Artist in Residence Julie Lassonde: A performance of Counterbalance

Julie Lassonde

This September 16th, Osgoode welcomes its 2014-15 artist in residence Julie Lassonde (LLM, LLB, BCL, BA Hons), founder of the first Francophone women shelter in Toronto, to Gowlings Hall for her performance of Counterbalance from 12:30pm to 1:00pm. A second performance will be held on September 20th form 3pm to 3:30pm. In advance of her anticipated performance, I took the opportunity to interview her about her upcoming project:

SR: [We] would be interested in knowing how you view the intersect between the law and the arts, specifically how this has played out in your career.

JL: I see the arts as providing space for reflection and contemplation through various forms that touch us at esthetic, emotional and intellectual levels. Law, for me, is an attempt at organizing our relationships to cohabit and achieve socio-political goals. One process impacts the other and each discipline can learn from the other. I am particularly interested in how non verbal communication and embodiment reinforce or shift the law.

SR: What led you to become interested in the artist in residence program?

JL: I thought it would be a great opportunity to engage with a community that values both art and law, as well as inquiries into their intersections.

SR: Any thoughts you might have about your time spent developing your Counterbalance project as the artist in residence at Osgoode?

JL: I am grateful for the opportunity that Osgoode provided me to exercise freedom of artistic expression, which is very similar to academic freedom. I think it is crucial that institutions such as Osgoode preserve these fundamental rights and allow for opportunities to put them in practice through funded programs and positions.

SR: How do you think legal education could further benefit from engagement with the arts?

JL: I believe that legal education should provide students with opportunities to discover different approaches to creating, understanding and practicing law. Context is crucial to law. Many artists have produced work that engages with law. Faculty and students can learn both from artists’ perspectives on law and from methodologies used by artists, such as representing ideas in various forms. The workshops I gave to Osgoode faculty and students during my residency made me realize that we still have a lot to learn from non-verbal interactions and from getting outside our comfort zones in our interactions as we engage with law.

The abstract of Ms. Lassonde’s LLM project includes the statement that she “will argue that embodied performance practices can be used to explore how law is transformed in daily life through physical acts.” A portion of Ms. Lassonde’s LLM project was published in the article: Julie Lassonde, “Performing Law” (2006) 1:1 The International Journal of the Arts in Society 151-158.

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