OCAD U Photography Program

News about events, our community & opportunites

Category: Students (page 1 of 15)

Epson Printer Awards 2019

We are pleased to announce this year’s winners of the Epson Printer Awards

Alejandro Rizzo Nervo

alejandrorizzo-epsonprinter

and

Dawn Howie

dawn-howie-epson-award

Each receive an Epson SureColor P600 printer thanks to the generosity of Epson Canada.

Each year there are many who deserve the award and would make excellent use of the equipment, so thank you to all you  who applied.

401 Richmond: 2019 CAREER LAUNCHER PRIZE – Submissions due May 10, 2019!

401-careerlauncher

401 Richmond Tenants,Each year, we welcome an emerging artist into our community through the 401 Richmond Career Launcher Prize. The Career Launcher Prize provides an exceptional opportunity to occupy a coveted 500 sq. ft. studio for one year in the building. The recipient is chosen from a Toronto-wide competition by a panel of visual arts professionals. The Career Launcher Prize has been presented annually since 2000 as a way of providing space and support for research and experimentation at a critical time in an emerging artist’s career.

ELIGIBILITY 

  • Applicants must be recent graduates of Toronto post-secondary fine arts programs, have completed at least one formal exhibition and be strongly motivated.

HOW TO APPLY

Candidates must provide:

  • Full contact details
  • An artist’s statement
  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • A Letter of Intent (1-page maximum) including an overview of expected professional outcomes of the residency
  • Documentation of recent work. These should be audio/visual items on an USB. (Please note that all support material will be discarded after the selection process)

Applications and supporting documents should be submitted to:

Career Launcher Prize c/o Urbanspace Property Group
401 Richmond Street West, Suite 111
Toronto ON M5V 3A8

Deadline for applications is Friday, May 10, 2019 by 5pm. No applications will be accepted after this date. Prize recipient will be notified by end of June 2019.

Please share this email with someone who you think may be a good candidate for the 2019 401 Richmond Career Launcher Prize.

For more information, please visit the official announcement, here.

For any questions, please contact: careerlauncherprize@urbanspace.org.

Urbanspace Property Group

Friday Art Crush: Sabrina Carrizo Sztainbok

Friday Art Crush is an interview series highlighting the work of Photography students in their thesis year at OCAD U. We grab a coffee and chat about what they have been exploring, and they share great advice for working on a year-long project. The series was created and led by Morgan Sears-Williams; this year, it has been taken over by Ana Luisa Bernárdez.

This week, Ana chatted with Sabrina Carrizo Sztainbok, a Photo major in her fourth year.

 

Tell me a little about what you’ve been exploring during your studies at OCAD.

I’m really interested in absurdity, more specifically in creating believable absurdity. I’m really influenced by magical realism, and I try to translate that into photography, in a way. It’s been through something that I have come to call “banal absurdity”. Everything I do has an aspect of fiction, but also tries to pass as reality. It’s usually something absurd and a little funny, there’s always an aspect of humor in my work.

1

 

How has this translated into your thesis project?

For my thesis, I’ve been taking self-portraits that are meant to look like family snapshots, but all the subjects are me. The photographs follow two fictional sisters, who I guess are twins. I haven’t exactly sorted out the precise story of their lives; I want it to be ambiguous, and I don’t necessarily want to know everything. The work is definitely influenced by my relationship with my sister, and my mom’s relationship with hers.

What are some of your strategies for achieving an aesthetic that looks from a specific time period?

I thrift a lot. I’m very interested in second hand clothing, and I have even done projects about the past lives of clothes. I own clothing that look as if they are from a certain time, even if they’re not. I also use photoshop to edit things like wallpaper, but I don’t necessarily want them to be perfect; the photographs are completely artificial, and I don’t mind if people realize that at some point. They are fragile constructions, which is something that I like.

3

From i was there, a self-portrait series in thrifted clothing. 2018.

 

How was the final presentation of your thesis project last semester, and how do you see it evolving?

By the end of the semester, I was starting to explore installing the photos as if they existed in a domestic space. I had a bunch of these images in a photo box that people could pick up, and also a couple of prints on the wall. I think what I’m leaning towards for the end of the semester is creating an installation that looks like a room: some wallpaper, photos on the wall, and also others that people can pick up and look at. I like the idea that the more people handle the photos, the more authentic they’ll look. The goal is also to find second hand furniture, things that already have a past life.

What are your visual references or inspirations for your shoots?

I definitely collect photos from antique stores, and it’s good to keep track of different formats that were most commonly used at different times and what they look like. But I’m going to be focusing more on the 60’s – 80’s time period, because that’s what I mostly see in my family albums, which have definitely been an inspiration. I get ideas from those photographs: birthday or halloween shoots, what people were wearing in 1984, or if someone is standing in a particular way. I take that, and create something similar.

You have done a lot of self-portraiture, have you also worked with models, friends or family?

In an interview, Cindy Sherman talked about feeling bad when asking other people to stay still for a long period of time during a shoot, or struggling to get the right performance out of them. If you’re your own model, you know exactly what you’re looking for, and how to achieve or deliver that. I’m also always available at the time that I need to be available, which is convenient. I definitely felt held back by the idea of doing self-portraiture in the past, I used to think: “How am I going to make this idea work? How am I going to take a photo of myself? It’ll be so difficult”, but once I started doing it, it became the easiest option. In high school, I was very into Henri Cartier-Bresson and the idea of the decisive moment, but then I started wondering if I was ever going to happen upon a “decisive moment.” Being so impatient, I ended up thinking “Why don’t I just make it up?”.

4

It sounds like your project is more rooted in a curiosity for the vernacular and familial aspect of photographs, rather than in attempting to create a survey of the “History of Photography” through self-portraits.

Initially it was more like that. Maybe not necessarily the history of photography, but as if there were these two sisters that were transcending time, or being reincarnated. I wanted the work have this weird, fantasy aspect to it. Then I realized it wasn’t working, and I became more interested in the relationship between my mom and her sister, and me and my sister. I focus more in that time period, because it is something that I understand better.

How was the process of choosing your thesis topic?

This is kind of an amalgamation of all the ideas I’ve had throughout OCAD, when it comes to photography, and I vaguely had the idea before I started thesis. The most important thing is realizing what you’re interested in. For me, it was realizing that I was interested in storytelling, in making up stories. Every time I’m stumped for an idea, I ask myself “What do I like? If I like stories, how can I incorporate that?”. In other projects, I have also come back to  family relationships, siblings, vintage things, props, clothes; it all came together to make sense. If people are thinking about how they’re going to get ideas for thesis, it is really important to step back and think about what you’re interested in.

2

That makes a lot of sense, I think “an amalgamation” is a great way to describe it. Do you also write stories?

I used to, but now I’m always writing in my phone notes. It will be sentences that I plan to use in songs, or sometimes I just think “I need it to write this, these words sound good together”, and I do. To me, they are like mini stories as well.

I know that you’re also a musician, do you think your approach to your artwork is also reflected in Slobrina as a persona?

I’m always putting on characters, and it always goes back to storytelling, magical realism and absurdity. With Slobrina I’m inhabiting a different character than I am in my photographs. In that character there’s a lot of self-pitying, which is a specific part of myself that I channel mainly through music. I like confusing people with who I am, and I think there is power in that; although none of my photography is overtly political, I do think there will always be a political aspect in it. I used to sit around and wait for something to happen, for myself to get represented. Then, I started using  photography, music, and different characters to be whoever I want to be.

During your experience with thesis, what have been some obstacles, and what has helped in overcoming them?

I always feel like I’m rushing to the finish line, stressed about trying to get everything done. It always works out in the end, but my biggest obstacle is time management. Figuring out a system of how and when I’m going to take the photos has been working for me, but, at the same time, I work more instinctively. I don’t have a lot of time to sit and think about it, especially because I want to have volume.

What is something that you would’ve liked to know before you started your thesis year?

You get to do a lot of experimenting, which is not something that I realized before. I stressed about how concrete things needed to be, but the first semester it is all about research. You are still moulding what your idea is going to be, and you can try all sorts of things. I think that people shouldn’t be afraid to experiment, or trying different ideas before settling. April is always emphasizing that people’s ideas should be looser, so that there can be different pathways to explore and take. Growing from something very concrete is harder.

Who are some professors at OCAD that made a positive impact in your education?

Nicolas Pye, Derek Sullivan who is a Sculpture prof, and Lee Henderson. Usually, my favorite profs are those who give really interesting examples of other artists, because I feel inspired in their classes.

 

To see more of Sabrina’s work, you can visit her portfolio, and follow her on instagram. To know more about Slobrina, check out her music account.

 

Interview by Ana Luisa Bernárdez

Friday Art Crush: Alejandro Rizzo Nervo

Friday Art Crush is an interview series highlighting the work of Photography students in their thesis year at OCAD U. We grab a coffee and chat about what they have been exploring, and they share great advice for working on a year-long project. The series was created and led by Morgan Sears-Williams; this year, it has been taken over by Ana Luisa Bernárdez.

This week, Ana chatted with Alejandro Rizzo, a Photo major in his fifth year.

unofunal

What is the main topic of research for your thesis?

My thesis researches the current social, economical and political state of my home country, Venezuela. It does not really encompass what has happened historically, but some of what’s happening right now. It deals with socialism, and topics of communism and capitalism.  

What has been your strategy for encompassing this very complex topic in a single body of work?

Especifically with my thesis, even though it is a work about Venezuela and a different part of the world, I try to execute it in a way that can be understood universally by everyone regardless of their background or political stance. It has characteristics that relate directly to Venezuela, but the way I choose to depict it is through symbolic representations. I think it can be understood by anybody who stands in front of it. Of course, it needs text to go along with it; once you have that, you should be able to understand what’s happening in the image, without necessarily having a background on Venezuela.

Having little to no access to taking photographs in Venezuela, what are your tactics for creating a visual narrative that talks about this current crisis from afar?

What helps me is to keep a connection with Venezuela, knowing what’s happening and what is being dealt with down there. I’ve been making my thesis based on both found and taken images. Based on my research, I am able to search specific images in Google that will help me develop a collage. I mix them with my original photographs, giving them a new meaning, and making them express what I want to show.

I am interested in knowing more about the way you construct these images conceptually.

The first thing I do is I try to look for models or people that somehow resemble the people I grew up with. I look for people who could fit with what you would find in a country like Venezuela, which is very multicultural, so for me it is really easy to find models in Toronto, because it is a very multicultural place. We also have very strong visual characteristics in the two main political sides in Venezuela; for example, the opposition is usually represented with a variety of colours, from blue to yellow and orange, and the chavismo has always used the colour red in abundance. Some of these symbols help create the narrative. At the end of the day, my project is not meant to be a literal representation of what is happening. I am far away and, like you said, the situation is very complex. Rather, I try to narrow it down to symbolic representations about values, consciousness, ethics, conducts, etc.

Tell me a little bit about what you presented for your final critique last semester.

I handed in three different constructed images printed mural size, 44×60 inch. The first one talks about the military: in the picture, a soldier is stepping on a pile of books. Again, not a literal representation, but a symbolic translation of what happens.

The second picture shows a bill printing machine printing a lot of bolívares, the Venezuelan currency. It talks about hyperinflation and how the Venezuelan government has tried to fix it by printing more bills.

The third picture shows someone handing one US dollar bill, and millions of bolívares flying around it. The image deals with the value of the US dollar in Venezuela, and it shows you how little the bolívar is worth.

dosfinal

How do you see your work evolving this semester?

I’m still going to be working with the idea of mural-size tableau images, I think it is working for me. This semester I’m going to explore topics of religion and how it is an enormous source of hope for the people who are still in Venezuela. Also, how santería has grown and become one of many ways to resist and emotionally survive, a gateway reinforced by the government, to distract their supporters from the harsh reality Venezuela is going through.

How was the process of choosing a topic? Was it clear for you from the beginning, or did you struggle? I think this is a source of anxiety for people going into thesis year.

Some people feel intimidated by the word “thesis”. It is nerve wracking, but it depends on how people deal with concepts and their own ideas. If someone came to me scared and confused about what they’re going to do, I would tell them to revisit what they’ve done in the past. If they have made projects that are somehow linked by a topic, dig into that.

Specifically in my case, I was always dealing with three topics throughout my journey at OCAD. I was always exploring politics in Venezuela, Queer theories and anything related to being queer and from the LGBTQ+ community, also, dealing with my mind, and understanding the depths of my dreams and nightmares. For me, it was very easy to choose Venezuela as a topic because it is something I grew up with. Ever since I was a kid, there were always chats about politics around me, and I was exposed to frightening events which evolved into a handful of traumas that I need to squeeze out from me.

 

img_7890

Final critique, Fall 2018

 

In terms of your experience doing thesis, what have been difficulties and obstacles, and what has helped?

It is definitely a big challenge to work on a big year-long project, after you followed guidelines for three years. What helped the most was to continue digging, reading, looking at images, both contemporary and historical. Keeping your brain up and running helps a lot with thesis. I personally struggle sitting down and actually doing the work, but one thing that definitely helped was to plan out how my days were going to be. Last year, I had the opportunity to do a self-directed program in Florence. I think for me the challenge was then, rather than this year, because I was forced to undergo the same self-directed experience.

What is a piece of advice you would’ve liked to know before you started?

I’m not sure, I was kind of expecting thesis to be what it is. What I would advice to people who don’t know what it is all about is: research. Start your research early and keep researching throughout the year. There are papers to be handed in, and alongside your work you need to show what you’ve been investigating and looking at. I would encourage people to start researching and thinking about it before the semester starts. But also, don’t expect your work to be what you envisioned in the first place, it is going to change and evolve. It might end up being something completely different, and that is okay.

Can you name some professors that you think people should definitely take classes with? 

April Hickox, she knows dozens of artists that may relate somehow to whichever your topics are. Meera Margaret Singh, she is very knowledgeable about current issues, and is able to help you structure your own thoughts. Kate Schneider, she holds a degree in Political Science and she is very resourceful. And Peter Sramek, also very knowledgeable, of great help around techniques and shoot approaches, and tries to work around your ideas.

Interview by Ana Luisa Bernárdez

OCAD Photo Students in the Press

December PhotoEd online includes work by Michael Tuciap and Malik Dieleman
https://issuu.com/photoedmagazine/docs/winter_2018_photoed_digital_issue_f/60

 

mtuciap-photoed

mdieleman-photoed

IMPORTANT – Meet the Future – Share your Feedback

Administrative Search: Shortlist for the CHAIR of PHOTOGRAPHY, PRINTMAKING & PUBLICATIONS

A public lecture is a significant part of the selection process for new hires and this gives everyone the chance to give feedback to the committee before final decisions are made. Here are the 3 final candidates for a new Chair.

Please attend as many of these lectures as you can and share your thoughts. All are welcome.
 public-presentation-evaluation-form

Kotama Bouabane
Talk/title: Let’s warm up a cool tone: Re-calibrating the fixed Image
Tuesday, November 20th, 2018
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
113 McCaul St., Room 525

 Kotama Bouabane is a Laotian born artist and educator. He is a sessional instructor in Photography at OCAD University and holds an MFA in Studio Arts in Photography from Concordia University. Bouabane has shown extensively throughout Canada in notable galleries including Centre A, Vu Photo, Contemporary Calgary, Parisian Laundry and Gallery TPW. He has adjudicated many art juries including the Emerging Artists grant for the Toronto Arts Council and was on the nominating committee for the City of Toronto’s first Photo Laureate. His work has been published in Prefix Photo, Art Papers, Ciel Variable and most recently contributed to The Making of An Archive, initiated by artist Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn. Bouabane has received funding through the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts and will be a visiting artist in residence at Open Studio in 2019/20. He is currently the Co-President of the Board of Directors at Gallery 44 Centre For Contemporary Photography.

Emma Nishimura
Talk/title: Interpreting and re-negotiating history: exploring the third and fourth dimensions within printmaking and photography
Tuesday, November 27th, 2018
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
113 McCaul St., Room 525

 Emma Nishimura’s work ranges from traditional etchings and digital prints to sculptural installations. Using diverse media, her work addresses ideas of memory and loss that are rooted within family stories and inherited narratives. Emma received her MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2013) and her BA from the University of Guelph (2005). Her work is in public and private collections and has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Emma is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph. Previously she taught at OCAD University, Sheridan College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is the 2018 winner of the Queen Sonja Print Award.

 nichola feldman-kiss
Talk/title: that which has been witnessed
Wednesday, December 5th, 2018
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
113 McCaul St., Room 525 OR 113 McCaul St., Room 512

 nichola feldman-kiss is a multi-disciplinary artist. Her research is socially engaged and performative. feldman-kiss’s artworks explore body, citizen, collectivity and hybridity. Her art and technology innovations have been supported by the National Research Council, the Ottawa Hospital Eye Institute, the Canadian Forces and the United Nations. feldman-kiss holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Her artworks have been presented in Canada, the United States, Mexico, India, and Europe.  She is an art and technology policy consultant and a former Officer for New Media and Audio at the Canada Council for the Arts.

International Collaboration Studio Applications

Applications for the International Collaboration Studio courses are now being accepted.    Download the PDF:

intac-call-for-applicants-2018-19-red

intac-call-for-applicants-2018-19_page_1



International Collaboration Studio Sept–April, 2018-19 1.0 credit

Now Accepting Applicants from all Programs
Apply in writing by e-mail to both teaching faculty:
psramek@ocadu.ca and msingh@faculty.ocadu.ca
Deadline: ASAP, July 15 and continuing until course is full

 

Work on collaborative projects with students from universities around the globe in an informal, team-based environment with 15 OCAD U students. Work towards collaborative visual projects, online presentations, book publications and international exhibitions. Current collaborations feature students in Tampere (Finland), Seoul (S. Korea), Berlin (Germany), Osaka (Japan), Ahmedabad (India), Toluca (Mexico).

This coming year, the plan is for OCADU to host the culminating show here in Toronto in May, so a major part of the second semester will be working to prepare the work and organize for the visiting groups. Travel may be an option during February Study Week, but this is not certain at this point, or in fact a requirement for the course.

 You will register for both semesters, comprising 2 courses at either the 300 OR 400 level:

International Collaboration Studio: Photo 3018
International Collaboration Studio II: Photo 3019
International Collaboration Studio III: Photo 4016
International Collaboration Studio IV: Photo 4017

Visit INTACnet.ca to see a description of our process and examples of past students’ activities. You can also check out one of our public Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/INTACinfo/

The Complexities of Language and Communication in a global context will provide a focus for this year’s projects.

 What is INTAC? This hybrid studio course takes place over two semesters during which time students design and undertake collaborative projects with international partners. Directions identified by the group will vary from year to year, but address the ongoing goals of engaging global issues and communicating across cultures. The coming year’s overarching theme will relate the fact that we speak many different languages, creating a complexity for communication and collaboration. Participants will respond with project proposals in whatever way they may interpret this, although we hope that global and cross-cultural issues will be fore-fronted. Projects will be developed in a range of media, but particularly those that may be shared readily through online channels. For this reason, photographic and time-based formats are a primary focus, however past students have also worked in other media – most recently audio, sculpture, writing, quilting, jewelry, drawing, painting and performance.

Along with creating relationships with students in the various schools, you will propose project concepts, join a few project groups and produce collaborative artworks within each group. You will maintain online communication and build a sense of community with the OCAD participants in group crits, fundraising activities, an exhibition event and possibly publication. Guided by Professors Peter Sramek and Meera Margaret Singh, you will take responsibility for cooperative leadership and initiative in these areas.

 How? Using class meetings, video conferencing (sometimes very early in the morning) and online blogs/communication environments (currently Slack) and popular social networking tools, students will communicate and develop projects under the guidance of the instructors at each school. Scheduling will be flexible, responsive to the needs of the activities while much of the work will be done on the students’ individual time with their project partners using various platforms: Skype, FaceBook, E-mail, Tumblr Blogs and other channels. Specific joint activities and projects will be articulated each year, based on specific partnerships and opportunities. There will be short-term objectives and deadlines over the 8 months of the course.

It is important to note that the course structure consists of a flexible meeting schedule and the class group will not meet physically every week, rather more or less every other week.

Who?

  • This course is open to students in years 3 and 4 from all programs – Art, Design, INVC, LAS, DigF
  • There are two sets of course codes and you must register for the paired Fall and Winter sections.
  • Students who have taken the 300-level courses may continue in INTAC by registering
    for the 400-level ones. Students requiring 400 level credits may register at that level.

 Apply Now!!

 Acceptance to this course is limited and will be by prior written application. Of key importance will be your commitment to exploring global perspectives. You must be self-motivated and able to work well in an environment where activity is self-initiated and online communication is at the core of the process. This is a less-structured context where you will be responsible for much of your work time on your own. You should be willing to take the lead in building new relationships, sharing ideas and communicating online. Comfort and proficiency with working in online environments is a definite plus.

 The Application Process
Deadline for Approval is mid-July, but students will be approved as applications are received until the positions are filled. If accepted, you will be given instructions on completing the online registration process using the appropriate codes.

 Please provide: Name, Student Number, Program/Major, Year Level, Number of Accumulated Credits (at least 10), Overall Average and an E-mail address you will respond to over the summer.

 Write a 500 word Statement of Intent including why you are interested in, and an excellent candidate for:

  • international collaboration
  • team-based project development
  • socially-engaged art practices
  • online learning and communication environments
  • photographic, time-based and/or online formats

Describe the primary media you are thinking of working in and how you would see collaborating with a group that is in different parts of the world. Describe any previous international experiences: living, travel, programs, languages, etc. Discuss how this course experience will fit your educational goals.

Include 5–10 captioned images of recent works in your application document (PDF, Word or Pages), which you feel illustrate your approach to artmaking.

Email your application to psramek@ocadu.ca and msingh@faculty.ocadu.ca

 Note: It is highly recommended that, unless you have already received approval for this course, you first register for a full load of courses during the registration period. All applicants will not be selected for this program. Once registered you can drop 2 studio courses. This 1.0 credit will be equivalent to 1.0 Studio Option credit in Photography or as an elective in your major program. It can be approved as a Program Studio Option for those not in Photography with special permission of your Chair.

 

International Collaboration Studio Application Requirements List

Name:
Student Number:
Program/Major:
Year Level:
Number of Accumulated Credits (at least 10):
Overall Average:
E-mail address you will respond to over the summer:

 Do you require 400 level credit for INTAC to fulfill Program Requirements for graduation?   Yes ____   No ____

  • These credits can fulfill program studio credits and 4th year Photo majors in particular need to check if they need 400 level credit and then be registered in the right course codes).

Write a 500 word Statement of Intent
Add 5-10 captioned images

 Please provide this in 1 document – PDF, Word or Pages – 8 Mb or less.

 Send directly to both teaching faculty

psramek@ocadu.ca and msingh@faculty.ocadu.ca

Deadline: ASAP and continuing until course is full

 

If you are approved, you will work with the Faculty of Art Office to complete registration:

  • You need to ‘choose/plan’ the appropriate two courses in the Registration System –
  • Then, the Program Assistant must give you permission in the System –
  • Then you must complete the Registration.
    Guidance will be given.

 

Start by downloading the PDF:

intac-call-for-applicants-2018-19-red

Friday #ArtCrush: Cassandra Keenan

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Cassandra Keenan, a fourth year photography student in thesis. 

In this series, Cassie and Morgan talk about working with family relationships, documenting physical objects and exploring the truths/untruths of family histories.

Who or what are your main inspirations?

My main inspirations are honestly the people around me, I love talking to my fellow classmates and professors about everything, it helps me stay connected to not only the people I surround myself with, but also my art. The inspiration for my art also comes very naturally to me, and I find during moments of connection with others is when I come up with some of my best work, and most of the time it is during the most random moments, that’s what I love about art and inspiration, there is no time line.

What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on?

I mostly work with very personal subject matters, pretty much anything that is effecting me at the moment, or what I feel strongly about. Nothing is truly off topic for me as an artist, so far I have worked on many projects with a subject matter which relates to myself personally, this includes my mental issues, such as my severe panic attacks and anxiety, continuing all the way to helping me mourn the death of my grandparents.

I try not to limit myself or my art, especially that of my photography. This is because my art has always been an emotional outlet, and I have always felt like it is the only way I could truly communicate what I’m feeling or going through at that moment, my art is my form of stress relief.  Of course it is bound to change in the future, but that’s the fun of being an artist, you are never truly tied down

cassandra-keenan-_b-b-y-a_-digital-inkjet-print-2018

Cassandra Keenan, B.B.Y.A, Digital Inkjet Print, 2018

What body of work are you working on right now?

At the moment, I am mainly focused on finishing my Thesis and Grad Ex work called “Film”, it revolves around nine 8mm film reels which were all recorded by my grandfather, starting in the early 60s. The film captured moments of my grandparents young adult life, to their wedding and honeymoon, all the way until my mother and uncle were young children.

During my initial research at the beginning of the year I was mainly focusing on the documentation of my family history, especially that of my mothers side, but as I interview my family and looked at the many documents, I quickly came to realize that alot of the stories that I was told growing up was not told accurately, mostly because I was too young to know the truth.

My thesis then took a major turn, and instead of searching for the truth pertaining to the documentation of my family’s history, I wanted to look at the untold truths and document those moments. This is when I found the films again and got them digitalized, this was the first time in about twenty years that I saw them again, and they quickly became the main focus of my thesis.  I began to solely look at the nine films as the manifestation of all the untold truths that were told over my life time through the use of the editing that was done to each of them, I wanted to explore and identify each edit and untold truth within each of the individual films, which now stood in place for my family’s documented history and from there the series “Film” was formed, the series contains four parts, “Life”, “The Truth & The Edit”, “Glitch” and “Proof”, all of these names resembling different aspects related to film and archiving.

What draws you to the act of documenting these film rolls involved in your body of work, and how do you believe this adds to the significance of your work?

The Truth & The Edit” is the part of the series “Film” where I document the film reels. The work consists of fourteen photographs, each documenting the physical elements of the untold truths and manipulations that had been woven into my family’s history, these became very significant to my work, because they resemble the physical manifestation of my concept.

The first eight photographs are documenting the four film containers and their respective reels, the photographs depicting the four containers, “B.B.Y.A”, “Shower”, “Honeymoon”, and “Unknown #1”, each resemble the truth which are contained within them, and the labels on the front reflect on the moments captured within, they are the ‘real’ and the ‘truth’.  The next four photographs document the four reels that were once contained in the pervious containers, “B.B.Y.A Reel”, “Shower Reel”, “Honeymoon Reel”, and “Unknown Reel #1”. These four photographs represent the manipulation and the untold truths that were being told within my family’s history, and the editing that had been done to each reel can be clearly seen within some of the photographs, these edit points show that someone had physically edited and removed a piece of information from the recorded history.

The last six photographs document the small six film reels, “Made in Canada”, “Shar”, “1 Florida”, “2 Florida”, “Unknown Reel #2” and “QUE”. These six photographs also depict the untold truths and lies within my family history, some of the reels can be seen missing large sections of the film, which obviously mean they have been heavily edited, while others have lost their labels, leaving the contents of the physical reel unknown to the holder.

I was drawn to documenting the film reels and their containers, because as my thesis moved forward I could no longer see them as the absolute truth of my family’s recorded history, I began to only see them as their edits and nothing else, and it came to a point where I felt I had to document them as their own absolute truth, that being documenting the real and the edit. 

cassandra-keenan-_b-b-y-a-reel_-digital-inkjet-print-2018

Cassandra Keenan, B.B.Y.A Reel, Digital Inkjet Print, 2018

As your thesis explores familial relationships, how do you navigate working with a topic that is so personal? How has your relationship with your work evolved over the course of the year?

I actually found it really easy to navigate such a personal topic this time around, I was lucky enough to have a support system behind me to not only support the path I decided to go on, but also aid me when it had gotten difficult. But the idea of my thesis actually originated from a series that I worked on the pervious year, this series also focused on family history, but that time it focused on my fathers parents, who had passed a couple years ago. That series, “Waves of Memory”, was very hard on me emotionally, it fully drained me because even after a couple years I was still mourning the lost of my grandparents, and the series had opened old wounds, and as time went on it helped me navigate these emotions, and lead me to where I am now, where I can be more focused and understanding of the information laid out in front of me.

You often talk about family history in the context of the ‘truths’ and histories that are passed on generationally, but including the lies and untold truths that these stories hold. How have you decided to play with these ideas in your work to extend or mould the truth/untruths with you approach and contextualize your work?

I came to use the edits and untold truths to tell my family’s history because of the fact throughout my life these truths where only told to please a child’s ears and wonder, but now as an adult I seek to understand the truth of my own history.

With finding the film reels again, I began to question the documentation of my history, especially when my grandfather watched them, and mentioned how heavily edited they were, when I questioned him, he said that every film had to be reviewed by his parents (my great grandparents), and anything they didn’t agree with, must be removed and destroyed without question, so with alot of the reels you can see that they are missing large portions of their film. This made me very curious about the edits and made me want to explore them even more.

Is there anyone who you would like to work with in the future?

I don’t know if there is anyone I would like to work with in the future specifically. I am always open to working with anyone, especially those who I connect really well with, and can have a great back and forth creative conversation with, I do always work my ideas out with people who are around me, but I haven’t actually collaborated with anyone yet. I’m hoping in the future to open that door and work on some amazing work, just haven’t found that person yet.

15-billanddadonalawnmower-copy

Cassandra Keenan, #15, Digital Inkjet Print, 2017

How do you feel the thesis critique process has helped you with your critical thinking skills within your art practice?

The thesis critique process has definitely helped grow my critical thinking skills when it comes to my own work, even when we are critiquing another persons work I am still able to grow as an individual artist.

I am surrounded by so many wonderful artists, with their own amazing histories and point of views, It’s never just one point of view looking at my work. Having those many differences giving their opinions is very valuable to me as an artists, it helps me grow and look outside of my comfort bubble, and I owe it to them for helping me grow.

Even the bad or harsh critiques I take to heart, I know its not against me personally, my fellow classmates want me to grow and do better, I take every critique as an opportunity to grow. 

Are there any specific OCADU Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?

Simon Glass and Nicholas Pye are two OCADU Faculty which come to mind right away, I had the privilege of having both of them as professors for my main photography courses. I honestly believe I wouldn’t be as strong as an artists as I am right now if it wasn’t for both of them. They both pushed me, well beyond what I thought was possible of my own art, I say this in the best way possible, they both saw that I could grow and create more meaningful art, and the art that I created for them, were the first time I was truly making art for myself.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in photography?

The one piece of advice I would give to someone starting out in photography is don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid to be yourself, to experiment, to try something new or scary, and don’t be afraid to grow. It is when you are afraid that you truly stop growing.

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.

Interview by Morgan Sears-Williams

About the writer: Morgan is a photo alumni and runs the Friday #ArtCrush series on the OCAD U Photography Blog. She loves speaking to other artists about social justice, how to break barriers within artist communities and nurturing the arts in alternative non-institutional spaces. She is the Art Co-ordinator for The RUDE Collective, and has done workshops on intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.

« Older posts

Use of this service is governed by the IT Acceptable Use and Web Technologies policies.
Privacy Notice: It is possible for your name, e-mail address, and/or student/staff/faculty UserID to be publicly revealed if you choose to use OCAD University Blogs.