Is language a result of distance? Are we only able to write at a distance? Is it necessary for the writing subject to be away from home to write? Is writing a practice of intimacy or a substitute for it? Who is writing? Does the letter arrive at its destination? What is being transmitted, or transcended through writing? Does it matter who is writing? Is love always a form of letter writing?
/ˌkôrəˈspänd(ə)ns/: Vdeo Out’s first screening of 2024, curated by Mandana Mansori, brings together works by Sarvenaz Ahmadi, Rosamunde Bordo, Mona Hatoum, and Simone Lucas. These works, produced in different temporalities and geographies, speak to different aspects of letter writing.
Please join us on Thursday, January 25th, for the screening and a conversation.
You are the Feather Left from Flight (2023)
A woman in Evin prison writes a letter to a woman who will go to prison and reads the letter in her own voice. These two women are both writers and women's rights activists. This letter is understood and read in the context of the events of the feminist movement and Women, Life, Freedom revolution in Iran.
I Think About You Every Day (2022)
21-year old friends exchange impassioned emails over a summer of separation. Their correspondence is brought to life by two dancers in an unfinished apartment building. A meditative, autobiographical portrait tinged with longing and loss.
The Relationship Without Images Trailer (2020)
The Trailer for an art exhibition sets the stage for mystery and suspense, longing and desire, a chance encounter, and possibly somebody writing a novel. A good trailer should never reveal too much!
Measures of Distance (1988)
Measures Of Distance is constructed from a series of grainy stills shot in extreme close-up of Hatoum's mother in the shower of the family home in Beirut. The images are laid over with a mesh of Arabic writing, like a curtain or a veil, which represent her mother's letters from Beirut to the artist in London. The soundtrack consists of an animated conversation between Hatoum and her mother overlaid with Hatoum's voice reading a translation of the letters into English.
The video is concerned with the artist's separation from her Palestinian family and in particular, her relationship with her mother against a backdrop of traumatic social rupture, war, exile and displacement.
The Relationship Without Images Feature (2023)
A cryptic love letter, written on a postcard, is addressed to Denise. Fragments of the letter drift across a blue postcard sky, rise from the contemplation of a steamy cup of coffee, hover over images of destination hotels and cityscapes. Meanwhile, someone ponders the nature of correspondence, of postcards, of relationships.
Conceived as part of a multi-disciplinary installation that served as a response to the love-letter, The Relationship Without Images Feature was projected through the intimate fabric of a changing screen, reminiscent of a woman’s boudoir.
VIVO is located in the homelands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples in a warehouse space at 2625 Kaslo Street south of East Broadway at the end of E 10th. Transit line 9 stops at Kaslo Street on Broadway. From the bus stop, the path is paved, curbless, and on a slight decline. The closest skytrain station is Renfrew Station, which is three blocks south-east of VIVO and has an elevator. From there, the path is paved, curbless, and on a slight incline. There is parking available at VIVO, including wheelchair access parking. There is a bike rack at the entrance. The front entrance leads indoors to a set of 7 stairs to the lobby.
A wheelchair ramp is located at the west side of the main entrance. The ramp has two runs: the first run is 20 feet long, and the second run is 26 feet. The ramp is 60 inches wide. The slope is 1:12. The ramp itself is concrete and has handrails on both sides. There is an outward swinging door (34 inch width) at the top of the ramp leading to a vestibule. A second outward swinging door (33 inch width) opens into the exhibition space. Buzzers and intercoms are located at both doors to notify staff during regular office hours or events to unlock the doors. Once unlocked, visitors can use automatic operators to open the doors.
There are two all-gender washrooms. One has a stall and is not wheelchair accessible. The other is a single room with a urinal and is wheelchair accessible: the door is 33 inches wide and inward swinging, without automation. The toilet has 11 inch clearance on the left side and a handrail.
To reach the bathrooms from the studio, exit through the double doors and proceed straight through the lobby and down the hall . Turn left, and the two bathrooms will be on your right side. The closest one has a stall and is not wheelchair accessible. The far bathroom is accessible.
Sarvenaz Ahmadi is a social worker and children's rights defender. She has volunteered and worked as a social worker with different grassroots NGOs working towards the protection of children's and women's rights in the most marginalized neighbourhoods in Tehran. She was detained on 6 November 2022, in the context of the September 2022 nationwide protests in Iran. Sarvenaz Ahmadi is currently serving prison sentences in Evin prison. She translated Sylvia Fedrici's Revolution at Point Zero into Farsi.
Rosamunde Bordo is an interdisciplinary visual artist and educator currently based on the unceded xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and səlil̓wətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh territories/Vancouver, BC. She induces mysterious narratives through multimedia installations that may include sculpture, textiles, sound, video, performance, drawing, and writing. Since 2018, she has been creating installments in an unfolding project called The Denise File, which she characterizes as a work of serial detective fiction that is written through physical space and material. The project orients itself around an enigmatic split-subject named Denise, who becomes increasingly more real through artistic interventions and creations, but by the same process of invention is paradoxically more fictitious. Recent solo exhibitions connected to this project include Morning Star at the Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery (Vancouver), and The Relationship Without Images at PoMoArts (Port Moody, BC).
Bordo holds an MFA in Visual Art from UBC, and BA Honours in Liberal Arts and Print Media from Concordia University, Montréal. Recent group exhibitions include CSA Space (Vancouver), the Morris & Helen Belkin Gallery (Vancouver), and Ymuno (Montréal). She has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the Canada Council for the Arts, the Kwi Am Choi Scholarship, the Audain Travel Award, and the Joan Wright Hassell Prize in Visual Arts. She currently teaches print media at UBC as a Sessional Lecturer.
Mona Hatoum was born into a Palestinian family in Beirut, Lebanon in 1952 and has lived and worked in London since 1975. She studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art, London (1975-1979) and Slade School of Fine Art, London (1979-1981).
Hatoum has worked in a diverse range of media, including performance, video, photography, sculpture, installation and works on paper. Her work deals with issues of displacement, marginalisation, exclusion and systems of social and political control.
Recent solo exhibitions include a major survey organised by Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015) that toured to Tate Modern, London and KIASMA, Helsinki (2016) and a large US survey initiated by the Menil Collection, Houston (2017) that travelled to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St Louis (2018). In September 2022, Hatoum had three solo exhibitions that took place simultaneously in Berlin: Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), Georg Kolbe Museum and KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art.
Hatoum has also participated in international group exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale (1995 and 2005), Istanbul Biennial (1995 and 2011), Documenta, Kassel (2002 and 2017), Biennale of Sydney (2006), Sharjah Biennial (2007 and 2023) and Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2013).
Simone Lucas is a video artist, educator and community activist based in Tio’tia:ke/Montréal. She holds a Master’s degree in Media Studies from Concordia University with scholarships from the Fonds De Recherches Societé et Culture and The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Her thesis project was a medium-length non-fiction film: a self-portrait exploring the topic of female friendship through the weaving of personal correspondence, contemporary dance and collaborative soundscapes. Simone is actively involved in investigating and creating relationships between educational institutions, grassroots organizations and contiguous Montréal arts communities. She is currently employed as a video technician and workshop coordinator at the Concordia Feminist Media Studio and is also working as a professional consultant for a forthcoming Critical Disability and Media Lab at Concordia University.
Mandana Mansouri is a displaced Kurdish artist and writer. Her exile started long before moving anywhere. She started forgetting her mother tongue when she went to school in 1988. Now she is remembering. As a physical being, she is an uninvited guest on the stolen land of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ First Nations. In her mind, she is dancing with her people in front of a fire.