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Art Canadian

In Search of Expo 67

edited by Monika Kin Gagnon & Lesley Johnstone

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2020
Canadian, Contemporary (1945-)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2020
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Though Expo 67 looms large in our collective memory, it is often remembered nostalgically as a remote historical event. The conditions that made Expo an exceptional cultural moment are often forgotten: remarkable creative freedom was granted to artists, architects, filmmakers, and designers to experiment with technology and new forms, resulting in an incredible diversity of cultural production. Originating with the Musée d'art contemporain's 2017 exhibition, In Search of Expo 67 brings together original work from nineteen artists and new critical essays to explore the connections between archives and memory. Organized thematically, artists' words and works are put into dialogue with archival imagery that reconstructs key aspects of the original event. Works by Marie-Claire Blais and Pascal Grandmaison as well as Cheryl Sim explore the physicality of the artificially constructed Expo islands while texts and images rethink and remember key locales such as the Canada and Indians of Canada Pavilions. Expo influenced ideas about Indigenous Canadians at home and abroad at the advent of a new political and cultural conceptualization of Indigeneity: Duane Linklater's art reimagines Norval Morrisseau's seminal Expo mural Earth Mother and Her Children, while Krista Belle Stewart reconstructs a single frame of a short NFB documentary about Indigenous life in vinyl over a "classic colonial grid" of sixteen window panes. Artworks employ contemporary digital media and tools to explore key elements and experiences of particular pavilions. Janine Marchessault provides a history of film at Expo and its archival difficulties. The book also documents six original multi-screen large-format films from Expo 67. Contemporary work in film by Jacqueline Hoàng Nguy?n, Geronimo Inutiq, and Philip Hoffman and Eva Kolcze interrogates the official memory and narratives of Expo 67. The result is a critical rethinking and creative reimagining of Expo that shows how vital it remains over fifty years after it occurred, and the role of both research and creation in questioning and sustaining cultural memory. Brilliantly illustrated with original artworks and archival documents and images, In Search of Expo 67 revitalizes this utopian moment in Montreal's history as a site of unexpected tensions and immense creativity.

About the authors

Monika Kin Gagnon's writings have been published in numerous books, including topographies: aspects of recent B.C. art, Fluid Exchanges: Artists and Critics in the AIDS Crisis, and A Leap in the Dark, as well as many artist catalogues and magazines. She has a doctorate in philosophy from Simon Fraser University, and a Masters degree from York University. She is an associate professor in Communications Studies at Concordia University in Montreal.

Monika Kin Gagnon's profile page

Lesley Johnstone is a curator and head of exhibitions and education at the Musée d'art contemporain.

Lesley Johnstone's profile page

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