Robert Polidori exhibition at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

    MONTREAL, May 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Why wouldn't the walls have recorded and
layered, one on top of the other, all the emotional vibes of the rooms'
successive occupants and visitors? That is the question that has obsessed
photographer Robert Polidori for over twenty years, and that makes his
photographs of interiors and exteriors so moving and haunting, long after we
have seen them. In its ongoing series of major exhibitions devoted to
contemporary photographers, the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal presents
Robert Polidori from May 22 to September 7, 2009.
    Considered one of the leading photographers of our time, Polidori
transcends the limits of photography and captures traces of the human
condition-paradoxically, in places that have usually been abandoned and are
devoid of human presence. Each photograph amounts to a social portrait,
revealing the soul of its various subjects, and layering both past and present
in poignant works steeped in sorrow and beauty.
    The exhibition offers a survey of Polidori's practice through fifty-nine
large colour photographs, including works from the main series he has produced
in the last twenty-odd years, from 1985 up to 2007. First, the Versailles
series, in progress since 1985, brings to light the successive restorations
undergone by this highly symbolic site that is part of our collective memory,
awakening in viewers a pervasive sense of history. In the photograph Velours
Frappé and Ladder, for example, the passage of time is made visible through a
series of enfilading openings. The near-painterly Beirut (1994-1996), with its
subtle colours and rendering of line and material, offers glimpses of the
city's ruin that foreshadow the apocalyptic visions of the series that would
follow. Havana (1997-2000) attests to a dual-faceted urban reality: the
splendid past of these sumptuous colonial homes and the dilapidated present
state of the same houses. Pripyat and Chernobyl (2001) makes us all witnesses
to the worst nuclear catastrophe in history, which occurred in 1986. It
reverberates with exile, devastation and abandonment. The destruction is
complete in the series New Orleans (2005-2006), produced in the months that
followed the dreadful Hurricane Katrina.
    Complementing these works is a 1985 series focusing on New York and a
critical exploration of the urban landscape through the buildings of Amman,
Jordan (1996) and the streets of Varanasi, India (2007).
    "Where you point the camera is the question," writes the artist, " and
the picture you get is the answer to decipher." Answers that will go straight
to the core of your being.
    Born in Montréal in 1951, Robert Polidori lives and works in New York. In
1969, when he was at college in Florida, he saw the Michael Snow film
Wavelength-for him, a life-changing experience. He went to New York, where he
worked as an assistant to Jonas Mekas at Anthology Film Archives. During the
seventies, Polidori made a number of avant-garde films that examined the
temporality between still and motion. He earned an MFA from the State
University of New York in 1979 and began devoting himself full-time to
photography. In 1998, he became a staff photographer for The New Yorker.
Reading the book The Art of Memory by Frances Yates introduced him to mnemonic
systems and the central role that rooms play in "memory theatres." This
revelation would be critical to his work, and to his "reading" of the layers
of memory that have built up in the rooms and spaces he photographs. His work
as a photojournalist has taken him all over the world and allowed him to
pursue his artistic career at the same time. Polidori has participated in
numerous solo and group exhibitions. In 2006, he was the subject of a show at
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition at the Musée d'art
contemporain is his first retrospective. It was curated by Paulette Gagnon,
Chief Curator at the Musée.
    After its Montréal run ends, the exhibition will travel, starting in
October 2009.
    We would like to express our thanks to the RBC Foundation, Camera Work,
Berlin, and Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, for their generous support to the
realization of this exhibition.

    In connection with the exhibition Robert Polidori


    The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue, the product of a
special collaborative effort-and a first for the Musée-with Steidl, the famous
German publishing house that has brought out three monographs so far on
Polidori's work: Havana, 2001; Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl,
2003; and After the Flood, 2006. The publication contains an essay by Paulette
Gagnon, Chief Curator and curator of the show, and reproductions of the
exhibited works. It may be purchased at the museum's Olivieri Bookstore or
from your local bookseller.

    Meet the artist

    Meet Robert Polidori (in French) as well as artists Christine Davis (in
French) and Spring Hurlbut (in English) on Thursday, May 21, from 5 to 6 p.m.
in the exhibition galleries.

    Reading room

    A reading room devoted to the artists featured this summer at the MAC has
been set up in the Mariette-Clermont Lounge adjoining the exhibition

    Art videos

    A thematic program of videos on the history of Québec photography, the
tradition of photo-reportage and the impact of images on society has been
planned to accompany the exhibition.

    Tuesday to Sunday at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and
    Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Gazoduc-TQM Room

    June 2 to July 5, 2009
    Photographie : l'objectif subjectif
    Director: Jean Beaudry. Montréal: Synercom Téléproductions, 1998, 52 min

    July 7 to August 2, 2009
    Contacts vol. 1 : la grande tradition du photoreportage
    From an idea by William Klein. 12 x 13 min (156 min total)

    August 4 to September 7, 2009
    Looking for an Icon
    Directors: Hans Pool and Maaik Krijgsman. Netherlands, 2005, 55 min

    Guided tours

    Guided public tours of the exhibition Robert Polidori are offered by the
education team on Wednesday evenings at 6, 7 and 7:30 p.m. in French and 6:30
p.m. in English, and on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 and 3 p.m., in French and

    Source and information                  Visual material available
    Danielle Legentil, MACM       
    Public Relations Coordinator            Newsroom           Link: Visual material
    Tel.: 514.847.6232                      User name: presse
                                            Password: gtrcmedias
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For further information:

For further information: Danielle Legentil, MACM, Public Relations
Coordinator,, (514) 847-6232; Visual material
available,, Newsroom, Link: Visual material, User name: presse,
Password: gtrcmedias

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