Speaker Series with Milena Kartowski-Aïach & Donna Legault, January 30, 2pm

Please join us for our next Speaker Series welcoming Miléna Kartowski-Aïach and Donna Legault this coming Tuesday, January 30 at 2pm at the SenseLab.

2pm: Miléna Kartowski-Aïach

The presentation will be in French and I’ll accompany it with artistic examples such as visual art, music, poetry, dance. In the fall of 2014, I started my PhD’s ethnography in Israel, right after the Gaza war, not knowing yet if it would be “only” field research or also a complex life project of migration, called alyah. Was I an artist, a researcher, or both? A witness-body at the threshold of multiple physical and symbolic borders? I couldn’t perceive the limits of the research and my inner ones in such an environment where the personal was entangled with the heavy geopolitical context.

My research focuses on the young generation of Mizrahi (oriental and north African Jews) political artists, who are trying to reconnect with the culture and identity from their ancestors’ “native land” and create a bridge with the Muslim world. The Mizrahi Jews have been marginalized and discriminated against since their arrival in the “promised land”, and areconsidered to be the “second Israel”. They have distanced themselves from their arabness and millenary history, in order for them to become the “new Israelis”. This young artistic generation, through its artistic territories and gestures, create the promise of a bridge toward the Muslim world and the potentialities of “forbidden” collaborations with their “Arab” counterparts, within a third space of digital territories. They are often considered to be traitors by the national Israeli narrative and moreover when they join forces with Palestinians. They evoke nostalgia for a lost past and exile in the promised land, as well as the vacuum of history they have been facing while growing up. What’s home? What does it mean to belong to? How to cross the prohibited borders and operate homecoming? What does it mean to feel like a Jewish refugee on the inside? Is it possible to be multiple in Israel and advocate for a rhizomic/levantin becoming? How does identity making become a political struggle and reveal an alternative Israeli society which can fully belong to the region?
Here, I would like to question the potentialitiesof Mizrahi political art at the margins of Israeli society, and how through rites of returns together with a living and performative memory, the artists attempt to reterritorialize themselves in a present open to the other who becomes an ally and no longer an enemy.

Miléna Kartowski-Aïach is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Université d’Aix-Marseille-Idemec, leading her PhD project on “A song of Exile in the Promised Land? Political art by young Mizrahi (oriental and north African Jews) artists in Israel: Identity making, rebellion and desire of return.” She has conducted fieldwork in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains on Judeo-Berber culture and in the Djerba Tunisian island among the Jewish community after the Arab spring, as part of her Masters research. She is also a singer specialized in Yiddish, Hasidic and liturgical Jewish traditional repertoire, as well as a poet and theatre director working in France, Europe and America. She attempts to bridge her research in the social sciences and her work as a practicing artist through anthropological, political and experimental laboratory theatre. She recently staged a play in Paris, Leros – un Exil Insulaire chez les Damnés, based on her experience in Leros (Greek island), called the island of the outcasts. The play was inspired by her encounter there with Iraqi Yezidi refugees, survivors of the genocide perpetrated in the Shingal region by Isis, and the co-creative and therapeutic process she developed with young yezidi women through singing.
3:30pm: “in-animate” with Donna Legault
The talk is an invitation to engage together in considering creative practice as a collaborative and performative process that moves between human and non-human encounters.

Donna Legault is an artist and researcher currently based in both Ottawa and Montreal. She holds degrees in Art History from Carleton University, in Visual Arts from the University of Ottawa and is an MFA candidate in Intermedia at Concordia University. Her practice-led-research investigates opportunities afforded by technology to explore human-non-human relations through gesture and resonance at the limits of human perception. Donna’s research is disseminated through modalities of motion and sound via electronic installation, sculpture, drawing and performance.
Her installations have exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions, festivals and conferences, across Canada and abroad. Recent engagements include The International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA2017) in Manizales, Columbia; The International Marketplace for Digital Art in Montreal; and The Leitrim Sculpture Centre Professional Residency Program, Ireland. Current and upcoming exhibitions include, Open Codes at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany; Àdisòkàmagan at The Ottawa Art Gallery; and The International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN2018) in Montreal.