PHI Sessions 2021: Probing the Potential of Cultural Institutions


PHI Sessions 2021
Probing the Potential of Cultural Institutions

December 3—10, 2021

This event is virtual* and free to the public. Activities will be offered in English with a live audio French translation, with the presence of ASL and LSQ interpreters.

PHI is proud to announce PHI Sessions 2021, a two-day gathering of a range of voices concerned with the arts and culture milieu. The intent of this dynamic platform is to launch and foster a collective project to explore—through open conversation and speculative interrogations—the role and potential of the cultural institution writ large (public galleries, museums, artist run centres, collectives, independent initiatives, etc.) within our rapidly evolving contemporary moment.

Underpinning the event are two foundational questions:

  • Understanding that art and culture are essential to our social fabric and collective well-being, what are the emerging roles for cultural institutions to (re)assert their own ‘essential-ness’ in support of this fundamental dimension of everyday life?
  • How can institutions ensure the sustained capacity to play these roles, and conversely how might these roles contribute to broader sustainability priorities and social progress?

Evolutive and experimental in nature, PHI Sessions 2021 will be initiated by a series of probing conversations on Day 1—the Grounding Sessions, designed to provide a foundational survey of the subjects in question, followed by two Deep Dive Sessions that will probe certain territories in more detail. Critical areas for further inquiry will be identified through these conversations and presented during the Day 1 Summary Session as the Research Subjects that will be the basis for the Work Sessions of Day 2.

Day 1: Conversation Sessions

Grounding Sessions: Where are we now? (one-on-one conversations)
Host: Ken Lum
Guests: Rebecca Belmore, Yesomi Umolu, András Szántó

Deep Dive Panel 1: The emergent commitments and responsibilities of the cultural institution
Moderator: Kama La Mackerel
Panelists: Haley Mellin, Monica O. Montgomery, Carmen Papalia, Calum Bowden

Deep Dive Panel 2: Reframing the ‘spaces’ of the cultural institution
Moderator: Jepchumba
Panelists: Richard Fung, Jasmina Cibic, Skawennati, Ella Den Elzen

Day 2: Work Sessions

The Day 2 Work Sessions will be the moment for self-organized and self-directed Work Groups to develop speculative hypotheses, and related experiments/ideas/proposals in connection with one or more of the Research Subjects identified through the Day 1 Sessions. These hypotheses and ideas are imagined to be an expression and document of our contemporary thinking, but equally concrete means for continued and actionable pursuit of the speculative inquiries and research subjects they represent. As such, the findings from the Work Sessions will be documented in a print publication and act as the seeds of the continued development and articulation of the project through a living digital publication and platform.

*FREE registration is required to receive webinar and zoom links. Day 1 will be conducted and presented virtually, as well as offered for public viewing at the PHI Centre (315 Saint-Paul St W). Exchanges with the public will follow each session.

For more information, please visit

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


Founded and directed by Phoebe Greenberg and based in Montreal, Canada, PHI is a multidisciplinary organization positioned at the intersection of art, film, music, design, and technology. Offering a panoramic perspective of radical ideas focused on collective experience, social impact, and audience interactivity, PHI is committed to future generations of art consumption.

PHI consists of the PHI Centre, PHI Studio, artist-in-residence programs, and PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art. Through eclectic programming and a strong emphasis on content creation, PHI fosters unexpected encounters between artists and audiences.


PHI Centre
315 Saint-Paul Street West
Montréal, Québec, H2Y 2M3

Opening hours:
Opening hours vary according to schedule

Accessibility: Accessible

514 225-0525

Media inquiries:
Myriam Achard
(514) 844-7474 #5104

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Image credit: PHI Sessions 2021 © PHI