Dazibao is an art centre dedicated to the dissemination of contemporary image practices, privileging artistic experimentation, enquiry and reflection. By questioning the discourses, uses and modes of disseminating images, Dazibao explores artistic as well as historical and social issues, and aims to connect with various communities.
Dazibao’s reflections on the image are conveyed by way of exhibitions, video programs, films, public artworks, books and occasional events. Dazibao collaborates with numerous artists, curators, the university milieu, critics and researchers, and is involved in several ongoing partnerships with related or complementary organisations.
Dazibao promotes cultural diversity and hybridisation so that art can assert itself as a field of knowledge capable of facilitating a better understanding of the world around us. Our programming, events and activities are offered free of charge. With this gesture, we aim to reinforce the idea that accessibility and inclusivity confirm the relevance of art to everyday life.
Founded in 1980 by Stéphanie Colvey, Pierre Crépô, André Denis, Jean-Pierre Gariépy, Bernard N’Guyen and Éric Roy, Dazibao was one of the first exhibition centres in Quebec and the rest of Canada to devote itself exclusively to disseminating photography. From the beginning, the organisation defined itself as a place for thinking about the image as a vector of social change and a way of better understanding the world. The centre quickly opened up to more hybrid artistic endeavours and, in keeping with the evolution of artistic practices, began to devote itself to all artistic forms having the image as their common denominator.
Over the course of this process of emancipation, the centre’s mission always remained loyal to the wishes of its founders: to create a space for experimentation and the exchange of ideas, a place of artistic stimulation and artistic enquiry, both witness to and actor in the evolution of image practices. It was to this end, and in order to give permanence to both the artworks and the discourses around them, that in 1996 Dazibao began a publications program which is now recognised for its rigour and editorial quality. To date, the centre has published more than fifty volumes as part of various series. With this same goal of supporting the development of artistic practices, in 2005 Dazibao and PRIM joined forces to offer an annual production and dissemination grant to an artist.
In 2009, feeling that its growth was restrained by the inadequacy of its premises to mount the projects it was developing, Dazibao began a period of reflection that led to a relocation which has proven especially significant to the life of the centre. From the beginning, the goals of this project were to equip the centre with high-quality spaces which would be flexible enough to respond to the various changes in image practices; to ensure the long-term future of the centre’s activities by acquiring a stable venue; to make the centre, in a sustainable manner, part of a place with a strong identity; to heighten the visibility of its activities and develop new audiences; and to contribute in a more proactive manner to the ecosystem of the cultural milieu.
To carry out this process of reflection fruitfully, Dazibao undertook a residency at the Cinémathèque québécoise, which lasted two years. This formidable testing bench enabled the organisation to explore new modes of dissemination and to define its needs precisely in order to offer artists modes of dissemination which would make a tangible contribution to their professional advancement. With the benefit of this experience, in 2013 Dazibao set up in the Mile End district of Montreal, in the heart of the area with the highest density of creative people in Canada.
The centre’s new installations, that include a large exhibition space as well as a small projection room furnished with highly adaptable quality equipment, have significantly contributed to the considerable growth of the organisation, making it possible to develop projects of museum calibre while preserving the spirit of research and experimentation essential to the professional advancement of artists and to the development of new audiences.
Dazibao acknowledges that we are located on unceded territory of the Kanien'kehá: ka Nation and that Tiohtiá: ke / Montreal is historically known as a gathering place for many First Nations, and today, is home to a diverse population of Indigenous as well as other peoples.