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A season for inspiration

[Comrade Objects]
Ciara Phillips: Comrade Objects is one of three exhibitions featured for the Fall Season at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Supplied Photo)

With Queen’s University marking its 175th anniversary it is only fitting that the Agnes Etherington Art Centre be part of the celebrations.

The Agnes will be celebrating the Fall Season launch on Thursday, Sept. 15 with three new exhibitions – Ciara Phillips: Comrade Objects; Treasures and Tales: Queen’s Early Collections; and The Other NFB: The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division, 1941–1971.

“Two of our three new exhibitions this season are inspired by Queen’s University’s 175th anniversary,” Agnes Director Jan Allen points out. “Treasures and Tales: Queen’s Early Collections brings the past to life through the rare art, artifacts and documents that formed the foundational holdings of the Agnes and Queen’s Archives. Every item reveals the personalities, aspirations and shifting networks of influence that shaped the university and the nation itself. Ciara Phillips: Comrade Objects projects this history into the present and the future through the practice of an extremely talented alumna, who holds social forces up to scrutiny while exploding graphics across our gallery spaces.”

[Arthur Lismer]
Arthur Lismer, Quebec Village (Saint-Hilarion), 1926, oil on canvas. Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University. Gift of H. S. Southam, 1949 (00-094).

A graduate of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at Queen’s, Ciara Phillips was a finalist for the prestigious Turner Award in 2014 and returned to her alma mater as the Koerner Visiting Artist last year. This year she will be on campus for six weeks as a Queen’s University Artist in Residence. Her exhibition for the Agnes, Comrade Objects, presents a new body of work that brings together energetic blocks of colour, echoing motifs, useful slogans and black and white portraits of women engaged in focused work.

At the same time Ms. Phillips is offering a new iteration of her Turner Prize-nominated Workshop (2010–ongoing), which brings screen printing equipment into the gallery to create an active space of investigation, discussion and debate.

To explore the ethics and potential of “making together,” Ms. Phillips has invited fellow Canadian artist, artist-curator and artist-publisher Clive Robertson to co-produce posters and publications.

With Treasures and Tales: Queen’s Early Collections, curators Alicia Boutilier and Deirdre Bryden mark Queen’s 175th anniversary through significant artworks and archival documents from the university’s early collections.

Produced by Carleton University Art Gallery and curated by Carol Payne and Sandra Dyck, The Other NFB: The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division, 1941–1971 looks at how the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) imagined Canada and Canadian identity, the role photographs played in that imagining, and how the NFB’s photographic archive was — and continues to be — used.

The Fall Season launch starts with a members’ preview from 5 to 6:30 pm with brief curatorial presentations and Ms. Phillips will introduce her work. Formal remarks will take place at 6:30 pm, at the beginning of the public reception, which runs to 8 pm. Artists and special guests will be present. All are welcome to attend.

Unknown photographer, Veronica Foster, an employee of John Inglis Co. Ltd. and known as “The Bren Gun Girl” in the John Inglis Co. Ltd. plant, Toronto, 10 May 1941, Contemporary print from vintage negative, National Film Board of Canada.

Ms. Allen says she is eager to celebrate and scrutinize the shows through new eyes.

“The season launch is a special moment in which the culmination of prolonged effort encounters its audience; I always learn something unforeseen about the exhibitions from our visitors,” she says. “We’re very excited to present these extremely fine new and continuing shows.”

A number of events are also being held this fall at the Agnes to mark the 175th anniversary of Queen’s. During Homecoming Weekend the Agnes will extend its hours to 10 am-5pm to welcome alumni back to the university. A special guided tour is available on Friday, Oct. 14 from 2-3pm. The Agnes will also host an Open House 175th Anniversary Party on Thursday, Oct. 20 from 4-8 pm. Visitors will be able to see the new David McTavish Art Study Room in action while selected works of art will also be brought out of the vault with Agnes curators on hand to discuss the pieces that are currently not on display.

Continuing exhibitions at the Agnes are Stories to Tell: Africans and the Diaspora Respond to the Lang Collection and Singular Figures: Portraits and Character Studies in Northern Baroque Painting. The latter features the recent addition to The Bader Collection, Rembrandt’s splendid Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo. Additional new installations are featured in the Atrium and Etherington House.

For more information visit the Agnes Etherington Art Centre website.

A portrait of success

PhD student Linda Grussani named curator of Aboriginal art at the Canadian Museum of History

[Linda Grussani]A creative upbringing and a passion for art have helped Linda Grussani land the job of a lifetime.

The PhD candidate (Cultural Studies) was recently named the Aboriginal art curator at the Canadian Museum of History.

“I’ve really come full circle,” says Ms. Grussani. “I started there as an intern 16 years ago and have always been interested in this position. It’s an area of great personal interest and the museum contributes to a deeper understanding of the cultural history of Canada.”

Ms. Grussani, who is a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg – a First Nation community located 130 km north of Gatineau, Quebec – earned both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in art history from Carleton University. Her mother was also a member of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and her father was an Italian immigrant.

“I am incredibly proud of my heritage and have been fortunate to bring both sides into my studies.”

In 2000, she accepted an eight-month internship at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History) as a master’s student. The internship was part of the RBC Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices. Now, she returns to where she got her start after 12 years at the National Gallery of Canada and serving as director of Indigenous and Northern Affairs’ Aboriginal Art Centre for three and a half years.

“I’m now determining what exhibitions I’d like to plan and the best way to highlight our important collections ,” says Ms. Grussani. “I also want to plan and conduct further research into the area of Indigenous art and communicate those results to a wider audience. Art can really demonstrate how Indigenous people have been here, are here, and will continue to be here.”

While she has achieved her dream job, Ms. Grussani continues to pursue her educational dream. She is completing her PhD degree part-time while working full-time at the museum. She says support from the university has been invaluable as she was able to customize her Queen’s experience to best support her busy life.

“I don’t feel like I have had to put one part of my life on hold,” she says. “My PhD work is feeding into my museum work and vice versa. I’m thankful for the people who are helping make this happen.”

Ready to debut

[Isabel Quartet]
The Isabel String Quartet, from left, Scott St. John, Gisèle Dalbec-Szczesniak, Sharon Wei and Wolf Tormann, will perform its inaugural concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, June 29. (Supplied Image)

A performance venue the quality of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts deserves a musical ensemble that matches its excellence.

Enter the Isabel String Quartet.

[Isabel Quartet Logo]The members of the quartet – Queen’s faculty members Gisèle Dalbec-Szczesniak (violin) and Wolf Tormann (cello), along with Sharon Wei (viola) and Scott St. John (violin) – are all experienced professional musicians at the top of the respective fields.   

Not surprising, there is a sense of excitement surrounding the quartet’s upcoming inaugural performance at the Isabel on Wednesday, June 29, at 7:30 pm.

“For many lovers of classical music, the string quartet exemplifies the epitome of chamber music and composers have certainly penned some of their finest and most intimate music for this ensemble,” says John Burge (Music), coordinator of the Faculty Artist Series.Knowing all the Isabel Quartet members personally and being in great admiration of their distinctive talents and musicianship, I look forward to hearing the results of their collaboration. What a great opportunity to be in the audience at their very first concert.”

It is also hoped that the quartet’s strength will support the Dan School of Drama and Music’s goal of developing new initiatives to enhance the recruitment of students into the school’s programs by communicating the commitment, leadership and strengths of Queen's and Kingston in support of the performing arts.

The concert will include the Burge String Quartet No. 1, Bartok String Quartet No. 3, and Schubert String Quartet No. 14 in d minor, D.810 “Death and the Maiden.”

The creation of the quartet and performance has proven to be an exciting development for the musicians as well.

“I have worked with my colleagues on the idea of establishing a quartet in residence at the Dan School of Drama and Music now for over a year. To see this idea develop and gain momentum so quickly has been one of the most exciting times in my musical career,” Tormann says, an instructor for Cello at Queen’s. “It is an absolute privilege to work with such amazing musicians like Scott St. John, Sharon Wei and Gisèle Dalbec in a string quartet setting and we would like to invite all chamber music lovers in Kingston to be part of this amazing inaugural concert.” 

Tickets are available by calling (613) 533-2424 (Monday-Friday, 12:30-4:30 pm) or online at theisabel.ca.

The Isabel String Quartet will also perform Sunday, Oct. 2 at 2:30 pm in the first of four concerts that make up the 2016/17 Faculty Artist Series. Tickets are available online.

Acting in defiance in Dionysus production

Queen’s theatre group invites members of community to become performers in show running at the Isabel

Queen’s theatre group, Chipped Off Collective, is tearing down the fourth wall with their latest production Dionysus, by inviting members of the community to become performers alongside professional artists and actors. The evening of theatre builds off the theme of defiance in the Euripides’ play The Bacchae, featuring Dionysus, the god of wine, prophecy, ecstasy and fertility.

Appearing in Dionysus are (l to r) are: Megan Hamilton, Vishmayaa Jeyamoorthy, director Kim Renders and Danielle Lennon.

Director Kim Renders (Drama and Music) explains Dionysus was the epitome of defiant in The Bacchae, and the theme of defiance really resonated with her. The new play tackles the theme through a tapestry of video art, poetry, monologues, song and dance. Each two-minute performance is given by community participants and artists from the Kingston community, many of whom are Queen’s faculty, staff and students.

“This is our fourth performance and people are now coming and asking me to perform in our yearly production,” says Renders. “We have a really good mix of people and ages. We are becoming a presence in the Kingston theatre scene.”

Appearing for the first time in a Chipped Off Collective production, Vishmayaa Jeyamoorthy is doing a spoken-word piece on defiance. For her, the two-minute monologue is personal.

“Kingston is not always friendly to people of colour,” says Jeyamoorthy. “I often thought about transferring universities because I wasn’t welcome. Kingston needs to work on that. Every day I make a choice to stay, I’m being defiant.”

Megan Hamilton and Danielle Lennon are providing the music for the production this year as part of a four-piece band. “I come from a theatre background and really enjoy performing,” says Hamilton, who also works in the Faculty of Law. “This is a great, welcoming space for people to bring their voices.”

Lennon is a member of the Kingston Symphony and also professes a love of the theatre. “I love seeing those brave people up on stage, making a statement. Chipped Off Collective also gives off a nice vibe; there is no ego and everyone is welcome.”

Chipped Off Collective is committed to building an inclusive arts community with accessible services and facilities that respect the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities.

The show runs June 22, 23 and 24 at 7:30 pm in the Isabel Bader Studio Theatre. Tickets are $10.

At the top of the class

A Nobel Prize, the new Dan School, a Rembrandt, and $50-million to the Smith School of Business.
An exceptional year. Just one of 175. 

[175th anniversary logo]

As summer approaches, high school students from across Canada are deciding where they will pursue post-secondary studies. For many students, their choice will be based on where they will receive the best education and career opportunities. Others will be drawn by the chance to take part in innovative and exciting research opportunities with faculty members who are at the leading edges of their fields.

As one of Canada’s oldest degree-granting institutions, Queen’s has – for 175 years – offered students excellence in undergraduate studies, innovative graduate programs, and a supportive and dynamic learning environment.

From envisioning and designing cutting-edge technology to unlocking the mysteries of the universe, Queen’s is at the forefront of providing a top research and educational experience for students from across the country and around the globe.

This past year saw a number of unprecedented successes for Queen’s:

Dr. Arthur McDonald received the Nobel Prize for unlocking the mysteries of neutrinos.

Stephen J.R. Smith’s generous donation to the Smith School of Business helped transform business education.

The donation of a third Rembrandt painting by Alfred and Isabel Bader solidified Queen’s as a destination for the study of European art.

The naming of the Dan School of Drama and Music bolstered Queen’s reputation as a pre-eminent centre for the study of music theatre.

Learn more about how Queen’s promotes excellence in both the classroom and the laboratory: Pairing world-class facilities with talent and funding in The Globe and Mail.


It’s no surprise that our students are inspired to achieve their fullest potential at Queen’s.

Queen’s first-year undergraduate retention and graduation rates are among the highest in the country, as 94.3 per cent of first-year undergraduates remain at Queen’s for their studies.

Most importantly, when students graduate, they enter the job market with the skills employers look for and are able to start their careers on the right track.

With 175th anniversary celebrations beginning this fall, Queen’s will keep the momentum of the past year going, and build upon the university’s position as one of Canada’s premier educational institutions. The university encourages faculty and students to strive to achieve their best and aims to continually cultivate an environment that nurtures curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

By building on past successes, Queen’s will continue to provide top-quality education for students, while retaining our place as one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities.

Advising the future of scientific research

Professor Emeritus Arthur McDonald named to Government of Canada science review panel.

Queen’s University Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald has been named to the Government of Canada’s Advisory Panel for the Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science. The nine-member panel is an independent, non-partisan body, tasked with providing advice and recommendations to Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, on how best to improve federal funding for fundamental science.

Queen’s University Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald has been named to an independent, non-partisan advisory panel, tasked with providing advice and recommendations on how best to improve federal funding for fundamental science research. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

“It is an honour to be selected, alongside my distinguished colleagues, to take part in this important review of the Government of Canada’s support for fundamental scientific research,” says Dr. McDonald.

The panel will spend the next six months seeking input from the research community and Canadians on how to optimize support for fundamental science in Canada. It will also examine international best practices for funding science and examine whether emerging researchers face barriers that prevent them from achieving career goals.  The panel will look at what must be done to address these barriers and what more can be done to encourage Canada’s scientists to take on bold new research challenges.

The scope of the review includes the Tri-Council Agencies – (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) -- along with select federally funded organizations such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

“The review commissioned by the Government of Canada will ensure that support for research is strategic, effective and delivers maximum benefits to the research community and the Canadians whose lives are enriched by its discoveries,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University. “As one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities, we welcome this important review and congratulate Dr. McDonald and his distinguished co-panelists on their selection.”

As part of the review, the panel will consult with the public and with members of Canada's post-secondary research ecosystem. Canadians can also share their input with the panel through an online portal. Formal consultations will begin in the coming weeks and are expected to run through the fall.

“Our government must ensure its support for fundamental research is coherent, effective and agile enough to keep pace with the dynamic nature of contemporary science,” Minister Duncan says. “I encourage all Canadians to participate in this review by submitting their thoughts to this esteemed panel. Science, after all, is everybody’s business.”

For more information on the Government of Canada’s science review, or to provide input to the panel, please visit the website.

Examining academia in literature

Banting Fellow Emma Peacocke explores how perceptions of higher education in literature shaped the nature of universities.

Emma Peacocke (English) has been awarded a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Currently a recipient of the Bader Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, Dr. Peacocke’s research focuses on the image and perception around universities as institutions, as created by authors of 19th Century literature. Her research examines the representation of universities in literature, compared and contrasted with the realities of the time. By examining students’ own writing and the university presses’ publications, her work aims to separate fact from fiction, as well as determine how the mythos of the university influenced educational policy in Britain and Canada.

Dr. Emma Peacocke (English) has received a prestegious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue her research on how the romanticized depictions of academia in 19th century literature compared to reality, as well as how that image shaped the university system we know today.

“It hadn’t really struck me until I got into this what an era of dynamic change, for universities, the romantic era was,” says Dr. Peacocke. “Every once in a while, I’d come across these snippets in novels or poetry that mentioned universities that presented them in a different, almost aspirational light.”

Dr. Peacocke points to the reforms taking place in education at the time – the shift to a more dialogic teaching method, the formation of the secular University of London and changing attitudes on the role of the university – as being driven partially by the changing representations of universities in literature. She hopes her research will provide a new perspective on Canadian educational history and on the cultural artifacts that communicate this history to the wider public.

Dr. Peacocke says she was attracted to Queen’s by the collegial atmosphere within the Department of English, the university’s extensive archives and collections and its status as one of Canada’s oldest universities – inspired, in many ways, by the very universities referenced in literature from the period.

“I’ve found my early-career colleagues here have been the most stimulating immediate family and I just felt like I was immediately under the wing of really established professors here as well,” she said.

She hopes to use a portion of the Banting Fellowship funding to create a research assistantship to provide an opportunity for accelerated learning for up-and-coming literature students.

“When I was a graduate student, I was so lucky with respect to research assistantships and teaching assistantships,” Dr. Peacocke explained. “I had the opportunity to learn so many skills and work with wonderful librarians and brilliant professors. I’m really looking forward to being able to be able to pass on that opportunity here at Queen’s.

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship program provides funding to the top postdoctoral applicants, in Canada and around the globe, who will positively contribute to the country's economic, social and research-based growth. Providing funding of $140,000 over two years, the aim of the fellowship program is to attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, help develop their leadership potential and position them for future success. 

Film captures family upheaval, '60s lessons

Professor Clarke Mackey premieres latest feature documentary in Kingston.

Clarke Mackey’s latest documentary film delves into the history of his family and left-wing activism during the 1960s – but, he says, it is as much about the present as it is about the past.

“I felt that the usual caricature of the ’60s – hippies, peace, love, festivals and protest – was too simple. In the film, I wanted to show the complexity of the time, and perhaps offer lessons to current generations now struggling with their own forms of activism,” says Mr. Mackey, Professor in the Queen’s Department of Film and Media and an award-winning cinematographer, editor, producer and writer. 

Film and Media Studies Professor Clarke Mackey.

Revolution Begins At Home – premiering in Kingston this week at The Screening Room – tells the story of Mr. Mackey’s mother, Eleanor, who gave up a promising career as an abstract expressionist painter to become a full-time political activist in Toronto with the Maoist group called The Communist Party of Canada. The group, with the aim of fighting imperialism and capitalism, was headed by a charismatic ideologue and even more dogmatic disciples.

The filmmaker, who was 18 at the time, says his mother was disillusioned with the art world, and seeking purpose in her life. “My mother essentially went from being apolitical to hard-core left-wing overnight,” says Mr. Mackey, whose younger brother and sister also joined the group on their own initiative. “The group seemed to give her clear answers about the world.”

But that clarity didn’t last. After six months, dangerous family encounters and much turmoil, Eleanor dropped out of the movement. “She was confronted with many contradictions of the world, and ended up having something like a nervous breakdown,” he says.

While much of the story was difficult to confront, Mr. Mackey saw that his family’s story had all the elements of a good drama – and there was a great deal of footage, in photo and video form, taken for the most part by his brother and father. And through and beyond the family story, he believed there was a lot for current generations to learn.

“I think this film will definitely appeal to people now in their 60s and 70s, but my hope is that it will also appeal to the younger generation,” says Mr. Mackey, adding that this was a lengthy project for him – four years in the making. “There are lessons in it that will help everyone.”

Revolution Begins At Home, like many of Mr. Mackey’s previous films, draws from local talent. The movie features original music by Kevin Bowers, member of Holy Wow, and the sound mix was done by Matt Rogalsky, Assistant Professor in the Dan School of Drama and Music and a member of The Gertrudes.

Viewing times are available from The Screening Room. Mr. Mackey will be at all four Kingston screenings for question and answer sessions.


Rock icons honoured

  • Members of The Tragically Hip are "hooded," as part of the ceremony to award them honorary Doctorates of Law. (Bernard Clark)
  • Jim Leech, 14th Chancellor of Queen's University formally awards honorary Doctorates of Law to the members of The Tragically Hip. (Bernard Clark)
  • Gord Sinclair, ArtSci’86, bassist for The Tragically Hip, delivered the Convocation Address to the School of Medicine graduating class of 2016. (Bernard Clark)
  • Gord Sinclair, ArtSci’86, delivers the Convocation Address on behalf of the band. (Bernard Clark)
  • From L-R: Rector Cam Yung, Chancellor Jim Leech, Principal Daniel Woolf, Gord Sinclair, ArtSci’86, Rob Baker, BFA’86, Johnny Fay and Paul Langlois. (Bernard Clark)
  • From L-R: Dr. Richard Reznick, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Gord Sinclair, ArtSci’86, Rob Baker, BFA’86, Johnny Fay and Paul Langlois. (Bernard Clark)

The Tragically Hip took the stage in Grant Hall on May 19 to receive an honorary degree during the commencement ceremony for the 2016 School of Medicine graduating class. The event was a homecoming of sorts for The Hip, with even the location of the ceremony holding special significance for the band.

“Twenty-five years ago this July, we stood up right here on this very stage and wrote the bulk of our second album, Road Apples,” said bassist Gord Sinclair, Artsci’86, who delivered the convocation address on behalf of the band. “This place shaped who and what we’ve become. We learned how to perform in front of students and locals alike in campus pubs and local dives. We saw early on how music has the power to move people and bring them together. “

In his address, Mr. Sinclair discussed the changes in the music industry that he and his bandmates have experienced in their careers. He pointed to the role collaboration played in the band’s success, whether they were on world tours or “playing to an empty bar in Hoboken, New Jersey.” He drew parallels between the changing nature of the music industry and the changes faced by the graduating class, while encouraging them to learn from the experiences of others.

“You have the ability, opportunity, and power to effect real positive change,” says Mr. Sinclair. “This is, after all, about the people you touch, and there is as much artistry in medicine as there is in music… Build on the foundation of the education you have received here. The knowledge, skills, ethics, compassion, empathy and intuition necessary to be the best health-care professionals you can be.”

Formed in 1984, The Tragically Hip are amongst the most well-known Canadian rock bands. Over its 32-year career, the band – consisting of Gord Downie, Artsci’86, Gord Sinclair, Artsci’86, Rob Baker, BFA’86, Paul Langlois and Johnny Fay – has released 12 studio albums, two live albums, one EP and 54 singles. The group has won 14 Juno awards and nine of its albums have reached No. 1 in Canada.

The 11 recipients of honorary degrees at the 2016 Spring Convocations are all Queen’s alumni, in honour of the 175th anniversary of the university. For more information on convocations or the upcoming honorary degree recipients, please visit the website.

Paying tribute to provost in song

  • [Alan Harrison speaks with a guest]
    Alan Harrison was appointed Queen's provost and vice-principal (academic) in 2011. He is stepping down from the position on July 31, 2016. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • [Alan and Jan Harrison]
    Alan Harrison and his wife Jan at the world premiere performance of Tafelmusik’s “Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House." (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • [Alan Harrison speaks with Aboriginal Council co-chair Marlene Brant Castellano]
    Alan Harrison speaks with Marlene Brant Castellano, co-chair of the Aboriginal Council of Queen's University. (Photo by Bernard Clark)
  • [Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in performance]
    Tafelmusik performs "The Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House" at The Isabel on May 17. (Photo by Bruce Zinger)
  • [Alan Harrison shares a laugh with Tricia Baldwin]
    Alan Harrison and Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel, share a laugh during the event on May 17. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts dedicated the May 17 world premiere performance of Tafelmusik’s “Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House” to Alan Harrison, in recognition of his contributions to Queen’s University as provost and vice-principal (academic).

Harrison was appointed Queen’s provost and vice-principal (academic) in 2011. He is stepping down from the position on July 31, 2016.

The musicians of Tafelmusik – recognized as one of the top baroque orchestras in the world – were in residence at the Isabel as they rehearsed the new program, which explores the common love and appreciation of coffee and music found in the German city Leipzig and the Syrian capital Damascus, particularly during the 18th century.


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