AHCS Speaker Series 2023-2024

On this page: Winter 2024 | Past events

Winter 2024

January 25, 2024

Ji-Yoon Han: "Curatorial Masquerades"

January 25, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Arts W-215

Ji-Yoon Han is the curator of MOMENTA Biennale de l'image 2023.

February 1, 2024

Maria Feliciano: “Rethinking ‘Medieval’: The Early Modern Repurpose of Medieval Textiles in the Iberian Peninsula”

February 1, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Arts W-215

The topic of the talk will be textiles from Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus). More information to follow soon.

This talk is presented in partnership with the Yan P. Lin Centre for the Study of Freedom and Global Orders in the Ancient and Modern Worlds.

February 23, 2024

Chloé Pelletier: "Ladies to the Front: A permanent collection activation"

February 23, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Arts W-215

18th-century portrait by Rosalba Carriera titled "Portrait of Madame Lethieullier": portrait of white woman wearing fine clothes, pastel on cardboardWomen make up less than 1% of the named artists in the MMFA’s collection of historical European paintings, sculptures and works on paper. Most have rarely if ever been on view at the Museum. A new exhibition project looks at why that is in order to spark conversations around what – and who – defines great art. This talk offers an overview of the exhibition and introduces the museum’s evolving collection of historical European women artists, including discoveries from storage and new acquisitions. The talk will also give a behind the scenes look at the challenges curators face in exhibiting and acquiring works by women despite the major advancements that have been made in the field since Linda Nochlin published her watershed essay “Why have there been no great women artists?”

About the speaker: Chloé M. Pelletier is Curator of European Art (before 1800) at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. She earned her PhD from the University of Chicago and has held positions at cultural institutions across North America including the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. and the Art Institute of Chicago. Her current project on women artists in the Museum’s permanent collection will be on view from March - June 2024 in the Museum’s Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace.

June 17, 2024


The symposium will be held in honour of Professor Will Straw. More information will be announced soon.

Past events

October 16, 2023

Kath Albury: "Digital sexual health - from literacies to capabilities"

October 16, 4-6 p.m.
Leacock 429 & Zoom

Find the event recording on the Feminist Publishing and Tech Speaker Series YouTube channel!

Kath Albury Digital literacy education is often proposed as a panacea for a range of everyday sexual health and wellbeing concerns - from 'safe sexting' and dating app use, to consent education. Sexual health workforces, too, are increasingly required to adopt data-driven digital technologies and practices (sometimes referred to as eHealth or mHealth) to undertake core activities such as clinical service provision, health promotion, education and outreach, reporting and quality assurance. This presentation draws on preliminary findings of sociotechnical research investigating the intersection of sexual health, digital literacy, and data literacy. It uses interviews with sexual health researchers and practitioners, and the findings of a narrative literature review, to identify current limitations in sexual health research addressing “digital literacy for sexual health.” Current 'digital health literacy' discourse tends to frame literacy in terms of individual deficit - and exclude the digital and data literacies of health workforces from consideration. I propose alternative (and less morally loaded) frameworks of digital and data capability for sexual health, building on recent participatory research with members of the not-for-profit workforce. This 'capabilities approach' attends to the complexities of digital health practice, while remaining mindful of the social and political factors that are critical to sexual health and wellbeing.

About the speaker: Kath Albury is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, leading the 'Digital and data capabilities for sexual health ' project. She is also an Associate Investigator in the Swinburne University of Technology Node of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society. She is a Chief Investigator on the Swedish/Australian collaboration 'Digital sexual health: Designing for safety, pleasure and wellbeing in LGBTQ+ communities'. Kath's past projects investigated young people’s practices of digital self-representation, and the role of user-generated media (including social networking platforms and dating apps) in young people’s formal and informal sexual learning, safety and wellbeing practices. Her recent co-authored books include Everyday Data Cultures (with Jean Burgess, Anthony McCosker and Rowan Wilken, Polity 2022) and Data for Social Good: Non-Profit Sector Data Projects (with Jane Farmer, Anthony McCosker and Amir Aryani, Palgrave Macmillan Open Access 2023).

This talk was presented in partnership with the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (IGSF), the Disrupting Disruptions: Feminist and Accessible Publishing, Communications, and Technologies speaker and workshop series, and Concordia University’s DIGS Lab.

October 19, 2023

Juliet Bellow: "Faunesque: Auguste Rodin, Vaslav Nijinsky, and Public Sexuality in Paris, ca. 1912"

October 19, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Arts W-215

Rodin's sculpture of NijinskyOn the evening of May 29, 1912, Vaslav Nijinsky, the star dancer for the Ballets Russes troupe, made his choreographic debut to a packed house at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Set in archaic Greece, L’Après-midi d’un faune concerned a young faun’s lustful and ultimately fruitless pursuit of two alluring nymphs, which culminated in an onanistic sex act. The morning after, the newspaper Le Matin published a front-page article by “the great sculptor Rodin” that praised the ballet’s contribution to a modern aesthetic and compared its beauty with that of ancient Greek statuary. In the following days, Nijinsky and Rodin were swept up in a scandal stirred by critics who denounced both artists for their perceived offenses against public morality. The affaire Nijinsky is one of the most famous scandals in the history of modern art, yet there has been surprisingly little reflection on its causes and effects. This talk will consider why Rodin and Nijinsky publicly tied themselves to one another, and what their decision to do so tells us about the connections between dance, sculpture, bodies, and sex circa 1912. It will situate the scandal in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of the early French Third Republic and discuss its links to Parisian music-hall culture, where the limits of tolerance for displays of sexuality were regularly tested. The talk will also relate this episode to Rodin’s successful campaign to convert his studio in the Hôtel Biron into the Musée Rodin. It will show how Nijinsky helped Rodin to revolutionize the art of sculpture and to present himself as an embodiment of the Republic’s secular values

de Meye, Nijinsky in opening tableau (ballet)About the speaker: Juliet Bellow’s research centers on visual artists' experimentations with intermediality in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her book Modernism on Stage: The Ballets Russes and the Parisian Avant-Garde, published in 2013 by Ashgate Press, analyzes set and costume designs by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Sonia Delaunay and Giorgio de Chirico for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes troupe. She also served as Consulting Scholar for the 2013 exhibition "Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes: When Art Danced With Music." She has published in the Art Bulletin, Art Journal, American Art, and Modernism/modernity, as well as exhibition catalogues on Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, Sonia Delaunay, Merce Cunningham, and Claude Debussy.

Dr. Bellow's current book project, entitled Rodin's Dancers: Sculpture in the Age of Spectacle, is the first in-depth study of the artist's engagement with dance, and the first to examine the intertwined histories of dance and sculpture at a pivotal moment in the development of both media. This research was supported by a fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University.

Dr. Bellow teaches courses on a range of thematic issues and materials relating to European art of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, including "Art and Dance, 1860-1960," "Women and the Avant-Garde," "Revolutionary Aesthetics: Art and Politics in Nineteenth-Century France," and "Museums and Society."

November 3, 2023

Symposium: “Coexistence in Contemporary Art”

Organized by Christine Ross, Professor of Contemporary Art History, Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University

November 3, 1:30-7:30 pm
Thomson House, Ballroom, 3rd floor
3650 McTavish Street

The symposium is followed by a toast to celebrate Prof. Ross's scholarship and contributions to the department.

Caroline Monnet, The Room, 2023. Installation made of Styrofoam, OSB, Wood. 10,6 x 11,6 x 10,6 feetCoexistence in Contemporary Art considers how coexistence—the state, awareness and practice of existing interdependently—has become integral to artistic practices in the past two decades. Coexistence dismisses any notion of humans or nonhumans as fully discrete entities. Whether the environmental coevolution between species, the planetary refugee crisis, the cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous resistance to new colonialism, co-living “in the wake of slavery” (Christina Sharpe, 2016) or the intensification of media that “cognize” with or without humans (N. Katherine Hayles, 2017), coexistence has become a privileged aesthetic terrain by which to address some of the major challenges of the 21st century—from global warming to the “necropolitics” of migration to AI, from systemic racism to the social and political movements that campaign against these dark coexistences. Contemporary art explores coexistence not so much as a living-together or a cohabitation than a predominantly dark and forever-messy yet changeable relation. Art reinvents itself in that very process. It calls for more mutual forms of coexistence, including: calls to historicize, to become responsible, to empathize, to story-tell, to re-spatialize. We might think of Caroline Monnet’s The Room (2023)—a ten-foot cube in which viewers are invited to circulate and meet, made of lilac-coloured styrofoam incised with a pattern inspired by Anishinaabe sacred geometry. As viewers experience the space, modernist abstraction mixes with traditional visual knowledge, settler with indigeneity, shelter with open-space, silence with noise, Indigenous and non-Indigenous worlds.

Of particular interest to this symposium is the question of emergent aesthetics: as art becomes the site at which coexistence is thought, sensed and imagined, it generates unprecedented material, affective, perceptual, cognitive and mediatic possibilities. The speakers invited to participate in this symposium—art historian Amanda Boetzkes, artist Caroline Monnet and curator Dominique Fontaine—propose varied perspectives on how to delineate coexistence in contemporary art.


1:30 – 1:45: Christine Ross, Introduction

1:45 – 2:20 + QA: Amanda Boetzkes, “Coexistence as a Realism Without Authority: Inuit Art, Sulijuk and—Oh my Goodness—the Aesthetic Tactics of Reorigination”

For this talk, I will address the renewed importance of realism in navigating the interplay between contemporary art and decolonial praxis. While realism has seen a resurgence in the context of the “post-truth” era, a time characterized by the rise of populism and the exhaustion of critique, I propose that realism’s challenge can best be understood in scenes of reorigination in Inuit art. Through a discussion of works by Kinngait artist Shuvinai Ashoona and the Igloolik collective Isuma, I consider the invocation of sulijuk as a counter-hegemonic force unmoored from colonial, paternal and scientific authorities. Inuit realism upsets the perception of reality and opens alternative possibilities for its renewal. Through the prism of this anarchical ground of reorigination, coexistence can be theorized in aesthetic terms.

2:40 – 3:15 + QA: Dominique Fontaine, “The Praxis of Coexistence”

This talk will examine curatorial practice as a strategy of expansion of contemporary art and art history. Can art simply be reduced to theoretical knowledge or can it refer to collective experiences? Exploring various case studies, I discuss my practice to reflect on the necessity of curating as a theoretical model, as a disciplinary field which contributes to the development, transformation and formulation of new artistic paradigms.

3:55 – 4:15: break

4:15 – 4:50 + QA: Caroline Monnet, “A World of Many Parts”

A Whole Made of Many Parts draws from various personal, political and social histories, showing us how delineations, real or imagined, shape our cultures and communities. By tracing her roots to her own contemporaneity, Monnet investigates her own artistic practice to define its dynamic and ever-evolving coexistence.

5:15 – 7:30: toast to celebrate Prof. Ross’s scholarship and contributions to the department.


Amanda Boetzkes is Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Guelph. Her research specializes in ecology and theories of consciousness and perception. Over the course of her career, she has analyzed complex human relationships with the environment through the lens of aesthetics, patterns of human waste, and the global energy economy. She is the author of Plastic Capitalism: Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste (MIT Press, 2019), The Ethics of Earth Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) and a forthcoming book titled Ecologicity, Vision and the Planetarity of Art. She is co-editor of Art’s Realism in the Post-Truth Era (Edinburgh University Press, 2024), Artworks for Jellyfish and Other Others (Noxious Sector Press, 2022) and Heidegger and the Work of Art History (Ashgate, 2014). In her most recent research, Boetzkes focuses on environmental knowledge and aesthetics in the circumpolar North, with an emphasis on the politics of Inuit sovereignty and the Greenland Ice Sheet as a site of scientific, social, and perceptual importance. In 2019, she held an interdisciplinary, site-specific workshop in Ilulissat, Greenland, and curated a performance by the Greenlandic artist Jessie Kleemann on the Ice Sheet which has since been shown at numerous exhibitions and galleries including Inua at the inaugural exhibition of the Inuit Art Center in Winnipeg (2021); Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art in Santa Fe (2021); Worst Case Scenario: Four Artists from Greenland - Pia Arke, Julie Edel Hardenberg, Elisabeth Heilmann Blind, Jessie Kleemann at the Lunds Konsthalle in Sweden (2021); Jessie Kleemann at the Portland Museum of Art (2022); and Jessie Kleemann: Time flies, time flies at the Danish National Gallery (2023).

Dominique Fontaine is a cultural leader, curator, advisor, strategist on innovation in arts and culture, and Curator of Exhibitions, Toronto Biennial of Art. Her expertise spans exhibitions curation, arts administration, grants and contributions management in non-profit and government organizations. As a connector, she brings together artists, curators and the public, both within and beyond borders, towards transformative actions for diversity, equity, and inclusion in contemporary art. Fontaine will co-curate the 2024 edition of the Toronto Biennial of Art (TBA). Her recent projects include Imaginaires souverains; Le présent, modes d’emploi; Foire en art actuel de Québec; Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art; Dineo Seshee Bopape: and- in. the light of this._______, Darling Foundry; Repérages ou À la découverte de notre monde ou Sans titre, articule; Between the earth and the sky, the possibility of everything, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Toronto 2014. She is co-initiator of the Black Curators Forum. She is also a founding member of Intervals Collective. Fontaine was a 2021 laureate of Black History Month of the City of Montreal.

Caroline Monnet (Anishinaabe/French) is a multidisciplinary artist from Outaouais, Quebec. Deploying visual and media arts to demonstrate complex ideas, Monnet renders Indigenous identity and bicultural living through an examination of shifting cultural histories. She is noted for working with industrial materials processes, blending vocabularies of popular and traditional visual knowledges with tropes of modernist abstraction to create a unique formal language. Consistently occupying the stage of experimentation and invention, her work grapples with the impact of colonialism by updating outdated systems with Indigenous methodologies. Monnet’s work has been featured at the Whitney Biennial (NYC), Toronto Biennial of Art (TBA), KØS museum (Copenhagen), Museum of Contemporary Art (Montréal), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). Solo exhibitions include Arsenal Contemporary NYC, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Arsenal Contemporary (NYC) and Centre d’art international de Vassivière (France). Her films have been programmed at film festivals such as TIFF, Sundance, Aesthetica (UK), Palm Springs and ImagineNative. She is recipient of the 2023 Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, the 2020 Pierre-Ayot award, the 2020 Sobey Art Award, the Sundance Institute Mereta Mita Fellowship, and the Cinefondation residency (Paris). She is based in Montreal and is represented by Blouin-Division Gallery.

Image: Caroline Monnet, The Room, 2023. Installation made of Styrofoam, OSB, Wood. 10,6 x 11,6 x 10,6 feet

November 16, 2023

Hybrid Event: Trance, Dance, and Surrealism: Françoise Sullivan & Les Automatistes in World War II-era Montréal

November 16, 5:30-7 p.m.
Chancellor Day Hall
, Moot Court, 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

Françoise Sullivan Françoise Sullivan Join ROAAr, the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, and the CIAC (Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal ) for a talk by special guest Abigail Susik celebrating the creative life and work of artist and dancer Françoise Sullivan.

Toward the end of 1941, and in the midst of World War II, a group of art school students from the École des beaux-arts in Montréal gathered in the studio of painter and drawing teacher Paul-Émile Borduas. The students wanted to meet with Borduas to discuss the fine arts scene in Quebec and hear his news about the international Surrealist Movement and the exile of many surrealists from Vichy France. Among the students was the artist and dancer Françoise Sullivan, who went on to become one of the key members of the group that formed that night in Borduas’s studio, a network of artists that eventually came to be known as the Automatist movement (1941-48).

Although ‘Les Automatistes’ were profoundly influenced by surrealism, they also sought to distinguish themselves from the Surrealist Movement and “go further,” according to Sullivan, than any of the prior avant-garde experiments. This lecture will consider Françoise Sullivan’s decades-spanning artistic production in light of the history of the Surrealist Movement, focusing on the relationship of her dance works to surrealist psychic automatism, the surrealist interest in trance states, and the surrealist sabotage of the productivist mindset of capitalism. Exploring research discoveries made during her recent extended interview with Sullivan, art historian Abigail Susik will consider Sullivan’s work in relation to relevant examples of surrealist dance and performance by Hélène Vanel, Alice Farley, and Meret Oppenheim. How did Sullivan build on the lessons of Borduas and her interest in surrealism, all the while forging new pathways that diverge away from the history of surrealist dance and performance toward a unique medium of expression?

This will be a hybrid event, with online attendance possible for those who require it. RSVP information coming in October. This talk will be in English.

About the Speaker: In her wide-ranging research devoted to modern and contemporary Art History and visual culture, Abigail Susik focuses on the intersection of international surrealism with anti-authoritarian protest cultures. She is the author of Surrealist Sabotage and the War on Work (Manchester University Press, 2021) editor of Resurgence! Jonathan Leake, Radical Surrealism, and the Resurgence Youth Movement, 1964-1967 (Eberhardt Press, 2023), and coeditor of the volumes Surrealism and Film after 1945: Absolutely Modern Mysteries (Manchester University Press, 2021) and Radical Dreams: Surrealism, Counterculture, Resistance (Penn State University Press, 2022). Her work has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Review of Books, and she has contributed many essays to publications on the history of the avant-garde, including Surrealism Beyond Borders (Metropolitan Museum of Art; Tate Modern, 2021). Susik is a founding board member of the International Society for the Study of Surrealism and an Associate Professor of Art History at Willamette University.

This event is presented and made possible by the collaboration and support of the Centre International d’art contemporain de Montréal and McGill University. Support from the Department of Art History & Communication Studies, the McGill Visual Arts Collection and the McGill Library as well as the McGill Faculty of Law and Ross House, where the event is taking place.

November 20, 2023

Rafael Grohmann: "Workers Governing Platforms and AI"

November 20, 2:35-5:25 pm
Leacock 738 & Zoom

This is a hybrid event. Join in-person in Leacock 738 or online on Zoom: https://mcgill.zoom.us/j/81447328478

Rafael GrohmannThe talk articulates conversations between worker-owned technologies/platform cooperativism and AI/data/platform governance to discuss how workers can govern platforms and AI, building technologies and policies from below. Based on the theorization, it presents two cases, the Homeless Worker Movement in Brazil - through its technology division - and the Hollywood writers' strikes in the United States. This is part of a book proposal on the topic. Some details can also be seen in the recently published article "Not just platform, nor cooperatives: worker-owned technologies from below" (Communication, Culture & Critique).

Rafael GrohmannAbout the speaker: Assistant Professor of Media Studies with focus on Critical Platform Studies at the University of Toronto. Leader of DigiLabour initiative and co-director of Critical Digital Methods Institute. Researcher of Fairwork and Platform Work Inclusion Living Lab (P-WILL) projects. Editor-in-chief of the forthcoming Platforms & Society journal. Rafael is leading a SSHRC project on worker-owned platforms and intersectionality in Latin America and working on a book project on how Homeless Worker Movement in Brazil is creating worker-owned technologies and organizing workers.

November 23, 2023

Michelle McGeough: "Go Wan Go Mohawk’s Queering of West"

November 23, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Arts W-215

Go-won-go Mohawk was, by all accounts, a larger-than-life persona(s) who seemed to defy labels of any kind. Her "troubling gender" performances were, for the most part, confined to the vaudeville stages of North America and Europe. As the first Native American playwright, Go-won-go's life and the retailing of it is an example of what Scott Lyons refers to as "rhetorical sovereignty," the inherent right and ability of peoples to determine their own communicative needs and desires in this pursuit, to decide for themselves the goals, modes, styles, and languages of public discourse" (241). In plying her craft, Go-won-go Mohawk brought into the realm of public discourse a construction of Native American masculinity that differed from popular stereotypes. In her stage performances as the Native American male protagonist in the plays Wep-Ton-No Mah, The Indian Mail Carrier, and The Flaming Arrow, she did not portray Native Americans as victims but as the heroes. While Go-won-go deflected the politics of recognition for her own ends, she also engaged in the ongoing struggle for recognition and justice by Native Americans at the beginning of the twentieth century.

About the speaker: Dr. Michelle McGeough (Cree Métis/Settler) completed her PhD in Indigenous art history at the University of New Mexico. Prior to returning to school for her advanced degree, she taught Museum Studies at the Institute of American Indian Art and was the Assistant curator at the Wheelwright Museum of the Native American Indian in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dr. McGeough has a Master’s degree from Carleton University as well as a BFA from Emily Carr and an undergraduate degree from the Institute of American Indian Art. She also has a B.Ed. degree from the University of Alberta. Dr. McGeough currently teaches at Concordia University in the Art History department.

Dr. McGeough’s research interests have focused on the indigenous two-spirit identity. She is a board member of daphne, the first Indigenous artist run centre in Tiohtià:ke. She is a co-applicant in the SSCHR Thinking Through the Museum Partnership grant, Queer Operatives, and The Morrisseau Project. Her essays have appeared in C-space, Union Docs, and an upcoming volume entitled Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer, and LGBTTQ* Interventions into Museums, Archives, and Curation. Other areas of her research include the application of Indigenous research methodologies and the incorporation of these ways of knowing into the development of curriculum and the curation of contemporary and historic Indigenous art. Currently, Dr. McGeough teaches Indigenous art histories in Concordia’s Art History department. She is also an independent curator and has curated exhibitions for daphne, the I.D.E.A. at Colorado College, the Indigenous Art Center, in Ottawa and the Museum of Contemporary Native American Art in Santa Fe New, Mexico.

This event is presented and made possible by the collaboration and support of the Dean of Arts Development Fund, an Anonymous Donor, the Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement Initiative (ISCEI) and a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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