New exhibition part of 375th anniversary celebrations highlights love in all forms
Uplifting is the word that comes to mind when walking into the Montreal in Love: Embracing Diversity exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). The walls are covered with pictures of happy couples and families smiling, laughing and spending time together.
Aside from the feelings of happiness and love that come through the portraits, the other common element between all of these different couples and families is that they are all interracial.
During her inauguration speech, Marie-Christine Ladouceur, the project manager for Montreal In Love, said she wanted to represent the city’s diversity in the most authentic way—and what better way than with the people who embody this diversity. “Talking about diversity through love is a language that everyone can understand,” said Ladouceur.
The exhibition is part of a series of year-long festivities currently taking place to celebrate Montreal’s 375th anniversary. The goal of the exhibition is to showcase the unique social diversity present in Montreal.
The exhibition features 30 couples and families who were photographed in locations they thought represented them well, such as at home or outside. Some video installations also offer a more in-depth look at their relationships. Very short written excerpts from interviews accompany the photos to give a snapshot into life for these interracial and interreligious couples, exploring the challenges they face and how they overcome these challenges.
For one couple, Youssef Shoufan and Manu Alix, being part of this project gave them a chance to look at their relationship through a different lens. When initially approached for the project, Shoufan did not see the relevance of showcasing interracial love, as it was part of everyday life for him. Only after being involved in the project and encountering other interracial couples did he come to understand the importance of talking about this unique type of relationship.
For Alix, who was born in South Korea and adopted by a Québécois family, the interview portion of the project allowed her to rethink what being in an intercultural relationship means to her, as well as rethink her ties to her own culture. “It allowed me to crystallize my identity in the sense that, I grew up outside of Montreal and I thought I was white when I was younger… Arriving to Montreal meant for me to reconcile myself with another part of my identity… one that is being part of a visible minority, of diversity,” says Alix.
Montreal in Love also allowed Montreal photographers Jacques Nadeau and Mikaël Theimer to get up close and personal with the featured couples and families. The two photographers witnessed intimate moments shared between people, and, according to Theimer, that’s what he loves about photography. “It’s not photography that I love, it’s the places where my camera allows me to enter that I love—in the intimacy of a couple, in private events, behind the curtains at a show, in the hospital,” said Theimer.
While the exhibition shines a light on the everyday life of many Montrealers, Alix said, “I dream of the day where we won’t need projects like these to underline the importance or the beauty of diversity.”
Montreal in Love runs at the MMFA until Feb. 19.