What Does the Image Stand For?

MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image

Curator: Ami Barak

Artists: Adel Abdessemed, Luis Arturo Aguirre, Seung Woo Back, Yto Barrada, Dora Budor, Sara Cwynar, Latoya Ruby Frazier, Nelson Henricks, Camille Henrot, Risa Horowitz, Terrance Houle, Boris Mitić, Nadia Myre, Joshua Petherick

September 7, 2017 - October 15, 2017

Opening: September 6, 2017, 5:00 pm

MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image (formerly Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal) presents, in collaboration with Galerie de l’UQAM and VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine, the central exhibition of its 2017 edition articulated around the theme What Does the Image Stand For?, developed by guest curator Ami Barak.

The main exhibition is centred on the tension between “the said” and “the unsaid” operating in the contemporary treatment of still and animated images. This group exhibition brings together the works of 23 artists who explore and investigate the porous boundary between reality and imagination through complex issues such as identity, territory, history, and time.

The artists

Galerie de l’UQAM: Adel Abdessemed (France), Luis Arturo Aguirre (Mexico), Seung Woo Back (Korea), Yto Barrada (Morocco), Dora Budor (Croatia), Sara Cwynar (Canada), Nelson Henricks (Canada), Camille Henrot (France), Risa Horowitz (Canada), Boris Mitić (Serbia), Nadia Myre (Canada)
Galerie de l’UQAM and VOX: LaToya Ruby Frazier (United States), Terrance Houle (Canada), Joshua Petherick (Australia)
VOX: Mircea Cantor (Romania), Samuel Fosso (Cameroon), Pascal Grandmaison (Canada), Frédéric Lavoie (Canada), Hanna Liden (Sweden), Liu Yue (China), Moshe Ninio (Israel), J.D. ’Okhai Ojeikere (Nigeria), Kim Waldron (Canada)

The exhibition

Today, images capture the world at every instant. But what do they say at this point? Are they an objective framing of the world at a given moment? What has become of these markers of reality? MOMENTA 2017 explores multitudinous facets of the idea of evidence for the prosecution, whether images are still or in motion, raising the question of images as avatars and focusing on the fantastical and sublimated aspects of the reality that they convey. The 38 artists in this biennale invite us not to accept their testimony uncritically.

These artists intercede between the state of things and their possible interpretations. They are “whistleblowers,” and they prefer transfiguration to replication. Determined to produce differentiation, using allegories as intermediaries, they are revitalizing figuration. Their images speak of the world in different ways, but they systematically sidestep the real. The 23 artists presented at Galerie de l’UQAM and VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine – the event’s headquarters – explore and investigate the porous boundary between reality and imagination through complex issues such as identity, territory, history, and time.

– Ami Barak, guest curator


For nearly 30 years, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal has been offering a stimulating framework within which to study current practices, evolutions, and issues associated with the still and moving image in Western culture, and to take the pulse of trends in contemporary image making. Renamed MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image in 2017, the organization plays a crucial role in the local, national, and international ecology of the visual arts community. Through its curatorial approach, renowned guest curators develop rigorous artistic programming based on relevant themes; the biennale enjoys a well-established reputation in its city and country, as well as abroad. It actively contributes to the recognition of Canadian artists – who comprise more than 50% of the artists in each edition – by presenting their work within an international context, in association with 15 exhibition partners. In 7 editions, the organization has exhibited more than 2,000 works by 400 artists, and welcomed almost 22 million visitors.


The curator

Ami Barak is an independent curator and art critic who lives and works in Paris. He has launched numerous exhibitions and projects, including Taryn Simon: Rear Views, A Star-Forming Nebula, and the Office of Foreign Propaganda,
Jeu de Paume (Paris, 2015); Julião Sarmento: la chose, même  the real thing, Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian (Paris, 2016); and Peter Kogler: Next, ING Art Center (Brussels, 2016). Artistic director of the Salon de Montrouge (2016 and 2017), he is also the co-curator of Life  A User’s Manual, Art Encounters, Contemporary Art Biennale (Timisoara, 2017).

The catalogue

The biennale would be incomplete without its catalogue. Co-produced with the prestigious publishing house Kerber Verlag, it brings together texts by the curator and five authors, Mara Ambrožič, Mirna Boyadjian, Françoise Docquiert, Sophie Hackett and Bénédicte Ramade, who address the question What Does the Image Stand For?Artist Micah Lexier also created a photographic project especially for the book. The publication will be launched at the opening on September 6. Subsequently, the publication will be on sale at Galerie de l’UQAM and VOX as well as through Kerber Verlag’s website.

$45, 176 pages, available in French and English.

MOMENTA Creative – Activities relating to artists exhibited at Galerie de l’UQAM

Titled MOMENTA Creative, MOMENTA 2017’s educational program offers individuals, families, and groups an opportunity to discover the artists’ works. You will find below the activities involving practices presented at the Galerie de l’UQAM. Full program: momentabiennale.com/education

Guided tours of the exhibition for groups

Available any time. Can be combined with a visit of the part of the central exhibition presented at VOX.


Tours of the central exhibition at Galerie de l’UQAM and/or VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine.
September 16 – EN, Galerie de l’UQAM,12:30 p.m., followed by VOX, 2 p.m.
September 21 – FR, Galerie de l’UQAM, 5 p.m.
September 30 – FR, Galerie de l’UQAM, 12:30 p.m., followed by VOX, 2 p.m.
October 14 – FR, Galerie de l’UQAM, 12:30 p.m., followed by VOX, 2 p.m., and by Musée d’art contemporain for the Portfolio Discoveries, 3 p.m.
Free admission

Do Images Reveal the Truth?

Workshop animated by the Brila team, certified practitioners of the Philosophy of Children pedagogical model. This philosophical creative workshop is an original way to question our perception of the images that surround us.
September 17 – FR, Galerie de l’UQAM, 2 p.m.
October 1 – FR, Galerie de l’UQAM, 2 p.m.
October 8 – EN, Galerie de l’UQAM, 2 p.m.
Places are limited, registration in advance or on site
Workshop also available for groups upon reservation


Two artists in the central exhibition are giving lectures at UQAM, in collaboration with UQAM’s Intervenants Culturels Internationaux (ICI) Program.
Boris Mitić : September 20 – FR, Galerie de l’UQAM, 12:45 p.m.
Nadia Myre : 
November 22 – Language to be confirmed, Agora of the Judith-Jasmin Pavilion at UQAM, 12:45 p.m.
Free admission

Discussion day Sujets a: desire – appeals

The public is invited to the Canadian Centre of Architecture (Shaughnessy House) to engage with guest curator Ami Barak and many artists in the biennale and reflect on some of the motivations behind their work.
September 9, 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Participating artists: Erin Shirreff, Jayce Salloum, Nelson Henricks, Jonas St. Michael, Valérie Mréjen, Terrance Houle, Kim Waldron, Matan Mittwoch, Jin-me Yoon, Artie Vierkant

Screening nights

Two screening nights at the Cinémathèque québécoise presenting works by artists from MOMENTA 2017’s central exhibition.
Terrance Houle : September 13, 9 p.m.
Boris Mitić : September 20, 7 p.m. (with the artist in attendance)
$10 (discount offered to holders of a MOMENTA Passport)

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