January 23 2019

Artist Leila Zelli, winner of the 2019 Impressions Residency

Leila Zelli 
Photo : Marie-Christiane Mathieu 

Montreal, January 21, 2019 – The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), in collaboration with the Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM), is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Impressions residency: artist Leila Zelli. Every year since 2013, the Museum has invited an emerging visual artist representing Montreal’s cultural diversity or a First Nations, Inuit or Métis community to produce a research and create a project by taking a unique, original look at the Museum’s collections.

From February to March 2019, the Montreal artist will explore the Museum’s collection of Persian art and its objects from Iran, the country where she was born and raised. She is especially interested in the animal patterns that decorate some of these artefacts and hopes to present from a different perspective, in a digital collage resulting from a photographic quest.

Commenting on Zelli’s application, two members of the jury — Geneviève Goyer-Ouimette, Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Curator of Quebec and Canadian Contemporary Art (1945 to Today), MMFA, and Laura Vigo, Curator of Asian Art, MMFA, said: “She stood out for the quality of her approach and her interest in one of the world’s cultures. The Museum’s teams are currently working on a major reinstallation of these collections, and the artist’s reflexive and creative contribution is timely as the MMFA strives to provide broader visibility for artists that represent diversity.

The winner of the 2019 edition is thrilled with her upcoming residency at the MMFA. “As a place where art and history are conserved, the Museum plays a pivotal role in our vision of the world’s cultures: the work of contemporary artists brings a fresh perspective, through dialogue and sharing. My challenge during this residency will be to try to see the art and artists of the past who were awed by nature in a contemporary context, in which we are increasingly aware of the harm done to the environment, and the Other. I would like to participate in this growing social awareness with a sense of humility and responsibility. I thank the MMFA and CAM for giving me this wonderful opportunity.” 

The Impressions residency
This residency is aimed at professional artists who have core training and whose abilities have been recognized by their peers. For eight weeks, they create, perform or publish works and are remunerated while they focus themselves to the practice of their art.

We are very pleased with this alliance with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This unique residency provides visibility for talented artists and often serves as their first public presentation, which fosters the integration of structured networks. We’re delighted with the results so far and proud to exhibit the winners’ works every year”, said Nathalie Maillé, Director of the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

Nathalie Bondil, the Museum’s Director General and Chief Curator, had this to say: “Since it was established by the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the MMFA, the Impressions residency pilot project has served as a springboard for a number of emerging artists from Montreal’s culturally diverse, First Nations, Inuit or Métis communities: winners Jobena Petonoquot (2017-2018), Ari Bayuaji (2016-2017), Pansee Atta (2015-2016), Naghmeh Sharifi (2014-2015) and Karen Tam (2013-2014). Karen Tam and Ari Bayuaji currently have works on display in Connections: Our Artistic Diversity Dialogues with Our Collections, proof positive that our support for these young talents is worthwhile!

With the financial participation of the MMFA and the CAM, the artist in residence will receive a $7,000 grant. Every year, an artist is selected by a jury composed of a representative from each of the organizations involved. The winner will be given the opportunity to exhibit the results of their work on the mezzanine of the Maison du Conseil des arts de Montréal.

The jury for this sixth edition of the residency included Marie-Michèle Cron, Cultural Advisor – New Media and Visual Arts, CAM; Iulia-Anamaria Salagor, Project Manager – Cultural Diversity in the Arts, CAM; Mylène Guay, Project Manager – Indigenous  Arts, CAM; Geneviève Goyer-Ouimette, Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Curator of Quebec and Contemporary Canadian Art (1945 to Today), MMFA; Valérie Habra, Grants Manager, MMFA; Laura Vigo, Curator of Asian Art, MMFA; Ari Bayuaji, winner of the 2016-2017 edition of Impressions; and observer Anna Ciociola, Project Manager, Exhibition Administration, MMFA.

About Leila Zelli
Leila Zelli takes a special interest in the state of the world, especially our relationship with the “Other” from “elsewhere,” specifically the Middle East. She creates in situ digital installations using existing media images and videos found on the Internet. The resulting visual and sound experiences create an opportunity to reflect on the state of the world, the relationship with the Other and the actual effect of our actions on humanity.

Zelli has completed a bachelor’s degree and is in her final year of a master’s in visual and media arts at UQAM. She was chosen as the public favourite in the 36th edition of the Symposium international d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul, curated by Sylvie Lacerte on the subject of art and politics. Her first solo exhibition, Terrain de jeux, is currently on display at the Galerie de l’UQAM.

2019: opening of new Stéphan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery Wing for World Cultures and Togetherness
An outstanding opportunity to discover and understand cultural diversity at home and abroad, past and present, the MMFA’s new wing will showcase a vast selection from its collection of 42,600 works of art, including more than 10,000 artists from the world’s cultures and archeological artefacts. The wing, which will open in the fall of 2019, will occupy 900 m2 in the largest and most visited of the Museum’s five pavilions: the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion. Reflecting the dynamic values that characterize Montreal, Quebec and Canada, it will combine historical and ethnological, thematic and chronological, stylistic and material readings of the history of art and civilization, presenting a 360-degree look at the works.

Maude N. Béland
Media Relations Officer | MMFA
T. 514-285-1600, ext. 205
C. 514-886-8328

Patricia Lachance
Media Relations Officer | MMFA
T. 514-285-1600, ext. 315
C. 514-235-2044

About the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Boasting more than 1.3 million visitors annually, the MMFA is one of Canada’s most visited museums and the eighth-most visited museum in North America. The Museum’s original temporary exhibitions combine various artistic disciplines – fine arts, music, film, fashion and design – and are exported around the world. Its rich encyclopedic collection, distributed among five pavilions, includes international art, world cultures, decorative arts and design, and Quebec and Canadian art. The Museum has seen exceptional growth in recent years with the addition of two new pavilions: the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion, in 2011, and the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, in 2016. The MMFA complex also includes Bourgie Hall, a 460-seat concert hall, as well as an auditorium and a movie theatre. The MMFA is one of Canada’s leading publishers of art books in French and English, which are distributed internationally. The Museum also houses the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy, the largest educational complex in a North American art museum, enabling the MMFA to offer innovative educational, wellness and art therapy programmes. 

About the Conseil des arts de Montréal
A dynamic partner of artistic creativity in Montreal, the Conseil des arts de Montréal identifies, supports and recognizes excellence and innovation in the creation, production and presentation of professional artistic endeavours. It encourages experimentation, discovery and daring at the heart of Montreal’s artistic landscape, thanks to its initiatives that stimulate emerging and culturally diverse artists. Since 1956, the Conseil des arts de Montréal has been an influential player in the development of “Montreal, Cultural Metropolis.”