Montréal, December 9, 2020 – The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) is delighted to unveil its newly exhibition, La machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux. Pending the Museum’s reopening, the MAC will offer a free digital preview available on its website on December 17th. The exhibition will be presented as soon as the Museum reopens, as well as the devastatingly beautiful video piece Vertigo Sea by world-renowned British artist John Akomfrah, and Des horizons d’attente, a new exhibition showcasing a selection of the newest acquisitions in the MAC permanent collection.

La machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux is an ambitious, wide-ranging show bringing together 34 artists from Montréal and its surroundings, some well-established, some on the rise and none of whom (or nearly none) have ever exhibited at the MAC. The show is the result of a two-year period of reflection and exploration around the theme of ‘embodied language’. From the reopening to April 25, 2021, MAC visitors will be invited to roam all of the museum spaces (including the old restaurant!) and feast their eyes on freshly minted works and words by talented local contemporary artists, committed to engaging, topical and diverse work practices.

Embodied language explored through a myriad of approaches and techniques. 

La machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux showcases MAC curators, Mark Lanctôt and Francois LeTourneux’s engagement with the local art scene, as well as the notion of language in all its permutations. These ideas evolved considerably over the course of the past two years, with visits to more than eighty local artists’ studios, conversations with a multitude of artists, writers, researchers, thinkers and diverse practitioners, culminating in the current exhibition. 

“The artists and collectives selected for the show represent an extensive and richly diverse body of works around the theme of language, and how, beyond its spoken and written form, it can also be inscribed upon bodies, gestures and on the very material world around us.” explain the curators. “These works enable us to observe the transmission and translation of knowledge, memory and affects as these come toe to toe with the boundary between the body and technology” they add.

World events shape the narrative

Numerous penetrating questions were raised in the preparation of this show and are taking a new meaning especially in light of the current circumstances. “What is body language at a time when a world-wide health crisis literally force the confined separation of our bodies? How has our focus, our awareness of time and our physical senses been transformed? How can we subject the tools we now rely on to communicate with others their just scrutiny?”

The show assembles a breadth of works that explore these issues and offer responses that are, according to the curators, “significant for their kaleidoscopic voices each of which fragment into a unique view of the world.” Every piece contains its own logic while concurrently weaving multiple conversations with every other piece in the exhibition, inviting the visitor to discover and interpret.


Vikky Alexander
Trevor Baird
Thomas Bégin
Simon Belleau
Scott Benesiinaabandan
Sandeep Bhagwati
Jacques Bilodeau
Rosika Desnoyers
Mara Eagle
Surabhi Ghosh
Carla Hemlock
Kristan Horton

Sheena Hoszko
Kelly Jazvac
Suzanne Kite
Moridja Kitenge Banza
Karen Kraven
Marlon Kroll
Nicolas Lachance
Yen-Chao Lin
Anne Low
Luanne Martineau
Manuel Mathieu

N.E. Thing Co
Jérôme Nadeau
Isabelle Pauwels
Guillaume Adjutor Provost
Walter Scott
Erin Shirreff
Eve Tagny
Samuel Walker
Nico Williams
Thea Yabut



Noteworthy: digital preview, film program, podcasts, catalogue

  • A free digital preview acting as an introduction to the exhibition, the works and the artists will be available on the MAC’s website starting December 17th.
  • Author, Ronald Rose-Antoinette, proposes as guest curator a film program entitled chorus, talk through life during the course of the exhibition with artists Denise F. da Silva & Arjuna Neuman, Esery Mondésir, Darlene Naponse, Jamilah Sabur, Kengné Téguia, and Suné Woods.
  • Daisy Desrosiers, independant curator, will host a series of podcast interviews with some of the artists of the exhibition. Available soon on the MAC’s website.
  • A catalogue accompanies the exhibition and includes an essay by Krista Lynes, several short texts written by Nicole Brossard, Marie-Andrée Gill, Rawi Hage, Symon Henry, Joana Joachim, Michael Nardone, Madeleine Thien, Maude Veilleux, Jacob Wren, as well as a number of extracts compiled by Raymond Boisjoly, by Maya Deren, Jeanne Favret-Saada, Branden Hookway, Alfred Jarry, Catherine Malabou, Ferdinand de Saussure and Michel Serres.

The MAC is fully committed to supporting and encouraging the Québec art scene 

The MAC is proud to present this exhibition based on local art practices. The museum undertakes a number of additional initiatives that support the surrounding artistic ecosystem, for example by having committed 100% of its 2020 acquisitions budget to the purchase of works by Québec artists. Equally, the MAC is promoting the campaign I support local art, an initiative by the Fondation du MAC to meet the challenge of doubling the museum’s acquisitions budget. Visitors will be able to view a selection of these new works showcased in the new exhibition of the MAC’s own collection, Des horizons d’attente.


The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is a provincially owned corporation funded by the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec. It receives additional funding from the Government of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

Located in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal makes today’s art a vital part of Montréal and Québec life. For more than fifty years, this vibrant museum has brought together local and international artists, their works and an ever-growing public. It is also a place of discovery, offering visitors experiences that are continually changing and new, and often unexpected and stirring. The MAC presents temporary exhibitions devoted to outstanding and relevant current artists who provide their own particular insight into our society, as well as exhibitions of works drawn from the museum’s extensive collection. These may feature any and every form of expression: digital and sound works, installations, paintings, sculptures, ephemeral pieces, and more. In addition to its wide range of educational activities familiarizing the general public with contemporary art, the MAC organizes unique artistic performances and festive events. It is a window onto a myriad of avant-garde expressions that extend the reach of art throughout the city and beyond.

Source and Information

Anne Dongois
T. 514 826-2050
[email protected]