Montréal Monochrome?  Pierre Beaudoin (Montréal) Charmaine Nelson, Ph.D (Montréal) Karen Tam (Montréal)
  • Montréal Monochrome?
     Montréal Monochrome?
24 May 2013

From immigration has emerged greater diversity, and from this diversity were formed new identities. This has made Montreal among the most ethnically diverse cities in Canada, a rhizomatic city ceaselessly encountering other cultures within an ever changing globalized world.

Montreal’s municipal governments have been building on Montreal’s reputation as a city known for its vast array of cultural events and venues, to sponsor a multitude of artistic events and activities by public and private cultural organisations.

However, within many of these institutions working in the visual arts field, such as Montreal’s fine arts and contemporary art museums, the city’s diversity is not reflected. Within museums’ management and exhibited artists, arts foundations, artist-run centres as well as within private galleries, diversity is sorely lacking.

In 2005, during a public consultation on the city of Montreal cultural development strategy (La Consultation publique sur le projet de politique de développement culturel) a delegation on cultural diversity issued a report in which it recognised that there was an under-representation of ethnically diverse artists and arts organisations within professional networks, cultural institution and venues. The report noted some systemic problems at the source of this problem such as: the lack of immigrants in the selection juries of various structures. Despite this assessment, the situation has not changed. Has the composition of the jury and its lacking diversity remained unchanged?

In it’s 2006-2010 assessment of its cultural diversity development policy (Bilan sur la politique de promotion et de développement de la diversité culturelle dans les arts 2006-2010) Montreal’s arts council explained its inability to diversify its personnel by the slow turnover of its labour force and by stating that the skills required for many positions was indeed harder to find among candidates from culturally diverse backgrounds.

What are these skills that the Montreal arts council deems to be less common among immigrants? What measures can be set up to insure a more equitable representation within our cultural organisations? How can we create a climate that will nullify invisible hiring barriers faced by immigrants? Is there a genuine interest in the contribution these individuals might bring within our institutions?

This conference will serve to reflect on this necessary question, to advance ideas and to share exemplary practices so that Montreal’s cultural sector might more accurately reflect the city’s population. Yves Alavo membre de la fonction publique montréalaise, il est conseiller en planification à la Ville de Montréal (successivement aux relations interculturelles, à la culture, à l’administration puis à la biodiversité et au Bureau du 375e, Destination 2017 et depuis mars 2013, conseiller à la Direction des grands parcs et du verdissement).


The Speakers :

Pierre Beaudoin is a cultural worker, a curator and a performance artist that has been active in the visual and media arts for over 25 years. As curator, he is particularly interested in contemporary African art. In 2011, he presented his first curated exhibition in Montréal, Temps - Dialogue sur l’art contemporain du Sénégal, featuring six artists. His most recent project, a programme of video and experimental cinema pieces titled l’Afrique en mouvement, was presented at the Cinémathèque québécoise and DAÏMON. He is currently working on a new curatorial project which will include artists from Mali, Burkina Faso and Cameroon. This exhibition will be presented in Montréal in March 2015. He is the co-founder of Cube Éditeurs and has published various texts in several monographs and magazines. As a cultural worker, he conceptualized and managed several projects for the Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Montreal, OBORO and Concordia University, among others. He also works as a consultant for organizational development, restructuring organization as well as cultural mediation. Regarding his artistic practice, his performances have been presented across Canada and Europe. Pierre Beaudoin lives in Montréal.


Charmaine Nelson is an Associate Professor of Art History (McGill University). She has made ground-breaking contributions to the fields of the Visual Culture of Slavery, Race and Representation and Black Canadian Studies. Nelson’s books, include: Racism Eh?: A Critical Inter-Disciplinary Anthology of Race and Racism in Canada (Concord, Ontario: Captus Press, 2004), Ebony Roots, Northern Soil: Perspectives on Blackness in Canada(Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010), The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007) and Representing the Black Female Subject in Western Art (New York: Routledge, 2010).


Karen Tam is an artist whose research focuses on the various forms of constructions and imaginations of seemingly opposing cultures and communities, through her installation work in which she recreates spaces such as the Chinese restaurant, karaoke lounges, opium dens, and other sits of cultural encounters. She has exhibited her work in Canada, Ireland, UK, Austria and the US since 2000. Past residencies include RONDO Studio Residency (Austria), Djerassi Resident Artist Program (California), Breathe Chinese Arts Centre (Manchester, UK), Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), Atelier Circulaire (Montréal), Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge), Centre A (Vancouver), and 501 Artspace (Chongqing, China). She has received grants and fellowships from the Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts du Québec, Fonds de recherché sur la société et la culture de Québec, Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et l’Aide à la Recherche, and Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, and has been long-listed for the Sobey Art Award 2010. Recent exhibitions were held at Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery (UK), University of Toronto, RONDO Studios (Austria), Wilfred Laurier University (ON), Third Space (NB), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), CUE Art Foundation (New York), Chelsea Art Museum (New York), Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and New Art Gallery of Walsall (UK). Upcoming activities include the Deutsche Börse Residency at the Frankfurter Kunstverein (Frankfurt, Germany) and exhibitions with Danson House (UK) and Queen Specific (Toronto).

Tam lives and works in Montréal (Québec) and London (UK) where she is a doctoral candidate at Goldsmiths’ Centre for Cultural Studies (University of London). She is a contributor to Alison Hulme (ed.) forthcoming book, The Changing Landscape of China’s Consumerism (2013), and to John Jung’s book, Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurant (2010).  Her work can be seen at:

Discussion and Workshops  

Participating Artists: Pierre Beaudoin (Montréal) Charmaine Nelson, Ph.D (Montréal) Karen Tam (Montréal)
Credits: |  

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