New Director for Montreal Biennial Heralds Further Change

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Rising Quebecois curator and editor Sylvie Fortin has been named executive and artistic director of the Montreal Biennale, a position that will bring her to Montreal from Kingston, where she has been curator of contemporary art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University since last January. Formerly the executive director editor of ART PAPERS, Fortin spent the majority of the last decade based in Atlanta, where the publication is produced. But this hasn’t kept her from undertaking a number of ambitious curatorial projects, including the fifth iteration of the Quebec City biennial, Manif d’art, in 2010. Fortin is also a former curator with the Ottawa Art Gallery (1996-2001).

Fortin will be responsible for the next edition of biennial, which recently — and with some controversy — subsumed the popular Quebec Triennial. Former biennial director, independent curator Nicole Gingras resigned last spring, at which point Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MACM) board director Alexandre Taillefer announced the dissolution of the triennial and the re-location of the biennial to the museum’s campus. Gingras responded recently, saying “it’s a question of two distinct events with different identities and visions, as well as their respective objectives for presenting contemporary art. I can’t explain how they found themselves fused together.”

MACM’s newly-appointed director and chief curator, John Zeppetelli also weighed-in on the change, in an interview with ARTINFO Canada. “At the beginning, I have to be honest with you, I was a little skeptical about the idea,” he said. “The Montreal Biennale’s been a massive disappointment in the last several editions. I think everyone will agree that it needed a massive renewal and overhaul, and this is a massive renewal and overhaul.”

Fortin may herald this very change. Titled “L’avenir” (“Looking Forward”), the biennial is slated to reflect the vision of guest curators Peggy Gale and Gregory Burke, and MACM curators Lesley Johnstone and Mark Lanctôt. Fortin will also be responsible for the positioning and strategic development of future editions of the Biennale de Montréal. It will take place at the MACM and across satellite sites from October 9, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

— Sky Goodden

(Photo: Sylvie Fortin.)