The exhibition Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything, is inspired by the world of Leonard Cohen and the great themes of his life and work. This major exhibition is the first to be entirely devoted to the imagination and legacy of this great singer/songwriter, man of letters and global icon from Montréal. This exhibition is part of the official program for Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations.
123 days 18 new works of art
40 artists confirmed
A series of concerts and events in parallel with the exhibition
A life’s work revisited through contemporary art
A truly multidisciplinary exhibition combining visual art, virtual reality, installations, performances, music and writing, Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything offers the public a collection of brand-new work commissioned from and created by local and international artists who have been inspired by Leonard Cohen’s style and recurring themes. At the same time, it is a particularly Montreal-centric exhibition that has received outstanding support from the community.
Beyond the works to be created especially for Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything, the exhibition will also include innovative multimedia environments where Cohen’s songs will be covered and performed, as well as a survey of his archival material (writings, drawings and recordings produced over the past half-century).
When we came up with the idea for this exhibition, we went to seek the agreement of Leonard Cohen, who was thrilled with the project and the angle we were proposing. Given his recent death, our exhibition has taken on a new meaning. It has also become a tribute to this global star. We have a great responsibility to the public and the approach adopted by the artists will definitely be sensitive to this aspect, to reflect both our gratitude and our respect for this Montréal artist.
John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator, MAC
Example of themes that marked the artist’s life
Ranging from Cohen’s relationships with his dog and his father to his love of Montréal, the artists will explore themes that marked the artist’s life: darkness, light, religion, politics, love, desire, intimacy and poetry. Some examples:
Visual artist Jenny Holzer (United States) will project a selection of texts from Cohen’s poems and songs, in French and English, on Silo No. 5, one of Montreal’s most iconic architectural structures. This large-scale work will launch the exhibition in November 2017, marking the 1st anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s passing. Montrealers will be able to view the projection for five nights, from November 7 to 11.
I’m Your Man (A Portrait of Leonard Cohen), a new multi-channel video installation by Candice Breitz (South Africa), brings together a community of ardent Leonard Cohen fans—each of whom has cherished Cohen’s music for over half a century—to pay posthumous tribute to the late legend. Each of the eighteen individuals featured was offered the opportunity to perform and record his own version of Cohen’s magnificent comeback album, I’m Your Man (1988), in a professional recording studio in old Montreal. At Breitz’s invitation, the album’s backing vocals have been sumptuously re-interpreted by the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir, an all-male choir representing the Westmount congregation that Cohen belonged to all his life. Freshly commissioned by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal to be debuted in Leonard Cohen: Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything in November 2017, Breitz’s I’m Your Man is a tender farewell to a recently lost poet and musician, as well as a poignant celebration of late masculinity.
Montréal filmmaker Kara Blake will create a new video installation that invites the spectator to delve into Cohen’s thought process and his very special relationship with the city of Montréal. Entitled The Offerings, this new piece will be projected in a dark space and will engage visitors in an intimate conversation with Leonard Cohen.
Israeli film director Ari Folman (Waltz with Bachir, 2008) is planning to create a “Depression Box.” One visitor at a time will be able to enter this darkened room at the MAC to be confronted by the darkness and demons of depression, themes that can be traced throughout Cohen’s body of work and that Folman wishes to explore with this piece.
In an installation that will allow visitors to be enveloped by the music, Listening to Leonard will offer exclusively recorded cover versions of Cohen’s songs by local and international artists, including Ariane Moffatt with l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Jean Leloup, Chilly Gonzales and Jarvis Cocker, Moby and Socalled.
List of confirmed artists for this exhibition
Kara Blake (Canada)
Candice Breitz (Afrique du Sud)
Daily tous les jours (Mouna Andraos et Melissa Mongiat) (Canada)
Janet Cardiff et George Bures Miller (Canada)
Tacita Dean (Royaume-Uni)
Thomas Demand (Allemagne)
Kota Ezawa (Allemagne)
George Fok (Hong-Kong)
Ari Folman (Israël)
Clara Furey (Canada)
Jenny Holzer (États-Unis)
Jon Rafman (Canada)
Michael Rakowitz (États-Unis)
Zach Richter (États-Unis)
The Sanchez Brothers (Canada)
Taryn Simon (États-Unis)
Musicians participating in the Installation Listening to Leonard
Ariane Moffatt (Canada) accompagnée par l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
Basia Bulat (Canada)
Chilly Gonzales (Canada) et Jarvis Cocker (Royaume-Uni) with The Kaiser Quartett
Dear Criminals (Canada)
Douglas Dare (Royaume-Uni)
Jean Leloup (Canada)
Julia Holter (États-Unis)
Little Scream (United States)
Lou Doillon (France)
Mélanie De Biasio (Belgique)
The National (United States) avec Sufjan Stevens and other guests
The MAC is happy to be associated with local institutional partners who have generously contributed to the production of the exhibition. The MAC extends its warm thanks to CBC/Radio-Canada, the exhibition presentator, as well as the National Film Board of Canada, who made their full archives available at no charge to the artists creating work for this project. The MAC also wants to acknowledge the contribution of the National Film Board of Canada as the coproducer of a work of art with Daily tous les jours. The MAC also thanks Pop Montréal, partner of the concert series in parallel of the exhibition.
The Musée sincerely thanks the following for their generous support: The Azrieli Foundation, the Stephen and Lillian Vineberg Family Foundation, Nick Tedeschi and Sal Guerrera, the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation.
In November 2017, as part of the exhibition Leonard Cohen : Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything, the MAC and Jenny Holzer will light up Silo no. 5.
Artist: Jenny Holzer
MAC director and chief curator John Zeppetelli presents the exhibition Leonard Cohen : Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything (in French).
Interview with John Zeppetelli about Leonard Cohen's album You Want it Darker (in French).