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exhibitions

nichola feldman-kiss \ Siren
a collective sonic embrace. At Koffler Center of the Arts Toronto 02.11.2022 - 05.03.2023

nichola feldman-kiss \ Siren lll | Partners in Art

nichola feldman-kiss | The Art Canada Institute: Ottawa Art and Artists

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


nichola feldman-kiss \ Siren III

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.

Mona Filip and Pamela Edmonds curators 2022


nichola feldman kiss \ Siren lv

premier exhibition Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival 2022


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. www.vtape.org

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.


the change of any changeable quantity

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.

THE SPACE:

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.

ABOUT

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

THE EXHIBITION:

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.

ARTISTS:

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.

nichola feldman-kiss
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 the Land of the Ocean her ecology. here and there sea and ice wind and current seed and settlement. (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.

 

 


critique and analysis

Pushing against the Stream: An interview with nichola feldman-kiss by Adeola Egbeyemi, MMA March 2022

Dreaming with Siren lll, by Anita Girvan, in the monograph, nichola feldman-kiss | Refuge, Editor Pamela Edmonds, McMaster University Press Hamilton forthcoming fall 2022

Consider the censured., by Luther Konadu in the monograph, nichola feldman-kiss | Refuge, Editor Pamela Edmonds, McMaster University Press Hamilton forthcoming fall 2022

The Kinetic Art of nichola feldman-kiss, in The Quantum Revolution: Art, Technology, Culture by Arthur Kroker and David Cook, University of Toronto Press forthcoming spring 2023

Quantum Art of Bourgeois, Smith, Horn and feldman-kiss, in The Quantum Revolution: Art, Technology, Culture by Arthur Kroker and David Cook, University of Toronto Press forthcoming forthcoming spring 2023

bodies of work: an interview with nichola feldman-kiss, by Robert Enright, editor Mika Walsh in Human/Nature (Border Crossings Magazine Winnipeg CA) May 2022

inquire for pdf

nichola feldman-kiss and Dipna Horra in Conversation, by nichola feldman-kiss in Other Places, edited by Deanna Bowen, published by Mano-Ramo 2019

Curating Human Remains: Bones of Contention in the Work of nichola feldman-kiss, by Michelle Gewurtz and Catherine Sinclair in the Journal of Curatorial Studies (Intellect UK) Winter 2019

Confluence and Cultural Hybridity, by Rebecca Basciano in the exhibition catalogue, Adadisokamagan | Nous connaitre un peu nous-memes \ We’ll all become Stories: A survey of Art in the Ottawa–Gatineau Region (Ottawa Art Gallery Ottawa) 2018

between here and there: Fragments in Search of a Visual Poetics of Form Robert Enright and nichola feldman-kiss in dialogue, by Robert Enright and nichola feldman-kiss, in the exhibition catalogue nichola feldman-kiss | Witness (Ottawa Art Gallery CA) 2016

nichola feldman-kiss | Witness, exhibition review of nichola feldman-kiss | Witness, Ottawa Art Gallery, by Noor Alé (National Gallery Canada), in Public 53 (Intellect Journals Toronto CA) Winter 2016

The Sensing Body as Witness, essay by Sara Matthews, in the exhibition catalogue nichola feldman-kiss | Witness (Ottawa Art Gallery Ottawa CA) 2016

nichola feldman-kiss | Witness, by Michelle Gewurtz and Catherine Sinclair, in the exhibition catalogue nichola feldman-kiss | Witness (Ottawa Art Gallery Ottawa CA) 2016

States of Precarity: Sandra Johnston, nichola feldman-kiss, Rehab Nazzal, by Christine Conley in n.paradoxa Volume 35 War/Conflict pp. 5-15 (n.paradoxa international journal of feminist art UK) January 2015

Terms of Engagement: Averns, feldman-kiss, and Stimson, by Erin l Sutherland in the Journal of Curatorial Studies Volume 4 Number 2 (Intellect Journals Toronto CA) 2015

Terms of Engagement: Averns, feldman-kiss, Stimson, by Christine Conley in the exhibition catalogue Terms of Engagement: Averns, feldman-kiss (Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery Halifax, Agnes Etherington Art Gallery Kingston, and the Esker Foundation Calgary CA) June 2014

MACHines, by Alain Thibault, Editor/Translator Emmanuel Cuisinier in the exhibition catalogue, MACHines Centre des arts Enghiens les Bains ( Île-de-France, France FR) 2012

Uncanny Figures and mean body, by Kim Sawchuck and rest (portfolio) in Prefix Photo Magazine (Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto CA) Spring 2008

nichola feldman-kiss | mean body, by Diana Nemiroff in the exhibition catalogue nichola feldman-kiss | mean body (Carleton University Art Gallery Ottawa CA) 2006

Uncanny Figures and mean body, by Kim Sawchuck in the exhibition catalogue nichola feldman-kiss | mean body (Carleton University Art Gallery Ottawa CA) 2006

© nichola feldman-kiss 2021