John Monteith // “City Speaks – A Conversation at the Dinner Table” // July-September 2011


“City Speaks – A Conversation at the Dinner Table” was hosted by John Monteith (Canada). Prior to his arrival in Cologne, John invited six local artists and creatives of different fields/disciplines to become partners. During the project they met twice each week for dinner, in which each participant was the host once. It was a heterogenous group of artists, musicians, journalists and people from the theater who sat together and discussed about cities, architecture, places and life in Cologne.

The project took place in collaboration with Ilka Geyer (music journalist), Jens Kuklik (theater-maker), Oliver Kunkel (visual artist), Stawrula Panagiotaki (dramaturgist), Mick Schulz (musician), Stephanie Zeiler (artist/journalist).

Starting from discussions around the social, economical and political structures of the city and its geographical and architectural situation the idea derived to create a hybrid project which would transfer this ‘social practice’ into a public performance. When preparing the presentation, the group was talking about elements of a performance, such as defining a certain plot or conscious placement of the artists wishing the audience. In the end however they decided to stress the aspect of real conversations over the dramatic guidance. The presentation was organized around a large table in an exhibition hall which served the six artists as well as six participants at a time to sit, eat traditional food from Cologne and talk together. This situation allowed for the audience to add their perspectives to the subject and to interact with the previous outcome. Strangers became neighbors and participants, adding to the concept, while formally just speaking about their personal relations to the city and neighborhoods.

Around the table, there was an exhibition featuring one contribution by each artist. Each piece allowing individual approaches to the project and displaying the heterogenous constellation of the group at the same time.


John Monteith (Canada) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Formally his work can be described as painting, drawing and photography. A frequent subject is the city as an urban and permanently changing space, while he deconstructs the static image by means of adding multiple layers and compositions. This process of shifting perspectives, fragmenting, layering, multiplication and meshing allows his works to become documents of a time wise limited coherence of the urban environment and the personal space. The new image is therefore a reference to the complexity and clashing of history and memory.

John Monteith is part of the New York K48 Kontinuum collective. Exhibitions include “The Black Cub3″ during X-Initiative in Manhattan or “The Last Slice” which was part of “No Soul For Sale” at the Tate Modern, London. In Toronto John Monteith collaborated with the choreographer Christopher House and the sculpturer Bruno Billio to form multidisciplinary performances. John Monteith is represented by O´Born Contemporary, Toronto.