Video Still from Dejavu (2018) by Atefeh Khademolreza. Image courtesy of the artist.

Distant Intimacies | Screening & Conversation with Jackie Wang, Robyn Maynard, Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land, Kristin Li and Aliya Pabani | Wednesday, May 27, 2020 | 5 PM CST

Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art | 1, 460 Portage Ave | Winnipeg MB | Canada

On Wednesday, May 27th at 5pm CST, Plug In is excited to present Distant Intimacies, an online screening curated by Kristin Li, followed by a discussion with Jackie Wang, Robyn Maynard, Kristin Li, Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land and Aliya Pabani. The program takes up the digital in the context of isolation, social distancing, and remote engagement. Some of us are safe, working from home, or using this time of quarantine to slow down and take a break, recalibrate, and process what is going on as change is the only constant. Yet, the pandemic continues to expose existing social and racial disparities, impacting those who are most vulnerable from essential workers to migrant labourers to those who are still incarcerated. Under these circumstances, digital technologies and infrastructures are taking on new meaning as they enhance policing, surveillance, and further criminalization.

The videos in this program are tentative gestures of reaching across borders, screens, and prison walls. They capture the many ways that contemporary systems divide and isolate, yet, nonetheless, dreams of connection materialize into faint contours.

This discussion is available in our online video archive.

the coyotes must see the moon… (2017), Midi Onodera
This project sets out to find “friends” for lonely videos. Each month I found and re-made videos with less than 20 views and then post them back to YouTube to see if I can increase the number of views (friends). the coyotes must see the moon… was composed of a YouTube video shot by Cee52Jay. Although I sent this person a YouTube message I did not get a reply, so I am not sure who this person is.

Eyes in the Sky (2017), Frédérick Belzile
Oceti Sakowin Camp – Standing Rock – Nov 2016.
The Indigenous Rising Drone flew away.”
Video made from a long take of drone footage and narration taken from a live feed and post on social media during the #NODAPL protest.

Dejavu (2018), Atefeh Khademolreza
An immigrant Kurdish family set to pack their belongings and return to their homeland find themselves trapped in a nightmarish circle of events.

Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Come To Me, Paradise) (2017), Stephanie Comilang
A science fiction documentary that uses the backdrop of Hong Kong and the various ways in which the Filipina migrant workers occupy Central on Sundays. The film uses Hong Kong’s dystopian maze like structures that the Filipina migrants re-imagine, and focuses on the beauty of care-giving while exploring how technology is used as a pivotal way for the women to connect—to each other but also to loved ones.

Free World Pens (2015), Nika Khanjani
Free World Pens is a film about family and solitary confinement. The film takes shape through letters from a man incarcerated in Texas, whose words echo in the mind of his sister as she walks freely through Montreal.

This video program was originally commissioned by Slut Island Festival in Montreal and premiered on July 21, 2019.

Speaker Bios

Kristin Li was born in Chengdu, China, and currently works in Montreal. As a filmmaker and multimedia artist, Kristin creates experimental narratives, animations, documentaries, and installations that explore contemporary formations of power. These projects recontextualize familiar stories, practices, and institutions to reveal the ways that they constrain us in spite of our intentions, and the hidden sites of possibility that we can nonetheless exploit. Kristin’s work has been shown globally, including screenings at Oberhausen (Germany), National Contemporary Art Museum Bucharest (Romania), MIX NYC (USA), Videoformes (France), Laceno d’Oro (Italy), and Galerie Leonard & Bina Ellen (Canada).

Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land holds a PhD in Sociology from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. She studies the politics of imprisonment, policing, and settler colonialism through their local expressions in Winnipeg and Manitoba. She is particularly interested in understanding how left-wing and liberal social welfare programming and criminal justice reforms may inadvertently strengthen carceral and colonial infrastructure. In this context, she is pursuing research about the impacts of union activism on carceral expansion; the uses of “community policing” and School Resource Officers (SROs) to expand police power and influence; and the ongoing policing of poverty and securitization of public spaces.

Robyn Maynard is the author of CBC national bestseller Policing Black Lives: State violence in Canada from slavery to the present (Fernwood 2017) which, among many other accolades, was shortlisted for an Atlantic Book Award, the Concordia University First Book Prize and the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction, and the winner of the 2017 Annual Errol Morris Book Prize. Maynard has a long history of involvement in community activism and advocacy. She is currently a PhD student and Vanier scholar at the University of Toronto and is working toward the completion of a new book manuscript.

Aliya Pabani is a Toronto-based artist and audio producer. She was host and co-producer of Canadaland’s arts and culture podcast, The Imposter, and her audio work has appeared on Falling Tree Productions’ Short Cuts for BBC 4, In the Dark, and NTS Radio. Her predominantly installation and performance-based art has been shown as part of Images Festival, Summerworks, the Toronto Biennial of Art and most recently in Resonant Bodies, an exhibition of sound-based works presented by Constellations. Her writing has appeared in Beside and C Magazine, and she’s a co-creator of POC in Audio; a searchable online database of hundreds of people of colour working in audio from around the world.

Jackie Wang is a poet, scholar, multimedia artist, and fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is the author of Carceral Capitalism (Semiotexte Press), a book on the racial, economic, political, legal, and technological dimensions of the US carceral state. She recently received her PhD from Harvard in African American Studies and in the fall will be Assistant Professor of Culture and Media Studies at The New School.

Artist Bios

Midi Onodera is a recipient of the 2018 Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts. She is a moving image artist who has been making work for 35+ years. She has produced over 25 independent shorts ranging from film to digital video to “low end” toy camera formats. In addition to this she created a theatrical feature film, Skin Deep (1995), and 500+ online videos. She currently teaches video at UTSC in the Department of Arts, Culture & Media.

Frédérick A. Belzile lives and works in Montréal. She makes videos introducing narratives of bizarre and impossible events exploring our relation to language and myths, simulation and the relation between sound and images. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally. 

Born in Iran in 1983, Atefeh Khademolreza’s work is concerned with the experience of disorientation both culturally and socially. She expresses herself within poetic and experimental cinematic traditions. She has made 16 short films and documentaries and they have been showcased and awarded in many festivals globally, including Berlinale, Vienna, and Bogota. She recently earned her MFA in Film Production from York University in Canada and currently working on her first feature film.

Stephanie Comilang divides her practice between Toronto and Berlin. Her documentary-based works create narratives that look at how our understandings of mobility, capital and labour on a global scale are shaped through various cultural and social factors. Her work has been shown at the Ghost:2561 Bangkok video and performance art triennale, SALTS Basel, UCLA, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Asia Art Archive in America (New York). She received her BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Nika Khanjani is a film and video artist and writer based in Montreal. Her work is marked by contrasting extremes and a patient sense of beauty. She combines landscape photography, subtle sound design, and portraiture to invoke internal states responsive to political and historical forces.

How to Support / Sources

Prairie Province Prisoner Support Fund


We are on Treaty 1 Territory. Plug In ICA is located on the territories of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

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