Feature on Aleesa Cohene in Canadian Art
I have been trying to write about the work of my friend Aleesa Cohene for many years now: an artist who works with video as a medium in a way I have never seen before. I have been fascinated and entranced by her installations over the past few years, and have enjoyed seeing my students at OCAD be equally enthralled by her savvy use of film and television clips, alongside newly composed scores, to create new narratives around otherwise well-worn material.
So it was my great pleasure to finally have the chance to contextualize her work, and try to describe my experience of it, for the Winter 2015 issue of Canadian Art magazine, timed to coincide with her recent solo exhibition at Oakville Galleries, “I Know You Know.”
As with any technically rigorous work, it was hard to resist the urge to explain how she makes her works as some sort of interpretive key to understanding them. Luckily, Cohene’s videos also produce highly affective experiences, which forced me to oscillate between describing how she creates them (largely through a list of self-imposed rules for finding and editing her source material), and the feelings they can create for the (this?) viewer.
I’m very grateful to Aleesa for her patience in answering questions about her process and work, and to Matthew Hyland, Oakville’s director and the curator of this solo exhibition, for continuing to champion the work of contemporary women artists in Canada.