MONTREAL In a Maclean’s interview, the artist Jenny Holzer describes Montreal’s DHC/ART as a place with a “divine recipe for success,” where everyone is “capable, optimistic and on point.” High praise, indeed—and Holzer’s recent exhibition at DHC significantly paralleled the mandate of the institution itself.
DHC/ART was quick out of the gate as a venue to both rival new private boutique galleries and complement the city’s museum programs. After helping to finance David Altmejd’s 2007 Venice Biennale appearance, the institution’s inaugural exhibition featured the controversial British artist Marc Quinn.
Located in Old Montreal, DHC/ART is an exhibition space that operates admission-free and without public funding. DHC runs three shows a year featuring world-class artists like Michal Rovner, Sophie Calle and, this past summer and fall, Holzer.
Under the direction of founder Phoebe Greenberg, whose short film Next Floor won the 2008 Canal+ Award at Cannes, DHC shows eclecticism in its programming and an openness to new media. John Zeppetelli is the institution’s curator. “What we want to do is show what we think is the most compelling works of art we can possibly get our hands on,” he says. “One of the reasons we are in this field is to argue for the really great stuff.”
Zeppetelli grew up in Montreal’s Little Italy, and has worked at the Saidye Bronfman Centre and at galleries in London and New York. Recently, he filled the DHC gallery with Holzer’s touring international show: LED flows of aphorisms, Redaction Paintings of declassified Iraq War documents, and neatly arranged human bones commemorating the victims of systemic rape in the Bosnian conflict. It was four floors of visually mediated war.
“All of the work at DHC is conceptually inflected,” says Zeppetelli. “Nothing is ever an empty formalist exercise. What characterizes all of the presentations we’ve done is a sense of engagement with the world at large.”
Holzer’s For Chicago (2007) was installed in a historically preserved ground-floor annex space that is part of the DHC property. Laid out on the floor were ten 30-foot-long LED panels that fleetingly display all of Holzer’s own writings— an anthology beginning with her breakthrough “Truisms” (1977-2001). “We want a rich and profound experience for the visitor,” Zeppetelli says. “That’s the mandate, really: we travel to the various biennales, we bring our passions to the table, and we want to share these with other people.”