Many Montreals

The Canadian Centre for Architecture is presenting the fourth in a series of exhibitions investigating the city it inhabits. ABC: MTL is an open-source initiative that draws on the participation of individuals and institutions to produce a multi-faceted portrait of today’s Montreal. The result is a collection of projects, installations and public programs whose contents will be periodically updated.

An open call for submissions during the summer of 2012 – still ongoing as the program opens – set the ABC: MTL wheels in motion. Out of nearly 250 proposals, 90 contributions will be displayed or presented in the CCA galleries, covering a wide range of formats and media -– including photography, video, installations, performances, workshops, lectures and architectural projects. About a third of these shortlisted submissions make up the first installment of the project, on view until the end of January.

“Territory is not just a physical subject but rather a complex reality, made up of the multiple representations that try to describe it,” says curator Fabrizio Gallanti. “The control of these narratives becomes a political issue. We wanted to open the discourse on Montreal, considering ABC: MTL as a dynamic platform where alternative points of view could be put in dialogue and taking a critical position around some of the transformations that are happening right now. For us this is a form of democracy: the identity of one site is not the privilege of a few but rather a perpetually unstable condition that is the result of a real polyphony of voices.”

The proposals on view in the first installment are presented under intriguing keywords: Data, Electrosmog, Arrivals, Montroyalite, Hippodrome, Hyperbâtiment, Partition, Ruelles, Threshold, Bridge, Métropole, Turcot, Citoyens, Continuité, Mobilisation, Urgence, Culte, Soccer and Exile. Contributors include the collective SYN; photographers Arjuna Neuman and Ramak Fazal; art cooperative Audiotopie; and local architecture firms Atelier Big City, FABG Architectes, and Saucier + Perrotte Architectes. 

The four series of exhibitions investigating Montreal – Opening the Gates of Eighteenth Century Montreal (1992), Montreal Métropole, 1880–1930 (1998), Montreal Thinks Big (2004) and now ABC: MTL – reflect the CCA’s commitment to the urban phenomenon: how cities have been imagined, realized, inhabited and perceived over time.

ABC: MTL runs at the CCA through Mar. 31. For more information, visit