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


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