VOX — Centre de l’image contemporaine

Opening of the exhibitions _Art et féminisme_ and _The Dinner Party_, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 1982.

“Créer à rebours vers l’exposition”
The case of Art et féminisme

2021.11.18 - 2022.02.19


In March 1982, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal hosted the Canadian and international premiere of Judy Chicago’s monumental installation The Dinner Party. To broaden the conversation to include feminism in the context of Quebec, the museum called on art historian Rose Marie Arbour as guest curator. She assembled works by forty women artists for the exhibition Art et féminisme and organized a series of performances in the museum’s spaces, at the time located in Cité-du-Havre. A week of video screenings by Québécoise feminist artists at Cinéma Parallèle rounded out the event.

At a watershed moment in the struggles for women’s rights in Quebec, including with respect to access to abortion, recognition of their labour, and violence against women, Art et féminisme sparked debates in the cultural and activist milieux of the time. The combination of the two exhibitions also resulted in unprecedented visitor numbers for the museum. In view of that success, extant visual documentation of Art et féminisme is paradoxically sparse, except for the reproductions of the works shown in its extensive catalogue. That constraint notwithstanding, VOX has prepared this documentary reactivation of the exhibition to emphasize present-day resonances of the issues addressed in the works along with the legacy of women’s group exhibitions in Quebec. For in the mid-1980s, the format had shown signs of losing momentum, foreshadowing its eventual decline, whereas until then it had been seen as an essential avenue for asserting women’s presence in art.

This documentary exhibition is the seventh iteration of “Créer à rebours vers l’exposition”, VOX’s research project on the practice, history and future of exhibitions in Quebec and their documentation. It is presented in conjunction with the Sorel Cohen retrospective.

VOX thanks the following people and organizations for their invaluable contributions: Rose Marie Arbour, Judith Lermer Crawley, Marie Décary, Alain Giguère, Louise de Grosbois, Diane Guay, Claude Gosselin, Lise Landry, Francine Larivée, Catherine Melançon, Lise Nantel, Christine Ross, Sylvie Tourangeau, the Archives lesbiennes du Québec, Artexte, the Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine (CDÉACF), the Compagnie Marie Chouinard, the Centre d’archives Gaston-Miron, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Service des archives et de gestion des documents de l’UQAM.

Catalogue, Art et féminisme, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, 1982.