This collection comes from the personal archives of Alan Lord, who was involved in the new wave and punk scene in the 1980s, most notably as the singer and guitarist of Vent du Mont Schärr. The most important part of the collection is constituted of the archives from the two Ultimatium festivals, and the series Ultimatum Tuesdays, that took place at the legendary venue les Foufounes Électriques between 1985 and 1987. It includes filmed performances by artists like John Giorno, Herbert Huncke, Sylvère Lotringer, Chris Krauss, Kathy Acker, Lucien Francœur, Josée Yvon, Denis Vanier and Michael Delisle. The collection is notable for it’s thoroughness, Lord’s archival was both meticulous and systematic, and the quality of the source material (mostly reel to reel and U-Matic tapes) can rely on a vast quantity of accompanying documents, ranging from press releases to tickets and posters, for contextualization. It also tells the story of the emergence of computer-generated art in Montreal, of the links between the poetry scene and the musical underground, and of cross-language events in a city that was often divided between Francophones and Anglophones when it came to cultural events. Although little has been written on Ultimatum until recently, the discovery of such a rich collection offers an unexpected look into the period and scene.
Between 1966 and 1972 members of the Sir George Williams University (SGWU) Department of English hosted a series of poetry readings that was conceived as an on-going encounter between local (Montreal) poets and some writers from the United States and the rest of Canada. Sponsored by The Poetry Committee of the SGWU Faculty of Arts and the Department of English, these readings involved more than sixty poets from across North America. The series was, in the first instance, the creation of three SGWU professors: Howard Fink and Stanton Hoffman from the Department of English and Roy Kiyooka from the Department of Fine Arts. Others who were involved in the organization of the series for certain periods included Wynn Francis, Irving Layton, and George Bowering.
An article in the SGWU publication Post-Grad (Spring 1967) described it as “ a series of controversial poetry readings” that attracted hundreds “of dedicated students, staff and guests—often practicing poetry themselves” plus poetry-lovers and “curiosity seekers”. One of the benefits noted was the “opportunity to hear several new poets who write specifically for live reading rather than for the printed page” and the “effect” of the series is described as that “of a group of people sitting together in deep discussion”. The poetry series was documented using reel to reel tape machines by technicians working for the Sir George Williams Centre for Instructional Technology, a state of the art facility that was tasked with capturing content such as lectures and readings, throughout the university. The result of their work in recording and preserving these readings is a collection of 80 audio reels (67 hrs. 20 min.) that capture some of the best known poets from Canada and the United States during that period. You may listen to the Sir George Williams University poetry readings online by clicking on the image below.
Véhicule Art Inc. was legally founded in March 1972 and the gallery opened at 61 Ste.Catherine St. West in the central core of Montréal on October 13, 1972. The first alternate space in the city, it was the creation of thirteen founding members who wanted a “non-profit, non-political centre directed by and for artists.” The gallery was intended “to provide a space for the community in which to encounter art and art ideas through as many forms as these processes involve.” This would hopefully, “rejuvenate public interest in the visual arts in Montréal, stimulating public consciousness and developing its interest.”
The fonds consists of ten series, many of them subdivided into sub-series. The documents cover the period 1972 to 1982, however, the great majority of the documents were created between 1973 and 1976.