Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal — Photo Month in Montreal

Every two years, Mon­treal, Que­bec, Canada fea­tures a major, month-long major con­tem­po­rary pho­tog­ra­phy fes­ti­val called Le mois de la photo à Mon­tréal. This year’s fes­ti­val runs from Sep­tem­ber 5 — Octo­ber 5, 2013 and fea­tures 25 pho­tog­ra­phy exhi­bi­tions in dif­fer­ent parts of the city.

This year the theme of the fes­ti­val is Drone — The auto­mated image and it is guest curated by Paul Wombell. I’ve been going to this fes­ti­val pretty much since it started and the exhi­bi­tions are almost always laden with exper­i­men­tal (less con­ven­tional) pho­tog­ra­phy and themes that require reflec­tion. If you’re look­ing for more con­ven­tional pho­tog­ra­phy (beau­ti­ful land­scapes, still lifes, street pho­tog­ra­phy) you nor­mally won’t find it at this festival.

Although Le mois de la photo is a pho­tog­ra­phy fes­ti­val, many exhi­bi­tions will be video based and some will fea­ture instal­la­tions. I always find a few exhi­bi­tions that I really like and will report back on my faves.  Feel free to check out the exhi­bi­tions here.

Le mois de la photo

Mois De La Photo in Montreal 2011 — First Impressions

This Sat­ur­day I spent about 3–4 hours going to dif­fer­ent exhi­bi­tions that make up Mois De La Photo (Photo Month) in Mon­treal. I’m not fond of writ­ing about things I don’t like, I MUCH pre­fer to select a few things that I do like and write about those.

I was dis­ap­pointed in the work that I saw over­all. I saw about 8–10 exhi­bi­tions and I won’t name them. It wasn’t because the work was bad or any­thing, it just was not my cup of tea. Almost every­thing I saw was dark-themed, abstract, overly-intellectualized, and WAY too exper­i­men­tal imo. I have noth­ing against exper­i­men­tal, but imag­ine if 99% of every­thing you heard at the Mon­treal Jazz fest was experimental.…it would suck for most peo­ple. Peo­ple expect fes­ti­vals that they go to, to some­what rep­re­sent their idea of what the fes­ti­val is about. Of the 8 Exhi­bi­tions, 3 of them had videos…Video is not pho­tog­ra­phy. I DO have an open mind BTW; I guess I just would have liked even a teeny rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the work that I saw to be sim­i­lar to the fine art pho­tog­ra­phy that I like to see.

So at the end of the day, I guess my issue is with the Title, “Mois de la photo”. Such a con­ven­tional title, it makes you think you will be see­ing ‘some’ con­ven­tional pho­tog­ra­phy. You will not (as far as I can tell from my sam­ple). I’d much rather they title the thing Exper­i­men­tal photo Month.

Of the 8 exhi­bi­tions I saw, the only one I liked a bit was The Dead by Jack Bur­man. Large prints of dead peo­ple pre­served in formalde­hyde. Not try­ing to be face­tious here, but Burman’s exhi­bi­tion was one of the most con­crete, and “acces­si­ble” ones. You know full well what you are look­ing at.

Image from ‘The Dead’ by Jack Burman

3 days left — Mois de la Photo — Montreal

There are only 3 days left to visit Le Mois de la Photo (Trans­la­tion: photo month) in Mon­treal. Le Mois de la Photo is a pho­tog­ra­phy event that takes place in Mon­treal every sec­ond year. I’ve been going to this event reg­u­larly in Mon­treal for about a decade. There is always a HUGE vari­ety of pho­to­graphic styles (from pho­tog­ra­phers from around the world) in this event and most exhi­bi­tions (espe­cially this year) are what I would call ‘alternative’.

From Hand to Mouth, 1993. Instal­la­tion view, The Amer­i­can Cen­ter, Paris, 1995. Photo: Jeff Guess. Cour­tesy of the artist

The above pho­to­graph (and this is one of the many exhi­bi­tions that I per­son­ally vis­ited) is a great exam­ple of ‘alter­na­tive pho­tog­ra­phy’ and‚ think­ing out­side of the box. The goal of this exhibit is not sim­ple, it requires thought; active thought. Peo­ple will expe­ri­ence this exhibit in a per­sonal way. Some will like it, some will hate it, and oth­ers will scratch their heads and go “Hmmmm”. Per­son­ally, I dug it big-time. I like things that are dif­fer­ent. I like to think and feel. I’m not into McDonald’s and their freak­ishly annoy­ing main­stream clown.

Here’s the ‘offi­cial web­site’ write-up on Guess’s exhibition:

With From Hand to Mouth (1993), a 22-metre long pho­to­graphic series, Jeff Guess treats view­ers to an orig­i­nal visual expe­ri­ence. The piece takes the form of a cir­cu­lar panorama hung from the ceil­ing of a dark­ened room. The artist assigns a par­tic­u­lar place to view­ers, who are invited to step into the cen­tre of the instal­la­tion. With­out a priv­i­leged view­point that would make it pos­si­ble to take in all the images at once, the work invites view­ers to move about, to cir­cu­late. From Hand to Mouth is shown with a sin­gle, iso­lated pho­to­graph, Fonce Alphonse (1993).

This exhi­bi­tion is just one of many that make up this year’s Mois de la photo. So get your shoes on and get out there this week­end to see the work before the exhi­bi­tion is over. Bring an open mind, your brain but leave your cash at home. The exhi­bi­tions and men­tal stim­u­la­tion are free.