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Sissel Marie Tonn

The Ongoing Conversation #2.5



27/02/2015 –
– 27/02

Sissel Marie Tonn showed a collection of works developed during a residency in Quebec, Canada. On show was the 3 channel work Mégantic, which revolves around perceivable and imperceivable oscillations between harm and benefit, fascination and fear, and culture and nature.

Along with the video works a printed conversation with the Territorial Agency offered an in-depth insight into the genealogy of the work.

When Alice falls through the rabbit hole the reality around her undergoes constant and profound changes, while her ways of dealing with that reality do not. Boundaries between humans and non-humans, order and chaos, reality and fantasy blur, and she eventually realizes that she has to continuously adjust her perception of her surroundings, in order to navigate and understand them. Alice must walk away from a destination in order to reach it – it’s an adjustment to a place without stable laws.

Lac-Mégantic is a small town of 6.000 people in Quebec, Canada, whose name derives from the Abenaki word namesokanjik, which translates to “place where the fish are held”. The work Mégantic similarly addresses the perception of place, by means of zooming in on the periphery of changing ecologies. A local mushroom collector navigates an environment in which he has lived his whole life 2 years after a fatal disaster: In July 2013 a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded in the downtown core, killing 47 people and irreversibly contaminating a large area.

Having always been fascinated with these mysterious organisms, a new dimension of change has entered into the relationship between the mushroom collector and the mushrooms. Knowing that fungi are uniquely capable of consuming and concentrating toxins he no longer feels safe eating them.

Similarly a former spokeswoman of the local citizens group is dealing with the rapidity of change. As economic pressure increasingly drove the government to redevelop the town to attract tourists, the citizens who owned the downtown grounds were driven out. After much fighting she now seeks inner stability. Through meditation and the sound of crystal bowls she hopes to mend a torn space.

Small gestures in the periphery of this politically charged space becomes the point of entry. With attention paid to the persistent traces of human intervention into every organism and to the disappearance and morphing of matter in its wake.

The Ongoing Conversation II offered a series of fast-paced one-day exhibitions conceived as a platform to show and share the interest of ongoing artistic research.

In the seven short exhibitions, the seven graduating students of MAR freezed the momentum of their artistic research process to create a decisive entry into the end phase of their explorations. Stringed together over the course of one month, these milestones created a combined itinerary. The exhibitions bring you past sites of contaminated mushrooms, a hot bedroom in Curacao, a reflection on religious power at the European Parliament, a playful ritual, an unfolding of emptiness, a reconstruction of a conceptual architecture from the past and axiological dilemma’s in art and commerce.



This project was the outcome of a collaboration between 1646 and the Master Artistic Research, The Hague.

The Master Artistic Research is a master programme for artists, based at the Royal Academy of Art and the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague.


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