Law, art and culture come together at Osgoode Hall Law School

Osgoode Artist in Residence Julie Lassonde. Photo by Henry Chan
Osgoode Artist in Residence Julie Lassonde. Photo by Henry Chan
Osgoode Artist in Residence Julie Lassonde. Photo by Henry Chan

If Osgoode Hall Law School Artist in Residence Julie Lassonde has her way, the law school will be turned into “a playground” for the next month with the performance and installation of her Counterbalance project involving a 12-foot long seesaw made of steel and recycled wood.

Lassonde, a performance artist and social justice lawyer, will incorporate the seesaw into the free, 10-minute public performances she will present at Osgoode on Tuesday, March 3 at 12:30pm and Friday, March 27 at 11:45am. Her presentations will also include movement, the manipulation of objects and a sound recording.

“My project explores the notion of balance and risk-taking in law and life,” said Lassonde who has held workshops about “physical presence” with students and faculty during her artist residency. “It encourages reflections on traditional legal topics such as the balance of probabilities as a standard of proof, but also on mental health and self-care issues within the law school setting.” Lassonde’s project has also received Ontario Arts Council funding.

Visitors will be able to use the seesaw in Osgoode’s Gowlings Hall from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, until March 27. (The law school has taken steps to ensure that it cannot be held liable for any injuries.)

In addition, on Thursday, March 26 from 12:45 to 1:30 pm playwright Catherine Frid (LLB ’87), Osgoode’s other Artist in Residence this year, will present a reading (with professional actors and director) of her new play about whistleblowing called NormaLeeDean.  The play follows on the heels of a directed reading course on Informants and Whistleblowers that Frid led in the fall for upper-year students.

Meanwhile, plans are being finalized to showcase visual artist Cindy Blažević’s Kingston Penitentiary project. Blažević, who was the inaugural Artist in Residence at Osgoode during the 2013-14 academic year, worked with Osgoode students in her directed reading course to create legal and historical narratives for photographs she had taken of Kingston Penitentiary in 2013.

The Artist in Residence presentations are part of the Law and the Curated Body Conference, an interdisciplinary conference organized by Osgoode and the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design at York University that will be held at the law school on March 26 and 27, and at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto on March 28. The conference will focus on socio-legal, historical and cultural research that considers the intersection of bodily performance (legal-professional, theatrical and quotidian) with normative frameworks (doctrine, policy, spirituality or ethics).

Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin said that he is proud the law school is involved with the Law and the Curated Body Conference and pleased to see Osgoode’s Artists in Residence receiving recognition for their work.

“Our Artist in Residence Program is helping to provide new perspectives on law and opening our minds to different explorations of justice and legal education,” Sossin said. “We believe that our students, faculty and staff are strengthened by understanding law through diverse media and that an artist’s expression of ideas about justice and the law can enhance our own thinking on those subjects.”