Terms of Engagement: Averns, feldman-kiss, Stimson

September 27 - December 14, 2014

Opening reception: September 26, 6-10pm

Curated by Christine Conley


The Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP) was launched in 2001 to embed artists alongside Canadian troops. Unlike earlier official war art programs, CFAP does not exhibit or collect the work produced by artists who volunteer for the privileged access it offers. The exhibition Terms of Engagement: Averns, feldman-kiss, Stimson presents work by three artists who have recently been deployed to conflict zones as CFAP participants.

Dick Averns was hosted by the Multinational Force and Observers at North Base, Sinai, in Egypt during 2009, nichola feldman-kiss was embedded with the United Nations Mission in Sudan in 2011, and Adrian Stimson was stationed at Forward Operating Base Ma`sum Ghar and Kandahar in Afghanistan in 2010. Working across the mediums of photography, video, sculpture and installation, the works in the exhibition reflect CFAP’s arm’s-length relationship with the military, which allows for greater independence of artistic expression. As curator Christine Conley explains, the artists “are all conscious of the complex relation of culture to conflict, given their situation as embedded observers whose access to war zones depends upon military hospitality, protection and social networks.” Compelled by narratives of genocide, the traumatic legacy of colonialism, and the War on Terror, the works in Terms of Engagement offer an encounter and critical engagement with Canada’s international role as a nation of warriors and peacekeepers.

This exhibition has been organized by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, in partnership with MSVU Art Gallery, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, and Esker Foundation, Calgary. A forthcoming publication with essays by the curator and Kirsty Robertson accompanies the exhibition.


Exhibition website: www.termsofengagement.ca

  • Dick Averns

    An interdisciplinary artist and writer, Dick Averns’ practice recalibrates the commodification of space and probes how spaces are valued, bought, sold, exchanged, bartered, or fought over. Language, identity politics and media convergence  – arbiters of spatial control – are wrought through sculpture, text, lens-based media, and performance, including public art.

    As an official war artist deployed with the Multinational Force and Observers, a little-known peacekeeping force monitoring the first Arab-Israeli peace treaty, he accessed Sinai, Egypt, Palestine, and Israel. Averns is also the first non-fiction writer selected as a Canadian war artist, and has published research on official war art and the War on Terror.

    Averns’ oeuvre spans Canada, the United States, Australia, the UK, and the Middle East. Notable projects include Ambivalence Blvd, shown at multiple venues, including at Art + Activism (2006), YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Toronto; War Art Now (2010), The Founders’ Gallery, Calgary; and Brick + Mortar International Video Art Festival (2012), curated by Denise Markonish.

    Published articles include “War + Peace: Monument and Counter-Monument” (2010) for On Site Review; “War Art in the Face of The Project for The New American Century: A Postmodern Rake’s Progress” in Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration, Convergence (Melbourne University Publishing, 2009); and “In Deference of a New Diabolique” for the international exhibition catalogue Diabolique (Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina; Galerie de l’UQAM, Montreal; and The Military Museums, Calgary, 2009). Averns has an MFA from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and teaches at the Alberta College of Art + Design, Calgary.

  • nichola feldman-kiss

    nichola feldman-kiss is an artist researching corporeality, identity, and autobiography. She implicates self-reflexive narratives in her performative exploration of body, gaze, subjectivity, sociality, and consciousness. Her multi-disciplinary installations, videos, performances, and objects are characterized by pristine and minimal elegance, and subtly and subversively disturb that which we take for granted, as well as ask us to reconsider basic questions about being individual, collective, and embodied. feldman-kiss’ practice has been supported by research residencies with the National Research Council of Canada; the University of Ottawa Eye Institute at the Ottawa Hospital; the palliative care Hospice at May Court, Ottawa; the Canadian Forces; and the United Nations.

    feldman-kiss has presented her work and ideas nationally and internationally at the Centro Fotográfico Álvarez Bravo, Oaxaca; the Dutch Electronic Art Festival, Rotterdam; Museo Fotographia Contemporanea, Milan; ISIS Arts, Newcastle Upon Tyne; Bains numérique, Centre des arts d’Enghien-les-Bains. Illustrated analyses of her work are featured in Prefix Photo and NY Arts Magazine, and Guerilla Magazine, along with numerous catalogues. A tri-citizen of Canada, Germany, and Jamaica, feldman-kiss is a native of Ottawa and resides in Toronto. The artist completed her MFA at the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia. Recipient of the 2009 Corel Endowment Fund for the Arts Award, her artworks can be found in the permanent collections of the National Archives of Canada, Ottawa; the City of Ottawa; and the Ottawa Art Gallery, as well as private collections in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Europe.

    feldman-kiss has consulted on policy in the technological arts and art/science since 2001. Among other accomplishments, in her former capacity as Program Officer for New Media and Audio at the Canada Council for the Arts, are the innovative bi-council art/science collaboration fund with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council National Round Table on New Media Art Research. As an independent artist, feldman-kiss has contributed to numerous peer funding and consultative committees including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Hexagram, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Department of Canadian Heritage, CANARIE, Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Ottawa.

  • Adrian Stimson

    Adrian Stimson is a member of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation in southern Alberta. He is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and educator and holds a BFA from the Alberta College of Art & Design, Calgary (graduating with distinction) and an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.

    As an interdisciplinary artist, Stimson’s work includes paintings, installations, collodion wet plate photography, sculpture, and performance. Recent exhibitions and performances include: Sovereign Acts (2014), Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge; Storytelling: Contemporary Native Art Biennial (2014), Galerie Art Mûr, Montreal; Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools (2013), Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver; Reconsidering Reconciliation (2013), TRU arts media lab, Kamloops; Making Treaty 7 (2013), Calgary; Holding Our Breath (2013 and 2011), Grunt Gallery, Vancouver and Neutral Ground, Regina; The Shaman Exterminator, On the Trail of the Woodcraft Indians with the Buffalo Boy Scouts of America (2012), Paved Arts, Saskatoon; Buffalo Boy’s Coal Jubilee (2012), House of the Wayward Spirits – ANDPVA, Toronto; White Shame Re-Worked (2012), grunt gallery, Vancouver; The Life and Times of Buffalo Boy (2011), The Works, Edmonton; Pink Panther (2011), Open Space, Ft. Simpson; Beyond Redemption (2010), Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; Kentucky Fried Chicken Dance (2010), Two Story Café, Prince Albert; Brave Seduction (2010), Gallery 101, Ottawa; Buffalo Boy’s You Can Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd (2010), Harbourfront Centre, Toronto; Photo Quai (2009), Le musée du quai Branly, Paris; Unmasking (2009), Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris; and Suffer little children… (2008), ARNICA, Kamloops. He is a regular participant at Burning Man and was featured in the 2007 summer issue of Canadian Art in “Buffalo Boy at Burning Man” and the Spring 2009 issue of FUSE magazine in “Buffalo Boy Then and Now.”

    Stimson was awarded the Blackfoot Visual Arts Award in 2009, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003, and the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 for his human rights and diversity activism in various communities. He is represented by the Darrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon, where he also currently resides.

  • Christine Conley

    Christine Conley is an independent curator and lecturer at the University of Ottawa. Her research addresses issues of gender, trauma, and cultural memory, particularly in performance and lens-based media. Curatorial projects include a retrospective of Vancouver photo-conceptualist Theodore Wan that toured Canada in 2004-2005 and Crossings/Traversées (2010), an international exchange of performance artists involving the Belfast-based collective Bbeyond, and Indigenous artists from Canada. She has published widely on Joyce Wieland, Christiane Pflug, Mary Kelly, Charlotte Solomon, and May Chan. Recent publications include a chapter concerning Rebecca Belmore and Faye HeavyShield in Inside the Death Drive: Excess and Apocalypse in the Work of the Chapman Brothers (Tate Liverpool Critical Forum, Liverpool University Press, 2009) and an essay on Jeff Wall for a special issue of Art History: Photography After Conceptual Art (2009). Dr. Conley’s essay on Anishnaabe performance artist Maria Hupfield is forthcoming in Indigenous Contemporary Art: Negotiating Intercultural Differences (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014).