Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything - Montreal’s tribute to its favourite son | Sunday Observer

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything - Montreal’s tribute to its favourite son

Almost exactly a year after his death, Leonard Cohen will have a homecoming – of sorts – in Montreal. On 9 November, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (AKA the Mac) will open the doors to Leonard Cohen: une brèche en toute chose/A Crack in Everything, a tribute to the artist, poet and musician, filled with multi-disciplinary works inspired by Cohen’s songs of life.

The show is the first major exhibition devoted to Cohen’s legacy, and while it seems like the type of show thrown together in the wake of an icon’s death, this exhibition was planned far in advance, securing Cohen’s blessing before he died on 7 November last year.

According to the Mac’s curator, John Zeppetelli, the idea came about during a brainstorming session with the show’s co-curator Victor Schiffman. The pair were trying to figure out how to celebrate Montreal’s 375th anniversary, and draw in visitors who might not normally sign up for an afternoon of contemporary art.

“We wanted to do something that the museum wouldn’t normally do. Leonard Cohen came up and we just looked at each other knew that this was it,” explains Zeppetelli. “Every time we mentioned the name Leonard Cohen, everyone lit up. We knew it was a winning proposal.”

The curators felt even more strongly about their choice when Cohen released his 2016 album You Want It Darker – his 18th studio album – at the age of 82. “We were excited to be celebrating a living legend, an active musician, poet and cultural figure who had been active for five decades,” says Zeppetelli.

“We were so looking forward to taking him around the exhibition hall and showing him how relevant and powerful he has been to so many people.” Zeppetelli never thought he would be able to get Cohen to agree to the show, though. “Leonard is notoriously private,” explains Zeppetelli, who was surprised when Cohen responded, through his lawyer, by saying he was touched by the exhibition and gave his approval. “I think it’s because this wasn’t a hagiography, it wasn’t a collection of his fedoras. This show was contemporary art commissions where we invited artists to think about Leonard Cohen’s cultural output, to be displayed in Montreal, the city he came back to – to be buried.”

While Zeppetelli admits that the show has become a little more “commemorative” in the wake of Cohen’s death, most of the artists were invited to participate before Cohen died, and the work reflects that.

Artists from around the globe – France, Germany, Israel, Hong Kong, the US and Canada – contributed pieces that contemplate Cohen’s work and reinterpret it, sometimes through the lens. - The Guardian