Janine Marchessault

Fellows
2012
Current affiliation:
York University

Through her groundbreaking creative work and research, Professor Marchessault aims to interpret and illustrate the city and its sustainability issues, combining urban planning, public art, and the media.

How would you define yourself?

I am a media scholar, a public art curator, and a cinema studies professor.

What is the public purpose of your work? How does it impact the lives of Canadians?

Over the past two decades, through the Visible City Project (www.visiblecity.ca), I have worked with artists, scholars, students, curators, architects, and designers to investigate new models of public art that will help us to think through ecological problems collectively and creatively, tied to global climate change. I have (co)curated numerous large-scale public art exhibitions in Toronto and beyond—Being on Time (2002); The Leona Drive Project (2009), Museum for the End of the World (2012), and Land/slide, Possible Futures (2013) are the most recent. These site-specific investigations have invited local and international artists to reimagine sustainability and urban planning in the context of our present ecological crises.

Briefly explain one of the most interesting discoveries you have made so far.

Site-specific art exhibitions or public place-based art create pedagogical experiences that can foster the goals of sustainability and new models of ecological knowledge.

How will the Trudeau Fellowship help you pursue your work?

Among the primary activities that the fellowship will support is an international site-specific art exhibition called Land/slide: Possible Futures on 21 September-31 October 2013, devoted to reflecting on the future of land use in one of Canada’s largest and fastest developing suburbs in Toronto – Markham, Ontario – with a specific focus on the Green Belt. The international exhibition will be staged in and around the 25 acres of land at the Markham Museum. Land/slide will make the museum into a dynamic place that is relevant to the present and to present-day problems. The project asks artists and audiences to think about history differently. Not simply as a static artifact, but as something that might help us to engage with the most pressing problems facing the planet. The fellowship will help to fund this exhibition as well as different activities related to it, including a large international symposium at the Royal Ontario Museum devoted to “Land and Climate Change.”

Professor Janine Marchessault is a professor of cinema and media studies at York University, where she holds the Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media and Globalization.

Professor Marchessault’s urban research has focused on the creative cultures of cities such as Berlin, Havana, Helsinki, Montreal, and Toronto. She directs the Visible City Project and an online archive (www.visiblecity.ca) that unites over fifty interviews with artists, urban planners, designers, and curators from a variety of countries to consider how art and communication are manifested in different geopolitical contexts. This research and archive project is an ongoing research endeavour.

One of Canada’s best-known McLuhan scholars, Professor Marchessault takes up McLuhan’s tragic and utopian vision of the global village.  In her monograph Marshall McLuhan: Cosmic Media (Sage Publications, 2005), Marchessault argues that McLuhan understood the value of artistic practices not in terms of creating decorative objects, but as the means to produce new kinds of awareness and perception, along with new forms of human communication and community. McLuhan also understood that the future of the planet would be centrally tied to the dynamic relation between media and pedagogy that he helped to foster.

Over the past two decades, Professor Marchessault has worked with the curatorial collective Public Access to investigate new models of urban public art. She has curated numerous large-scale public art exhibitions in Toronto and beyond, of which The Leona Drive Project (2009), Museum for the End of the World (2012), and Land/slide, Possible Futures (2013) are the most recent. These site-specific investigations have invited local and international artists to reimagine sustainability and urban planning in the context of our present economic and ecological crises.

Professor Marchessault is the author of ten monographs and edited volumes and over fifty articles in books, journals, and catalogues devoted to cinema, new media, and contemporary art. She is a past president of the Film Studies Association of Canada and is a founder of the Future Cinema Lab, which is devoted to creating “new stories for new screens.” She has lectured widely and has held faculty positions at McGill University, Ryerson University, and the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Television.

  • December 7, 2013
    Here are some good news about the success of the Land|Slide project led by 2012 Trudeau Fellow Janine Marchessault:
  • August 12, 2013
    2012 Trudeau Fellow Janine Marchessault is the Project Lead and Chief Curator of Land|Slide, a monumental one-of-a-kind exhibition taking place at the 25-acre, open-air Markham Museum and Historical Village from 21 September to 14 October 2013. The event will bring together more than 30 acclaimed national and international artists.      

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