First World Open Culture Biennale

The Montreal Biennale wants to open the door of the Art world: A return to the activism of the 1960s and 1970s, but this time with all the resources of the latests internet generation.

(Edo Djiksterhuis in Hel financieele dagblad, 16 May 2009)

The first world Biennale devoted to Open Culture took place in Montreal from 1st to 31st May 2009.

Based on sharing and equal access to information for everyone Open Culture has followed different paths depending on the sectors where it developed. Open Architecture is essentially a tool to give decent housing to developing countries' poorest citizens. In photography, painting and music, Open Culture encourages the creation of new works, in the spirit of Marcel Duchamp and Appropriation Art. In the field of computer technology, its predilection sector, development rapidly led to two different approaches: a more scientific one, advocating the rapid development of technologies without hindrance by specific interests. In other sectors, such as journalism, the Open Culture idea parallels the ''citizen approach'', allowing non-professional citizens to participate in the development of news reports.

Endeavouring to encourage exchanges among artits coming mainly from Quebec and the rest of Canada, the BNL MTL 2009 has given then the possibility of explicating what Open Culture meant for them and for their art sector. In doing so, they could understand how this notion coincided or differed from the way other artists and disciplines understood it and to compare their experiences in this field.

Open Culture is a theme that echoes several important questions with which contemporary art must deal, such as the redefinition of how the traditional art market functions, how to adapt copyright to the digital age, how to develop participative works, how to use open software in artistic creation, and what the artist's satus and role in society should be.

For the last few years, CIAC's Electronic Magazine under the direction of Anne-Marie Boisvert has given artists working in differnet disciplines the possibility of using open software not only to create new works but also to give the public the opportunity to take part in the creative process.

Internation Meetings and Symposia

Two international symposia were held to try to define the relationship between Open Culture and the art world.

The first symposium, entitled ''Histoires et archives; arts et littérature hypermédiatiques'' ( (his)Stories and Archives: Hypermedia Arts and Literature), was organized by the NT2 Laboratory. It examined different literary and artistic forms present on the web, such as hypertext, computer created texts, interactive fiction, works combining texts and multimedia, sounds, images, and videos.

A second symposium, hosted by Olivier Charbonneau, professional librarian and Quebec's representative to Creative Commons, has brought together artists and theoreticians to discuss the issues raised by Open Cultures and its relations with contemporary art. At a time when the word ''fair'' is used more and more, the participants have been asked to discuss ''fair consumption'' as well as ''fair creation''.

An Evening of blue and orange hypermedia performances brought together artists such as J.R. Carpentier. Jason E. Lewis and David Jhave Johnston at UQAM Coeur des Sciences.

 Jean Paul Fourmentraux, sociologist
"Histoires et archives; arts et littérature hypermédiatiques" symposium, 2009


Visual Arts

The creativity of the individual in the context of our larger world remains the main focus of Open Culture. Two artists, Cao Guimaraes and Richard Wentworth, working on opposite sides of the world and without knowledge of each other's work, have created a collection of photographs documenting incidental and uncelebrated acts of individual creativity as people re-shape and re-purpose objetcs of their daily life to which they have given new forms of functions.


Cao Guimaraes                                                                                 Richard Wenworth
Gambiarras # 13, 2005                                                                   From the serie Making Do and Getting By, 1973-2008


Most of the artists have proposed works that invite individual participation from the spectators. They include Perry Bard, Alexandre Castonguay and Matthieu Bouchard, Mélissa Mongiat and Amuse, Daniel Joliffe, Natalie Reis and Vanda Daftari, as well as Lynn Hughes and Bart Simon.

Perry Bard,                                                                                                 Alexandre Castonguay and Mathieu Bouchard,
Man with a Movie Camera: The Global Remake, 2007                  Read Write, 2009


Melissa Mongiat                                                                                      Daniel Joliffe,
La conspiration du bien, 2009                                                             Une minute gratuite, 2009


Vanda Daftari and Natalie Reis,                                                         Lynn Hughes and Bart Simon,
Shopdropping Montréal, 2009                                                           Porous Lab, 2009                                                 


Peter Gibson (Roadsworth) has created a work linked with the history of Bourget School, the main location of the BNL-MTL in downtown Montreal. For la BNL MTL 09, Roadsworth invited us of the path that boys and girls followed to get there.

Roadsworth, 2009


An interactive work, Des histoires personnelles (Some Personal Stories), involving artists Alexandre Castonguay and Michal Seta, as well as citizens of the Arrondissement Le Sud-Ouest, was presented with greta success at the Maison de la culture Marie-Uguay.

Alexandre Castonguay and Michel Seta,
Des Histoires personnelles
»  2009



Open to public participation and exchanges with the filmmakers, the film section was designed and carried out by Michèle Gauthier and Claudine Tessier. It brought together eight young filmmakers who produced eight short films, based on ideas brouhgt forward by other members of the collective and by the public. On the Internet, a personality test was posted and the public was requested to define a psychological profile of the film's main character, twenty-year old woman, unstable and obsessed by the fear of being forgotten. Eight actors played the role of this character, each of them in accordance with the personal interpretation of each film director.

Michèle Gauthier et Claudine Tessier,
8 courts un collectif, 2009
(Abeille Tard, Alexandre Gibault, Ahn Minh Truong, Benjamin Gueguen, Claudine Tissier, Guy Édoin, Sophie Goyette, Yann Giroux)



Stefan Stagmeister is an artist whose work, not bereft of humour, seeks to simplify our lives. He focuses on three main areas: music, artistic institutions and social responsability. Stagmeister has produced a diary that brings together a list of some 20 maxims, Things I have Learned in my Life, So Far. For the past five years, he has been presenting, internationally, various phrases of his collection of observations, in spaces that are usually reserved for advertising. Designed specifically for Montreal in May 2008, the sentence Obsessions are helpful professionally and inane privately  was offered to creators and to the public for open interpretation. Participants selected their own materials (photography, sound, video, crafts, food, animation, sculpture, etc). The best creations were selected by a jury.

Stefan Stagmeister,
Design Libre, 2009



Curators Claudio Marzano and Scott Clyke have developed and carried through Paysages Sonores/Soundscapes, a platform for musical conversation sparked by a single painting, Rick Leong's Dancing Serpent in Dawn's Quiet (2006). Composer David Ryshpan opened the discourse with a soundtrack inspired by Leong's otherworldly landscape, made available online to musicians and producers from around the world, inviting them to reinterpret the score as they wished. A selection of the remixes was compiled on a CD and presented during an evening at Sala Rosa.

Rick Leong,                                                                                                   ''The Goods'' evening Dancing Landscape,
Dancing Serpent in Dawn's Quiet, 2006                                                Sala Rossa, 2009


L'art du réseau - The Net as Art: numéro spécial du Magazine électronique du CIAC

The creative process at the origin of many contemporary artworks takes place, in whole or part, on the Net: interaction, collaboration, collage, remix... For these modes of creation, the Net is a natural habitat in which the limits of space, time and matter are abolished. Number 33 of CIAC's Electronic Magazine has looked at some of these works, which have taken the network itself as an object of their art. These works refer to the initial ideals of the Net, involve a cooperative spirit and free trade, and emphazise the collective rather than the individual, while underlining the fact that navigation creates a visual trace that becomes information, and is thus immediately transformed into a performance.