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Biophilia: Artist and Archive | Nuit Blanche, October 1, 2022

York University
4700 Keele St
Toronto ON M3J 1P3


The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) and York University present Streams~ Nuit Blanche 2022 at York University, an evening of campuswide exhibitions, art installations, and events featuring 34 artists and showcasing 18 projects located around the central core of York’s Keele Campus and surrounding the Harry Arthur Commons. Each artwork and program is conceived as a distinctive whole, but the title Streams~ identifies their shared commonalities in theme, process, and research methodology.

As part of the broader Streams~ event, and in collaboration with the Archives of Ontario and the AGYU, Archive/Counter-Archive is organizing six media art installations across the Keele campus. Five of these will be united under the exhibition title, Biophilia: Artist and Archive, with the sixth being tied to the launch of CineMobilia, a new mobile infrastructure dedicated to digitizing archival moving image material.  See below for Janine Marchessault’s curatorial statement and details on each of the individual projects. If you have any questions, please reach out to our Knowledge Mobilization Officer, Andrew Bailey, at kmo@counterarchive.ca.

Curatorial Statement
Biophilia: Artist and Archive references a love of living things. At the heart of the exhibition are more than human animals and our entanglements with them. The five artworks commissioned for Biophilia: Artist and Archive offer an extended conversation with the Archives of Ontario's exhibit Animalia which engages with a history of animals in the archives documented through photographs and films. Biophilia seeks to reimagine archival interfaces -- interactive screens (Public Visualization Studio), CRT sculptures (Logue), architectural projections (Dysart), water and AR (Norton), and a planetarium (Chong). The artists reflect upon the place of animals in Indigenous cultures, their hidden histories beneath the earth, the AI fabulation of bestiaries, and ancient knowledge systems transformed by climate change.

CineMobilia -- mobile archiving and presentation bus will be launched at Nuit Blanche with a micro-cinema set up across from the Archives of Ontario. Screening throughout the evening will feature archival films from the Archives of Ontario, documentaries as well as artists’ experiments and performances with archival film projections.

Janine Marchessault

Asad Raza

Chris Chong Chan Fui, CineMobilia (Mobile Archiving Bus), Jennifer Dysart, Deirdre Logue, Jenn E Norton, Public Visualization Studio

Biophilia: Artist and Archive is funded through the City of Toronto, Nuit Blanche, Archive/Counter-Archive’s Partnership Grant, the Canadian Film Institute, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.

Featured Image Credit: Chris Chong Chan Fui, Nocturnal Zodiac, 2022, AV installation, image courtesy of the artist.

Fabulous Ones - Public Visualization Studio

A 3D-rendered scene of three frames featuring abstracted faces arranged in a dark forest with geometric figures wandering around.
Public Visualization Studio, Fabulous Ones, 2022, screen installation, image courtesy of the artists.

Project Title: Fabulous Ones
Artists: Public Visualization Studio (Patricio Davila, Dave Colangelo, Immony Men)
Location: Wooded area across from Archives of Ontario

Project Description: Fabulous Ones presents creatures inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ writing conjured by Public Visualization Studio and collaborators. Three-dimensional digital masks of these creatures look back at viewers, interacting with them through motion-sensing cameras and AI-generated animations. Through processes of social and technical translation, this project aims to combine, dramatize, and question concepts of description, classification, imagination, speculation, and diaspora.

Programmed by Archive/Counter-Archive with Nuit Blanche; curated by Janine Marchessault & Dr. Julia Nagam. Fabulous Ones is featured as a part of Streams~ Nuit Blanche 2022, which is being organized by the Art Gallery of York University.

The People Behind the Work: Public Visualization Lab focuses on how visualization can operate as a critical design and media practice. A priority for the lab is to understand the ways that the representation of data is political as well as analytical, designerly and creative. A basic premise that guides our projects is that visualization is an assemblage that arranges people, things and processes and, as such, demands a commitment to ethics, accountability and meaningful participation.

Patricio Dávila (Co-Director), Immony Men (Co-Director), Dave Colangelo (Co-Director), April Xie (Collaborator), Jay Irizawa (Collaborator), Luke Garwood (Collaborator), Monica Virtue (Collaborator), Renata Leitao (Collaborator), and Jonathan Silveira (Collaborator).

Tributaries - Jenn E Norton

A 3D-rendered image of a large reflective purple salmon swimming through the sky at sunset.
Jenn E Norton, Tributaries, 2022, multimedia installation, image courtesy of the artist.

Project Title: Tributaries
Artists: Jenn E Norton
Location: Reflecting Pool on The Harry Arthurs Commons

Project Description: Tributaries uses multimedia projection and augmented reality content of native and invasive species to mark and draw attention to the freshwater habitats of the York University campus area. These tributaries were buried or rechanneled as a result of urban development. The animated projection and superimposed AR component show the biodiversity of the surrounding area to create an ethereal intermingling of native and invasive species.

Programmed by Archive/Counter-Archive with Nuit Blanche; curated by Janine Marchessault & Dr. Julia Nagam. Tributaries is featured as a part of Streams~ Nuit Blanche 2022, which is being organized by the Art Gallery of York University. 

Artist Bio: Jenn E Norton is an artist using time-based media to create immersive, experiential installations that reframe familiar objects, landscapes, and activities as fantastical, dreamlike occurrences. Using stereoscopic, interactive video, animation, augmented reality, sound, and kinetic sculpture, Norton’s installation work explores the blurring boundaries of virtual and physical realms. Often using video as a starting point within her process, Norton’s imaginative video compositions of disjunctive imagery are bound together in post-production, using a combination of pre-cinema and contemporary display technologies.

Nocturnal Zodiac - Chris Chong Chan Fui

A simple geometric line drawing of a kiwi bird with white lines and a black background.
Chris Chong Chan Fui, Nocturnal Zodiac, 2022, AV installation, image courtesy of the artist.

Project Title: Nocturnal Zodiac
Artists: Chris Chong Chan Fui
Location: Vari Hall Rotunda 

Project Description: Chris Chong Chan Fui is known for his experimental film-based artworks, which take into question the objectivity of fact and the possibility of defining reality. Nocturnal Zodiac re-configures traditional Eastern and Western astrologies into a new cyclical archive of modern human characteristics and future-telling that drive our fate on this planet. A star map will be projected and mapped onto the entire rotunda of Vari Hall.

Programmed by Archive/Counter-Archive with Nuit Blanche; curated by Janine Marchessault & Dr. Julia Nagam. Nocturnal Zodiac is featured at Streams~ Nuit Blanche 2022 organized by the Art Gallery of York University.

Artist Bio: Chris Chong Chan Fui works with varying materials in an installation format that interconnects fields such as architecture, science, sports, economics, and the moving image. Chong has exhibited his works at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Palais de Tokyo, EYE Film Institute Netherlands, Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, and the 2018 Gwanju Biennale. Chong has also premiered at the Cannes' Directors’ Fortnight, Vienna, BFI London, and Toronto's Wavelengths. Works within public collections include the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden.Chong is a Smithsonian Institute fellow (National Museum of Natural History), a Ford Foundation fellow, and most recently, he was awarded the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Arts Fellowship, Italy.

Revisiting Keewatin - Jennifer Dysart

A black and white archival photograph of two people with dog sleds walking through a snowy landscape.
Jennifer Dysart, DogSledHello: Revisiting Keewatin, 2022, film still, image courtesy of the artist. Source material circa 1950, from Library and Archives Canada.

Project Title: Revisiting Keewatin
Artists: Jennifer Dysart
Location: The Archives of Ontario (Exterior)

Project Description: A multi-screen projection installation on the window surfaces of Archives of Ontario, Revisiting Keewatin is a film found at Library and Archives Canada by Jennifer Dysart. The film documents the Keewatin Missions in Northern Manitoba showing Catholic Missionary Activity with the Cree community in the 1950s. Focused specifically on the animals visible in this archival footage, the work sifts through the Indigenous relationships with animals.

Programmed by Archive/Counter-Archive with Nuit Blanche; curated by Janine Marchessault. Revisiting Keewatin is featured as a part of Streams~ Nuit Blanche 2022, which is being organized by the Art Gallery of York University.

Artist Bio: Jennifer Dysart is a director of short films, a set decorator (Nabet 700-M Unifor permittee status coming soon), an assistant director, a field producer, an archival researcher, legal clearance coordinator, production coordinator, and occasional arts jury member. She is the recipient of the York University master’s thesis prize in 2014 for her documentary film Kewekapawetan: Return After the Flood.

The Opposite of Ignoring Chickens - Deirdre Logue

A photograph of a woman with glasses and colourful winter clothing standing outside in snowy rural area holding a chicken.
Deirdre Logue, The Opposite of Ignoring Chickens, 2022, multi-channel installation, image courtesy of the artist

Project Title: The Opposite of Ignoring Chickens
Artists: Deirdre Logue
Location: The Archives of Ontario (Lobby)

Project Description: The Opposite of Ignoring Chickens documents the artist tending to and interacting with her 7 chickens. The fascinating symmetry between the artist and her chickens reveals a relational codependence that collapses the sensual and the intuitive, wildness and domestication. The project’s sculptural and installation components incorporate multiple 4:3 ratio, CRT monitors dating back to the 1980s, and the sounds of the birds and the artist in ‘dialogue,’ remixed to create a polyphonic soundtrack.
Programmed by Archive/Counter-Archive with Nuit Blanche; curated by Janine Marchessault. The Opposite of Ignoring Chickens is featured as a part of Streams~ Nuit Blanche 2022, which is being organized by the Art Gallery of York University.  

Artist Bio: For the past 20 years, the film and video work of Canadian artist Deirdre Logue has focused on the self as subject. Using 'performance for the camera' as a primary mode of production, her compelling self-portraits investigate what it means to be a queer body in the age of anxiety.

 Logue has been prolific and steadfast in her engagement with the moving image and has subsequently produced upwards of 60 short films and videos as well as some of this country's most celebrated video art installations including Why Always Instead of Just Sometimes (2003-2007), twelve works that are reflections on aging, breaking down and reparation; Id's Its (2012), an ambitious suite of thirteen installations exploring the richness of our malfunctions and Euphoria's Hiccups (2013) an intentionally intense, site specific work incorporating upwards of 20 small video screens, still imagery, sound and psychoactive plants; crosspollinating Logue's tendencies towards obsession and addiction with contemporary thinking on healing, landscape and mindfulness.

CineMobilia, Mobile Archiving Bus

A photograph of a silver metallic camper parked in front of some trees and resting on some grass.

Project Title: CineMobilia, Mobile Archiving Bus
Artists: CineMobilia (Janine Marchessault, John Greyson, Patricio Davila, and Jean-Pierre Marchant) 
Location: York Boulevard parking lot (across from Ontario Archives).

Project Description: CineMobilia is a new mobile infrastructure that is being launched at Nuit Blanche (project members include Janine Marchessault, John Greyson, Patricio Davila and Director of Operations Jean-Pierre Marchant) that is part of Archive/Counter-Archive. The CineMobilia project is a flexible, responsive infrastructure tailored to the unique archival needs of Canadian marginalized communities, specifically collections with limited staff, those with difficulty making their collections represented and discoverable, and/or collections that represent an underserved/underrepresented community (Indigenous and Black communities, women, the LGTB2Q+ community, and immigrant communities). The hope is to attract members of the York and surrounding communities to bring their analogue or born digital archives to be preserved. The 1970s trailer will be decorated with many small screens as well as film projectors.

The People Behind the Work: Taking its name from the multitude of historical media literacy projects that sought to bring film and media to underserved communities - “cines móviles” of Cuba, cinema trains in Russia, and “Cinema Mobile” projects by the Canadian Film Board, CineMobilia is a mobile infrastructure lab tailored to the unique archival and presentation needs of marginalized communities in Canada.