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View the Night – When Art Becomes a Sensorial, Poetic Experience

Press Release

QUÉBEC CITY, Nov. 1, 2023 – “Getting up at 4 a.m. in the middle of the night and having this space to myself to do what I want is very liberating,” notes Alexandre.* “At night, I’m afraid of the monsters hiding behind the headboard. I pull the covers over my head to get back to sleep,” says Olivier.* “I have always been afraid at night because I’m a woman,” Sophie* admits. “I love it! I’m a poet and poetry emerges at night,” Jacinthe* enthuses. “When night falls, effervescence gives way to calm. I love to explore the city on foot at night to enjoy a unique experience,” notes Philippe*.

Night has always fascinated, disturbed, or inspired. We perceive and experience it in our own way. The interval between sunset and sunrise spurred the creativity of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) teams, which have drawn on works from its collections to design an original exhibition to be presented from November 2, 2023, to March 14, 2024, focusing on the universal theme of the night and nocturnal scenes.

By placing the works at the heart of an immersive experience in which visitors’ senses, feelings and, indeed, memories guide them, the imagined adventure will be astonishing.

View the Night is also an encounter with nocturnal light, whether it is natural, like moonlight and starlight, or artificial, like candles and electric lights.

Humankind has sought since time immemorial to ward off the night. In the fall of 2023, the MNBAQ invites the public to contemplate it.

*The participants’ first names have been changed to ensure anonymity.
Creating an innovative exhibition

The night deprives us of a clear view and calls on our senses. We notice the slightest noise and our steps are hesitant. We act differently, are more attentive to our surroundings, and more intuitive.

How can we replicate these sensations specific to nightlife? How can we bring the night to life through an exhibition of artworks? Led by Maude Lévesque, exhibition curator, the MNBAQ’s teams sought to offer a museum experience that allows art to express itself, unaccompanied by texts.

With the support of the Museum Innovation Incubator program, they displayed remarkable scenographic creativity to fully immerse visitors at the heart of an exhibition space transformed into a nocturnal showcase.

The MNBAQ invited scenographer Marie-Renée Bourget Harvey to create the scenography. From the outset of the project, her delicate, environmentally responsible approach combined with her solid theatre-based expertise enabled the MNBAQ to make choices that promote an experiential, sensorial approach. Vincent Roy has been asked to create unique soundscapes at the heart of the exhibition that draw visitors from a soothing zone to a livelier or indeed intriguing one, thereby fostering an immersive adventure.

Precious collaboration with the Musée de la civilisation led to the addition of 15 objects to the exhibition.

View the Night will genuinely suspend time and draw visitors to the MNBAQ’s collections to learn to look differently at a work, observe its details, and focus on their inner reactions.
Opting for a sensorial approach

The exhibition focuses on four themes, “Nocturnal Landscapes,” “Intimate Night,” “The City,” and “The Cosmos,” and seeks to highlight the artists’ virtuosity in making obscurity perceptible by drawing shapes, faces, and landscapes from the shadows or by representing the maze of dreams.
Involving the public in the adventure

The public was invited last July to participate in the creative process underpinning View the Night by collaborating in the production of a sound recording disseminated in the exhibition.

The participants with the MNBAQ mediation team in an intimist atmosphere conducive to discussion many secrets pertaining to the night, enthusiastic testimonials, or incredible stories. By responding to the following questions, they enriched the unique experience of the exhibition. How do you relate to the night? With which nocturnal creature do you identify? Why? What secret do you wish to reveal in the night? Tell us your strangest, most beautiful, or funniest dream.

Moreover, the MNBAQ mediation team also explored a new way to visit the exhibition. The guide team will ensure that visitors enjoy a more public-oriented experience. Sophie Lessard-Latendresse, Art and Wellness Mediation Coordinator at the MNBAQ, collaborated on the elaboration of this guided experience that should delight the public.
Perceiving scenography differently

Marie–Renée Bourget Harvey from La Remise culturelle, an organization that promotes the reuse of resources from the cultural milieu, supported by the MNBAQ team and printer André Kedl, has sought to explore new methods to transform the MNBAQ’s socio-ecological practices transition.

A number of concrete gestures were adopted, including avoiding petrochemical products as much as possible in the realm of graphic design by printing all the texts and posters on paper and cardboard; by choosing carpet that can easily be reused; by opting, in part, for FSC certified wood (protection of forest ecosystems, respect for the rights of the Indigenous peoples, communities, and workers); and, lastly, by having Élène Pearson, a local artist who has created cosmic murals with fluorescent paint lighted by ultraviolet light, to paint the stars.
The works and artists in the View the Night exhibition

View the Night comprises more than 60 works from the MNBAQ’s collections, from ancient art to present-day art, and 15 objects from the collection of the Musée de la civilisation (MCQ). It assembles a selection of drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos, and an array of uniquely intriguing objects.

Certain works quickly became obvious choices, including those in which the rendering of light was particularly vibrant or touching.

62 works all told
45 artists past and present
9 works from the ancient art collection
19 works from the modern art collection
13 works from the contemporary art collection
20 works from the current art collection
15 objects loaned by the Musée de la civilisation

The artists presented include Kenojuak Ashevak, Geneviève Cadieux, Marc–Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, Clarence Gagnon, Antoine–Sébastien Falardeau, Nathalie Grimard, Jean Paul Lemieux, Diane Obomsawin, Jobson Paradis, and Samuel Roy-Bois.
The objects from the Musée de la civilisation are a valuable addition

Objects become emotionally charged when they are linked to recollections. The language of objects differs from that of artworks, an aspect that the MNBAQ teams wished to explore.

A stunning selection of objects from the collection of the MCQ round out the collections of the MNBAQ. These strikingly symbolic objects, including a lantern, a soft toy, and figurines create direct and indirect links with the night, thereby enhancing the theatrical atmosphere of View the Night.

The MCQ’s collaboration is not confined to the simple loan of artworks. Its team shared with the MNBAQ its recognized expertise in the presentation and highlighting of objects. The MCQ made pertinent proposals to scenographer Marie-Renée Bourget Harvey to recreate the magic of her sketches and achieve her vision of the exhibition.
The collaborators in a nutshell
Marie-Renée Bourget Harvey, in a nutshell

Marie-Renée Bourget Harvey is fascinated and moved by humankind, the arts, and territory. A graphic designer by profession, she first studied anthropology and the visual arts before obtaining her degree in set designing from the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Québec in 2005. She is also the co-founder of the worksites/artistic constructions of the Carrefour international de théâtre. Marie-Renée Bourget Harvey has the enormous pleasure and privilege to collaborate with receptive human beings to create sensitive, fragmented, multiple spaces. She is insatiable, curious, and hypersensitive to her home on earth. She seeks to create internal and external bridges to rethink our creative processes and grasp greater meaning and coherence in everyday life. She seeks more conscious, open, benevolent practice in which the ephemeral nature of materials tends to disappear or, rather, to transform itself. She constantly seeks aptness and cohesion in creation, driven by a desire to instil poetry both on the stage and in everyday life.
Vincent Roy, in a nutshell

A native of Rimouski, Vincent Roy is a multidisciplinary artist. A graduate of the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Québec he first collaborated on creations of Le Théâtre Kata, Doggy dans Gravel and Made In Beautiful (La Belle Province). In 2019, he interpreted Keven in Bonne retraite, Jocelyne, the most recent text of Fabien Cloutier. He was also a member of the cast of Antigone, adapted at Le Trident by Annick Lefebvre, Pascale Renaud-Hébert and Rébecca Déraspe, and appeared in Foreman by Charles Fournier, which toured Québec, and was responsible for sound design in both plays. He has appeared on television in Réal Bossé’s dramatic comedy File d’attente on Unis TV. Vincent Roy launched his first solo album AMELIA in the fall of 2021 and is currently developing several musical and performative projects. He appeared last season in Cabaret at Le Théâtre du Trident in the role of the Emcee and in the latest production of Le Théâtre Kata, Pisser debout sans lever sa jupe. This fall, he played the role of Hosanna to launch Le Trident’s 2023-2024 season.

The Museum Innovation Incubator of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Musée de la civilisation has fostered the View the Night exhibition through support from the Secrétariat à la Capitale-Nationale.

The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec thanks the partners and the donors of its foundation for their financial support to carry out this project.

The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is a state corporation funded by the Gouvernement du Québec.

View the Night
Pierre Lassonde Pavilion
From November 2, 2023 to March 17, 2024

For further information: 418 643-2150 or 1 866 220-2150; mnbaq.org

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