Artexte’s blog: a place for exchange, experimentation and sharing of ideas related to research in contemporary art.

This section gathers posts that showcase highlights from the collection, as well as links made between documents in the collection through serendipitous discovery.
This section highlights exchanges and conversations between the Artexte research community and the contemporary art community. It includes interviews, responses to articles or blog posts, or documentation of institutional partnerships.
This section features the work and observations of the individuals who frequent Artexte, including researchers, authors, students and artists.
This section is dedicated to employees, interns and volunteers who discuss their professional experience.
In Conversation

The Artexte Unboxings. A Chance Unboxing

Discover the Artexte’s collection here and on our Instagram from another perspective.


Throughout 2021, Artexte will unveil a series of unboxing videos featuring members of our team, guest artists, curators, researchers. The Artexte Unboxings series will feature each invitee as they search through our shelves and choose a box, a file, a publication, or another item from our collection to unpack and reveal on video. The collection, which has been deprived of public interaction for almost a year, has asked to be activated!

Click HERE to learn more about this series!

— Mojeanne Behzadi

Image by Anabelle Chassé for Artexte, 2021

Last November, when I began to immerse myself in the Artexte stacks for the first time since joining the team back in the haunting era of March 2020, I was curious to approach it laterally, through a method of chance inquiry. One observation that has rung true in my daily life throughout this pandemic is sensing the loss of randomness. Our exposure to serendipitous or accidental events and occurrences through our movement in time and space has been severely diminished. How does this change affect our psyche and the way we metabolize reality? I decided to orchestrate a chance encounter by way of this unboxing.


In starting a creative or research process, I often consult classic divination tools such as the poet Hafez’ Divān and the I Ching as well as more contemporary apparatuses, like the Magic 8-Ball and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, as generative prompts. This natural instinct immediately had me see the opportunity to approach the Artexte collection as a monumental deck of possible discoveries. Giving myself some focus, I chose one section of the collection: the files on Canadian artists which are organized under the 410 code. 


I cut out the alphabet and picked the letters P, A and J at random which would determine the beginning of the last name of the artist I came to find: 410 – Pajala, Marie-Anne. Summoning this artist, who I did not know and who I was not able to locate since, has been full of gratifying mystery and revelation. Her file contained a single item: an 8 by 7 cm photocopied artist book full of surreal poetic musings dating back to 1997.

It could not have been more relevant to my own state of mind and longing for obscure poetry. The themes and tone of the 18-page poem reverberated the state of melancholy I was in last fall as I made its discovery. 


“Shifting to sleep 

without transition

falling abruptly 

into the middle 

of a dream” [1]


Tiohtia:ke/Montreal has had a few notable recent artistic examples using randomness and chance as prima materia. I’m thinking of Janet Cardiff and Georges Bures Miller’s “The Poetry Machine” (2017) presented in the context of the Musée d’art contemporain’s exhibition, Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything (2017-2018). The artist-duo programmed each key of a vintage Wurlitzer organ with a poem from Cohen’s Book of Longing. When a sitter would press the keys, the singer’s deep voice immersed the entire room into a piece from his poetry collection. And when many keys would be pressed simultaneously or in a sequence, Cohen’s utterances intermingled into a transcendental score.


For the 2017 edition of Concordia’s undergraduate student-run art festival, Art Matters, artist, photographer, designer and organizer Edwin Isford co-curated the exhibition xxxxxxxx*8 alongside the random number-generating website at the Popop Gallery in the Belgo Building. The exhibition grouped eight artists (Melany Arsenault, Belote, Chris Dake-Outhet, Cindy Hill, Tina Lam, Gabrielle Verrette Paquette, Maybe Silvan, and Emma Francis Wallace) from a pool of artist proposals that Isford subjected to a multi-step randomized selection process, through which their identities were kept anonymous, in an attempt to address and lessen the hierarchy that exists between artists and curators, all while striving for aesthetic unity and feasibility. 


This unboxing process was a very gratifying foray into Artexte as a collection of infinite treasures and possibilities and into my own research process. I hope this video and text will find their way back to Marie-Anne Pajala. 


— Mojeanne Behzadi


  • Everything I Wanted to Say to You Today
    Pajala, Marie-Anne. (1997)

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Ayanna Dozier

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Jessica Hébert