22nd Edition of Parle-Moi d’Amour: Interview with Manon Gauthier

From March 19th – April 1st, the annual exhibit Parle-moi d’amour will be presented at the Musée d’art contemporain (MAC). The exhibit will include over 268 works from renowned artists. All the funds raised from the exhibit will be used to offer artists 17 spaces around Quebec. 

Montreal Rampage’s Sinj Karan was able to speak to the Honorary President of the Festival for this year, Manon Gauthier. 

Sinj Karan: What has your participation in Parle-moi d’amour meant to you? Why is it an important fixture in the Montreal art scene?

Manon Gauthier: It is such an important cause. It affects us all, directly or indirectly. I lost my beloved mother over a decade ago after her life-long battle with mental health issues. Les Impatients helped me cope with the tragedy, helped me understand the importance of breaking the taboo, gave me hope and allowed me, for the first time, to talk openly about her suicide. Importantly, Les Impatients, through their dedicated work, transform suffering into beauty, into hope, through the power of artistic expression.

For the Montréal art scene, Parle-moi d’Amour brings together visual artists, both Impatients and professionals, collectors, donors from all walks of life, into such a strong message of solidarity, understanding, speaking as one voice to the universal power of art. Let us not forget that Les Impatients’ reach is not limited to the Montréal art scene: it actually reaches over 17 locations across the province. The organization is more vibrant than ever. Recently, the cities of Nantes, Paris and New York invited the organization to share their knowledge and excellence so that they, too, can use the arts as a lever for improving the lives of their communities.

SK: All proceeds from the exhibit are directed towards supporting other artists and artistic spaces — why was this cause chosen as the recipient of this support?

MG: Les Impatients’ workshops reach over 750 people weekly across the province. All proceeds allow the organization to broaden its reach through the multiplication of workshops, reaching an ever-growing number of people. Our Director General shared with me the results of a recent study, showing that 87% of creative workshops participants noticed an improvement in their health, and 66% reported fewer hospital visits. Through direct action, in the heart of our communities, Les Impatients contributes to improving the lives of so many!

SK: What kind of audience are you looking to attract?

MG: If there is one universal language, it is that of the arts. Over the past 22 years, over a thousand artists have contributed to the Impatients’ impressive collection of over 15,000 artworks. Regardless of differences in language, ethnicity, religion, or political beliefs, artistic expression has a way of establishing a dialogue that transcends it all. It resonates with everyone. This year’s exhibition is no exception. Furthermore, having the privilege of welcoming everyone at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal allows us to reach a much larger audience than ever before.

SK:  About the theme, Parle-moi d’amour: given our current environment of world climate crises, political instability, and widening gaps in societies, why is this theme important? How does it contribute to a more substantive dialogue?

MG: Let’s talk about it… pun intended! Let’s talk about love. What could possibly bring greater comfort than this theme? When we dare to talk about mental health issues, we are talking about the real world, a world filled with the pressures of excellence, of public opinion, of over-accomplishment, of inequalities, anxiety, of technological invasiveness, the daily obstacles that make everyone, at one time or another, question their own resilience, their own ability to keep up with it all. Engaging in a conversation, one led by artistic expression, without inhibition, can only lead to greater collective awareness.

SK: Do we speak about and address issues of mental health adequately? How can art contribute to improving the lives of those affected?

MG: No, we don’t. We keep most of it tucked away inside. That is one of the great faults of human nature, and it’s mostly due to the fear of others’ opinions. Art is the true expression of the self: the way we see ourselves, the way we see each other, and the way we see the world. It represents our dreams, our fear, and our hopes.

Parle-moi d’amour will be held March 19-April 1, 2020, at the MAC, with its vernissage on March 19. Ticket information can be found here.