Museum in the Hallway / Boîte-en-valise is a rotating exhibit of material culture in two display cases situated in the east alcove on the second floor between the theatre entrances of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. The program consists of five exhibits, including objects and evidence of course outcomes and workshops delivered by special guests (including a Walker Cultural Leader for 2022-23). “Boîte-en-valise” is an expression coined by avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp to refer to the aesthetic value of collecting and assembling.
The small thematic curated exhibitions will have a duration of 4-6 weeks up to 4 months duration. The onsite program will rotate to display cases of the James Gibson Library when possible and will be amplified and celebrated in related communication pieces and image galleries posted to the STAC website.
A: This Happened: Stories and Masks
Museum in the Hallway / Boîte-en-valise
Sept 14, 2022 – Nov 20, 2022
Second Floor East Alcove between Theatre Entrances
The learning in, research about and presentation of material culture and curatorial practice is at the core of the academic program of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture and the activities of the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture (STAC). Courses in curatorial practice (STAC 3P40 and 3P41), writing and language about the arts (STAC 1P96, 1P97, 3P99), Critical Practice and Embodied Text: Art Beyond the Artifact (STAC 2P93, 2P94) are some of the scheduled learning opportunities in this subject field for students at STAC. This learning and research is part of all three Concentrations at STAC: Concentration in Languages, Arts and Culture; Concentration in Cultural Transmission and Heritage Studies; and the Concentration in Cultural Management.
Following upon the learning of STAC 3P42 (2021-22) where students explored the concepts of the ‘micro-museum’/vernacular curating/everyday museum(s) STAC proposes a project that would invite students to curate a small space, bi/weekly/monthly. This would allow students to engage with material culture (integrating with a courses in STAC and VISA/HAVC), as well as explore conceptual and oscillating notions of contemporary curating, while running as an ongoing and evolving project within the walls of the school – a sort of extension of the gallery, conceptually, and to offer students a small exploratory space. Students would explore objects/themes of interest, conceptual brainstorming and participate in a short exercise in writing. This would become a student experience to support professionalization of their learning and practice of curation, providing a ‘micro’ curated piece/project, associated with the school/department, to be added to their CV. Components of the student learning experience include assisting with the development of documentation/photographing their own tiny exhibitions, and assisting with creating content to share, and/or perhaps developing an Instagram page dedicated to this project, planning forward for a renewed annual project and incorporating a catalogue and related best practices.
I’ve been busy. My busyness is partially a learned behaviour, and it doubles as a coping mechanism for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), a mental health condition that I’ve struggled with for fifteen years.
I like to describe CPTSD as drowning with a straw in your mouth. If you stop struggling you can get a few wisps of air, but it’s never enough to stop the sensation of drowning so inevitably you begin to struggle and flail for more air again.
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 lockdowns started in Ontario, I was already in poor mental health. A major relationship had ended months prior in a traumatic way and I was completely alone for the first time ever.
At this time I was just returning from a frantic trip from the US back to Canada. I returned to an empty home and had to quarantine, followed by shutting down the business that I had worked so hard for. It remained closed for a year and a half. I was devastated.
I then experienced one of the most interesting and disturbing experiences I have ever had, unregulated CPTSD symptoms. For the first time, I saw myself as myself. I had nothing and no one to use as a regulation tool and I was suddenly experiencing the unbridled waves of this condition.
Along with intense flashbacks, extreme anxiety, and paranoia to name a few of the long list of symptoms this condition brings, dissociation is among the worst of them. Being in a dissociative state sometimes feels like just waking up from a dream or being far away and watching your life happen down a hallway. There are moments of lucidity but it’s mixed in with all of the other symptoms, so they are heartbreakingly fleeting.
Time loss in these states is one of the most insidious parts. It feels like the panic you experience when you wake up and realize you’ve slept too long. Where did the time go? What did I do? How did that happen? I tried hard to not let that happen.
During a particularly intense bout of dissociation, I fell and broke my foot. I was ashamed of myself. My broken foot made everything harder. I have an eating disorder that requires proper maintenance and I struggled to shop for groceries and make food. Cleaning became an almost impossible task. My knees and back became increasingly sore from crawling my staircase and traversing my house.
I am fortunate and privileged to have a psychotherapist. Luckily, she had the foresight to recommend triple the amount of therapy during this time. I am forever grateful for that.
My life became a series of symptoms, pain, management, sprinkled with flecks of tiny improvements.
The mask I have made represents the pain that I experienced during this time. I used straight pins to represent the depth of pain and sorrow I was experiencing internally. The pins penetrate the mask and create a bed of sharp ends, while the heads of the pins create a colourful mosaic that is appealing and unassuming for any person who would see me adorned in this mask. These pins rest on my face as I read this poem, threatening to cause me pain and some succeeding.