Culture lovers will delight in new Fine Arts books and projects

Judith Rudakoff

Lovers of books and music will be delighted by the spate of new publications and projects produced by the Faculty of Nina ArsenaultFine Arts.

Theatre Professor Judith Rudakoff continues her longtime collaboration with her former student Nina Arsenault (BFA Spec. Hons. ’96, MFA ’00), a transgendered playwright/performer, with TRANS(per)FORMING Nina Arsenault, a book set to launch May 4 at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

As editor, Rudakoff brought together a diverse group of contributors, including artists, scholars and Arsenault herself, to explore beauty, image and the notion of queerness through the lens of Arsenault’s highly personal brand of performance art. York University contributors include theatre Professor Eric Armstrong, political science Professor Shannon Bell and Professor Frances Latchford from the SchoJudith Rudakoffol of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, plus Fine Arts alumni J. Paul Halferty (BFA ‘98), Benjamin Gillespie (BA ‘09, MA ‘10) and former student Todd Klinck.

Right: Judith Rudakoff

Illustrated with photographs of Arsenault’s physical transformation over the years through more than 60 plastic surgeries, the publication includes the full script of Arsenault’s critically acclaimed stage play The Silicone Diaries, which was dramaturged by Rudakoff.

Two ambitious compositions by music Professor Stephanie Martin were recently premiered in connection with one of Canada’s foremost oratorio choirs, the Pax Christie Chorale, which Martin has led as artistic director and conductor since 1996. Her new cantata, Winter Nights, is a four-movement piece for choir, chamber orchestra and tenor soloists, set to poems from various sources including her sister, Cori Martin. Pax Christie debuted the works last December at the Stephanie MartinGrace Church-on-the-Hill in Toronto.

Left: Stephanie Martin

In January 2012, the Windermere String Quartet premiered Martin’s string quartet From a Distant Island, a piece she composed on her recent sabbatical in England, during a stay at a convent on the Isle of Wight. The performance, a fundraiser for Pax Christi’s 25th anniversary season, was hosted by the law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin in its offices on the 24th floor of the Bay Adelaide Centre in Toronto’s financial district.

Martin’s music department colleague, Professor Dorothy de Val, provides a lively biography of one of the chief collectors and scholars of the first English folk music revival of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in her new book, In Search of Song: The Life and Times of Lucy Broadwood. Drawing on an array of primary sources, including the diaries Broadwood kept throughout her adult life, de Val’s account sheds light on Broadwood’s early years and chronicles her later busy social, artistic and musical life. De Val has a longstanding interest in traditional English folksong, with a number of publications on the subject to her credit as well as many performances as pianist with the band Playford’s Pleasure.

Aesthetic constructions of Korean Nationalism coverLooking at art within a more political arena,  art history Professor Hong Kal’s Aesthetic Constructions of Korean Nationalism: Spectacle, Politics and History (Asia’s Transformations) examines the role of visual culture at particular moments in both colonial and postcolonial times, drawing links between concepts of spectacle and urban space to governmentality. The book interprets the politics behind the culture of displays and shows both the continuity and the transformation of spectacles as an important tool of governance in 20th-century Korea.

Eschewing history for a fictional future, Governor General’s Literary Award-winning playwright and York film Professor Colleen Wagner paints a chilling dystopia in her latest play, down from heaven, published by Playwrights Canada Press. The story follows a girl who must navigate a world immersed in a new class struggle while trying to balance her morality with the realities of survival when a viral pandemic and food crisis challenge everything she holds dear. Pat Donnelly of The Montreal Gazette says: “…there is rich text to feed on, a psychological thriller element, and some scathing observations about high culture and traditional religion.”

Two faculty members in the Department of Visual Arts have recently published exhibition catalogues. Anna Hudson is part of the team behind Fugitive Light: Clark McDougall’s Destination Places and Michel Daigneault is featured in Orange by Michel Daigneault Peindre dangereusement.

Left: Orange by Michel Daigneault (2005)

Hudson co-curated the McDougall show for the McIntosh Gallery in London, Ontario. The hardcover catalogue is richly illustrated with many of the artist’s striking portrayals of southern Ontario urban and rural life from the 1950s to the 1970s. In her essay “Stepping into the light of Clark McDougall’s landscapes”, Hudson discusses the artist’s deep attachment to his home town of St. Thomas and how it inspired him.

The catalogue for Daigneault’s latest solo show, peindre dangereusement at Montreal’s Galerie Trois Points, includes an essay by James D. Campbell titled “Dancer Man: Polycentrism and Semiotic Erotica in the Paintings of Michel Daigneault”. Campbell says: “Daigneault’s paintings thrive on semiotic excess and exotica, iconographic multiplicity and delightful combinatorial play; effortlessly, they draw the viewer inwards.”