Below the Surface with Montreal’s Art Souterrain

as2Montreal is not just a beautiful city – it’s also a vital, artistic one. Quebec’s largest metropolis enjoys a vibrant fashion scene with a creative, increasingly visible fashion week, while the lively artistic community includes a unique annual event: Art Souterrain, an arts festival that’s literally underground. The cold, snowy Montreal winters limits time outdoors, but this art-driven city refuses to let culture take a vacation just because it’s freezing outside. Montreal’s underground city, La Ville Souterraine (“underground city” in French), makes the city’s bitter winters easier to take. For 16 days in March, artists from Montreal, other parts of Canada, and 17 other countries present their work below the city’s surface at Art Souterrain, which first made its debut in 2009. 14 building complexes and three metro stations connect in a labyrinthine circuit of over four miles devoted to a nontraditional forum for artworks such as installations, videos, performances, workshops, and nightly tours.

Highlights from the fifth edition of Art Souterrain include And All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace by Donna Szoke and Ricarda McDonald, a video installation of human eyes tracking viewers’ every move; Raymond Aubin’s Tissu Urbain, a series of webcam photos showing day-to-day life on a Times Square sidewalk; Dominique Petrin’s Pazzazz, an installation with a silkscreen of an enormous Greco-Roman fresco evoking debauchery and excess; pop artist TAVA’s Milky Way, an interactive series of life-sized cartoon-influenced murals; and Chris Salter’s Atmosphere, an ever-changing multisensory installation featuring mist, audio, and LED lights. If you haven’t yet vacationed in Montreal, events like Art Souterrain are a compelling reason to do so.

"And All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace" by Donna Szoke & Ricarda McDonald

“And All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” by Donna Szoke & Ricarda McDonald

Photo credit: Samuel Boisvert

Photo credit: Samuel Boisvert

Photo credit: Samuel Boisvert

Photo credit: Samuel Boisvert

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