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Unpacking the Living Room

September 8, 2018 - November 10, 2018

Artist: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Year 2018 Organized by MSVU Art Gallery
Installation View - photo, Steve Farmer (2018)

Living rooms are spaces we arrange and create around ourselves to support the comfort and well-being of family, to host friends and loved ones, to display precious and prized belongings, and for leisure and relaxation. But living rooms are private spaces packed with emotions and history, as well as social and political investments. The kind of living room we create can reveal our background, our values, our social position, and our aspirations. Even the privilege of having a living room speaks volumes when so many people live in precarious situations, are without shelter, or have been displaced from their homes and traditional lands.

This exhibition explores the many dynamics of domestic environments by staging a radically re-imagined living room in the gallery space. Unpacking the Living Room will host thoughtful community discussions about craft and art, amateurism and professionalism, leisure and labour, and the private and the political. Through playful and insightful interventions, Unpacking the Living Room invites community members to reflect on the histories and ideologies that ground understandings of self, home, belonging, and resilience.

– Julie Hollenbach, curator

Audio Companion



Opening Reception

Saturday, September 22 at 2:00-4:00pm

Please join curator Julie Hollenbach and participating artists for a relaxed reception with refreshments. Artist Emily Davidson will install her wallpaper piece, How It’s Made during the reception.

All events are free to attend and ASL interpretation is available; please email to request an interpreter.


Saturday, September 29 at 1:00-2:30pm

Artist Carrie Allison will introduce the basics of beading and discuss her current collaborative project The Shubenacadie River Beading Project and its sister project Shubie River. These projects invite people to map the Shubenacadie River in beadwork, raising awareness about Indigenous sovereignty and land rights in the process. Capacity is limited and advanced registration is required. Please email by September 26 to register.


Wednesday, October 3 at 12:00-1:30pm

Join artist Ruth Marsh for a hands-on workshop, using deceased bees and retro-electronic components, to learn how environmental change is affecting delicate bee ecology. Capacity is limited and advanced registration is required. Please email by September 26 to register.

Roundtable Discussion

Saturday, September 29 at 3:00-4:30pm

Please join El Jones, Sherry Pictou, Lynn Jones and Gloria Ann Wesley for “Unpacking Colonialism and Environmental Racism in Halifax” a roundtable discussion of these topics and the destruction and displacement of the communities of Turtle Grove and Africville. The discussion will be followed by a relaxed reception and refreshments in the Gallery, sponsored by the MSVU Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies. A free wheelchair accessible shuttle, sponsored by the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group, is available for this event. The shuttle will depart from the Killam Memorial Library at 2:00pm and the return trip will depart MSVU Art Gallery at 4:30pm. Capacity is limited and seating  will be offered on a first come, first served basis.


Saturday, October 20 at 2:00-4:00pm

WORK OUT|WORK OUT is a two-phase collaborative performance piece by Julie Hollenbach and Gambletron challenging idealized feminine gender performance through an immersive theatrical romp that includes culinary sculpture, hobby craft kitsch, and a multi-media dance. The first phase follows a group of friends as they attempt to construct self-portraits. The second phase of the performance sees the friends forgo the arduous task of performing femininity to perfection. Opting instead to glitch, disembody and otherwise intervene in the prescriptive works of mainstream feminine gurus such as Jane Fonda, Martha Stewart, Sheryl Sandberg, and Iliza Schleslinger. This phase of the performance witnesses the friends’ collective embrace of the queer pleasure of gender failure. Visitors are invited to drop-in or attend the whole performance. Financial support for this performance from Arts Nova Scotia is gratefully acknowledged.

Exhibition Guide