Repérages or À la découverte de notre monde or Sans titre is a multi-titled exhibition presented as part of the curatorial research residency Scènes de la vie quotidienne à Montréal (on belonging and the politics of belonging)[i]. The following questions served as a framework for the residency’s activities: migration, belonging, alienation and issues faced by cities with diverse immigrant populations. The exhibition constitutes a new stage in this research.
This exhibition considers what it means to inhabit a place through the concept of “belonging”. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of concepts that characterise the instability of our time. The goal of this exercise is to show how intellectuals and artists re-imagine specific characteristics of contemporary life: mobility, remoteness, belonging and marginalisation. The title Repérages is a reference to Émile Ollivier’s book[ii], which puts forward ideas about our current reality: globalisation, ethics, the right to intervene, migration, identity, and cultural pluralism.
As its starting point, the exhibition considers our contemporaneousness. Through the eyes of the participating artists, it seeks to shed light on art’s function as a tool for world knowledge, for discovering reality and experiencing time.
All forms of artistic expression convey a vision of the world. The art we practice is our way of entering the world, or rather, our way of inscribing onto the world what we encounter and experience. Art gives shape to our personal existence. In this unstable century, what can art offer as a practical model for “unconditional hospitality”[iii] while our current reality demands new meaning to belonging and dispossession? There is truth in what Roger-Pol Droit states:
“The many challenges in the days ahead will lie in the invention of coexistence, of an active plurality never before seen in history. This has nothing to do with the terrible tension of identity, introversion, and impoverishing divisions. […] We say this era is confused, complex, and that's obvious. It’s not impossible to say it's beautiful, for those who love new adventures.[iv]”
Could it be that only art is capable of arbitrating contemporary challenges, of defining our ways of inhabiting the world, of exploring the fundamentals of human existence and of inventing new forms of “co-existence”?
Beyond the new and existing work of the invited artists, the exhibition will also contain a reading and document resource space. Inspired by the residency’s various activities, Cécilia Bracmort and Olivia McGilchrist have created an interactive audio-visual work, a kind of meta-document that offers a glimpse into the many activities that occurred during the first phase of the residency.
Five workshops preceded the exhibition. Talk Show: Ce qui compte / What Counts questioned notions of citizenship, history, memory and the place of art in Montréal from a social point of view. Enstranging the City, led by Adeola Enigbokan in collaboration with Ronald Rose-Antoinette, dealt with the concept of “enstrangement”, a process through which strangeness is attributed to an ordinary object or situation.
Led by sociologist Myrlande Pierre and titled La diversification des populations dans les grands centres urbains : Défis et enjeux (The Diversification of populations in large urban centres: challenges and issues), this third workshop allowed a space for reflection on diversity management issues in public spaces, where relations between majority and minority groups are still marked by division. For its part, Maria Ezcurra’s Fitting dealt with ideas of belonging and indifference in relation to clothing and society’s consumer ideologies. In addition, Romeo Gongora helped us reflect on notions of intolerance through the creation of a cross-word puzzle based on the text “La menace d’intolérance”[v] (the threat of intolerance) dated 1973, which anticipated the recent debates on reasonable accommodation and the Charter of Quebec Values.
This exhibition gives shape to the initial research phase and presents itself as an accumulation of passages, a collection of moments or another way of thinking about the world in which we live. As Toni Morrison stated[vi]: “The destiny of the 21st century will be shaped by the possibility or collapse of a sharable world […]” and, most of all, because our world is of this kingdom.
[i] articule’s 2015 research residency for artists of colour
[ii] Émile Ollivier, Repérages, Montréal, Leméac Éditeur, 2001
[iii] Jacques Derrida, De quoi demain… dialogue avec Elisabeth Roudinesco, Paris, Édition Fayard/Galilée, 2001
[iv] Roger-Pol Droit, “Partout chez soi”, Le Monde, December 29, 2000
[v] Guy Rocher, Le Québec en mutation, Montréal, Les Éditions Hurtubise HMH Ltée, 1973
[vi] Toni Morrison, Étranger chez soi (The Foreigner’s Home), Paris, Christian Bourgois, editor, 2006 [freely retranslated to English].