La Balade Pour la Paix: Art that inspires and celebrates peace and tolerance
By McGill Reporter Staff
Yesterday’s launch of La Balade Pour la Paix may have been a wet one, but it certainly didn’t dampen people’s enthusiasm for the one-kilometre long, open-air public art exhibit. Set along Sherbrooke Street, the unique outdoor exhibit features hundreds of flags from around the world, 29 monumental sculptures and 42 photographs by Indigenous, Canadian and international artists. McGill is the proud backdrop for a dozen of the sculptures – eight on campus and four facing the campus.
The Balade pour la Paix, will run until October 29.
Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) says the Balade will enchant the City and its visitors. “It is an engagé exhibition that is linked to the idea of building bridges and not walls, to paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton,” she says. “The work focuses on the values of First Nations, education and feminism, and the hope is that it will expose passersby to new ideas. It is the first time we have linked McGill and the McCord Museum to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Concordia along a major artery of the city.”
A key component of the official program of Montreal’s 375th’s anniversary, the Balade is inspired in large part by Expo 67, a memorable event for both Quebec and Canada that attracted 50 million visitors from around the world. The overall experience of the Balade is intended to convey a message of peace, tolerance and acceptance and reflect the universal values of humanism and openness that inspired Expo 67.
Each work along the Balade has been specially chosen because it speaks to such topical issues as peace among nations and the environment. The works are on loan from museums, institutions, private collectors, art galleries and artists, all of whom are enthusiastic about taking part in this grand celebration.
Gwendolyn Owens, Director of the Visual Arts Collection, McGill University Library and Archives, says the Balade will bring people who are interested in art to McGill. “The Balade pour la Paix exhibition provides a great opportunity to further animate the campus with lively sculptures that complement our own collection,” she says. “We are also delighted to be working in partnership with our colleagues at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts.”
Beginning on June 13, McGill will offer free guided tours of the Balade from McTavish Street and University, covering sculptures, installations and photographs. The tours will be held every Tuesday and Thursday.
The Balade’s ambassador is Montrealer Louise Arbour, lawyer, and former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Arbour is UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and a former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
“I immediately accepted Nathalie Bondil’s invitation to serve as the ambassador for La Balade de la Paix,” says Arbour. “The exhibition conveys the basic values of peace and humanism that are so dear to my heart. Expo 67 helped open Montreal and Quebec up to the world, and today, 50 years later, people from all around the globe call the city home, sharing their cultures and hopes for peace. This exhibition is a wonderful gift to Montrealers of every origin and a remarkable testament to the city’s 375th anniversary.”
La Balade de la Paix was designed and organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, with the support of McGill and Concordia Universities, and the McCord Museum. The exhibit is curated by Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the MMFA; Sylvie Lacerte, art historian and public art consultant; and Diane Charbonneau, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Photography at the MMFA. The installation design is by Claude Cormier, landscape architect, in collaboration with Michel Dallaire, designer.