IN THE WORKS is a new online series that offers intimate glimpses into artistic processes and exhibition development. Artists currently immersed in conceptualizing and producing upcoming projects at the Koffler Gallery share insights and ponder critical moments of their work’s progress. They reflect on the internal drives and external factors that generate new directions, perspective shifts and deeper understandings in their ways of thinking and making.

nichola feldman-kiss

This week, the Koffler Gallery's new online series IN THE WORKS features Toronto artist nichola feldman-kiss sharing insights into her process of developing her Spring 2021 exhibition. Siren III is a new immersive video and 3D soundscape installation driven by experiential, local and international research on contemporary global migration and environmental concerns. 

At the edge of the Atlantic, Pouch Cove Foundation, NL July 2019

Siren (2018–) is among nichola feldman-kiss's continuing artworks concerning relative human value, contemporary nomadism and the celebration of arrival. 

Siren is a vocal collaboration unfolding with gratitude to Lodi Awad (Syria), Valerie Buhagiar (Matla / Canada), Blandine Kan (DR Congo), Memory Makuri (Zimbabwe), Ruth Mathiang (South Sudan), Leila Mosemi (Iran), Roula Said (Palestine / Canada), Mabinty Sylla (Guinea), Maryem Toller (Egypt / Canada).

Siren technical collaborators are Michelle Irving (sound designer), Canterbury Music Company (recording studio), Ocean Quest (underwater cinematography), Caroline Christie (editor), Adrienne Matheuszik (studio assistant). Siren has been generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council 2019 and 2020.


i would submit, lay bare to the wind on my skin the ground underfoot. bathe in awe. touch the earth. inhale the surf. breathe underwater. i would search out the siren the selkie the mermaid. play camera capture sound craft words. 

thank you, James Baird, for this opportunity to reflect on Pouch Cove.
nfk 13 February 2019



In the early days of Pouch Cove, I attended the exhibition opening of a former student and happened upon Daze Jefferies. Daze helped me to see merfolk mythology through fresh new lenses. Gratitude Daze.

A Hole So Big It Became The Sky
Coco Guzman & Daze Jefferies, with community participation
Eastern Edge Gallery July 6 – August 3, 2019


Siren I, 2018 – Kayama Boat Tour. Gratitude to ArtSpin Toronto, Valerie Buhagiar, Roula Said, Omneya Toller, Leila Moslemi

It is a particularly blue afternoon in August. The sun glistens atop the water. On a derelict coastal pier, a small group of women ululate in harmonious play set in the sonic shoreline. Their colourful plumes are whipped up in dance with the wind. A passing tall ship carries 225 seafarers who delight in the magical encounter. Electronic megaphones empower, amplify and direct her ululations into the ship. Grateful passengers vocalize in response. The ululations dissipate as the ship shrinks into the horizon.


(research notes) Looking for Siren III with Ocean Quest, Conception Bay, NL

Gratitude to Rick Stanley at Ocean Quest for connecting me with Sean Romanowski. We experimented with Siren III choreography and captured 4k sketch works. The water was 6º or 8º C. Sean did the cold work while I sat on a rock in the rain.

(research notes) Experiments with ululation, narrative improvisation and ambisonic recording. Gratitude to Ruth Mathiang.

(research notes) Experiments with ululation, narrative improvisation and ambisonic recording. Gratitude to Valerie Buhagiar.

(research notes) Experiments with ululation, narrative improvisation and ambisonic recording. Gratitude to Leila Moslemi.

A siren is a mythological coastal bird/woman who, like the mermaid, is known to seafaring folk for her beguiling beauty and mesmerizing call. Her song is an exquisite beacon and a spellbinding lure.

Siren is conceived as Welcome – a collective sonic embrace celebrating our return to, and delivery from, common waters. Siren honors the urgent will to survival through tenacious journeys into unknown futures while invoking ambivalent emotions associated with grand passages and existential transitions.

Siren harmonics arise from sonic diversity among geo-specific vocalizations in polyphonic play. While this ancient vocal tradition has moved about Africa, the Middle East and diaspora over millennia of nomadic passages, certain sonic innovations to ululation are uniquely possible within polycultural contexts such as Toronto.

Sketch for Siren III, 2019

An underwater camera choreography is captured under the Atlantic Ocean. No body is present – just the camera’s intimate dance with the ocean’s turbulent membrane. An iceberg passes. The sequence invokes at once, a drowning, an ascension and a birth. Ululations perform witness to the underwater scene. Gratitude to Sean Romanowski, Laurie Kwasnik and Michelle Irving.

-- nichola feldman-kiss

nichola feldman-kiss is a first-generation Canadian artist of Caribbean, African, European and Jewish heritage. The artist's practice is a performative and relational exploration of body and embodiment, statelessness and belonging, identity and autobiography, witness and traumatic memory, empathy and collectivity. feldman-kiss’s hybrid media installations – pristine as laboratory craft – critique the colonial paradigm – the violent ingestion of land, resources, peoples and cultures and ask us to reconsider the hard questions about being conscious social bodies among the tattered boundaries of globalization. Her art and technology innovations and institutional interventions have been hosted by the National Research Council of Canada, the Ottawa Hospital Eye Institute, the Department of National Defence and the United Nations, among others. feldman-kiss has consulted on the development of Canadian new media art research policy since 2001. The artist holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, and currently lives and works in Toronto.

Learn more about nichola feldman-kiss' work and upcoming Koffler Gallery exhibition.
Koffler family FoundationCIBC Wood GundyOntario Arts Council | Conseil Des Arts De L'OntarioToronto Arts Council | Funded by the City of TorontoCanada Council