12_GFagen_SchemeforPostTruth_600pxGraham Fagen, Scheme for Post Truth, 2016, detail from a series of 18 drawings, Indian ink, enamel and 23 carat gold, 38 x 57 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Graham Fagen. The Slave's Lament

Curator : Louise Déry

February 24 to April 8, 2017
Opening : Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 5:30 pm

[More information]

The Galerie de l’UQAM and the curator Louise Déry are presenting the Scottish artist Graham Fagen’s first solo exhibition in Canada by proposing a video and music-based installation that is emblematic of his research: The Slave’s Lament. The Glasgow artist, who very successfully represented Scotland at the 2015 Venice Biennale, is interested in the slave trade, the inhuman treatment of the deported populations and the Scottish involvement in Jamaica. Several drawings and photographs have been added to this major work in order to allow for a more encompassing extrapolation of the motifs opposing national identity and cultural identity.

The exhibition is presented in the context of Montréal’s Black History Month.

The exhibition

The exhibition The Slave’s Lament presents works by the multidisciplinary artist Graham Fagen on the theme of slavery and Scottish involvement in the fate of African people deported to the Caribbean in the 18th century. The drawings, with the look of masks or portraits, the seascape photographs and the imposing video and music installation shown here explore the tensions and emotions brought about by colonialism and the African slave trade. Today considerable feeling has been mobilized with the aim of reconciliation and redemption for the economic servitude and cultural oppression of peoples – whether aboriginal, the product of immigration or subject to current insidious forms of servitude. Fagen’s questioning of nationality and identity, however, is based on a particularly pertinent critique of the cultural and social heritage.

It was in sweet Senegal
That my foes did me enthral,
For the lands of Virginia — ginia O!
Torn from that lovely shore,
I must never see it more,
And alas! I am weary, weary O! […]

- Robert Burns, The Slave’s Lament, 1792

The installation entitled The Slave’s Lament refers to a song dating from 1792 attributed to the Scottish national poet Robert Burns, and it expresses Burns’s attitude toward slavery. Sung by the famous reggae artist Ghetto Priest to an accompaniment by members of the Scottish Ensemble, the song haunts us with its poignant melody and troubling tale of a Senegalese who, forced into exile and slavery, mourns the loss of his country. Fagen filmed the singer and instrumentalists in close-up, then divided the temporal sequence into pieces that he recomposed into an epic-style ode to the identity that we inherit, that is stolen from us or that we assume. The camera scrutinizes the gazes and gestures, lingering over certain details as if to track down a potential for authenticity and identity to be safeguarded and shared.

A publication about the exhibition will be launched later in the year.

The artist

Graham Fagen is one of the most influential artists working in Scotland today. His work mixes media and crosses continents; combining video, performance, photography and sculpture with text, live music and plants. Fagen’s recurring artistic themes, which include flowers, journeys and popular song, are used as attempts to understand the powerful forces that shape our lives.

Graham Fagen studied at The Glasgow School of Art (1984-1988, BA) and the Kent Institute of Art and Design (1989-1990, MA). He is senior lecturer at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee. 1999 Fagen was invited by the Imperial War Museum, London to work as the Official War Artist for Kosovo, and since then has exhibited widely both in the UK and abroad. In 2015 Graham Fagen was selected to represent Scotland at the 56th Venice Biennale.

The several exhibitions he took part in include: The Mighty Scheme, Dilston Grove and CPG London, London (2016), GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art from Scotland, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2015), In Camera (with Graham Eatough), La Friche la Belle de Mai, Marseille (2015), Cabbages in an Orchard, Glasgow School of Art (2014), Bloodshed, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2004), Art of the Garden, Tate Britain, London (2004), Golden Age, Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1999) and Zenomap, Scotland + Venice, 50th Venice Biennale (2003). grahamfagen.com

The curator

Louise Déry (PhD Art History) is director of the Galerie de l'UQAM and associate professor in the Department of Art History at UQAM. Formerly a curator at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, she has curated numerous exhibitions, including Daniel Buren, Giuseppe Penone, Rober Racine, Sarkis, Nancy Spero, David Altmejd, Dominique Blain, Françoise Sullivan, Michael Snow, Stéphane La Rue, Raphaëlle de Groot, Artur Żmijewski, Manon de Pauw, and more recently Aude Moreau, to name just a few. She has presented some thirty foreign exhibitions of Canadian artists, including a dozen in Italy, as well as in France, Belgium, Spain, Turkey, the United States and Asia. She was curator of the Canadian pavilion at the Venice Biennale with a David Altmejd exhibition (2007). At the Venice Biennales of 2013 and 2015, she presented performances by Raphaëlle de Groot and Jean-Pierre Aubé. She is a recipient of the Hnatyshyn Award (2007) and the Governor General's Award (2015), and a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

Free activities

Artist talk by Graham Fagen
Part of the ICI : Intervenants Culturels Internationaux series

Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 12:45 – 1:45 pm
Université du Québec à Montréal
Pavillon des Sciences de la gestion, room RM-110
315 Ste-Catherine East, Montréal

AfroScots, a programme of film, video and sound work
Curators: Mother Tongue (Glasgow)

Artists: Rayanne Bushell, Irineu Destourelles, Kapwani Kiwanga, Maud Sulter, Tako Taal and Alberta Whittle

Saturday, February 25, 2017, 1 pm
Université du Québec à Montréal
Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, room J-R930
405 Ste-Catherine East, Montréal

AfroScots is a programme of films and videos by Black artists who have – in the present and historically – lived, worked and studied in Scotland. The works are selected by Mother Tongue, is a research-led, independent curatorial practice formed in 2009 and based in Glasgow. Following the screening, the audience will have the opportunity to interact in a friendly atmosphere with the curators as well as with the artist Graham Fagen, who will be present.

Guided tour of the exhibition with the curator
Thursday, March 2, 2017, 12:45 – 1:45 pm

Talks by Charmaine Nelson and Jennifer Carter

Monday, March 27, 2017, 5 pm
Galerie de l’UQAM

Guided tours of the exhibition

Available any time. Reservations required with Philippe Dumaine, 514 987-3000, ext. 3280, or dumaine_allard.philippe@uqam.ca

Support provided by


The educational booklet

01_PBoudryRLorenz_Silent_600pxPauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz, Silent, 2016, installation view at the Biennale of Moving Images 2016. Photo : Annick Wetter, courtesy of the artists and the Centre d’art contemporain de Genève.

Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz. Silent

In partnership with the Biennale of Moving Images (Geneva)
Artistic direction: Andrea Bellini
Curators: Caroline Bourgeois, Cecilia Alemani and Elvira Dyangani Ose

February 24 to April 8, 2017 
Opening: Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 5:30 pm

[More information]

The Galerie de l’UQAM and the Centre d’Art Contemporain de Genève are joining forces to present in Montréal a component of the Biennale of Moving Images 2016. This first collaboration is part of an international dissemination approach for this important event that distinguishes itself from most of the existing biennales by the fact that it is exclusively made up of new works, all of which are produced by the Centre and its partners.

Among the 27 new works produced by the Biennale of Moving Images, the Galerie de l’UQAM chose the film installation Silent by Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz, two artists based in Berlin. Presented in an impeccably white room, Silent is interested in the aggressive experience of being constrained to silence, and in silence as an act of powerful and performative resistance.

The exhibition

Silent starts with an interpretation of John Cage‘s score 4´33´´ (1952). The score is conceived for any instrument and instructs its performer not to play their instrument during the entire duration of the three parts of 30s, 2m 23s and 1m 40s.  In the Boudry and Lorenz installation, the musician Aérea Negrot performs the score on a rotating stage placed on Oranienplatz, a public square in Berlin where a refugee protest camp took place between 2012 and 2014. In a second part of the film, she performs a song, which has been composed for the occasion.

Dear President,
Your profile is vague,
You have no arms, no hair, no legs, and no sex
Your enemy is your lover
I need make-up, underwear and hormones!

- Aérea Negrot in Silent by Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz

Silence has been described either as a violent experience, as in being silenced, or as a powerful performative act of resistance, as it has been carried out by various disobedience movements around the world. Silent asks how both moments are intertwined. It focuses on the performance of a silent act, which might allow for agency, strength and even pleasure without erasing the traces of violence and vulnerability. The film suggests a dialogue between being silent and sounding rather than seeing them as mutually excluding.

The artists

Working as a duo since 2007, Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz propose films and performances that revisit filmic and audio material from the past, excavating unrepresented or illegible moments of queer history. These works present a corpus capable not only of traveling across epochs, but also of imagining links between those epochs, so foreshadowing the possibility of a queer future. Their recent solo exhibitions include: Portrait of an Eye, Kunsthalle Zürich (2015), Loving, Repeating, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2015), Patriarchal Poetry, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2013), Aftershow, CAPC, Bordeaux (2013), Toxic Play in Two Acts, South London Gallery, London (2012), Contagieux! Rapports contre la normalité, Centre d´art contemporain de Genève, Geneva (2011). Several catalogues have been published about their work: Temporal Drag, Hatje Cantz (2011), Aftershow, Sternberg Press (2014) and I Want, Sternberg Press (2016). The Montréal public has recently been able to appreciate their work in the solo exhibition To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of their Desperation at La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse in the Spring of 2016. boudry-lorenz.de

The Biennale of Moving Images

Since its inception in 1985, the Biennale of Moving Images has provided a platform for art and ideas by surveying the ever-shifting territories of moving images while aiming to make sense of this extraordinary profusion of images that has progressively invaded all aspects of contemporary art. Organized by the Centre d’art contemporain de Genève, the 2016 Biennale of Moving Images featured, from November 9, 2016 to January 29, 2017, 27 new productions commissioned, produced and/or supported by the Centre d’art contemporain for the occasion. They were presented as installations, performances or films. Under the artistic direction of Andrea Bellini, director of the Centre d’art contemporain de Genève, the 2016 Biennale of Moving Images was curated by Cecilia Alemani, director and curator of the High Line Art (New York), Caroline Bourgeois, chief curator and conservator of the Pinault Collection (Paris) and Elvira Dyangani Ose, curator and lecturer in visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, and member of the Thought Council at the Fondazione Prada.

Free activities

Guided tours of the exhibition

Available any time. Reservations required with Philippe Dumaine, 514 987-3000, ext. 3280, or dumaine_allard.philippe@uqam.ca

Support provided by


The educational booklet

Canada Council for the Arts Canada Council for the Arts


Université du Québec à Montréal
1400, Rue Berri, Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, Local J-R 120
Montréal, Québec
Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
Free admission