Naakita Feldman-Kiss


Photo: naakita feldman-kiss


naakita feldman-kiss is a queer, non-binary artist and writer of mixed roots based in Montreal. Through video and audio installations, my practice considers storytelling as a site to explore community, inheritance, mythology, memory, and experiences of diaspora. Their artwork engages contemporary forms of oral history to develop projects closely in collaboration with individuals and communities in order to create opportunities that use storytelling to encourage conversation across experiences, cultures, and generations.

Having been raised in a transcultural environment (Canadian/Caribbean/Eastern European), this facet of their identity informs their practice and drives them to work in a style that fosters cross-cultural connection. Through frameworks of psychology, neuroscience, and archival studies, they explore the multitude of uses and the necessities of storytelling and intergenerational dialogue.

Through the creation of informal and crowd-sourced archives, their work aims to consider the importance of fighting archival silences, and the ways that we can move toward holistic history making. Recurring themes include experiences of im/migration, diasporic translations, personal and collective mythology, inherited memory, intergenerational exchange, and healing from cycles of pain.

Over the last eight years, they explored different ways of working relationally with communities both online and in person. These explorations have always been toward the development of conversations that encourage the type of empathic sharing and connection that bring individuals together in community. They began creating this way shortly after an experience they had working closely with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge in New York in 2012 while attending the MoMA PS1 Free School program. This residency styled program instilled in them a great desire to explore relational dynamics in their art practice, an interest that continues to ground their art practice. 

They have shown internationally in solo exhibits, group exhibits and festivals. Notable presentations of my work include New York MoMA PS1 (2012); Eastern Bloc, Montreal, QC (2015); Unnoticed Festival, Nijmegen, NL (2016); Galerie B-312, Montreal, QC (2016); Knot Project Space, Ottawa, ON (2018); Critical Distance, Toronto, ON (2019); EXPRESSION, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC (2020). They have received commissions from Trinity Square Video in Toronto, ON, Saw Video in Ottawa, ON, and most recently by Joyce Yahouda in 2019 for a travelling exhibit titled “Beyond the Veil”. This exhibit was first shown at ARTLIFE For the World Gallery in Venice, ITA, in honor of the 58th Venice Biennale. It has since been exhibited at Memoire de l’avenir in Paris, FR, and will soon move on to Morocco, and New York.

« Where the Land Meets the Water is a collection of video portraits of the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, its stories, its people, and its changing landscape. Grounded in community conversation, historical research, and the exploration of local folklore narratives, the project aims to re-imagine and renew possibilities for sharing oral histories and generational legacies.

During this proposed residency at the Maison d’Ariane, I will discover community and history through research and relationship building with communities surrounding Les Jardins Métis and the Métis River. Through a series of storytelling workshops, I will work in collaboration with the area’s inhabitants to develop an archive of oral histories that center the land, it’s history, and the communities relationships to it. We will do so while incorporating local folklore, the narratives that have emerged from it, as well as centering the experience of witnessing environmental change.

I aim to collect stories from ~ 20 local participants to create approximately five video portraits. I will invite my collaborators to participate in the language they feel most comfortable, and am confident in my ability to facilitate this project in French and English, my two spoken languages. I will use my personal sound recording equipment and editing software to do so, and will rent a camera in preparation of the residency.

Where the Land Meets the Water will also incorporate audio portraits of the area. During my time at Maison d’Ariane, I will explore my surroundings and record its sounds and daily expressions. À travers les municipalités, les plages et les jardins, je m’efforcerai de capturer les mots qu’ils expriment. These field recordings will be developed into soundscape compositions and featured as both background and ambient noise for the video portraits, creating a soundscape portrait to accompany the stories of the land and its surrounding. “Where the Land Meets the Water” endeavors to cast a recuperative gesture toward the narrative element of human geography and offers an alternative perspective on portraiture and landscape art.

I am currently developing an audio artwork series titled On Interdependence as Audio Storyteller in Residence for CJLO, one of Montreal’s community radio stations. The project uses sounds, stories, history, and music to explore different perspectives on and threats posed by the climate crisis in Montreal. Each piece features a humanistic portrait of the city, its surroundings, and the lives that occupy it. Taking shape as narrative based vignettes, the work is created through archival and historical research; interviews with community members; and musical scores by musicians from the Montreal community. In weaving together the historical, cultural, and personal, On Interdependence fosters empathetic experiences that illustrate the urgency of the climate emergency and how Montreal specifically is implicated.

I will take a similarly localized approach to the storytelling in Where the Land Meets the Water”, one that centers person first storytelling to contextualize how our landscapes affect us, and how we affect our landscapes.

In its finality, Where the Land Meets the Water will result in portraits of the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, it’s inhabitants, and it’s rich cultural memory. Resulting from the focused work of the residency, I expect to establish a more informed framework for collaboration and exchange. My art practice has always been a site to explore storytelling as a vehicle for understanding. I would use this opportunity to deepen my approach to community collaboration, and create a more nuanced approach to working across cultures, generations, and demographics. »