nichola feldman-kiss \ Scapegoat
This exhibition brings together two bodies of work by nichola feldman-kiss centred on the artist’s prosocial, practice-based research that explores the role of the human body in geopolitics. As a first-generation Canadian with familial roots in the Caribbean and the Holocaust, their work unites the personal and the political through visceral hybrid-media installations that bring attention to the uncertainties, uncanny contradictions and injustices foundational to so-called postcolonial social systems.
Scapegoat began in 2015 in response to the multitude of violent conflicts raging internationally. Simultaneously prophetic and timely, the exhibition takes on new meaning as the world lurches from one global crisis to another, reckoning with the catastrophic consequences of settler colonial violence, social upheaval, and climate emergency. In this contentious era, as dialogues on retribution, repatriation and reconciliation come to the fore, what ethical roles and responsibilities do contemporary artists and museums have? feldman-kiss’ work prompts audiences to reconsider difficult questions about what it means to be conscious social bodies in the current moment.
Deep curiosity into their artistic subject propelled the artist into far away contexts to witness the tragedies of colonialism such as those that gave rise to the artist’s own ancestral trajectories. Their uneasy online acquisition from a Canadian supplier of osteological specimens slated for the medical market led to experiential research within the international supply chains where trade relies on social inequity for profit. Conceptually rooted, Scapegoat evolved into a haunting portrait series about precarity and life, delving into how political gamesmanship can cast black and brown bodies as unwillingly positioned within a form of social death.
The young men, with whom the artist has staged the work, embrace the bones with careful defiance. The specimens that make up the skeletal set approximate the age of those who cradle them. This demographic is most highly represented in the global statistical record of victims of militarized and state violence. The remains do not constitute one individual nor are they gendered; they are a collective body made visible. Arranged chromatically against the glowing background of a unifying brown, the viewer is challenged to meet these monumental figures with reverence.
Together, artist and model, with their corporeal negotiation of tenderness and tension require us to be present before them and to enact an affective labour. Here, the very difficult and necessary work of grieving stands as both a personal endeavor and a collective ritual, demanding a confrontation with complex and contradictory forms of intimacy. In close proximity, a feminine presence embraces new life in a pastoral landscape. Mechanical butterflies surround the space, symbolizing transformation. No justice can return those lost, but what Scapegoat offers is a space of dignity for open mourning, for radical forms of witnessing, and for reimagining a different world.
Curated by Pamela Edmonds and Mona Filip
feldman-kiss \ Siren lV
May 28 @ 8:00 am - June 23 @ 5:00 pm
Contact (709) 771-9490 James@pouchcove.org
Siren is inspired by reflection on the millennia of oceanic passages that swallow lives as we move about in flight, in hope, in adventure and in servitude –taking and being taken, willfully and unwillingly peopling the planet. I directed an under iceberg shoot from my downtown Toronto studio during the first covid lockdown of spring 2020. It was remarkable how we waited and waited to get out onto the water and under the sea ice. Then suddenly we were permitted and gov.nl said “Yes, come. Do your shoot.” But the iceberg was just a chip, run aground, rapidly breaking up, melting in the late June sun. The crew went out. I stayed. It was a remote shoot. I am unstoppably awed by my iceberg captured for screen. Siren lV is a study in digital 3D, printed into silk. How I still pine for an embodied experience in the face of the fragile and finite majesty that is the earth’s ice. Siren is about urgency. The artwork has been my covid muse, my sanity, my obsession. How abstract it is that I make this work of call to the frigid ocean without ever having laid eyes upon the sea ice. How Nature’s fractals are replicated through scale and through topographies more and less solid, stable, fluid and fleeting. How the iceberg belly is sensual, swollen, ripe, full and undulating as tissue of a soft inner body.
nichola feldman-kiss \ Siren III
Curated by Mona Filip and Pamela Edmonds for the Koffler Center for the Arts, Toronto 2022
Siren III is a new video and sound installation by Toronto artist nichola feldman-kiss, building upon her series of politically provocative artworks that mine the local context and articulate reflections on worldwide stressors driving global migration, flights from homelands, and oceanic passages. Referencing traumatic histories alongside contemporary conditions of oppression rooted in conquest, border rule, and climate change, the artist’s current explorations remain anchored in autobiography and ancestry.
In the installation, a monumental moving image immerses the viewer into the Atlantic’s unsettling depths, resonant with the present absences of migrant, exiled, and enslaved people transported over centuries of forced displacement. The camera frames a subjective view of the turbulent water, turning each viewer into a lone protagonist lost at sea. Seeking the sunlight that penetrates the ocean’s surface, the gaze wavers, at times piercing through, then sinking into the all-encompassing teal blue, and eventually ascending back toward the sky.
Descending, the camera’s movements are calm, exploratory, perhaps entranced. An iceberg’s massive underbelly comes into view and is approached with curiosity. The gaze caresses sensuous ice slopes and looks for entry through their crevices. The visual landscape seamlessly shifts from underwater cinematography to a digital environment, crafting a virtual, beguiling vision, both real and imagined.
Struggle, descent, drifting, and ascension are witnessed by a chorus of ululations that envelop the visitor within a volumetric soundscape. Common to feminine cultures across Africa, the Middle East, India, and their diasporas, ululations accompany ritual events and rites of passage such as births, weddings, and funerals. Whether celebratory or mournful, these vocal improvisations mark existential transitions, welcome arrivals, or perform a send-off into journey. Regional nuances are often influenced by political ideologies and societal codes that govern women’s freedom to convey their emotions.
The polyphonic harmonies of Siren III derive from Toronto’s unique multicultural context, integrating sonic variances that converged here through countless waves of migration, just like the artist’s own familial lineages. Evoking the mythical sea creatures known to tempt sailors toward rocky shores and certain death with their enchanting song, the powerful chorus suggests an uncanny lure as well as a protective warning. These trilling sirens’ purpose is more ambiguous, signaling both danger and rescue. They are guiding companions rather than threat, their visceral calls pulling the drowning back to life.
Development of Siren III began before the rising spread of COVID-19 and was later profoundly impacted by the pandemic. Relinquishing control and opening up to new possibilities, feldman-kiss embraced an intensely collaborative process and an intuitive response to imposed conditions. Remote cooperation strategies made possible the capture of underwater footage off the coast of Newfoundland; then video production turned to a mixed technique imbedding 3D animation within the initial recordings.
In these still unfolding circumstances, Siren III takes on new meanings as our collective fears and distress deepen amid a relentless menace. Reflecting on such innermost anxieties, inherited traumas, and lived ordeals, feldman-kiss articulates a meditation on the value of human life and an homage to the survival drive. In the face of devastation—a deadly virus, social unrest, economic hardship, war, and ecological collapse—Siren III offers a promise of solace, community, and delivery from troubled waters.
Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival
nichola feldman kiss \ Siren lll
Vtape and the Centre for the Study of Black Canadian Diaspora Present
childish objects\my grandmother… by nichola feldman-kiss, 2009
TO REMEMBER AND REPAIR
curated by Temple Marucci-Campbell
JANUARY 26 – FEBRUARY 2, 2022 streaming on the Vtape website.
Be sure to stay tuned as the other titles in Temple’s program become available on the Vtape website each Wednesday until February 9, 2022, when Temple will be in a LIVE ON-LINE conversation with the artists in her program. And on February 16, 2022, the second program of this partnership, Fabiyino Germain-Bajowa’s TELL THE BODY, begins with a live introduction.
nichola feldman-kiss, childish objects\ my grandmother took command from her bed. she had a habit of clutching her seized hand become claw to her chest. her fridge was always stocked with lovingly prepared Jamaican dishes in the happenstance of visitors, 2009, 11:11.
nichola feldman-kiss is a Tkaronto-based multidisciplinary artist who asks what it means to be an individual who can embody a multitude of histories and knowledge. She uses her video practice to explore the relationship between bodies and identity. In this work from 2009, feldman-kiss uses her body as an alternative way of remembering, questioning what a personal archive can look like when influenced by diaspora. Through the act of sewing white thread to her fingers she is activating her hand as an object of memory, and tapping into an archive through sensorial confrontation.
Temple Marucci-Campbell is a student at OCADU studying Criticism and Curatorial practices. Her research practice focuses on the intersection of Art and food, where food is a transmitter of sensory knowledge. Marucci-Campbell uses her research practice to connect with her ancestral history and explore alternative ways of remembering.
An exhibition of video installations that explores themes of climate change and environmental crisis
We are excited to share this latest project curated by Layne Hinton & Rui Pimenta of Art Spin in a large industrial space featuring the work of artists: Christina Battle, nichola feldman-kiss, adelheid / Heidi Strauss and Lyla Rye.
300 Geary Ave. is an industrial warehouse space located on the north side of Geary just west of Dufferin St. The space is unheated and we recommend dressing for the outdoors. The exhibition is on the ground floor which is wheelchair accessible, however it does have an uneven threshold and unfortunately the washroom is not wheelchair accessible.
An exhibition of video installations that explores themes of climate change and environmental crisis
October 15-17, 2021 at 300 Geary AVE.
curated by Layne Hinton & Rui Pimenta
Installed in a large industrial warehouse space, The change of any changeable quantity is an immersive and experimental exhibition of video art by artists Christina Battle, nichola feldman-kiss, Lyla Rye and Heidi Strauss that examines elements of change and instability we increasingly experience as we move ever closer to climate catastrophe. Somewhat unintentionally, these videos each speak to one of the four natural elements, which Ancient Greeks believed were the basis of all matter and were unchanging in nature. In an era of extreme environmental change, the exhibition title draws from the definition of the mathematical symbol (∆) found in the title of Christina Battle’s work that represents the changeable quality of any equation.
In the case of the works in this exhibition the viewer is invited to consider the vast possibility of change itself, both in terms of the harm we have inflicted on our natural world and the imperative of recovery we ignore at our peril.
Christina Battle’s fiery video considers the gap between our current crisis and the policies that are needed to create necessary and meaningful change. Lyla Rye’s video of clearcut earthen landscapes is a cross-generational collaboration that uses cellphone footage shot by tree planters and transformed by the artist, through manual stabilization, in an attempt to achieve a technical and metaphoric sense of balance. nichola feldman-kiss takes viewers through a digitally constructed underwater landscape, including icebergs that overwhelm through their indecipherable scale. Heidi Strauss’s video explores invisible presence and absence through airy spaces where the line between outside and inside, solitude and togetherness are inverted.
adelheid/Heidi Strauss, Christina Battle, Lyla Rye, nichola feldman-kiss (co-presented with the Koffler Centre of the Arts)
Partners & Funders: #Showloveto, Koffler Centre of the Arts, Geary Factory Lofts, Toronto Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council.
you are water. you are sea ice (Study for Siren lll)
planet species animal human water Agent. in motion on the move in flight of the Earth of
Land of the Ocean her ecology. here and there sea and ice wind and current seed and
(Study for Siren lll)
ABOUT THE PROJECT:
Study for Siren lll features 2 interrelated experiments with underwater data space. The artwork is conceived for quieting –a jewel of relief amidst the overwhelm of ungraspable immensity that is digital life separated from source.
Thanks to: Tovi Gruzman, GTR Industries and Adrienne Matheuszik, Derya Akkaynak, and Ocean Quest Adventures
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
nichola feldman-kiss is a Toronto based artist exploring relational interpretations of body and embodiment, identity and autobiography, witness and traumatic memory. Their hybrid media installations –pristine as laboratory craft, ask us to reconsider hard questions about being conscious social bodies among the tattered boundaries of globalization. The National Research Council of Canada, the Ottawa Hospital Eye Institute, the Department of National Defense, and the United Nations, among others, have hosted the artists’ research. feldman-kiss holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts.