Entends-tu ce que je vois? 
Do You See What I Hear? 

From March 29 to June 2, 2018
Opening on March 29 at 7 pm + performance by Rosalie Jean at 8 pm

Wojciech Bakowski, Bianca Baldi, Simon M. Benedict, Mareike Bernien & Kerstin Schroedinger, Myriam Bleau, Bojan Fajfric, Miriam Gossing & Lina Sieckmann, Rosalie Jean, Kapwani Kiwanga, Douglas Moffat, Naveen Padmanabha, Jen Reimer & Max Stein, Sofie Thorsen and Marie Voignier.
An exhibition prepared for Dazibao by France Choinière.

Images so that we may hear; sounds so that we may see. A willingness to refine our understanding of the world, to extract from the unique relationship of sound and image a meaning that transcends our initial perception of the whole. As though the incompleteness brought forth by the absence, censorship or obliteration of one sense contributes to the making of sense. As though the essence of the matter resides in unfulfilled expectations, or in the avowed lacunae of several of the artworks brought together here.

Watch, listen more closely to catalyze a sharper form of consciousness and an enduring acuity that permit an ever-clearer reading of things and of this world, which, for the first time in history, is called upon to face its precariousness through an incessantly mediated reality.

Wojciech Bąkowski is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Warsaw (Poland). His films explore the reality of daily life in ways that are poetic, blunt and unsparing. Born in 1979, his practice ranges from animated films to sound installations, and from poetry to music. He is the frontman of the bands KOT and Niwea. Bąkowski is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań (Poland). Since 2003, Bąkowski’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows, notably at the Kunstverein Freiburg (Germany), the National Art Museum of China and most recently at Bureau (New York, USA). He also participated in Younger Than Jesus, the first edition of The Generational, the New Museum’s triennial of young artists (New York, USA). In 2015, he was awarded the Grand Prize at the 61st International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen (Germany).

Construction of the Day (2013) begins behind the barrel of a gun, placing the viewer in the protagonist’s point-of-view as he narrates the emotional landscape of a dream. There is a dissonance between what he tells us and how he tells it. The monotony of his voice juxtaposes the images he constructs, which are dark and brutal. Though minimal, they are anything but mundane. Animated in Bąkowski’s signature style — monochromatic and dreary, digital yet low-fi — the film approaches violence, death, creativity, and love as no more remarkable than any other aspect of life. 

Bianca Baldi’s work uncovers narratives of subjugation and hidden power structures through film, installation, photography, and writing. Evoking the histories of film, studio photography and trompe-l'œil, she positions carefully chosen objects within a discourse of teleology. Born in 1985 in Johannesburg (South Africa), Baldi obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the Michaelis School of Fine Art (Cape Town, South Africa) in 2007 and recently completed her studies at the Städelschule (Frankfurt, Germany). She lives and works in Brussels (Belgium). Her work has been featured in exhibitions such as the 11th Shanghai Biennale (China), the 8th Berlin Biennale (Germany) and the 19th Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil (São Paulo, Brazil). Her recent solo shows include Eyes in the Back of Your Head at Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof (Germany), Pure Breaths at SWIMMING POOL (Sofia, Bulgaria) and Zero Latitude at the Goethe-Institut in Johannesburg (South Africa).

Zero Latitude (2014) was commissioned and co-produced by the 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, with the support of the Goethe-Institut. Baldi deconstructs Europe’s romanticization of the colonial project in Africa through the act of unpacking a Louis Vuitton trunk-bed, once belonging to an Italian-born French explorer, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, who in the 1880s made several trips to the Congo River. The artefact is removed from its context and placed in an otherwise empty white room, handled by white-gloved men as if part of an archive or museum. The silence that accompanies its unpacking suggests the untold perspective of the colonized, buried within Eurocentric histories, as well as the complicit role that museums and other institutions have played in this narrative.

Simon M. Benedict is a Toronto-based artist working with video, sound and performance. His video works, which repurpose audiovisual material ranging from YouTube videos to feature films, explores our relationship to various forms of fiction, and how they impact our unmediated perception of reality. In 2011, he obtained a BFA in Photography from Concordia University (Montréal Canada), and in 2016 he completed an MFA at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada). His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions in Canada, the United States, and Europe, including four solo exhibitions: painter project at VU PHOTO (Québec, Canada) in 2018, and at TYPOLOGY (Toronto, Canada) in 2016 ; BLIP* at Noble Space (Toronto, Canada) in 2017 ; and The Complete Dare Videos at pfoac221 (Montréal, Canada) in 2012. He has been artist-in-residence at the National Film Board of Canada (Montréal, Canada), Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto, Canada), the Banff Centre (Canada) and Centre des arts actuels Skol (Montréal, Canada).

blips is part of a series of works that looks at parallels between space exploration and colonialism. The project takes root in and uses material from the Golden Record, which was launched into space aboard the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecrafts in 1977 with hopes that extraterrestrial life would one day find them. The records contained images, sound recordings, and music meant to provide information about Earth’s diverse cultures and life forms. Combining footage from American Airlines advertisements from the 1960s and reinterpretations of sounds from the Golden Record, the dreamlike videos that comprise blips also embody a certain blatancy or forcefulness, suggesting that the desire to explore space and to make ourselves known to an extraterrestrial Other renews and repeats colonial motivations.

Mareike Bernien and Kerstin Schroedinger take a historiographical and archaeological approach to their media-based practice. Their films treat the medium as a product of time, culture and ideology, and often probe the means of its production in order to construct or reconstruct images as objects of study. Based in Berlin (Germany), Bernien and Schroedinger have worked together since 2006. Their collaborative films include Rainbow’s Gravity (2014), Red She Said (2011), and Translating the Other (2010). They have exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, USA), the Anthology Film Archives (New York, USA), Berlinale Festival (Germany), the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany), and the National Gallery of Art (Washington, USA), amongst other places.

Rainbow’s Gravity is a cinematic study of the Agfacolor-Neu film stock made in Nazi Germany. The film stock, made in response to American Technicolor, was produced through the forced labour of Jewish prisoners and was used for Nazi propaganda as well as German feature films during and after World War II. Rainbow’s Gravity takes place in and around the now-closed Agfacolor factory. Throughout the film, the actors narrate a script that is both poetic and informative, manipulating coloured gels in reference to the film stock’s composition. Interrogating memory, history, and archive, the film questions the ways in which revisionist accounts of history sometimes prioritize artistic representation over accuracy. Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, for example, remembers the Holocaust in black-and-white despite the arrival of coloured film. Rainbow’s Gravity asks us to face this reality within film today.

Myriam Bleau is a composer, digital artist and performer based in Montréal (Canada). She investigates the physical reactions created by light and sound. By manipulating various conventions and codes, she seeks to disrupt expectations associated with musical performance in the digital age. Bleau performs often in Québec and throughout Canada, and has recently been hosted by festivals and events such as ]interstice[, rencontre des inclassables (Caen, France), Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), Sónar Festival (Hong Kong, China) and Sónar+D (Barcelona, Spain), Convergence Festival (London, UK) transmediale Festival (Berlin, Germany), MUTEK (Montréal, Canada), AKOUSMA (Montréal, Canada) and Sugar Mountain Festival (Melbourne, Australia). 

Natures mortes is inspired by the artist’s recent performance autopsy.glass, which combines household objects, torture devices, and medical equipment. In an attempt to associate the anticipated destruction of fragile objects with musical tension, the performance uses the objects to create dissonant sounds through dangerous manipulations and dramatic lighting. Bleau plays with this tension in Natures mortes, at times recalling Nam June Paik’s One for Violin Solo (1962), in which the artist raises a violin above his head at a painfully slow pace before smashing it against a table. Natures mortes acts as a study in sonification, creating a musical and visual spectacle while exploring sensations of anticipation and discomfort.

Bojan Fajfrić explores particular historic and family narratives through film. He uses re-enactment to examine the ways in which the past folds into the present, and often places himself at the centre of his work in order to create a more personal connection with the broader histories at play. Fajfrić was born in Belgrade (Yugoslavia) in 1976 and studied Visual Arts at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague (The Netherlands). From 2000 to 2001, he was an artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), where he has lived and worked since. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide at venues such as Palais de Tokyo (Paris, France), Tim Van Laere Gallery (Antwerp, Belgium), ARCUS Project (Ibaraki, Japan), and Škuc Gallery (Ljubljana, Slovenia). He has also taken part in film festivals including the Tempo Documentary Festival (Stockholm, Sweden), the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany), the Vienna International Film Festival (Austria), and DOK Leipzig (Germany).

Unfinished Business is a film about an artist’s life-long transformation as remembered in his last moments. The storyline blurs past and present, dream and reality. In the film, the artist’s studio is at the centre of the protagonist’s performance. It acts as the container of memories and traumas, where he collects his child’s drawings or dances with his wife. The sound gains a particular importance as the beating of a drum syncs with the events unfolding on screen. Part fiction, part personal history, the film features Fajfrić’s own father in the role of the artist. In remaking fragments of his protagonist’s life, Fajfrić simultaneously constructs his own possible future.

Miriam Gossing and Lina Sieckmann work collaboratively on experimental films, videos and photography, often focusing on urban or private architecture, hyperstaged environments, and themes of fear, anxiety and alienation. Through elaborate processes of research and storytelling, they use a documentary approach to create images that are both poetic and surreal. Miriam Gossing was born in Siegburg (Germany) and Lina Sieckmann was born in Engelskirchen (Germany). They both studied at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne from 2009 to 2015 and at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Germany) with Professor Rita McBride from 2016 to 2017. As a duo, they have shown their work in international art institutions and film festivals, including the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart Berlin (Germany), the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany) and the Anthology Film Archives (New York, USA). In 2015, they were artists-in-residence at Light Cone, Paris. In 2012, they founded Schalten Und Walten, an independent art space that programs experimental film screenings, exhibitions and performance events in collaboration with international artists. 

Ocean Hill Drive takes place in a coastal town in Massachusetts. The town is home to a phenomenon known as a shadow flicker, which occurs when rotating wind turbines create flickering shadows over homes, fields, building and roads. This incessant pulsating light creates an inescapable uneasiness amongst the members of the community. Reminiscent of structuralist cinema, the flicker is not unlike that which occurs naturally between frames on film. Including voiceovers by multiple local residents interviewed for the film, Ocean Hill Drive, much like a mystery movie, uncovers the daily lives of a community under the sway of a specific motion and its unsettling psychological effects. 

Rosalie Jean’s performances and videos investigate alternative forms of communication that are made possible through heightened availabilities of sensory reception. Placing the body at the centre of her works, she explores the tensions produced and possibilities offered by corporeal limits within the sphere of communication. Jean lives in Montréal (Canada) and is currently finishing her Masters in Visual Arts at the Université du Québec à Montréal, where she also completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2016. Her work has been included in several exhibitions and performance events in Montréal. She is the recipient of the Irène-Senécal Prize for excellence and has presented her work within the context of several university conferences, notably Interventions dans l’environnement : Petites tailles, grands impacts.

Tête-à-tête presents two women sitting face-to-face. In near-perfect symmetry, one becomes the other’s reflection. Clad entirely in black, the women are in stark contrast to the white environment that surrounds them. Eyes closed, they perform gentle gestures in the palms of the other’s hands. In complete silence, they communicate by means of tactile signing, a form of sign language used by those who are both deaf and blind, in which words are spelled through touch. Their facial expressions—whether they are smiling, nodding, or frowning—indicate their understanding of what the other is trying to say. Patience and empathy are at the core of the work, underscoring the body’s interminable ability to communicate with others.

Kapwani Kiwanga’s performances, sound pieces, installations, and videos unite her backgrounds in the social sciences and art, using anthropological methodologies to explore anti-colonial struggles, afrofuturism, and marginalized discourses. Born in 1978 in Hamilton (Ontario, Canada), Kiwanga currently lives and works in Paris (France). She holds a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and Comparative Religions from McGill University (Montréal, Canada) and also studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, taking part in the research program “La Seine.” Her recent solo shows include The sum and its parts at the Logan Center (Chicago, USA), A wall is just a wall at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto, Canada) and Afrogalactica at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin, Italy). Her work has also been included in group shows at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin, Ireland), the Glasgow Center for Contemporary Arts (Scotland), the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, USA) and Centre Pompidou (Paris, France). In 2018, she was artist-in-residence at Artpace in San Antonio (Texas, USA) and at Galerie le Manège - Institut français (Dakar, Senegal) in 2013. She is the recipient of many awards and has twice been nominated for a BAFTA. She is the 2018 winner of the Frieze Artist Award (New York, USA).

Vumbi is set in rural Tanzania and the artist uses the Swahili word for “dust” as its title. During the dry season, a layer of red dust coats the land, turning the landscape monochromatic. In a gesture of subtractive painting, Kiwanga dusts the leaves that have been coated, revealing colours underneath. The green leaves contrast the red landscape, creating a line in the foliage. This act of dusting, however, is in vain, as the leaves will inevitably be soon covered in red dust again. 

Douglas Moffat creates environments built for listening, utilizing field recordings, electroacoustic music, and landscape architecture. Born in 1974, Moffat received a Bachelors of Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) in 1999, a Masters of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Concordia University (Montréal, Canada) in 2009, and a Post-Professional Masters of Architecture from McGill University (Montréal, Canada) in 2010. His recent project Listening to Las Vegas explored the sonic environment of the Las Vegas Strip. He has presented works at The International Garden Festival (Québec, Canada) and the send + receive Festival (Winnipeg, Canada). For two summers he has co-tutored workshops for the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (UK). He and collaborator Steve Bates recently launched OKTA — a public sound installation for the City of Toronto. He lives in Montréal (Québec, Canada). 

Valsalva Manœuvre / Corridor Pressure is inspired by the experience of sound in extreme environments. The Valsalva Manoeuvre is used by scuba divers to regulate pressure as they descend into deep water. To perform the manoeuvre, they close their nasal passages and force the pressure out of their ears momentarily, which causes the internal sounds of the body to rush in and external sounds to be drowned out. For this work, Moffat has created an installation that draws a similar attention to sound and pressure. The listener stands in a gap between two pipes, each upon which a speaker has been placed, creating an acoustic atmosphere in the gallery similar to that within in a diver’s helmet, or within an empty corridor. The listener is invited to listen actively and consider sound’s relativity to time and space. 

Naveen Padmanabha’s work deals with themes such as communication, entropy, time, space, and reality, drawing from experimental cinema to find different ways of translating ideas on screen. The many characters in his films engage in self-reflection as they navigate the everyday. At the heart of their inner dialogues is their perception of physical and metaphysical worlds. Naveen was Born in 1981 in Bangalore (India), where he lives and works at Blakol Studios as a filmmaker and graphic designer. He obtained a degree from the College of Fine Arts in Bangalore in 2006 in Art History and Sculpting, and then completed his postgraduate studies at the Film and Television Institute of India in Screenplay Writing and Film Direction in 2012, where he now occasionally teaches. Glass won Best Film at the Kolhapur International Film Festival in 2014, and was screened at the SiGNS Short Film Festival in 2014. His 2016 film Amateurs was screened at the 63rd International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany). 

Glass is the story of an amateur lens maker who we encounter as he grinds glass into a telescope mirror. Shot on 35mm film, the experimental short film is lyrical and insightful. As the protagonist performs the repetitive act of grinding, shaping and polishing the glass, his mind wanders, exploring different ways of seeing and understanding the world around him. Naveen proposes the lens as a way of looking beyond the physical world and into the metaphysical, using the glass object as a starting point for the narrator’s thoughts, memories and philosophies. As we follow the lens maker through his daily routines and dreams, the sound of his voice alternates with the grating sound of glass being shaped.

Jen Reimer and Max Stein are sound artists and performers based in Montréal (Canada) who have been working in collaboration since 2009. They create immersive experiences by using spatial recordings, electroacoustic composition, online mapping and site-specific performances. Collaboratively, they have presented works in Montréal (Canada) at Suoni per Il Popolo, HTMlles and Pop Montréal, and internationally at Sound Development City in Lisbon (Portugal) and Marseille (France), Lisboa Soa in Lisbon (Portugal), Äänen Lumo in Helsinki (Finland), Les Digitales in Lausanne (Switzerland), Art in Odd Places in New York (USA), Video Sound Art Festival in Milan (Italy) and Path Festival in Verona (Italy). In 2016, they launched their first online exhibition, Sounding the City, which features maps and photos of site-specific installations and acoustic interventions in Montréal.

Mounted to the gallery wall, Sounding the City resembles an electricity box; the kind often found on the side of a building or electrical pole. The viewer is invited to listen to soundscape compositions that are paired with maps to the spaces where the recordings were made. Although situated in the gallery, the work extends into the outside world. The installation treats sound as a portrait – one in which the viewer can immerse herself, not only through listening, but also by following in the footsteps of the artists to its original place of recording.

Sofie Thorsen’s work in sculpture, collage, painting, architectural drawing, photography and film questions the ways in which space and architectures are perceived while focusing on the social, cultural, historical and political implications of such perceptions. Born in Aarhus (Denmark), she currently lives and works in Vienna (Austria). She holds degrees from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in Budapest, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (Austria), where she taught until 2009. Thorson’s work has been widely exhibited in Europe and in the Unites States at venues including the MAK in the context of the Vienna Biennale (Austria), Petra Gut Contemporary (Zurich, Switzerland), Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art (Prague, Czech Republic). Solo shows include View, Cut at mumok (Vienna, Austria), Whose Sleeves? at Galerie Anhava (Helsinki, Finland) and Some Lines at Center for Energiadministration (Esbjerg, Denmark). She is the recipient of many awards, and in 2016 she received a sponsorship from the Danish Arts Foundation in the context of the ISCP’s International Program (New York, USA).

The Achromatic Island observes the landscape of the Danish Island of Fur as seen through the eyes of an achromat. Achromatopsia is a hereditary strain of black and white colour blindness caused by a lack of photoreceptors in the eyes, which normally allow for the differentiation between wavelength and intensity, ensuring the perception of colour. Before the 1930s, when the isolated Island of Fur community of only 1000 residents gradually opened up to outsiders, this condition was common among the inhabitants. It is now disappearing, and in 2009 Thorsen met the last of those born with the disease. In a series of interviews, they explain exactly what they are able to see. Quotes from their accounts are compiled into the narration for the film, while the accompanying images attempt to reproduce their descriptions. Dizzying, diffuse, lacking depth, The Achromatic Island seeks to imagine what their world looks like. The ability to do so, however, is limited by the fundamental impossibility of understanding someone else’s perception – especially one so radically different. As such, while documenting the peculiarity of this place and its community, the film takes an acute look at the limits of art and language.

Marie Voignier’s short films are both documentary and fiction. Through careful manipulations of sound and image, she augments the surreality within realities to highlight how those realities are both controlled and imagined. Born in Ris-Orangis (France), she now lives in Paris (France). She teaches at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, where she is also a coordinator in the Department of Moving-Images. Voignier studied at the Université de Technologie de Compiègne (France), at Universität Berlin (Germnay), as well as at the École Nationale Supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon (France). She has presented several solo exhibitions and has been featured in numerous group exhibitions and screenings, notably at the 57th Venice Biennale (Italy), the Nouveau Musée National (Monaco, France), Institute of Contemporary Arts (London, UK) and the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, USA). She is the recipient of numerous awards and her work can be found in major public collections such as the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (France), the Fond National d’Art Contemporain (France), MAC Grand-Hornu (Belgium) and the Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco (USA). Voignier was recently nominated for the 2018 Marcel Duchamp Prize. 

Tourisme International examines how authoritarian regimes define the self-representation of a nation. As the film documents guided visits to painters’ studios, museums, cinemas, and war memorials in North Korea, one element is missing: the tour guides’ voices; the sound has been completely reworked to exclude it. This silence raises questions about what the guides are telling the tourists and, by extension, what they are not telling them; what is being censored. The footage is interspersed with title cards, revealing Kim Jong Un’s own concerns about the details of the film’s production. Tourisme International examines the ways in which a state controls its image in the eyes of the world, and the unsettling ways in which these choreographed images misrepresent realities.

Dazibao thanks the artists and its advisory committee for their generous collaboration as well as its members for their support.

Dazibao also thanks their interns Sophie Heisler, Joan Meyer and Kate Nugent for their important contribution to this project

Dazibao receives financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the Ville de Montréal.