CONSTELACIONES embodies collective healing through kinship and vulnerability—rejecting isolation, silence, and disconnection in the face of trauma. Drawing from interdisciplinary practices that include sculpture, performance, installation, sound, and video, artists Roewan Crowe (Winnipeg, MB), Doris Difarnecio (Chile, Argentina, Brazil), Christina Hajjar (Winnipeg, MB), Monica Martinez (Edmonton, AB), and Helene Vosters (Toronto, ON) engage in a process-based trans-hemispheric collaboration. CONSTELACIONES traveled to Chile’s infamously storied Atacama Desert to return a large set of vibrant sculptural forms. The heavy ceramic forms, created by Martinez, are woven from stratified layers of Chilean history and from diasporic and nomadic trajectories resulting from the 1973 coup.
Multidisciplinary artist Roewan Crowe is energized by acts of disruption, radical transformation and the tactical deployment of self-reflexivity. Born under the big skies of Saskatchewan and raised in scofflaw Alberta, Crowe left the prairies to deepen her engagements with art and feminism, and to do graduate studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. A return to the prairies inspired art and writing centered on queer feminist reclamation practices to ask questions about the land, whiteness and queer settler identities. In her artistic practice she often enters into fatal wounded landscapes—sometimes violent and xenophobic —to explore possibilities for regeneration. Recent work includes: digShift (ongoing), a decolonizing and environmental reclamation project using site specific performance and multichannel installation to explore the shifting layers of an abandoned gas station; Lifting Stone, a queer femme performance/installation creating intimate stone encounters; and the queer Western text Quivering Land (ARP), a gritty feminist meditation on the possibilities of art to reckon with the ongoing legacies of violence and colonization. Her longstanding community practice is concerned with creating space for and building engaged feminist/queer/artistic communities. Her scholarly work seeks to open meaningful encounters with art through feminist engagement with a particular focus on artistic practitioner knowledges and artistic processes. Recently, with collaborator Michelle Meagher, she published, “Letting Something Else Happen: A Collaborative Encounter with the Work of Sharon Rosenberg” in Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies. Roewan Crowe is an Associate Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of Winnipeg.
Doris Difarnecio has been creating and directing theatrical pieces with FOMMA (Fortaleza de la Mujer Maya) since 1999. She directed Centro Hemisférico, the satellite headquarters of New York’s Hemispheric Institute in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. Drawing on her theatrical and interdisciplinary background, Doris has developed, public programming for various academic institutions in Mexico, New York, Canada and engages presently in academic and artistic research so as to reflect the historical context of the city in which her organization, Arte Acción is located. Focusing on art, politics, and performance through interdisciplinary collaborations, Doris has situated Arte Acción as a vital platform that links distinct cultures and modes of expression. The lectures, projections, public and political actions, performances, art exhibitions, installations and book presentations that Doris has realized have allowed for the blossoming of a collaborative, multilingual and interdisciplinary consortium of institutions, artists, academics and activists. Speaking specifically about her work with FOMMA, Kacqla and First Nation Woman in Canada, Doris has participated in the creation of theatre productions in popular theatre. She has travelled with the theatre troupe to direct presentations given in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and New York and Canada has participated with the women in international theatre workshops in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Chiapas.
Christina Hajjar is an artist, student, and activist who uses community organizing and creative expression to bring attention to social justice issues. Hajjar organizes queer and feminist workshops, artist talks, panels, discussions, and demonstrations. Recently this includes a Femme Den event, a Geography of Memory movement workshop, a symposium on workplace misconduct, a symposium on Decolonizing and Decriminalizing Trans Genres, a “Carry That Weight” march in solidarity with Emma Sulkowicz, and a long table conversation at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in connection with the travelling exhibition “Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art.” She worked with Rebecca Belmore on her performance art piece “Here” and co-facilitated workshops and discussions on a community made “We Care” quilt in collaboration with the Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies, the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library, and the We Care Campaign, honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit people. Hajjar co-founded a bi-annual open mic night for queer and trans people of colour with QPOC Winnipeg and also founded the young feminist art group at Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, Flock Art Collective. In addition to her organizing work Hajjar’s multi-disciplinary approach explores selfies, identity, trauma, diaspora, and memory through zine-making, collage, writing, and performance. Her international collaboration with CONSTELACIONES (Monica Martinez, Roewan Crowe, Doris Difarnecio, and Helene Vosters) will take her to Chile in July, 2016 for their scholarly performance project Return Atacama in this year’s Encuentro hosted by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.
Monica Mercedes Martinez is process based ceramic artist who holds an MFA from the University of Manitoba. As a Chilean who grew up on the Canadian Prairies, she uses her practice to discuss the historical foundations that influence how we define who we are and where we belong. Martinez latest works of raw clay interventions/performances began as way to connect her to the places that surround her by reacting to stationary sites in the spaces she moves through. She utilizes red clay to temporarily cover or decorate these aspects because of its deep historical significance to both architecture and the arts as well as the faint red stain it leaves behind. This trace left by the clay as it crumbles away marks her passage through these spaces, drawing the passing attention of others who may pass by. She also creates long term works that span years, works like the ongoing everyone is fallen except us fallen…, first created in 2012 that shifts with each iteration. Martinez regards her work as visual conversations that she can use to encourage dialogue about the different interpretations of the world’s historical, social, political, artistic events with others. Martinez is fascinated by how the past continues to manipulate the power structures that rule our world today by using the bias of memory to subconsciously control our views on racial heritage, gender, cultural concepts of beauty, and the hierarchies of art. Martinez has taught as a sessional at the University of Manitoba as well as participated in both national and international art residencies.
Helene Vosters is an artist, activist, and scholar. She holds a PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies (York University), an MFA in Queer and Activist Performance (New College of California), and is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Manitoba). Helene’s current research—Unbecoming Performances—combines a critical inquiry into Canadian state-sponsored performances of social memory, with readings of counter-memorial performances and projects that work to unbecome popular narratives of benevolent Canadian nationalism by advancing the work of social memory beyond the official mandates of celebratory or reverential national commemoration and towards a praxis of redress. Helene has devised and performed the counter-memorial meditations Impact Afghanistan War, and Unravel: A meditation on the warp and weft of militarism throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. In 2013 and 2014 she directed Remembrance Day performances of Shot at Dawn, and since 2014, she has been hosting public Flag of Tears: Lament for the stains of a nation embroidery circles in Canada. Helene’s scholarly contributions include articles in Canadian and international peer-reviewed academic journals (Performance Research, Theatre Research in Canada, Canadian Journal of Practice-based Research in Theatre, Canadian Theatre Review, and FRAKCIJI), and book sections in Performance Studies in Canada (forthcoming), Performing Objects and Theatrical Things and Theatre of Affect. Additionally, Impact has been taken up by Diana Taylor in Performance and by Jessica Auchter in The Politics of Haunting and Memory in International Relations, and Unravel and Shot at Dawn are featured in War Imagery in Women’s Textiles, by art historians Deborah A. Deacon and Paula E. Calvin.