Interview: “New technologies are now an integral part of the artistic practice” – Myriam Achard (Phi Centre)

Interview: “New technologies are now an integral part of the artistic practice” – Myriam Achard (Phi Centre)

“For art in all its forms”: Montreal-based Phi Centre is not new to immersive exhibitions and events. After their pop-up showcase at La Biennale di Venezia from May to October (link), Phi just launched their new exhibition at their canadian headquarters.. Well, 2 immersive exhibitions in fact running until next January, 19! We spoke with Myriam Achard, Chief New Media Partnerships and PR at Phi about their new projects and international expansions.

Cadavre exquis – Contemporary art through alternative lenses

CADAVRE EXQUIS: an immersive art showcase

Myriam Achard – CADAVRE EXQUIS is an exhibition that highlights the work of what we consider at Phi among the greatest artists of contemporary art of today: Laurie Anderson, Hsin-Chien Huang, Marina Abramović, Olafur Eliasson, Antony Gormley, Paul McCarthy… Actually we did the curation of this exhibition before La Biennale di Venezia 2019, but I discovered BODYLESS there which was really impressive. We added it afterwards: it’s such a powerful work that it made sense to invite it as well. Among the 9 works of CADAVRE EXQUIS there is also an augmented reality project, PREREQUISITES 7 by Koo Jeong A, located on the rooftop of the building. Amazing to see a huge cube floating above Montreal!

  • RISING – Marina Abramović
  • TO THE MOON – Laurie Anderson, Hsin-Chien Huang
  • CHALKROOM – Laurie Anderson, Hsin-Chien Huang
  • ALOFT – Laurie Anderson, Hsin-Chien Huang
  • RAINBOW – Olafur Eliasson
  • C.S.S.C. COACH STAGE STAGE COACH VR EXPERIMENT MARY AND EVE – Paul McCarthy
  • LUNATICK – Antony Gormley, Priyamvada Natarajan
  • BODYLESS – Hsin-Chien Huang
  • PREREQUISITES 7 – Koo Jeong A

M. A. – We wanted to show the link between VR and contemporary art. We had almost always presented linear or interactive stories in virtual reality, here we are getting closer to something more conceptual. The two passions of Phoebe Greenberg – Phi Center founder and director – contemporary art and new technologies, are combined with this exhibition. Our relationship with Acute Art (link), which produced a majority of the projects, has helped us to offer this type of exhibition with major artists. Finally they don’t showcase a project just one time, in one-off, but they can now present their works multiple times and to more audiences. New technologies are now an integral part of their artistic practice, with the advantage of reproducing endlessly the presentation to the public.

M. A. – There were no real criteria in our selections except contemporary art. As an exhibition location we are not in the festival model – where VR is very much inspired by feature film’s festivals. We are not in the exclusive presentation of works, even if it can happen – we have 7 Canadian premieres here.

Phi Centre: to infinity and beyond!

M. A. – CADAVRE EXQUIS is next to our Cinema VR, which regularly presents linear or interactive VR works since 2017. This time you can discover the INNERFLOOD line up (link), and for the first time the two selections follow the same path, the theme of contemporary artists: Anish Kapoor, Nathalie Djurberg, Jakob Kudsk Steensen (his first work) and the French Mali Arun. It was important to let both selections talk to each other.

VR Cinema: InnerFlood @ Phi Centre

M. A. – Our pop-up showcase in Venice ended just as CADAVRE EXQUIS started. The idea of ​​offering a gallery for six months abroad, during La Biennale di Venezia, was to have 4 programs of immersive works, some of which are found after at Phi in Montreal. Looking for new ways of distribution or exhibitions worldwide is first a way to export our expertise, to travel with what works at the Phi Center. In Venice we wanted to reach museum people, to see where collaborations can be made. And it works, we had meetings and talks that we will continue in the months to come, whether it is to make our programming travel or to create new ones for other places in South America, in Europe, Asia … This could be the case of our previous exhibition VR, HUM(AI)N (link), in whole or with certain adaptations according to the places and countries.

Phi Immersive: Theatre of Virtuality Moon
Flashback: the Phi Immersive: Theatre of Virtuality in Venice

M. A. – We also produce real installations (as we co-organize at the Rockefeller Center last year with SPHERES – link). At La Biennale we worked with A LIFE IN FLOWERS and BATTLESCAR. We had already done this with GYMNASIA, 7 LIVES and INTO THE LIGHT at Tribeca 2019. Then, we are looking for places to welcome these experiences alone, or incorporate them into larger exhibitions. At Phi we also continue to look for experiences to exhibit on shorter deadlines – few weeks between exhibitions – as we did with THE HORRIFICALLY REAL VIRTUALITY. I would love to be able to bring together international venues with the opportunity to host immersive works and organize the circulation of works to ensure their presentation in the world. This is an ongoing discussion…

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