From the insurrection riot of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., through the humanitarian turmoil in Afghanistan, to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion in Ukraine, to the mass disruption of Canada’s convoy protest—this past year was marked by dramatic upheavals. Along with the waves of Delta and Omicron infections, the catastrophic wildfires and flooding around the world, these upheavals sorely tested the plasticity of the arts and the humanities in offering solutions. At the MLC Research Centre, our focus has been on creative action and collective dialogue, on developing new ways of communicating and generating unity. Therefore, this past year has involved not only adaptation but the exercise of radical hope in doing things differently.
One concrete result of this effort is COVID-19 and Creative Resilience: Figuring the Everyday in a Pandemic (edited by myself and Jason Wang and published by Routledge in March). This book brings together 23 international contributors from as far away as Kazakhstan, Germany, and Sweden, centering creative and humanities-driven approaches in the international forefront of efforts to deal with the non-medical effects of short- and long-term consequences of the pandemic. This MLC Report gives insight into our collective grappling with COVID-19 through the lens of sound, visuality, and writing, which led us to prepare a multi-year SSHRC Insight Grant on “Telling COVID-19 Stories” ($161,800). As we commemorate the dead and the many COVID-19 losses in the months to come, the stories of individuals will be our focus, putting the contingency of the human body at the forefront of international scholarship.
I am also proud to report that in the face of disruptions, we pioneered strategies for large-scale mobilizations in digital and in-person formats—preparing us for the future. These included Modernism Inside and Out, a hybrid conference for 650 international registrants organized by the MLC Research Centre in partnership with the AGO, the McMichael Collection of Canadian Art, and the Canadian Women Artist History Initiative at Concordia University, a critical consideration of the sidelining of Canadian women artists in cultural history on the world stage; and my co-curating (with Heather Anderson) of The Baroness Elsa Project, a touring exhibition mounted at the Carleton University Art Gallery in Ontario and the Owens Art Gallery at Mount Alison University in New Brunswick, featuring the work of 8 celebrated international artists representing gender, race, and trans perspectives.
And finally, much of the year was spent moving our MLC Research and Archive operation from 111 Gerrard Street to 415 Yonge Street, where the last construction push is taking place while I write these reflections to the accompaniment of the drill sounding from the main room. As we return to our in-person research, training, and archiving mission, our goal for 2022-23 is recreate our MLC Gallery, which is essential as our incubator for scholarly and creative outreach. In this we are grateful to the university, to OVPRI and to the Dean’s office for supporting our effort.
With the knowledge we have gained in navigating disruption by drawing on the plasticity and empowerment of our humanities and arts strategies, I look forward to the coming year. I also look forward to commencing my role as the member on the Board of Governors and serving our university community with passion and dedication.
Irene Gammel, Director
MLC Director & Executive Team
- Dr. Irene Gammel, Professor, Faculty of Arts, Director
- Dr. Cintia Cristiá, Assistant Professor, FCAD, Academic Lead — Executive Committee
- Cameron MacDonald, MA, MLC Executive Member
- Anna Krentz, MA, Archive and Rare Material Lead
- Jaclyn Marcus (ABD), Executive Member
- Dr. Jason Wang, Executive Member, Space & Technology
2021-2022 Summary of Achievements
Public Engagement with Digital Culture
Digital Archive Highlights
- Exhibition curated by Irene Gammel and Heather Anderson. Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa: 12 September – 21 December 2021. Owens Gallery, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB. January – March 30, 2022.
- Winner of the Galeries Ontario Galleries (GOG) Exhibition of the Year Award in the top category of the 50,000 budget.
5 International Pandemic Webinars
- 23 panels
- 80 international panelists
- 650 international registrants
- Organized by MLC (Ryerson) in partnership with the Canadian Women’s Art History Initiative (CWAHI, Concordia University), AGO, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg)