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© Sophie Castonguay, Isegoria, 2011. Performance avec récitants | Performance with reciters. Avec l’aimable permission de l’artiste | Courtesy of the artist. Photo : Simon Gosselin.

Véronique Leblanc (commissaire|curator)
From April 18th 2015 to June 13th 2015

Opening, Saturday April 18 avril from 3PM to 7 PM

Anne-Marie Ouellet - Penser le futur - 3:30 pm
Sophie Castonguay - Isegoria - 4:30 pm

OPTICA will be exceptionally open until 9 PM on Friday April 24 during Foire Papier 15

Polyphonies is an exhibition that stages a plurality of voices while bringing together the work of eight artists including two duos. Whether based on documentary approaches (interviews, surveys) resembling anthropological field studies or revolving around the invention of fictional situations in which archives of various kinds are played out, the orchestration of speech in the artists’ propositions creates a disjunctive gap with the documented reality. They appropriate ways of telling stories (in past, present, and future tenses) to bring out issues in the ideological and identity-related constructions that take shape through speech.

The performative installation project Penser le futur (2013-2015) developed by Anne-Marie Ouellet (Québec) rearranges the results of a survey conducted among 187 people about their general views on the future. By manipulating the responses given her, Ouellet interrogates the mechanics of polarization and normalization that take effect in manufacturing public opinion.

Produced in collaboration with a small group of the regulars and personnel of a neighborhood bar, Québec artist Emmanuelle Léonard’s La taverne (2015) features a succession of individuals addressing the camera. Their preoccupations and opinions inscribe the expression of personal experience into the social life of the milieu while situating the protagonists between marginality and the stereotypical.

In the video Don’t Do It Wrong (2007), Katarina Zdjelar (Serbia/the Netherlands) examines the moment during which, every morning, schoolchildren sing the national anthem at the beginning of the day in an Istanbul primary school. While the pupils’ arrangement in rows suggests a “collective body” in which the individual is at one with the nation, the children’s behaviour is constantly fracturing the unity that is being imposed upon them.

The video installation The Negociation (2010), jointly produced by Kaya Behkalam (Germany/Egypt) and Azin Feizabadi (Iran/Germany), observes the conflictual relationships that develop between members of a group discussing their conceptions of revolution. In a dual projection, the actors’ voices alternate with the voice of a narrator while also interacting with visual and textual elements that influence the discussion. In a kind of narrative stratification, this work examines representation, the reinterpretation of recent history, and the development of an imaginative world.

With La part du lion (2015), Sophie Castonguay (Québec) convenes spectators to an unfolding, multivalent discourse set before a series of paintings created by her peers. Performed by a reciter and asserting the role of language in the very act of perception, the work places the visitor in a zone of uncertainty between a painted and a projected image, between the visible and the sayable, in short, between that which is present and the meaning created in a given situation.

Dinner Party (2011-2015), a participatory project by Dave Ball and Oliver Walker (United Kingdom/Germany), calls upon eight characters who’ve never met and who accept to take part in a “mediatized” discussion around a meal served by the artists. Four of the guests, concealed in various rooms, use phones and earpieces to animate the discussion of the other four, who are seated at the table in main room. Recreated in Montréal, April 15 to 22, 2015, the experience interrupts the usual modes of socialization by decoupling verbal and non-verbal forms of communication.

Built as polyphonic structures or using polyphony as a method, the works in the exhibition sound out the complexity of relationships between individuality and community. Each of the works establishes a discursive space in which personal conviction, belief, and individual experience encounter social and institutional spheres. From standardization to dissent, from subjection to self-determination, and especially in the constant negotiation between these extremes, the works all refer to the makeup of public and political spaces and to the conditions of possibility for living-together.

In accord with their polyphonic dimension, the exhibition proposes to envisage these works as so many “voices” from distinct social, political, and historical contexts, reverberating in one another and resonating with shared, more global preoccupations. Concerned with notions of belonging, difference, representation, normativity, and sharing, they interrogate the power relationships that are established through language, along with the process by which identity-related and ideological constructs take part in articulating shared life and experience.

Véronique Leblanc, curator
Translation: Ron Ross

British Council Goethe Institute




Jérôme Delgado, 2015. « Parler de toutes les voix », Le Devoir, February 5. Web, "http://www.ledevoir.com/culture/arts-visuels/437707/parler-de-toutes-les-voix".

Marie-Gabrielle Ménard enterviewed Véronique Leblanc at the program Montréal s'expose on CIBL, Sunday May 10th 2015.

Dave Ball was born in 1978 in Swansea (UK). He lives and works in Wales and Berlin.

Educated at Goldsmiths College (MA), London, and University of Derby (BA), UK, Dave Ball is represented by Galerie Art Claims Impulse, Berlin. Exhibitions include Searching for the Welsh Landscape, Aberystwyth Arts Centre (solo), Wales, 2016; To Make the Improbable, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Québec, 2013; A to Z: From Aardvark to Axle, Galerie Art Claims Impulse (solo), Berlin, 2013; Making Mirrors, NGBK, Berlin, 2011. Residencies include Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 2014; Est-Nord-Est, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Québec, 2013; Künstlerhäuser Worpswede, Germany, 2009. www.daveballartist.co.uk

Oliver Walker was born in 1980 in Liverpool (UK). He lives and works in Berlin and Liverpool.

Oliver Walker uses live art, interventions, and video to investigate social and political systems. He studied Fine Arts at University of the West of England in Bristol (UK) and at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK). In 2012 he was awarded a residency from the Senate of Berlin in Cité internationale des Arts, Paris. In 2013 he received a grant from the Arts Council England for his project One Euro, which has since been shown at FACT (Liverpool), Trasmediale (Berlin), and is nominated for Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria) in 2015. oliverwalker.org

Kaya Behkalam was born in 1978 in Berlin (Germany). He lives and works in Berlin and Cairo.

Kaya Behkalam studied at Berlin University of the Arts and is currently pursuing a doctorate in free art at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. Among the venues to have displayed his work are Queens Museum, New York; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; and Kunstverein Heidelberg. His work Excursions in the Dark (2011) received the Dialogue Award at the European Media Art Festival. Behkalam is currently teaching at the American University in Cairo. kayabehkalam.net

Azin Feizabadi was born in 1983 in Teheran, Iran. He lives and works in Berlin.

Artist and filmmaker, Azin Feizabadi studied at The New School in New York (MFA 2011). His works have been shown in Museum Ostwall, Dortmund (2014); Exhibition Space Beirut, Cairo (2013); Heidelberger Kunstverein (2012); n.b.k., Berlin (2010); the 10th Sharjah Biennial (2011); Queens Museum, New York (2010); Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2010); Silkroad Gallery, Tehran (2009); NGBK, Berlin (2008), among others. Since 2009, he has worked on a long-term multidisciplinary research project entitled A Collective Memory. He is currently a research fellow at the Graduiertenschule of University of the Arts Berlin. azinfeizabadi.com

Sophie Castonguay was born in 1974 in the Montréal region. She lives and works in Val-Morin and Montréal.

Sophie Castonguay has presented her work in exhibition centres throughout Québec (AXENÉO7, DARE-DARE, Dazibao, Praxis, SBC, Skol, Verticale, Vidéographe), Canada (Fado, xspace, Third Space, Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario), and abroad (Hangar in Barcelona, Projektraum54 in Basel, FIAC in Paris, Art Basel in Miami). She is currently pursuing a doctorate in art studies and practices at Université du Québec à Montréal, where she has been teaching at the École des arts visuels et médiatiques since 2008. mrcx.ca/sophie

Emmanuelle Léonard was born in 1971 in Montréal, where she lives and works.

Emmanuelle Léonard has taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions, in Québec and abroad: Kunsthaus Dresden in Dresden; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in Berlin; Glassbox in Paris; Mercer Union in Toronto; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, OPTICA, VOX, and Mois de la photo à Montréal; L’Œil de poisson in Québec City; and Expression in St-Hyacinthe. Awarded the Prix Pierre-Ayot in 2005 and nominated for the Grange Prize in 2012, she was a finalist for the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec’s contemporary art award in 2014. emmanuelleleonard.org

Anne-Marie Ouellet was born in 1982 in Rimouski. She lives and works in Montréal.

With an MFA from Université du Québec à Montréal (2011), Anne-Marie Ouellet has exhibited in Québec, at the Maison des arts de Laval (2013), Galerie de L’UQAM in Montréal (2011), the Manif d’art 4 in Québec City (2008), and at the Musée régional de Rimouski (2005). She also participated in events and artist residencies in Québec (PRAXIS, Ste-Thérèse, 2012, and DARE-DARE, Montréal, 2012), France (FRAC/Alsace, 2006), and Germany (B_Tour Festival, Berlin, 2013). www.anne-marieouellet.com

Katarina Zdjelar was born in 1979 in Belgrade. She lives and works in Rotterdam.

Recent solo exhibitions include Towards a Further Word, Kunstverein Bielefeld, Germany (2014); Of More Than One Voice, Museum of Contemporary Art ARTIUM, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2013); Stepping In-Out, Center for Contemporary Art Celje, Slovenia (2011); Parapoetics, TENT Centrum Beeldende Kunst, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2009); But if you take my voice what will be left to me?, Serbian Pavillion at the 53rd Venice Biennial (2009). Selected group exhibitions include M/Other Tongue, curated by Sabel Gavaldon, Tenderpixel, London (2014); Father Can’t You See I’m Burning, De Appel Contemporary Art Centre, Amsterdam (2014); Acts of Voicing, Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart (2012); Rearview Mirror, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery Toronto (2011); Morality. Act II: From Love to Legal, Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2009). katarinazdjelar.net

Véronique Leblanc was born in 1982 in Jonquière. She lives and works in Montréal.

Véronique Leblanc is a Montréal-based curator and writer. She has curated shows featuring the work of Artur Żmijewski (Poland), Paul Wiersbinski (Germany), Dave Ball (UK), Jean-Pierre Aubé, Patrick Beaulieu, Douglas Scholes, Jean-Pierre Gauthier, and ATSA (Canada), among others. Awarded the John R. Porter Prize in 2015 for her essays on Emmanuelle Léonard and Artur Żmijewski, she participated in the first M&M Curatorial Research Residency Program in Mexico in 2013 (Oboro, Montréal / Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City) and in the CALQ Research residency for independent curators at the ISCP in Brooklyn in 2014. Leblanc has an MA in art history from Université du Québec à Montréal, where she now teaches.