All about Montreal’s activist art fair

The Howl! arts collective is holding its first fair this weekend, selling prints, photographs, music, zines and more.

Decolonizing Street Art

From Decolonizing Street Art

The Howl! Arts Collective is well known around the city for organizing concerts and panel discussions, and for their eye-catching posters and thought-provoking content across platforms from print to broadcasting, all with a focus on using art as a medium for social change.

This weekend, the collective’s artists and activists are hosting their first ever Howl! Activist Art Fair, in collaboration with Casa del Popolo’s in-house Popolo Press.

Presented in the lead-up to Expozine — one of the biggest indie and DIY arts and lit events in town (and where many of the artists affiliated with Howl! will also be represented), Saturday’s fair will be a chance to explore locally made zines, prints, photographs, music releases and more, in an atmosphere somewhat more relaxed than the beloved-but-crowded Expozine.

"Imaging Apartheid"
“Imaging Apartheid”

Earlier this week, I had a chat with on the of organizers behind the event, graphic designer Kevin Lo of LOKI Design, to find out more about what’s in store this Saturday.

“(The presenters) are all artists or art organizations working within a social justice mandate. It’s a modest attempt to highlight some of the groups we’ve worked with and that we like,” Lo explains.

“It falls along the mandate of Howl, which is to create these bridges between artists and performers and front line activists and community organizing. It’s a way for us to support the community that we’re directly engaged with by having a fair that can bring some attention to the groups that are showing work there, and also to support them financially by allowing them a space to sell some of their stuff.”

When asked about the artists who will be showing work, Lo tells me about traditional letterpress and screenprinting works by Kiva Stimac of Popolo Press, lithographic prints from longtime artist and activist Freda Guttman, dealing with genocide in 1990’s Guatemala, and works from the team behind Decolonizing Street Art (whose August convergence was covered by Cult MTL here).

Other projects will include Lo’s own series Four Minutes to Midnight (described by Lo as being “at the intersection of radical poetics and politics”), silkscreening from La Presse du Chat Perdu and experimental music from Jeunesse Cosmique, among others.

By Popolo Press
By Popolo Press

The fair will also serve as the launch for a new zine highlighting work by photographer Vo Thien Viet called Intimate Distance. Lo explains how this new project will allow people who may be familiar with the artist mainly through his work documenting the student strikes of 2012 to see another side of the life of an activist.

“A lot of people might remember his work from the front lines of the student strike, documenting the struggle and the events around it,” Lo says. “He established himself that way, but he’s also been pigeonholed a bit because of that. People know him because of the strike, but he also does other really beautiful work. With this project, we wanted to create a zine that talked about the quieter moments of a politically engaged life.”

Lo, who is also a board member at Archive Montreal (the group that organizes Expozine), draws some parallels between Saturday’s Activist Art Fair and the larger annual indie publishing flagship.

“What holds it together, similar to Expozine, is that it’s all stuff that is DIY. I don’t mean that as an aesthetic, but more so the ethic of producing your own material. There’s some beautiful, high quality work that’s done with a consideration for craftsmanship that we don’t see a lot of these days.”

“An art fair is something we haven’t done before, and we’re pretty excited about it because it’s also a place to bring people together and have dialogue. For many of these artists who will also be at Expozine, it will also be a nice preview in a smaller setting, to hang out, talk and share their work.” ■

The Howl Activist Art Fair will take place at Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent) on Saturday, Nov. 1, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

The fair is part of Howl! Arts Collective’s Fall Event Series, with performances and panel discussions taking place Thursday to Sunday. Full details can be found here.