The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the cultural sector right here in Montreal and across the world. Performance venues are closed, there are serious restrictions on museums and galleries, and we’ve all had to make a shift to the digital world. In spring and early summer 2020 the Belgo building, where Visual Voice is located, was locked down. Since the building’s reopening, there has been a slow trickle of visitors who are returning to see art exhibitions in the Belgo’s many galleries. However, we are not going to return to “normal” anytime soon.
The pandemic has given me an opportunity to reflect on what it means to run an art gallery, and where we could go from here. Visual Voice is in its 14th year of operation, and we’ve had a few pivots in our time. From its initial launch as a rental space for emerging artists to its current form as an art-science research space, we have been nimble and willing to re-imagine what an art gallery can be. It’s time for another iteration.
For the coming year, Visual Voice will transform from an exhibition space into a studio space for artists in residence. Our focus will remain on the exploration of the art-science intersection. We will foreground research practice and allow audiences to follow our artists on their creative journey. During each residency, artists will talk about their plans, share their artworks in progress, and discuss their thoughts and insights. Our attention will be centered as much on the creative progress as on the final outcome of the residency.
This emphasis on research dovetails with our art-science mandate. The fields of art and science have much in common, particularly the practice of research. Experimentation, iteration, curiosity, and risk-taking are at the heart of both art and science. Just as the art-science movement disrupts knowledge silos, so Visual Voice will disrupt the boundaries between gallery and studio, process and outcome, physical and virtual.
I look forward to re-launching Visual Voice as a multi-modal site of exploration, creation, and innovation. Our first artist in this new model is Montreal-based multi-disciplinary artist Swarm, who will explore the very beginning of the universe. Looks like we’re starting off with a Big Bang.