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Unlike the hippopotamus, a bird

Program length: 1:22:25 min

The following running times are for the above pre-sequenced video of short works:

  • 00:00:18 : “Cheap Pints at Memory Palace”, Violet Pask, 2022
  • 00:6:10 : “Dear Hiring Committee”, Camille-Zoé Valcourt-Synnott, 2022
  • 00:36:47 : ”Hands”, Rebecca Wolfe, 2022
  • 00:46:42 : “Now I Have Pomegranates”, Steph Rybcyzn, 2022
  • 01:12:09 : “Light Castings”, Rachel Bruch, 2022
  • 01:16:24 : “THRESHELD”, Kit Holden-Ada, 2022
A still of a table and chairs in front of projections of lips and grass.

"Unlike the hippopotamus, a bird":
A screening

Presented by Centre For Art Tapes

Unlike the hippopotamus, a bird

Presented by Centre for Art Tapes

The hippopotamus and the oxpecker bird are in a mutualistic relationship. The hippopotamus likes to spend time with the oxpecker because they eat the pestering insects on their skin’s surface. The oxpecker likes to hang out with the hippopotamus to keep them fed, and enjoys the ease of life with their protection. The two offer each other something. In good friendship, in good care, and in good business.

Though, at times it can be complicated. The oxpecker has been known to dig at the flesh of the hippopotamus – a deliberate invitation for the oxpecker’s food source to embed into the incisions. In the wake of this action, the hippopotamus has weighed out its options, “maybe there are some prices to pay to be in this thing with the oxpecker”. Ultimately they continue on in their oppositional forms, a surprising  and charming seismic and slight duo. Unlike the hippopotamus, a bird may not be able to live without it. But maybe it isn’t that simple. Perhaps there is a balance to this relationship, a give and take.

"Unlike the hippopotamus, a bird" may not be able to live without it. But maybe it isn’t that simple. Perhaps there is a balance to this relationship, a give and take.

In a variety of ways, the videos are guided by relationships and their complexities too: the familial, the ancestral, the professional, the romantic, the generational.

While all the pieces are strikingly different, there are meaningful exchanges that happen in these bodies of work. Collectively, there is a balancing act at play. The ordinary and the uncanny, the theatrical and the monotonous, the comedic and somber, the poetic and frank intertwine with one and other.

Over the past 8 months, artists Kit Holden-Ada, Violet Pask, Steph Rybczyn, Rebecca Wolfe, Rachel Bruch and Camille-Zoé Valcourt-Synnott have attended intensive workshops, mentorship and critiques that have led to the creation of six complex video works considering these connections and misalignments.

Like the hippopotamus and a bird, they are entangled into an intricate set of relations.The artists respond to these coilings, carefully and contemplative, defined by the weavings of technological representation.

- Riss Sean Cruz
Exhibition Coordinator (CFAT)


While all the pieces are strikingly different, there are meaningful exchanges that happen in these bodies of work.
A white person in a white shirt fixes their red lipstick

Still image from "Hands", Rebecca Wolfe, 2022


Camille-Zoé Valcourt-Synnott

Camille-Zoé Valcourt-Synnott (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist from Quebec (QC), now based in Dartmouth/Halifax (NS). She graduated with a BFA from Concordia University in 2018 and an MFA from NSCAD University in 2020. Her performances reflect on the value of the artist’s work, perceptions of productivity and where life and art meet. Referencing everyday tasks, (non)remunerated work and invisible labor, her practice points to the flaws already present within the arts but that are, too often, not acknowledged. She is interested in the intersections between labor, gender and class dynamics, and how they all play a part in making certain audiences feel welcome in different art spaces. Her performance and text-based work has been shown in artist-run centers and galleries across Canada. In 2020-2021, she held a grant writing position with Forest City Gallery (London, ON) as both a year-long performance and employment position created by conceptual artist Joshua Schwebel. She has recently received financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts to complete training in curation with the Node Center (Berlin, DE). She currently works at the Dalhousie Art Gallery and is one of the Media Art Scholars at the Center for Art Tapes (CFAT).


Violet Pask

Violet Pask is an aspiring writer with an interest in media arts. She has a particular interest in psychoanalysis, sound, and adaptation, but is mostly inspired by communal work and learning from those around her.

Kit Holden-Ada 

Kit Holden-Ada is a prairie-born multidisciplinary settler artist and craftsperson based in Kjiputktuk, Mi’kma’ki (Halifax, NS).  They studied as an interdisciplinary artist (ceramics/sound metalsmithing) at NSCAD University and have been producing a line of jewellery work, Fervour’s Own Jewellery, since 2011. They appreciate working in close relationship with the body and the elements and consider hand making an embodiment practice.  Kit maintains slow engagement with movement, sound art, and installation-based work centering curious explorations of (queer)relationality, practice and play. They write poetry on the sly and keep starting to learn the drums.

Rachel Bruch

Rachel Bruch is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, painter and aspiring filmmaker based in K’jipuktuk (Halifax). Her solo project Blue Lobelia, is a blend of classical and indie-folk influence that features looping, violin, voice and guitar. Under this name she has released two full-length albums Perennial (2016) and Beneath all Bloom (2019). In 2021 Rachel composed and performed arrangements of Folk songs & Broadside Ballads from the Helen Creighton Collection for release under Big Turnip Records. Her first work in digital filmmaking was a music video for her song, Holding on must always lead to letting go (2021). Rachel’s art is deeply informed by her work as a mother and as a music therapist in dementia and end-of-life care. Her creative practice explores personal reactions to and reflections on vulnerability, love and resilience in the face of loss and suffering.


Steph Rybczyn

Steph Rybczyn is a human person who inhabits various little corners of K’jipuktuk (Halifax) with her various two legged, four legged, finned, winged, and leafy pals. Her work is very whimsical, and nearly always informed by the grief and precarity of having a body at all, let alone staying in it! Never certain if her own memories are fact or fabrication, she functions from a place of “who-knows”. A good story is always welcome: She believes that all objects have secret lives that can be witnessed if you ask right. That witnessing, that silently sensing a happening, is sacred and is a most important practice in the new relationship structures needed to get out of this mess. She likes to sing secret songs to the inhabitants of her personal ecosystems, which sometimes looks like decorating the plants and building experimental cat toys out of toilet paper tubes.


Rebecca Wolfe

Rebecca Wolfe (she/her) is an emerging multimedia theatre artist in Kjipuktuk/Halifax. She is an actor, dancer, producer, educator, writer and now video artist thanks to CFAT. Specializing in physical and devised theatre, she graduated from Humber College’s Theatre Performance Program in 2019. Currently she is developing a dance-theatre project with local choreographer and Media Arts Scholarship alumni, Anastasia Wiebe. She is the Artistic Producer of her company Alinea Theatre, which premiered her one act play, Penny at the Halifax Fringe. You can find her teaching across the HRM at places such as the MacPhee Centre for Learning, Leica Hardy School of Dance and Halifax Regional Arts. Rebecca has produced and worked behind the scenes with The Villains Theatre, HomeFirst Theatre and Live Art Dance. Her awards include the Lieutenant Governor Award of Nova Scotia for Excellence in the Arts, Theatre Nova Scotia Award and Eastern Front Theatre’s Ten-Minute Play Writing Contest. You can catch her acting on local TV shows including Diggstown, Trailer Park Boys, and Mr. D.

This program is presented by the Centre for Art Tapes (CFAT).

CFAT would like to thank their funder, the Canada Council for the Arts, the province of Nova Scotia and the Halifax Regional Municipality.


Additional support and mentorship provided by:

Nat Chantel
Lou Sheppard
Rena Thomas
Rajee P. Jejishergill
Becka Barker
Alex Turgeon

This curated program is part of the VUCAVU Expanded project.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.​