September 29, 2021

The Joy of Beginnings

The beginning of a performance is often both exhilarating and challenging. Those first few minutes that grab or dispel attention. An invitation, a provocation, a whiff of an unknown universe. Our beginnings are seasoned with this particular spice: the intoxicating giddiness of novelty.

The coming edition of FTA, our first as codirectors, is based on an ongoing and vibrant dialogue with artists and their works. Here in Tio’tia:ke/Montréal, we initiate a wide range of encounters. With help from our colleagues, we have moved a round table right into the middle of our office. This most ancient technology inspires our work. How can we make our conversations and our alliances more circular? How can we cultivate mutual relationships? Hosting a festival is also a way of questioning our bond to the world, of nourishing our connections and tending to them, a way of learning.

It is essential for us to reach out to artists instead of waiting for them to come to us. And to do so with curiosity, desire, and methodically! Which artists haven’t taken part in the previous editions of FTA? Who have we overlooked, either out of force of habit, because of the market values governing the arts sector, or due to systemic discrimination? Who will come shift our gaze, allow us to view a piece of the world in a different light, to lose our bearings and to form new synapses in our brains?


Travelling, Once Again

We are back on the road, travelling to Odanak, Joliette, Ottawa, Toronto, Portland, Paris, Rome, or Essen. Must we travel so often? Absolutely! Our approach to travel strives to be respectful and reasonable, but it is also swelled by great ambitions. The first is self-evident: to create an international festival. To host works from elsewhere—from the African continent, Brazil, the US, for instance. To offer new perspectives of reality, ones that are complex, risky, and poignant. To make sure that works of art can travel across new networks, to the benefit of our local artists. To remain a rare and precious meeting place in America for artists from all around the globe, and a reservoir of imagery for all of them to tap into.

Our colleagues from local festivals are also exploring the landscape and the circulation of artworks. From Marsoui and Carleton in Gaspésie to Rouyn in Abitibi, and back to Montreal with our friends at LA SERRE – arts vivants, who recently put down roots on Gouin Boulevard, they inspire us to make new connections, to reinvent familiar scenery with artistic gestures, to roam across neighbouring lands and to share our work with wider audiences.


Mere Visitors

Martine arrived in Tio’tia:ke this past spring. Jessie has been living in the same apartment in Centre-Sud for over two decades. And yet we are both merely visiting this ancestral Indigenous land. But what does it mean to invite festival goers onto a land that doesn’t belong to us? While this question might seem cumbersome, much to the contrary, it stimulates us to find answers in actions, to recognize our privilege.

In what ways will we gather next spring? How will our hunger for emotions, knowledge, and radical hospitality respond to our yearning for justice? The writer Stéphane Martelly said something to this effect: freedom is much more beautiful and profound when it allows us to create spaces that are truly liberating for all.  

Incidentally, with this whole pandemic business, other topics have risen to the surface. Are you, like us, paying more attention to living things, to mountains, to trees? If you know any translators of immensity, we are interested in discovering their work!” 


Martine Dennewald et Jessie Mill