After 12 years of growth, Concordia’s Art Matters festival has broken out of the hallways, past the downtown campus, and into galleries all over the city. Over 120 Montreal-based artists are going to be showing off their pieces during the two-week festival that kicks off this Friday.
The festival has now expanded to various boroughs and one of the first things the Art Matters team did for this year’s edition was secure venues. This led to the festival spreading out over St-Henri, downtown, the Plateau and the Mile End.
“We have an apartment gallery, and one show is happening in the back of a truck,” mentioned the festival’s outreach coordinator, Vivien Leung.
Not much is known about this event, called Vehicular Commodities, other than that the truck will appear, and that wine and cheese will be served when it does. Leung explained that artists “sometimes want to be a bit more down-low about [their project,] which is part of the whole feel of what they’re trying to create, so that’s why sometimes there’s less information.”
For the first time, Art Matters will have an open house weekend starting Friday, March 9. There will be events and artist talks all over the city. Leung said the idea for the open house is to encourage people to see multiple shows in one day. “Each show on top of the open house will have their own vernissage,” Leung added.
Another first for this year is a speaker series called Art of Survival, happening on Sunday, March 4. It will feature artists from different backgrounds talking about how to make it in the ever-changing art industry.
During its two week run, the festival will feature a variety of exhibits, such as My Pregnant Pre-Teen Birthday Vacation with Dad (curated by Nafisa Kaptownwala), a show about transitioning from one age group to another and how time can change our view of past experiences. Kaptownwala described her show as “art being able to encompass a moment visually.” She also said “I want the audience to feel like they’re walking into someone’s space, like they’re understanding their life […] but also just for people to relate.”
In another exhibit, an artist has contributed portraits of all the men she’s had relationships with in the past year—drawn in lipstick. It makes the show not only about memories, but according to Leung, “very tongue-in-cheek.”
A show called Three Times (3 X 7 X 52 X y), curated by Zoë Wonfor, will have free food every night. “[Wonfor] really wants to create this warm, almost dinner-table atmosphere,” Leung said,
Wonfor, who spent 18 hours looking through artwork before deciding what she wanted to include in Three Times, said, “I feel extremely fortunate to have selected the artists I have and couldn’t be happier with the ultimate direction of my show. […] I want people to come hungry, and to leave satiated.”
On March 11, in the Mile End, curator Aditi Ohri will take people through a series of artists talks and neighborhood tours in the exhibition walking tour, Ohri will take people through public and retail spaces in the area—such as vintage shops, cafés and bookstores.
The Art Matters festival seeks to give students the kind of real-world experience that they won’t get in a classroom—and it’s more than just fine arts students who have benefited. “We’ll sometimes call out, for instance, to the creative writing program which is part of Arts and Science. And one of our executives this year is a JMSB student. We’re not just fine arts,” said Leung.
Art Matters will kick everything off with an opening party at The Darling Foundry (745 Ottawa St.) on Friday, March 2. It’s open to everyone and will feature local bands, art installations and dancing under the glow of video projections.
Art Matters runs from March 2 to 16. Exhibitions are free. Opening night party is $6 in advance, and $10 at the door.For more information, visit http://artmattersfestival.org or @ArtMattersFest on Twitter.