Exhibition : The Burghers of Vancouver, Canadian Cultural Centre

January 20, 2015

Proud of its proximity to one of the most beautiful museums in Paris, the Musée Rodin, the Canadian Cultural Centre will be presenting an exhibition entirely devoted to one of the most famous French sculptors and his monument Les Bourgeois de Calais (1885) in particular.


Titled The Burghers of Vancouver, the exhibition has been put together by Adad Hannah, a photographer and video artist who works in Vancouver and Montréal, and Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand whose latest film, An Eye for Beauty, was released in France in November 2014.

At its heart is a new video installation that revisits the idea of the urban monument by taking apart and putting back together the sculpted group using actors. The play tells the story of six people looking for temporary work who are hired by a mysterious patron to embody Rodin’s work in a living sculpture in downtown Vancouver. An anonymous poet, an old Asian lady who only speaks her native tongue, a smuggler, an athlete, a laid-off worker and a former junky meet every day, dress up as actors, pose for the whole day in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery and then go home at the end of the day.

Denys Arcand/Adad Hannah, The Burghers of Vancouver, courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain (Montreal) and Equinox Gallery (Vancouver)

The project goes from private lives to an extreme representation of the social mask in which the highlighting of the images of heroic submission and sacrifice represented by the event of 1347 sculpted by Rodin is embodied in a pretence that is theatricalized but devoid of drama. Here, the monument to the glory of the sacrificed burghers becomes a performance subjecting temporary workers to a physical constraint that imposes – in exchange for payment, silence – immobility and anonymity on them.

Creations by Adad Hannah

The exhibition will also bring together other creations by Adad Hannah that have been profoundly influenced by the work of Rodin : the series of photographs Unwrapping Rodin (2010), which transposes in the studio and using the memory the photographic decompositions produced in the late nineteenth century by Muybridge and Marey, the unwrapping of a copy of the statute of one of the six burghers of Calais, Pierre de Wissant ; a composition made up of screens, Les Bourgeois de Calais: Crated and Displaced (2010), which makes us consider our relationship to the image of a monument known through reproductions; as well as Age of Bronze, a series of three tableaux vivants produced in 2004 in a room of the National Gallery of Canada, a reflection on gender/genre (sexual and artistic), hierarchy (roles within an institution) and more generally on the relationship between the gaze and power, all of this focussing on a Rodin’s anti-academic male nude, a major work of 1877, which both gave rise to controversy
and contributed to Rodin’s glory.

Adad Hannah, Unwrapping Rodin (Blue) 6, 2010

A unique collaboration

The installation The Burghers of Vancouver will be inaugurated in Paris, a short walk from the famous bronze located at the entrance to the grounds of the Musée Rodin. It will then be the spectacular contemporary component of the major exhibition Metamorphoses. In Rodin’s Studio that the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will be presenting from May 30 to October 18.

It will also be in Toronto from September 10 to 20 as part of the Toronto International Film Festival. This exceptional collaboration between three Canadian institutions and the Musée Rodin echoes another exceptional collaboration (initiated in 2011 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in the anniversary exhibition Big Bang) between an emerging Canadian contemporary artist and the filmmaker who has been awarded the most prestigious of prizes.


Denys Arcand / Adad Hannah
The Burghers of Vancouvert

Exhibition from February 11–May 16, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris
Vernissage, Tuesday, February 10, 6 p.m.–8:30 p.m. (last admission 8 p.m.)
In the artists’ presence

Opening Hours:
Free Access from Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Exceptional opening for the European Night of Museums, Saturday, May 16, 6 p.m.–midnight

Exhibition curator: Catherine Bédard