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kimura byol-nathalie lemoine in their studio © PHI, 2021

A Glimpse Into the PHI MONTRÉAL Residency 2021 Edition

  • Essay
  • PHI Foundation
By  Daniel Fiset
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Dominique Sirois, Alliance #14 (detail), 2021. Photo: Marc-Olivier Bécotte

An integral part of our residency program, PHI MONTRÉAL is a two-month residency designed for artists of all disciplines living in the greater Montréal region. 

Founded on a curatorial theme that changes with each edition, this residency aims to make PHI’s expertise available to the recipients, offering them support in the production and presentation of projects.

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Karen Trask, Hanging by a Thread (detail), 2021. Photo: Marc-Olivier Bécotte

This video capsule provides a snapshot of the five works created during the first edition of PHI MONTREAL, as well as some behind the scenes of the exhibition … and room in the bag of stars, presented at the PHI Foundation until January 9, 2022. The exhibition title and the 2021 residency theme are inspired by the writing of author and theoretician Ursula K. Le Guin, more specifically her essay titled “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.” In this text, Le Guin takes issue with the common mechanisms of fiction, which often celebrate the heroism of a single figure at the expense of collective narratives. Are there other ways to share and convene around our individual experiences? Why should the same stories be incessantly rehashed when so many others have yet to be told?

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kimura byol-nathalie lemoine, SAEKDONG색동DIASPORA (detail), 2021. Photo: Marc-Olivier Bécotte

These questions were addressed by the five recipients of the residency, who propose works that link intimate ways of making and telling. Hanging by a Thread is a sculpture by Karen Trask, composed of pages from a 1950s encyclopedia transformed into thread and crystallized in sugar. If the technique for knotting and shaping the sculpture is a nod to the net, a recurring metaphor in Le Guin's essay, the scale of the sculpture and its fragility calls for the deconstruction of the heroic archetype. In the same way, the installation SAEKDONG색동DIASPORA recounts the adoption experience and multiple transnational moves of kimura byol-nathalie lemoine, using everyday and organic objects symbolically linked to the cities where the artist lived.

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Salima Punjani, Will You Pass the Salt? (detail), 2021. Photo: Marc-Olivier Bécotte

Technology is an essential part of our lives and is addressed by several of the projects in the residency. Dominique Sirois’ proposal, Alliance #14, is an embodied dialogue with silicon, an element naturally present in clay, and  solar panels or computer microcircuits: the artist proposes a series of sculptures and wall works that link these materials. Santiago Tamayo Soler’s video work, Retornar, celebrates queer resilience by projecting it into a dystopian Latin America of the 23rd century. Salima Punjani’s Will You Pass the Salt? collects the sounds of 10 households as they prepare a meal, intersecting the experience of this everyday moment with that of the gallery’s audience. 

The five works in the exhibition thus form spaces for encounters and exchanges between individuals, but also between us and the materials, objects and systems that surround us.

Author: Daniel Fiset

Daniel Fiset is a cultural worker based in Tiohtiá:ke/Mooniyang/Montreal. Holding a Ph.D. in art history from Université de Montréal, he has collaborated with numerous Quebec and Canadian institutions in the field of visual arts, including OPTICA, esse arts + opinions and the Musée d'art contemporain des Laurentides. He is currently the adjunct curator for engagement at the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, and curated the 2021 PHI MONTRÉAL exhibition.

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