Montreal is known as a city of culture, so where is the newest and most challenging art created?
Housed in a brutalist post-industrial building that used to be home to a thriving textile trade are many of the city’s best artist-run centres: Centre Clark, Diagonale, Optica and Dazibao, Perte de Signal, Topo, Elektra, Circulaire. A block away at 5425 Casgrain, you’ll find Daphné, the first Indigenous artist-run centre in Quebec. The number of galleries and the coolness of the location on the eastern edge of the celebrated Mile-End district make this a must-see stop for those hoping to understand cultural Montreal.
Each gallery has its own mandate and style, so a trip to the area will almost always result in a wide assessment of contemporary art as practiced in the city. Artist-run centres were created as a direct response to the lack of opportunities and spaces for non-commercial (and typically) younger artists. Many of my favourite and the city’s most celebrated names in contemporary art – Caroline Monnet, Pascale Grandmaison, Manon de Pauw, Judith Berry – had their start (and often continue to show) in these spaces. My personal favourite of the galleries is Occurence, with its focus on contemporary photography.
Momenta Biennale is currently running (from September 7 to October 22), offering a unique perspective on the arts as practiced here today (and excellent parties).