“Créer à rebours vers l’exposition”
The case of 03 23 03
2019.02.15 - 04.27
MARIE J. JEAN
Continuing its research into the practice, history and future of exhibitions and their documentation, VOX presents the fifth in its series of documentary exhibitions, dedicated this time to the event 03 23 03 – First International Encounter on Contemporary Art in Montreal. Organized by France Morin, Chantal Pontbriand and Normand Thériault and presented in a disused post office at 1306 Amherst St. from March 3 to 23, 1977, this art event included an exhibition, a program of performances, and a series of debates.
Though it has been rarely studied, this first encounter on contemporary art has particular historical significance, as its programming was both interdisciplinary and international. The organizers corresponded with several hundred artists in the Americas, Europe and Asia, inviting each of them to contribute projects to the exhibition that would be sent by mail. They also prepared an important line-up of performances and discussions (including Giuseppe Chiari, Raymond Gervais, Simone Forti and Charlemagne Palestine, General Idea, Klaus Rinke, Michael Snow, and Western Front), and devised a series of talks on the most innovative practices of the time (with guests including the likes of Jean-Christophe Ammann, Germano Celant, Annette Michelson, Caroline Tisdall). Through this ambitious program – coming in the wake of the controversies around nationalism sparked by Québec 75 and the international networking efforts undertaken by PARACHUTE, the transdisciplinary magazine founded in 1975 – the organizers helped effect a major paradigm shift, whereby Montreal became more open to the world.
Seeking to observe the process of 03 23 03’s historicization – to study the ways in which a historical narrative is shaped through traces left by the multiple reactivations of this type of art project – this exhibition comprises documentation of the 1977 event and its subsequent showing at the National Gallery of Canada (from May 5 to 25, 1977), a reprise of the performance by Simone Forti and Charlemagne Palestine, and a new musical performance by Michael Snow.
The following conversation, in terms of its narrative mode, is in part a historical fiction assembled in the manner of an anachronic dialogue: past citations, drawn from the correspondence, the grant requests, the exhibition publication, and various comments are combined with notes recently written by Chantal Pontbriand, in response to our questions, and a discussion with Normand Thériault.
VOX wishes to thank for their precious contribution Simone Forti and Charlemagne Palestine, Chantal Pontbriand, Klaus Rinke, Michael Snow, Normand Thériault, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (Fonds PARACHUTE, revue d’art contemporain), the National Gallery of Canada (Library and Archives), the Musée du Louvre and The Box LA.