Exploring Trauma, Gender, Belonging And Identity With Chantal Akerman At The Museum Of Contemporary Art

Photos: Tiffany Shum

The two works by renowned filmmaker Chantal Akerman, In the Mirror (2007) and NOW (2015) speak to the issues that Akerman has explored throughout her career: trauma, gender, belonging and identity.

This is the first Canadian presentation of NOW, which was originally produced for the Venice Biennale in 2015. It creates a sense of being immersed in an arid landscape. The content and controlled point of view make us very aware of the passage of time and the many-layered stories and histories of human occupation.

NOW, is set in stark contrast to the slow and gentle sense of exploration of In the Mirror. Yet both are reflections of and mediations on how we, as individuals, confront and experience our position in society and the world at large.

This exhibition is the first time that Akerman’s work is being shown in a museum in Toronto. The project was introduced to MOCA by curatorial consultant Andréa Picard who invited Akerman to exhibit in Toronto before she passed away in 2015. The opening of MOCA created an opportunity to give space and attention to this important artist. As a companion piece to this exhibition, Picard is curating a retrospective survey of Akerman’s films at TIFF Cinematheque in fall 2019.

Born in 1950 in Brussels, Chantal Akerman lived and worked in Paris until her death in 2015. Akerman has exhibited in important group and solo exhibitions, and biennales globally, and her works are held in many museum collections.

A tribute to Chantal Akerman by Claire Atherton

A text written and read by Claire Atherton at the homage to Chantal Akerman at the Cinémathèque Française on 16 November 2015, is included on video in the exhibition at MOCA. To read the tribute in full you can also find the text version in English here and in French here.

MOCA Toronto would like to thank the Chantal Akerman Foundation for giving the permission to show Akerman’s work; the project’s curatorial consultant Andréa Picard for helping to create this opportunity; Carole Billy, Associate Director, Exhibitions and Special Projects – Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, London, New York.

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