Art Souterrain: The Underground City's art gallery

Get ready! March 2, 2019 marks the start of the 11th edition of Art Souterrain, when Montréal’s famous Underground Pedestrian Network becomes a living art gallery. Running until March 24, this edition unites nearly 100 projects by as many Montréal, Canadian and international artists all along the 6-kilometre length of the Underground Pedestrian Network as well as in eight satellite spaces in the city.

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True or false?

Always thought-provoking, the festival’s theme this year is True or False, inspired by contemporary phenomena like social media illusions (we all know that Instagram sheen!), catfishing and “alternative facts”. The invited artists put their medium of choice at work – photography, ceramics, installation, video – to untangle the blurred lines between fiction and reality.

Artists are perfectly placed to peel away the layers of illusion, because they actively engage in a game with reality on a daily basis, argue the curators. Is art not, essentially, an illusion of the real? It is represented differently by each creator. The question is, do artists have to tell the “truth”?

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Lunch-hour fun

Always looking to include artistic experiences into the everyday, the curators of Art Souterrain have revived their lunchtime programming. The Midi Express series sees art works along the exhibition path explained in a few minutes each by a professional mediator, from Monday to Friday, between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., for free. The Médiation series also offers free guided tours of the works, presented on weekends from noon to 5 p.m. Find exact locations and times here.

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Family time

If you’re in town with the family, you’ll want to get the special map designed with kids aged 5 to 12 in mind. This free self-guided tour presents each of the exhibited art works in a fresh, kid-friendly way and suggests a special activity to do related to one of the works in each exhibition space along the way. On March 6, 2019, don’t miss the special children’s workshop presented by artist Alexander Pilis along the theme of “Vision of Difference, Difference of Vision” at the Observatoire Place Ville Marie, from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 2 to 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, at the movies

To accompany the visual artworks at Art Souterrain, check out the full film programme presented at Cinéma du Parc along the theme of Paranoid Cinema, in partnership with the International Festival of Films on Art. Clear your evenings for the series of films about and by artists presented at midnight on various nights throughout the festival.

The locations

The main exhibition runs along the seven buildings that are part of the Underground Pedestrian Network, namely 1000 de la Gauchetière, Place Bonaventure, Place de la Cité Internationale, Édifice Jacques-Parizeau, World Trade Centre Montréal, Guy-Favreau Complex and Montréal Convention Centre. You’ll easily find the artworks thanks to directions on the floor, as well as an audio-guide available for free in English or French.

The satellite spaces are the Observatoire Place Ville Marie, Arsenal, Art Matters, Cinéma du Parc, the Ubisoft Exhibition Space, the Mexican Cultural Institute in Montreal, the Maison de la culture de Pointe-aux-Trembles and the Maison de la culture de Verdun.

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant, blogger

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s ecclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.

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