Art Souterrain: The Underground City's art gallery

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

Artists from around the world are showcased in the 2020 edition of Montréal’s Art Souterrain festival during which the city’s famed Underground Pedestrian Network is transformed into a five-kilometre-long contemporary art gallery. Art Souterrain also emphasizes the architectural and cultural heritage of Montréal’s subterranean city.

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Reset

Founded in 2009, the non-profit Art Souterrain’s mandate is to make contemporary art accessible to the general public. Under the theme “RESET, new start”, this year’s 12th edition runs along a continuous five-kilometre route in six underground locations, as well as in seven off-path places, displaying the art of 55 local and international artists from February 29 to March 22. This year’s edition also offers the immersive adventure game Journey to the Centre of the Earth: The Forgotten City.

Five key artists

Art Souterrain presents five key artists and their large-scale works for this 2020 edition:

Daniel Corbeil’s installation simulates an “eco-technological” habitat that combines living space with food production. This work is presented in the Complexe Guy-Favreau, but reservations are required to visit the interior.

Mohawk artist Skawennati presents a series of works consisting of films called machinimas, images of cyberpunk avatars, a collection of clothing developed in a digital environment and prints of futuristic calico designs. Her works take over the entire commercial gallery of the Centre de Commerce Mondial de Montréal.

Sabrina Ratté mixes analog, photographic technologies and 3D animation techniques in her work “Undream”, which depicts an imaginary future where utopia and dystopia collapse.

Anaïs Tondeur presents the work “Chernobyl Herbarium”, which is composed of 30 rayograms created by the direct imprint of specimens from a radioactive herbarium on photosensitive plates. The footprints of these plants, grown in the soils of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, are captured by a photogram process, a technique that makes visible the effect of extreme exposure to the light of an atomic-bomb explosion.

Photographer Sébastien Michaud presents his “Supermarket Landscape” series of trompe-l’oeil photographs captured over a period of four years throughout Québec.

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Underground and off-path locations

The continuous five-kilometre Art Souterrain route connects the Complexe Guy Favreau, the Montréal Convention Centre, the Édifice Jacques-Parizeau, the Centre de commerce mondial de Montréal, the Place de la cité internationale and Place Victoria.

This year, the experience also continues in seven off-path locations: the Château Dufresne, the Cinéma du Parc, the Institut culturel du Mexique in Montréal, the Ellephant gallery, the Centre des arts actuels Skol and UQÀM.

Guided tours are also available in French and English.

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Giant escape game

This year, in collaboration with Échappe-toi, Art Souterrain presents Journey to the Centre of the Earth: The Forgotten City, a giant immersive adventure escape game in which participants interact with some 80 professional actors along more than four kilometres of the underground, from February 29 to March 8. Bookings required.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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