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Postcard from Montreal

Postcard from Montreal

By Luke Mitchell, Bath Spa University

Even though the last Sisters of Charity of the Hôpital
Général of Montreal left some time ago, the now
student residencies I called home for 2 weeks set
the tone for some dedicated study and
In this contemporary context we find ourselves in its
artists and researchers who are my celebrities, they
continue to prove themselves uncompromising in
their pursuit of positive change, leaving religions and
politicians in their wake. The book upon my bedside
table was not a bible, but The Emancipated
Spectator by Jacques Rancière.

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Staged scene in my room at
Grey Nuns’ Residencies
To earn my first breakfast I ascended
to the sommet du Mont-Royal with the
morning joggers. The air was warm and
tinged with a cool mist from park
rangers pressure washing the stone
walkways surrounding the chalet. After
a while it became quite apparent I was
the only one not jogging, so I joined in.

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View of Centre-Ville from the Chalet du Mont-Royal
A decal on the laptop of one of the opening speakers carried the line, ‘No one is
coming, it’s up to us!’ As a primer, that highlighted an important thing to remember
and hold dear, that in academia, in research, in critique; it’s the problems we are
fighting, not each other.

If I feel that I can match something, no matter
what, then I’ll step up and try it. If I feel that
someone can teach me something and that they
know better, I’m a happy student.
Patti Smith, 2013
(speaking to Canadian talk show host George Stroumboulopoulos)

I actively seek common ground with everyone I
meet, but was pleasantly surprised to find some
with all the attendees, both speakers and summer
school participants. They’re too numerous to
make it in to this summary, but all have affected
my thinking in one way or another.
On reflection it would be fair to put this down to
the warm atmosphere and culture of openness
and enthusiasm, which created favourable
conditions for this to take place.

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Beginning to embrace some mark making
techniques (McNair and Hartigan), reflective journaling (Pomeroy)
and sporadic making (Timm-Bottos).

The city offered an embarrassment of things to do
and see including the strongest museum exhibition
I’ve ever seen in my life, with the longest title; From
Africa to the Americas: Face to Face Picasso, Past
and Present at Musée des Beaux-Arts.

In some ways the universities seemed
ahead of the curve in how they want to
communicate with communities and
audiences, which will be typified by the
opening of Concordia’s 4th Space in late
2018 (another progressive product of the
‘lab’ culture there).


Exterior of 4th Space site

Montreal is a wonderfully welcoming,
cosmopolitan place with a complex
history, and from what I saw and felt, a
bright future.
There’s an impressive universal
commitment to display, presentation
and public engagement, and a vibrant
festival scene.

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View of Leonard Cohen mural from inside Musée des Beaux-Arts

I took some extra time either side of the conference and summer school to explore
the city, relax and interview some other academics and practitioners. With a wealth
of information, opinions, theories and practices flying around this proved valuable in
digesting what had come before and ponder what I really thought.

A key aim of attending this event was to select case studies that could inform my
Masters thesis. Everywhere I looked there was something to learn, so I came away,
not only with relevant material, but with new things to consider, and ways to develop
existing ideas in an international context.
All images shot by Luke on iPhone

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