This symposium gathers researchers, artists as well as conservators and curators at various stages in their careers, who reflect on the history, practice, dissemination and conservation of the tableau vivant in Canada. It aims to define the contribution of a past and current practice by artists as well as museums, and to partake in the reflection that is taking place on the international level.

At the time of its creation in the18th century the tableau vivant was a popular form of entertainment. The known literary or visual works represented in tableaux vivants were personified by individuals in costume who held a pose in scenic settings. Literature, photography and cinema conserved the main traces of this popular genre, but the interest in the instantaneity and realism of images also contributed to its relative disappearance in the first half of the 20th century. The tableau vivant has enjoyed a remarkable popularity in Europe and among our neighbours to the south, which raises the question of its practice in Canada.

Nowadays, the tableau vivant is remerging in various artistic and cultural fields. In contemporary art, its stagings have been made use of since at least the 1970s and the use of immobility in performance goes back to even earlier. Though the place of photography remains uncontested, this first symposium on the tableau vivant in Canada favour performative forms. They have closer ties to the theatrical origins. Moreover, since the new millennium, museums have made a significant switch in acquiring as well as showing more performances, among which some are truly tableaux vivants while others are related to them.

The symposium will also have served as the creation framework for the work Diamond in the Rough, by Daniel Olson, which is presented in parallel. The latest issue of ESPACE art actuel magazine will also be launched on this occasion.

Guest speakers

  • Mélanie Boucher
    Associate Professor, Université du Québec en Outaouais
  • Ersy Contogouris
    Assistant Professor, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Gabrielle Desgagné-Duclos
    Independent Researcher
  • Jim Drobnick
    Associate Professor, OCAD University
  • Jennifer Fisher
    Professor, York University
  • Adad Hannah
  • Lesley Johnstone
    Curator and Head of Exhibitions and Education, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
  • Laurier Lacroix
    Professor Emeritus, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Bernard Lamarche
    Curator of Contemporary Art, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
  • Johanne Lamoureux
    Professor, Université de Montréal and director of Département des études et de la recherche, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris
  • Thierry Marceau
  • Daniel Olson
  • Lori Pauli
    Curator of Photographs, National Gallery of Canada
  • Valentine Robert
    Assistant Professor, Université de Lausanne
  • Anne-Élisabeth Vallée
    Independent Researcher

The symposium Stay Still, Translate : Performance, Présentation, Conservation du tableau vivant au Canada, is organized by Mélanie Boucher, associate professor at École multidisciplinaire de l’image of Université du Québec en Outaouais, in partnership with Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and ESPACE art actuel magazine. It was made possible thanks to funding support from the Canada Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council as part of its Connection Grants program – Connecting for Canada’s 150th initiative. The symposium is also funded by Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture and École multidisciplinaire de l’image of Université du Québec en Outaouais.