From Bahrain to OCAD U

Portait of Sandra Ibrahim

What's it like to be an international student at OCAD U? We talked to Integrated Media student Sandra Ibrahim. 

 

What’s your story? Did you study design before coming to OCAD University?

I am originally Egyptian but grew up in Bahrain, where I lived until I was 18. I have always been interested in media and art/design in general — specifically, digital art and design — but I had never studied art properly. I went to a very small French school where art was not taken seriously, and when I moved to a British school I tried taking art. However, because it was all focused on drawing and painting, I ended up dropping it and stuck with information and communication technology, where I was introduced to simple graphic animation and Photoshop.

Why did you choose to move to Canada to attend OCAD U?

The decision to move to Canada initially came about because I have a lot of family here. Through research, we ended up finding great universities for both my sister and me to go to, where we could study exactly what we wanted. If I had stayed in Bahrain, my choices would have been a lot more limited, and moving to Egypt was out of question due to the political issues.

What were the biggest challenges in coming here? What are the best parts?

The biggest challenge was being so far away from where I grew up and where my parents still lived. Also, moving from Bahrain, an extremely small desert island in the Middle East, to such a big city in the West was overwhelming at first, and I had to deal a lot with homesickness because it’s pretty much impossible to travel back and forth very often..

The best part has been this whole new experience: getting to finally study what I love at university, a new city, new people and even more diversity than there is in Bahrain. There are so many things to explore in Toronto, but the most fascinating thing to me, even today, is the nature in Canada. Experiencing the change of seasons every year is always my favourite thing. Also Tim Hortons. God bless you, double double! 

 

Do you have any advice for students from other countries thinking about coming to OCAD U?

I would just say, do your best not to feel intimidated by change. Embrace it and make the most of it. No matter how difficult it feels in that moment, eventually you WILL adjust to it all and you might even be more knowledgeable than the people who have spent their entire lives in this country. I definitely know a lot more about Toronto than my cousins who were born and raised here. 

Second, and most important, do not compare yourself to other artists around you, especially during first year. No matter what you do, your style, skills and ideas will never be the same. No one is better than another as an artist. One person might be more skilled than you at a certain thing, but that will never make them a better artist as a whole than you are. Everyone is different and unique with their own work, which is what makes OCAD U great! 

Finally, ask questions! Ask for help! There is no shame in that. The more certain you are about something, the better you will do, the more easily you will adjust and, you know, who ever wants to get lost in the city? 

What program are you in? Why do you love doing that?

I am about to start my fourth year of Integrated Media. I am so happy and absolutely love what I do because I keep learning new things. We are in the age of technology, and nothing fascinates me more. I am always excited to learn how to use new technologies and software, and to be able to create art out of them is all the more fun. I also get to practise and improve on my main focus: production and post-production, and how to work professionally on set. Integrated Media allows you to grow as an artist by exploring a broad range of courses, and you can change direction at any time. 

Where’s the best place in Toronto to get food that tastes like home? I’ve got to say, there is nothing that can ever come close to how good the food is back home. But I will say that the closest thing to good Middle Eastern food in Toronto is at the Paramount. I would recommend the tabliyeh saj chicken shawarma (they make the best garlic sauce) or, if you are vegetarian, try the fatteh bi laban. 

As for Egyptian food specifically, I have yet to hunt that down, and Bahraini food is definitely not popular outside of the country. If you can get your hands on karak tea (Bahraini) or koshary (Egyptian), you should definitely try them.

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When I Breathe the Ocean Curls

Lauren A.M. Scott performing When I Breathe the Ocean Curls (2015). Photographed by David Ballantine
Thursday, January 14, 2016 - 12:00am to Saturday, January 30, 2016 - 9:00pm

InterAccess presents When I Breathe the Ocean Curls, a performative environment by Lauren A.M. Scott. Scott is the recipient of the 2015 InterAccess Media Arts Prize, awarded to an Integrated Media graduating student at OCAD University.

When I Breathe the Ocean Curls utilizes Scott’s physical body to extend her breath into space. The artist wears a stretch sensor around her torso, and as her chest rises and falls with breath, six small electronic fans produce the effect of wind as she exhales. Scott’s breath becomes the force that connects her to the audience as an invisible extension of touch.

Scott will perform this work four times throughout the exhibition period. In the intervening days, visitors to the gallery can view video documentation of her performance and engage with its physical trace.

An essay by Francisco-Fernando Granados accompanies the exhibition.

Opening reception:
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Additional performance dates:
Saturday, January 16, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.

Venue & Address: 
InterAccess 9 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Website: 
http://interaccess.org/exhibition/when-i-breathe-ocean-curls
Phone: 
416-532-0597

Integrated Media student wins Emerging Digital Artist Award

Colin Rosati. Autocidal After Image (still 1)
Colin Rosati. Autocidal After Image (still 2)
Thursday, November 19, 2015 - 2:00pm

Third-year Integrated Media student Colin Rosati has won the inaugural Emerging Digital Artist Award (EDAA), sponsored by Equitable Bank. The competition’s judges agreed unanimously that Rosati’s work, Autocidal After Image, fulfilled all the award’s criteria, most notably in its relevance to “the digital” as both a technological tool and a user experience.

In addition to his studies at OCAD University, Colin is a Toronto-based multimedia artist. He works with 3D modelling, the visual programming language Max MSP, single and multi-channel video and interactive installations.

Colin received the EDAA at a reception held at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jackman Hall on October 30. Autocidal After Image will become part of Equitable Bank’s modern and contemporary art collection, and will be displayed in the bank’s head office (30 St. Clair Ave W., Suite 700, Toronto). From November 6 to December 12, Colin’s winning art is on view at OCAD U’s Xpace Cultural Centre.

Exaltation and the Fall

Photograph of a woman floating in water
Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 11:00pm to Friday, October 9, 2015 - 2:00am

Exaltation and the Fall is an exhibition that investigates the entangled relationship between the psyche in contact with a body of water. Acts of the body, represented through video installation, light projection, and photography perform rites of change, passage, and transformation. To exalt is to rise from within a murky depth, and to fall is to submerse into the unknown- water becomes the substrate for this rise and fall. It is a place for possibility within the calm, or calamity of the unknown.

Featuring works by Adam Filek, Daniel Pavis, Elizabeth Webb, Paige Sabourin, and Tara Morté.
Curated by Mary Ma

Live performances will take place throughout the opening reception in response to the exhibition- curtsey of artists Adam Filek, Christopher Heller, and work from choreographer Lauren Runions of I/O Movement.

Opening Reception: October 8, 7 to 10 p.m.

Panel Discussion- The Poetics of a Performative Act: Monday October 12, 4 p.m.
Join artists, curators, and writers in a casual forum as we discuss the relationship between performance and its significance to intersecting branches of embodiment, affect, and the natural landscape.

Exhibition catalog featuring images and critical essays will be on sale for $10 throughout the show.

Image Credit: Elizabeth Webb Untitled (Paradise II), HD Video Still, 2012

Bios
Mary Ma is an artist, writer, and independent curator based in Toronto, Ontario. www.maryma.ca
Adam Filek is a video/performance artist and writer based in Toronto, Ontario. www.adamfilek.com
Paige Sabourin lives in Montreal Quebec and makes objects, images and installations with photographs, textiles, and help from other people. www.paigeesabourin.com
Elizabeth Webb is a multimedia artist living and working in Los Angeles, California. www.hernamewasparadise.com
Tara Morte is a sculpture, performance, and video artist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. www.cargocollective.taramorte.com
Daniel Pavis is a working multimedia artist based in Portland, Oregon. http://danielpavis.tumblr.com/
Lauren Runions is a contemporary dancer and choreographer. She is the founder and artistic director of I/O Movement. www.cargocollective.com/laurenrunions
Chris Heller is a video-based performance artist. A graduate of OCAD's Integrated Media program, he is currently based in Toronto Ontario. www.cargocollective.com/chrisheller

The Student Gallery will be open on Mondays and Tuesday (12 – 6 PM) for the duration of this exhibition only. The last day to see the show is Monday October 26th.

Venue & Address: 
Student Gallery, 52 McCaul Street
Cost: 
FREE
Photograph of a woman floating in water

Students chosen as semi-finalists in international design competition

A Hole in the Bucket
Hometown
Ballet Noir
Friday, May 22, 2015 - 6:30pm

Three OCAD University students have been chosen as semi-finalists in the 2015 Adobe Design Achievement Awards competition.

  • Deshi Deng (Illustration) was selected for her work entitled A Hole in the Bucket. This series of quietly disturbing illustrations depicts several possible disappointing – and unexpected – outcomes of common “bucket list” items.
  • Danjie Jiessie Chen (Graphic Design) was picked for the evocative black-and-white Hometown photos taken on a trip to her own hometown in China.
  • Ashley Lo Russo (Integrated Media) got the nod for Ballet Noir – a short film that traces (partly through stop-motion animation) the bond formed between an animator and her puppet.

These OCAD U projects are up against other semi-finalists from around the globe. Finalists will be decided in September, and the winners will be announced in October. There are many prizes to be won (they vary by category), including cash, registration for and travel to the Adobe MAX convention in Los Angeles, Adobe software and mentorships with creative pros.

OCAD University students triumph at Digifest 2015

Photo of Areen S. Khan
Photo of James Rollo
Friday, May 8, 2015 - 7:45pm

Two OCAD University students took home awards at the Best of the Best Student Showcase held at Digifest 2015.

Areen S. Khan won the Mobile App Development Award for her project “Hatter: Empowering Buskers through a Social App.” Currently completing her master’s degree as part of OCAD U’s Digital Futures program, in which she is focusing on the impact of a cashless society on busking, Areen’s Hatter app would enable patrons to support buskers without the bother of fishing for change.

James Rollo emerged victorious in the Visual and Interactive Art category. A fourth-year student in the Integrated Media program – as well as a new media, installation and performance artist – James’s project “I Can’t See What You’re Doing” is an interactive installation that challenges notions of presence in the physical and virtual realms.

Both Areen and James were also among the 20 winners of the 2015 OCAD University Medal, the university’s highest award. They also both exhibited their projects to great acclaim at the recent 100th-anniversary Graduate Exhibition. 

MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, MIKE GOLDBY (INTEGRATED MEDIA)

Mike Goldby at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Mike Goldby's project, Premier Life. Image courtesy of Tomorrow Gallery.

Mike Goldby’s medal award-winning project, Premier Life, is a multimedia exploration of personal branding strategies. Here’s how he describes it:

Premier Life is the name of my thesis exhibition shown at Tomorrow Gallery. The work examines network structures and how image-making strategies are co-opted for personal branding. The show includes nine photographs, three sculptures and a video.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

I decided I wanted to attempt photography, which I’d never done before, so that was really the springboard for the whole project. It led towards editorial or fashion imagery that I was familiar with, but I was interested in utilizing that aesthetic as a way to examine social network structures since Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

The whole process was informative and rewarding, but I would say reading and writing was the most important aspect of thesis for me.

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I was most proud to have been offered a show, especially at a space like Tomorrow.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I called my mom!

What’s you fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

I’ll miss being surrounded by a group of faculty and students that are invested in worthwhile discussions involving art and culture.

What are you planning to do next?

Continuing my studio practice post-institution.

Find out more about Mike Goldby:

Portfolio

INTERMEDIA ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE 2013 NINA KÖNNEMANN

Video still from Bann courtesy Nina Könnemann.
Video still from M.U.D. courtesy Nina Konnemann.

“Könnemann describes known worlds but shows them to be unraveling, strange, transient.” Nick Mauss, Artforum

Renowned Berlin video artist Nina Könnemann is offering critiques and workshops to Integrated Media students at OCAD University as part of the InterMedia Artist-in-Residency, a collaboration between OCAD U, the University of Toronto’s Visual Studies at Daniels and the Goethe-Institut. The residency, which runs until November 14, also includes a series of public events, including a screening, artist talk and culture talk.

The residency provides a unique opportunity to examine the worlds Könnemann documents in her works and consider her process and techniques, often described as deceptively simple. Though Könnemann doesn’t use special effects, there’s a destabilizing and disorienting quality to her work that captures imaginations and attention around the globe. Her work shows multiple times a year, both in smaller galleries and in high profile solo shows, including at MoMA in New York and the Camden Centre in London. A retrospective of her work is planned at Kölnischer Kunstvereine, Cologne in 2014.

Playing with time and reality

When writing about Könnemann’s work, critics and reviewers frequently describe the disruption it creates. Viewers can take realism for granted in video, which makes the destabilization in her work ever more powerful and unusual, especially when she’s shooting what seems to be everyday occurrences and events, like people milling around in parks and urban plazas. 

“Rarely have I felt so lost as in viewing the videos of Nina Könnemann,” says Noemi Smolik in Artforum magazine. “Lost, because I couldn’t determine the place or the time period in which they were filmed, or even what was taking place in them. Were the events I was observing real, or had they been staged? In this footage, reality seemed to blend into fiction — or was it fiction blending into reality?”

Könnemann’s work, which also examines themes of time, urbanism, globalism, exclusion, public excess and public spaces, creates a sense of unhinging described by Jan Verwoert in Frieze magazine: “Konnemann’s videos make you feel that it takes no more than a gentle slip of the hand or askew glance for reality to unravel. And when the matrix of orchestrated events that regulates social performance does start to come undone, time starts to flow away, space becomes indistinct and the body manifests its intensities in surprisingly minor actions.”

At the same time, Könnemann’s oeuvre can provide meaningful glimpses of what is real, and how things actually are. Turning the commentary upside down, Katha Schulte notes, in an essay in Zusammenhage: “The dramaturgy of a Könnemann video presents events from their peripheries and interstices, now and then even from the point of view of their absence. The Real peers through the gaps, grimacing.”

About the residency

The InterMedia Artist Residency builds on the success of the CrossMedial Residency, developed and organized by the Goethe-Institut Toronto and the OCAD U and the Goethe-UofT InterMedia Residency. Previous guest artists include Lillevan, Carsten Nicolai and Olaf Bender, Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani, and Daniel Kötter.

Learn more

The Intermedia Artist Residency

Attend a screening and artist talk: October 26, 2 to 5:00 p.m.

Attend a Culture Talk @ Goethe with Nina Konnemann: November 8, 5:00 p.m.

Nina Konnemann at Galerie Karin Guenther

2014 MEDAL WINNER CONNOR OLTHUIS, INTEGRATED MEDIA

Connor Olthuis at GradEx 2014. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Conditioners by Connor Olthuis.

Connor Olthuis’s medal award-winning project Conditioners is a an abstraction of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing systems that enable us to thrive in artificial spaces. Here’s how he describes it:

Conditioners is a sculptural exploration of the facilitative infrastructures that influence our habits and structure our behaviours within a highly networked environment. I created a set of cyclically redundant yet functional systems that are a result of a co-opted authority from engineers and designers.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

I wanted to take the two most basic human needs (air and water) and to redesign their common delivery systems into useless forms. I was in a civil engineering program for two years, and I wanted to go back to the methods and materials from my time there: concrete, metal — and to explore different processes of filtration.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

Reading and writing.

What aspect of this project are you the most proud of?

This work resolved some fundamental questions that I have about infrastructure, and conveyed those questions through a tangible set of systems for others to question also.  

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I had just come from adopting a one-eyed cat when I got the call, and then I hugged my girlfriend.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

I will miss talking with a few excellent professors, and being surrounded by like-minded students.

What are you planning to do next?

Continue making work.

Find out more about Connor Olthuis

Website

Alumni, faculty make both Sobey Art Award and Aimia | AGO Photo Prize longlists

Jean-Paul Kelly, "Service of the goods," HD video (still, detail), 2013.
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 4:00pm

Awards season is here. This week longlists were announced for the Sobey Art Award and the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize.

The Sobey Art Award, Canada's pre-eminent award for contemporary Canadian art, is an annual prize given to an artist age 40 and under who has exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated. The winner will receive $50,000; four finalists will receive $10,000; and $500 is given to each of the remaining longlisted artists.

The Aimia | AGO Photography Prize is Canada's largest photography prize, awarding more than $85,000 to artists working in photography. The prize includes an annual exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), an online exhibition, international artist residencies, public programming and a national scholarship program.

This year’s Sobey longlist includes alumna Reena Katz (2010 Integrated Media medal winner), alumnus Chris Curreri (1998, Foundation Studies) and Visual Studies and Integrated Media Instructor Jean-Paul Kelly. Both Curreri and Kelly have also been announced among the Aimia longlist selections. Bios and work by all the artists can be viewed on Sobey Art Award and Aimia | AGO Photography Prize respective websites.

The Sobey shortlist will be announced in June. Work by the shortlisted artists will be shown in an exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery opening on November 1, with the winner being announced at a Gala event on November 19.

The Aimia shortlist will be announced on August 13. Each shortlisted artist will receive a fully funded six-week residency in Canada and their work will be exhibited at the AGO beginning September 3. The winner, selected by public vote inside the exhibition and online, will be announced on October 29.

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