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Musical role models

[Faculty Concert Series]
The fourth concert of the Faculty Artists Series brings Russell DeVuyst, Dan Tremblay (Dan School of Drama and Music) and Tom Davidson (Dan School of Drama and Music) to the stage at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Sunday, March 12. 

The fourth concert in the Faculty Artist Series will feature music for trumpet and piano.

Taking to the stage at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Sunday, March 12 will be Russell DeVuyst, former assistant principal trumpet of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and a faculty member of McGill University, who will perform alongside his former student Dan Tremblay, the trumpet teacher at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and the Dan School of Drama and music and conductor of the Queen’s Wind Ensemble. Tom Davidson, professor at McGill and Queen’s, will play the piano.

Tremblay is excited to perform with DeVuyst, who instructed him during his Master’s studies at McGill. He’s also excited to take the Isabel stage.

“This is the first time for me at the Isabel as a soloist and I’m really looking forward to it,” he says. “This is, in my opinion, is the best acoustics in Canada.”

The Faculty Artist Series also provides a different kind of learning opportunity for the students at the Dan School of Drama and Music, Tremblay explains. Outside of being an instructor, the faculty members become role models by showing how a professional musician prepares for a recital.

“To be honest, we do like to be on stage but it’s also for the students. We like to give an example to follow for the students,” he says. “When I’m preparing for a recital like this, the students will hear me practicing late at night and they will know what it is to prepare for a professional recital. This motivates the students and also gives me ideas on how to prepare them for their own recitals as I’m struggling with my own.”

The concert starts at 2:30 pm.

Tickets start at $20 for adults and $10 for students. Purchase tickets online or in person at the Isabel Box Office, Monday to Friday, 12:30-4:30pm. 

Piano performance in the spotlight

[PianoFest 12]
Douglas Finch, Roy Howat, and Martin Karliček headline the 12th edition of PianoFest, being hosted March 1-17 at Queen's University. (Supplied photos)

Celebrating the art of piano performance, the 12th edition of PianoFest offers a pair of visitors from the UK as well as a number of leading Canadian performers.

Wednesday, March 1 – Improvisation Master Class with Douglas Finch, 7 pm, Harrison-LeCaine Hall, Rm. 124. Free admission.
Friday, March 3 – Colloquium Presentation by Douglas Finch: “Developing a Frame of Mind for Musical Improvisation,” 12:30 pm, Harrison-LeCaine Hall, Rm. 124. Free admission.
Sunday, March 5 – Douglas Finch in Recital, 7:30 pm, Rehearsal Room, The Isabel. Admission: $10 adults, $5 students/seniors. Tickets available at the door or by calling 613-533-2424.
Friday, March 10 – Colloquium Presentation by Martin Karliček: “Leoš Janáček and the Decade of Anguish: Works for Solo Piano,” exceptionally at 12:00 noon, Harrison-LeCaine Hall, Rm. 124. Free admission.
Wednesday, March 15 – Roy Howat in Recital, 7:30 pm, Rehearsal Room, The Isabel. Admission: $10 adults, $5 students/seniors. Tickets available at the door or by calling 613-533-2424.
Friday, March 17 – Colloquium Presentation by Roy Howat: “Chopin and unexpected: new angles on his Etudes.” 12:30 pm, Harrison-LeCaine Hall, Rm. 124. Free Admission.
Friday, March 17 – Master class with Roy Howat, 4:30 pm, Harrison-LeCaine Hall, Rm. 124. Free Admission.

Hosted by the Dan School of Drama and Music, the festival features Douglas Finch, professor of piano and composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Greenwich, England, who is known for his innovative and imaginative approach to performance. Dr. Finch's visit is partially supported by the Principal's Development Fund as an International Visiting Scholar.

Also taking part in the series is Roy Howat, an internationally-renowned pianist and scholar who is regarded as the foremost authority on French keyboard music. He is a research fellow at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

A rare treat as well comes from Martin Karliček, piano professor at McGill University and concert pianist, who will be speaking about and performing the music of Czech composer Leoš Janáček.

The festival lineup continues the tradition of providing opportunities for students to meet and interact with artists of international stature, listen to their performances, and ask questions about technique and interpretation from masters, explains PianoFest organizer Ireneus Zuk, Professor and Associate Director of the Dan School of Drama and Music.

The improvisation workshop by Douglas Finch, he adds, promises to be a departure from the typical master class format where students prepare a work, perform it for the visiting artist and await comments.

“Sometimes it is interesting to see how students are able to incorporate the suggestions into their own performance right on the spot – sometimes it takes a bit longer,” says Dr. Zuk. “Dr. Finch has been teaching the ‘lost’ art of classical improvisation for a number of years.  In his own recital programs, he includes works improvised on the spot. And his class is open to instrumentalists and vocalists, not just pianists.”

The festival receives support from the G.T. Richardson Fund, the International Visitors Program and the Belvedere Hotel.

For further information, visit the website of the Dan School of Drama and Music or contact the Music Office of the Dan School at 613-533-2066 or Dr. Ireneus Zuk at 533-6000, x. 74209.

Playwright explores new ground in return to Queen's

[Kat Sandler]
Kat Sandler

Kat Sandler, Artsci’08, unbundles her coat and grabs the same seat in Theological Hall she sat in when she took a playwrighting course a decade ago. Ms. Sandler is back at Queen’s as an artist in residence in the Dan School of Drama and Music. It’s a busy time as she prepares to direct Queen’s students in the debut performance of her play, The End of the World Club.

The venue for the play – The Isabel – might be new to Ms. Sandler, but many aspects of her Queen’s experience remain familiar.  

“It’s so crazy being back because it feels like no time has passed at all,” says Ms. Sandler, recalling her student days. “I mostly remember the feeling of community. I am still friends with people I met at Queen’s, and they’re all coming to see the show on Friday. It’s a true honour and gift to come back.”

While it’s a homecoming for Ms. Sandler, she has avoided simply reliving her Queen’s glory days. In talking with Craig Walker, Director, Dan School of Drama and Music, she proposed collaborating with current students to write and mount an entirely new play. 

“I wanted to make something with the students, because it was a much more exciting endeavour than just doing a play I had done before as a student. It’s very similar to what I would do in Toronto,” she says.

[Scene from End of the World Club]
The End of the World Club tells the story of 15 students who must create a new society in the wake of a hypothetical global apocalypse. The play is written and directed by Kat Sandler, Artsci'08, a visiting artist in residence in the Dan School of Drama and Music. (Photo by Tim Fort)

Despite the challenges that come with developing a new play in just three months, Ms. Sandler is proud of the result. The End of the World Club, which premieres tonight, tells the story of 15 university students who sign up to participate in the New World Challenge, a study commissioned by a billionaire alumnus. The characters have three days to create a new society in the wake of a hypothetical global apocalypse.

Ms. Sandler says the students inspired her throughout the writing process. She cast the play without a script back in November. The playwright, actors, and crew got together and discussed the themes and ideas they wanted to address in the play. Ms. Sandler went away from that discussion and created a framework to house those ideas. She returned and the cast has helped workshop the play through rehearsals.

“I am amazed about how open the students are and how much they were willing to share about themselves,” Ms. Sandler says. “Maybe it’s because of social media and technology, but they are so much more generous with their emotions and memories than I feel my generation was.”

The End of the World Club presented by the Dan School of Drama and Music
Written and Directed by Kat Sandler, created by the ensemble
Evening performances: Feb. 9-11 & 14-16 at 8 pm Matinee Performances: Feb. 11-12 at 2 pm
Tickets available on The Isabel website

Zach Fedora, Artsci'17, the play's production manager, says the experience pushed students out of their comfort zone and gave them a better sense of what theatre is like in the professional world.

"It has been the most challenging production I have every worked on, because of all the unknowns and constant changes throughout the process," he says. "Yet here we are on opening night, a month later, with a truly spectacular show to share with the world for the first time, and I could not be more honoured to have had this opportunity to help bring Kat's stories to reality."

Since graduating from Queen’s, Ms. Sandler has built a career as a successful theatre creator, serving as artistic director of Theatre Brouhaha, which she co-founded with her Queen’s classmate Tom McGee, Artsci’08. She received one of Canada’s top theatre honours in 2016 when her play Mustard won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play. She also recently wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Late Night, in collaboration with media mogul Moses Znaimer.

The Dan School of Drama and Music brought Ms. Sandler to Queen’s with support from the arts fund portion of the Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds. The Arts Fund aims to support artists and their contributions to the scholarly community at Queen’s and beyond.

Ms. Sandler took the artist-in-residence opportunity to push her creative boundaries and explore new approaches to storytelling.

“If you can’t try things out at the place where you learned to do things in the first place, where can you try them?”

Connecting Queen's and the community

[Isabel Concert Hall]
With support from the Ballytobin Foundation local groups recieve support to perform at the concert hall of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (University Communications) 

On a balmy spring evening, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts came alive to the timeless strains of 18th-century European composers, and a much more recent suite by local composer John Palmer. The players, members of Orchestra Kingston and the Kingston Community Strings, allowed their surroundings to inspire them, and the audience felt it. The spontaneous standing ovation that erupted at the end of the performance was, as one audience member put it, “well deserved and heartfelt.”

This magical moment was not just a connection between performer and audience, it was also a connection between university and community. And it would not have been possible without the Ballytobin Foundation.

A private foundation created by Joan and the late Brian Tobin in 1992 to support arts and culture in Ontario, the Ballytobin Foundation found a new purpose when The Isabel opened in 2014. The newly-reimagined foundation now makes it possible for local groups to play at the lakeside concert hall by subsidizing a portion of their rental costs. 

“Anyone who knows anything about the Kingston music and theatre scene knows that the best venues are now at The Isabel,” says John Burge, Director of Music at the Dan School of Drama and Music and a composer whose own works have been featured on The Isabel’s stage. “The grants from the Ballytobin Foundation mean local groups can perform in a hall that has wonderful acoustics, great equipment, and where audiences love to come. It is a superb opportunity.”

“A performing arts centre has its own soul, and this soul thrives when there is broad participation by artists and the community,” says Tricia Baldwin, The Isabel’s Artistic Director. 

That broad participation has included performances by the Kingston Chamber Choir, Kingston Brassworks, and the Kingston Community Orchestra, among others. In early November, 17 local choirs and more than 800 performers converged on The Isabel for Choralpalooza. All of these concerts were made possible by the Ballytobin Foundation, but Dr. Burge believes they are just a beginning. 

“Joan’s vision was very specific, but also flexible enough that as long as there is artistic value in what is being presented, and as long as it is being driven by someone in the community, it will get funding,” he says. “New initiatives and innovation and things that are being tried for the first time will be looked at favourably, because that is what this kind of fund should do.”

“She has nourished the virtuous circle of the artistic experience that gives so much to both performers and audiences,” Ms. Baldwin says. 

That circle has been good for both Queen’s and the city it calls home. 

“Joan saw the concert hall as an opportunity to be larger than just a university-focused venue,” says Dr. Burge. “She understood that the arts is a great medium for breaking down barriers. Bringing community groups into what is, in a sense, a university building really helps to connect the university with the Kingston community. Borders never matter when you’re talking about the arts.” 

To learn more about the Ballytobin Foundation, including upcoming application deadlines, please visit ballytobin.com.

Launching into winter

[North Baffin Island]
Cornelius (Kooneeloosee) Nutarak (Pond Inlet), Using Blubber to Make Fuel, 1964, graphite, pencil crayon on paper, 50 x 65 cm, Canadian Museum of History, IV-C-6952

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre will be celebrating the Winter Season launch on Thursday, Jan. 19 with five new exhibitions.

“It’s always exciting to share the fruit of the curatorial team’s creative labour at the season launch,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. “This winter’s suite of beautiful new exhibitions is especially rich, building as it does on our work with many collaborators and contributors. The program showcases fascinating cultural and technical research, and, at the same time offers unexpected forms of display that invite the visitor to become part of the show.”   

Picturing Arctic Modernity: North Baffin Drawings from 1964 is Curator of Indigenous Art Norman Vorano’s first major research project since joining the Agnes. The deeply original, revelatory show is based on a selection of works on paper from the collection of the Canadian Museum of History, and enriched by interviews Dr. Vorano conducted last summer in Nunavut. The exhibition show will travel to the Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, and to North Baffin communities following its run in Kingston.

In Curator of Contemporary Art Sunny Kerr’s inventive The hold, artistic themes of hospitality and collective awareness are extended, stretching the definition of what a gallery space can be.

Amid a selection of works from the collection, the contemporary galleries will be outfitted with study spaces for public use. In turn, the art has been chosen to sympathize with such places for thinking, which are ripe for informal encounters and escape plans. The resulting show is a set of diverse works held together by their spirit of research, searching inscriptions, playful assemblage and imagined collectivities, including pieces by Napoleon Brousseau, Lyne Lapointe and Martha Fleming, Gustav Klimt, Nobuo Kubota, Pablo Picasso, Anne Ramsden, Ted Rettig, Gabrielle Sims, Lisa Visser and Tim Whiten.

Pursuing answers in another direction, The Unvarnished Truth and Key Works Unlocked exhibitions delve under the surface of historical paintings to discover new evidence and inform fresh accounts of their histories.

Two of a Kind showcases the fascinating 18th-century European tradition of pairing prints. This exhibition was initiated by, and honours, a great scholar and long-standing friend of the Agnes, the late W. McAllister (Mac) Johnson.

Big Data on the silver screen

Queen’s University surveillance expert David Lyon hosts screening of Citizenfour.

Next up...
Big Data, Cyber Security and Healthcare
Denise Anthony, Dartmouth College
Tuesday, Feb. 7
School of Medicine, 6:30 pm

After a successful start, Big Data 175 continues with a showing of Citizenfour at the Screening Room in Kingston. The film – which records a reporter and documentarian travelling to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden – won an Academy Award in 2015.

The Big Data events are part of the Queen’s University 175th anniversary celebrations – a year-long exploration into the pros and cons of Big Data in fields such as health care, marketing and national security.

Big Data is large amounts of data that can be used to spot business trends, prevent diseases and combat crime, among other uses. These data sets are so large that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to deal with them.

 “This is an excellent movie with absolutely unique footage,” says David Lyon (Surveillance Studies Centre). “The audience will be captivated from the very first scene. It’s compelling.”

In January 2013, American documentary film director Laura Poitras received an encrypted email from a stranger calling himself Citizenfour. In it he offered inside information about the illegal wiretapping practices of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence agencies. In June of the same year, she travelled to Hong Kong for the first meeting with the stranger, Edward Snowden. She was accompanied by journalist Glenn Greenwald and Guardian reporter Ewen MacAskill.

“Edward Snowden was not a conventional whistleblower but, better, a truth teller,” says Dr. Lyon. “He exposed Big Data being used in unique and, he argued, illegal ways.”

Dr. Lyon will introduce the movie and host a question and answer period following the film.

The Big Data series continues on Tuesday, February 7 with Big Data, Cyber Security and Healthcare public lecture presented by Denise Anthony from Dartmouth College. The event will be held in the School of Medicine Building, Room 132A starting at 6:30 pm and preceded by a reception at 5:30 pm.

“It’s energizing to meet with people from all over Queen’s and realize we have a common goal of presenting Big Data to the public,” says Dr. Lyon. “We are exploring what’s being done with Big Data on campus, and arguing about the pros and cons of Big Data in fields from healthcare to marketing to national security and beyond.”

The film is being presented at the Screening Room Monday, January 16 at 6:45 pm. For more information, including up-to-date information on presentations and topics, visit the BD175 website.

Ladder to arts leadership

Queen’s University has launched a new ‘laddered’ Graduate Diploma and Master’s program that will provide students interested in pursuing or accelerating their career in the arts with a 360-degree view of the arts and culture industry.

Through the programs, offered by the Dan School of Drama and Music in collaboration with the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, students can earn a Graduate Diploma in Arts Management with the successful completion of the six-week term, or continue with the Master’s in Arts Leadership.

[Arts Leadership graduate programs]
A new laddered Graduate Diploma and Master’s program at Queen's provides students interested in pursuing or accelerating their career in the arts with a full view of the arts and culture industry. (University Communications)

With a focus on experiential learning through live site research assignments and a final term practicum placement in an arts organization, students are exposed to, and taught by, top practitioners in the arts industry. Students in the program will also be provided with assistance in securing their final term practicum by leading North American arts search consultants, Genovese, Vanderhoof and Associates. 

“Queen’s offers its students a perfect balance of engagement with rigorous academic programs and access to first class practitioners and arts facilities,” says Gordon E. Smith, Interim Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science. “Both programs are cross-disciplinary – and will be delivered by instructors from the Dan School of Drama and Music, the Masters of Industrial Relations program, the Smith School of Business, as well as top practitioners in the field. In addition, the campus boasts world-class facilities including a major performing arts centre, art gallery, and library, all with senior staff whose management experience adds to the practical teaching environment.”

The five core courses needed to complete the Graduate Diploma in Arts Management are offered during a single six-week session in May and June beginning in 2017. A student may then continue on to pursue the Master’s in Arts Leadership program through the completion of one additional term of coursework, partly or wholly online, followed by a third capstone term involving a practicum placement.

“This is an ideal and complementary graduate program for those who have received an undergraduate degree in drama, music, fine art, film and related cultural fields,” says Craig Walker, Director of the Dan School of Drama and Music.  “It is designed to help students capitalize on the extensive transferable skills they have gained during their earlier studies.”

“Students will gain a tremendous knowledge in resource development which is required in all arts leadership positions in an industry requiring substantial revenue growth to achieve its artistic and audience goals,” adds Tricia Baldwin, Director, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “The relationship-based and revenue development focus of the program will set graduates up for tremendous success in the field.”

For more information and upcoming events for the Graduate Diploma in Arts Management and the Master’s in Arts Leadership visit the programs website.

A night to remember

  • Patricia O’Callaghan plays the lead role in the musical theatre production 'One Last Night with Mata Hari,' which is being staged at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Tim Fort)
    Patricia O’Callaghan plays the lead role in the musical theatre production 'One Last Night with Mata Hari,' which is being staged at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Tim Fort)
  • Patricia O’Callaghan sings during the final rehearsal for 'One Last Night with Mata Hari,' which is being staged at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Tim Fort)
    Patricia O’Callaghan sings during the final rehearsal for 'One Last Night with Mata Hari,' which is being staged at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Tim Fort)
  • Gregory Oh performs the role of Dr. Bazinet, the last of Mata Hari's supporters, performed by Patricia O'Callagan in 'One Last Night With Mata Hari.' (Photo by Tim Fort)
    Gregory Oh performs the role of Dr. Bazinet, the last of Mata Hari's supporters, performed by Patricia O'Callagan in 'One Last Night With Mata Hari.' (Photo by Tim Fort)
  • The Dan School of Drama and Music's John Burge, left, and Craig Walker, right, collaborated to create 'One Last Night With Mata Hari,' with Gregory Oh and Patricia O'Callaghan in the roles of Mata Hari and Dr. Bazinet. (Photo by Tim Fort)
    The Dan School of Drama and Music's John Burge, left, and Craig Walker, right, collaborated to create 'One Last Night With Mata Hari,' with Gregory Oh and Patricia O'Callaghan in the roles of Mata Hari and Dr. Bazinet. (Photo by Tim Fort)

A century after her execution, Mata Hari remains an intriguing character and is the focus of an upcoming production created by Queen’s University’s John Burge and Craig Walker.

One Last Night With Mata Hari presents the final night of the exotic dancer before she is to be executed by French authorities on charges of spying for Germany during the First World War.

The production offers a rare collaboration between two Royal Society of Canada fellows who are leaders in their fields: Dr. Burge in music and Dr. Walker in drama.

As Dr. Burge explains, the idea got its start after he had completed the chamber opera The Auction and was looking for a similar theatrical project that was a little less time consuming.

“I was incredibly excited about the whole experience of writing music with a more theatrical bent but it can take years – if not decades – to see an opera through from inception to the stage and I was a bit more impatient than that,” he says. “It seemed much more doable in the short term to work on a one-person show with piano and I had mentioned this idea to Craig Walker as a collaboration.”

He says that with Dr. Walker’s skill set as a dramatist, lyricist, actor and director, he knew that whatever his collaborator came up with would be inspiring.

The result is a musical piece with Mata Hari and her final supporter, Dr. Bizard, telling her story from a cell in Paris’ Saint Lazare Prison.

“One of the sources of inspiration was that John and I both admire Billy Bishop Goes to War,” Dr. Walker says, referring to the award-winning musical about the Canadian war hero that follows a similar format. “But we wanted to write a show for a female performer, and I first thought of Mata Hari simply because she was a historical female performer. I also knew that when the records of her secret trial had been released there were serious questions raised about her guilt. So suddenly her life became more intriguing; it seemed that a little research might be repaid with an interesting story.”

Finding the right actor for the role proved a bit easier as Patricia O’Callaghan jumped on board early in the process and participated in all of the creative workshops.

It was an exciting bit of recruitment for the team. The award-winning singer also suggested Gregory Oh, a collaborator on a number of projects, for the role of Dr. Bizard.

“We both owned many of Patricia’s CDs prior to this project and she was the first singer we thought could pull off what we had in mind. All the songs have been crafted to her extraordinarily expressive voice,” Dr. Burge says. “She has performed her own cabaret-style shows for years and in many ways, having Mata Hari telling her life through song on the night before she is to be executed, is a cabaret of intimate proportions that is often quite funny, despite the impending doom.”

One Last Night With Mata Hari is being staged at the Power Corp Studio Theatre of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, with shows set for Thursday, Jan. 12 to Saturday, Jan. 14, and Tuesday, Jan. 17 to Saturday, Jan. 21, at 8 pm. Matinees are scheduled Sunday, Jan. 15 and 22 at 2 pm. Tickets can be purchased online at theisabel.ca. A special ‘pay what you can’ preview performance will be held Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 8 pm.

The show marks the first time that Drs. Walker and Burge have worked together creatively and both are eager to work on another project. The collaboration, Dr. Burge explains, mirrors the synergy created through the creation of the Dan School of Drama and Music last year.

“I had gotten to know Craig quite well when we were both heads of our respective programs at Queen’s and worked together with the architectural team that designed the Isabel,” he says. “Now all these years later, it seems to me that this show is really quite indicative of the many ways that music and drama intersect at Queen’s and a tangible example of why the merger and renaming of the Dan School of Drama and Music has been so exciting for students, faculty and staff.”

Space for creativity

[Stefy McKnight]
After moving into a new home in Mackintosh-Corry Hall, the Department of Cultural Studies created ‘Pot-pourri: a collegiate exhibition,’  co-curated by Stéfy McKnight, above, and Michelle Smith. (University Communications)

When the Department of Cultural Studies moved into their new home in the lower floor of Mackintosh-Corry Hall, it brought together all the pieces – students, faculty and staff – in one location.

That provided some new opportunities.

Walking through the doors of B176, visitors are now greeted by ‘Pot-pourri: a collegiate exhibition,’ a gallery space for Cultural Studies students.

Co-curators Stéfy McKnight and Michelle Smith explain that Cultural Studies students can use their research and artistic practice as translational research or as a theoretical medium, allowing them to have conversations through different means and to engage with different materials. However, finding a display space on campus can be difficult.

“So that was a question we had: ‘How do we show people in our program that we are doing artworks in dynamic ways?’” says McKnight. “That’s where the idea of having our own space where graduate students in Cultural Studies can exhibit their work or even experiment with it came from.”

By using the spacing the students are also gaining experience in curating, installing, applying to exhibitions and preparing a professional body of work. They are exploring the space, how to present and what to present, McKnight says.

A new exhibition will be displayed each month.

Response has been positive, including from Queen’s community members who previously occupied or visited the space.

“They come down here and it’s ‘Oh my God, this space, it’s so fantastic, it looks so homey and roomy and we love it,’” says Smith. “Having that kind of reaction is really a positive reinforcement of what we have been doing and what we are trying to achieve. We’re trying to move away from just the utilitarian aspect of it toward this kind of connected space and this idea of community building.”

That’s where Pot-pourri comes in – bringing various pieces together to make something new.

With several exhibitions already complete, the co-curators are hopeful that the gallery will continue to evolve and expand with artists from outside Cultural Studies getting involved as well.

“It has become a very dynamic space,” McKnight says.

Giving a voice to silent memories

Queen’s professor Dorit Naaman’s new film retraces Jerusalem neighbourhood torn apart by the 1948 war.

A new interactive documentary developed by Queen’s professor Dorit Naaman digitally brings the Palestinians and their descendants back to Katamon, retracing the rich Palestinian past of the neighbourhood before it was conquered by Israel during the 1948 war.  

Jerusalem, We Are Here explores the streets of Katamon and visits some of the homes Palestinians were forced to flee. Dr. Naaman, an Israeli Canadian professor in Queen’s Film and Media, had the idea for the documentary during a stay in Katamon in 2008.

[Dorit Naaman]
Queen's professor Dorit Naaman returned to Katamon to create a documentary film. It's being presented in Kingston on March 3.

“I rented an apartment in an old Palestinian home, and I saw a few tours exploring the neighbourhood,” says Dr. Naaman. “I realized I didn’t know anything about the history of the house I was renting. I asked myself, ‘what if I was able to find the families that used to live in these homes before they were driven out?’”  Then she found a hand drawn map, created in 1951 from memory by Hala Sakakini, listing the owners and residents of the houses, and the project took off.

Dr. Naaman and her colleagues Anwar Ben Badis and Mona Halaby worked with former Katamon residents and their descendants to produce short films that are interlaced within a virtual walking tour of the neighbourhood. Some residents visited their old houses, others could not find them but lyrically imagined such visits, and yet others were coming to term with how radically changed the neighborhood is. She also included photos and documents the participants provided, and built an interactive map of the area, which will continue to grow as information is added by the public. There are also historical video clips of life before the war, which Palestinians refer to as The Nakba or “catastrophe.”

“In a way, I am acting as the eyes and ears of the people who used to live and work in the neighborhood,” says Dr. Naaman of the documentary. “This film exposes what happened to the expelled families, and gives them a voice. I didn’t want this to be just nostalgic, but to engage with the present, and gesture towards the future.”

The film project also gave some of Dr. Naaman’s students a unique hands-on learning experience.

“Not only did it allow me to be a part of bringing such beautiful stories to life, giving the world a glimpse of silenced memories, but it showed me a way I could bridge my Queen’s experiences and what I’ve learned in meaningful ways,” says Leen Amarin a computing and cognitive science student (Artsci’17). “I was able to explore tools I’d never thought I’d need, and learn skills I didn’t know I had a hidden passion for. Being part of this project and seeing the amazing way graphics, interactive technology, and film came together gave me a whole new perspective on what my degree and my experience at Queen’s mean.”

The film made its debut at the Montreal Documentary Film Festival and will next be presented on March 3 as part of the Kington Canadian Film Festival. The entire film is available online and information on the project is also available on Facebook


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