In order to adapt to the circumstances of the pandemic, the 2021 edition of the Montreal contemporary art festival is expanding in space and time. Press has learned that Underground Art will take place from February 20 to April 30, first on the internet and then in public spaces where 12 performances will take place.
“We could have postponed the festival, but we preferred to lengthen it and schedule it in two parts,” says Frédéric Loury, founder and general manager of Art Underground. There will be a virtual launch on February 20 with digital activities, often live. The physical component will take place from April 5 to 30, which will allow us to fully enter spring! ”
This year the Underground Art theme is Chronometry. He will explore the artistic gestures that evoke our relationship to time, a subject that could not be more topical while our days, our lives, our freedoms have not been the same since the start of the pandemic.
“Added to the news is the fact that the younger generations do not have the same approach to temporality,” says Frédéric Loury. Young Y and Z have a caring approach to themselves. They want to clearly separate welfare and obligation, which Generation X has never understood! ”
The selection of works of Underground Art – by curators Nathalie Bachand (Quebec) and Dulce Pinzon (Mexico) – was colored by the sanitary climate. Several have been carried out since the start of the pandemic and almost all of them have something to do with the situation, even if it is sometimes accidental.
Cecilia Jurado Chueca
This is the case with the work of Peruvian artist Cecilia Jurado Chueca who will present, in the spaces of the Palais des Congrès, We Are Night and Day / We are the night and the day. A large ceramic installation made for the festival.
The work evokes, through portholes, our “still journeys” since March 2020. Since many planes were grounded during the pandemic, most people were deprived of vacations abroad . Passengers’ windows have been symbolically replaced by computer screens … which allow you to get away from it all without having the scent of a real journey.
Pascale leblanc lavigne
Quebec artist Pascale LeBlanc Lavigne will present an in situ installation, Showcase, which also echoes the current crisis. The kinetic and robotic work will be displayed in a vacant store in Place Victoria (Tour de la Bourse).
“These are bottles of soap with sprayers and rags which vainly strive to clean the interior window of a business with articulated arms thanks to about fifteen motors”, says Frédéric Loury.
Over the weeks, the cleaning system seems to get tired. An evocation of planned obsolescence, but also of dysfunctions associated with time and our quest for perfection impossible to achieve.
Frédéric Loury, Founder and General Director of Underground Art about the work Showcase, by Pascale LeBlanc Lavigne
The work also suggests our condition of confined, deprived of shopping, whereas the windows of most “non-essential” businesses cannot invite us to enter. “This robotic machine which cleans in vain also represents our government,” says Frédéric Loury.
Caroline Monnet will also be part of Underground Art 2021 with her great work History shall speak for itself, commissioned by the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018. An interweaving, in vertical bands, of his photography Renaissance and archival images of stereotypical representations of Aboriginal women.
History shall speak for itself contrasts between proud, modern and rooted indigenous people and indigenous people of the past described as passive and submissive. A symbolic and major work, in phase with Chronometry, since it marks the beginnings of a new era with affirmed values of harmony and justice which will have to be integrated into acts of change.
Living art is also encouraged this year by Art Underground with a section of 12 performances and artists such as Chun Hua Catherine Dong, Léo Gaudreault, Francis O’Shaughnessy, Jeremy Saya, Laurence Beaudoin Morin and Mai Nguyen.
We wanted to create an interdisciplinary dialogue with living art filmed in confined spaces. When the festival is physical, people might stumble upon one of the performances. But they will also be broadcast on social networks, which will give them more influence.
Frédéric Loury, Founder and Managing Director of Underground Art
Many Quebec artists are therefore this year at Underground Art. More practical given the pandemic, but Frédéric Loury says that the festival also wanted to spoil Quebec visual artists who have been living through difficult times for nearly a year. They will therefore be more present in proportion than usual. The list of invited artists will be unveiled shortly.
The half-virtual, half-physical formula of this 2021 edition will however not be reproduced when the pandemic is behind us, says Frédéric Loury. “It requires significant resources, but this allows us this year to create an unprecedented and very diverse edition,” he says. An edition which, I hope, will make us think about our way, each of us, to make a difference. ”
> Visit the Underground Arts website