Something is always happening in Montreal, whether a local open mic night or a public art event. January, though, is slightly quieter and it takes a little extra effort to put on the layers and get out. In the spirit of giving a little chaleur to the dark nights, a team of artists and collaborators loosely associated with Popolo Press created the Lux Magna Festival. The new festival is dedicated to bringing artists from different scenes together in a collaborative and nourishing way.
One of the festivals’ organizers, Mars Zaslavsky, explains that the festival has many goals. “It came out of a very basic desire for a party in the dead of winter, to have something to warm us at the end of January when it starts to get really tough and it seems like the snow will never, ever melt.”
She says that a team of “women and non-binary folks” including both artists and programmers came together to highlight local artists across different media and “create a space for new relationships, new collaborations.” Expect music, visual arts, dance and performance, and spoken word.
Artists were chosen by the organizing committee. “We want to bring in folks that they think are making cool stuff. Bringing them in is what excites us.” For example, Elle Barbara programmed two nights, including Prise d’Opposition, a six hour, 12 act musical conversation about oppressive forces that exist in the music communities, as well as Shemale Reprezent which is a dance party featuring DJ sets from trans women of colour such as Jasmine Infiniti, Coco Supreme, and Precolombian.
While gender and intersectionality are a component of many acts, it isn’t a specific goal of the organizing committee to focus on these themes. It happened much more organically as a result of choosing artists that the team likes. “These are the artists that we see and that are doing work in Montreal.”
The festival’s two main party nights are Shemale Represent and Battle of the Brass Bands, which is intended to be the “loudest acoustic dance party” with The Van Hornies and Urban Science Brass Band performing. There is also an experimental musical collaboration taking place at Sala Rossa on Sunday which includes work by the Lux Magnets — a group of performers who are generated from Lux Magna’s educational program. This is followed by the Fillesharmoniques, a group of women and non-binary students from Concordia’s Electroaucoustics program. Finally, Les Yeux is a collaboration between many different experimental artists of Montreal takes the stage. In addition, watch for Rise, a spoken word and poetry performance night for black women and femme folks, and a show featuring Hua Li, Tshizimba, and Lucas Charlie Rose.
The festival is meant to be accessible. This is both financial as well as for people in different staes of life. Zaslavsky says that no one will be turned away for lack of funds and there are a number of pwyc events. In addition there is programming specifically for people who have kids but want to go to a festival. The team decided to have daytime activities for kids and youth, such as a sound scavenger hunt and workshops by Rock Camp for Girls. Poetry workshops, zine making, and poster workshops are also available for all.
With all this going on, Zaslavsky notes that there’s quite a lot going on. “It’s exciting to see where this leads us and how it goes,” she says.