We are pleased to launch this call to artists as part of Art Souterrain’s new initiative, Créer des ponts (Creating Bridges), which aims to bring together and promote emerging Montreal artists.

THE PROJECT 

Créer des ponts is a cultural democratization initiative that Art Souterrain wishes to establish in four districts located near schools in the Greater Montreal area. The goal of the project is to reach out to people in the heart of their daily lives, and raise their awareness of contemporary art by presenting them with stimulating projects designed by emerging artists. 

The Creating Bridges project features three exhibition initiatives: ephemeral workshops in vacant businesses, ambulatory performances, and exhibitions in exhibition cubes designed specifically for the project.

A well-founded project and a necessity

Créer des ponts is based on the desire to spark hope into the city. It is about creating links, both local and socio-cultural, among young populations as diverse as those of the Plateau de Montréal or Verdun. As indicated by the choice of the word “bridge”, contemporary art acts as a means for passage and exchange.  

This project is based on three realities very specific to Montreal. As poeticized by contemporary artist Michel De Broin in his publicly exhibited work Dendrites, the city of Montreal can be visualized as a cosmopolitan territory with a thousand bridges and crossings.  Indeed, the city is surrounded by waterways, and can only be accessed from land through bridges. Furthermore, Créer des ponts is rooted in one of the city’s fundamental characteristics: visible minorities make up 1/3 of its population – making it one of the most diverse city populations in the world. If we add to these two aspects the fact that Montreal is the most trilingual city on the continent, the project is very much in keeping with the territory’s identity.

Although it goes without saying that young populations are the bearers of hope, by wanting to make their connections, their concerns, and their various interests visible, Art Souterrain intends to provide a glimpse into an almost palpable future. Créer des ponts is to perceive the future of Montreal, because every actor of the project (from the artists to the target audience) is part of a work in progress that spells out hope.

A New Wave of Solidarity

Créer des ponts is all about bringing hope back to the city, since COVID-19 has greatly impacted it and its cultural sector. Thus, it is essential to support the young public and the young artistic community, seeing that they are our bridge to tomorrow. To inquire about their cultural health is as much a moral duty as a social one. During this past year, young creators and young audiences have been left out of the cultural crash caused by the pandemic.

The Créer des Ponts project is composed of three exhibition initiatives: ephemeral workshops in vacant businesses, ambulatory performances, and exhibitions in exhibition cubes designed specifically for the project. A section of the project will take place in the Ville-Marie borough, and will exclusively exhibit the works of emerging artists from the borough in its neighborhoods. The goal of the project is to create a meeting between the public and the artists as well as their practice, in the same places they borrow, in order to make them aware of contemporary art by presenting them stimulating projects, designed by emerging artists.

3 CALLS FOR PROJECTS

1) VACANT STORES

We wish to convert the windows and interiors of vacant businesses into spaces for creation, dissemination and encounters with the public. The stores occupied by the emerging artists become innovative spaces of production and exhibition accessible to the general public and to visual arts professionals.

The twenty selected stores will become places of creation and exhibition over a first cycle of 3 months from June 15 to September 15, 2021; followed by a second cycle of 3 months from September 20 to December 20, 2021, thus offering an ephemeral environment to artists who lack an adequate work space. This summer cycle will be punctuated by activities and meetings between the audience, artists and professionals of the art sectors – an endeavor aimed at creating a strong link between these groups and property management agencies.

What is the Vitrine sur l’Art (Art Showcase) project and how did we redesign it to help the arts sector during the health crisis?

Vitrine sur l’Art is an initiative created in 2016 by Art Souterrain to display contemporary works of art in the windows of vacant shops.

By transforming vacant premises into ephemeral creative spaces and exhibition galleries, the project aims to support emerging artists and introduce Montrealers and tourists to contemporary Canadian art, while creating new opportunities for encounters in the public space.

The shops taken over by contemporary art become places of creation and exhibition out of the ordinary.  In addition to giving a spotlight to Canadian contemporary art – making it known to a wider public – this initiative also embellishes empty commercial spaces, and thus participates in the revitalization of a neighborhood.

Beyond our desire to promote artists to the public and increase general interest in the visual arts, this project targets emerging artists in particular.

What do we want to do in the current COVID-19 context?

Aware of the precarious situation of emerging artists due to low income, lack of opportunities of exposure – to professionals and the public alike – and the difficulty to find affordable creation spaces, the Art Souterrain team wants to offer you an exclusive chance to use a space for creation and production for free, along with meeting and business opportunities.

 

Nature of the project :

A. Requirements

Each vacant store is to be occupied by several artists (3 maximum). On the inside, the space is arranged to accommodate the workshop and exhibit the artworks. The configuration of the space will be discussed with the artists. In the manner of an à la carte service, the premises will be assigned to the artists according to their practices and material needs (square footage required, access to water, electricity…).

To overcome certain constraints of space, noise, or equipment needed for certain types of practices (such as works involving wood or metal for example), Art Souterrain builds partnerships with artist-run centers and workshops to allow the selected artists to work outside of their designated store location, as to not disturb other artists and the neighborhood. Note that this approach must be occasional: a particular attention will be paid to the constraints of the proposed projects.

A few examples of possibilities: 

  • Clark
  • Vidéographe
  • L’Imprimerie
  • Oboro

The artist’s tenure will be clearly visible from the outside of the shop thanks to a vinyl displayed on the door and on the window, as well as a reminder on a sign by the sidewalk or in the shopping mall.

The artists commit to work within the vacant store 3 to 5 days a week; the space will be open to the public 2 days out of the week, in accordance with the displayed hours agreed upon with the artists. 

During this time, occasional activities, encounters with the public and professionals of the art sector will take place, all while following the current safety and health directives

B. Cohabitation between artists

The Vitrines sur l’Art project is based on the principle of cohabitation between emerging artists. Two choices are offered: it can be suggested by the artists themselves, or be proposed to artists who are willing to be introduced to others artists with different but complementary practices in order to create a common work. The idea is to bring together different medium.

The artists will have to clarify precisely what their artistic expectations are, which type of medium cohabitation they are looking for, if they are a group of people, a collective, and whether they initially wish to collaborate. The artists will be required to provide information on their artistic practices, supported by hyperlinks, text or images. 

Being familiar with social media is an asset for the artists participating in Vitrine sur l’Art, as those platforms will be necessary to feed the creative process.

The artists are committed to make the cohabitation successful. Art Souterrain cannot offer a guarantee of this success.

C. Art Souterrain offers

  • A free space of creation and dissemination.
  • A compensation of at least $500.
  • Discounts on the purchase of the needed materials.
  • An opportunity to shine, and an enhanced exposure to the public and art professionals.
  • Many networking opportunities with artists and cultural professionals.

C. Artists’ commitments

In exchange for using a space free of charge, the artists commit to: 

  • Give back the space in its original condition (photos will be taken before each use as documentation).
  • Respect the owner’s or property management agency’s conditions of use
  • Respect the neighborhood.
  • Respect the borough’s and the SDC’s rules and regulations
  • Open the space to the public two days a week in accordance with agreed upon hours.
  • Welcome the public respectfully during opening hours
  • Graciously offer one activity a month, according to the programming (in person or online).
  • Accept  without exception the promotion of  Art Souterrain, the SDC, the borough and all other partners.

We will not be able to consider projects using the following medium: 

  • Glass
  • Resin
  • Welding or metal 
  • Direct stone cutting
  • All material of a toxic nature

D. Curatorship

The Vitrines sur l’Art project will be carried by one or two curators, and framed as a dialogue between art practitioners and thinkers. One of the goals of  Vitrines sur l’Art is to link emerging artists with emerging thinkers. Notably, the window displays will be a curated space. 

Please read the application conditions bellow before the submission of the project

2) AMBULATORY PERFORMANCES

In a context of distancing and isolation, we place the human aspect in a central position in the neighborhoods;  an authentic and original experience that revolves around an innovative act of wandering, with content that will be will be adapted to a young, neophyte audience. 

These touching ambulatory performances find their relevance in the current context. Our goal is to rethink and take over the visual environment of public spaces, to exploit their full potential with performing arts, while offering an opportunity for visibility and remuneration. 

Art Souterrain offers : A $1000 remuneration

Please read the application conditions bellow before the submission

 3) EXHIBITION CUBES

We plan to build 5 to 10 semi-transparent exhibition cubes (of a minimum size of 5 x 5 ft) to exhibit artworks designed to fit their square structure (including installations, sculptures, videos, objects and other digital media). The cube will be made out of steel, feature 3 see-through sides (with UV protection and a ventilation system), and a fourth side with hinges for access. The roof will be inclined to avoid the accumulation of rainwater. Two DEL tracks will be installed for lighting; they can emit sound if the project requires. The 5 inch raised metal and plywood floor will be able to withstand loads up to 150lbs. The duration of the exhibition will be of six months.

The intention is to create a one of a kind emerging artistic path, where visitors can wander from one module to the next, and discover or reclaim the neighborhoods of Ville-Marie. This visual experience in a 360 degrees format will allow the public to stroll around these original exhibition bubbles. A detailed companion list of the works will be available on the door to provide information about the work and its creator(s), along with a map of the area indicating the position of the various exhibitions.  During this event, we wish to clearly identify the exhibition spaces (dissemination sites on university campuses, private galleries, artists centres) that showcase works by emerging artists.

Art Souterrain offers to the artists who exhibit in a cube:

  • A space of a at least 5 x 5 ft 
  • A $2000 compensation
  • An opportunity to shine, thanks to an enhanced exposure to the public and art professionals 
  • Many networking opportunities with artists and cultural professionals

Art Souterrain will give priority to 3D works (sculptures and installations) as well as projects exclusively created for the cube. 

 

Please read the conditions bellow before submitting your project.

APPLICATION SELECTION PROCESS 

This call is destined to emerging artists according to inclusive criteria:

  1. Requirements

Eligible artists must:

  • Identify as emerging artists
  • Have a maximum of 5 years of professional practice
  • Live and work in Montreal
  • Be a Canadian citizen, a permanent or a temporary resident
  • Have at least a Bachelor’s degree in visual arts or any other related field
  1. The committee of experts

The programming committee is a team composed of diverse members that reflects Montreal’s artistic ecosystem. It prides itself on its inclusivity: artists, cultural workers, collectors, artists-run centres workers, exhibition curators.

This committee will be joined by a group of emerging artists involved in Montreal’s artistic scene who practice in various disciplines.

  1. Emphasis on diversity

A special attention will be given to artists and projects tied with sexual and gender minorities, cultural and racial minorities, and under-represented artistic practices.

  1. Selection process and criteria

The applications will be selected using the following criteria:

  • Audaciousness and originality: the submitted artworks demonstrate an uncommon artistic process. The artist shows their adventurousness through their use of language, and their execution process.
  • Accessibility: the artworks manage to catch the attention of a wide audience from various backgrounds, and further the accessibility of new visual art practices.
  • Technical Innovation: the artworks present creative and innovative qualities via revisited medium or an atypical technical conception.
  • Coherence of the proposition: the body of work submitted must demonstrate a coherence, and be well thought out as a whole.

FIVE IMPORTANT STEPS

  • May 15th, 2021: Application submission deadline 
  • Reception of the applications and review of the candidates’ eligibility by the Art Souterrain team.
  • May 20th, 2021: Selection of the successful candidates by the jury
  • May 25th, 2021: Announcement of the results to the artists.
  • June 14th to June 25th, 2021: start  of the installations

Proposals including less recent artworks that have already been shown in other exhibitions are eligible.

Art Souterrain reserves the right to refuse any projects considered ill-suited for commercial spaces, whether due to their formats or contents.

FOR FURTHER

Art Souterrain wishes to further explore the different territories through virtual exhibitions enriched by media such as videos, podcasts, games and other digital experiences that come out of the meeting of young artists and to develop new networks of creation, artistic production and dissemination. In this sense, live sessions will be broadcast on social media to promote the project outside of Montreal. A virtual and physical discussion space is planned to encourage meetings with the public, allow the exchange of artistic points of view and above all contribute to the establishment of lasting links between Quebec creators.

HOW TO APPLY ?

Please complete the application form via this link : 

Click on the submit button

Follow the instructions and select the call you want to join

You can submit for two calls at the same time.

At the end of your first submission, you will be offered an option to submit in another call for projects.

The deadline for submitting the completed application is Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Any incomplete project will not be eligible.