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Unpacking the Living Room

September 8, 2018 - November 10, 2018

Artist: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Year 2018 Theme Drawing & Printmaking, Feminisms, Gender & Sexuality, Nova Scotian Artists
Installation View - photo, Steve Farmer (2018)

Living rooms are spaces we arrange and create around ourselves to support the comfort and wellbeing 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.

View website for Unpacking the Living Room.

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

Unpacking the Living Room and MSVU Art Gallery are situated in Mi’kma’ki, the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people, and within sight of the historic location of the Africville community.

Opening Reception

Saturday, September 22nd 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.


Saturday, September 29th 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 claire.dykhuis@msvu.ca by 26 September to register.

Roundtable Discussion

Saturday, September 29th 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. Capacity is limited and seating (round trip) will be offered on a first come, first served basis. Information about the vehicle can be found here.

– to MSVU Art Gallery –
2:00pm meet at Dalhousie University in front of the Killam Memorial Library
2:15pm depart for MSVU Art Gallery drop-off in front of Seton Academic Center.

– from MSVU Art Gallery –
4:30pm meet outside MSVU Art Gallery in front of Seton Academic Center (same as drop-off spot)
4:40pm depart for Killam Memorial Library (same as pick-up spot)


Wednesday, October 3rd 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 claire.dykhuis@msvu.ca by 26 September to register.


Saturday, October 20th 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 (2:00-3:30 pm) follows a group of friends as they attempt to construct self-portraits. The second phase of the performance (3:30-4:00pm) 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. Financial support from Arts Nova Scotia for this performance is gratefully acknowledged.

All are welcome to events and there are no admission fees.
ASL is available for all public events on request. Two weeks’ notice prior to an event is recommended but arrangements will be made whenever possible based on interpreter availability. Please email claire.dykhuis@msvu.ca to request an interpreter.

Audio Companion