Symposium launches art exhibit by York Professor Nina Levitt

Three York Faculty of Fine Arts professors will discuss the relationship between history and practice at the upcoming Approaching Histories Symposium: Intersections of History, Visual Art and Literature, followed by the opening of the Nina Levitt: Relay exhibit at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa.

York visual arts Professors Nina Levitt and Shelley Hornstein, along with York film Professor John Greyson, will join author Helen Humphreys in lively presentations and discussions about the interconnectivity of history and various art forms, including the novel, at 1pm on Saturday, Nov. 29. The symposium is moderated by Susan G. Cole, a journalist, playwright, broadcaster, lecturer and activist. Admission is by donation.

Left: The National Archives of the UK (ref. H59/1435K)

The opening reception for Nina Levitt: Relay, the third and final exhibition in a trilogy of works by Levitt about women during the Second World War, will begin at 3pm. The installation is inspired by the use of radio technology and the role women played in the flow of information. It features large-scale sculpture, photography and interactive video and sound. Nina Levitt: Relay continues at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery until Jan. 4.

The ways in which women have been imaged and imagined in popular culture is a recurring theme in Levitt’s work. From resurrecting lesbian pulp novel covers in her work in the late 1980s, to video installations about women and space in the mid-1990s, to her current obsession with spies, she often relies on the recovery and manipulation of existing images. Her work has been seen in solo and group shows in Canada, the US and the UK, and includes Thin Air; The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture; The Found & the Familiar: Snapshots in Contemporary Canadian Art; Finding Camp X: Contemporary Considerations of an Enigma; and Close Encounters.

A filmmaker, video artist, writer, activist and educator, Greyson has won accolades for his productions at festivals throughout the world. His feature films include Urinal (Best Feature Film, Berlin Film Festival, 1988), Zero Patience (Best Canadian Film, Sudbury Film Festival, 1993), Lilies (Best Motion Picture, Genie Awards, 1996). As a director for television, his credits include episodes of "Queer as Folk", "Made In Canada", "Drop the Beat" and "Welcome to Paradox". He is the author of Urinal and Other Stories and co-editor of Queer Looks, a critical anthology of gay/lesbian media theory.

Hornstein, a professor of architectural history and urban culture, has published widely on the examination of place and spatial politics in architectural and urban sites. She is the editor of Image and Remembrance: Representation and the Holocaust (Indiana University Press, 2002) and Impossible Images: Contemporary Art after the Holocaust (New York University Press, 2003). The recipient of many prestigious awards, Hornstein is currently completing another book, Losing Site: Buildings and Places, Lost and Found.   

Right: Still from the film Now It Can Be Told, 1947. Courtesy the Imperial War Museum

The fourth member of the symposium’s discussion, Helen Humphreys, is the author of Leaving Earth, a New York Times notable book and winner of the City of Toronto Book Award; Afterimage, winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; and The Lost Garden, finalist for the CBC’s 2003 Canada Reads competition. Her novel Wild Dogs won the 2005 Lambda Literary Award for fiction, was one of NOW magazine’s top 10 Books of 2004, and has been optioned for film. Her new book, Coventry, published this fall, is set in Second World War London during the Blitz.

Cole, as the moderator, will bring her experience as senior editor of books and entertainment at NOW magazine, where her blog can be found. She is the author of Pornography and the Sex Crisis, Power Surge: Sex, Violence and Pornography and the play A Fertile Imagination.

A chartered bus to Oshawa is expected to be operating for between $10 and $20 per person depending on the number of people (minimum 12 people, maximum 48). For bus location and confirmation, reserve today at The bus departs downtown Toronto Saturday, Nov. 29 at noon sharp and departs The Robert McLaughlin Gallery for Toronto at 4:30pm.

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is at 72 Queen St., Civic Centre, Oshawa. For directions, visit The Robert McLaughlin Gallery Web site or contact the gallery at 905-576-3000. Gallery Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 5pm, Thursday from 1am to 9pm, and Saturday & Sunday from noon to 4pm.