Black Summer '91

Black Summer '91 is a project that recounts an important and little-known part of Montreal's history: the popular uprisings that took place simultaneously in 5 neighborhoods in the summer of 1991, following systemic violence against black communities1. Community activist and creator of the Black Montreal Experience guided tours, Rito Joseph, in collaboration with Fonderie Darling’s  programming team, wished to draw inspiration from the uprisings through contemporary art and local history to create a group exhibition bringing together five contemporary artists around this narrative, its traces in the archives and its contemporary resonances. 

1991 was a pivotal year, both here in Montreal and around the world. In addition to the fall of the USSR, the Golf war between Iraq and Iran, racial clashes in Los Angeles, Halifax and Toronto, and the start of a decade symbolizing a moment of great transition in the globalization of lifestyles and the introduction of communications technologies. Around the globe, 1991 marks a turning point for a generation that now recognizes itself through urban culture, with a strong sense of belonging to different districts, controlling the narrative through identity, history and activism, while facing a society rooted in post-colonial values. 

Montreal was not exempt from intense upheaval, as in the summer of that year, the cosmopolitan metropolis was caught between police violence and institutional racism. While these events served to foster dialogue between ethnic communities with social, economic, geographic, linguistic and cultural affinities, they also raised a number of societal issues, including resistance and confrontation, racial profiling, the monopoly of legitimate violence, activism, and other social relationships with the city and the environment. The project's ambition is to participate in a work of memory and reflection on the 1990 context, and to value the impact of Caribbean and Afro-descendant communities on all levels of our Montreal reality; whether in history, visual arts, cuisine, fashion, music or sport, they have made an extraordinary contribution and continue to do so in a crucial way.

Black Summer '91 is an interdisciplinary project created, conceived and conceptualized by Rito Joseph, a lecturer, researcher and historical guide on black history in Montreal, through the Black Montreal Experiences platform. A series of guests are also scheduled to take part in round-table discussions and public conversations.



[1] These events took place in the Parc-Extension, Saint-Michel, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Little Burgundy and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighborhoods.