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Published on December 15, 2021

Two new acquisitions enrich the collection of works by women at the MMFA

Partial view from the contemporary art gallery on level S2 of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavillion at the MMFA ©Kapwani Kiwanga / SOCAN (2021). Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) would like to acknowledge the acquisition of two new works that enhance its collection of contemporary art and add to the representation of women artists at the Museum. Through such acquisitions, made possible thanks to the generosity of a wide range of donors, the MMFA pursues its mission of parity and continues to enrich the diversity of its extraordinary collection.

The collection therefore welcomes a work by Kapwani Kiwanga, a Canadian artist living in Paris, the recipient of the prestigious Sobey Art Award in 2018 and the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2020, as well as one by Diana Thater, an American artist and pioneering creator in the world of film, video and installation.

Nation: Burning of Cap Français, June 1793, Kapwani Kiwanga is part of a series started in 2018, in which Kiwanga drew inspiration from the syncretic nature of Vodou practices and continued her exploration of the connections between spiritual beliefs and politics. One of the banners making up the work was embroidered by Haitian artisans after fragments of historical European paintings and prints executed in the 19th century depicting the Haitian revolution. This work can be interpreted simultaneously as a flag and as a painting. The flag both symbolizes nation states and refers to the flag of a spirit (loa), which is considered a sacred object in Vodou culture.

Untitled (Joe and Marc), Diana Thater is a videowall installation comprising four flat-screen monitors, each of which shows a portion of the petals of the two huge pink peony blooms set against an azure sky that are featured in its 11-minute-long video. The monitor positioned at the lower right also provides a partial glimpse of a camera. At first glance, viewers might think they are in front of a picture of flowers, perhaps a still life. Slowly, however—very slowly—the scene on screen begins to move, the petals lifting quite gently when the flowers brush against and touch each other.

Burning of Cap Français, June 1793 and Untitled (Joe and Marc) are on view in the contemporary art galleries on Level S2 of the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion that have been revamped by Eunice Bélidor, Curator of Quebec and Canadian Contemporary Art, and Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Chief Curator.

Acknowledgements The MMFA would like to thank its donors for the purchase of Kapwani Kiwanga’s Burning of Cap Français, June 1793 through the Museum Campaign 1998-2002 Fund. The Museum would also like to acknowledge, for the donation of Diana Thater’s Untitled (Joe and Marc), the immense generosity of Heather Reisman.

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