Contrary to what many foreigners imagine, the underground network of Montreal does not offer much interest outside of its practical side to face the winter temperatures. A notable exception: the three weeks during which it hosts each year a giant free exhibition of contemporary art, at the beginning of spring. A great way to familiarize passers-by with today’s visual art and especially photography.
French Frédéric Loury, former gallerist, founded and directs the underground art festival, whose 11th edition opened on March 2, 2019 with a new theme: “The True False”. Taking visual art out of traditional exhibition spaces, the director’s ambition is to “provide high-quality works that often question social issues and more widely our era (…) to create a dialogue with the public” . Work, safety, rooting or “art must be seduced?” Are some of the themes that have been addressed by the festival since its inception.
The theme of this 2019 edition, “Le Vrai du Faux”, particularly inspired photographers, as Frédéric Loury tells us, who worked on this with Maude Arsenault, founder of the photographic art collective The Print Atelier. “The picture came out a lot in our research, because the image has never been so misleading as in our time,” says the director. We communicate with the image well beyond words (…). Photography has never been so present at our festival “.
Among the works on display is a series of black-and-white photographs of the American Eric Pickersgill. Photographing individuals on phones or tablets in different contexts, he removes these objects from the image, highlighting the transformation of our interactions and the absurdity of our daily postures. “Funny and destabilizing,” says Frederic Loury who does not hide his admiration for this extra gifted photographer.
The Austrian Reiner Riedler also plays to transform the image by sticking artificial environments on characters to create fake holiday photographs. The bluffing result, will be placed in a corridor much used in the underground network of Montreal. “People will just see holiday pictures! (…) If they really look, they will see the staging “, Frederic Loury jokes.
It is by the originality of his shots that the Japanese photographer Satoshi Fujiwara will bring his personal angle on the reality through his giant installations. His close-up portraits of subjects taken without their knowledge reveal grotesquely unsightly traits.
Also in Montreal are photos of the Frenchman Philippe Ramette, who stages himself in different postures and landscapes, always dressed in a black suit. “When you reverse some photographs, the reading becomes completely different,” says Frederic Loury. “This artistic work required a lot of mediation with the teams of the Palais des Congrès (editor’s note: where the photos will be exhibited), says the director, because for them there was a lot of anxiety that emerged from the photographs, this black suit representing, according to them, the worker, his isolation, depression and suicide “.
The festival will feature more than 15 photographers, including the American Holly Andres and British Sian Davey (who will be mirrored with their approach to domesticity) as well as Canadians Brendan George Ko and Bettina Hoffmann.
Underground network and 8 satellite locations in Montreal
March 2 to 24, 2019