Christof Graf’s Multi-Media Walk Through The Montreal MAC Leonard Cohen Exhibition With Curator John Zeppetelli

“A Crack In Everything / Une Brèche en toute” – First Impressions

A Guest Post By Christof Graf
Photos: By Christof Graf

Introduction:  Christof Graf has authored multiple books and articles about Leonard Cohen and has published material online at since 1996. (More about Christof can be found at his Q&A.) In a previous post, he reviewed the Nov 6, 2017 Montreal Leonard Cohen Tribute Concert supplemented by his own exclusive photos and videos. In today’s offering, he walks us through the MAC Leonard Cohen Exhibit, again providing his own exclusive photos and videos.

Three days after the Tower Of Song Tribute Concert  at Montreal`s Bell Centre, the “Musée d’Art contemporain de Montréal opened its new exhibition, “Leonard Cohen: Une Brèche en toute / A Crack In Everything.” The exhibit, approved by Leonard Cohen before he died, will continue until April 9, 2018.

The exhibit offers 20 works by 40 artists from 10 countries and provides different forms of contemporary art. It is not only a collection of memorabilia but a consideration of Cohen’s songs and their effect on contemporary artists, who, inspired by Cohen, “take his work deeper into the twenty-first century,” says curator John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator of the MAC.

“I was drawn to the idea of an exhibition on Cohen years ago, because the Montreal poet and singer-songwriter was a uniquely beautiful, probing figure”, said Zeppetelli, while been interviewed about his motivation.

He chose the title of the exhibition “to reflect the theme of loss which permeates much of Cohen’s work. Basically, his whole artistic output is the imperfection of things.”

He took the exhibition’s title, “A Crack in Everything,” from a line in Cohen’s song Anthem, recorded on “The Future”-Album in 1992. “The line finishes: ‘That’s how the light gets in,'” said Zeppetelli. “This imperfection is how we’re actually able to move forward.”

Original pieces, such as Cohen’s first Olivetti typewriter, self-portraits, and manuscripts, as well as an exact copy of his work room, where he recorded “You Want It Darker,” can also be seen.

This replica is based on a shot from his life partner from the 80s, the French photographer Dominique Issermann. A musical gem is Sharon Robinson’s acoustic contribution to the impressive exhibition. After Cohen’s death she wrote the song “Goodbye Stranger,” whose studio production is shown.

The exhibition is not one that can be compared to typical displays. The “David Bowie” exhibition, which, after countless metropolises, will be featured in the Brooklyn Museum in New York in 2018, has such typical exhibition memorabilia. In the “David Bowie” exhibit, for example, Bowie’s stage outfits play a central role. This is not the case with Leonard Cohen’s. The central theme there is the inspiration on other artists and art forms. Film producers, sound technicians and video artists produce partially new works of art, such as the short film “Bird On A Wire,” by Tacita Dean, which features a chirping bird on a wire for the same length as the corresponding song: 3 minutes and 28 seconds.

Similar to missing Philip Glass at the TOS-concert, the exhibit is missing expected items such a fedora, one or two guitars, a stage outfit or even photographs, such as those by Dominique Issermann. Although there are no photographs, there are videos and film sequences from the last five decades, displayed on large screens.

Memories of live concerts, interviews and moments in Leonard Cohen’s life, which make him even more unforgettable. While the international Press was cut and ignored at the Tower Of Song Concert, the reception from exhibit director Zeppetelli was the complete opposite: friendly, professional and welcoming. This alone deserves a DACAPO.

The Murals

Not integrated into the exhibit framework, but also part of the “Montreal-Cohen-Jahr” exhibit are the two murals, that can be seen in the city since 2017.

2 Replies to “Christof Graf’s Multi-Media Walk Through The Montreal MAC Leonard Cohen Exhibition With Curator John Zeppetelli”

  1. Michele prevost

    A magnficient exhibition . All your cells are on Leonard Cohen ´s vibration . You feel him , you breathe him everywhere.The climax might be when you lay down and you are covered up and burried In his words and symbols. As you go along ,you are overhelmed by a very accute sens of loss in front of this great and incomparable man. À poignant and true hommage .


  2. Pingback: KW-47-2017: The Montreal Afters – Part 2: Meine Exhibition Review – auf | Der COHENPEDIA – Blog – Christof Graf `s – LEONARD COHEN – BLOG +++ Popular Problems, Various Positions & other Old Ideas ++