Luminous Bodies

T6 interviews artist Sam Kasirer-Smibert on his recent residency at Gibraltar Point.

Can you tell readers a bit about your residency at Gibraltar Point? What is Luminous
Bodies about?
Luminous bodies is an inter-disciplinary residency at Gibraltar point on Toronto Island. Its focus is the human body and the many ways in which it can be represented and reinvented. It’s very inclusive and attracts people from around the wold. This year, for example, it hosted artists from as far as Australia and featured a total of sixteen different approaches to the representation of the body.

How do you choose to respond to the theme of the residency?
I create large performative abstract paintings in order to “normalize” the experience of an invisible disability. I approach the canvas with both hands, I mean literally in an ambidextrous manner, and work with oils in vibrant colours. The shapes that emerge are a kind of brain map of my own condition.

Gibraltar Point Residency paintings by Sam Kasirer-Smibert 

Have you encountered other interesting practices during the residency? Which artists do
you find inspiring?
To answer your first question, yes, of course. And as I mentioned earlier, I was one of some sixteen residents from all over the world, including Canada, the U.S. and Australia. Among the most influential artists were Derek Brueckner, a performance artist from the US, and our residency facilitator, Teresa Ascensao.

In progress photograph of Muddied Waters

How has your own practice been changing lately?
It has evolved a lot since I got back to my studio in Montreal. During the residency, I created large representational works that reflected the inner working of my brain and my condition. These compensate, in a way, for the cognitive disjuncture I acquired in my childhood as a result of not having learned to crawl—that’s an important phase of child development, you know, and I somehow missed it. So, feeling satisfied enough with the evolution of these pieces, I’ve decided to focus now on representing the human body in abstract spaces. I want viewers to be able to locate a sense of bodily presence within and around abstract elements. And I want these elements to create just enough dissociation in viewers so that they get a feel for, and an intuitive grasp of, the features of my condition.


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