The September Issue: Where to Get Art and Culture in Montreal this Fall

From inside the hazy, humid bubble of summer in Montreal, September seemed almost mythical and forever in the future. But someone turned the heat off quite abruptly after Labour Day and suddenly fall was at the doorstep.

September is always a busy and highly invigorating time for galleries and museums, as well as the people who frequent them in quest of new scenes, ideas, and creative fuel. There is a healthy outbreak of new and dynamic exhibitions across the city, heralded of course by the happy tradition of the vernissage (which for the rest of the free world means “art opening”). There is no shortage of these heady events with their open invitations and open bars this month and naturally we make it our business to attend as many as possible.  Of course, for those of us who consider things like semi-regular bathing, sleeping and feeding to be important, let alone have a job and/or go to school, the calendar of events can seem a little overwhelming.

It is hardly something to complain about—too many parties, too much art, and all the free libations (the horror)—but when it comes to actual exhibitions it can be difficult to know where to start. Below is a mere smattering of what’s out there at the moment. Of course, we ourselves haven’t managed to see much yet, but from what we have, it seems safe to assert that the quality is very high, the energy is palpable, and there will be much to discuss in the coming months.

To our esteemed readers who do not call Montreal home, we ask you to please bear with us and of course we invite you to share a list of recommendations for your own cities and towns in the comments.

This year’s Mois de la Photo promises some compelling and timely meditations on the theme, Drones. The exhibition sites are too numerous to list here but we urge you to do some reconnaissance yourself.

The vernissage at the Darling Foundry on Sept. 5 was great fun. It felt like a block party, with the street closed off to cars, nourishment and inspiration provided by the city’s only recently unleashed food trucks and cheerfully dispensed free beer. The cavernous space inside is phenomenal and features work from local and international artists, with new and emerging talents exhibited alongside well-known names like Mona Hatoum and Thomas Ruff.

There were eleven vernissages at the Belgo Building over the weekend with plenty of great work to see. Here are a few highlights:

At Galerie Nicholas Robert, Joe Lima’s Singularity consists of striking woodcuts against a flawless black ground. The large work, appearing to depict a historical scene inside a factory, takes up an entire wall. Look closely, it’s not all what it seems to be… (Sept. 7 to Oct. 12)

Galerie Hugues Charbonneau (#308) is showing Benoit Arquin’s photographic series La chasse. The large, beautifully composed and textured photographs of hunting culture give us a certain kind of nature mort in a literal sense. Some of the pictures can be rather disturbing but also remain weirdly graceful and disconcertingly beautiful: a moose suspended upside down from a branch; three bird hunters in a vast landscape, their rifles pointed in tandem at the sky, and a blurry form falling away from its flock in flight. (Sept. 7- Oct. 12)

At Galerie Donald Browne, Sorel Cohen continues her exploration of early serial photography, movement and capture in After Bacon/Muybridge. The black and white analogue photographs, comprising the entire filmstrip, show the arrested motion of two wrestlers in often blurred, surprising and elegant formations.

Galerie Trois Points (#372) presents Anne-Renée Hotte’s newest video and photographic meditation on the cycles of family, nature and the ties that bind. (Sept. 7- Oct. 5).

Joyce Yahouda Gallery presents Sylvia Safdie’s poetic and beautiful Amzou/Morocco, a video and photographic installation that takes the connection between land and history, displacement and transformation as its subject in Morocco. There will be a reception with the artist in attendance on Sept 12, 5-7:30pm. (Aug.22-Oct.5)

Pierre-Francois Ouellette Contemporain is currently showing Alexandre Castonguay’s inquiries into the relationships between code, mechanics and the mediated human user. You can even do your own AGIT P.O.V., it has to do with a microhack program, bicycles, Russian avant-garde propaganda tactics and something called LadyAda. Expect a well-curated and presented exhibition.

Watch for: pfoac221, the project gallery down the hall from Pierre-Francois Ouellette Contemporain, is hosting Genevieve & Mathieu. The multimedia duo sashays into town on Sept. 21, for a 5 à 7 performance. If the promo image alone doesn’t grab you, we need to talk.

Arsenal’s website continues to coyly refuse giving written information about its current exhibition, Constellation, but the images promise a pretty sublime experience of large-scale sculpture and installation works taking over the open expanse of building’s stunning interior.

Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran set up shop in the gentrifying warehouse district of Griffintown in 2012, joining Arsenal and the Darling Foundry as another pivotal player in the area’s burgeoning cultural scene. We will certainly be making our way there to see Montreal-based artist Jacynthe Carrier’s video and photographic work Les Eux, as well as Jon Rafman’s video piece Remember Carthage (both Aug. 28 – Oct 5). Ertaskiran’s satellite gallery, GAE Projects (in the Belgo building, 5th floor) is showing more of Rafman’s work: A Man Digging/ is a small series of well-executed digital images that wittily solder iconic painting from the past (Kandinksy, Warhol) with emblems of everyday life (a subway), television (Jeopardy) and post-colonial kitsch. A post-apocalyptic (but sunny) Second Life video of Rio rounds out the cynical but polished blend of cultural references. (Until Sept. 28).

Galerie l’UQAM is currently showing well-known Italian artist Dontella Landi’s multi-media exhibition, Les résonnances de l’image, curated by Louise Déry. It sounds like an intense polysensory, even psychokinetic, kind of experience that continues Landi’s line of enquiry into species and the ethics of co-existence, tolerance and desire. There is also a graduating Master’s in Visual and Media project on view, Mélanie Martin’s weightily titled, Can I stop being worried now? (Until Oct 19)

The FOFA Gallery is exhibiting a group show. There is, just to sweeten the deal, a vernissage of Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings this Thursday, Sept 12 from 5-7pm. The work is being facilitated by Anthony Sansotta, who will be giving a tour that same day from 4-5pm. (Until Oct 25)

The Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery  at Concordia continues its tradition of critically and conceptually addressing the historical and contemporary politics of art production and curatorial practice in Anarchism without Adjectives: On the Work of Christopher D’Arcangelo 1975-1979. The show promises to be an intellectual investigation into the social conditions and consequences of art and its institutionalization.

This list is by no means complete, but it’s a start. Happy trails!

Natalie Zayne Bussey and Reilley Bishop-Stall

© Passenger Art