Each week, What's Online features a curated selection of Koffler.Digital artist projects and publications, Koffler Gallery exhibitions and online gallery publications, features on recent community-engaged programs, as well as podcasts of past Books & Ideas events, talks and discussions.

This week, the Koffler joins JIAS Toronto, Canada’s only Jewish agency dedicated solely to the settlement of immigrants and refugees, in the presentation of the panel discussion Artists Discuss Creativity & Crisis. We have invited a dynamic group of artists to share their perspectives, both through the lens of their immigration journey and in relation to the new and difficult challenges posed by the COVID-19 era of social isolation.

Leading up to the live online panel this Thursday, May 28 at 12 PM, we invite you to explore the artistic practices of our three guest speakers: 2Fik, Ximena Huizi, and Igor Portnoi.

Visit our Instagram page to see more photos from each participating artist.



We are happy to (re)introduce a dear friend of the Koffler, an artist whose major solo exhibition, His and Other Stories, we were proud to present in spring 2017: 2Fik!

Born in Paris to a Berber Muslim family, 2Fik grew up in Morocco and then France, before moving to Montreal in 2003. His immigration experience compelled him to confront his relationship to gender, religion, politics and society – a process from which he derives much of his artistic inspiration. In most of his work, 2Fik takes on the roles of artistic director, photographer, stylist and model to capture himself portraying various characters he then edits into single, composite images. To read about 2Fik’s previous projects, head over to our Gallery Publications page and enjoy the digital catalogue documenting his past exhibition.

2Fik is currently in the midst of developing a new and ambitious trans-disciplinary project combining visual, digital and live artistic elements to examine the performance of the self on dating apps. Set to premier in 2021, Romance ain’t dead, 2Fik! pushes the limits of self-representation through photography, reflecting on the construction of one’s image and presence in virtual contexts. Creating and embodying 100 distinct characters, each accompanied by individual profiles and online activity, 2Fik underlines the tensions between virtuality and reality to reveal the paradoxical nature of the self-as-performance inherent to dating apps. To find out more, follow 2Fik on social media, or visit his website at 2fikornot2fik.com.

Image: 2Fik, His and Other Stories, 2017. 


Ximena Huizi

The Koffler had the pleasure of working with Ximena Huizi in the fall 2016 where they performed in our co-production of Like Mother, Like Daughter with Why Not Theatre. They also participated in the Koffler Gallery’s panel discussion, Yonder Perspectives: Inclusion Through Artistic Practices.

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Ximena is a theatre artist whose multidisciplinary work explores the complex issues of displacement, dualities and translations. In 2017, they directed a production of Nuestra Señora de las Nubes (written by Aristides Vargas) and approached the work as a way of investigating “stories about our home(s) in a way that doesn’t apologize for their language, their poetry, their magic.”

In Retrovisor-Perhaps (2017), Ximena created an immersive theatre experience; and Tell Me What It’s Called (2018) was an experiment in devised creation, presented as a part of Why Not Theatre’s Riser Project. Most recently, Ximena created Grappling With Emptiness (2020), a short video art piece commissioned by Convergence Theatre as part of their Covid Confessions series. Here Ximena received the anonymous audio of a woman sharing her experiences of emptiness and isolation, which she used as the track for a shadow object and video exploration. Watch the video here.

Image: Design Christine Urquhart, created/performed by Sandra Castillo, Ximena Huizi.


Igor Portnoi

Born in Siberia, Igor Portnoi is a graduate of the State Academy for Theatrical Arts in Moscow, where he performed the leading roles in the numerous musical theatre productions, including Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. In 1992, Igor made his new home in Canada. His Canadian credits include performances in The Phantom of The Opera in Vancouver and the workshop of the musical Ragtime in Toronto, in addition to appearances on the CBC.  He can be heard on the recording of Songs from the Musical Ragtime and two solo albums Russians on Broadway and Let’s get together.

Igor has spent much of his career performing internationally in classic musical theatre productions including Zorro, The Sound of Music, Mamma Mia and Beauty and the Beast, in Moscow and St. Petersburg. And in December of 2002, Igor received a Green Card from the US Government as recognition of his extraordinary talent. This unique international experience has given Igor the opportunity to perform in both English and in his mother tongue: “It’s interesting that I tend to lose my Russian accent when singing and performing lyrics in English. Music and lyrics are like another language entirely.”

Visit Igor's website at igor-portnoi.com.
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