Nineteen artists who never set foot on Man and His World dig into that fertile ground to produce a uniquely evocative and contemporary exhibition.
The works by these artists were commissioned specifically for the exhibition, creating a rare opportunity for them to explore the archives and history of Expo 67, reinventing the past from a 21st century perspective.
One of the media used to present the results of their research is film: images taken by Marie-Claire Blais and Pascal Grandmaison in the Expo 67 islands reveal traces of remains and erasures; Emmanuelle Léonard, drawing inspiration from the film The Eighth Day produced by Charles Gagnon for the Christian pavilion, has assembled a montage of online images of the many conflicts since 1967; David K. Ross uses a drone to retrace the path of the celebrated mini-rail, flying some 12 metres above it through the landscape of Jean-Drapeau Park.
Other artists, focusing on specific pavilions, have created multimedia installations: JeanPierre Aubé echoes the Kaleidoscope pavilion in a time-lapse video full of psychedelic effects and showing the process of chemical crystallization; Geronimo Inutiq references Katimavik, the inverted pyramid of the Canada pavilion, creating a multimedia installation with photographs, archival video sequences and sound compositions; Charles Stankievech interacts with the impressive architecture of the United States pavilion—Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome—and explores the contradictory ideologies that lie behind it.
Digging into the Expo 67 archives provides an opportunity to showcase lesser known aspects of the Fair. The installation by artists’ collective Leisure draws attention to landscape architect Cornelia Hahn-Oberlander, who challenged conventional concepts of children’s play by designing a unique playground. Althea Thauberger revisits the People Tree of the Canada pavilion, which used documentary photos to put forward a certain view of the Canadian identity. Two artists focused on the Indians of Canada pavilion: Duane Linklater questions the institutionalization and historicization of aboriginal bodies and art with a huge site specific mural inspired by that of Norval Morrisseau on the pavilion façade; Krista Belle Stewart creates a site specific installation made of archival images.
Simon Boudvin offers a photographic inventory of the traces of Expo 67 found in the streets of Montreal, which he combines with quotes from official 1967 documents. Stéphane Gilot explores the architectural vocabulary of Expo 67 using Minecraft, a world-building video game that visitors are invited to play with as well.
We are also taken back into the sound environment of Expo 67. Chris Salter’s light and sound composition draws on the revolutionary Polytopes by composer Iannis Xenakis, first presented at the France pavilion; in their sound installation, Kathleen Ritter and David Ritter examine the auditory spaces of Expo 67, especially sampling and repetition, which they consider precursors to the DJ culture and remixes; from the interactive and multimedia archival films screened during Expo 67, Caroline Martel creates a montage that is as dynamic and varied as the event itself, which will be projected on a mosaic of screens in the open area of the Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme at Place des Arts; Cheryl Sim, in a three-channel video projection, offers a personal version of the Expo 67 theme song, Un jour un jour by Stéphane Venne, and pays tribute to the hostesses who welcomed the world.
The exhibition includes existing works related to Expo 67: a film by Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn, silver prints on paper by Mark Ruwedel, and the short documentary film by Philip Hoffman and Eva Kolcze. Lastly, there is spectacular recreation of Polar Life, the film produced by Graeme Ferguson and projected onto 11 screens in the Man the Explorer pavilion; other original films will also be screened throughout the exhibition “in order to show the ingenious ways cinema was presented and experienced during Expo 67,” say Lesley Johnstone and Monika Kin Gagnon, co-curators of the exhibition.