Montréal’s Musée d’Art Contemporain (MAC) is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this summer. Its latest exhibition, Grace of a Gesture, features 200 iconic pieces from the collection that have been donated to the MAC since it was founded in 1964. The exhibition will be on display from June 18 until September 7, 2014.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is Anselm Kiefer’s “Die Frauen der Antike” (the Women of Antiquity, 1999), which is a part of Kiefer’s cyclical theme on women that he began in 1968. Its depiction of women refers to the earth’s rebirth through the feminine spirit, called upon to renew and restore our broken world.
It was through the initiative of forty artists, ten collectors, three galleries and one foundation that the MAC came into being in 1964. Their initial donation of one hundred or so works has yielded tremendous benefit: today the Musée collection includes 3,500 works (out of a total 7,800 in its holdings) that were generously offered by more than 800 donors.
Marina Abramovic’s “Self Portrait with Skeleton” (2003) is part of her Balkan cycle of works, which generated a number of performances, videos, and photographs, and is based on an old Tibetan tradition, in which monks would sleep in a cemetery next to corpses in various stages of decomposition. In this work, Abramovic confronted her own death.
Ewa Monika Zebrowski’s “The Dress of Jadwiga” (2009) is a relic from 1935 that has crossed oceans and escaped wars to arrive in Montréal, and was eventually donated to the museum by the artist.
Spencer Tunick’s photograph “Montréal 2” was commissioned by the MAC in 2001 for a special exhibition. 2,250 people undressed and lay down in three sites around the museum for three different shots. “Montréal 2” was taken on Rue Jeanne-Mance.
On Friday night, June 20, 2014, the MAC Nocturne celebration marked the museum’s anniversary. Open until 3am, this Nocturne featured visits to the exhibitions, an art workshop, light bites and inventive cocktails, DJs, and live performances.
On the program was: DJs Nils Fluck, Alain Vinet, Jonah Leslie and Ghislain Poirier, as well as a performative intervention by the artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer in his work Pulse Room, a vast, interactive installation that detects visitors’ heart rate and converts it into flashes of light.
The Pulse Room is a masterpiece of relational, interactive art, created in 2006, and presented at the Venice Biennale in 2007. In this vast installation, the heart rate of visitors, captured and transmitted by a computerized system, is turned into pulses of light in some 300 light bulbs suspended from the ceiling. Minimalist music and cybernetics research also played a part in the artist’s development of this spectacular, sparkling work in which the beat of each visitor’s heart is added to that of thousands of others to produce a memorable experience.
Visitors were invited to construct 3-D collages symbolizing the building and the museum anniversary.