SuperWomen: Conversations with the Real Action Figures
Midi Onodera in conversation with Leila Sujir
Over the last thirty-five years, Leila Sujir has been building a body of video art works using a mix of fiction, fantasy and documentary with visual and audio collage techniques. Her video art works have been shown in group shows at the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and the Tate Gallery (Liverpool), as well as galleries all over the world. Her work is in collections including the National Gallery of Canada and the Glenbow: Calgary's Art and History Museum.
Recent screenings and exhibitions include Aerial with Outer Worlds curator Janine Marchessault, launched in Toronto April 19, 2019 with distribution planned in large screen format presentations across Canada and internationally once Covid-19 has passed; Peacocks Dream, with curators Sunil Gupta and Steven Evans at the Fotofest Biennial in Houston, Texas, in INDIA - Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art (2018); Forest Breath with curator Haema Sivanesan at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, British Columbia in Supernatural: Art, Technology and the Forest (2018) and curator Jordan Strom at the Art Gallery of Surrey in The Garden in the Machine (2019).
Leila Sujir is chair of the Studio Arts Department at Concordia University, where she teaches a seminar in the graduate MFA area and a studio/seminar in the Intermedia (Video, Performance, Electronic art) area. She works with an art research studio-lab based at Concordia University, Elastic 3D Spaces, that most recently received a SSHRC grant, Elastic 3D Spaces: the old growth forest as 'home' space with an emphasis on land, healing, home,
communities (2019). In a recent publication from Oxford University Press, Practics of Projection (2020), she co-wrote the chapter with Anthony Head, "Researching virtual, augmented and mixed realities, or how the Elastic 3D Spaces project emerged from an outdoor projection event."
Select publications on her work include a chapter of a book by curator Nancy Tousley, "Leila Sujir’s forest of pixels,” in Intertwined Histories: Plants in Their Social Contexts from the University of Calgary Institute for the Humanities (2019); curators Sunil Gupta and Steve Evans' book from the Houston, Texas Fotofest Biennial: India: Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art by (2018); curator and editor Srimoyee Mitra’s book Border Cultures (2016); curators Katherine Ylitalo and Nancy Tousley, with editor Melanie Kjorlien’s book Made in Calgary: An Exploration of Art from 1960 to the 2000’s (2016).
References for Leila Sujir Interview:
"In 1973, W&F organized the first international festival of films made by women, an ambitious ten-day event in Toronto that screened over 120 films (for free, with free daycare). A three-day version of the festival then toured to 17 Canadian cities and communities, from Leaf Rapids, Manitoba to Jonquière, Quebec and St. Johns, Nfld. W&F, funded by local and federal grants, engaged women across the country in these small, locally organized festivals. (This was when movies came on reels, which the organizers lugged from coast to coast in steamer trunks.)"
"'A Language of Flesh and of Roses'--The Filmwork of Joyce Wieland," The Films of Joyce Wieland (ed. Kathryn Elder) Toronto: Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, 1999. Originally printed for Canada House Catalogue (London, England) for Joyce Wieland Film Retrospective, January/February 1988. Reprinted in Independent Eye, Fall 1990.
I had been invited to be the guest programmer for Joyce Wieland’s 1987 film retrospective, accompanying her solo exhibition at the AGO. On a panel for the film retrospective, I presented the text, “’A language of flesh and of roses’ Joyce Wieland’s Language of Love.” That text was then printed for the 1988 Canada House, London Film Retrospective for Joyce Wieland with a slightly different title, and then in the Independent Eye (1990), and then in an anthology by Kathryn Elder a decade later (1999).
Rabinovitz, Lauren. “Points of Resistance: Women, Power, and Politics in the New York Avant-Garde Cinema, Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991. A 2nd edition came out 2003.
Lauren Rabinovitz’s book on Joyce Wieland on Joyce Wieland, Shirley Clark and Maya Deren came out after the Experimental Film Congress (1989) at the AGO. Lauren wrote a chapter that is hilarious, and really happened: “Afterword: Women Sneaking Around Museums”--when Joyce asked Lauren and me to take a new, very big painting down to her AGO solo exhibition to be installed, after the show opened (that was by the way, not requested by Philip Monk, the exhibition’s curator). We hitchhiked and a truck picked us up. The AGO did not want to let us in.We kept pointing to the poster, where we had recently been panelists, trying to convince them it was us. It was hilarious, in retrospect, especially reading it in her book: humour as subversion, and humour to recover from the onslaught of constant difficulties.
In 2011, I was one of six writers who wrote about Joyce’s work for the DVD release of her films, Complete Works of Joyce Wieland, The: 1963-1986, a five DVD box set, with on-line essay collection. The other writers are Kristy Holmes, Anne Low, Allyson Mitchell, Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof, and Johanne Sloan.