Art and Memory at the Borders

 Thursday March 19, 1-4pm, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Room 143

You are invited to participate in a workshop exploring the role of art and memory at the borders of Canadian military history and globalization.

Empire Symbol or A Man and his Mule (2015)

Artists’ Video by Bambitchell


This project, sponsored by the Centre for Memory and Testimony Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University is a collaboration between the Canadian Network for Psychoanalysis and Culture, the Toronto-based artistic team BAMBITCHELL ( and the Department of Global Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.

BAMBITCHELL is an award winning, artistic collaboration between Sharlene Bamboat and Alexis Mitchell. The duo has been producing mixed-media installations since 2008 that have been exhibited in galleries and festivals internationally. Their practice uses queer and feminist frameworks to re-imagine borders, mobility, labor, migration and memory. These frameworks, often showcased through irony and a camp aesthetic, invite nuanced and complicated re-workings of images, language and architecture.

Bambitchell is currently developing a video work that responds to their engagement with the Laurier Military Archive ( Entitled ‘Empire Symbol or A Man and his Mule‘ (2015), Bambitchell’s piece traces the journey of a Canadian veterinarian who was responsible for transporting mules from New York to Karachi, India during WWII. Employing his diary entries, Bambitchell unearth both the psychic life of The Vet, as well the histories of Canadian Militarism that are embedded within mundane processes of global trade and transport.

Bambitchell’s video will be screened at a workshop scheduled from 1-4pm Thursday, March 19, 2015 at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. The intent of the workshop is to bring students, scholars, community members and artists together to explore what can be learned from the ways in which memory and border are archived via creative means. To further animate discussion of ‘Empire Symbol or A Man and his Mule’, the artists will screen a second video work. The workshop will be animated Sara Matthews (Associate Professor in the Department of Global Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University), Dina Georgis (Associate Professor, Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto) and Yusuf Zine (Department of Global Studies, Filmmaker)

The workshop will explore the role of aesthetic mechanisms in representing, remembering and narrativizing the experiences of memory and of trauma. “Border” is a complex concept with multiple meanings: it can refer to the demarcation of geographical space by the nation state and so speaks to processes of nationalism, immigration, self-determination and cultural belonging; but it can also refer to the strange geography of psychic life where questions of memory, repetition, and the belatedness of traumatic experience challenge our understanding of the border between conscious and unconscious life. Here are some of the questions that the workshop will address:

  • How do artistic practices respond to the demand to represent and narrativize memory, specifically memories of social trauma and dislocation?
  • What are ‘borders’ and how can we think within and beyond their social, political and imaginative delineations? What are their productive possibilities as well as their challenging strictures?
  • How do artistic practices open possibilities for dialogue in institutional spaces?
  • In what ways does art function as a mode of address that brings to light the relational and social aspects of memory work?

For questions please contact [email protected]

Refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP to [email protected] by Wednesday March 11 to confirm your attendance. Space is limited to 30 participants.