Plural Contemporary Art Fair, the renewed version of Papier, returns from 21 to 23 April 2023.
With the unveiling of a new name, Plural Contemporary Art Fair, AGAC’s flagship event is back on track this spring. I spoke to Ms. Julie Lacroix, Executive Director of the association that organizes the event formerly known as Papier at Grand Quay of the Port of Montréal from April 21 to 23, about this big change.
Why the name change?
As I said at the outset, Papier is now Plural. You may wonder why such a strong brand is changing its identity. In fact, AGAC has been thinking about this since 2019. “The decision was made at length, it must be said that we bring together 40 galleries that present much more than art on paper, and some of them found the name limiting in relation to their field of expertise and it could allow us to build a new clientele of collectors and broaden our audience,” explains the AGAC’s executive director.
In addition, Ms. Lacroix says that the country’s major collectors and patrons didn’t always show up, because some felt that Papier was not for them. “And slowly the exhibition opened up to other mediums, and two years ago all the criteria fell away, so the galleries had free rein in their presentations. After various consultations, Plural was born. What we liked was that we went from one medium (paper) to several (Plurality, numbers, etc.), and that it was easy to understand, simple, effective and bilingual, because we have galleries across the country,” adds Ms. Lacroix.
Plural Contemporary Art Fair: A name to grow on
The change in identity also brings a change in space. While the event remains at the Grand Quay of the Port of Montréal (formerly known as Alexandra Pier), it is now spread over two floors, a wish the organization has cherished since 2018, and with the arrival of the new brand, the timing was perfect.
The entrance will now be on the 2nd floor, so that people can get a good look at the pavilion. Upon arrival at the fair, visitors will be greeted by an exhibition featuring seven contemporary Canadian artists. Composed of major works in a variety of mediums and techniques, the exhibition on the 2nd floor will allow the public to contemplate sculptures, paintings, textiles and multimedia installations while enjoying the enchanting decor of the Pavilion. The round tables will also be there. There will also be a restaurant with seating for the first time, as well as a space reserved for monumental works and partners. The ground floor will be reserved for the galleries. “The second floor will be reserved for education and programming, while the ground floor is dedicated to the art market,” adds the woman who has been involved in the art world since the early 2000s.
One might wonder if the event’s faithful have followed them since the change of venue, but it’s more complex than just the new location “In 2018 we introduced the ticketing, and in 2019 we were moving to the Grand Quay. We definitely had a dip, but after that it was a steady progression (if you exclude the pandemic). We really found our homeport (no pun intended) at the Grand Quay. Everyone thinks it’s the perfect place,” says the director.
Although the event was in August last year with the terrace and the sun, it is back, in 2023, in April for the simple reason that the terminal was not in operation for its main purpose, i.e., cruises, in 2022.
You may know Ms. Karine Vanasse as one of the figures of the event in the past, who recently shared the event’s new name on her social networks. “Being an in-demand actress, we don’t know if she will be present during the event, we have to juggle her schedule, she is multiplying projects, but she is still attached to Plural. If she can, she should be there. We cannot ignore the return of our honorary president, Mr. Éric Bujold, head of customer relations at the National Bank of Canada,” added Ms. Lacroix.
An educational mission at the heart of Plural Contemporary Art Fair
Education is certainly one of the aspects that is at the heart of the event’s mission, in addition to ensuring the recognition and prosperity of the contemporary art market in Canada. “To ensure the success of our members, there needs to be more monetary investment from the public in the works of the galleries we represent, to lead to this purchase, there needs to be an understanding that this educational mission of the event is attached to, because we see our visitors as the collectors of tomorrow. For this to happen, they must be interested in them, understand them, know the language in order to be able to exchange with the artists, the galleries, the milieu, and if we give them these keys to reading and these moments of exchange, they will attend the openings and make acquisitions, and perhaps they will become regular clients of our members,” explains the professional in contemporary art.
The next edition of the Gallery Weekend will take place from September 22 to 25 in Toronto. For four days, some twenty contemporary art galleries invited by the AGAC open their doors to the general public and offer a host of activities in the Queen City. It’s the perfect time to discover numerous exhibitions, and to meet and talk with gallery owners, artists and others in the art world. Take advantage of the programming offered in the galleries on the web and social networks: visits with artists, curators, discussions, and more.
Also, the Plural Forum programme, of which you can discover most of the lectures from past years online, the guided tours and the satellite programmes will help visitors who are less familiar with the Plural project. A not-to-be-missed round table (in french) on Creation, Ethics and Intellectual Property: Artificial Intelligence in Contemporary Art (Création, éthique et propriété intellectuelle: l’intelligence artificielle en art contemporain), on Saturday, April 22 at 5 p.m. find all the details here.
An event that grows over the years
From its humble beginnings in Westmount Square with one table to the Place des Festivals to the Complexe de Gaspé to the Arsenal to the Grand Quay, Plural Contemporary Art Fair continues to build a following and its partners continue to follow the event. “Our partners appreciate our rebranding, which is obviously more inclusive. Also, this is the third fair we have organized with only 7–8 months between each one, which is a huge challenge, which the pandemic has imposed on us. We now want to slow down the pace and consolidate our achievements to increase the notoriety of the event. We have made great leaps, but it is now time to sit back and reflect on where we are going and where we want to be,” adds the director.
In the coming years, the event would like to have a curator, a theme, in short, a more thoughtful event. “All of this will be consolidation,” says the woman who is in her second stint as general manager of the AGAC after a two-year stop at CHU Ste-Justine.
A final piece of advice from Ms. Lacroix is to take more time to attend Plural as it is on two floors and you will have more to see.