MBAM – Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
Just Watch Me
Turning a gallery into a social club
Just Watch Me was a large-scale site-specific project and event design at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery in Montreal about the legacy of immigration in the 1970s in current concepts of neo-Quebec identity.
The project transformed a 3,600 sq. ft. gallery into a social club, which included a disco-bar, fair-trade café, stage, movie theatre, studios for artists-in-residence, library and theater stage.
The site-specific installation targeted the students of this gallery university, as well as local neighbours of Montreal, and was the result of two years’ fieldwork, involving interviews and archive research in collaboration with three art historians about three art collectives from the 1970s that have marked modernity in Quebec: the Mousse Spacthèque, the Fusion des Arts inc. group, the Fondation du Théâtre d’Environnement Intégral and the periodicals Parti Pris and Liberté among others.
The whole event, which spread over five spaces and lasted a month, was made in collaboration with over 50 partners, from community organisations to activists. Numerous free daily activities and performative works, including video-making workshops, yoga, tai chi, GROOVE, panel discussions, screenings, and conversations, promoted immersive participation, discussion, and exchange on questions of identity in a festive environment. Guest DJs performed every Friday evenings during the event.
The objective was to enable the public to experience the findings of our research, reflecting upon the role of ethnicities in the construction of identity in Quebec and the role of the artist as a social actor as well as the state’s role in art, through a meeting place that encouraged dialogue and collective creation. The project aimed for reviving the will to integrate art into society that was so prevalent in the 1970s. A website in collaboration with the art historian Francine Couture documented the whole event.
Disco-Bar / Mousse Spacthèque’s space
Just Watch Me provided a disco-café hosting a weekly disco night, a fair-trade café, fitness courses, and numerous other activities for the body and the mind. The space is inspired by Jean-Paul Mousseau’s Mousse Spacthèque disco, made in 1966 in Montreal. Research and design in collaboration with the art historian Francine Couture.
Art Studio / Fusions des Arts inc.
Just Watch Me offered an artist’s residency to two socially engaged artists, inspired by the activities of Fusions des Arts inc., a not-for-profit company active from 1965 to 1969 that used art to contribute to individual as well as collective liberation in a revolutionary perspective. Research and design in collaboration with the art historian Ève Lamoureux.
Movie Theater / Fusions des Arts inc.
Just Watch Me contained a movie theater with a program that meant to reflect on identity issues in Quebec. The film program was inspired by La Semaine d’information politique, a film program organized in 1968 by the collective Fusion des Arts inc., active in Montreal in the late 1960s. Research and design in collaboration with the film theorist Kester Dyer.
La semaine politique
Open Stage / Appelez-moi Ahuntsic
The stage space of Just Watch Me event was inspired by Maurice Demers’ participatory environment Appelez-moi Ahuntsic in 1974. Poetry evenings, musical concerts, video workshops and thematic meetings on Quebec identities were presented during the one day event. Research and design in collaboration with the art historian Anithe de Carvalho.
Library / Partis Pris and Liberté
Just Watch Me had a library and a working space inspired on small groups of intellectuals leftists in Montreal associated to the newspaper Partis Pris and Liberté in the late 1960s. Research, design and equipped in collaboration with the Médiathèque littéraire Gaëtan-Dostie, the collectif Anarchives and Liberté.
Annex: Free Activities
The project was initiated by Romeo Gongora and organized with Anithe de Carvalho, Francine Couture, CUTV, Kester Dyer, Les Éditions de la Tournure, Géraldine Eguiluz, Les Filles électriques, Ève Lamoureux, La Médiathèque littéraire Gaëtan Dostie, Felicity Tayler, University of the Streets Café and many others.
Just Watch Me was produced and presented by Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery in Montreal (CA). With the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the contribution of MOOG Audio.
Romeo Gongora is a Canadian-Guatemalan visual artist, Professor of Critical Approaches to Cultural Diversities at the École des arts visuels et médiatiques of Université du Québec à Montréal and PhD fellow in the Art Department at Goldsmiths, University of London (UK). He is co-founder of the Arts Research Centre In Cultural Diversities, a temporary and traveling research center based in Montreal (Canada) promoting intercultural dialogue. Since 2008, he has conducted major collaborative arts projects that interact with the social sphere, integrating politics and pedagogy in the practice of performance. Gongora is the recipient of several grants and has shown his work at, amongst others, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Canada), HISK (Belgium), Centre of Art Torun (Poland), Centre Makan (Jordan) and Leonard&Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Canada). He has been an artist-in-residence at, among others, the Rijksakademie (Netherlands, 2007-08), the Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Germany, 2009) and Acme Studios (UK, 2016).
Website by Principal
Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK, 2017- (PhD)
Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, CA, 2002-2005 (MA)
Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, CA, 1995-1998 (BA)
Livingston Office for Contemporary Arts, Livingstone, ZA, 2019
Despina residency, Largo Das Artes, Rio de Janeiro, BR, 2016
Acme Studios, London, UK, 2016
Aux Recollets, Paris, FR, 2013
Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota, CO, 2011
Centre for Contemporary Art, Torun, PO, 2009
Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, DE, 2008-2009
Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, NL, 2007-08
2019 Canada Council for the Arts, CA, grant for artist-in-residence programs
2018 Graduate School Fund, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
2017 Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture, CA, PhD scholarship, 2017-
2015 Canada Council for the Arts, CA, grant for artist-in-residence programs
2012 Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, CA, research and creation grant
2011 Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, CA, research and creation grant
2009 Canada Council for the Arts, CA, grant for artist-in-residence programs, 2008-2009
2008 Van Bijleveltstichting, NL, artist stipend, research and creation grant
2008 Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, research and creation grant, 2007-08
2007 Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, CA, research and creation grant
Solo exhibitions/projects (selected)
2018 Bromley by Bow Center, London, UK, community-making project, 2017-18
2017 Truck, Calgary, CA
2016 Acme studio, London, UK
2015 3e Imperial, Granby, CA (exh. website)
2014 Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal, CA (exh. website)
2013 Laura Mars GRP, Berlin, DE
2013 Dare-Dare, Montréal, CA
2013 FAMAF-UNC, Cordoba, AR
2012 Museu de Arte de Goiania, Goiania, BR
2011 UNAL, Bogota, CO
2009 Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, DE, (exh. cat.)
2009 Pari Nadimi Gallery, Toronto, CA
2007 Dazibao, Centre de photographies actuelles, Montréal, CA, ‘Sincère’
2006 Gallery 44, Center for Contemporary Photography, Toronto, CA, ‘Recovery’, (exh. cat.)
2006 Optica, Contemporary art center, Montréal, CA, ‘Logiques de l’arrachement’
2005 Galerie de l’UQAM, Montréal, CA, ‘Les lois de l’indifférence’
Group exhibitions/performance/workshop (selected)
2020 Oboro, Montreal, CA, “The Recipe: Making Latin American Art in Canada”, exhibition
2019 Goldsmiths, “The dead are restless, they speak!”, workshop, Anawana Haloba, Susanne Winterling and Romeo Gongora
2018 Sur Gallery, Toronto, CA, “The Recipe: Making Latin American Art in Canada”, exhibition
2018 Goldsmiths, University of London, London, UK, “Communities and Commonalities”, performance, in collaboration with Sue Mayo
2016 Diagonale, Montreal, CA, lecture-performance
2016 Open School East, London, UK, lecture-performance, with cur. Juliette Desorgues (ICA)
2016 articule, Montreal, CA, exhibition, cur. Dominique Fontaine
2015 Rencontres de Bamako – Biennale Africaine de la Photographie, cur. Bisi Silva
2014 Festival Belluard, Fribourg, CH, performance
2013 Kas Kin ArtStudio, Kinshasa, CD
2012 Anfiteatro Chabuca Granda, Lima, PE, performance
2012 Centro Cultural Chola Bravas, Lima, PE, performance
2011 Intervencion Anonima, Cordoba, AR, performance
2011 Teatro Libre, Grado Cero: teatralidades expandidas, Bogota, CO, performance
2011 UFG, Goiania, BR, performance/workshop
2010 Contemporary Art Center, Lagos, NG, performance/workshop
2010 The Office, Berlin, GE, ‘Perform a lecture’, cur. Ellen Blumenstein (in coll. with Olivia Plender)
2010 Parkowania, Gdansk, PO, “Fifth element / Piaty element”, cur. Kamila Wielebska
2010 Makan art center, Amman, JO, “Shatana hill”
2010 Galerie de l’UQAM, Montréal, CA, ‘Expansion’, cur. Louise Dery and Audrey Genois
2009 The Higher Institute of Fine Arts (HISK), Ghent, BE, ‘Time-Challenger’, cur. Adnan Yildiz
2009 Center of contemporary art, Torun, PL, cur. Joanka Zielinska
2008 Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montréal, CA, ‘Rien ne se perd…’ , (exh. cat.)
2008 Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, NL, ‘Open Ateliers’, (exh. cat.)
2008 MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, CA, ‘Double space’, cur. Timothy Long (exh. cat.)
2008 Dazibao, Montréal, CA, ‘Exposition portative’, 2007-2008
2007 Centre Culturel de Rencontre Abbaye de Neumünster, Luxembourg, LU,
2006 VU Centre de diffusion de la photographie, Quebec, CA, ‘Habiter’, (exh. cat.)
2005 Rimouski Regional Museum, Rimouski, CA, ‘Espaces Affectifs’, (exh. cat.)
1999 Mont St-Hillaire Art Museum, Mont St-Hillaire, CA, ‘Photogénique’
1995 Galerie 311-Belgo, Montreal, CA, ‘Art transversal’
Film/video screenings (selected)
2015 Kunstraum Walcheturm, Zurich, CH, “From the intangible…”, cur. Anne Brand Galvez
2012 Vidéo Portative – Dazibao, Montreal, CA
2009 Temporare Kunsthalle, Berlin, GE
2007 Big Family Business, Istanbul, TR, ‘Some of us try so hard to be somebody’, as part of the 10th Istanbul Biennial, cur. Adnan Yildiz&Ovul Durmusoglu
2006 Galerie da Universidad Federal de Goias, Goiania, BR, ‘Cruzamentos / Croisements’
2005 Asolo Art Film Festival, Asolo, IT
Lectures, debates and seminars (selected)
2020 MBAM, Montreal, CA, International Conference, Art as an Agent for Change: How do Art, Museum, and Education Practices Inspire Action?, June 15 to 17, 2020
2020 INRS, Montreal, CA, “Les résidences d’art au prisme de la coopération Nord-Sud”, round table: Nuria Carton de Grammont, Milly-Alexandra Dery, Roméo Góngora, Aaron Pollard
2019 Goldsmiths, “The dead are restless, they speak!”, round table, Susanne Winterling, Ros Gray, Francisco Carballo, Anawana Haloba and Romeo Gongora
2018 University of Bergen, Faculty of Art, Bergen, NO, “Rethinking Participation”, artist talk
2017 The Alberta College of Art + Design, Calgary, CA, artist talk, invitation Alana Bartol
2016 Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, CA, artist talk, invitation Jean-Philippe Uzel
2016 Université de Montréal, Montreal, CA, CERIUM Summer School, artist talk
2016 Média@McGill, Montreal, CA, international colloquium, Aisthesis and the Common
2015 Université de Montréal, Montreal, CA, conversation with art hist. Anithe de Carvalho
2015 Concordia University, Montreal, CA, artist talk, invitation Felicity Taylor
2014 Festival Belluard, Fribourg, CH, invited artist, 2013-14
2014 UQAM, Montreal, CA, teaching, “Les nous identitaires” (FAMJ4010)
2013 Centre PHI, Montreal, CA, talk with artist Steve Bates and cur. Dominique Fontaine
2013 Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Cordoba, AR, artist’s talk
2013 Kin ArtStudio, Kinshasa, CD, facilitator for a workshop
2012 Universidad Federal de Goias, Goiania, BR, artist’s talk
2012 Pontifica Universidad catolica de Peru, Lima, PE, artist’s talk
2011 Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Cordoba, AR, talk in coll. with cur. Soledad Sanchez
2011 Faculdades Artes Visuales, Goiania, BR, talk in collaboration with Edgar Fonsas
2010 Kunstnernes Hus – W17 Studio, Oslo, NO, talk in collaboration with Anawana Haloba
2010 Contemporary Art Center/Triangle Arts Workshop, Lagos, NG, facilitator
2009 Centre of Contemporary Art, Torun, PL, artist-talk with cur. Kamila Wielebska
2009 e.mobility, Nicosia, CY, invited member for ‘Pépinière pour jeunes artistes’
2008 Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, CA, ‘Rien ne se perd…’, invited artist-talk
2008 MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, CA, ‘Binding the viewer’, invited artist-talk
2007 Universidade Federale Flumineuse, Rio de Janeiro, BR, invited artist-talk
2006 Universidade Federal da Brasilia, Brasilia, BR
2006 Optica Gallery, Montréal, CA, artist’s talk
Catalogues, articles and reviews (selected)
2017 Calgary Herald, “An interview with Romeo Gongora”, Jon Roe, March 22, 2017
2015 ESSE, “Just Watch Me”, Ariane De Blois, dans ‘Religion’, v.83, p. 56-59
2014 Le Devoir, ‘Entre la discorde et la crise sociale’, Jerome Delgado
2014 The Concordian, ‘Three simple words: Just Watch Me’, Elsbeth Cossar
2013 Taz Tageszeitun, ‘Zwischen Religion und Soap Opera: Lebende Bilder des Kolonialismus” MJ, August 22, 2013
2010 argosbook, ‘Volkskunsthalle/People’s Art Space’, collaboration with Aernout Mik (artist), Prof. Gökce Yurdakul (Georg Simmel Professor, Humboldt University) and Dr. Bernhart Schwenk (Chief curator, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich)
2010 VISUALIDADES, ‘Binding the viewer’, Romeo Gongora, Rosana Horio Monteiro ed.,
Published by UFG-FAV, V.7, n.3, 304 p. Goiania (BR)
2009 Intertekst, ‘I am the Other. In conversation with Romeo Gongora’, Kamila Wielebska,
Laznia Center of Contemporary Art publisher (PL), 132 p.
2009 Gallery 44, ‘Expanded Photography’, Marie Fraser, 145 p.
2009 BE Magazine, ‘Logic of alienation’, Veronika Schoene, no. 16
2009 Mackenzie art catalogue, ‘Theatroclasm: Mirrors, Mimesis and the Place of the Viewer’,
Elizabeth Matheson and Nancy Tousley, 154 p..
2008 Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, ‘The Quebec Triennial: Nothing is lost…’, 220 p.
2008 Blackflash, ‘Scene as Space Across Time: Presence’, Katy McCormick, vol. 25, no. 3
2008 Canada art, ‘Double Space/Douglas Gordon: Double and Elephant Tricks’, Fall 2008
2007 NOA (Not Only Arabic), ‘Treason’, curator Mounira Al Solh: invited artist for newspaper
2007 Parachute, ‘Habiter et Les Convertibles’, Nathalie Côté, issue 25, p. 6
2006 ESSE, ‘Habiter le quartier baroque’, Lisanne Nadeau, issue 59, p. 47-51
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Montréal, CA), Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (Amsterdam, NL), Sommerakademie Zentrum Paul Klee (Zurich, CH) (nominated), Kunstzeitraum (Munich, DE) (nominated), Küntlerhaus Büchsenhausen (Innsbruck, AT) (nominated), Smithsonian Institut (Washington, US) (nominated)
2020 3ieme Imperial, internal board member, 2020-
2015 Conseil des arts de Montréal, evaluation committee’s member, 2014-2018
2012 Dazibao, internal board member, 2012-2015
2010 TV-Poland, ‘Panorama’, interview, 07-08-2010
2009 e-mobility, board member, European union survey on artistic mobility
2006 Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, MX, teaching, Video department
Awaken Dreams: Reimagining Civic Space Through Participatory Art
2017-2021, London (UK)
Practice-based PhD in Art, Department of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London
Scholarship, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture
Tuning-In: Other Ways of Seeing
24 July – 15 August 2019, Livingstone (Zambia)
Residency at the Livingstone Office for Contemporary Art (LoCA)
I consider myself a researcher, my purpose is not an art object, but a research project that materializes in a transdisciplinary manner (installations, performance, photography, collaboration, meeting, writing, etc..). This emphasis on the process/experience rather than the final product. My work use dialogue, empathy and trust as a production strategy. This procedure usually involves a period of research in which I collaborate closely with different communities. The result is a collaborative work with a deep emotional intensity that aims to analyze the socio-psychological constructs of an environment.
Since 2008, I have conducted major projects collectively that have acquired a social dimension, integrating politics, activism and marginality in the practice of performance. Such as Movimiento Social del Cuerpo, a series of laboratories in collaboration with Latin American universities (Bogotá, Lima, Cordoba, Goiania, etc.) inspired by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal and Orlando Fals Borda, on social and political questions. In 2014, I started the project Just watch me, event, social club, meeting space focused on dialogue and collective creation, presented at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery in Montreal.