March 15–April 15, 2021
An initiative of La Nouvelle Scène, Théâtre du Trillium and Théâtre Catapulte, the online video-club EJECT, with a special focus on the performing arts, proposes unique and singular film works from Canada to Nigeria and Iceland to Lebanon. From March 15 to April 15, SAW presents two films online as part of this month-long project: Union of the North by Matthew Barney, Erna Ómarsdóttir and Valdimar Jóhannsson (2017) and If It Were Love [Si c'était de l'amour] by Patric Chiha (2020).
Union of the North
Matthew Barney, Erna Ómarsdóttir and Valdimar Jóhannsson
Iceland, 2017, 75 min
The Sumerian goddess of creation Nammu is now a waitress at a Dunkin’ Donuts in a shopping centre in Reykjavík, getting ready to celebrate the sacred union of two lovers. In the frozen food aisle: harsh fluorescent lighting, orangey uniforms, Homeric chants, tribal dances. In this art film full of disturbing brutality, the celebration of the marriage will be grandiose.
Written by the world-renowned contemporary artist Matthew Barney and directed by the choreographer Erna Ómarsdóttir and the musician Valdimar Jóhannsson, Union of the North is radically removed from the Icelandic cliché of the great outdoors, embracing an air-conditioned, consumerist modernity. Performed by the Iceland Dance Company, the film unfolds at times like a majestic opera, at times like a strident reality TV show. The scenes pack a punch, striking through the cerebral cortex; rites of passage full of noise and fury, violent sacrificial cults. A blood-soaked, frenetic wedding, between the sublime and the trivial. A sacred union.
Presented in collaboration with the Iceland Dance Company
If It Were Love [Si c'était de l'amour]
France, 2020, 82 min
Winner of the Teddy Award for best documentary at the Berlinale
In 2018, 15 young dancers from different backgrounds head off to tour Crowd, choreographer Gisèle Vienne’s piece exploring the 1990s rave scene. Patric Chiha documents them from backstage to centre stage as they rehearse, warm up and prepare, gradually blurring the line between real life and performance. While the dressing room is all soft voices and shared confidences, onstage is a violent, juddering, hypnotic spectacle driven by an inexorable beat. Bodies merge with the music, embarking viewers on a hyper-sensory journey blending desire, fear and sexuality in a trance-like reverie.
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Opening in June 2020, the Nordic Lab is an initiative of Galerie SAW Gallery in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. A research and production space for artists from circumpolar nations, the Nordic Lab will be an integral part of SAW’s newly expanded 15,000 square foot centre in downtown Ottawa. In addition to programs in Ottawa, the Nordic Lab will forge collaborations and promote exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the North and the South along with partners in Scandinavia and other circumpolar nations.
In addition to providing a space for artists-in-residence, the Nordic Lab will be home to SAW’s educational programs, which will be geared in particular toward Indigenous youth. With established relationships in place, SAW is positioned to play a unique role in serving the Inuit community in Ottawa. The Nordic Lab’s new Annie Pootoogook Studio and workshop facilities will include digital workstations, screenprinting facilities and a large-format photography printer.
Every year, more than 1,000 artists and musicians perform at Club SAW at key moments of their careers. A flexible space accommodating an audience of 285, Club SAW is a defining feature of SAW and contributes significantly to the character of the centre as a whole. Equipped with a bar and a state-of-the-art sound system, it is used for screenings, concerts, artist talks, festival hubs, panel discussions, conferences, book launches, theatre plays, receptions and workshops. Recently renovated, the new Club SAW has doubled in size and features a bar with a focus on local products, a deployable pop-up gallery, a green room for performers, an accessible stage, all-gender washrooms and a completely renewed courtyard.
An artist-run centre like no other in Canada
From its inception in 1973, the artist-run centre Galerie SAW Gallery has supported politically and socially engaged art, focusing on the performance and media arts. Many of the world’s best-known artists have exhibited at SAW in the early stages of their careers. Begun by a group of local artists, the gallery was originally part of the legendary café Le Hibou on Sussex Drive, hence the name SAW, an acronym for Sussex Annex Works. In 1981, the centre founded the SAW Video cooperative to support independent video artists and documentarists. During this time, the centre also initiated Club SAW, which has become the most important multidisciplinary space in the region. In 1989, Galerie SAW Gallery, SAW Video and Club SAW moved into the historic Arts Court building. Since 2001, Galerie SAW Gallery has operated as a distinct organization no longer legally affiliated with SAW Video, although both share a home at Arts Court and continue to collaborate on many projects. Galerie SAW Gallery aims to become a premier artist-run centre in Canada and the world, engaging in innovative programming, outreach and exchange initiatives. With over 30,000 visitors each year, SAW is a prime destination in the Ottawa-Gatineau region for contemporary art.
Cultural diversity at the core of our mandate
Galerie SAW Gallery promotes contemporary Canadian and international artists, both emerging and established, from diverse cultural backgrounds; presents a contemporary art program with a strong focus on Canadian performance and media art, with bilingual interpretative material produced for each exhibition; adapts to the changing nature of the contemporary arts by maintaining an evolving interdisciplinary presentation space comprised of SAW Gallery, Club SAW and the SAW outdoor courtyard; serves the needs of diverse communities through audience development initiatives; engages in collaborations with other arts organizations to increase opportunities for exhibiting artists and to outreach to new audiences; and commits to paying artist fees above CARFAC recommendations.