Common Aliens: Keynote


Thurs. Oct 1
Z Art Space
819 Avenue Atwater (metro Lionel-Groulx)


The keynote panel will draw together Toronto-based artist Sharrae Lyon, DHC/ART curator Cheryl Sim, Concordia University art history professor Alice Jim, and curator of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) Haema Sivanesan in dialogue on the intersections between diaspora and visual art production. This panel discussion aims to explore the issues of navigating the structures and institutions of the art world as women of colour. Key questions the discussion will raise include unpacking the definition of diaspora; the utopic possibilities of digital technologies; building the conditions of futurity for women of colour artists, curators, and scholars within the art world; kindness and self-care; and finally, a (re)thinking of identity, umbrella terms such as “women of colour” for gathering together collective trauma, and forging solidarity across diaspora communities. The panel discussion will be approximately one hour and will begin with short introductions from the participants. A question and answer period will follow.

CHERYL SIM is an artist, curator, researcher and musician. She began her professional life at Studio D of the National Film Board (NFB), which led her to the wild world of video art and her involvement with artist run centers. Her artistic output in single-channel video and media installation has persistently dealt with questions of identity formation and relations of power. Musically, she explores the intersections of jazz and electronic music that are haunted by a cabaret spirit. Her work as Curator at DHC/ART Foundation for contemporary art has been greatly informed by the artist- run centre ethos, unlearning, and learning from the margins. She is currently a PhD candidate at UQÀM where she is completing her research-creation dissertation “The Fitting Room: the Cheongsam and Canadian Women of Chinese Heritage in Installation.” In her spare time she is an avid yoga practitioner, amateur “mixologist” and dinner party instigator.

GAIA is an alien living a human experience who believes in reconnecting with the ways of the Ancients to heal ancestral and personal traumas. Learning from the essence of Mother Earth, she is devouted to traditional healing practices and artistic expression. As the founder of Alien Nation, a multidisciplinary movement that seeks to “redefine what it means to be human,” she and fellow artists, teachers and healers are dedicated to bringing back into remembrance the knowledge that has always been stored and passed down through blood, DNA and our bones.

ALICE MING WAI JIM is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art in the Department of Art History at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. She is co-editor of the scholarly journal, Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas (Brill, NL). She is the 2015 recipient of the Artexte Award for Research in Contemporary Art. From 2003 to 2006, Jim was Curator of the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (Centre A). Her writings have appeared in publications including Third Text, Journal of Curatorial Studies, Journal of Visual Culture, Leonardo, Amerasia Journal, Positions, Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Grove Dictionary of Art, Precarious Visualities (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008), Triennial City:  Localising Asian Art (Asian Triennal Manchester, 2014), Negotiations in a Vacant Lot: Studying the Visual in Canada (MQUP, 2014), Human Rights and the Arts: Perspectives from Global Asia
(Lexington, 2014), and Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the 21st Century (MIT Press, 2015).

HAEMA SIVANESAN has held curatorial positions at the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon. SK), the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) and is currently a Curator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) (BC) and a Consulting Curator with the Bengal Foundation (Dhaka,  Bangladesh). She has held leadership positions at SAVAC (Toronto, ON) and Centre A (Vancouver, BC). She has a specialist interest in the historical and contemporary art of South and Southeast Asia, alongside a dedicated interest in working with diasporic artists. She is currently developing a range of projects for the AGGV, focusing on the practices of Asian-Canadian artists to develop an interdisciplinary exhibition and acquisitions plan.