Archive:GroundworkMay - August 15, 2021


May - August 15, 2021

Critical Distance Centre for Curators (CDCC) – Core Exhibition
Featured Exhibition at the 2021 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival

Artists: Alana Bartol, Ileana Hernandez Camacho, Tsēmā Igharas
Curator: Valérie Frappier


***Click here to book for a time slot to visit the CDCC Gallery.***

Masks are required at all times inside the gallery and Artscape Youngplace, and please ensure to maintain social distancing measures.


In a 2013 interview with Naomi Klein, Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Betasamosake Simpson explains that extractivism is not just the physical process of extracting natural resources, specifically on Indigenous lands, but that it is also a mindset. Simpson defines the term in the following way: “The act of extraction removes all of the relationships that give whatever is being extracted meaning. Extracting is taking. Actually, extracting is stealing—it is taking without consent, without thought, care or even knowledge of the impacts that extraction has on the other living things in that environment.”* Later in the interview, Simpson then turns to the alternative of an extractive mindset, which she describes as being centered in relationships. “The alternative is deep reciprocity. It’s respect, it’s relationship, it’s responsibility, and it’s local.”

Working from Simpson’s definitions as a starting point, this exhibition considers how extractivism operates as a physical process underpinned by a pervasive colonial-capitalist mindset towards land use. By intersecting strands of ecology, geology, and performance theory, Groundwork seeks to grapple with the psychology of extractivism and foregrounds embodied performance as a method to bring focus to its alternatives. Within the scope of Canada’s geography, artists Alana Bartol, Ileana Hernandez Camacho and Tsēmā Igharas employ site-specific performance to question and imagine beyond the colonial-capitalist structures that largely shape humanity’s relationship with the environment.

Groundwork also cites performance scholar Laura Levin’s theorizing of camouflage as a political performance practice in its centering of camouflage strategies. Such strategies critically probe the politics surrounding land use and the constructed binary between the human and the non-human. In her 2014 book Performing Ground, Levin writes that camouflage, used as a political practice, “is as much about revealing as concealing,” as it equally “highlights the non-human site as itself a performing entity, reminding us that the communication between self and setting is rarely unidirectional.” Bartol, Hernandez Camacho and Tsēmā each make use of a camouflage/infiltration strategy in their respective works to build reciprocal relationships with their environments and unsettle the status quo of extractive logics. This reciprocal approach is articulated through the deep attunement they cultivate with their respective locations. Lens-based documentation of the artists’ site-specific interventions, displayed alongside performance remnants such as the garments and tools used during these actions, together transmit dispatches from each artists’ location.


*Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in “Dancing the World into Being: A Conversation with Idle No More’s Leanne Simpson,” YES! Magazine, March 6, 2013.


Image Credit (clockwise, from left to right):

Tsēmā Igharas, (Re)Naturalize No. 1 (Brick), 2015-16. Photo by Jonathan Igharas. Courtesy of the artist.

Ileana Hernandez Camacho, Corps roca, 2018 – ongoing. Documentation of performance, as part of a residency at Verticale – centre d’artistes, Laval, Quebec. Courtesy of the artist.

Alana Bartol, Dowser, 2016. Documentation of performance at orphan well site in Three Hills, Alberta. Photo by Karin McGinn. Courtesy of the artist.



Alana Bartol comes from a long line of water witches. Her site-responsive artworks explore divination as a way of understanding across places, species, and bodies. Through collaborative and individual works, she creates relationships between the personal sphere and the landscape, particular to this time of ecological crisis.

A multidisciplinary artist with a B.F.A. from the University of Windsor and an M.F.A. from Detroit’s Wayne State University, her work has been presented in festivals and galleries nationally and internationally including Berlin Feminist Film Festival, Istanbul Experimental Film Festival, SIMULTAN festival (Romania), Museo de la Ciudad de Guadalajara (Mexico), Media City International Film Festival (Windsor), Intervention Vidéo (Montréal), Karsh-Masson Gallery (Ottawa), Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff), PlugIn ICA (Winnipeg), Art Gallery of Windsor, Latitude 53 (Edmonton), Access Gallery (Vancouver), and InterAccess (Toronto). In 2019, she was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award representing Prairies and North. She has been an artist-in-residence with Eastern Edge Gallery, Santa Fe Art Institute, Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity, and the Canadian Forces Artist Program. Of Scottish, German, English, French, Irish, and Danish ancestry, Bartol is a white settler Canadian currently living in Treaty 7 territory in Mohkínstsis (Calgary), Alberta where she teaches at Alberta University of the Arts.

Artist Website


Ileana Hernandez Camacho is a Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist whose artistic practice explores themes related to femininity, nature, vulnerability and the fragility of being. For several years, she has been working with camouflage as the foundation of her artistic research. She is interested in camouflage as survival and as a practice that allows her to analyze the dynamics of interaction, issues of power in society, social norms and humanity’s insensitivity to the environment. Using paper and textiles as extensions of her body, Hernandez Camacho builds fictional characters and surreal images to explore different types of human interactions. Through mediums like performance, installation, video, sound and collage, she invents environments where these characters can live and develop.

Hernandez Camacho is co-founder of the artistic duo ¡A MANO!, and her solo work has been exhibited in Canada, Cuba, Argentina, Finland and Mexico. She holds a BFA with a major in Studio Arts from Concordia University (2014) and she has been an artist-in-residence at Laval’s Verticale centre d’artistes and at L’Écrin as part of Montreal’s Festival des arts imprimés.

Artist Website


Tsēmā Igharas is an interdisciplinary artist and member of the Tahltan Nation. She uses Potlatch methodology to create conceptual artwork and teachings influenced by her mentorship in Northwest Coast Formline Design at K’saan (2005/06), her studies in visual culture, and her time in the mountains. Tsēmā’s artistic work grapples with the body, her body, as it has witnessed material and metaphysical landscapes changing and continually impacted, shaken and consumed by corporate resource extraction. Her praxis is sparked by strategies of Indigenous resistance to neo-colonization, embodied knowledge and everyday acts of decolonization as ways to understand the imaginary Canadian “true North” and industrial reverberations felt by those who live downstream.

Tsēmā holds a Bachelor’s degree from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2011) and graduated from the Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University (2016), showing her thesis work LAND|MINE that connects materials to mine sites and bodies to the land.  Tsēmā has won the 2018 Emily Award for outstanding ECUAD alumni; is 1/25 2020 Sobey award winners; and has shown and performed in various places in Canada and internationally in Sweden, Mexico, USA and Chile.

Artist Website



Valérie Frappier is a white settler Franco-Ontarian curator and writer from Aurora, Ont., currently based in the Toronto region. Frappier’s research and curatorial projects consider questions of gender, race and place within Canadian cultural production and discourses surrounding the climate crisis. Committed to the development of platforms that build community and initiate lasting learning experiences, she has worked in curatorial, editorial and facilitation roles with cultural organizations in Montreal, Cork City (Ireland) and Southern Ontario. She holds a BFA in Art History and Studio Arts from Concordia University (2014), a BA in Gender and Women’s Studies from York University (2018) and an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice from OCAD University (2020). Frappier’s writing has appeared in various publications including C Magazine, Canadian Art, Femme Art Review and The Senses and Society Journal.



Critical Distance is located in Suite 302 at Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street between Dundas and Queen Street in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood. Google Map. Artscape Youngplace and Critical Distance are fully accessible by Ontario standards, with a wheelchair ramp at the 180 Shaw Street doors, an elevator servicing every floor, and a fully accessible washroom on every level. The nearby 63 Ossington bus on the TTC is wheelchair accessible. Works in the exhibition will be captioned and have audio description.


Click here to book for a time slot to visit the CDCC Gallery.

Masks are required at all times inside the gallery and Artscape Youngplace, and please ensure to maintain social distancing measures.


Click and download the links below to access the accompanying PDF readings:

Groundwork – Curatorial Introduction by Valérie Frappier

Groundworking: A Conversation with Alana Bartol, Ileana Hernandez Camacho and Tsēmā Igharas, moderated by Valérie Frappier



Audio description files recorded and edited by Kat Germain and Jennifer Brethour



Hover for info; click to enlarge image and view full captions.