MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) Opens its Doors for 22nd Season!

23 productions, including 10 world premieres, 3 exhibitions, 2 co-productions, 12 artists in residence

All Tickets $10 Throughout Entire Season

The 22nd season of MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels)—assembled with countless pandemic “ifs” and “maybes” and “how-many-feet/seats”—is a season of in-betweens, fluctuations, and balancing acts. Despair/hope, detonation/meditation, sorrow/new tomorrow, solitude/solidarity, death/life.

The artists featured as part of 2020–2021 also navigate between several poles, without restricting themselves to either one. Their creative practices are often rooted in care. Care for the earth, for the other, for the body, for history (personal as well as political). Care for experiences and narratives, be they steeped in darkness or full of light. Taking care to listen, to convene. Care for insurrection. Care for words, for memory.

Caring for the audience, being attentive to its consent to partake, to receive.

And also freedom to not care. Refusal to become emotionally involved, refusing to give a damn. Letting be, letting slide, letting go. No future.

This season’s featured artists refuse to choose. They find one in the other, kindness in nihilism, pleasure in anxiety, refusal in consent, ritual in protest, intimacy in remoteness.

In keeping with this spirit, MAI is favouring intimism. The theatre is transfigured with an installation by Paul Chambers, a Montreal-based lighting specialist and visual artist, reconfigured in such a way that only 20 audience members can attend each showing. Both the theatre and the gallery make way for solo presentations. For relational performances, intended for smaller audiences. For politically as well as poetically-charged exhibitions.
Belonging and Genealogy

Curated by Anna KhimasiaStefan St-Laurent, and Rehab NazzalLive in Palestine  (September 24 > October 22, 2020) showcases work by contemporary artists living and working in occupied Palestine, both emerging and established: Jumana Emil AbboudNihayah AlhajKhalil al-MozainRana Affo BisharaMohamed   Harb, Manal   Mahamid, Mohammed MusallamMohamad MustafaMohammad ObeidallahRaeda Saadeh, and Sharif Waked. Combining performance practices with political engagement, their work explores the difficulties of daily life in Palestine.

Accessible 24 hours a day for 5 days, Sheuetamᵘ (November 3 > November 8, 2020) is an ambulatory and audio installation created by Innu artist Soleil Launière. The performer’s relationship to the land is expressed through performance, chanting, sounds, and images, by way of an experimental technology based on biosensors. This powerful ritual-performance amplifies an Indigenous and Two-Spirit presence.

Otipemisiwak (January 7 > February 6, 2021) is a Cree word meaning to live according to one’s own rules. The eponymous exhibit by visual artist and plant scientist Daphne Boyer features pieces making use of digital beading on paper, textile art, and animation, drawing on the creator’s Métis heritage. By turning to this meticulous form of process-based art, the artist celebrates the life and culture of her feminine lineage, passed down from her great-grandmother to her grandmother, and from her grandmother to her mother.

Curated by Farah Atoui and Viviane SaglierMaking Revolution: Collective Histories, Desired Futures (April 1 > May 1, 2021), an exhibition presented in collaboration with Vidéographe, explores forms of struggle and revolution in the  Middle East and North Africa through video art and installation. Engaging with revolutions that took place prior to the 2011 upheavals and their political and poetic traces, this exploration brings together film and video works and installations by: Marwa ArsaniosBasel AbbasRuanne Abou-RahmeAli CherriMohammad Shawky HassanAli KaysRaed & Rania RafeiJayce SalloumSanaz Sohrabi, and Mosireen.

In Between

Espace inter refers to the interspace where various propositions unfurl to bridge the gap between the gallery and the theatre by creating gateways, crossing boundaries, and opening up spaces and practices.

As part of its third edition, the live biennial art event TAKING PLACE: A CELEBRATION OF PERFORMANCE ART (May 12 > May 15, 2021) will feature world-renowned performances, collaborations, and installations. Both irreverent and reverential, they evade all labels and straddle an inter-space: between nihilism and existentialism; between care and abandon; between memorial and protest; between the oh-so-quiet and the oh-so-loud.

Created by [ field ] = Coman Poon + Brian Smith, an artistic duo comprised of a performance artist and an architect and installation creator, the participative installation 1+1=0: performances in preparation for death  (May 12, 2021)  is  inspired by the Japanese ritual of washing and dressing the deceased. This care-based meditation through care and death on queer, inter-generational, and cultural love practices is imbued with the Buddhist non-dualistic concept of “self/Self.”

Rooting their artistic practice in listening and gathering, Rajni Shah invited the plural beings Fili Apothicaire and Ses Seçkin Kaya Çınar to work with them for the duration of a year. The endpoint of this process, the performance Mountain: Dismantle (May 12, 2021), is a moment of rest, echo, and surrender.

Created and performed by Tobaron Waxman, the anti-colonial enactment Gender Diasporist (May 13, 2021) examines the artist’s application for Polish Citizenship as an out, transsexual person of Jewish heritage. Combining video and vocal performances as well as artefacts, this autoethnographic project engages with what Waxman calls “transsexual knowledge.”

Anh Vo’s performance Babylift (May 13, 2021) owes its title to a mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam to the United States, during which 78 of them perished. Commemorating these forgotten lives, this memorial, blending dance, video,   and   texts, contrasts erotic gestures with violent historical archives, queering the latter’s masculinist substance. The choreographer draws on a wide range of aesthetics (Western contemporary dance, various dances from the African diaspora, traditional Vietnamese rituals, etc.)

All at once club party, introverted protest, shy popsicle concert, extreme nap time, faux fur lecture installation, and healing circle, Real Talk # 2.0 (May 14, 2021) by choreographer and performance artist randy reyes deals with erotic ecologies and opaque dramaturgies of sex.

In their solo performance Hotter Than a Pan (May 15, 2021), the dance artist and movement director Malik Nashad Sharpe blends dance, text, and action. Experimenting with Black and queer ontologies, they amplify the power of the marginalized body. Foregoing essentialist identity politics, they draw on the affective and the motorizing, with a soundtrack by Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley.

Tender and demonic? The duo Beauty and the Beast (Amanda Apetrea and Halla Ólafsdóttir) combines dystopian pornographic dance, poetry, and music in DEAD (May 15, 2021). With a witchy metal aesthetic, this piece explores questions of corporeality, sexuality, and gender, all the while practicing conscious consent with the audience.

Diaspora Stories, Encounters, and Resistances
Interdisciplinary artist and writer Kama La Mackerel interweaves poetry, storytelling, dance, femme tongues, and broken colonial languages in a solo performance at once personal and political. ZOM-FAM (October 6 > October 10, 2020) narrates the story of a gender-creative child growing up in the 80s and 90s.
Dance, theatre, and music intertwine in Diana León’s Sur ce chemin, tu es sûre de te perdre (October 20 > October 24, 2020), a choreography stemming from three successive collaborations with artists Paco Ziel, Jeremy Galdeano, and Vera Kvarcakova. A powerful evocation of the pleasure of finding one’s own rhythm.
Veteran dancer Heather Mah revisits her grandmother’s life in Pomegranate (November 17 > November 21, 2020). This solo performance is a journey told across stories of family and migration beginning in China, in 1895.

Imago Theatre features three new short radio pieces commissioned from women playwrights across the country. Tuning In (January 27 > January 30, 2021) invites a “radio audience” in the theatre to reflect on issues of care, fear, and denial. The audience can also choose to listen to this presentation in the comfort of their own home.

Created by FakeKnotWhip (February 9 > February 13, 2021) is an hour-long duo piece performed with leather hoods, blinding the performers throughout the piece, in a nod to the consent-based culture of the BDSM community.

Created and performed by the spoken word poet Hoda Adra, the concert-film and performance Les formes qui nous traversent (February 23 > February 27, 2021) unearths countless hand-written log books documenting a lengthy period of isolation. In this piece featuring an imaginary country, pink blobs that choke voices and a phantom Ghostwriter, writing becomes an experience of returning to oneself, shared as an act of resistance.
Gabriel is a composer and an experimental vocalist. Bijuriya is a drag artist. Gabriel and Bijuriya are the same person. The time has come to reunite them on stage in Bijuriya (March 16 > March 20, 2021). A piece celebrating the brownness of complex artist Gabriel Dharmoo.

All at once musical performance, multimedia video presentation, and environmental installation, American Cuck (April 9 > April 10, 2021) by musician and interdisciplinary artist M. Lamar examines white supremacy and its pervasiveness in the American psyche. According to Lamar, the hypersexualisation of the Black body in the national narrative leads to the persistence of the Black death.

Tap dancer Travis Knights, recently awarded the Jacqueline-Lemieux Prize by the Canada Council for the Arts for their work, performs their new creation Ephemeral Artifacts (April 13 > April 17 2021). Revisiting the history of jazz and tap dancing as well as the relationship between these genres rooted in Black bodies and history, this performance foregrounds a magnetic, intimate, and textured choreographic vocabulary, embodying a spirit of resistance.

Composed and interpreted by Cyndi CharlemagneSoul Whisper (April 23 > April 24, 2021) is a soul jazz performance intertwining poetry and song. Fluctuating between complex and minimalist sounds, Cyndi Charlemagne’s music features musical riffs, vocal virtuosity, and improvisation. Playful vocals bursting with sincerity, backed by skilled musicians.

An interdisciplinary encounter between two long-time friends, STRIKE/THRU (June 1 > June 5, 2021) brings together Algonquin visual artist Nadia Myre and theatre artist Johanna Nutter in an exploration of the tensions and discomforts around Indigeneity and non-Indigeneity. This incisive, poetic, and participative piece topples various constructions of identity.

The MAI’s 22nd season: Engaged & Accessible (single rate $10 tickets)

Care don’t care, together.

Nayla Naoufal

Luba Markovskaia

Kulnura (New South Wales, Australia), January 2020
Mary Voorwinde – photographer


Yankee @ Fantasia

Each year at the fantastic Fantasia film festival there are always a nice selection of Quebec and Canadian filmmakers ready to be discovered. Festivals like this really make you appreciate the talent we have in this province and country when it comes to filmmaking and acting.

Now that I have finished the toot our own horns section of the review…

Yankee (despite what the title might lead you to believe) is a film made here by Stephan Beaudoin. It is the type of film in which the less said about the story the better. Part of the enjoyment is that it never goes where you think it will. Even saying that is a little too much.

Bare bones resume: A young woman named Skylar (Devon Slack), who lives in Albany, calls her male cousin who lives in Drummondville in desperation. Something has happened and he needs to come get her.

When they arrive in Drummondville she is staying with him (he is a small time drug dealer who seems to be in some serious money trouble) and realizes she has no money. So her cousin tells her he knows a way she can make some cash. She has to take part in illegal underground fights. If she wins she can earn money and, it seems, also get him out of his money problems.

That is all I am going to say….about the story of the film, I mean. I have plenty to say about the film itself. About five minutes into watching it I was thinking that this was going to be a crappy low budget Quebec made film. You know the type. Well, it made me eat crow by about minute fifteen. Reasons being a story which keeps you interested and guessing (repeating myself), a riveting performance by Devon Slack and smart directorial choices by Beaudoin. In other words, all the key elements to making an interesting film are here to be found.

An interesting look at violence in a very modern context. Can violence get you out of violence? It is a complex issue. One with many layers and as the film goes on the layers begin unfolding. Violence is all around all of us in one form or another. We are either participants or observers. It has almost become a normal part of life. So definitely warrants being explored in film.

Another engaging aspect of the film is the fact that the lead, the one having to deal and live with all this violence, is a woman. Sure, sure because of female actresses like Charlize Theron, Kate Beckinsale and Angelina Jolie, it is not completely unusual for a female character to be at the center of action/violence. It still is not the norm, though.

Duck Sauce unveils first episode of “Duck Duck Goose” talkshow featuring Todd Terry


An unmarked package appeared last Thursday at the Robert H. Goddard planetarium in Roswell, New Mexico. After the requisite gamma ray tests and Covid-19 screening, a team of nine (9) scientists opened it and discovered Betamax tapes simply labeled “Duck Duck Goose”. While they originally suspected the videos to be a simulacrum of a human television program, one of the researchers recognized the hosts as actual hominids Alain Macklovitch (p/k/a A-Trak) and Armand Van Helden. It was concluded that these two were speaking to other hominids in various episodes. It is unclear why or how they had time to have such conversations.

If indeed this isn’t an extraterrestrial prank and the numerical order of episodes is the same as on our planet, then the first installment is a talk with seminal house music pioneer Todd Terry, out today—watch here. The names on other Betamax tapes include David GuettaBilly Carson (of @4biddenknowledge fame), DJ Premier, a high-ranking member of the Flat Earth society and more.

The planetarium team has decided to release one episode every two weeks on the popular website YouTube.


Heart Attack Kids have a new single titled “Can’t Stop” available now. The high voltage track is the first 2020 reveal from the band “soon to become a household name within the ranks of Canadian punk rock” (V13 Media), written by HAK and Aaron Allen in a back corner room of Taste Of Ink, a tattoo shop in their hometown of London, Ontario. 

“Can’t Stop” was produced by Allen, and Siegfried Meier of Beach Road Studios. Says Jared Ellul of Heart Attack Kids, “The song is about addictions, something so many of us struggle with. We wanted ‘Can’t Stop’ to have a high energy vibe that people could get up and dance to, versus mosh to like our past music. I often get inspired by bands such as Queens of the Stone Age and Death from Above who, in my mind, are masters of having their songs be heavy and full of hooks.”  

Heart Attack Kids features founding member Jared Ellul (guitar/vox) joined by Craig Gignac (bass/vox). With guitars sounding 100 feet tall, fuzzed out bass lines and thunderous drums, the band’s high-octane sound and frenetic onstage energy has helped amass a rocksteady fan base including Cancer Bats’ frontman Liam Cormier who produced HAK’s electrifying sophomore effort Bad Luck Like Gold released in April 2019. 

Bad Luck Like Gold is blunt, boisterous, and bullshit-free, opening with a barn-burning instrumental track that perfectly sets the tone for what’s to come – an unrelenting smash through song after song of dynamite drumbeats and sludgy riffs as engulfing as quicksand. The explosive sonic concoction is potent and compelling with the 12 tracks hitting with the energy of an atom bomb and the urgency of its impending detonation. This album builds atop the foundation of relentless garage punk riffs and crushing rhythms established on their debut LP, 2016’s No Future. Their combustible rock n’ roll turned the heads of notable industry influencers, leading to a slew of releases on various imprints and high-profile shows alongside acts Billy Talent, Rise Against, The Gaslight Anthem, and dozens more. 

The band is currently working on their third LP.

Morgana @ Fantasia

Though admittedly women have made some advances in regards to rights, treatment and equality over the past few decades there are still many ways they are second class citizens on this planet. The battle continues.

One such way is women and aging. Again, though it is a little better it still is reality that as a woman ages her sexual potency, attractiveness and appeal is seen to go the way of the dodo. Such is not the case for men. Films like Morgana, directed by Josie Hess and Isabel Peppard, are vital in the fight against such destructive thoughts/beliefs.

Morgana is a documentary filled with light and dark. Some moments which will really inspire while others will make you sad. It is this realistic kind of up and down nature which gives the film its power. Many will be able to relate to the feelings of the subject, even if you cannot imagine doing what she does. There are plenty of universal moments here, especially for women of a certain age.

Aussie Morgana had led a rather typical life for the first 49 years on the planet. She had gotten married and had a few kids. Wife. Mother. This is what society tells women they should aspire to. Yet she wasn’t happy. Worse than that she was depressed and decided to kill herself right around her 50th birthday. She was going to do one thing first though.

Morgana wanted to go out on a date and have sex. That part of her marriage, romance and sex, was utterly disappointing. Her husband was a cruel man who told her how unattractive and overweight she was. Morgana just wanted to feel appealing for one night. So she hired a male escort and went out on date topping off the evening with sex.

It all went so well that Morgana came out of it a new woman. It led to a sexual reawakening and the courage to explore that side of herself. She decided to divorce her husband and make a film. A porn film about her date with the escort. Continuing her revamping of her life she also makes the move from suburban Australia to city life in Berlin, Germany.

So many positive messages here. Being true to yourself is the road to happiness. Plus sized women are attractive and sexual beings. Importance of surrounding yourself with people who like what you do and you for the way you are. Not settling for a life of what society expects from you rather do what makes you happy. A 50-something year old woman can become a porn star and director.

Using interviews, verite, animation, archival footage, and Morgana’s films the story is constructed clearly and creatively by Hess and Peppard. They have constructed a film which is both personal and universal. Love how they have turned the idea that pornography is exploitative on its head. Showing it to be Morgana’s (and others, I am sure) source of freedom so she could embark on, for the first time in her life, a voyage of self-discovery.

You can see and feel all the love and care that went into the making of the documentary. They took their time (it took them five years to make the film) and told the story they wanted to. A real ode to reinvention and casting off the shackles of societal expectations. No matter what age or how you want to go about doing that.