The original idea behind the Dissections event was to bring an interdisciplinary panel of speakers together in order to get into the nooks and crannies of a diversity of questions, issues and themes proposed by the current exhibition. Another objective of the Dissections was to try to break away from established paradigms for panel based events. Rather than a frontal performance based talk, which can often render the audience member passive, this event aims to engage the public through an opening up of the discussion that privileges their voices and ideas. Dissections would therefore provide an opportunity for discussion not only among the panelists but also with members of the audience who desire a forum for deeper reflection and critique.
Our first event for the exhibition Chronicles of a Disappearance brought together a Monika Kin Gagnon, Christine Ross and Vincent Lavoie. It was held at the CCA’s beautiful auditorium, and despite the classic audience/stage configuration (actually, we did set up the stage like a TV talk show), we were able to have a meaningful exchange about temporality within a rather large audience. I did however promise that in future iterations, we would attempt to further bridge the chasm that often exists (is constructed?) between speakers and attendees as a way to address one of our main objectives.
For the second event, Eldad Tsabary, Yan Breuleux, Gisèle Trudel and Sha XinWei converged to discuss the many facets of the Ryoji Ikeda’s exhibition. This time, we occupied the beautiful, fourth floor of the Phi Centre, taking advantage of it’s more loft-like environment as well as it’s designer bean bag chairs which I thoroughly recommend. We had a fantastic turnout with amazing audience participation that got beyond the surface and closer to sharing and critique. My only regret is that the speakers were still physically too far away from the audience which meant we had to continue to use microphones but which also contributed to the usual binary relationship between speaker and listener.
Last Wednesday evening marked our third event in the Dissections series and featured papers by Suzanne Paquet, Michael Blum and Thomas-Bernard Kenniff. We returned to the Phi Centre and I think this time we got a little bit closer to our objectives. While the speakers each had a visual presentation, we needed the screen and therefore maintained a typically frontal set-up with the audience. After each speaker presented, we set up benches again facing the audience, similarly to how we did it for Ryoji Ikeda’s event, but this time, we increased proximity to the audience, and also abandoned the microphones. This way, people were freer to intervene spontaneously in order for an actual conversation/discussion to ensue and physically we were more part of the same space.
One other point worth mentioning is that we U-stream all of the Dissections events and keep them on-line for later consultation. The catch however (which allows us to ditch the microphones) is that we do not broadcast the conversation, only the presentations. This means that if you want to be part of the discussion, you simply have to join us in person. While this was not a premeditated tactic to get more people out to our events, this approach is very much in keeping with the Education program’s dedication to interactive and reflective practice that not only engages the mind but also the body.
So consider this a cordial invitation to join us for the next Dissections event on the subject of Cory Arcangel, sometime in October!
Associate Curator, DHC/ART