Renata Morales’ playtime at the PHI


Renata Morales at the PHI Centre. Photo by Dekade Productions

The PHI Centre kicks off the first in a series of invitational guest curators this week with Renata Morales’ The 8-Day Week, a synaesthetic sensory overload with something to tickle every taste. The designer and artist reimagines the gallery as a playground or clubhouse, where she and her friends from different cultural worlds can gather to party and share their insights and interests in one another’s fields.

While Morales is best known for her painterly touch and extravagant use of textiles in fashion and costume design, she possesses an avid curiousity that refuses to be confined to any one creative sphere. An avid fan of contemporary art and underground music, she has collaborated extensively with buzz-bands like Arcade Fire, Grimes and Zola Jesus, and has also done costumes for film-makers including Denis Villeneuve, Pedro Pirez and Spike Jones.

“My background is clothing, but I work also in visual arts,” Morales explains, describing how the week came together. “It was just really cool to be invited, to be able to use this crazy playground, the PHI Centre. I sort of imagined, because the dates that they gave me were summer, that I could have all my friends and all the people I totally admire and respect come and run through the place and play and then go shop with my designer friends.

“I wanted this lightness,” she says. “A feeling of summer.”

Each day starts out with evening shopping from select vendors — Denis Gagnon, Complex Geometries, Odd Future’s Golf Wang, Andrew Floyd and of course Morales herself are all participating in the evening bazaar — as well as an exhibition of over 45 works by painter Joe Becker. Becker, a Concordia MFA student, creates large, lush canvases, drawing on the style of seventeenth-century Flemish painters like David Teniers and infusing them with pop cultural references. Kurt Cobain, Oprah and Princess Diana all make an appearance in this collection of works, which reflect the cheeky artistry that characterizes Morales’s vision for the week.

Finally, every day at 9 p.m., the PHI plays host to a stellar lineup of bands, ranging from atmospheric electro producer Actress to the rock and jangle of Slim Twig and US Girls, followed by DJs till dawn.

Morales’ The 8-Day Week is only the first in the PHI’s series of guest-curated programming, and the gallery will be mounting events in collaboration with Xavier Dolan, Pop Montreal, VICE co-founder Suroosh Alvi and director Godfrey Reggio over the coming months.

This event’s name, Morales explains, comes from an inside joke. “They always make fun of me because I never know what day it is because I’m constantly working, I’m constantly doing something,” she says. “I’m not complaining, but mostly I’m just really excited to do this. And all of the people participating in this project are the same way. They’re just passionate about what they do, so it’s like an eight-day week.” ■

The 8-Day Week runs June 5-12, PHI Centre (407 St-Pierre). Opening party June 5, 6 p.m., $200, pop-up boutique 5 p.m.–12 a.m., all other shows 9 p.m., $15 

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