MAU, Plan large, MAP, Intégration – Jacques Doyon, Institutional Initiatives

[Summer 2009]

by Jacques Doyon

For several decades, contemporary art has been on display in the public spaces of Quebec’s urban areas, thanks to the creation of public art programs. Photography was long excluded from these programs, and even today it has limited visibility. Some initiatives have been undertaken in recent years, however, that stand out for the desire to inscribe photography in the public space in a more durable fashion, while preserving its timely, event-based nature. These initiatives take advantage of photography’s specificity as a medium by boldly entering the territory of advertising and current events, thus contributing to an extension of the city’s exhibition spaces.





Created in 1997, the MAU is the only museum in Quebec devoted to the production and diffusion of two-dimensional works in the urban environment. Much more than a mere exhibition space, the Museum offers a permanent network of outdoor sites that enable it to reach out to a vast and diverse public, while providing visual artists with a major opportunity for exposure. The structures designed by Michel Dallaire that present the Museum’s exhibitions stem from a visual tradition in which pedestrians reappropriate the public space and transform it, with the help of the artist, into a truly public art space for everyone to enjoy.

Adad Hannah et Alexandre Castonguay, D’après Muybridge et D’après Galbraith, 2004, vues d’installation, photographie, 2,44 x 3,66 m, gracieuseté de Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain.
© Adad Hannah et Alexandre Castonguay

Plan large

Darling Foundry

The mission of the Plan large project is to improve the urban environment through the presence of art. Inaugurated in 2001, the event appropriates abandoned advertising billboards and transforms them into supports for large photographic works. The intention is to improve the urban environment and the dynamic of a neighbourhood through the presence of art. By placing site-specific interventions in vacant lots or industrial sites, Quartier éphémère ains to make the public aware of common issues such as heritage, memory, and architecture.


Make Art Public

Make Art Public was founded in 2006 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of art and culture in everyday life by means of mass advertising. MAP’s objective is to integrate art into public space and daily life by occupying unused advertising billboards on major pedestrian thoroughfares. Its exhibition projects include works of visual arts, architecture and urban planning dealing with social and environmental issues that are of concern for a broad public. Ultimately, MAP’s goal is to present art on 15 percent of all vacant advertising spaces in Montreal.


Public art programs, as well as a number of institutions, are helping to carve out a space for photographic works within Montreal’s urban landscape. The ambitious projects by Nicolas Baier and Lemieux/Pilon/Cantin (illustrated on page 40), which occupy large façades via a transformation of the image into more durable materials, originate in the 1 percent program. Roberto Pellegrinuzzi’s works – which use a mechanism evoking billboards and display windows – were produced thanks to Montreal’s public art bureau. A work by Geneviève Cadieux, borrowed from the collection of the Musée d’art contemporain, is presented under an institutional banner, while one by Isabelle Hayeur, integrated into the underground passages of the Métro, was commissioned by the Quartier international de Montréal. These are just some examples of a lasting integration into the city’s urban fabric.