Photo: Courtesy of Sabrina Chamberland.
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Student-curated exhibit features media and performance pieces from local artists

In an effort to shed a light on new forms of artwork in the city, five up-and-coming artists will be showcasing their talents in a multimedia exhibition later this month.

The Self-Collective hopes to challenge viewer’s preconceptions of traditional art by focusing on media and performance pieces, such as projected images and videos.

The exhibition, which is being organized by students in the University of Ottawa’s curating for contemporary art course, will display works “that explore the body as a site of identity,” says Sabrina Chamberland, a fourth-year fine arts student at the U of O and one of the featured artists in the exhibit.

The organizers of the exhibition Lilian Barrera, Sydney Bejcar, Tristan Calleja, Talia Golland, Molly Mask, Kate-Lynn Tougas, and Kelsey McGruer, all third and fourth-year visual arts student at the U of O.

Chamberland believes that the “self” is something that is not clearly defined, and says that the exhibition will showcase pieces “that explore the body as a way to question constructions of the self.”

Other artists featured in The Self-Collective include Radchuka, Kathleen Reichelt, Katarina Tkaczyszyn, and Mercedes Ventura.

The exhibition will touch on the ways in which society imposes certain rules on the body, and how these rules are challenged and opposed by self-identity. The influence of media on the perception and performance of the body and the self will also play a key role in the artwork showcased.

McGruer, a fourth-year visual arts student, approached Chamberland to be part of the exhibit after her piece One Two.

“I projected a male face onto a female face—my own—and then my face onto a male face, to see what might come out of that duality,” says Chamberland of the piece. “It’s more than just projecting one sex onto another; there’s these alien-like things that came out, there’s these weird morphologies that would surface. Just by using two representations of a normal human body, you can incite much more.”

Since the exhibit will be held only for the night of Dec. 12, nothing will be allowed to hang on the walls of Club SAW. Many pieces will therefore be in multimedia format, such as videos and projections.

With these guidelines in place, many of the art pieces will be different than what the artists typically produce. When Chamberland created her piece, it was a way to challenge herself to create something she hadn’t done before.

“I was just trying to get out of my comfort zone, because what I normally do is I explore the surface of the body in high detail, so I am interested in the flesh and how that links to the psyche.”

This unique exhibit is something that will give spectators the opportunity to see pieces that are not typically found at many galleries in the city.

“It’s going to be really neat to see so much media work because I think that’s another thing that’s not well-represented in Ottawa either,” said Chamberland, who points out that more traditional forms of art, like painting and sculpture, usually steal the show. “It’ll be nice to have a night where mostly media is in the highlight.”

Chamberland is hoping that this exhibit inspires artists to explore more deeply with multimedia art, and encourages local galleries to feature similar contemporary exhibitions in the future.

The Self-Collective takes place Dec. 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Club SAW. Free admission.