The search for truth in a digital age

Art Souterrain considers honesty, technology and accessibility

Annual Montreal contemporary arts festival Art Souterrain is gearing up for its 11th edition, with this year’s theme being True Or False. Considering the relationship between the digital world and easy access to information, the festival is focused on looking at how that influences a navigation of the truth. In its opening statement on the festival and this year’s theme, Art Souterrain considers that: “Indeed, art is, in essence, an illusion of reality, a way of, in turn, representing, denying and questioning.”

This year, Art Souterrain

Head in the Sand by Brendon George Ko

will be taking place from March 2 to 24, hosting a large number of varied activities and featuring a mixture of both local and international artists, in various locations across the city. The underground passages across the city will be a central location for many of the events, which includes the launch of the exhibition during Nuit Blanche, on March 2. A central focus of the festival this year is accessibility and diversity, by including more activities for families and children, along with a more diversified itinerary overall.

The festival is free, which plays into its focus on greater accessibility. The events are all held in public spaces, such as the underground tunnels, and Cinema du Parc, and the Cultural Institute of Mexico in Montreal. While art galleries around the city will also be hosting these events (including Concordia University’s VAV Gallery), the use of public and untraditional art spaces aims to challenge traditional structures of viewing and interacting with art, as well as some of the exclusivity that can often be present in these environments.

Stuffed Kitsch, Florence Yee.

The festival includes Concordia alum and multimedia artist Florence Yee’s exhibition, Stuffed Kitsch, which will be showing at Complexe Guy-Favreau, from March 2. Stuffed Kitsch consists of fleece objects, with polyester stuffing, appearing as blue and white porcelain ceramics. The work navigates the nuances and histories behind these objects, in the context of 17th century relations between European consumers and East Asian aesthetics. Diaspora, truth and falsity are considered through Yee’s work.

6 Times Cameras Caught Molly Soda Off Guard is another exhibition that is showing during Art Souterrain, also at Complexe Guy-Favreau. The artist behind this work is Molly Soda, a visual and performance artist from Puerto Rico, based in the United States. Soda’s work is often online only, and explores themes of identity and connection, along with online culture. Social media platforms are often the medium that she translates these focuses through, creating work that promotes cyberfeminism using the digital to navigate humanity and human feelings.

Some of the other events include a tour of the underground tunnels, and family friendly events that encourage participants and viewers to also create art. On Saturday, March 9, a guided tour titled At The Edge Of Reality brings participants along three different thematic routes of Montreal’s underground tunnels. The event provides participants with greater knowledge of these tunnels, through sharing information about their structure and purpose.

As part of the family focus of Art Souterrain, the festival will be offering a special drawing workshop, in collaboration with the Place Ville Marie Observatory. On Wednesday, March 6, families will be able to draw and create a piece of art inspired by Alexander Pilis, whose work will be displayed in the observatory.

Pilis is an artist based in both Montreal and São Paulo, Brazil. His work considers the Architecture Parallax, which challenges ideas of vision as the only, and complete, verification of reality. Through this, Pilis has created a multimedia project that navigates the complexities of architecture, concepts of reality, and sight and vision.

Adding to the unique take on this workshop held in the observatory, Pilis will also be present for the event, along with an animator to help facilitate the event. The location of the event will provide participants with a stunning panorama view, connecting specific aspects, such as vision and view, architecture, and interaction with art.

Over the first three weeks of March, True Or False will be pushing traditional art-viewing boundaries and sharing a diverse range of activities and events with Montreal. Showcasing different mediums, different themes, and different locations, there is something for everyone, when considering the ever-present ideas of truth in a digital age. To find out more about Art Souterrain and this year’s events, visit their website:

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