In 2020, when the pandemic put the 12th edition of Vendu–Sold on hold, the Quarantine Auctions sprang up on Facebook and Instagram to provide assistance to artists. A few hundred works were put up for sale through this project founded by the artist Sara A.Tremblay. Today, with everything having returned to “normal,” the organization has shut down. Because the primary mandate of Les éditions Esse is to showcase and promote artists’ work through publications, events, and the preservation of their material output, we offered to host the Quarantine Auctions archives to ensure that they remain accessible.

About the Quarantine Auctions

The Quarantine Auctions were created in March 2020, just a few days after the first lockdown began. Seeing that her community was hit hard by the pandemic, Sara A.Tremblay, assisted by Drew Barnet, designed and organized a series of auctions to make the work of artists who are independent, emerging, or not represented by a gallery available to potential buyers. The idea was simple: provide these artists with visibility and put them in direct contact with purchasers, enabling them to pocket 100% of the sale price.

The project quickly drew the attention of a considerable number of purchasers. Noting the community’s enthusiasm, the Hibernal collective (Évelyne Comtois, Samuel Graveline, Alex Pouliot et Andy Maple) proposed to join the organization. Together, the new team selected, promoted, and sold hundreds of artworks, bringing immediate financial support to almost four hundred Québec and Canadian artists. In under a year, the artists participating in the auctions earned more than $100,000.

Supported by a generous advisory committee composed of Yann Pocreau, Audrey Genois, Mathieu Courchesne, and Florence-Agathe Dubé-Moreau, the Quarantine Auctions obtained NPO status and received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to reflect on the possibilities of continuing its activities.

The end of lockdowns signified a gradual return to professional pursuits for volunteer team members. Évelyne Comtois and Samuel Graveline, present from the outset, took over the project. This led to a reform of the organization as a collective, to the addition of several new members and to a new advisory committee. In the end, however, the team made the difficult decision to end the Auctions in order to devote themselves to their respective professional activities.

Wishing to keep a trace of the works and artists highlighted during the time the Auctions was active, Sara A.Tremblay asked Les éditions Esse to conserve the organization’s archives and make them publicly accessible. And so, it is with pleasure that we are redisplaying the 446 works shared between March 27, 2020, and December 3, 2021.

Sara A.Tremblay extends her thanks to Drew Barnet, Andy Maple, Alex Pouliot, Évelyne Comtois and Samuel Graveline, who were the heart and soul of the project for the whole duration.

Advisory committee: Mathieu Courchesne, Audrey Genois, Yann Pocreau, and Florence-Agathe Dubé-Moreau

Juries and guest curators: Florencia Sosa Rey, Diane Gistal, Berirouche Feddal, Leila Zelli, Sevia Pellissier, and Simon M. Benedict

Board of directors: Camille Blachot, Alice Ricciardi, Raphaëlle Julien-Groulx

Graphic designer: Adrien Beaudet

For their support: Aziza Nassih, Alice Blanchet-Gavouyère, Félixe Bouvry, and Charlotte Olivier