February 24 → June 20, 2021
Lee Bae’s dedication to presence requires our own, offering a moment of respite and contemplation
Kama La Mackerel
Helena Martin Franco
Curator: Daniel Fiset
Incandescences stems from an invitation to Helena Martin Franco, Marjolaine Bourdua, Emma Haraké, and Kama La Mackerel to carry out research-based micro-residencies in the archives of the PHI Foundation’s Education Department in the spring and summer of 2021. From this collection of objects, documents, ideas, questions, and experiences, the four artists imagined projects that take on a multiplicity of forms, allowing us to see this archive in a different light.
The title of this project is a nod to charcoal, a material that was integral to the exhibition Lee Bae: UNION (2021), which was presented at the Foundation the same year we welcomed Martin Franco, Bourdua, Haraké, and La Mackerel. Obtained from the burning of matter, charcoal is both the result of what has been consumed and what ignites other fires. In a similar way, Incandescences invites us to reactivate and reuse the things around us, reinvesting their creative potential.
During her micro-residency, Helena Martin Franco created a cartographic intervention on the floor of the PHI Foundation’s Education Room. On long strips of beige cardboard, the artist traced the outlines of objects from our past educational activities, mixed with words taken from our archives or from the news at the time. Choosing to involve herself directly in the process, Martin Franco also traced the outline of her body repeatedly on the cardboard, linking the objects to the gestures and movements that carried them, and simultaneously witnessing their presence and absence. Martin Franco then produced a video testifying to her process, as well as an online performance, entitled Absence à main levée/Freehand Absence/Ausencia a mano alzada.
From the beginning of the residency, Marjolaine Bourdua was interested in the act of sorting things, which was at the heart of the constitution of our archive—a place where documents, traces of past projects, and various materials are mixed together. How do we distinguish between what to keep and what to discard? Do these things have a life beyond their original use? To explore these questions, Bourdua designed Joining Barriers, a large ephemeral installation placed in the center of our Education Room, that brings together objects from her studio and our archives. Now dismantled, the installation can be accessed through its documentation in the form of a video narrated by the artist.
In response to the amount of text accumulated by the Foundation’s team over time, text that lives as part of the materials and artworks stored in our Education Room, Haraké designed the audio piece Four Texts To Listen To Your Inner Voice. It brings together four texts found inside of the Education Room’s closet, carefully read aloud by the artist, that reveal how the intimate and the collective are interwoven in our archive.
The micro-residency allowed Kama La Mackerel to explore various magnetic objects in our archives that became part of a site-specific installation: in particular, words from a set of poetry magnets designed by the PHI Foundation’s Education Department for a public activity. The research conducted during the micro-residency inspired a performance by La Mackerel, that took place at an event celebrating the 15th anniversary of the PHI Foundation on October 5, 2022.
Conceived in dialogue with the project’s artists, as well as artists Jenny Lin and Eloisa Aquino, this publication regroups four creative activities to make at home, alone, or in a group setting. It imagines itself as a kind of lump of coal: a material and conceptual repository that responds to what has been discovered by the artists during their research. The publication invites us into a state of discovery that echoes the artists’ processes.
Thus, it presents the reader with a different look at the objects that surround us, considering them as archives in themselves. This publication also asks us to visit that which we no longer look at because they are so common; to create new conversations between things; to link materiality and immateriality; to tell the story of our worlds again, inspired by what surrounds us.
This video marks the first time that the four artists from Incandescences get together to talk about their respective processes, and exchange on the projects they developed during their 2021 micro-residencies.
Marjolaine Bourdua is a Montréal-based artist and cultural worker. Through sculpture, she examines the inherent tensions of popular culture by investing in its forms and materials. Her practice has developed around concepts of production and circulation of the signs that constitute our present-day ruins. Bourdua holds a BFA from UQAM and a graduate degree from Villa Arson in France. She is involved in Montréal’s cultural milieu, notably as a cultural mediator and member of Centre CLARK.
Emma Haraké’s teaching, research, and creative practice move within a framework of public and critical pedagogy. Born and raised in Beirut and living in Montréal (Tio’tià:ke), Emma holds a Master’s in Art Education from Concordia University and a BFA from the Lebanese University. Her work focuses on oral history, memory work, personal narratives, and the complexities of collaborative processes. Emma is currently developing Mumtalakat, an outreach project at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery exploring meanings embedded in personal objects of Arabic-speaking Montrealers. She is also the Coordinator and Community Facilitator of Concordia’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling.
Kama La Mackerel is a Montréal-based Mauritian-Canadian multidisciplinary artist, educator, writer, community-arts facilitator and literary translator who works within and across performance, photography, installations, textiles, digital art and literature. Kama’s work is grounded in the exploration of justice, love, healing, decoloniality, hybridity, cosmopolitanism and self- and collective-empowerment. They believe that aesthetic practices have the power to build resilience and act as resistance to the status quo, thereby enacting an anticolonial praxis through cultural production. Kama has exhibited and performed their work internationally and their writing in English, French and Mauritian Kreol has appeared in publications both online and in print.
Helena Martin Franco was born in Columbia and has lived and worked in Tio’tià:ke/Montréal since 1998. Her interdisciplinary practice explores the union of different artistic processes and the hybridization of traditional techniques and new technologies. She creates auto-fictions that examine the permeability and boundaries between cultural, national, and gender identities. Her work is part of the dialogue on sexual violence, immigration, and art censorship. Working from a feminist perspective, she builds relationships between collectives and cultural organizations that foster the meeting and exchange of artistic practices, namely between Canada and Columbia.