hate it.
Higher Self: Sensitivity is intuitive wisdom that has been suppressed for generations leading us not to trust our hearts, which is a big reason the planet is so off balanced. You’re actually incredibly wise.
So what does it mean when the crying and laughing are indistinguishable? We have all had to ask ourselves or friends whether or not the tears rolling down our cheeks are happy or sad and laughed in the face of life’s heartbreaking absurdity. Humour is sometimes seen as a way to make uncomfortable conversations more palatable but we do not believe that that is the responsibility of artists or of people sharing their traumas. The works presented in this exhibition use humorous moments to disarm the audience. Depending on the context, funny moments can feel unsettling and we ask that people sit
with this discomfort instead of waiting for a laugh track to arrive.
In our call-out we wrote that, “we are interested in the oscillation between hopefulness/joy, and distress/sadness. We hope to examine the ways in which humour can serve as an entry point to addressing difficult or challenging subject matter”. The twelve artists we have chosen for Crying-Laughing represent a multitude of ideas and experiences, utilizing various tactics to allow the viewer to understand their concerns and subject matter.
The works in the exhibition are decidedly topical in relation to our current political landscape and yet conspicuously missing from the discourse of the last dregs of the Quebec provincial election. The works could be seen as what is missing from politicians’ speeches and political platforms. The majority of the footage in Angela Glanzmann’s video Cute Aggression, 2018 was filmed at various tourist sites in and around Vancouver, twelve hours before Justin Trudeau announced his government’s buyout of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The video deals with land politics, and uses the body to illustrate frustration with environmental waste and the destruction of land. benni macdonald’s
book and accompanying sculpture reallynewgaystuff2018, 2018 examine the ongoing opioid crisis in Canada and its relationship to addiction, trauma, and recovery through a framework of radical acceptance.
The video POLISHED, 2016 by artists B.G-Osborne and Benjamin Da Silva, portrays a discussion dealing with substance use, family trauma, depression and anxiety amidst the mundane performing of daily grooming rituals. The two artists are IRL partners and in the video portray trans love and an intimate interaction between chosen family. Family is also showcased in Negar Nakhai’s video داد آب بابا (Dad Gave Water), 2018 and Nora Rosenthal’s short film Family Death Trip, 2018. Both show two very distinct family vacations, however, are similar in their depictions of guilt, melancholy and the love that emanates from one’s sometimes tense interactions with family. Using unscripted videodocumentation, the artists examine their own experiential knowledge, family dynamics, memories and nostalgia.
Hangama Amiri’s Drive, Ice-cream, and Sightseeing (from Kabul Diaries, 2017) are depictions of images and situations pertinent to contemporary Afghan feminism; More broadly these paintings look at the body’s complicated relationship to its surroundings, which is consistent with Jes Dolan & Raphaële Frigon’s Donut, 2016, Maddy Mathew’s Motivational Poster (Achievement), 2018 and
Are you me?, 2018 and Sine Kundargi-Girard’s Piece Pattern Wearables, 2018. Mathews’s and Kundargi-Girard’s work utilize playful tactics of dealing with the uneasiness of existence, using comedy and
humour to examine mental health and the societal construction of the self. Dolan and Frigon’s performance is a conversation between the two artists that melds theory and experiential knowledge on issues of austerity, death, HIV, suicides, overdoses, community organizations, and failures all while using the act of donut making as a metaphor for the physical self.
Kelly Jazvac’s wall hanging Smocking (Mouth), 2017 alludes back to Carson’s essay, remarking that the gendered voice in classical literature is “given to disorderly and uncontrolled outflow of sound [...] and eruptions of raw emotion in general”. If we are to look at the gendered voice in relation to the idea of smocking (gathering a section of the material into tight pleats and holding them together) we could think of smocking as the holding in of emotion. As curators we argue that engaging in the depth of our emotional lives is a reasonable response to an extremely unreasonable world. The interplay between
the two words, smocking and mouth, illustrates the constant pressure of constraint felt by those deemed uncontrollable or too much.
The artworks here portray a variety of experiences, histories, chosen support systems and coping mechanisms. They provide a selection examples of how we support each other and ourselves. We can admit that we’re attempting to cover a lot of ground but we hope that this is not seen as a weakness but instead as a source of strength. Friends and Neighbours Gallery is based on experiential knowledge, tensions, contradiction, negotiation and fun times which is reflected in the presented exhibition. We hope that Crying-Laughing (Je ris ne pas pleurer) will be a space in which viewers and participating artists can explore not only the differences but also the similarities in how choose to cope with the often difficult realities of the everyday.
Hangama Amiri received her BFA from NSCAD University in Halifax NS
(2012) and was a Canadian Fulbright and Post-Graduate Fellow at Yale
University School of Art and Sciences in New Haven, Connecticut
(2015-2016). She has exhibited her paintings nationally and internationally,
recently in New York City, Toronto, France, Italy and London (UK). This fall
she will be attending Yale School of Art to complete her MFA.
Benjamin Da Silva is a trans graphic artist working in Montreal. He loves
cats, baking and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Jes Dolan just completed a poetry thesis addressing fugue states and
the impulse to run away from home. Her professional experience in
front-line services for people living with HIV/AIDS and HepC, as well as
her personal experience of queerness and transience inform her politic
and subsequently her interest in creating poetic and academic works
that reach beyond the boundaries of the institution and return energy,
funding, and attention to communities often mined for their narratives
Raphaële Frigon is a queer artist, and community organizer. She
has been challenging institutions and power with porcupine-like
vulnerableness and animal metaphors. She is known for her impracticable
ideas, leaky feelings, and her propensity to find trouble. Her work has
been exploring the points of failure between the cognitive process
and the physical reality of her body. She works with magic, science and
B.G-Osborne is a transmedia artist from rural Ontario, currently working
in Montreal. Their ongoing projects seek to address the complexities of
transgender representation, mental illness, violence, and family secrets/
stories. As an emerging artist, they place great importance in showcasing
their work in artist run centres and non-commercial galleries throughout
Angela Glanzmann is an artist and art worker currently based in the
xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and
Səlílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations (Vancouver). Her practice
revolves around video, performance, sculpture and installation and looks
into trauma, affect, labour and precarity. She is a SSHRC recipient and is
currently studying at the University of British Columbia in the Masters of
Visual Arts program.
Kelly Jazvac works in sculpture, collage and installation. Simultaneously,
she engages in interdisciplinary plastic pollution research with a team
of scientists, artists and writers. Jazvac has exhibited nationally and
internationally, including recent exhibitions at FIERMAN Gallery (New
York); The Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver); The Berman Museum,
(Philadelphia); Koenig and Clinton (New York); and Prosjekstrom
Normanns (Norway). She is represented by FIERMAN Gallery, New York.
She is based in Montréal, where she is an Associate Professor in Sculpture
at Concordia University.
Sine Kundargi-Girard is based in Tiohtiá:ke(Montréal). Much of her
artistic education is rooted in what she was taught at a young age from
family, especially her mother and grandfather. In the last two years, she
has been studying Studio Arts and Art History at Concordia University.
Since taking a course in printing and dyeing, she has found a new love for
fibers and material practices; The pieces she is presenting are centered
around these practices.
benni macdonald is a canadian artist, curator, and activist practicing in
montréal, quebec. they have exhibited across canada. emily’s projects
are collaborative in working for queer and trans liberation and mental
health awareness. they recently attended school of the alternative
(black mountain college, nc). emily has a bachelor of communications
and is now working on a bfa at concordia university. they work to foster
accountability and radical acceptance in discussions of community,
addictions, and complex trauma.
Maddy Mathews is a Toronto based artist working primarily in drawing,
painting and sculpture. Using naïve materials such as pencil crayons and
paper mâché, her work highlights the inherent futility of representation
through humour and abstraction. Since receiving her BFA from NSCAD
University in 2012, she has participated in Roundtable Residency and
performed at Nuit Blanche and Doored (Toronto, ON). Her work has been
exhibited across Canada.
Negar Nakhai is a multimedia artist, specializing in video art. Her practice
explores moments of alienation, longing, and human malfunction through
female subjectivity. Negar’s work expresses a tension between materiality
and a desire for its transcendence by capturing organic moments of
beauty and banality, and dilating them in order to reveal the political
that is inherent to the personal. She is interested in materiality and its
intersection with performance, video technology, and psychology.
Nora Rosenthal is an emerging writer, photographer and filmmaker
based in Montreal. Her most recent work, a darkly comedic documentary
about a funeral-cum-holiday, Family Death Trip (2018), was selected for
the SHORT to the Point Festival in Romania and was a semi-finalist in the
Atlanta Docufest. Her images of her nearest family and friends at their
intimate worst was featured on kickerbillen.de and her nonfiction work
has appeared in a collection by Elevated Publishing.