Fine Arts a big part of Victoria Film Festival

If it’s February, it must be time for the Victoria Film Festival! This year, in addition to the usual lineup of great feature and short films running February 5-14—including a number by Fine Arts faculty and alumni—the VFF is offering special free attendance for Fine Arts students to their annual Springboad film industry event, running Feb 5-7 at the Vic Theatre (details below). This is especially of note for anyone interested in film studies, film production, acting, producing, screenwriting or media studies in general. Students simply have to RSVP by Monday, February 1, to

VFF The DevoutOne highlight of the nearly 70 feature films screening this year is The Devout, the feature film debut by Department of Writing MFA alumnus Connor Gaston, produced by fellow Fine Arts alumni  Amanda Verhagen (Theatre) and Daniel Hogg (Writing), with costume design by Kendra Terpenning (Theatre). Gaston attracted a good deal of attention at past film festivals near and far with his award-winning short film ’Til Death, the latest short to emerge from Writing professor Maureen Bradley‘s Writing 420 film production class. The Devout screens 7:15pm February 11 and 1pm February 13 at the downtown Odeon, with Gaston and cast members doing post-film Q&As at both screenings.

Other highlights with links back to Fine Arts include Reset, a short film about a female android discovering she has feelings for her owner, directed by Writing grad Jeremy Lutter (a frequent VFF face with the likes of Gord’s Brother), written by Writing grad Ryan Bright (screenwriter of ’Til Death) and produced by UVic Gustavson School of Business grad Jocelyn Russell. It shows at 8:45pm Feb 7 at The Vic Theatre as part of the “Techlandia” shorts program.

No Breath Play

No Breath Play

The short film No Breath Play is chock full of Writing alumni, being written and directed by Stacey Ashworth, starring Julia Dillon-Davis, featuring camera work by director of photography Scott Amos, produced by Kelly Conlin and executive produced by Daniel Hogg. No Breath Play takes a look at what happens when a reclusive young woman explores BDSM, only to be mistakenly left bound and alone at home. This one screens at 4pm on Feb 7 at The Vic Theatre as part of the “Risky Plays, Risky Places” shorts program.

There’s also a special CineVic retrospective happening at the festival, 6:30pm Sunday Feb 7 at the Odeon on Yates. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the local filmmakers society, over half the 15 short films on view feature the work of Fine Arts alumni:

  • Wolfgang Ball, Marjorie Celona (BFA, Writing)
  • Godhead, Conner Gaston (BFA & MFA, Writing)
  • Bark to the Land, David Geiss (MFA, Writing)
  • Sisyphus, Maureen Bradley (Professor, Writing)
  • Grass, Scott Amos (BFA & MFA, Writing)
  • The Quandry of Señor Muchacho, Jeremy Lutter (BFA, Writing) also starring Theatre alumna Amanda Lisman
  • Woodrow Without Evelyn, Daniel Hogg (BFA, Writing)
  • Near Silence, starring Treena Stubel (BFA, Theatre)

Finally, the annual VFF SpringBoard event focuses on the business side of filmmaking, which is dynamic and ever-changing in this increasingly digital era. SpringBoard offers aspiring Canadian filmmakers the opportunity to expand their knowledge and keep up with new trends in panels and discussions hosted by established industry leaders.

What can you discover at Springboard?

What can you discover at Springboard?

Again, Fine Arts students can attend the Feb 5-7 Springboad events at the Vic Theatre for free. This is especially of note for anyone interested in film studies, film production, acting, producing, screenwriting or media studies in general. Students simply have to RSVP by Monday, February 1, to

Friday, February 5:

• Media Worldview Round Up (11am-noon) – Join the VFF for the annual review of what’s new, forecasted and unpredictable. Gain insights into how the changes impact the kinds of projects you create and understand new opportunities. With Harold Gronenthal, Executive Vice- President of Programming & Operations – AMC/Sundance Channel Global at AMC Networks Inc. He has led content acquisitions for AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel and WE TV since 2004.

Tania Koenig-Gauchier

Tania Koenig-Gauchier

• Getting Your Start (12:15-1:45pm) – A panel of commissioning editors will provide tips on what a career looks like for an emerging filmmaker. Topics will include commissioning priorities, preferences on approach and pitch, and what to expect working in the field. Panelists include TV producer Tania Koenig-Gauchier, who has almost 20 years experience in broadcasting and independent production working as a producer for CTV, APTN and CBC, and has a background in business, marketing and promotions for television; Tara Ellis, CBC’s Executive Director of Scripted Content, including comedy and drama, kids programming and digital originals; and Robin Neinstein, Production Executive, Original Drama Content for Shaw Media, who oversees the development and production of various scripted series and co-productions for Shaw channels including Global, History and Showcase.

Mary Galloway

Mary Galloway

• The Winning Pitch: Mary Galloway (2:30-3pm) – Mary Galloway won the BravoFact! $35,000 pitch competition in 2015 to create her short film Ariel Unravelling, and now returns to discuss making her film and working with BravoFact! Mary Galloway is a young First Nations actor, producer and writer. She has dedicated her career to telling stories with dynamic female leads, as well as being an advocate for equality for Aboriginal (and non-Aboriginal) woman. She prides herself on being a positive role model for today’s youth. She has lead three feature films, can be seen on TV shows such as The CW’s Supernatural and is in pre-production for many of her own passion projects.

• Pitch Tips (3:30-4:30pm) – This session reveals the nuts and bolts of how and what to say when pitching your project. Pat Ferns is President of Ferns Productions Inc., specializing in blue-chip documentary-drama mini-series, working with his son Andrew, President of Ferns Entertainment Inc. whose principal focus is drama. Major series Pat and Andrew have produced together include the award-winning Captain Cook: Obsession and Discovery and Darwin’s Brave New World, both Australia-Canada co-productions.

Saturday, February 6

Semi Chellas (G. Pimentel, photo)

Semi Chellas (G. Pimentel, photo)

• In Conversation with Semi Chellas (noon-1:30pm) – Semi Chellas discusses writing for film and television. Chellas was Co-Executive Producer and writer for Mad Men, running the room for the final two seasons. She was nominated for six Emmys and shared the WGA award with Matthew Weiner for co-writing the episode “The Other Woman”. Chellas has written for indie features, kids movies, television movies and directed several award-winning short films. Chellas is currently working as an Executive Producer of Steve McQueen’s HBO miniseries Codes of Conduct.

Sunday, February 7

• In Conversation with Larry Weinstein (noon-1:30pm) – Welcome to the inventive world of Larry Weinstein, a wonderfully unique documentary filmmaker whose films have captured the lives of great composers, the former Ambassador to Iran Ken Taylor, and the mystery of Hana’s Suitcase.  Weinstein is going to look at the anatomy of making a documentary from inception to completion while expanding on his thoughts by screening raw and completed footage of his latest project, Devil’s Horn. He’ll be in conversation with CTV AM’s film critic, Richard Crouse.

Visual Impetus XIX

For 19 years now, graduate students of the Art History & Visual Studies department have been planning, organizing and mounting their own annual symposium to showcase the kind of dynamic research they’ve been undertaking. And they’re back again this year with Visual Impetus XIX: “Artistry & Creativity: Environments. Materials. Objects.”

VIposter2016Running 4-7:30pm Friday, Jan 22 and 9am – 4pm Saturday, Jan 23 in room 103 of the Fine Arts building, Visual Impetus XIX provides important opportunities for grad students to present their research to peers and faculty alike, as well as providing a supportive forum to develop their presentation skills.

This weekend event, which also features a poster fair on Friday night as well as numerous presentation panels, welcomes both Dr. Susan Lewis, Acting Dean of Fine Arts, and Dr Dennine Dudley as guest speakers. All students, faculty and community members are welcome.

Here’s the weekend schedule:

Friday, January 22

4pm – Opening remarks by Dr. Susan Lewis

Panel 1: Fashioning Identity: Family; Society; Self.

4:05 pm – Panel introduction by Brian Pollick

4:10 pm – Alexandra Macdonald (MA Candidate): “Understanding the Importance of Gossip and Rumor: Johan Zoffany’s The Gore Family with George, Third Earl Cowper”

4:25 pm  – Kristen Matulewicz (MA Candidate): “And Down She Lay: Decoding The Lady of Shalott in Victorian Society”

4:40 pm – Christine Oldridge (MA Candidate)” “Sensuality, Decorum, and Self-fashioning in the Art of Rosalba Carriera”

4:55 pm – Question period / 5:10 pm – 10 minute break

Panel 2: Symbols and Emblems through History

5:20 pm – Panel introduction by Jaiya Anka

5:25 pm – Alicia Hagy (MA Candidate): “Post-War Tides: Situating Iannis Xenakis in the Rebetiko Revival”

5:40 pm – David Christopher (PhD Candidate) “Apocalyptic Impulses in Canadian Art”

5:50 pm – Question period

6:05 pm – Art History and Visual Studies Graduate Association, Logo Launch by Jaiya Anka

6:15 pm – Closing Remarks by Christine Oldridge

6:30 pm – 7:30 pm – Poster fair, popcorn, & pizza

Saturday, January 23

9:00 am – Pastry and Coffee Reception

Panel 3: Sensory Reception Beyond the Object

9:30 am – Opening remarks and Panel introduction by David Christopher

9:35 am – Bailey Arnholz (MA Candidate): “Can Death Speak? An Exploration of the Voices of Images in the Medieval Art of the Macabre”

9:50 am – Françoise Keating (MA Candidate): “Emblems and Proverbs: Moral Humanistic Allegories for Tapestry Makers in Manuscript 2446”

10:05 am – Susan Hawkins (PhD Candidate): “Ceci n’est pas une Pomme: The Illustrated Apple”

10:20 am – Question Period / 10:35 am – 10 minute break

Panel 4: Textual Identity and Visual Communication

10:45 am – Panel introduction by Alexandra Macdonald

10:50 am – Zahra Kazani (PhD Candidate): “Rethinking the ‘Religious’ in the Arts: Examining the Development of the Early Qur’an as an Art Object”

11:05 am – Atri Hatef (PhD Candidate): “Pseudo-Arabic Scripts in European Art (1300-1600 AD): Legible Words or Symbolic Signs?”

11:20 am – Dana Harold (MA Candidate): “Graffiti or Street Art? The Importance of Terminology when Classifying Graffiti and Street Art in Cairo, Egypt”

11:35 am – Question Period / 11:50 pm – Lunch

1:00 pm – Keynote introduction by Alicia Hagy

1:05 pm – Dr. Dennine Dudley (Continuing Sessional Instructor): “Creating Environments: My Path to Process”

1:25 pm – Question period

Panel 5: Eastern Encounters

1:40 pm – Panel introduction by Françoise Keating

1:45 pm – Jenelle Pasiechnik (MA Graduate): “Assembling Oh Persepolis II: The Simultaneity of Tradition and Modernity in Parviz Tanavoli’s Monumental Bronze Sculpture”

2:00 pm – Brian Pollick (PhD Candidate): “The Club of Kings: The Role of Luxurious Material Culture in the Mission of William of Rubruck to the Mongols”

2:15 pm – Question period / 2:30 pm – 10 minute break

Panel 6: Spirituality and Philosophy in Landscape, Architecture and Artisanal Communities

2:40 pm – Panel introduction by Kristen Matulewicz

2:45 pm – Yang Liu (PhD Candidate): “Chinese Subjectivity: The Comparative Study of Daoism, Phenomenology and Object-Oriented Ontology through the Lens of Traditional Chinese Landscape Painting”

3:00 pm – Astara Light (PhD Candidate): “Movement and Meaning: Intersections between Balinese Temples and Indian Sacred Architecture”

3:15 pm – Fahimeh Ghorbani (MA Graduate): “Kasbnama-yi Bafandegi (Weaving kasbnama); Doctrine of Jawanmardi/futuwwa and Artisanal Culture in Safavid Iran”

3:30 pm   – Question period

3:45 pm – ARTiculate introduction: the Graduate Student Journal of Art History and Visual Studies

3:55 pm – Closing Remarks by Christine Oldridge

4:00 pm – Closing Remarks by Dr. Erin Campbell, Art History & Visual Studies Chair

Writing alum Billeh Nickerson offers publishing workshop

Exciting news for students and community writers: celebrated Department of Writing alumnus, author & editor Billeh Nickerson (BFA ’98) returns to campus with an exciting new workshop. “Getting It Into Print” will reveal the trade secrets of getting your work published in literary journals.

Billeh Nickerson

Billeh Nickerson

Learn valuable tips from an industry professional, including the key do’s and don’ts of cover letters and what writers can learn from rejection letters. (Believe it!) This workshop, co-presented by Geist magazine and the Writing department, is as fun as it is instructional. A frequent Geist contributor, Nickerson well knows the ins and outs of the Canadian lit scene.

As the author of five books, including the 2014 City of Vancouver Book Award-nominated Artificial Cherry, Nickerson is the ideal instructor for this workshop. A former editor of both PRISM International and Event (two of Canada’s most respected literary journals), and a previous writer-in-residence at Queen’s University and at Dawson City’s Berton House, he is now Chair of the Creative Writing Department at Vancouver’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“Getting It Into Print” runs 11am – 2 pm Friday, January 29 at UVic’s Legacy Gallery, 630 Yates. This $50 workshop also includes a one-year subscription to Geist for yourself or a friend. Register now.

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Carl Wilson is Writing’s 2016 Southam Lecturer

When it comes to writing about popular culture, Carl Wilson’s heart will always go on. That’s partially because, as a music critic for Slate and Billboard magazines, Wilson is deeply passionate about the impact music can have on everyone’s lives; but it’s also because his book about Céline Dion struck a chord that rivaled the power of love.

Carl Wilson

Carl Wilson

Originally published in 2007 as part of the acclaimed 33 1/3 music criticism series, Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste deftly deconstructed Céline Dion’s dichotomous popularity and vilification. Described as “a thought experiment,” Let’s Talk About Love prompted readers to second-guess what they like and dislike, and to really consider what they value or scorn.

“Different forms of culture are lenses through which we can look at our lives and society,” says Wilson. “It’s more about engaging in dialogue with the work than a knee-jerk thumbs-up/thumbs-down reaction. When you’re writing about music or movies or books, you can write about anything; it potentially encompasses all experience.”

As the 2016 Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction for the Department of Writing, Wilson will be offering students the benefit of his experience as a contributor to The New York Times, The Atlantic, Pitchfork, The Nation, Exclaim!, Spin and others—including nearly 15 years as a feature writer and editor at The Globe and Mail. “One of the reason I like to work in pop culture is that it’s a more immediately accessible and relatable form,” he says. “Whether or not you’re deeply versed in the history of those forms, it’s a medium you have direct access to that works as a conversation with other people through this common experience of popular culture.”

With his class running in the winter semester and a public lecture planned for the end of February, Wilson intends his course to be “a collective workshop on approaches to critical writing about popular culture. It will be really hands-on—I want the students to read a lot of things that will give them ideas and then try to put those ideas into practice.”

let's talkReprinted in 2014 as a stand-alone edition subtitled “Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste,” Let’s Talk About Love now includes additional essays by the likes of novelists Nick Hornby and Sheila Heti, musicians Owen Pallett and Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), cultural critics Ann Powers and Sukhdev Sandhu, scholars Daphne A. Brooks and Jonathan Sterne, and many others. And while not quite as popular as Ms. Dion herself, Wilson’s book has sparked debates about taste in the music-writing community as well as on blogs and podcasts, in cultural studies departments and across traditional media outlets ranging from The Village Voice to The Colbert Report. It even got a shout-out from actor James Franco on the red carpet at the 2009 Oscars.

As the ninth Southam Lecturer for the Writing department, Wilson follows in the footsteps of the likes of CBC Radio’s Jo-Ann Roberts, author Richard Wagamaese, humour writer Mark Leiren-Young, and sports journalist Tom Hawthorn, among others.

He does admit to being “kind of excited and scared” about teaching. “I feel like academia was the shadow life I never had,” he says, adding that he holds a BA from McGill. “I intended to stay in school, but that never happened. But a lot of the work I do is academically informed—I read a lot of cultural studies, because a lot of the questions that interest me are broad theoretical questions and to do that work you have to know what’s been done before, and what you can add to that.”

Of course, it helps that Let’s Talk About Love has become academically popular. “One of the really surprising things is how much it’s been adopted as an academic text,” he says. “It’s been taught in a lot of places and courses have been designed around it, which I never considered at all when I wrote it. But I’ve spent a lot of time in classrooms over the past few years because of that.”

The big question, then, is whether or not he’ll be using his own book in class. “I’m still deciding,” he says with a laugh. “It’s slightly hubristic to make your own text required reading—but, on the other hand, it does deal with the same questions we’ll be dealing with in the course.”

Spring 2016 Visiting Artists

A scene from one of Thauberger's films

A scene from one of Thauberger’s films

Always an exciting part of each semester, the long-running Visiting Artist program in the Department of Visual Arts has announced their spring lineup. (More to come, but check back later for those.) Organized by Visual Arts professor Jennifer Stillwell, all these illustrated talks take place in room A162 of the Visual Arts Building, and all are free and open to the public. Come join us in exploring the wider visual arts world!

First up is notable Visual Arts MFA alumna Althea Thauberger. A Vancouver-based artist and film/video-maker, her works are generated from critical and historical readings of the physical, social and institutional sites they are generated within, and they are often developed in an extended process of cooperation and dialogue with their subjects. Thauberger’s film/video, performance and image works are informed by her background in the history of photography and issues related to the power dynamics of representation.

In recent years, she has developed projects at Prádelna, Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital, Prague; the Haskell Opera House on the Québec/Vermont border; the former Rikard Benčić factory in Rijeka, Croatia; and the Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Thauberger has also been involved in teaching and organizing of public

A detail of Carl Boutard's "Island"

A detail of Carl Boutard’s “Island”

programming in impromptu spacesas well as at The Banff Centre; The Academy of Fine Art, Prague; and VIVO, Vancouver; among many others.

She’ll be appearing as an Orion Visitor in Fine Arts at 8pm, Wednesday, January 13.

Next up is Berlin artist Carl Boutard. Also an Orion Visitor, Boutard currently holds the Swedish Art Council residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York. His artistic practice has been shaped longing for the outdoors; he observes and reflects on the relationship between human beings, nature and culture. His work is presented as installations that incorporate drawings, sculpture, video, text and performance. A recurring theme is that which is about to disappear, that which possesses aura and authenticity, both visually and from the point of view of content.

Boutard has completed public art commissions in Sweden and Germany, and his work has been exhibited in solo and group shows across Europe and has been
awarded numerous grants through public funding bodies in Sweden.

Also an Orion Visitor, Boutard will speak at 8pm on Wednesday, January 27.

Diana Freundl

Diana Freundl

While the first two visitors are practicing artists, the next is curator Diana Freundl. The Associate Curator of Asian Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery since
2013, Freundl has curated a series of installations for Offsite, the Gallery’s public art project, including works by Shanghai-­based collective MadeIn Company and Mumbai-based Reena Saini Kallat. In 2014, she co-­curated Unscrolled: Reframing Tradition in Chinese Contemporary Art, one of the inaugural exhibitions for the Institute of Asian Art and most recently she co-­coordinated the touring exhibition Lee Bul.

With an academic background in comparative religion and philosophy, with graduate studies in journalism, Freundl lived and worked in China for 14 years, where she was an Artistic Director at Art+ Shanghai, and the curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA). She co-­curated large-­scale exhibitions such as Night on Earth: Helsinki, Berlin, Shanghai (2007); MoCA Envisage II: Butterfly Dream (2008) and INDIA XIANZAI: Contemporary Art from India (2009). In 2012, she co-­curated Virtual Voices: Approaching Social Media and Art from China with Zheng Shengtian at the Charles H. Scott Gallery in Vancouver.

Don’t miss her talk at 8pm Wednesday, February 17.

Camille Norment (Photo: Marta Buso)

Camille Norment (Photo: Marta Buso)

Coming up on March 9, Visual Arts is proud to present Camille Norment as a Distinguished Women Scholar Lecture. A multi­media artist, Norment often uses the notion of cultural psychoacoustics as both an aesthetic and conceptual framework. She defines this term as the examination of socio-­cultural phenomena through sound and music, and the contexts in which they are produced. Norment applies this concept towards the creation of critical works that consciously interweave the formal and the contextual; her artwork utilizes forms including sound, installation, light sculptures, drawing, performance, and video, all united by a preoccupation with the way in which form, space, and the body of the viewer create aesthetic and conceptual experience.

Norment performs as a solo artist, with other musicians in selected projects, and with her

Norment in performance

Norment in performance

ensemble, the Camille Norment Trio—electric guitar, Norwegian hardingfele and the rare glass armonica—to explore the instruments’ collective sensual and cultural psychoacoustics across genre boundaries. Each of these instruments were simultaneously revered and feared or even outlawed at various points in their histories; through deconstructions of “beauty” and “noise”, “harmony” and “dissonance,” the visceral atmospheres they produce resonate through a tantalizing union of the instruments’ voices and their paradoxical cultural histories.

Selected to produce a solo project for the Nordic pavilion in the 2015 Venice Biennial, was also commissioned a permanent sound installation for the Henie Onstad Art Center. Highlights of her extensive international fine arts exhibition record include New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Oslo’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Liste Young Art Fair, Greece’s Thessaloniki Biennial, Switzerland’s Kunsthalle Bern, Copenhagen’s Charlottenborg Fonden, Denmark, LA’s Santa Monica Museum of Art, New York’s Studio Museum of Harlem, Sweden’s Bildmuseet, and radio broadcast in the Venice Biennial. Norment’s work has been written about in periodicals such as ArtForum, Art in America, The New York Times, Kunst Kritikk, Aftenposten, a feature in The Wire Magazine, and numerous other international texts.

Don’t miss what promises to be a fascinating event at 8pm Wednesday, March 9.

Samuel Roy-Bois

Samuel Roy-Bois

Finally, on March 23, we have Vancouver-based installation artist Samuel Roy-Bois. Originally from Quebec City, Samuel Roy-­Bois’ ambitious and thought-­provoking installations have been shown across Canada and internationally.

His major solo installations have been exhibited at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, Point éphémère in Paris, Parisian Laundry in Montreal, Oakville Galleries in Ontario and at the Musée d’art contemporain in Montréal, as well as being part of group shows in Vancouver, Ottawa, Québec City, Joliette, and Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, among others. He has also participated in international artist residencies in Denmark, Paris and Quebec.

"Ghetto" (2006)

“Ghetto” (2006)

“I am always aware of working within an economy of means, voluntarily blurring the border between art and life, and to develop ideas about contemporary ideals and low-­‐scale utopianism,” he says. “These different artistic strategies are ways to promote ordinary objects and spaces into a poetic dimension, with the wish of renewing one’s gaze and perception.”

My work also puts forward ideas about time, by incorporating truncated elements of narration. An exhibition space can be divided into multiple rooms, which can be discovered in a specific order, following a precise path, similar to a musical piece. The work reveals itself through an accumulation of ideas and sensations that culminate into an appreciation of a complex universe both fragmented and coherent.”

Hear Samuel Roy-Bois at 8pm on Wednesday, March 23 in room A162 of the Visual Arts Building.