Vanitas Cafe: A Vanitas Portrait Workshop & Discussion

Exploring Queer & Trans Perspectives on Death, Rot & Decay

“Mesmerized by the accident on the highway.
Smell this, I think it’s off.
Our kinaesthetic & sensual relationship to death, rot, mould & decomposition it is well documented. Please join MKK for an afternoon Vanitas still life drawing studio session and death café where we will be focusing our conversation specifically on death and decay from a queer and trans lens.
Allies welcome!”

Join Artscape Gibraltar Point for our third program installment as part of the Winter Island 2020 Artist-In-Residence.

This particular event will bring participants together to create their own vanitas portrait, listen to an artist talk by host Mikiki/MKK and explore their own perspectives on mortality through the popular “death cafe” format.

What is a Vanitas Portrait?

Vanitas painting is a generic form of still life painting that emerged in the Middle Ages where objects are assembled to symbolize both the transitory nature of life, the inevitability of death and futility of pursuing earthly pleasures. The form reached its apogee in the 16th and 17th centuries in Netherlandish painting. As such a vanitas portrait includes objects drawn from a particular individual’s life, that they or the artist have chosen to represent.

All drawing materials provided. Participants should plan to bring with them 2-3 personal objects or photographs of objects they wish to draw from.

What is a Death Cafe?

Exactly what it sounds like. A casual gathering where people come together over snacks and light refreshment to discuss death, honestly and openly.

The Death Cafe movement has a long and interesting history which you can read more about here:

Who is Mikiki?

Mikiki is a performance and video artist and queer community health activist of Acadian/Mi’kmaq and Irish descent from Newfoundland, Canada. They attended NSCAD and Concordia before returning to St. John’s to work as Programming Coordinator at Eastern Edge Gallery. They later moved to Calgary to work as the Director of TRUCK Gallery. Their work has been presented throughout Canada and internationally in self-produced interventions, artist-run centres and public galleries. Their identity as an artist is informed and intrinsically linked to their history of work as a sexual health educator and harm reduction worker. Mikiki’s creative themes often address safe­r sex negotiations, identity construction, attitudes about drug use, disclosure of sexual identity and health status, community building through skills sharing, testimonial and story­telling. Mikiki has worked as a Sexuality Educator in Calgary’s public schools, a Bathhouse Attendant in Saskatoon, Drag Queen Karaoke Hostess in St. John’s. Mikiki has worked in various capacities in the Gay Men’s Health and HIV response in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, recently focusing on Harm Reduction outreach & organizational capacity building and HIV testing. Mikiki is now dedicated to their practice full time when not hosting their weekly Golden Girls screening and queer cultural studies lecture series Rose Beef.

How Do I Participate:

Please register for the event


Transportation from the Ward’s island Docks will be at 12:45 (Please be on the 12:30PM Ferry departing the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal). Look out for the big blue bus!
Return transportation will take place at 3:30PM for the 3:45 Ferry to the City.

Snack & Light Refreshments Provided.