A Personal Narrative of Nina Czegledy’s Latest Artistic Endeavors

It has been my privilege to be a long term KMDI Fellow. My relationship with the people of the institute has helped to sustain my research and creative activities over the years. It is in that spirit that I would like to share with you my latest endeavors.

Steered by some ambiguous premonition I have been working since 2018 on a multi-faceted project, Sensoria the Art and Science of our Senses, which in the fall of 2021 will culminate in an international exhibition, symposia and performances at the Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdansk, Poland.

In the last number of years the concept of sentience and sensory awareness, particularly during the times of the pandemic have became a socio-cultural focus.  ISEA International dedicated its ISEA2020 symposium, entitled Why Sentience, to the topic, attracting the largest attendance in its 30–year history. Navid Navab and myself co-organized Sensory Cosmologies: How does transformation affect Liveliness? We asked our discussants and our audience—how could we engage our senses to tackle wicked problems non-reductively?

Also at ISEA 2020 The ocean that keeps us apart also joins us: charting knowledge and practice in the Anthropocene, our international panel led by Ian Clothier, NZ discussed how sentient human beings have moved away from solely Western concepts towards an activist re-orientation with ramifications for the future.

Naturally, several projects I have been involved with have been postponed due to the pandemic including A Light footprint in the Cosmos exhibition commissioned by the Substantial Motion Research Network.  What does an active independent artist, researcher/curator do in these situations? She might create art: My Street in Toronto (in the Pandemic) was a photo collage shown at Homezone in Paris and Karlsuhe. She would also continue to co-chair virtual Leonardo LASER events: Beauty-Kit workshop & performance with Isabel Burr Raty (October) which was presented by the ArtSci Salon and supported by the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Science; and Forest Drawing Close (November), a video conference convened by Montreal Hexagram shown on its YouTube channel.

The making of Niimi S/he dances video provided a major learning experience. Niimi was-initiated by Antje Budde and Jill Carter of the Center of Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, UofT. In the past I have created art videos as well as broadcast documentaries using existing technologies. For this work, we used a drone camera, iPhones, Go-pro equipment etc.—all of this equipment and on-line editing was novel to me.  Niimi featured Candy Blair, Astad Deboo and a probable Marker Tree (indigenous people used bent trees as permanent trail markers). Niimi was filmed in the summer of 2020 as part of Rattling the Curve, a much larger art & sci collaboration exhibited in October 2020 at the Ecodata Festival in Riga, Latvia, and a few weeks later as part of the Kaleidoscopic Imaginations virtual event organized by the Toronto Art&Sci Salon.

However, my most memorable engagement during this period is with Roger F. Malina, astronomer; Joel Slayton, artist, researcher and curator; and myself, with creative assistance by Vania Negrete. We initiated the independent Post Pandemic Provocateurs (PPP) group in March. Principles embraced: PPP explores and records alternative approaches to the challenges of the post pandemic condition, encourages cross-generational knowledge sharing; global participation across traditional boundaries, while respecting local wisdom; and collaborates across art/design/science/ humanities, enabling methods for bridging these disciplines. With the exception of the well-attended Public Discussion on Learning, until now our principle activity has been to record invaluable conversations from across the globe, which will be made available to public in the near future.