This daily barrage of traumatic images, of difficult conversations happening in a world that’s physically isolated but virtually connected, is what curators Never Was Average, Hanna Che, and Harry Julmice are responding to in the virtual exhibition Joy as Resistance at Centre Never Apart. Comprised of photographs, illustrations, and music, this exhibition showcases works by Montréal-based artists of African descent.
No Crying at the Dinner Table by Carol Nguyen is a deeply personal film, mainly because Nguyen seats her own parents and sister at this dinner table and constructs the narrative out of interviews with them. Despite being so specific to Nguyen’s own family, this film also works as a capsule holding this moment in time where children are growing up in vastly different cultures than their parents and grandparents.
As a critic, one often tends to search for a unifying theme or motif underlying their object of criticism. While I made my way through Kaie Kellough’s collection of stories entitled Dominoes at the Crossroads, what I found instead of themes or motifs is what can only be called a force, propelling the collection backwards and forwards, between nations and ideas of ‘Nation’.
I arrived on the corner of St-Laurent and Duluth on an overcast Wednesday afternoon to meet my tour guide, Lara, at what was formerly the location of the Museum of Jewish Montreal (MJM). We were both respectively carrying things that marked us as tour guide and tour taker - her with her binder and me with my notebook. But we were both also wearing indicators of something else – she was behind a transparent face shield and I behind a pale blue medical mask. It was a bleak reminder that even as arts and cultural institutions are coming back to life, they are nevertheless contending with unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19.
We may not realize it, but the urban spaces we traverse in our day-to-day lives actually unfold in front of us like novels. Walking down streets named after national heroes, watching birds sit on the heads of statues, what we are actually encountering is a narrative structure of the book called «national culture».