Outgoing Address: Shelley Ruth Butler, Acting Director 2013-2014

To the CEREV community,

As my time as Acting Director ends, I want to take a moment to reflect on the rich and productive last year, as well as tell you about where CEREV is heading.

A highlight of the year was developing participatory and practice oriented workshops. These included a session on food and exhibition with performance artist Basil AlZeri and a day-long workshop on criminalization of HIV in Canada, in which a collective of community activists and academics created a multi-pronged public art educational campaign. We saw the potential of using new and old media in the CEREV lab in the service of public culture. In response to our local political climate, I was especially pleased to welcome anthropologist Andréanne Pâquet who presented her advocacy oriented exhibitionary work involving photographic portraits of Muslim women.

The CEREV lab also hosted intimate discussions with leading museum practitioners and theorists including Bernadette Lynch and James Clifford. We are pleased to see our events reaching broader constituencies, including local museum educators and academics and graduate students from each of Montreal’s universities. Supporting visual culture research continues to be a central focus, and in this vein, outgoing CEREV Banting Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Monica Patterson convened a one-day symposium exploring children’s art as an important source of cultural knowledge and historical evidence.

New actors and organizations made use of our facilities with support from Lex Milton, our Director of Technology and Media Facilitator. CEREV hosted Montreal-based video artist Zohar Kfir’s interactive documentary Points of View, which explored Palestinian life experiences in the Occupied Territories, as well as an installation by Caroline Künzle, “Is this a joke?/C’est une joke?” which explored how stand-up comedy can address cultural prejudice, stereotypes, and racism. The lab was also used for virtual, interactive public events such as a boot camp on the use of Twitter to monitor human rights. Mary Caple, our Administrative Assistant, took us a great distance in developing an active Facebook presence, as well as establishing a news digest that reaches nearly four hundred people.

While this is only a partial portrait of our activities – all of which are richly documented on our website – it hopefully conveys CEREV’s expanding mandate. While CEREV continues to have core strength around difficult knowledge, ethnographic research, and exhibitions, we increasingly conceive of ourselves as a centre for public scholarship and exhibitionary practice. To reflect this more expansive mandate, we are currently exploring new names with our constituents.

In the immediate future, CEREV is looking forward to participating in Encuentro, a major conference/arts festival organized by the Hemispheric Institute. Monica Patterson will convene a week- long session entitled “Collaboration – Exhibition – Research” to explore possibilities for creating more dynamic, democratic public encounters within and around exhibitions. For the fall, watch for CEREV events including facilitated public conversations on difficult subjects, an art installation in response to narcotics in Mexico, and a prototype exhibition exploring legal and media-led master narratives about HIV/AIDS in Canada. In collaboration with scholars at the University of Winnipeg, CEREV is also launching a research project “called Caring for Difficult Knowledge: Human Rights in Contemporary Museum and Curatorial Practice” in conjunction with the opening of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

During the past year, CEREV’s founding Director Erica Lehrer has been on sabbatical, working on catalog and web-based iterations of her exhibition Souvenir, Talisman, Toy, and doing new research on changing representations of minority culture and new museum practices in Poland. We welcome her back as director of CEREV. I will continue my involvement with CEREV as both a research affiliate and project-based consultant.


Center for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence