Downtown Montreal Is Getting A Giant Rotating Aquarium With Free Art Shows This Week

The unique performances are set to make a splash at Festival TransAmériques!

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
​A performer dressed in a dark yellow and red sari floats in a water tank touching marigold flowers that have spilled from a wicker basket. Right: Someone stands in knee-deep water pouring liquid from a guitar onto their face.

A performer dressed in a dark yellow and red sari floats in a water tank touching marigold flowers that have spilled from a wicker basket. Right: Someone stands in knee-deep water pouring liquid from a guitar onto their face.

Downtown Montreal will soon host a giant 360-degree rotating aquarium with free performances as part of Festival TransAmériques (FTA). Starting at 6 p.m., from May 25 to 29, Montrealers can catch a free show of 'Holoscenes' at the Esplanade Tranquille in the Quartier des Spectacles. Performers will act out scenes from everyday life, as the tank fills with water. Each will be submerged in a sudden flood and forced to adapt.

The installation, inspired by climate change, made waves in Times Square just after the US pulled out of Paris Climate Accords in 2017.

"The environment is being transformed, yet we do not change our behaviours," creator Lars Jan told FTA.

Jan's project pulls from public submissions depicting daily life in around 40 countries, including one of a man selling fruit in India and another of a person reading the newspaper. The artist-activist turned them into a choreographed underwater performance that lasts about five hours.

"After hurricane Katrina in 2005, I became interested in media coverage of floods and extreme weather around the world. I discovered a photo by Daniel Berehulak of a devastating flood in Pakistan in 2010… A dozen people are moving in strange ways through the water. Some are in water up to their necks, others up to their hips. It’s difficult to understand what is happening," he said.

"It has become clear to me that the major issue is not CO2 levels or pollution, but rather the human ability to make long-term decisions, our capacity for empathy across great distances, our fear of complexity. We are not good at dealing with the long-term actions that the climate crisis requires."

'Holoscenes' is just one of 23 theatre and dance shows at Festival TransAmériques that run through June 9. Festival performers hail from as far as South Korea, Brazil, Nigera, Greece, and Belgium.

Festival TransAmériques 2022

When: May 25 - June 9

Where: Place des Arts (various venues)

Cost: Free for Holoscenes & some other performances. Single tickets cost $20+ (see breakdown here). Discount packages include two tickets for two shows at $90, and two tickets for three shows at $120. Attendees under 30 and over 65, along with performing arts professionals, can get tickets at a reduced rate.

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Sofia Misenheimer
MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Sofia Misenheimer is an award-winning writer, editor and former radio journalist with a passion for finding hidden gems in the city.
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